So there they were doing it the right way now. Those Christian crossover artists had learned how to do it in a hostile culture. At least if they wanted their career to survive.
Carefully navigating the parking spaces of the entertainment industry. Backing in slowly between the lines. Making sure they didn’t roll over any toes. Cauterising their lyrics to remove anything that might offend the woke crowd.
Then along comes Kanye West, screeching into the car park of late night television in a big red Ram Pickup, all fat tires, airhorns and attitude, reversing over the lines, scratching the paintwork on the beige Prius parked in the bay next to him.
“Hey Le Crae, how’s it going? Sorry I messed your duco.”
Jumping out, slamming that door and staring at Jimmy. Jimmy Kimmel – or Jimmy Fallon – who can even tell the difference, and who even cares when it’s Kanye. Staring Jimmy in the face and daring him, just daring him to say it. I want to hear you say it Jimmy! Say it Jimmy! Say it!
Jesus is King! That’s right, Jesus is KING!
Jesus is King. It’s an album. It’s a confession. It is what it says it is. And Kanye has enough pre-Jesus “up-yours” money behind him to look Jimmy in the face and know that no Twitter-nazis, no Instagram mob rule can bring him down, no matter what he says on Jimmy’s show.
If you haven’t watched Kanye on Kimmel’s late night show, you should. It’s a memorable piece of TV. There is the king of late night woke, and a man listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people on the planet (yet who still gets confused with Jimmy Fallon), like a deer in the headlights.
I want to hear you say it Jimmy! Say it!
So would you consider yourself to be a Christian artist now? Kimmel asks?
“I’m just a Christian everything – uh-huh.,” says Kanye after a pause, arms folded.
And then Jimmy gives us the big reveal. The big reveal about just how little the entertainment culture even knows about Christianity, when he talks about Kanye’s Sunday Services
“I think you, with your services you’ve made church fun to go to for a lot of people. People are saying ‘Oh gosh, I wanna go to church, and you never hear anyone say that really, I mean, certainly not young people.”
Perhaps Jimmy never hears anyone say that church was fun before. Never met anyone under the age of 25 eager to go to church. But then again he lives in a secular bubble in which every conversation around a dinner table about spirituality is self confirming.
Is Kanye Christian? Will we be tempted to worship Kanye instead of Jesus? Will he run in 2024? Are evangelicals likely to pour all their constantly shattered cultural dreams onto this global superstar?
Too many of the blogs and comments I’ve read sound like curmudgeonly Church Lady. Church Lady wants to make sure you’re wearing your itchy pants on Sunday, not having too much fun. Always making sure the Christian poetry is drained out of the Christian practise.
Church Lady has got Kanye sussed. Church Lady never suspected Judas wouldn’t end up loving Jesus. Never suspected that Rabbi Saul of Tarsus would. Heck, where’s a good Barnabas when Kanye needs one?
So people are going to pin their hopes on Kanye. Just like they did Driscoll. Just like they did Hybels. Just like they did with John Calvin or Martin Luther. Just like they did with “insert-hagiographic-theological-figure-here“. Long dead celebrities are much easier to pin your hopes on and still stay kosher. They wrote books, didn’t drop albums.
I’d like to say how about we give the guy a break. How about we chill out a little. Stop pinning our hopes and fears on what it means for Kanye to be or not to be a Christian. Is he having a lend of us? Is he having a lend of Jimmy? Surely only time will tell. So give him a break.
But truth be told he doesn’t need a break. He’s having fun. He’s having fun putting a wrecking ball through an elite, creative culture for whom Christianity is poison, and which has pretty much cowered every other wanna-be mainstream Christian artist into theological and ethical silence. And he doesn’t care. In fact he’s doing it with a smile.
“I am not a theologian—I am a recent convert,” he said just last week. So let’s give him a break like you give a break to the recent converts in your church. You do give a break to the recent converts in your church don’t you? Or do you come over all Church Lady even with them?
Oh, and at 27 minutes long Jesus Is King is an eleven point sermon that could teach the odd preacher a thing or two about poetry and brevity.
Say it Jimmy! I want to hear you say it!