Friday, December 28, 2018

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #9

Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

Thanks for sending me the angelgram. Yes, I did get it. Since this was the first one I have ever received, getting an angelgram was a strange, new experience for me. I was sleeping the other night, and something like the twinkly sound of a small bell woke me up. I opened my eyes and was very startled to see a bright pinpoint of light floating in the air about two feet above my head. Then I heard a feminine sounding, almost musical, voice say, "Request delivery of an angelgram from Lonnie Frisbee. Do you accept delivery?" The voice seemed to be coming from the point of light. Though I felt very unnerved, I managed to blurt out, a "yes, I accept." Next, the point of light expanded into a bright square of light. Then words started appearing inside the square, written in English. The nearest I can describe it, it was like looking at a chyron on the bottom on the screen when watching the news on television. As the words were being spelt out on the square, I could hear the voice reading the words to me. The message was pretty simple:
Don't worry about it, Bro. Thank you for your effort, but there is no need to write me any more letters about Greg Laurie's new book. I already know what's in the book. It's been shown to me. Please save your stamps. Greg will come around eventually. Blessings to you. Bye.
At that point, the square shrunk back down to a single point of light, which then gradually rose up to my ceiling and disappeared into the wall, and I was left there in the darkness, wondering about the strange sight I had seen. It seemed too vivid to be a dream. I take it that angelgrams are sent from Heaven in case a short message needs very quick delivery.

Lonnie, since you already know what's in Greg's book, Jesus Revolution, I guess I don't need to fill you in regarding all the details. And indeed I had made a lot of notes. There were a even a few instances in the book where Greg and his co-author simply got their facts garbled, probably due to sloppy research. But your angelgram has saved me from a lot of work trying to explain everything. And you have saved yourself from having to read another burdensome load of my stodgy prose. It is very good to hear that the saints in Heaven are not totally in oblivion regarding what's going on down here. Thanks for sending me the quick angelgram.

Just as I guessed, there is already a movie in the works, though it is not clear if it will be a documentary or a biopic. (What actor would portray Greg? Or You?) So far his new book is getting about 97% four-and-five star reviews. Let me say that, though you had forewarned me ahead of time about what to expect, I was still taken aback by what Greg Laurie had written about you. And because his book is backed up by an advertising budget, a well-oiled book publishing company, and Greg's own celebrity branding, it probably will become for the majority of people their picture of what must have happened, no matter how unfair or inaccurate or distorted the book's depiction of you might be. I think this is sad and very unfortunate, especially when I consider that in your autobiography you had said complimentary things about Greg. But if someone were to ask me today to concisely describe Greg's stance toward you, going strictly on the basis of what's in his book, more than anything else I would say it's like a hostile witness at a court trial.

You said, "Greg will come around eventually." Lonnie, I am not sure what you meant, and you have me a little confused. I assume that what you said is a good thing. Were you saying that Greg will be coming up there soon? Or that he will have a stadium crusade somewhere in my vicinity? Or did you mean that he'll change his mind about something he wrote in his book? I hope the later is the case.

Lonnie, this reminds me of something else: On the day I sent my previous letter to you, I had a peculiar dream about Greg Laurie. In my dream, which was in color, my wife and I were back inside that "bombed out shell" of a church building, the very same one on Arlington Avenue that Greg moved into after leaving All Saints. I could hear music playing in the background, which I think might have been Love Song playing "Since I opened up the door." We were inside, standing underneath the balcony at the back end. There were many other people present, as if there was a church service going on. I believe that the building originally had a small balcony, which was later remodeled to become a second floor. Now Greg came into the back to start talking to my wife, who was at my side. I was looking at him, and although I knew it was Greg, I noticed that he seemed different somehow. I then realized that he appeared to be regrowing hair on his head. The hair color was surfer blonde.

If I were to interpret this dream, I would say it meant that Greg, who is very bald, will reclaim something that he had lost or neglected. And this would lead to some kind of renewal in how he ministers to people. Or maybe he is going to receive his heavenly crown soon? That's about as much an interpretation I can put on this, but does it relate to what you told me about Greg coming around eventually?

In other news…

Lonnie, you remember Phil Aguilar? He is the "biker" pastor down in Orange county who has tattoos and a flamboyant personality and a tad of notoriety. I am sure he is pretty unforgettable. I recollect seeing an interesting video recording of you preaching at his church, years ago, where you spoke for about fifteen minutes to the people. Well, Phil has reported to everyone that the third book of your autobiography, Set Free, will finally be published in February of 2019. He might be in a position to know, so I hope this is true, but I don't know whether to believe it, given how many times that Roger Sachs has delayed publication with no explanations why. Lonnie, will I live long enough to ever read the third book? Are you allowed to say? More than ever your side of the story needs to be completely told.

There is nothing new to report about the Fireman. I am still waiting for his "prophecies" to come true. People take the few interviews the Fireman has done so far, and they cut them up, re-assign the slices new titles and dates, and then re-post them on YouTube. This makes it difficult to tell if he is saying anything new. I also noticed that now there is a discussion group on Facebook about his prophecies. Is it being run by dastardly Russians? Who knows? However, I am still keeping the Fireman in category #4 (indeterminate fruitcake) because when it comes to the "501(c)3" issue, he is definitely kooky and paranoid. So I am not going to hold my breath waiting for his "predictions" to come to pass. At most, he might get lucky on some of them.

As for other "prophets", I am currently starting to investigate a young guy named Charlie Shamp, if anything because he is an interesting case and has an outstanding hairdo, his thick black hair being pomaded and richly stacked up high on the top of his head. His "prophecies" are vatic in nature, specific, and often dealing with countries overseas and not just the United States.

I will mail you again as soon as I can. Lonnie, can you believe how short an epistle I have written to you?

Rejoice and be glad.

Sincerely yours,
Enduring the Long, Dreary Winter

Friday, December 07, 2018

Larry Norman

A Book Review
Title: Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?
Subtitle: Larry Norman and The Perils of Christian Rock
Author: Gregory Alan Thornbury

This is a mini book review, and so I will try to keep this as short as possible. I only write lengthy reviews if I have had the chance to read a book at least three times. At this point in time, I have other projects I want to complete first.

Thornbury wrote an interesting rock'n'roll biography of the late musician Larry Norman (1947–2008). There was really no better person to write about Larry than Gregory Alan Thornbury, who has a doctorate from Southern Seminary, as well as many other academic honors, and who is currently Vice President at the New York Academy of Art. Additionally, if Wikipedia is to be believed, Thornbury was ordained as a Baptist minister, and he has authored several other acclaimed books. Besides all these, he once managed a small radio station:
When I was in college, I found myself thrown into management at a small radio station on our campus, which unfortunately, in my view, played adult contemporary Christian music. I hated virtually everything I heard. [250]
I imagine that it would be difficult for any competent writer not to write a modestly interesting biography about Larry Norman, mainly because Larry was, to say the least, a very, very peculiar amalgamation of seeming contradictions combined into one person — a man who actually took Xnty seriously but was also a highly talented and creative songwriter who took rock'n'roll music seriously — a highly volatile but fascinating combination. And because Larry Norman had kept a very extensive archive of documentary material about nearly everything he had done, a biographer would find an embarrassment of riches to draw from. I think it would be a worthwhile project if the Norman family were to publish in book form some of Larry's unpublished manuscripts and letters, maybe calling it the Larry Norman Compendium. Larry's own writing, as sampled in Thornbury's book, was intriguing, sometimes piercing and perceptive in its observations, and often displayed a wry humor. Since I have plenty of free time, maybe I could volunteer for this project?

I wonder. If he were still around, what would Larry Norman have thought of today's CCM, now that Hillsong United and Bethel Music and their imitators have taken over?

I highly recommend this biography to everybody. It is a well written book. There were only a few minor blemishes, which I will briefly mention without belaboring the point too much:
  1. When providing a photograph of yourself for the jacket cover blurb, do not use a picture where your head is tilted back in such a manner as to accentuate your nostrils, while wearing a bow tie. It gives you a hoity-toity appearance that is not appealing.
  2. Nietzsche sucks. Do not quote him as some kind of proof of something.
  3. Sometimes good Homer nods. But be careful about depending too much on Wikipedia; it is notoriously unreliable. It might be useful as a starting point of investigation if there are references provided which can be tracked down and verified. For example, in the book, footnote 22 for chapter 6 is a flub because the information provided in Wikipedia concerning Wendell Burton and Vineyard has no reference at all. Some anonymous wiki editor just stuck it in there with no proof or citation.
  4. Occasionally, the author lets seep a tad of, well, snottiness. For example, on page 182, speaking about the Daniel Amos band, the book says, "A mid-'70s clip shows the group … playing under the Maranatha! Holy Spirit “dove” logo before a packed room of docile white kids." [emphasis mine] Now most people would have perceived merely an audience of younger people who were politely appreciating the music they were hearing. But for some reason the author curls his lip and sneers at the "white kids." Really? What does being white have to do with anything here? It doesn't make much sense and just makes the author appear to be supercilious.
Other than these very minor quibbles, Gregory Alan Thornbury's book about Larry Norman is excellent. Of course, I don't agree with every opinion the author might have expressed. But everybody with half a brain and a serious interest in Larry Norman should read the book.