The new feature film on the life of Elvis shines a fresh light on the role faith may or may not have played in the life of the Rock ‘n’ Roll legend.
Elvis, the film, shares a detailed account of the rock ‘n’ roll pioneer’s life from the perspective of his shrewd, opportunistic albeit corrupt booking manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The film reveals the family’s poor upbringing in Mississippi and eventual move to Memphis, Tennessee when Elvis was 13. The bigger city and the influence of gospel and blues music couldn’t be denied in his formative years.
In a time when segregation between blacks and whites was the status quo, the Presley family in essence broke through those walls and it birthed in Elvis a sound and style that was second to none. The exposure of Elvis to African America culture, style, music, as well as an Assemblies of God Holy Spirit-filled church where the film depicts him being touched by the Spirit in such a way that suggests God marked his life in a special way. The film goes so far as to perhaps suggest that the jerks and moves that he would become so famous for and that would offend deeply his opponents may have been influenced by the bodily manifestations he experienced in church and in tent revivals when the Spirit touched him.
Either way, faith inspiration is weaved into the start of the film, where prayers are offered as Elvis is starting his career as a teen and his mother holding fast to the faith until she later falls into depression and alcoholism.
The book of Romans is clear, the gifts and call of God are without repentance. Undoubtedly, Elvis was given a gift that remained, though in his later years he would stray from his roots and perhaps never truly come back. That gift could be used for good or for evil, sadly the concern remains that Elvis opened up the greater culture to sex, drugs, and Rock n roll, the likes of which to this day our culture has never recovered.
While we don’t know what was going on in his heart, we do know he was raised in the faith, inspired by gospel music, mesmerized as a kid by the preaching and choir at his church, and baptized twice. The rest they say is history.