Tag Archives: ethnocentrism

Kendrick Lamar’s Christianity

Kendrick Lamar Christian rapLeft dazed and reeling with fury, Kendrick Lamar was in a Food 4 Less parking lot after his buddy had just been shot and killed. Rage for revenge burned inside, but so did a gripping sense of horror at the evil in this world.

Seeing him in turmoil, a friend’s grandmother approached and talked to Kendrick about God, and the teenager accepted Jesus into his heart.

“One of my homeboys got smoked,” Lamar told the New York Times. “She had seen that we weren’t right in the head. That was her being an angel for us.” He got baptized a decade later.

Kendrick Lamar JesusToday, the seven-time Grammy winner makes frequent reference to God’s salvation and grace, as well as temptation and fear of judgment in his songs. While the rank and file of the church eschews him for his profanity and descriptions of sexual sin in other songs, his secular audience has no doubt about his faith.

“I’m the closest thing to a preacher that they have,” says Lamar, 31. But he adds, “My word will never be as strong as God’s word. All I am is just a vessel, doing his work.”

Vassar College professor of music Kiese Laymon calls him a “prophetic witness.” Revolt online magazine says Lamar “wears his faith, spirituality, and religious beliefs on his sleeve.” He doesn’t drink, smoke, use drugs or womanize.

Lamar is part of the bridge forming between secular and Christian hip hop. While Lecrae moves toward the secular side, Lamar and a host of other artists are pulling away from unbridled hedonism and exploring salvation themes. (Chance the Rapper, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and even Drake also include songs that talk unashamedly about God and Jesus in their repertoire.)

kendrick lamar wifeLamar grew up in Compton, Calif. His father belonged to the Gangster Disciples gang. Little Kendrick witnessed his first murder at 5 and his second at 8. His parents didn’t teach him about God, but his grandmother instilled him with Bible knowledge.

Growing up on welfare, living in Section 8 housing, the youngster worried that he would succumb to the debasing poverty, drug-trafficking, violence and hopelessness of the hood, even though he was a straight-A student.

At just 16, he signed for Top Dawg Entertainment, based in Carson, Calif., under the stage name K-Dot. After opening for prominent artists and working with Snoop Dogg, Lamar broke through on his own with his second album Good Kid, MAAD City, which hit Billboard’s #2 in its first week in 2012. In it, he depicts vividly the urban fiendishness of the hood.

Kendrick Lamar Barak ObamaHe opens the album with these words: Lord God, I come to you a sinner, and I humbly repent for my sins. I believe that Jesus is Lord. I believe that you raised Him from the dead. I will ask that Jesus will come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. I receive Jesus to take control of my life that I may live for Him from this day forth. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving me with your precious blood. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He followed up in 2015 with To Pimp a Butterfly, which went certified platinum and won a Grammy for best rap album of the year. Then in 2017 he came out with Damn, which fathoms the loss of faith in the light of a volatile world of malfunction.

While Lamar’s music is pioneering, it’s his vocal inflections and lyrical substance that earn him widespread respect. For Damn, he won the first-ever Pulitzer Prize not given to jazz or classical music. Former President Obama singled out Lamar as one of his favorite rappers. He’s called King Kendrick.

On Damn, an apparent endorsement of the Hebrew Israelite movement, an aberrant group with claims blacks in America are actually God’s chosen people from Israel, elicited a response from Christian rapper Flame, who in “Absolute Truth” exposes their flawed exegesis.

“A lot of people fall for it,” Flame said on the radio program of Vocab Malone. “It feels good. It puffs up your pride, the ethnocentrism.”

Damn is less uplifting than his earlier albums. By plumbing the depths of discouragement, Lamar is encouraging his listeners that platitudes should be discarded and that it’s okay to be real and raw before God. Read the rest of Kendrick Lamar Christian?

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Gratitude for others’ sacrifice

memorial dayConfession: I was somewhat unpatriotic as a youth. I always saw people around the world as equal. I learned in college that the belief in one’s superiority is ethnocentrism. I mixed in a bit of Christianity: God sees all people equal.

But when I was in dire straits, this country came through for me.After 16 years as a missionary, I fled kidnappers in Guatemala to the safety of America. My Guatemalan friends told me crime was everywhere, but it’s not true. Thank God for America. Thank God for godly principles upon which it was founded — and continue to be present despite a cultural distancing from God. Thank God for the blessings of America. Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again. He’s wrong; America hasn’t lost its luster.

I have seen the world, and there’s no place like America. No need to brag. America is still a light to the world, despite our many failings.

Thank God for men and women who have bravely defended our country, who have fought for freedom around the world, who have rained down upon evil men a hail of bullets and blasts. The university professors may criticize our government because we have the freedom to do so. I have been in countries where no one has the freedom to criticize governing authorities.

Today I wish to honor the dead and the living soldiers who keep America great.

A tsunami name Carli Lloyd, and an American missionary in Japan

Carli Lloyd's goal from half line

Carli Lloyd took a speculative shot that completed her World Cup-winning hat-trick.

In 2011, Japan suffered a tsunami. The flood of water killed 15,891.

Yesterday, Japan again suffered a tsunami. No one died. But a flood of goals killed their hopes to retain the women’s World Cup title.

The name of the tsunami was Carli Lloyd. In the space of 16 minutes, the attacking midfielder swept past the Japanese defense to make an eye-popping three goals.  Her last shot, a wild crazy kick from the half line that caught Japan’s goalie out of position, gets my vote for best of the tournament.

world cup goal in net | Carli Lloyd

While backtracking, the Japanese goalie stumbled and was unable to push the ball out of its course.

Japan fought back to get two goals for some respect, but they lost 2-5. In soccer, that’s about as lopsided as you’ll ever see. And thus, the U.S. avenged their fluke loss from the last final (which they lost to Japan four years ago).

All I can do is offer condolences to my missionary friend in Japan Jack Garrot, whom I admire greatly. I admire him greatly because he’s been a missionary basically forever (since 1981). I admire him greatly because, being an American, he rooted for Japan.

But I admire Jack Garrot more.

But I admire Jack Garrot more.

A powerful spiritual dynamic is unleashed when a missionary adopts his target country. When he so closely identifies with his target people, he is giving the gospel and he is learning from them whatever cultural elements are actually more closely aligned with the Bible than corresponding cultural elements in America. Unencumbered by ethnocentrism, he is freed to preach the pure gospel without any of off-putting cultural accoutrements. I don’t even know if my friend would agree with any of speculations; all I know is he told me he was rooting for Japan. And I love him for that.

One day I hope to meet him in person here on Earth.

Whom do I admire more, Carly Lloyd or Jack Garrot? The latter, obviously. I’m happy for the USWNT on their cup. But I’m sad for my friend’s loss.

I predict Carli Lloyd’s fame will now surpass Abby Wambach and Hope Solo here on Earth. But in Heaven, Jack Garrot’s is immortalized. Between being a heavenly hero and an earthly hero, what would you choose?

*I don’t own the rights on these pictures, and I’m not making any money on them.