Of Ragamuffins, Daughters, and Being Offensive

A person, typically a child, in ragged, dirty clothes.

“Ain’t it a blessing to do what you wanna do”
– Shawn Mullins, Twin Rocks Oregon
“Someday You’ll wake up and you’ll be asking yourself why you sat there at your desk, sucking on a corporate breast, you turned out like the rest.”
– Shawn Mullins, Something To Believe In

It’s all related.. I promise. Well, loosely in any case.

Brennan Manning – “The Ragamuffin Gospel” – died last month. My two oldest children closely associate with being ragamuffins.. in a spiritual sense.. along with Rich Mullins. I consider Rich to my favorite songwriter.. IMPORTANT: not my favorite Christian songwriter.. most Christian music bores me.. He is my favorite songwriter because of his songwriting.

The oldest girl is visiting me right now – tag-teaming with her younger sister (aka: “the girl”) by controlling the radio and TV and ensuring Dad is both put in his place and is frequently serving them. I’m okay with that.

I’ve been talking with the older of the two about life and her plans – which are forming as we speak – literally. She mentioned a conversation with #1 – my oldest – who is working to head back to bible college.

Apparently, they were discussing the relative safety and conservative nature of some within the church and at the bible college he’ll be attending… and how they might react to the somewhat nomadic/gypsy and ragamuffin nature of my son.

He then said what I might consider one of the more interesting, poignant, and quotable comments I’ve ever heard.

“It’s going to be refreshing and offensive!”

That’s good!

And he doesn’t mean offensive in terms of salty language or disgusting behavior – although such things could happen. He means something more dramatic… raw transparency.. He means letting down the veil of decency that we all hide behind at times… much of the time…. MOST OF THE TIME… and pushing into a more raw and open dialogue and understanding.

Such conversation necessarily tramples the, “How are you doing? Good. And the kids? Wonderful – they grow up so fast don’t they. Nice weather we are having,” droning that we often take part in.

Those can be uncomfortable and even painful conversations. But my kids have those conversations with each other – and with me sometimes. I’m thankful for that.

And it prompts other conversations..  I seemed to have instilled somewhere in my kids a pretty solid, “F— the establishment! I’m doing what I want to,” perspective. They are still pulled – as am I – by society’s nagging, “this is how life is to be done,” call. Go to school. Get a good job. Climb that ladder (the corporate breast) and smile for the camera.

Mind you.. there is nothing wrong with climbing the corporate ladder per se. The challenge I’ve found is that for many, they are taking part in life with a, “I’ll do this until I figure out what I want to do,” attitude. In many cases, they never get raw enough with themselves or others to answer the question, “what do I want to do?”

Also, I don’t believe, and I hope I am not teaching a, “F— the establishment!” for F—ing’s sake. That’s foolishness and dangerous.

I spoke to my younger daughter’s classroom last week. I LOVED IT! Middle-school is all energy, confusion, and feigned certainty. My advice ran something like this.

  1. There are no rules!
  2. You can change what you are doing at any point in life and pursue something else.
  3. The most important thing about school is NOT getting a degree. It is loving to learn new things!
  4. If you know what you want to do.. pursue it. If you don’t, do lots of things so you can figure that out.
  5. And what you want to do might change.. don’t stifle that. See #2.

But after all is said and done.. perhaps my son has it right.

Be refreshing and offensive! At least with yourself, those you love, and those who love you. You might find that you, in fact, have something to believe in.

Posted in Blog, Life, music, Songwriting, Writing.


  1. Hi Matthew

    Found you via InformitIT news. Really enjoyed this post – I loved Ragamuffin Gospel and Abba’s Child. I loved Christian music in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when people like Rich Mullins, Billy Crockett, Mark Heard and Wayne Kirkpatrick were writing really good songs about life – all aspects of life. Now, all I hear are worship songs . Don’t get me wrong, I love worshiping and I know God deserves our worship, but I think sometimes He must get bored hearing the same thing over and over again. I think its a cop-out for most Christian songwriters – they write worship songs because they don’t know how to write anything else. I’ll sign off now, as I’m sure I’m about to be smote by a lightning bolt any second now.


  2. Dave.. if you get smote, I’m probably next (or first) on that list.

    I place Rich Mullins in a different category. I don’t consider him a Christian songwriter. He is an amazing songwriter who writes songs with Christian content.

    Thanks for commenting.

Add your thoughts here! You know you want to...