HOOD THEOLOGY: DOES HEAVEN HAVE A GHETTO?

UNDERSTANDING PAIN AND RELATING WITH THOSE SUFFERING

“Power and the money, money and the power
Minute after minute, hour after hour
Everybody’s running, but half of them ain’t looking
What’s going on in the kitchen, but I don’t know what’s cooking
They say I’ve got to learn but nobody’s here to teach me
If they can’t understand it, how can they reach me
I guess they can’t
I guess they won’t
I guess they front
That’s why I know my life is out of luck fool”

-Coolio ‘Gansters’ Paradise’

“All I got is my heat and my art, my heart, my balls dawg and my religion,

reality’s stressing, got me thinking about my odds of living, coz I can see that it’s slim to none

Nicotine in my lungs, mixing gin and rum,

Until I vomit up lyrics to wet portraits that can captivate caskets and resurrect corpses,

then maybe I can see my brother again,

I’m tryna be righteous but that’ll only let me rebel in sin”

-Sevin ‘Greatest Fear’

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The songs many of us 90’s kids grew up listening too are by far among the best ever. Not only do I feel that I should point this out but I should also use it as a background for this particular post today. As you can guess, I am a proud 90s baby. Those of you born in the 90s might relate with me on this one as I feel that we are a special breed judging by the ripples being made by our peers in various spheres of life across the globe.

What’s amazing about this is the fact that not many artists who were in the prime of their youth got to live quite as well. Some examples include 2-Pac, Aaliyah, Biggie…just to name a few. Their deaths stunned the world as it made the world see what potential in young and upcoming artistes could do to a whole generation. As someone once said, “he who can understand music, can understand a generation”. That’s the point being made here.

Coolio got it right as I pointed out above; that because society didn’t care, those living in already-terrible situations, truly didn’t have a way out of their misery due to societal neglect. I say society because I tend to agree with Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s quip, “the church is neither the master nor the slave of the state, but rather its conscience”. This matter is greatly seen in how little influence the church has had since those who want out never got it. It is in fact so great that Tupac/2 Pac once said “I wonder if heaven has a ghetto”.

How far away can the church truly be from giving hope? This is indeed disturbing. I’m pretty sure that I am not the only one who’s noticed this, many of you have: Whether you have beenlet down by the church/christianity, or are new to the faith…or even a long-time believer, you may agree with me here. Especially when I take Gandhi’s side and say, “I love the Jesus that I read about in the Bible, but I am no big fan of his followers today”.

How sad is it, that someone writing Gospel rap during this period of the 90s could say that all he could do is wait till his pain rolled over before he could ever speak life to others [i.e Sevin]. In as much as many would judge him, I feel that he still had a point. Behind the scenes, many of the celebrities struggled with so many things, be it sex, drugs or alcohol. These people were ‘alive’ on stage but dying on the inside.

What’s worse is that, in my opinion, we have elevated superficiality over reality that we are slowly but surely forgetting what we are. We are human. We are not perfect, but not many are standing up to show us otherwise; we are weak and poor, but how many are vocal enough to show us that there is more to who we are than what we are being fed on by the media? These are but some of my concerns for the rest of the human race. These concerns are getting worse as the church continues to remain silent.

Very soon, if we as a people in this world continue this way, nothing but gloom awaits us. We will continue to kill ourselves, commit attrocities in the name of ideologies/philosophies, we will build walls around ourselves because we cannot love someone from another ethnicity, we will drown in drugs, sex, alcohol…and worst of all superficiality.

I know I have talked a lot about the 90s as a child of the 90s but the 2000s are a period of greater concern; when a young man’s ambition is to have “broads, a black x6 among other things” not others welfare, i.e the betterment of the world, we are in trouble. The 2000s are the realization of Coolio’s concern, that goes something like this, “They say I’ve got to learn but nobody’s here to teach me, if they can’t understand it, how can they reach me, I guess they can’t, I guess they won’t, I guess they front, that’s why I know my life is out of luck fool”.

In this the church truly has no excuse, called to imitate Christ; it truly is a difficult calling, but with far reaching results. I am reminded of one story of St Francis of Assisi who stopped an invasion through sacrificing himself to show Christ’s love to an ambitious general. Just as I am reminded that enmity has become ‘leverage’ for selfish political ambition. What irony exists, but a church that speaks will be able to converse with the theologians on the streets who are seeking hope.

Will the church listen?

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