By Bill Mefford
On my birthday a couple of weeks ago I took the day off (because who the heck wants to work on their birthday?) and I saw the movie, Blinded By the Light. It was excellent. The movie is based on a true story about a young Pakistani immigrant in Luton, England in the 1980s, who discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen and sees the whole trajectory of his life change. It was a powerful coming-of-age story of a teenager desperately trying to make his way in the world and he finds his identity through the lyrics and music of The Boss.
I am not a huge Springsteen fan, but his music became more alive to me through this movie than it ever had when I had I listened to it over the years on the radio. That’s what inspiration does, isn’t it? You can catch what someone else gets passionate about. Seeing a young man find his voice and the purpose for his life truly was a gift to watch.
It might seem a little odd to be writing about this movie and how music transformed the life of a young Pakistani immigrant when the United States is literally in the middle of a crisis of leadership that has been years in the making. The occupant in the White House has once again committed impeachable offenses by exploiting the Ukrainian President to dig up dirt for personal political gain (and the latest is that he did something similar with the Australian Prime Minister). This is just the latest for an administration that is thoroughly lawless and corrupt. I do not think there is a single member of this administration that should not be charged with some crime or, at the very least, some serious ethical violation. Practically every members of this man’s campaign and administration has been rightly investigated.
And even more detestable than the corruption and lawlessness, are the soulless defenders of trump and his incompetent reign of error. Seeing clips of these people from the Sunday talk shows peddling untruths and innuendos is both hilarious and deeply troubling. I found myself laughing and rolling my eyes at the same time as I watched them bend themselves into knots to dodge, obfuscate, and cast blame on anyone and everyone in order to muddy the waters of the obvious misdeeds of their boy in the White House. But the greatest hyperbole came from a supposed pastor, Rev. Robert Jeffress, who threatened “civil war” if his leader is impeached.
And this has just begun. We literally are only like ten days into this latest saga. The danger on the part of the occupant in the White House and the delusional obedience of his mindless followers will only dramatically ramp up as the impeachment process continues. It is a dark time in this country and frankly, it is starting to feel a little dangerous even.
And perhaps that is why now, more than ever, it is best to remember that God speaks of great hope. It is in the dark times when God showers down the greatest blessings and fills us with uncontainable joy. The words of Isaiah ring true for me now:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined. (9:2)
So, is this really the best time to see a movie about the inspiration of the music of The Boss? Hell yes. You, me, and the entire country - yes, the whole world needs a little inspiration. Whether our inspiration comes in the music of Springsteen or REO Speedwagon (my favorite band!), or through films like Blinded by the Light or Shawshank Redemption, or through the stories of faithfulness and perseverance of immigrant families, or through watching our children play and listening to their cries of joy, or even just through the stillness of sitting quietly and watching God’s magnificent creation as the green of summer turns to the brown, rust, and gold of fall; whatever form inspiration comes for you, allow yourself to be inspired. I suspect it is all around you.
Inspiration is not evasion. Inspiration does not remove the injustices that we need to call out and work to eradicate. Inspiration reminds us of the overarching trajectory of what and who we are called to do and to be. Inspiration grounds us in who we are and sets us forward to be better. And as we move forward, it is inspiration that draws others to us and helps us build a movement that will counter the evil that we are surrounded by and are mired in.
So look around. Listen intently. Inspiration is around us even now. And God is speaking.