Love and Mercy, a film telling the story of Brian Wilson’s descent and reemergence, recently was released. It depicts the complicated life of the Beach Boys’ main composer and founder, Brian Wilson. Wilson began a descent due to phobias and depression that resulted in drug addiction, which turned Brian into a virtual recluse. The people closest to him felt helpless, while others took advantage of him. In  many ways, it is a difficult film to watch.

The story eventually comes to a happier conclusion by documenting how Wilson’s second wife helped him out of his darkness and back into performing and composing. Originally, the film was going to be titled after one of Brian’s songs, “Heroes and Villains,” but was renamed after one of Brian’s later song—“Love and Mercy.” Wilson said of the song:

"We wanted people to be covered with love, because there’s no guarantee of somebody waking up in the morning with any love. It goes away, like a bad dream. It disappears. Mercy would be a deeper word than love. I would think love is a gentle thing and mercy would be more desperate, ultimately the most desperately needed thing in life. Mercy—a little break here and there for somebody who’s having trouble…“Love and Mercy” is probably the most spiritual song I’ve ever written."

So, is it possible that sometimes in our complicated world, the answer is not in trying to identify heroes and villains, but in extending love and mercy?

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About The Author

A third generation preacher, Mike Shannon is Professor of Preaching at Cincinnati Bible Seminary of Cincinnati Christian University. He has served as a preaching minister, church planter, and college professor. His most recent preaching ministry was at the historic First Christian Church of Johnson City, Tennessee. In his nearly two decades at Cincinnati Christian University, Mike has served as both professor and Dean of the Seminary. He has also been an adjunct professor at Milligan College and Northern Kentucky University. Mike is the author or co-author of several books.

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