Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

January 6: 2019: Consumed by the Fire of a Star

From Ray McGinnis

 

The frontman for the rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury, was born in Zanzibar, Africa. At birth, he was given the name Farrokh Bulsara. He and his parents were ethnic Parsi, descendants of the Zoroastrians who fled Persia for India beginning in the 10th century due to Muslim persecution. In 1964, Bulsara’s family fled to Great Britain during the Zanzibar Revolution when thousands of ethnic Arabs and Indians were being murdered. When he arrived in Great Britain at the age of 17 he was routinely insulted as a “Paki.”

 

By 1970 he decides to pursue his passion for music and after being in several bands forms Queen in 1971. At that time he changes his name to Freddie Mercury. He arranges to meet with Elton John’s manager and pitches Queen’s niche playing “for the outcasts in the back” of the concert hall. As someone who has been an outcast and discriminated against based on his ethnicity and sexual orientation, Freddie Mercury sees his band as breaking barriers. Naming the band Queen is also a nod to a common slur against “homosexuals” in Great Britain, whose sexual expression had been decriminalized only a few years prior to Queen’s formation.

 

Mercury struggles with demons of isolation and alienation. He uses drugs recreationally and explores bi-sexuality in an era before “safe sex.” Insofar as the film gives a nod to his promiscuity, it suggests that he slept around in part because he never wanted to be alone. The love of Freddie Mercury’s life was Mary Austin, who he had a relationship within the early 70s.

 

Mercury also bridged musical mediums offering up both rock and opera in songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which record companies at first refused to release as a single. One of the film’s messages is that rock can be a haven where outcasts and others on the fringes of society can feel at home.

 

Type: Drama

Director: Brian Singer

Film company: Fox

Release date: November 2, 2018

Starring: Rami Malek, Aidan Gillen, Mike Myers, Tom Hollander

 

Focus:

Farrokh Bulsara is in his parents’ home having a passionate discussion with his father. He tells his father he is changing his name to Freddie Mercury and is going to devote his life to rock ’n roll. His father lectures him that to follow an exemplary path Freddie needs to pursue “good thoughts, good words, good deeds.” This is a credo from his parents’ religion. Freddie views the path his father has been on as failing to overcome prejudice and as a barrier to advancement. So he says to his father, “And how has that worked out for you?” His name change from Farrokh Bulsara to Freddie Mercury is a sign of inner transformation and his belief that he can become a star.

 

Explore… Matthew 2:1–12

  • What is the significance of a star rising in the east for the three wise men? Why are they overwhelmed with joy when the star stops over the stable in Bethlehem? What is the significance of their gifts?
  • Why does it matter that Farrokh Bulsara changed his name to Freddie Mercury?
  • Does Freddie’s ethnicity and sexual orientation make him a likely candidate for stardom?
  • How is Freddie Mercury a star to guide us? In what ways does his star miss the mark?

 

Prayer …

O God, while modern Herods’ frighten us, we long for a star to guide us home, to fill us with overwhelming joy, to help us feel the ecstasy of living, and encountering you. May our own yearning to follow the star guide us to new experiences of you. In Christ we pray. Amen.

 

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