The THEO GRAFF PODCAST is a show about faith, theology and how they intersect the various cultures in our world. In particular, Theo Graff is an outflow of the life and ministry of T. C. Moore, an urban minister deeply influenced by hip hop culture. For more about T. C., check out his personal website.
I spent longer than normal on the bus today because I needed to get a haircut in Allston, which is out of the way of my usual trek from Cambridge to Roxbury. This detour gave me time to listen to music and think. I listened to staples like Pac, 100 Portraits, and Jason Morant. But the extended trip gave me the opportunity to indulge in some favorites by Jill Scott and the Roots crew. While Jill and the Roots make music in two separate genres—R & B and hip hop respectively—the two share in common that jazzy Philly sound. This got me thinking about about the many connections hip hop and jazz share. From there, my mind shifted to theology—as it often does.
God and Improvisation
In Openness circles, the analogy of dynamic providence to improvisational jazz is well-known and affirmed. For Open theists, God's relationship to humanity, particularly regarding his salvific economy, is more analogous to the improvisation of jazz musicians than the direct rendering of notes from a musical composition. The brilliance and the artistry of the music is found in its creativity and spontaneity, not its ability to follow a pre-programmed routine.
Humble Beast artist, Propaganda, who has had some recent internet fame from his viral video poem "G.O.S.P.E.L." 1, recently released a full-length hip hop album entitled "Excellent" (available for ****FREE****!!!). While the entire album is worth a listen, one track in particular is making waves all over the evangelical blogosphere. 2 Why? Because a black, Christian hip hop artist dared to denounce the racism and slave-owning of Puritans—the darlings of Neo-Calvinist folklore. [gasp!] And several of Propoganda's points are powerful!
Here's a little taste:
Pastor, you know it’s hard for me when you quote puritans.
Oh the precious puritans.
Have you not noticed our facial expressions?
One of bewilderment and heart break.
Like, not you too pastor.
You know they were the chaplains on slaves ships, right?
Would you quote Columbus to Cherokees?
Would you quote Cortez to Aztecs?
Even If they theology was good?
It just sings of your blind privilege wouldn’t you agree?
Your precious puritans.
…and, some more:
Oh, you get it but you don’t get it.
Oh, that we can go back to an America that once were, founded on Christian values.
They don’t build preachers like they used to. Oh, the richness of their revelations.
It must be nice to not have to consider race.
No, the title of this post isn't the beginning of a religio-hip-hop joke (although that might be fun too.) Instead, this time, I'm reflecting on a verse from a track by Nas—an emcee who is unquestionably one of the greatest of all time. Like many forms of media, clues lay buried in it, which point to much deeper truths about the Kingdom.
Those of you who know me, may know that I have a strong opinion on Calvinism and Christian Hip Hop (Part I, Part II). What you may not know, however, is that I am not entirely alone in my opinion. Besides myself, I have read disappointingly few who have had the guts to speak out on this subject.
I've been holding back from posting because I didn't want to interrupt my series on the Evangelical Covenant Church's six essential Affirmations—which will require one more preliminary post on Evangelicalism and Pietism (coming soon!)—but alas there has just been too much happening.
New City Productions is a sole proprietorship and design firm through which I serve organizations (mostly Christian churches and parachurch ministries) by providing design consultation, branding, and web development.
Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.