Hip-Hop Religion

I'm not a rapper and I'm not into hip-hop. Neither P-Diddy nor MC Hammer are my kind of guys. I'm much more a Neil Young, John Coltrane, and Diana Krall kind of guy. That may make me old-fashioned, but my 16 yr. old son isn't into it either. He'd rather listen to Led Zeppelin. I guess he's old fashioned too!

Hip-Hop and Religion, it seems, have become intertwined of late. The Crystal Cathedral hosted a big hip-hop event and MC Hammer is even an evangelist. The LA Times carried a lengthy Calendar Section article today entitled "Rap gets Religion," an article that was intriguing to say the least.

Here is a quote from one young rapping preacher -- A-Man:

"THE gangs have the right idea!" A-Man shouts from the flatbed of a semi-truck trailer serving as the stage for Hip Hop Church America outside the Crystal Cathedral on a hot fall afternoon. "But instead of killing each other they should be out there killing witches! When they're out there slaying other gangs they should be slaying demons!"

Then this follows from the article:

A-Man, 13, born Alex Robnett, is in the eighth grade at a middle school in Carson, but he is also a gospel rapper and disciple of the growing hip-hop church movement. His cornrows and the black suit slacks and vest he's wearing may seem an incongruous stylistic mix of street and pulpit, but they reflect the occasionally clashing relationship between rap and religion.

Culture and religion often intermix, which can be good or bad, depending on your perspective.

The music is of course the main thing, but anything connected to Christian life must have at least a bit of theology involved, and this is present in the article. Two schools of Hip-Hop Religion exists, one is rooted in the Black Church experience, is theologically conservative, and it's the dominant voice. It tends to have a prosperity gospel and anti-gay message. There is, interestingly enough, a more liberal alternative. It's much smaller, but its there. The primary proponent of this version is called HipHopE-Mass and is rooted in the Episcopal Church. It's founder is a Harvard Divinity School trained Episcopal Priest named Timothy Holder, who also happens to be the first openly gay person ordained in Alabama. What seems interesting here is that the central dividing tenant concerns whether one welcomes gays or not. Not surprising, I suppose!

So take a look at this article, even if you're not into hip-hop.


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