This is Pastor Tim’s newspaper article that appeared in the Evening Leader on Nov 18, 2019
Prior to a month ago, the only two things I knew about Kanye West was that he married Kim Kardashian and I remember few years ago, he jumped up on stage and interrupted Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech for video of the year back in 2009. He thought Beyoncé should have won and when Taylor Swift won, he made quite a spectacle in protest.
About a month ago, Kanye West returned to my field of vision. He has had a conversion experience and was going to put out an album entitled “Jesus is King.” To be honest, I was angry when I heard about this because I was afraid this was either a joke or a publicity stunt. I was wondering who was going to be the most angry at this. Was it going to be the “no mention of God” crowd, who want the rest of us to pretend this world created itself? Or was it going to be the Bible-thumping crowd who believes Jesus spoke in King James’ English and believes the only righteous music on earth is accompanied by a pipe organ. Not too often do those two crowds find themselves on the same side of an issue.
So I did what everyone does, I went to the internet to try to learn the story of this album. I was very curious. Interestingly enough, the reviews I read on the album were positive in the right kind of ways. This led me to believe there might be something to this that was real. Then Phil Downs, Wayne Street’s Student Ministries director, came to me and asked if I had heard it. I had not, but he told me it was really positive. Based on his recommendation, I went to Amazon, dropped $10 and downloaded the album to my phone. Apparently, CDs are a thing of the past now. It occurs to me the last album I purchased was the Garth Brooks Double Live Album, which a quick Google search told me was released on November 17, 1998 – 21 years ago yesterday that album came out. Apparently, things have changed since my last album purchase.
As the album played, my very first impression is that I could understand every word he said. All of the lyrics were crystal clear. I don’t mean that the recording was top quality, even though it was. What I mean is that there was no screaming, slurring of words or loud background music. Every word was clear and easy to understand. I could follow the story and the message the song was telling. Whatever Kanye wanted on this album, he wanted it to come across clearly. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that.
It was no surprise that the music on the album did not appeal to this 44-year-old man. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t supposed to. I am not Kanye’s target audience. But the lyrics in these songs were amazing. I was expecting something cheap with poor theology, but that is not at all what I heard. These are songs about real struggle and about the healing power of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
One song is about a young man heading the wrong way in his life. His father kept telling him that “it ain’t Christlike.” There is another song called “Closed on Sunday” about the responsibility of being parents and raising children. I was floored by the message in this song alone. He was encouraging us to make a stand like Chick-Fil-A and not bow to the world that wants us all to conform. He also made at least two references I noticed that highlighted the danger of social media.
The album has clear influence from the gospel music tradition. They are gospel praise and worship songs for a new generation. The music is ok, but it is the lyrics of these songs that just blew me away.
I am praying for Kanye West, and I hope you will join me in those prayers. I pray that this conversion is sincere. He has the opportunity to reach more people in a single day than I will in my lifetime. I admit that I was beyond skeptical when I first heard of this, so I owe Kanye an apology. So, Kayne, “I’m a let you finish” just like you did for Taylor Swift a few years ago. I now have great respect for you as a person. Please keep putting this much work into your lyrics. Your music is never going to be my chosen genre, but you keep writing these kinds of lyrics and I promise to buy a copy of every Christian album you ever release.