Larry Norman, President Ronald Reagan and National Religious
Fond Memories of a 1984 Meeting in Washington, DC
By V. Glen Megill
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA (ANS) --
I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Larry Norman. I
not help but reminisce about several days nearly a quarter century ago
when the leader of the modern conservative movement addressed a
gathering of Christian media leaders in Washington, DC and an
anti-establishment Christian rock activist dropped in. Two events
during these few days had an indelible impact on my life.
Larry sang Jesus into my life during the early 1970's when I
not seeking God. I knew of Larry from the band "People" and their
popular hit "I Love You." In 1972, when I came across Larry's
album release "Only Visiting This Planet" on MGM's Verve Records, it
immediately caught my ear.
music was terrific and the message was just edgy enough that I
listened. At the time, I was very impacted by the turbulent
and totally swept up by the movement against the Vietnam War.
antiwar anthem "Six O'clock News" spoke of the tragedy of that
anti-establishment sentiments cheered at lyrics of "The Great American
Larry Norman sang of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, but regarded by
many in His day as an "Outlaw" activist. "He
spoke out against corruption and He bowed to no decree, and they feared
His strength and power, so they nailed Him to a tree."
music got my attention and the lyrics beg
an to get my heart. I am certain God used Larry Norman to soften
heart to the point I was ready for a personal encounter with Jesus
Christ in 1978 at a beach-side baptism service in Southern California
conducted by Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel.
1984, I was on the convention staff of the National Religious
Broadcaster's national convention in Washington, DC. National
Religious Broadcasters is the trade association of evangelical
Christian broadcasters, and at that time the NRB national convention
was a gathering of very conservative Christians.
the days when many still thought Christian rock n' roll was an
oxymoron. It was either Christian or rock n' roll, but it could
It was at the 1984 NRB convention that I ran into Larry Norman.
Ronald Reagan Our Greatest
I saw a man with that familiar long blond hair checking in at the hotel
registration desk of the Washington Hilton Hotel I wa
s stunned. Was Larry Norman, the anti-establishment Christian
musician really planning to attend this most conservative Christian
I approached Larry he said he had just arrived from a performance at
Eastern Mennonite University, in Virginia and was simply spending the
night before flying home in the morning. I was interested in
with him and asked about having lunch together.
I had a
memorable conversation over lunch with this man whose talent and
activism I admired. During our conversation I mentioned President
Ronald Reagan would be at the hotel that very afternoon to address the
convention, and if he were interested I could possibly arrange for him
to attend the event. I said I didn't suppose he would be
seeing President Reagan, but that Pat Boone would be singing as
I had heard Larry and Pat were friends.
To my astonishment, Larry said, "Could I see President Reagan?"
I was stunned that Larry could be anything but an anti-establishment
guy like me, and answered, "Do you like President Reagan?"
He said, "Oh, I do. I voted for him. I think he is the
greatest President we have ever had!"
Ronald Reagan delivers a stirring address to the 1984 National
Religious Broadcasters Convention in Washington, DC.
I was shocked.
He then said, "It was Winston
Churchill who said, 'When you are in your twenties, if you are not a
liberal you do not have a heart. But when you are in your
you are not a conservative, you don't have a brain!' I am nearing
Larry did attend that gathering and President Reagan
delivered a powerful address that challenged us all to take a stand for
right, no matter the cost.
I will be honest. I did not
immediately embrace Larry's suggestion about conservatism. I
vote for Ronald Reagan, but that metamorphosis did eventually occur in
my life and today I believe Winston Churchill and Larry Norman were
Never waste an opportunity to
am not sure if it was because President Reagan's address so stirred
him, but Larry changed his plans and stayed for the entire convention.
days later I mentioned to Larry that several of us were intereste
d in hearing him sing. I asked if I were to get a room for a
concert, would he bless us with some music. He agreed and about
of us assembled in a small room.
Norman (left) at 1984 NRB Convention in Washington, DC. Pictured with
Danny and Caroline Newbern and little Ashley Ruth Megill.
Larry opened this mini concert with a powerful ballad
I had never heard, "I Hope I See You in Heaven." The song spoke
friendship with a woman that never got around to a discussion about
Jesus, and then lamented, "I
held back the words 'God Loves You' and let out the words 'Good-bye' --
and now you're gone so far away, I hope I see you again someday, but if
I don't, I hope I see you in Heaven."
The Holy Spirit
was practically shouting into my heart. What neither Larry nor
else there knew was that just six weeks earlier one of my wife's dear
friends from childhood had died very unexpectedly.
Pam had just
recently reconnected with my wife, Linda, and she had wanted us to
spend a weekend together with her in Upstate New York. Every date
suggested didn't quite work within our schedule, so we passed. We
later learned she was dying of cancer. Beautiful Pam died very
and was buried on a frigid cold Christmas Eve, with a fune
ral completely devoid of God. How we wished we had spent that
together when we had time. What a missed opportunity to share our
While listening to Larry sing, all I could see was Pam's face and I
kept thinking, 'I hope I see you in Heaven.'
left that mini concert forever changed. The Holy Spirit spoke
Larry and I am certain that experience has pushed me past countless
silly moments of indecision whether or not to discuss my faith
throughout the following twenty-four years.
It is true Larry
Norman was controversial and he continued to make some quite
uncomfortable, however, Larry was always an activist for his Lord and
there is no doubt that God used this rather audacious troubadour to
speak into my life. I am grateful He allowed our paths to cross.
Magazine once called Larry "the most significant artist in his
Larry has said, "I'm just an artist, reaching toward Heaven."
Till then, Larry, my friend.. I know I'll see y
ou in Heaven.
|V. Glen Megill is president of ROCK
Mission, an outreach ministry of the World Bible Society based in
Zimbabwe and Zambia, Africa (www.ROCKofAfrica.org). Glen can be reached
in Huntington Beach, California at: