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Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher (2005)

Lonnie Frisbee was a young hippie seeker fully immersed in the 1960s counter culture when he claimed to have experienced an encounter with God while on an acid trip. This event so ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Phil Aguilar
Darrell Ballman
Connie Bremer
Jon Carreon
Tommy Coomes
Ken Fish
Lonnie Frisbee ...
Himself (archive footage)
Bob Fulton
Chuck Girard
Himself (archive footage)
Kenn Gulliksen ...
Phil Mahlow
Sandi Mahlow
Bryan Marleaux


Lonnie Frisbee was a young hippie seeker fully immersed in the 1960s counter culture when he claimed to have experienced an encounter with God while on an acid trip. This event so transformed him that Lonnie became an itinerant Christian evangelist, something of a John the Baptist of Southern California who compelled thousands of fellow spiritual seekers to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. During the 1970s Lonnie Frisbee became widely known as California's "hippie preacher," the quintessential "Jesus freak" whose pictures frequented such magazines as Time and Life as the media told the story of a burgeoning "Jesus movement." Lonnie Frisbee provided the charismatic spark that launched the Calvary Chapel church into a worldwide ministry and propelled many fledgling leaders into some of the most powerful movers and shakers of the evangelical movement. During the 1980s Lonnie was at the center of the "signs and wonders" movement, one that focused on reviving the practice of ... Written by Anonymous

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Plot Keywords:

hippie | 1960s | preacher | minister | aids | See All (16) »


What do you do when the Jesus freak who started your church dies from AIDS? Simple. Erase him from history.





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Release Date:

24 April 2005 (USA)  »

Box Office


$25,000 (estimated)

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Features Marjoe (1972) See more »


by Larry Norman
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User Reviews

The sinner as a saint
4 February 2006 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

This is the kind of well-reasoned movie about an intriguing public figure that would get a primetime TV slot if the channels claiming quality weren't afraid of meaning. Lonnie Frisbee achieved notoriety in the early Seventies as a major player in the Jesus Movement, in which counterculture kids were attracted to a less rigorous Christianity, emphasising love while minimising constriction. Frisbee was affiliated with the fledgling Calvary and Vineyard churches, both now multinational, but fell out with both, growing embittered before dying of AIDS. Director David Di Sabatino comes from an evangelical family, but possesses a modicum of scepticism to leaven the occasional sanctimony of his talking heads. (Sadly his open-mindedness doesn't transfer to the visual, as he overplays certain tics like zooming into stills off-center. Sometimes it's okay to just show the picture.) When the movie shifts to deal with Frisbee being squeezed out of the Vineyard after it was revealed he had been in a gay relationship, although it does smack of trying to force a thesis, that thesis stands: this major figure in the development of these churches has been whitewashed out of their history books. One could argue, however, that the movie does its own whitewashing by downplaying Frisbee's other sins, like his drug use. In any case, some Christians would consider the idea that a sinner could convert so many people to be perfectly apt (they're the target audience for this movie); other Christians would prefer not to contemplate such things. Hinted at is the question of whether it's possible for Christianity to thrive as an anti-authoritarian movement, like it originally was. Christianity's ubiquity would be impossible without its hierarchies; while open and reformist thought is possible at the fringes, can it affect the religion as a whole? Frisbee, for his part, seems from the archival footage to be a likable, charismatic innocent, joyful at being saved and wanting to pass this feeling on. When those who were ministered by him discuss him, he comes across as something more: an apostle, a prophet, just not a saint. Some of them to this day credit him with miracles. You may not believe them, but to possess the holy stature and earthly magnetism to have others even ascribe this gift to you is rare. The enraptured testimonies help explain the explosion of the evangelical movement, like it or not.

One other thing that must be mentioned is the music, which consists mostly of prehistoric Christian rock. Like most of the genre then or since, the tracks are watered-down reassignments of what was fashionable five years earlier, except Di Sabbatino's choices are only slightly watered-down, so that, in the context of the movie, they sound actively pleasant. As Larry Norman asked, why should the devil have all the good music?

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