“Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman” movie review

March 12, 2009

Fallen Angel movie poster

Movie poster from Fallen Angel Facebook page

In 1977-1978, a small revival swept through the American School In Japan and a number of upperclassmen came to the Lord. There were rumors of a revival taking place among hippies in the United States, and how they were called “Jesus People.” And at Lake Nojiri where long-haired American teens hung out during the summer and listened to music, a record appeared. It was called In Another Land and was by this guy called Larry Norman. He had long hair and sang rock songs about Jesus, and his music had come all the way over to Japan.

Decades later, I attended a life celebration of a fellow who expected to die. And who should show up to honor him, but Larry Norman! So I got to hear Larry tell crazy stories and sing old tunes, including “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” which I remember so well from those rapture-crazy days of the mid-70’s to mid-80’s. We sang it often in those days. Though Larry was physically frail, and I had abandoned the rapture teachings I learned from reading The Late Great Planet Earth, there was something magical about hearing him sing it. It brought back memories of high school and college, and the young faith I carried.

Last year, Larry died.

And last week, I saw the world premiere of Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman.
I was moved, troubled, and inspired:

Moved because I got to see concert footage of Larry in his prime. This guy was a wild man on stage, with amazing energy and charisma. His all-black outfit accentuated his long light hair, and he sang with passion. Though there had been others singing Jesus rock, this guy took it opened doors (on a mainstream label), took it to a new level of raw honesty and talent, and inspired so many.

Troubled because I learned things that weren’t pretty. That raw honesty? It wasn’t as honest as I had thought. Now that I read the Wikipedia entry on Larry Norman, I see the movie didn’t reveal much that is not public knowledge …but I sure didn’t know! The revelations became progressively worse, and I sat in my seat. Shocked. Squirming.

Inspired because the people Larry most wronged forgave him, and still spoke of the power of his music. If Larry could not validate his message with his life, it’s as though his friends took up the slack and showed that what he sang is still real. The kingdom of God shone brightly—not through strength, but through brokenness. Which is kind of subversive in itself, isn’t it? How like God.

What struck me was the danger of power, even powerful Christian ministry.

Technically, I was surprised that the interviews were conducted with an auto-focusing camera. This was distracting, because if anyone moved around, the lens kind of moved in and out, trying to find the subject again. Even with our cheap camcorder, I know to set the focus manually if I can. It also didn’t look like the white point was set, resulting in jarring color changes when different interviews were stitched together. This could also have been corrected to some extent in post-production using AfterEffects. …But the content, narrative flow, and editing were good. In fairness, the director said his training was in theology, not film—but I wish he would undergird his storytelling ability with these basics.
Update: David DiSabitano informs me that they are going to do more post-production cleanup! They just didn’t have time to do it for the Cinequest film festival. This is good news.

So back to the story… We are left with many unanswered questions regarding Larry’s decisions and motivations. What struck me was the danger of power, even powerful Christian ministry. Some people are so gifted that they have great influence. When people look up to you, a common response is to craft an image for them to admire and for you continue your influence. We all do this; it doesn’t make it right. I’m sure you can think of examples of Christian leaders who have fallen and been publicly disgraced. But what about those who continue to have good reputations—what kind of spiritual danger do they live with as a consequence of being gifted and influential? And for us who aspire to lead others, how incredibly important it is to keep building humility and keep killing pride!

I also thought of the dangers of compartmentalized faith. Evangelical Christians like to proclaim that “God must always come first in my priorities, then my spouse.” Bull twinkies. This kind of thinking has done so much harm to marriages and families. Rather than a western hierarchy of priorities, I try to hold to a more eastern way of thinking: Jesus must be at the center of my relationships. God is not more important to me than my marriage; God is in my marriage. Separate them, and one can do all sorts of damage “in the name of God.” It made me ask myself (almost like a party game) which I would choose: an influential ministry and a family that felt neglected or abandoned, or no influence, but a family that knew they were loved. (Also try substituting the word “friends” for “family.”) Which would you choose?

It’s picture time!

David DiSabatino, Randy Stonehill, Denny Fridkin

Q & A with director David DiSabitano, Randy Stonehill (yes, the Randy Stonehill), and (I think I got this right) Denny Fridkin who was in the band People! with Larry. I asked the director why this movie was called “A Bible Story.” He said that Christians like to portray themselves as clean, nice people who have it all together, but that the Bible is filled with people like Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) who had clear faults — but God used them anyway. (I also got to chat with him afterwards.)

David said that he and Randy were hitting the road to show the movie in seminaries. I hope that it gets people thinking about the issues that struck me.

Pamela Newman

Larry’s first wife Pamela Newman. Can you tell she has a “large” personality?

Randy Stonehill, Daniel Robinson

Randy Stonehill and Larry’s unrecognized son, Daniel Robinson. As the crowd milled about afterwards, Daniel complained, “No one is talking to me.” I said, “That’s because we do don’t know what to say! Thank you for being part of this story.”

Randy was selling his albums, including the soundtrack to the movie, Paradise Sky. Daniel was selling DVDs of the movie, which you can get online at the movie website. He was also selling DiSabitano’s earlier documentary about Lonnie Frisbee, which I definitely want to see now.

I want to close with Larry’s farewell message which I read on his website when he died:

I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God’s hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home. I won’t be here much longer. I can’t do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help. My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. But still it will be costly… However money is not really what I need, I want to say I love you. I’d like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be funeral information posted on my website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.

Update: The movie site has posted Frequently Asked Questions.

Jon Reid

Posts Twitter Google+

As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

91 responses to “Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman” movie review

  1. HI there,
    Joe G. sent us your link to the review. We posted one on facebook as well. We missed the first showing with these extra guests. David D. and Daniel were the only ones there. Would have LOVED to see all of them. We too were struck by Randy and Pamela’s graciousness. Great review BTW. We worked with all these guys in the 70s and 80s and were well aware of most of the “revelations” ourselves. Larry was a huge influence on our spiritual development in spite of the frailties.
    We knew Joe when he was in high school. Great guy! We were his youth leaders (among others).
    Thx for writing. Your impressions were very similar to ours. Did appreciate your comments about hierarchical western vs. eastern approaches to spiritual priorities. We concur!

  2. Terri, thanks for coming by. You wrote an excellent review; I wish others could see it.

  3. Cindy Harthorne March 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Wow! Thanks for this review. Can’t wait to see this now. The Lonnie Doc was excellent. Having spent many a year in the big V, (Vineyard), found that one very interesting. Gotta applaud someone like David who has a hard enough head and a soft enough heart to pull these things off.
    Until tonight I didn’t even know this was in the works! I was driving home from work and singing Randy’s old song First Prayer in the car and couldn’t remmember the first verse. Started poking around to find the lyrics, and eventually landed here.
    In 1974 I was a most lonely and dejected little hippie convert in Maine, fresh off acid, loving Jesus, and feeling incredibly out of place in my mom’s church where everyone was quiet and polite, and wore dresses, and the absolute edgiest music was Andrea Crouch. I stumbled upon a copy of Street Level and couldn’t believe there were other people like me! Thanks again! (and glad to hear they’re tweaking the tech stuff.)

  4. Cindy, I smile at your description of David DS — it fits my impression of him as someone who easily ticks off people (and shrugs) but who really cares. Hmm, prophetic filmmaking?
    Thanks for sharing your heart. It’s my hope that we will see another revival in a new generation, creating churches that look and feel nothing like today’s “contemporary” or “seeker” or even “edgy, hip” churches.

  5. Cindy Harthorne March 30, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Yes. I have had my fill. I read David’s interview with PP as well and I felt he, with both eloquence and an appropriate rawness of emotion described the requirement of silence in many church settings. I am enjoying the stirring of a sort of ‘missional cummunity’ that seems to be coming to life in the lttle city where I live.
    Thanks again!

  6. What I find disturbing is that everyone seems to accept the attacks on Larry Norman in Fallen Angel as fact. Why? Because the accusations are on video tape? What true documentary does not include even one interview with a family member of the main protagonist? Or one of Larry’s supporters? Please do not rush to judge Larry Norman or admire his detractors. The accuracy of the allegations in Fallen Angel are even worse than the camera work.

  7. “Billy,” thank you for raising those questions. I agree that the film would have been better if other voices had been shown. Unfortunately, Larry’s family declined to participate (which I can understand). As for its accuracy, see Terri’s comment above — which echoes the film’s message that despite Larry’s flaws, God used him. This is the message of hope I take away from this film.

  8. Jon, I agree that the good news is that God can, and does, use each one of us despite our flaws. That is a wonderful truth!
    Nevertheless Billy has a good point.
    I can imagine that all that Terri can really say is that he was aware of the rumours/gossip at the time.
    The recent additions to Norman’s Wikepedia entry would appear to have been informed by Di Sabatino’s film.
    What we are getting in the film are opinions / allegations as to what MIGHT have happened behind closed doors, speculation as to Norman’s motivation and always and only ONE side of the story.
    Di Sabatino would seem to admit to having done very little in the way of research, claiming that he simply, “pointed a camera,” and allowed those interviewed to tell their side of the story.
    Any student of human nature will be aware that we all have a tendency to selectively remember the details that display our own actions and motivation in the best possible light… often to the detriment of the significant others who make up our life stories.
    We need to remember that this, “documentary,” focuses on only the most controversial periods in Norman’s life and, even at that, presents only ONE side of the story.
    “The first to present his case seems right,
    till another comes forward and questions him.”
    (Proverbs 18:17)

  9. I liked that Terri wrote that, “Larry was a huge influence on our spiritual development despite the frailties.”
    As far as, “crafting an image to admire,” goes, this is an interesting extract from a 1976 Wittenburg Door interview:
    “DOOR: What gives a musician the right to go out and have a ministry? How do you know when a person has that authority or gift?
    NORMAN: I hear it in their songs. Their songs have to show me that they’ve really traveled a lot of distance and that they really haven’t compromised. That they don’t lie to themselves about themselves. That they know that they are basically a pig. That all humans are basically pretty crummy. That even the nicest people, if they know their own heart, are desperately wicked and need Jesus.”
    I hear that same message coming through Norman’s songs again and again.
    I guess I have to agree with Jon that we are left with many unanswered questions and ONLY GOD can be objective about the decisions and motivations of any one of us.

  10. Elizabeth, thank you for not one but two comments! I think I’ll add one thing, and that is the assumption that a documentary is presenting a neutral point of view. I think a big reason the film didn’t bother me is that I assume a documentary is telling a story from a particular point of view. That said, it would have been better with counterpoints.
    I appreciate your gentle spirit.

  11. grimtraveller April 6, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Elizabeth makes two priceless points and the quotation she uses from Proverbs should cause us all to pause for a little sober reflection.
    I can’t off the top of my head remember which church Paul was writing to but in one of the new testament letters, he begins a sentence with the phrase “by the grace given to me, I say…..” then he proceeds to give his readers a bit of a telling off. The reason I point this out is that I find it significant. Paul had cleaned up his act and was being continually cleaned up by God but he was nonetheless aware that he had a lousy past, and was living in a present in which he had to daily struggle against his nature (and quite a few times in his letters, that nature comes to the fore !). He knew that it was because of God’s fantastic mercy that he was in a situation where he could represent God – and let’s not forget that there wasn’t a media following him about and making him a celebrity on a grand scale…..What I’m getting at is this apparently new realization that God uses flawed people…..brothers and sisters, that’s not weird, that’s God’s norm. It’s often because we look through the lenses of our cultures and, forgive me for saying this, try to show the world that we’re not boring and out of touch that we end up dissecting as many moves a person makes as we can. And that, to me, is operating in the wrong spirit, even though sometimes our motives may seem like good ones.
    I like some of David DiSabatino’s stuff but I can’t help thinking that from heaven’s perspective, some of it could well be left alone and dealt with in house, out of the public arena. By publically commenting I’m aware of the irony/contradiction/paradox (take your pick ! )of that last statement but I know what I mean. I think we can do alot better than this…
    I saw an interesting statement that Larry Norman made in one of his latter interviews where he was invited to comment on a particular person that at one point he felt had wronged him but he stated that he didn’t want to pin a person to a particular sin or statement that they had committed 20 or 30 years previously because people go through changes and growth. I thought in the light of the documentary, that was somewhat ironic ! But refreshing.
    And even with biblical and historical characters, we only know about a miniscule fraction of their lives and who they really were. It seems almost too obvious to say, but in the end, only the Lord truly knows the full rounded truth and as such, particularly for those of us who don’t actively know the people that we read about, God’s perspective is the only one that truly matters. One final thing. Someone who does not know the Lord – would that person feel, having seen this documentary or read up on the controversies surrounding it’s subject on various websites, that the body of Christ is a real, tangible alternative to their world, expressing the mind of Christ in his other worldly goodness ? There are tons of secrets that will go with me to the grave and I would hope that many unsavoury aspects that people may have felt of my various interactions with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would do likewise……

  12. grimtraveller, you bring to mind something written in Angels on Assignment where the author (a pastor) had a vision of visiting God’s throne room. He was shown a giant filing cabinet where God records our lives, and was given permission to peek at one. He pulled out Abraham’s card, and was surprised to see that it did not list the lies he told. “Where are the lies?” he asked. God answered, “I do not record them.” He persisted, “But God, it’s written right there in the Bible!” and God replied, “I DO NOT RECORD THEM.”
    Thank you for adding your perspective.

  13. To answer your question, no, I haven’t seen the movie; nor do I intend to. What would it profit me?
    I’m a fan of Larry Norman’s music. I don’t need to know about Larry’s personal life to appreciate & enjoy his art any more than I need to know the about the personal life of a Cordon Bleu chef to appreciate & enjoy his/her cooking.
    Despite his undoubted shortcomings, I believe Larry was very effective at conveying the Truth through his music. The fact that Larry’s life often fell short of that Truth doesn’t negate the Truth; nor should it come as a surprise or news to anyone. We are ALL sinners & we have ALL fallen far, far short of the glory of the Truth.
    Some synonyms for foolish are – ill-advised, ill-considered, imprudent, incautious, senseless, stupid – yet, 1st Corinthians tells us that God uses the foolish & the weak. This is illustrated time-and-again in the Bible through His use of people like Jacob, Moses, Samson, David, et al. The allegations about Larry presented in Fallen Angel may well be true, but then it wouldn’t be the first time God has used an Ass to communicate His message (Numbers 22:28).
    My bottom line here is this – rather than digging into Larry Norman’s failings, Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus?

  14. Craig, thanks for your thoughts. I like your list of “the foolish & the weak” whom God uses, and of course the list goes on and on. It seems to be a pattern of God to confound us!

  15. I hope I will not be remembered by all my hidden sin God please keep david away from all my probs

  16. Eric, I’m glad I’m not in the Bible either! (But we are living scriptures.)

  17. If I may, for those that think this film is a slam against Norman they are mistaken. In fact, most everyone in the film says Lerry was used by God, inspite of his failings. They even say that larry himself made this point throughout his career, the pointing to the sky when people clapped after his shows was to say God gets the Glory. God often chooses to use broken, meek, the least of these type of people and do great things through them. That is the story this film tells. And I might add, there are a lot of people in this film that loved Larry Norman very much.

  18. The film is a collection of interviews with several people that knew Norman intimately, most of which have no reason to have an axe to grind. All of these unconnected people, strangely enough, seem to collaborate each others story indipendantly. The people who were ‘wronged by Larry’ or the ones who should have an ‘axe to grind’ actually praise him and forgive him for anything he may have done to them over the years. The story is about forgiveness, God’s grace, and God greatly using Larry Norman through his work. Very well done and balanced documentary.

  19. Jason, as with so many controversial films, I suspect that most detractors have never seen it. Thank you for bringing the perspective back to what I also understood as the message of the film.

  20. As someone anticipating seeing the DVD, I appreciated the detail of this story. I was around to see Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill several times in their early careers. I loved them both as Christian musicians and brothers in Christ, then, and I still do today.
    I have conducted qualitative research for the achievement of a doctoral degree. The beauty of this type of research is that you interview people and you triangulate the information to develop a perception. From these perceptions, admittedly subjective to some extent, you then draw conclusions and develop questions that need to be answered. This is where the quantitative, measurable research comes in, as you pursue answers to these broader questions. I would liken that stage in research to the degree of discussion that has resulted from this controversial film.
    Some scream that DiSabitano needed to prove every assumption or fact before being able to present them. Having seen his film about Frisbee, this is not the point of his work. David is presenting the information directly from the actors in the historic circumstances. The conclusions are left up to the listener or viewer.
    All of us make mistakes and hopefully a modicum of contributions. Larry Norman certainly made his mark and is worthy of a great deal of appreciation. I haven’t seen the film, but from what I have read, I will enjoy the honest look, and will retain my sincere appreciation for the greatness of his work as a musician and an evangelist (my characterization). Guitar Man

  21. Guitar Man, I think you will find the film most worthwhile. Thanks for bringing your perspective as a researcher.

  22. “Fallen Angel” is complete rubbish!
    PRODUCTION:
    A far less than amateur production – the sound was so poorly mastered and “all over the map” level wise, I found myself riding the volume control just to get some hearing comfort. Almost impossibly – the video quality was even worse! The entire production was simply a poorly assembled and redundant photo slide show of a truly horrible standard and erroneously edited with pre-teen level camera work.
    VERY amateurish and boring, the worst part for me was the seething hatred and accusatory tone apparent in the voice of the narrator, and that conversations were obviously clipped, diced, and manipulated to put the protagonist in the WORST possible light. Seemingly made on a production budget of $13.59 this video fails miserably!
    DOCUMENTATION:
    Even more derailed than the production: This “movie” confirms the grim reality of the much reported bias the filmmaker has against Larry Norman – having spent less than 2 minutes of the entire film on Larry’s REAL attributes seen by thousands over decades of integrity, character, generosity & humor, and the rest of the time impugning him for all sorts of horrible things that were easily and correctly dismissed as hearsay and rumor while Larry was alive…
    Objectivity was a million miles away from this hack flick, and was only barely hinted at when truly objective statements were sparingly sprinkled in the last few moments of the film.
    It is clearly a case of slander per se, which explains it’s posthumous release… and don’t tell me this “took years to complete” – the whole project could easily have been done in one week.
    CONCLUSION:
    If anyone can watch this slanderous tripe without feeling cheapened or deceived, I seriously question THEIR integrity! Almost anyone could have made a better film than this personal vendetta… wait for a real moviemaker to tell this story of the centric character in Jesus Music – it deserves to be told.
    RIP Larry Norman.

  23. Undeniably Larry had shortcomings. I would not want my darkest moments on the big screen–I shudder to think. And the point is, so do we all. Would Mr. DiSabatino like his darkest moments put on the screen…as narrated solely by his enemies and ex-“friends”?
    It’s of no measure that Larry’s family and closest friends were unwilling to be interviewed; that’s no excuse for DiSabitano’s one-sided portrayal. If you cannot tell the story honestly, in a balanced manner, do not tell it at all. Otherwise, it’s tantamount to defamation, and it’s certainly , undeniably, in direct violation of the higher law: Scripture.
    Mr. DiSabatino, like Kitty Kelley, seems intent on making his living by exposing others’ flaws (Larry, Lonny Frisbee)…but unlike Ms Kelley, only after they die and thus can no longer defend themselves. Such courage! Such righteousness! How very sad that a man would fashion his life in this manner. The only thing that could possibly save him from sleepless nights would be self-delusion. Good luck at it.
    Mike Wiggins

  24. Tony, I don’t agree with your critique but thank you for it. I do find your conclusion off-putting, though.

  25. Mike, I don’t get the sense that David DiSabitano is out to slander people, especially after talking with him. Rather, he is examining his own heroes. I haven’t seen the Frisbee film yet, but I wonder if the films are a reflection of David’s own journey of letting go of heroes (and clinging to God instead).

  26. grimtraveller June 22, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Just a quick comment on the point made earlier about detractors not having seen the film….
    I think that’s actually missing the point of some of those who are uncomfortable about this episode.
    Most of us hopefully avoid porn films. Most of us would be critical of such films. Do you have to watch every one in order to be able to comment on them ? If you say you don’t particularly like, say, country and western music, have you got to sift through every C&W record ever made in order to have an informed view ? Do you have to go through every computer game in order to justify why your young kids shouldn’t play certain of them ? My point is that regardless of whether or not one has seen the documentary, it’s very title, the trailer that advertised it and the myriad of opinions on all sides of the debate tell you something. What disturbs me greatly is the fact that someone’s alledged behaviour is even spoken about. Do we really need to know some of the details that came out ? And frankly, it is, in my opinion dreadfully weak at best, to say that “those that Larry wronged came out praising him and” – this is the corker – ” spoke of how God still used him significantly”. That is called damning with faint praise. You know what it reminds me of ? It reminds me of how, in the early days of the film industry, sexy scenes were cut out of movies because the censors felt that they had a moral duty to protect the population and they didn’t want movies reinforcing what they felt were loose morals. So many filmakers sidestepped this by making many of their movies morality tales in which the “naughty woman” in the end reaps the consequences of her immoral actions. So lots of sexy scenes weren’t touched by the censors because in the end, the bad girl “got hers”. That’s a bit of a deep left field point, I know, a bit abstract, but it shows that you can put something forward in the name of rightness, balance and truth – and still get the dirt in because in the end, the wronged ones are ever so nice and forgiving. But it forever taints the name of the person featured. Because we are human. We will look at Larry Norman differently, no matter how hard we try not to. It’s no good citing the Moses’, Samsons and Davids of yesteryear. We didn’t know them and what we think of them isn’t really important.
    I wish we had just left it to God and got on with the business of just loving one another in the difficult reality of what that means. Selah !

  27. Grim, thanks for your thoughts. People do have different sensibilities, so I can’t say, “Everyone should see this,” because some will leave with their spirits pulled down. My wife, for example, would dislike this film because she doesn’t want to hear about infidelity and betrayal. She shouldn’t see it.
    But for me, I left feeling challenged. Like any good art, this film didn’t leave my spirit untouched. The forgiveness that is shown is a powerful expression of the gospel.

  28. grimtraveller June 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    If this is part of David’s journey of letting go of his heroes and depending on God, why does it have to involve anyone else and particularly on such a public stage ? Surely that’s between him and God ?
    Paul wrote to the Romans “Have you got faith ? Whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God…….” You know, God does especially prize the way his children are about each other because we are so supposed to be an individual and collective reflection of him, his son and the self giving Holy Spirit and he is ever conscious that sinful humans need to be confronted with him in a form we can readilly see and experience. So his church is basically him expressed through a community of people. The invisible become visible. The body moving at the whim of the head. It actually shows how brilliant God is, that he has the power to enliven and mould creatures that are free agents. God seems to me to be especially touchy about the things we say about one another and the way we present one another and I guess it’s easy to overlook the incredible number of times in scripture and through the promptings of his spirit that he frowns upon things like gossip, slander, presenting people in a negative light etc. When people see us doing what this documentary does, regardless of the motives, well, is that the impression of God we want to leave them with ? Have a read of the Orange County news from sometime in October 2008. There’s an article there that sums up for me why “Fallen angel” can’t possibly be of any great benefit. I don’t know whether David’s motives were good or not. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but either way, we walk away “knowing” things that we didn’t before. Things that we shouldn’t know, especially as they happened years ago and may well have been dealt with. Unless you personally choose to publically catalogue your sins, then it’s enough to know that we’ve been forgiven. The whys and wherefores are not for public consumption.
    Like I pointed out in an earlier post, people coming out saying how they were terribly wronged, but forgiving their brother, while itemising the catalogue of sins perpetrated, sorry, but for me that is damning with faint praise. The issue isn’t whether Larry Norman did wrong things in his life. Saying he did wrong things and upset people is like saying there was a thursday last week. And so say all of us ! Part of the big issue is the detail. Wherever I’ve seen sisters and brothers talk about their flaws or sins, even with the anonymity of the internet, no one ever goes into detail. Whatever happened between him and his friends and wives and colleagues is frankly none of our business, any more than what happened between me and my wife back in 1998 or 2002 or whenever. I agree that much good art should (and even if it shouldn’t, it often does in one way or another) leave us feeling challenged or at least sparked to thought but you hit the nail on the head when you say that there are some that shouldn’t see this film. Why shouldn’t some see this film ? I’ve read interviews with David, very pro what he’s about actually, and some of his own words are kind of disturbing to me. I don’t personally feel he has set out to slander Larry Norman. The key here is that one doesn’t have to set out to slander someone in order to actually do it. That’s one of the main reasons that gossip and slander so much of the time pass under the sin radar in our churches and families, while we major on the biggies {fornication, adultery, theft, lying etc, etc}. By straining out a gnat we swallow a camel and perhaps some of us will receive an almighty shock one day, having thought that we were OK. A question worth asking is this; can we in all honesty and reality say that the Lord is turning cartwheels of joy over the making of “Fallen angel” ?
    I don’t have a problem with someone realizing his heroes are actually human and therefore flawed but if you have to go public with it, make a movie and change the names to protect the guilty !!

  29. Jerry L MacLeod July 20, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    When I first heard of all this, I was instantly shocked as it was Larry’s Music in my teens that spoke to me more so than any outside the closet church could have as He was the one to care enough to reach those that many didn’t feel were worthy enough to be reached in those days!
    My last personal time with him was when he gazed upon his ancient record cover which was like his mind instantly took him to those days in facial expressions, then looked up to me and said can you please undo the marker for me as so I can sign my old record you have as I noticed his hand had been bandaged that day of 12-15-2006. Sitting in the center front row thanks to Kristin, I watched him be his usual self although his health failing him. He died on my birth date as well which I can only look up in amazement and speechless.
    Larry’s most important thing ever said to me was YOU need to have a personal relationship with Jesus. THATS THE MESSAGE folks! It appears to me in these readings we all have our thoughts of matters our spirit leads us to think, process, and act upon.
    And so in that relationship, the lesson learned was how is my life and how do others see me? GOD uses people, places, and things such as this video to accomplish something internally of which only one can answer to themselves!
    IF Larry was alive today since this has interesting enough arose after his death, HE would answer to the multitudes that which surrounds this all of which everything would be dealt with; however that was not the plan of GODs now was it? Maybe it’s US who need to answer to that which we have seen and heard? The STONE is still on the table and I still see no one walking up to take it! I have figured out how to walk on water though!
    As far as a short discussion with the producer of the documentary goes, his final words were this: the question is, is it really true? As for that, the next song up was ONLY GOD KNOWS by the Beach Boys!

  30. Jerry, thanks for sharing your thoughts — and especially for turning it Godwards.

  31. I have not seen the Larry Norman film. I have read the article in the Orange County paper about the Lonnie Frisbee film. I did not know Lonnie personally. I was offended by some of the comments in the paper having to do with John Wimber. It seems as though Sabatino is very ready to condemn others and I am not quite certain why. Evidently, while he was ministering at the Vineyard, Lonnie was engaged in ongoing homosexual activity. Wimber reportedly met with him and told him he could not continue to be ministering in the church and to be actively involved in a sinful lifestyle also. Sabatino talks about how Wimber abandoned Frisbee. I cannot really understand what Sabatino thinks John Wimber should have done. Having been at the Anaheim Vineyard, i can assure you that John Wimber was a man who was very well aware of the frailties of others and who was very willing to work with people who had been in ministry and who had sinned and to help them be healed and to re-enter ministry. However, Sabatino seems to miss all this (at least it is not mentioned in the article, which is highly critical of the church in regards to not be accepting of homosexual behavior). Regardless of how “gifted” Lonnie Frisbee was…to claim he should have been allowed to continue to minister while he was openly practicing sexual sin is ridiculous. I see no reason to reinforce Sabatino by paying money to see the film.

  32. Fraulien,
    Wait, wait. I haven’t seen the Frisbee film, and neither have you… yet based on a newspaper article about the Frisbee film, you’re saying people shouldn’t see Fallen Angel because of what a normal non-Christian paper quoted Sabatino as saying? That’s too many leaps for me. (If you don’t want to see Fallen Angel, that’s your business. I’ve said before that it’s not for everyone. But it was well worth my time and money.)

  33. Jon…..
    a. I was talking about seeing the Lonnie Frisbee film, not the Larry Norman film. No, I would not go see it based on what I read. I was offended by how Sabatino portrayed John Wimber, according to the writer and I was also offended by the comments attributed to Sabatino that Wimber (and Chuck Smith) had abandoned Frisbee because they would not let him minister openly in the church even though he admitted he was engaged in ongoing homosexual activity. I do not know anything about the Chuck Smith situation. John Wimber, was a very compassionate man who was very aware of his own flaws and very open about them. He helped others work through their sexual sin and return to ministry while i was attending the Anaheim Vineyard.
    b. I am well aware that it is my business whether I ever see anything by Sabatino and I doubt that I will. No one was saying you should not have seen the Larry Norman movie, nor was that implied.
    c. I was at the Vineyard when Lonnie Frisbee died. His contributions were discussed and, as I recall, John Wimber attended his funeral. It was my impression from things that were said at the church at that time, that John was grieved over the entire thing. Many people at the Anaheim Vineyard at that time were grieved. No….they did not erect a statue to Lonnie the next day, nor would it have been appropriate to do so.
    d. this feeling is not based on one newspaper article. I have read several reviews of the Lonnie Frisbee story in the last few years….the one I cited above is just the last one I read. Regardless of whether the reviewers liked the film or didn’t like it….the plot summaries they provided sounded much the same. That tells me that there is a good chance they have gotten it right.
    As I said, I was offended because of what I feel is something that impugns the reputation of someone I loved and respected (Wimber). My feelings are not based on abstract arguments about when someone should or shouldn’t see a movie.

  34. Hey John (Reid),
    Complete rubbish, I can’t believe I wasted 15 minutes of my day reading your inept commentary. Hey, let’s make a movie about you, and fill it with lies and untruths…how does that sound? You can read all the crap and scathing lies that complete morons are posting about you and your family. It’s too bad that a scumbag like DiSabitano is tying to make a legacy for himself about another person’s legacy…in this case Larry’s. David really didn’t know Larry….at all. I’ve got another idea, how about a movie about David DiSabitano’s gay escapades in his past including gay rapings….that sounds like a dooooozie! Any filmakers wanna tackle that one?

  35. Troy,
    That was a lot of vitriol packed into one comment. You seem upset with me for… what? Not challenging the film? You claim to have read my posting but seem to have missed any points I tried to make. Let me call them all out — not just for you, but to try to redirect future comments:
    • Any powerful Christian ministry is potentially dangerous.
    • The idea that “God comes before my family” is not spiritually sound.

  36. I knew Larry more than anyone can imagine. We grew up together and he was always a true Christian, from the age of four up until his death. Fallen Angel? He never claimed sainthood but he was always at work in his ministry, as he called it. The novel work he did and the people he influenced are enough to fulfill the requirements of a truly great man. To find fault in him is displeasing because he was only human with the same temptations as we have. I am sorry I didn’t answer Mr. DeSabatino’s emails and let him know Larry was just like all of us, maybe this film would have been different. As it is, I bought the video on eBay months ago and watched it over and over. I could see that it was only composed of the few people who had grudges to bare. What about the MILLIONS of people who loved him? You forgot that, David.

  37. Bryce,
    I’ve tried to think of a response, but I don’t think I have anything I can say to a family member without sounding ignorant. So more simply: Thank you for coming by and sharing.

  38. In the end, friends are friends, enemies are enemies, and that’s ultimately a product of choice. Larry’s work has had a profound impact on me throughout my life, and that won’t change. I’ve read his accounts of some things, and others’ accounts of those things, and I know the truth is in there somewhere, but whatever it is doesn’t change the value of the people.
    I will see the film, and take it with the appropriate grain of salt. It won’t change my perception of Larry, which is similar to my perception of us all: humans struggling through a fallen world, with only one true hope.
    As the man himself once wrote:
    “I am a servant, I am waiting for your call
    I’ve been unfaithful, so I sit here in the hall
    How can you use me when I have never given all?
    How can you choose me when you know I quickly fall?
    So you feed my soul, and you make me grow,
    And you let me know you love me.”
    We can all relate.

  39. Larry Norman was a joke for denying his son-what a fake. How can anyone take you christians seriously-absolutely no different or have any power to live a holy life than any unbeliever.
    Christianity as practised by the western world is unhealthy and sick and ineffective.
    Were is this power you christians go on about?

  40. capnskot, you may have just written the best comment here. Thank you.

  41. Tony,
    I think a big part of what you see — and don’t see — is the result of celebrity and a culture obsessed with celebrity. As I wrote, “powerful Christian ministry” is a dangerous thing. Where are the followers of Jesus Christ who are living by the power of the indwelling Christ? The answer is: they rarely make news of any kind, but continue quietly changing the world, both in themselves and around them.
    I generally agree with your critique of current Western Christianity, particularly “Where is this power you Christians go on about?” A big problem I see is that most Christians don’t go on about any power (and are ignorant of it), or do go on about it (and think it is something to be used).
    But while I accept criticism of Larry Norman’s actions, I am not comfortable questioning his heart. We are all broken people in need of a Healer.

  42. I was at the first opening of this film. It did not move me. It hurt me to see all these people, especially Randy Stonehill using a dead man for his gains and revenge. I saw nothing Christian in the making of this film, and I can only feel the Lords anger at this attempt to destroy the Lords work done through Larry Norman. This film is about people’s anger, hurt and none of it gives the true portrait of a kind and Noble man who lived his life for Jesus.
    I told all of them that night they need to go home and repent for what they have done and I still say the same thing.
    Three years later, I see the film the same as the first time I saw it, only this time I didn’t cry. I know the Lord will handle each and everyone of you who took part in this film.
    If this is an example of Christianity, then I want no part in your Christianity.
    Larry Norman wasn’t perfect, but he also would never try and destroy anyone. You all ate at his Birthday party, and all the while knowing you were going to give him a really big surprise. God spared Larry the pain you want to deliver and took him home.
    I pray for you all because you will have to answer for what you have done. Truth? Your truth, not all the truth, not all your hidden sins that go along with the story you did.
    I’m so ashamed of all of you!

  43. One More Thing! This film was produced by Randy Stonehill for Randy Stonehills gains.David Sabatino made the film, Randy produced it all for selfishness!!!

  44. The only way Larry could have kept Randy’s publishing was if there was a contract. In spite of Larry’s lack of integrity as a father, it is wrong to demonize him for being a smart business man. It doesn’t matter what was “said” in the car between Norman and Stonehill; words come through our own personal filters and can be interpreted and remembered differently. It matters what was signed. Everyone in the music biz has one of these stories. It’s called “Live and Learn”. If you are wise, you take responsibility for making a bad decision, keep writing and learn from your mistakes. Although I highly doubt it was a bad decision to give Larry the publishing. We probably would have not ever heard of Randy Stonehill had it not been for Larry Norman.
    My second question on viewing this film was – why didn’t David include Larry’s answer’s to the high-lighted issues?: i.e.: – why did Larry not want to release the album (was it Daniel Amo’s – I forget)? What were Larry’s opinions on the ownership of Stonehill’s publishing? David interviewed him, surely he asked these questions. It seems like they were intentionally left out of the film. Is it okay to do a film on someone’s life then not include their opinions because you disagree with them? The whole film thing strikes me as very manipulative and fraught with less than noble motives.
    Is David DiSabitano’s career goal to put people’s personal failings on a Billboard? First Lonnie Frisbee, then Larry Norman … gee which Christian is next David?

  45. Well, I saw the movie, a few times in fact. It doesn’t give real answers to the questions it raises.
    A hand full of people are making claims that seem awkward to me. This claims aren’t back-upped with facts. It’s a one sided view at things.
    Not once is Larry’s view at a given subject presented. That says enough I think.
    Besides that, on the Unclerandslist (Yahoo group) a guy asked a question to David Di Sabatino. He asked if David really said in the past that he ‘would get even’ with Larry. David answered ‘yes’, and some other stuff. It’s still up, you can read it yourselves. That does it for me. This movie is made by a man who hates Larry’s guts, an acts likewise. He could have presented so much other stuff, but choose to follow this damaging road. I’m sorry for the good people who lent their name to this movie, but I think they should have known. Sad.

  46. Dee, you sure have a thing against Randy Stonehill. It’s interesting that my observations of him led to the opposite conclusion: I saw forgiveness, not vengeance. Take a chill pill.

  47. Here’s a fascinating convo between myself and Mr David DiSabbatino. Watch what you’re doing, & who you ally yourself with! David didn’t want this posted on Facebook and he moved to get it removed from my account:
    http://kevinwaynesongs.com/FallenAngel.docx
    http://kevinwaynesongs.com/FallenAngel.htm

  48. P. Smith, you raise an interesting perspective about how “everyone in the music biz has one of these stories.”
    As for why Larry’s answers weren’t included in the film: David D.S. told me that he had lined up interviews with Larry, but that when Larry learned that David had spent extensive time with Randy, he refused to participate. On the one hand, one can understand that. But I think it was unfortunate, because it does lead to the film being one-sided.

  49. Erick, see my reply to P. Smith about why Larry’s point of view was not in the film. Larry refused to give it. (I don’t blame him, but it’s too bad.)

  50. Kevin, I assume you think your exchange with David D.S. implicates him in some way. I see that he’s not a “make you feel good” type fellow, which I already knew from my brief conversation with him. I am amazed that he kept up the conversation as long as he did.

  51. More than just “not a feel good” person, David is just one-sided as person and comes off highly immature. He has NO interest in being balanced. Plus he makes completely unwarranted implications without support, as with his argument re Pantano/Salsbury. And his whole pattern is repeated throughout both of his movies:
    a. Choose a topic about a person who is dead an cannot answer back on anything you’ve said.
    b. Talk to one group of people pertinent to that person’s life that generally hold to one perspective.
    c. Ignore anyone who holds a different perspective. Make sure you hold to this after the movie is commercially available, and make sure you are ready to belittle them for holding a different view. Avoid the accused themselves at all costs.
    d. Ignore facts or gloss over them that do not fit the picture you are trying to draw. (In the case of Lonnie it’s “Victim”, Larry it’s “Villain.”)
    e. Repeat the above steps in any order, per project.
    I might add, your apologia above that states David couldn’t get an interview with Larry doesn’t wash. Note this little exchange:
    **********************
    Kevin: (Suggesting to David) Interview Chuck Smith & a rep from Vineyard who speaks on Wimber’s behalf. Re-cut FRISBEE with those included.
    This will do 2 things:
    1) Tell the other side of the story
    2) Include a testimony from those who were there and actually are more astute than EITHER of us.
    Sounds reasonable to me.
    David: (Responding) Kevin… that would make it your movie. Not mine.
    *********************
    Now if you can’t see that this makes David slightly less than a qualified individual to go around telling other people’s story, then you can look all day at the Sky & not see the Sun.
    Ask yourself: Would you want this guy doing your life story?
    The “Wahhh… Poor Larry” was more than enough for me, even if I never heard of Larry Norman or knew anything else about all of this.
    Here’s a decent fellow we should all be supporting, He wants to finish his bio of Larry, and I think he should be given the attention David DOESN’T deserve:
    http://thelarrynormanstory.com/

  52. Kevin, I will try to be succinct:

    • When I met David, he told me about trying — and failing — to get an interview with Larry.
    • “That would make it your movie. Not mine.” Seems like a valid thing to say. I do not see how this contradicts what David told me.
    • Sure, the “Wahhh” comment was rude. I don’t think David would disagree with me saying this: He’s not a nice guy, he’s not trying to be your friend.
    • I think you are missing the crux of David’s stories: “And God still used him.” That is David’s gift to the world. Miss that, and you miss everything.
  53. My POINT is, is this God’s movie?
    And you apparently missed where I just pointed out that he still has ample opportunity to interview people in his movies that he unscrupulously avoided and still does!
    I never even addressed the issue of David trying to get an interview with Larry b/c frankly it’s beside the point (and we have to take David’s word for it, we will never really know this side of heaven.) He STILL can talk to people who knew Larry in the last few years of his life and refuses to, he STILL can talk to Chuck Smith and won’t. Isn’t there something about being careful how you entertain an accusation against an elder?
    “And God still used him.” Smarmy b.s. meant to cover up his tracks as far as I’m concerned.

  54. Kevin,
    “Is this God’s movie?” Uh, God doesn’t make movies; people do.
    “Smarmy b.s.”? It’s a truth. You are free to dislike the messenger and question his methods. But it is the central message.
    Peace,
    Jon

  55. That’s being deliberately oblique. But my question stil stands: Would you want someone like that doing your biography? And while I’m at it here’s another, have you ever bothered to talk to anyone who kbnew Larry or was arounf him the last few years of his life?
    Those are the 2 billion Dollar questions AFAICS.

  56. This just came in on another blog I’m discussing this on:
    “In a recent radio interview David himself stated that he didn’t include certain people in his movie because their interview would not have supported the story. I think that makes it clear enough. A one-sided movie which doesn’t answer the questions it raised.”
    http://blog.tonyj.net/2010/01/my-long-strange-trip-with-larry-norman/

  57. The crux of this tragic matter for me is that for some reason DDS knowingly left out of his documentary is that LN self acknowledged he had bipolar disorder, a mental health condition that can cloud and distort a person’s thinking and judgment dramatically. It is reported that people close to the family were aware that there were ongoing mental health issues with several members of the Norman clan, so this is a valid line of inquiry.
    Bipolar Disorder can cause terrible, terrible disruptions in the relationships of those stricken with it and lead to the very kinds of behavior that the video describes LN in having displayed.
    This begs a question. Why didn’t DDS go into this question??? In the video for some reason instead of exploring how this factor may have lead to and might explain some of the objectionable behavior DDS highlights that was out of line with the general sense of who LN was that most people held, DDS simply discounts and dispenses with this entire line of inquiry, using one of the on-camera interviewees to say having a mental disorder is no excuse. What a narrow and ignorant approach for DDS to take! This flies in the face of state-of-the-art medical understanding of mental health, and thereby makes it impossible to see this documentary to be considered complete, even-handed or fully objective.
    Also since LN himself talks in some of his videos about how earlier in his life he had a harsh understanding of how God operates and later came to an understanding of a graceful and loving God which changed his outlook entirely, why didn’t DDS talk about this and how it might have effected his behavior at different points in his life??? From what I could see it caused LN to soften and become more compassionate as his life drew to a close.
    DDS carries this further by the false implication of the film that LN was somehow living in isolation and out of fellowship in his later days. This seems to be entirely based on restricting the input to only those who were upset with LN. Even if DDS was having trouble getting interviews with LN or people who were closely connected with LN, it doesn’t warrant falsely implying that LN was totally isolated and living a sad life.
    Why did DDS take such a judgmental approach when he does such a beautiful job of giving Mr. Frisbee the benefit of the doubt for his shortcomings in his other documentary??? One thing that is evident from listening to DDS is that he got very personally involved in a drawn out conflict with LN while LN was still alive, trying to get interviews and info from LN about the matter.
    Its a shame that he couldn’t find the journalistic gumption to put aside his personal feelings and try to explore and understand how these tragic events might have come about or applied Christian grace and instead adopts a simplistic narrow judgmental stance. Very distressing.
    I took a prebeliever to see this film, thinking it might draw them closer to Jesus, but instead it just spoke poorly of how believers treat one another and turned them off — how disappointing!!! I don’t think the film is finished and really achieves its goal of telling a ‘bible story’ and won’t be finished until DDS is able to make it more objective, whole and complete. Then it would truly be a ‘bible story’ and a God-story of unmerited grace. DDS started on something that I think is worth doing and I hope at some point he’ll finish it.

  58. Its worth noting too that Pamela Newman stated at the premier that LN had asked (and recieved) her for forgiveness for his behavior and DDS subsequently stated that he would not include that point in his film. He said he doesn’t believe Pamela that it happened and that Pamela is just saying that because she wants to believe it even though it isn’t true(?!?!?) While its readily evident Pamela has a very ‘large personality’ that doesn’t excuse deliberate exclusion of her testimony or questioning her credibility. If she’s not credible, why use part of her story but not another?
    DDS made a very transparent excuse not being able to include everything in the film, but actually it seems clear to me that DDS is very selective about what he includes and instead of letting a key figure — LN’s first wife — have her input in the story, he only included those parts of her story that would support his own point of view of how bad a person LN was. So far anyway — maybe we can hope for a more objective update.

  59. Kevin,
    “That’s being deliberately oblique.” I still haven’t figured out what that means. I have figured out that you don’t like or trust David D.S. Fine. But I haven’t figured out what you think of his central thesis.
    Would I want David doing my biography? That’s a sobering thought. If you shone a light on my life, what would you see?
    Have I bothered to talk with anyone who knew Larry? Why do you use the word “bothered?” It almost sounds like an accusation. I’m just this guy, you know, and this is just my blog. I appreciate Larry still, but out of my 829 posts to date, I’ve devoted 3 to Larry. (That’s 0.36%.) In the right column, you will see a list of my most recent posts. I don’t know if you will find any of them interesting, but there you go.
    As for your “one-sided movie,” now you’re quoting comments other people have posted on other people’s blogs?
    Like I said, I know you don’t like this movie. Fine. I think I’ll move on now to the rest of my life…

  60. DJ,
    I have chosen not to write about Pamela Newman’s story (and what David thinks about it). I think I’ll keep it that way.
    You know, the Bible isn’t an objective book either. It’s a bunch of stories told from particular perspectives, of people with flaws (and a God who redeems).
    Thank you for your interesting line of questions around mental disorder.

  61. Jon- If you want explanations, here I’ll see what I can offer:
    ‘God doesn’t make movies, people do” might be OK if it weren’t for the fact that David likes to call his movies “Bible Stories,” implying a bit of authority to them that you wouldn’t ascribe otherwise. That begs the question “Is this a story God would tell? And how would he tell it?” I might point out that the “nonobjective” Bible does give you 2 sides of the story- a narrative from the Northern & Southern Kingdoms. David resists any notions that there are other ways of looking at things.
    You ask what I think of his comment that “God still used him.” I don’t think that comes off very well at all. Check the above story about the Pre-believer by DJ. To do that right, you would probably have to make a movie 3 times as long. There’s lots of yet to be told stories about Larry that are good. One example is how he chaffed against Greenbelt festival authorities and chose to talk openly about Jesus from he stage- at a time when they didn’t want that done. That’s why I posted that thelarrynormanstory.com link. To sum it up, I disagree that his theses is very well served by his methods. It hardly scratches the surface of how he was used.
    And yes- we should all be asking if we want the same treatment we give others, in this case a documentary. I actually am the one of the subjects of one that’s coming out soon. And I know how I would feel if they only talked to people who were pissed at me to describe my life. There you have it.

  62. Kevin, I didn’t think we would ever connect, but you have proved me wrong. Thank you for explaining, and for being personal. I feel we can disagree in peace. My experience was that the theme came through loud and clear.
    Regarding the “Bible story” moniker — that isn’t meant to convey authority. I asked David about it in the Q&A. Rather it comes back to the theme. (Do a find on this page for “Bible” and you’ll see what I wrote.)
    Thanks again,
    Jon

  63. I don’t see a search engine for the blog? In either way the God’s movie question is just another way of asking WWJD, and I am pretty much firm in my conviction that both of David’s movies fall outside of those perameters. I actually am dimmer of my view of Frisbee than of Fallen Angel, for reasons that would take longer than I hav time to expound on. By inference, that makes me take a dim view of Fallen Angel, also.
    Somewhere I read a review- can’t remember where- that said FA “tires mightly to ressurect his (Larry’s) reputation at the end.” I think that’ smore acurate, except I don’t think “mightly” is the word I would use. As one example, when they list various artists Larry had a hand in getting going, I don’t think you can legitimately put Daniel Amos in that catergory, if they were already a going thing before Solid Rock, he didn’t really produce Horredous Disc, and all the memebers can do is complain about it’s delay of release.
    But I’m rambling here, so there you have it [-}

  64. i wasn’t surprised that larry turned out 2 be flawed. it’s almost like he was born in 2 sin or something. 4 me larry’s story is made more powerful by this movie. that inspite everything he continued 2 portray the gosple of christ in his life & ministry. theres a piece written by Allen Flemming on larry norman dot com about larry’s last few hours on earth. & larry sure sounds at peace & confident of his faith. not like a man burdened by a troubled mind from the mistakes he had made. sounds like he bought what jesus was offering & died knowing he was forgiven.

  65. Kevin, I don’t mean a search engine (though I do have one, below my photo on the right). I mean do a “find” in your browser. 🙂

  66. I assume you are referrign to this:
    ” I asked the director why this movie was called ‘A Bible Story.’ He said that Christians like to portray themselves as clean, nice people who have it all together, but that the Bible is filled with people like Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) who had clear faults — but God used them anyway.”
    I don’t really see how that changes my central point, but ah well….

  67. Jon, I think I’ve finally had my “ahaa” moment with ‘Fallen Angel’… and it has set me free to get out there and go for God…just as Larry Norman did.
    I’ve finally been freed from worrying about which of my past sins people might drag up; what allegations they might make; what motives they might misinterpret and what character flaws they might magnify… because it’s not between me than them…it’s between me and God!
    These quotes from Kent Keith and Mother Teresa say it all:
    ”People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. (that includes me…)
    Love them anyway.
    If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. (our motives are always mixed)
    Do good anyway.
    If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.
    The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. (if put in the balance, it will almost always be out-weighed by the harm that you have caused…that’s fallen human nature for you)
    Do good anyway.
    The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.
    What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.
    People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. (I am more than likely to hurt/offend/sin against someone if I choose to get involved… they are very likely to respond by attacking me…that’s what happens…)
    Help people anyway.
    Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. (think prophets!)
    Give the world the best you have anyway.”
    © 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith
    So, if you attempt to push back the darkness, expect to be kicked in the teeth… and you won’t be disappointed.
    BUT go ahead anyway because, “In the final analysis, it’s between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” – Mother Teresa
    …and God can still use you!
    “…and God still used him.” David Di Sabatino

  68. Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your aha moment! I love your take on the film.

  69. Derek Robertson April 17, 2010 at 10:35 am

    See the truth about David Di Sabatino and the deception in his Fallen Angel Larry Norman movie.
    http://www.failedangle.com

  70. Derek, that is an extensive site, and elaborately designed. Say, I recognize one of those photos of David D.S.

  71. That site is not just opinion, but backed by evidence. Fascinating reading. Compare and contrast with Fallen Angel.

  72. To me this movie represents a missed opportunity to really help Daniel Robinson and to help us all our own limitations and shortcomings by observing Larry Norman’s human limitations and shortcomings. The movie severely limits its own effectiveness in bringing light to this extremely difficult subject by unintentionally coming across as biased, mean spirited and uncharitable towards Norman. This undermines the effort to help Daniel Robinson get the recognition he needs. Daniel’s case is extremely strong since Larry Norman appears to have admitted to being his father explicitly in e-mails and by his various actions including having mentioned him in some of the versions of his will.
    This movie would have been so much more effective had it treated Larry Norman with much more (at least feigned) compassion and respect and just tightly focused on 1) providing a more balanced look at this talented person that God so used despite his shortcomings and 2) covering the mental health questions that Larry Norman himself raised by writing and talking from the stage about being diagnosed with bipolar trauma and 3) the most important and undeniable element of Daniel Robinson.
    If David DiSabatino really wants to help Daniel he could focus on these three elements and then more people INCLUDING more Larry Norman fans could listen to the undeniable complexity of Larry Norman’s behavior and it would not be drowned out by the current sea of unprovable complaints that take up most of the negative part of this movie. At least the ‘festival’ version of the film did little to actually help Daniel. The movie is just more tragedy poured upon the tragedy already there… missed opportunity.

  73. Not sure if the version I have is the same as what is currently being shown, but the conclusion one is strongly “pushed towards” on my version is that Larry was a complete charlatan, who never believed, but just used “Christian Rock” to take advantage of a “gap in the market” and milk it for all it’s worth. Absolutely sickening piece of “journalism”.

  74. I have to say that I was really disappointed in the poor quality of this movie. It was like watching a high school project for history day. Poor sound quality, no creativity with camera angles, and filmed in 4:3 for crying out loud! And what was up with the narrators? I felt like I was listening to a golf announcer.
    And what was up with the inconsistencies in the film? Example: At one point Daniel Amos states that the way Larry released one of their albums represented the end of their careers in the Christian music industry. Yet later the film says that they went on to be very successful after Solid Rock and released more than a dozen more albums. What poor story telling.
    I hope someone with more skills takes on this project. The story deserves much better than in got.

  75. Wow, where to begin. I was introduced to Larry’s Music in college, I saw him perform 5 times and I have to say his music shaped my walk with the Lord. Did I question some of his stories, whether they be on stage or in his linear notes? Absolutely. Does it trouble me that he lived a life of contrasts, yes and no. Yes because it reveals to me that in our brokenness we can hurt those we love. No, it is a testimony that in our brokenness, God can use us to reach the downtrodden.
    If any of us is righteous, they have no need for God. I became a fan of Randy Stonehill around the same time as Larry. Both artists music had an impact on my life. I don’t begrudge Randy for telling his story. I believe he did so graciously. I think that one only has too look at flawed Christian leaders all around us to note that God can use us, though we fall. Or as Larry sings, He chooses to uses us, though He knows we’ll quickly fall.
    I felt blessed watching some of the concert footage, remembering the shows I attended and remembering Larry’s wit and wisdom. What Larry accomplished outside of the church cannot be taken away from him. How he screwed up his personal life, that is between him and his Maker. I pity the thought of my life being put on screen, for as fervently as I want to serve the Lord, I too quickly fall.
    I Praise God for Larry’s Music, his wit and his humor; I truly believe as Larry often sang, I hope I see you in Heaven I pray that whether Larry had Psychological problems or whether he had character flaws, that the God of Mercy that spoke through his songs, forgave him and that Larry clung to that Grace even on his death bed. So for now Larry, So Long, Farewell.

  76. David, I only got to see Larry perform once, near the end. Thanks for sharing; your words moved me.

  77. Puzzling. “But God still used him”.
    If we are all flawed and God still uses us in spite of those flaws then what have we honestly learned that is new ? Seems for once the devil really is in the detail!
    Would this whole episode have been less edifying if it was simply reported that “Larry had flaws and sinned against God and people but God still used him” and not gone into detail ? In John Thompson’s book, “Raised by wolves – the story of Christian rock”, he does just that. Gives an outline of Norman’s contribution and leaves one in no doubt that Larry had issues. Yet, one does not come away feeling like the family secrets have been sold to the highest bidder ! There’s no accusations or anything like that. But he’s not presented as a cute long haired flawless curiosity either. It’s refreshingly neutral.
    If there’s one thing I’ve learned through bitter experience, it’s that any action or set of actions can be spun any which way by someone else.
    Jon made a comment earlier that I find increasingly pertinent ~ it was about the cult/culture of celebrity. We in Christ’s body in many ways are worse than those not yet of the body because we are supposed to have been freed of these ‘moth to the lighthouse’ type attractions to celebrity. But we create superstars and become surprized when they turn out like every other human being that has lived. Flawed and unpredictable behind closed doors. The sad and simple truth as I see it even now a couple of years on is that without the detailed spice of sins committed {allegedly…}, this whole episode would be…….boring. A bit like Mother Tereasa. But if stories began appearing about her certain proclivities…..
    Larry Norman was just a bloke in Christ, same as any other blokes and women. We’re flawed to the core and in need of daily alignment with the Lord of our existences, whether we write books, sermonize every sunday, write and record music, run businesses, bring up kids, drive tractors etc.
    There really is no hierarchy in Christ. Unfortunately, many of us do not live in reality like we believe that, hence, all this…….

  78. Not prophetic so much as being a general d-bag.

  79. Why? If you have some insight on this, I think it would be important to share.

  80. Most prophets are. Of course, just being the latter is not a great thing. But if you’re a former, chances are good you will be perceived as the latter.
    Oh, and I see you supplied a fake email address. No thanks. If you want to say something here, please identify yourself.

  81. It’s not my story to tell.
    Oh, and I see you supplied a fake email address. No thanks.

  82. The problem with this documentary is that it’s based on testimonies. Which means people share their few on Larry, from their perspective. This doesn’t give the viewer a complete or honest picture about Larry Norman and the guy he really was. To my understanding this was done intentionally by the filmmaker, which is something people should know.
    Information about this can be found here: http://www.failedangle.com/

  83. If there is one absolutely minimal requirement for a documentary film, it is that it must at least try to present the truth. Documentarians have a special obligation to the world as they are documenting history for posterity. If they fail to accurately represent the truth, they have deceived countless people for a prolonged period until someone comes along and corrects the record. This film is not just careless with the facts, or accidentally reporting inaccuracies, this film is a deliberate effort by the filmmaker to misrepresent the facts about a highly accomplished musical evangelist and respected teacher and leader in the Christian community. In short, it is a hit piece.
    David Di Sabatino, who has only one other film to his credit (which was also a hit piece on a Christian leader, Lonnie Frisbee), broke every rule of honest documentary film making. First of all, there is no documentation in this documentary. My dictionary gives the following definition for a documentary: 1. Consisting of, concerning, or based on documents. 2. Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film. Yet, in this film, the filmmaker sought out and included statements only from people who had grudges against him. There were a great many people who knew Larry Norman very well for an extended period of time whose statements were not sought. When family members offered to provide documentation falsifying the film’s claims they were rejected and not even mentioned in the film. The strongest and most slanderous allegations of the film are pure innuendo. The few people with grudges who derided Larry were represented as typical cases of people that knew Larry. They were not.
    Furthermore, with one minor exception, no one interviewed in the film had been involved in Larry’s life in over 30 years! There are many people that have expressed shock by the overt and destructive lies that they heard in this film and that have said they personally know the allegations presented to be false or contrary to their experience, yet their opinions were not included.
    See the film, but watch it with a critical eye.
    (I was a personal friend of Larry’s for the last 30 years of his life and can personally vouch for Larry’s impeccable character. He was a man of the highest integrity, had a deep and sincere love for God, and was filled with love for everyone he met. And he never stopped talking to people about the love of Jesus!)

  84. “How he screwed up his personal life, that is between him and his Maker” and now the moving going public.

  85. I always loved Larry Norman’s wit and music. I saw him in concert twice in the 1970s and became an immediate fan. I didn’t mind that he combined his religious beliefs with his music, but much prefer his political rhetoric and social commentary which is why I like folk rock music in the first place. I listened to an interview online with the film maker. Larry’s brother was a phone-in guest also. The film maker attacked Mr. Norman very harshly, calling him a liar and just picking a fight whereever he could insert any antagonism at all. I don’t attend church, but I am a music fan and I have as much social grace as anyone I’ve known. I found myself being SO thankful to not be associated with any “movement” that the film maker claimed to be any part of. He tried to fight his way through the interview and just reminded me of the worst in any person that I can think of. I decided that a person who is so vindictive toward a grieving family member as he was had to be a mean “spirited” individual. I heard Larry Norman’s concerts, bought his records and read anything I could find written by him or about him. I believe he was hard to know, maybe hard to understand, and definitely one of the best talents of the late 60s and throughout the 70s. I just wonder why the film maker seems to HATE him. Of course, he’ll say he was just trying to tell the truth and let everyone judge for themselves..but PLEASE…it doesn’t take a tongue talking church going saint to recognize hatred. I recognized it immediately. I’ve never felt that kind of feeling listening to Larry Norman..so, I’d use that subjective evidence to guess that Mr. Norman was truly the “Christian” between the two sujects of this comment. I hope I’m right about that, because if I were to choose a religion based on how I perceived Mr.Noman to behave or based on how the film maker behaved during the interview…give me Mr. Norman’s religion. I don’t want any part of the Film Makers’ religion. It isn’t the same religion as Mr. Norman’s, whoever is right, if either. Thank You.

  86. That was awesome Craig.

  87. If this were a novel it might be entertaining.
    Instead we are discussing an “expose” attempt of an individual who is now dead.
    I understand many here have discussed the importance of forgiveness.
    No argument, but forgiveness for what specifically?
    I am not disturbed by the lack of documentation, apparent bias and sensational focus in this film.
    I wasn’t expecting accuracy.
    People produce films to make money and need to create interest or no one will watch it.
    I’m not compelled to defend Larry nor accuse David… that’s not my office.
    I am perplexed though, over the actual method by which people have drawn conclusions over this film.
    A biography by its nature requires some attempt at veracity.
    The most reliable “facts” I have seen addressing the claims are at:
    http://www.failedangle.com/site/index.html
    Upon reviewing “actual” letters, contracts and voice recordings from the film’s participants, the contrasts appear quite “substantial”.
    As for me, Larry’s music has maintained its influence in pointing me to Jesus since I first heard it back in 1971.
    I’m glad I got the chance to spend some time with him.
    He will always be my brother because we bore each others weaknesses.
    Also, there’s not much left for me to be shocked about regarding someone’s actions.
    I am pretty aware of what I am capable of.
    Did he do everything claimed in the movie, no.
    Did he do any of it, I don’t know.
    Do I care?
    Not much.
    I am 57 years old and have been a Christian 41 of those years.
    In these last two months I am just beginning to understand forgiveness, and how if we hate our brother the love of God is not in us.
    I am learning to forgive those who have hurt me and the ones I love, but even more so, I am realizing I only forgive to the degree I am forgiven.
    To do that you need to have God open you up and show you… you, and once you start to see how goofed up you are, you aren’t so concerned over reputation or rights.
    You become a bit more focused on specifically “what” “you” need forgiveness for, and that it is the only true gift.
    Then you start to go through the yielding of letting Him forgive you, admitting you have absolutely no excuse, not holding onto the guilt as a self-justifying act of redemption, etc., etc…
    Those wanting the “truth” will dig deeper than this contrived piece and look up the website.
    Those with an agenda (whether it be personal or a vested-interest), or who confidently rely on supermarket tabloids for the inside-story, will not.
    Back in the 80’s I had a friend accused by two news anchors on one Bay Area TV station, of taking bribes in order to hide bad test results on a commercial product.
    It decimated him.
    After three years of investigation, there was no proof.
    It was all allegation from an embittered employee.
    Still under scrutiny he left his employer (and extended family) to take a job on the east coast.
    Over the course of the next 30 years he held top positions in the NIH, CDC and National Academy of Sciences.
    Still, to this day when mentioned, you can see it has some affect.
    So do I care?
    I do, but not for Larry’s sake …nothing can hurt him anymore.
    You think it’s such a sad thing, when you see a fallen king
    Then you find out, they’re only princes to begin with
    And everybody has to choose, whether they’ll win or lose
    Follow God or sing the blues, and who they’re gonna to sin with
    What a mess this world is in, I wonder who began it
    Don’t ask me I’m only visiting this planet
    This world is not my home… I’m just passing through

  88. Please go and find out the real facts at the following website:
    http://www.failedangle.com/site/index.html
    It has loads of documentation and actual correspondance and letters.
    The section on the director of this ‘crockumentary’ is pretty revealing.

  89. Hey folks, thanks for all the links to failedangle.com, the site opposed to the Fallen Angel movie. But there’s really no need for any more of them, so this will be the last one.

  90. I remember talking to Larry for about two hours back in the 90s, I had him come and play a concert in Vancouver. ‘In another land’ and ‘Welcome to Paradise’ were easily the two best albums to ever come out of “Christian” music, whatever that might be. Larry was a wonderful person and we had a very deep discussion. Years past, and then I heard about his sickness and saw some pleas for money for his operation, which, to be honest, confused me because I wondered how someone who had written so much music, with all the royalties they entail, would ever need money again. But I realize the vicissitudes of life are many and varied, and money goes as easily as it comes, so that does not bother me at all.

    Like I said, years past, and when I heard he was sick I think an unconscious part of me did not want to look any further into it, because he and his music and his production skill had all had such a powerful influence on me and perhaps it would have been too much to handle. I remember, not knowing that he had passed a few years ago, and listening to Welcome to Paradise with my family, I just broke into tears at the wheel, mourning swept over me and the only thing I could think was that I was so sad that something so wonderful, Randy and Larry singing so beautifully and that time in their lives, was gone now and could not be again.

    Two days ago, I got led to the wiki page on Larry, which, by the way, is as big as the emperor Constantine’s. I learned of his death, but more saddening was all the hard things being written about Larry, Randy, Sarah, and others. A couple hours later, I went to utube to listen to Larry singing Song for a Small Circle of Friends. Then, like Jesus, I wept.