“There are none nearer to God in this life than these haters and blasphemers of him, nor any sons more pleasing to him and beloved by him!” (Martin Luther)

Because of my adolescent love of skateboarding, and thanks to Netflix instant streaming, I recently watched Rising Son: Christian Hosoi, the documentary about the rise and fall of skateboarding legend Christian Hosoi. Hosoi was one of skating’s first “rock stars” and helped define 80s fashion; he was the first guy to sport multiple swatch watches on his wrist, which is still one of my favorite quintessentially 80s fads. At his peak, he was the richest skateboarder in the world. His reign as the king of vert lasted throughout the bulk of the 80s and into the 90s, but the lifestyle caught up with him, and, in 1999, Christian was caught with over a pound of methamphetimine in an airport. He then spent 10 years in prison.

The film tracks Hosoi’s rise, fall, …and resurrection. Going in, I knew about his skating, and I knew about his (not so surprising) downfall. But his profound and sudden conversion to Christianity came as a totally wonderful surprise to me (as life on the other side of death always does–though I guess it probably shouldn’t since it’s been my experience too). Rising Son offers a beautiful portrait of “the same old story of Jesus and his glory.”

Upon reflection, one thing that especially stands out to me is the way in which his story breathes life into the notion that “God is sovereign”, as He seems to be present in Christian’s life long before Christian, or anybody else for that matter, ever recognizes it (i.e., preveniently). Obviously, for starters, the man’s name is “Christian”. Part of his famously flashy wardrobe included a cross which he is seen wearing at multiple points during his skating career, including at some of the darkest moments. Another little thing that stands out is his signature move (that he invented) called “the Christ air”, where he would fly through the air completely cruciform, holding his board at the end of one of his outstretched arms.

Christian is now one of the associate pastors at a church in Huntington Beach, California, the place where, earlier in his life, he helped to define street-skating at its most daring. Here’s the trailer:

I won’t tell you any more. Suffice it to say, like most true stories of redemption this one contains some very disturbing and gritty depictions of an eroded life (primarily in the form of drug addiction), so be warned about that on the front end. If you like it, you might also enjoy the documentaries Rize and The Gospel According to Al Green.