Kanye may have written “Jesus Walks” but its pretty evident from this egotistical, post-Coachella display that he dared to call “Sunday Service”, that the Savior Himself probably stopped walking with the former MAGA beat-maker. After all, it is quite strange to take seriously the “worship” of God from someone who calls himself “Yeezus”.
Resurrection Sunday of this year, Kanye and clan, including the ever attention seeking Kardashian/Jenner family, made their way, wearing clothes that look like they were white but someone dropped a red sock in the wash, to a hill where Kanye revealed his Sunday Service choral experience. The same day many of us were gathering to celebrate the truth of the risen Savior, the same day over 300 people died and countless others were injured in church bombings in Sri Lanka, the same month 3 Black Churches were burned down by a White Terrorist, Kanye decides to put Black Christianity on display for the mostly wealthy White audience of Coachella to see.
According to NBCNews, the weekly services are invite-only, require attendees to sign a non-disclosure agreement despite being able to post service across social media. West took this service to Coachella, where some 50,000 people supposedly attended during the first weekend of this year’s music festival.
Kim Kardashian West described the service to Jimmy Kimmel, saying “There’s no praying. There’s no sermon. There’s no word. It’s just music, and it’s just a feeling.”
“But it’s Christian,” added Kourtney Kardashian.
I guess in an attempt to assert the Christian sentiment, Kim later told Elle Magazine ‘It’s definitely something he (Kanye) believes in — Jesus — and there’s a Christian vibe. But there’s no preaching. It’s just a very spiritual Christian experience.”
A “Christian vibe?”, a “Christian experience”, without a sermon or scripture? Sounds a little odd to me. But I am not here to just people’s worship. Whatever brings you closer to God, right? Despite my own feelings on having a Kanye or a Kardashian reduce the Christian experience to a “feeling”, I am willing to let people worship how they choose.
Except for the exploitative addition to this Sunday Service: merch.
I might have just let it go as a form of choral concert or worship experience until I heard about the Church Clothes, a line of Sunday Service merchandise that includes $50 socks and $230 sweatshirts with “Holy Spirit” scrawled across the chest.
As a person who regularly purchases tees from her church, whether it be for a church picnic or fellowship events, with the funds usually being allocated to a mission, a philanthropic effort, or other forms of ministry, it BAFFLES me to see a $230 tie dye sweatshirt being sold at a “worship experience”.
One of the things this Sunday School teacher loves about being a Christian is the story of redemption, the lengths that God goes to in order to restore fractured relationships with His fractured children. We sing “Love lifted me”, lyrics like “When nothing else could help, Love lifted me.” and “Come Thou Fount”, with its words saying “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it. Mount of Thy redeeming love “ as personal testimonies. Redemption. Restoration. Revitalization. Resurrection. All tenants of the faith I have given my life to.
So to watch a person who has very visually and loudly sided with a world leader whose racist, bigoted, homophobic, ableist views have unleashed the spirits of those things across the nation to come along and attempt to profit off of the same or similar harmonies Black People have been singing in our churches (where the Word got preached and the Bible was indeed read) feels disingenuous at best and exploitative at worst.
To say that Sunday Service a Christian experience that is “spiritual” gives me major pause. After all, Satan is pretty spiritual. He was also the director of the choirs of heaven before being cast out for “thinking too highly of himself”, according to our faith. Sounds pretty familiar, huh? So, for clarity, which “spirits” are we talking about?
To say that Sunday Service is focused on love, but merely is a frivolous and void experience that, yes, sounds very pretty, but is empty of the transformative Spirit of God, that changes us from the inside-out, that makes us love our neighbor, but not just the fluffy, squashy, big hug feels of love but also compels us into the hard, difficult, sacrificial, dirty places of love, is not Christian. It’s merely a feel-good experience on a hill outside of Coachella.
I’m not buying it. And I am not alone.
As Michael Arceneaux, author of “I Can’t Date Jesus”, writes:
“Has Kanye West apologized to the Black people he hurt after his insulting remarks to our ancestors and his zealot-like affinity for the man who personifies the very racism that brutalized them? No, but he is exploiting a Black tradition — Sunday services — as a means to reclaim some of the fanfare his uninformed, caustic political views helped diminish. Even when it comes to the purported goal to “communicate love effectively,” it’s coming from a guy who said he loves the man responsible for locking up babies in cages.”
If this was Kanye’s attempt to try to patch things up with the Blacks, it has pretty evidently failed. Like my mama, and countless other Black Women have said “You made this bed. You lie in it.” You wanted the attention and adoration of racist bigots, those are your supporters now sir. We have seen who you are, and this little pretend worship experience that serves as worship of yourself alone has only further cemented that the Kanye of Donda West is truly gone.
Sunday Service is nothing but a self-serving, soulless, spiritless act of an egotistical shell of a former brilliant artist. It steals from the Black religious tradition, a tradition that sang “guide me over, great Jehovah” and “how I got over, a tradition that hid directions to freedom, a tradition that kept my people through state-sanctioned terrorism of reconstruction, Jim Crow, and so on to this day. It spits in the face of the faithful while stealing from the pockets of the faux spiritual. It offers a faith without rules, belief without structure, and all the trappings of Christianity without the actual practice or accountability of it.
I hear the words of the Savior in Matthew 7 beginning at verse 15:
“15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
We have enough false prophets out for profit bastardizing the faith for funds. We don’t need a Kardashianized tethered version of a musical genius we all used to love as another.
This post was originally shared on The Reclaimed blog.