West performs on the Saint Pablo Tour, Sept. 3, 2016. (Kenny Sun [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)])
Kanye West is now being criticized for some of the same things Catholics are criticized for.
It seems that hip-hop superstar Kanye West has shaken off cultural depravity and chosen redemption. Over the last few months, he has proclaimed his love of Jesus Chris and a commitment to a new way of life.
Kanye is one of the best-selling artists of all time with over 140 million records sold worldwide and a total of 21 Grammy Awards making him also one of the most awarded artists of all time. Throughout his career, he has been controversial at times, including disrupting music awards and being outspoken on race, politics and people. He is married to Kim Kardashian and they have four young children together — the last two through surrogate pregnancies.
Kanye has celebrity status in spades and now, he’s got Jesus too. Is it possible that this rapper that once epitomized an indulgent, sexually-charged culture is now positioned to be an envoy for Christ?
And what of his wife, Kim? Kanye is not the man she married so will their marriage still thrive? For instance, there’s been a difference of opinion on how Kim dresses and Kanye, who runs his own traveling Christian church, now wants his wife to dress less provocatively.
Probably like most readers here, I never gave Kanye much thought until he began stirring controversy for saying things that I actually support. He said Jesus freed him from the clutches of the Democratic Party which has brainwashed the black community into aborting children. While working on his latest album, Kanye insisted that those around him should fast and abstain from premarital sex. He has called both abortion and Plan B—the so-called emergency contraception—to be unholy, adding: “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”
The liberal media has ridiculed him for such views—that and for his friendship with President Trump— seeing his new life as a “shrunken world.” One entertainment tabloid quoted a pharmaceutical expert to claim Kanye does not know what he is saying when criticizing Plan B, because it only stops conception and is not an abortion pill. However, it is Kanye who is actually correct.
As explained in Celebrate Life Magazine, Plan B is an abortifacient because it prevents implantation after conception. “According to a study published in the Linacre Quarterly and available at www.Polycarp.org, Plan B prevents pregnancy as a contraceptive only in a minority of cases. Rather than being called an ‘emergency contraceptive,’ a more accurate term for the drug is ‘emergency abortifacient.’”
As Kanye’s faith evolves, so too does his music. Last month, he made history with his newest (ninth) album, Jesus Is King, his first spiritual album. It opened at No. 1 for Billboard 200 (ranked most popular albums of the week in U.S. with 264,000 sales.) and was ranked No. 1 for the Top Christian Albums, Top Gospel Albums, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums.
The lyrics to the songs are passionately Christian. For instance, “Use This Gospel” speaks of a pressing need for healing. “Use this gospel for protection/It’s a hard road to heaven.”
According to an article in National Review, “Throughout the whole of the new album, West is in many respects deeply critical of modernity and cultural progressivism. There are calls for a focus more on the family than on individual glory.”
Some of the album’s messages: “Social-media obsession should be exchanged for family prayer. Fatherhood is characterized as a virtue. Materialism is pilloried. Calls for worshiping Christ redound to such effect that West’s first Christian album is arguably more Christian than what most contemporary Christian artists could similarly muster.”
I once watched part of the Kardashians’ TV show and found it to be end-of-civilization shallow. I later slammed Kim’s book Selfish (300 selfies), saying to put the camera down and pick someone up instead. But any journey begins with a single step, and it seems she is taking steps in the right direction
Kim explained in a recent interview on ET Canada that she respects her husband, that he is an amazing father, and she is willing to compromise—to a degree—and actually agrees with the wholesomeness he seeks for their children. In April 2015, Kanye and Kim traveled to Jerusalem to have their baby daughter North baptized in the Armenian Orthodox Church at the Cathedral of St. James. This past Oct. 7, Kim and the younger three were all baptized in Armenia at Etchmiadzin Cathedral. She shared a photo gallery of son Psalm, 5 months, daughter Chicago, 20 months, and son Saint 3½, all getting baptized, captioning it, “Baptism” and another one with daughter North.
Kanye is no doubt praying for his family and I hope for our culture too. Certainly, he and Kim live in a different world than most of us, but Kanye is being criticized for some of the same things Catholics are criticized for.
At a time when many of his generation identify as “nones” who have forgotten Jesus, maybe Kanye can help them to remember. Having a rough past (although on a much grander scale than most) means he is like many of us. And like all of us, he could use our prayers for strength to stay the course. May God bless and protect Kanye and Kim and lead them on.