I’ve written previously about Kanye. That’s precisely why I’m feeling really conflicted about his most recent foray into Christianity. (Full disclosure — I haven’t listened to the album; not yet sure if I want to finally spend money and support this artist).
Someone wrote, “the man who once said, “I am God,” now sings “Jesus is King.’” On one hand, heaven rejoices whenever someone enters the fold. He who is without sin, cast the first stone. Judge not, lest ye be judged. As long as He preaches Christ, who cares about the motive, or if it’s perfect. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Based on the interviews I’ve watched, his understanding of the Gospel seems sound. It doesn’t sound like he’s stringing churchy lyrics and random religious sounding words together. Also, the Kardashian-Jenner family went to church growing up — even had a home church — so Kanye’s conversion doesn’t seem like such a great departure.
R. Kelly released a Gospel album once. Two CD set. Said all the right things. Sounded good too. And look at where he is now?
I felt hoodwinked. Most of us did. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
Too many times Black artists exploit (Black) Christianity for their personal gain. If you are a mainstream artist and you need a likkle boost among the Black community, releasing a gospel album is a surefire way to increase sales and profile and strengthen your fanbase, ’cause now you got the church people on board.
They know what sells.
Kanye’s tweets have always been problematic and faux deep. Vacuous. Am I now supposed to be on board when he starts saying something familiar?
As someone who has disclosed his bipolar disorder, I do wonder if or to what extent his mental illness plays a role in this. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t listen to people with mental illnesses. Nor am I saying that the conversion of someone with a mental illness is any less genuine. I certainly do not want to further stigmatize those with a mental illness. What I am saying is that, given Kanye’s past behavior and utterings, this all feels like some kind of extended manic episode.
Plus, his Sunday services are…interesting. The outfits… the posturing… But am I doing any better? Am I holding services? Am I trying to spread the gospel?
And then I’m like: who cares what I think?
But part of the reason why churches often find themselves in hot water is because they have a tendency to accept all declarations of faith immediately and unquestionably, especially if it benefits their profile. The church gravitates to zealous people. The Christian church lacks a critical lens and that is our blind spot and Achilles heel.
And it’s so interesting how some Christians are embracing Kanye at the same time others are telling women preachers to “go home.” Female preachers have been doing the same thing — with evidence of the efficacy of their ministry — and yet the church has declined (repeatedly) to accept them with the same fervor that they embrace Kanye.
But I digress. We live in some interesting times.
If this conversion is genuine (not perfect, not even forever and indefinite. Just genuine) I support my brother in Christ. I’m certainly not the gatekeeper into the kingdom. I have my own life to worry about.
But Christianity isn’t a trend. It’s not a fad. And I’m not yet convinced that Kanye agrees.
So… I’m going to refrain from being a bandwagonist and giving unequivocal, uncritical support and instead I’m just going to…watch.
“Jesus walks with me.” And Kanye. How beautiful are the feet of those who carry the Gospel. But by their fruits you shall know them.