Jesus was a thug…y’all seem to forget!
In my recent sermon about why I hate church, I spoke of the hypocrisy of the Church. We seem to “play Church” much like little kids would “play house.” And, just like children don’t understand the implications of playing house – the responsibilities when house gets “real” – we don’t understand the implications of playing Church.
What’s this have to do with thug life?
I started thinking of this when the Justice System allowed Michael Dunn to get away with murder. Since then, I’ve been driving around in my clerical collar blasting my thug music (or, rap crap). I posted on Facebook, encouraging people to play their loud thug music and that post met the disapproval of some.
It was then I started thinking of Christian Cowardice.
In Jesus and the Disinherited, Howard Thurman asks the question: “Why is it that Christianity seems impotent to deal radically, and therefore effectively, with the issues of discrimination and injustice on the basis of race, religion and national origin? Is this impotency due to a betrayal of the genius of the religion, or is it due to a basic weakness in the religion itself?”
What value is Christianity to the oppressed?
Since many of us who read blogs done “moved on up to our deluxe apartments in the sky-hi-hi,” we don’t consider ourselves to be oppressed. So let me rephrase the question: what is the value of the Christianity to those who don’t look like the mainstream?
Here’s why I ask. When Trayvon Martin was killed and ever since, folk are quick to put on their hoodies, grab their Arizona iced-teas and skittles to show their solidarity with Trayvon Martin. It became fashionable. “I am Trayvon Martin” they would say as they pose for photos and change their profile pictures.
Politicians spoke from the House Floor wearing hoodies for Trayvon. There was a “Million Hoodie March” for Trayvon. Yesterday on the 2 year anniversary of his murder, there were hoodie clad vigils for Trayvon.
Even priest and pastors put on hoodies for Sunday worship and invited parishioners to wear hoodies to church, considering that Jesus would identify with the oppressed…would identify with those who have been denied justice.
What about Jordan Davis? Will Members of Congress drive to the Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court blasting their loud thug music? Will churches encourage parishioners to leave the church parking lot blasting that loud thug music? Will folks band together in caravans, driving down the street blasting loud thug music? I ain’t seen it yet…matter of fact, all I have seen is folk shying away from that altogether!
I guess Jesus only identifies with those who fit a certain bill. Maybe Christ only comes alongside folk when it’s convenient or socially acceptable?
Or maybe Jordan Davis deserved to die?
Now Jordan Davis was not a thug…far from it. Yet, the stigma of hiphop (which is a part of the stigma of blackness) makes us fearful. And, because we’re afraid or have bought into the stereotypes of hiphop, we back away.
Maybe we know that if we play our loud thug music, we too might be shot? Or maybe we feel that someone playing that music should be shot? Maybe that’s why we can’t come alongside him, in Jesus’ Name? Maybe that’s why when I encouraged folk to play their loud thug music, Christians got scared and told me that is not what Jesus would do? Really?
Thug Life was the life of Christ!
Jesus would have been considered a thug. He traveled around with a band of misfits, who did not work. They were outcasts, who the mainstream (Scribes, Pharisees and Roman authorities) encouraged people to stay away from. They caused an uproar wherever they went.
I mean St. Matthew was a tax collector! And, he brought into Jesus’ gang a bunch of other tax collectors. Let me clear this up for you: as much as folk hate the IRS, St. Matthew wasn’t the equivalent of an IRS agent. Rather, he and other tax collectors (like Zacchaeus who climbed the tree to see Jesus) were more like loan sharks, extortionists and the mob – coming to folk and demanding “protection money.”
Jesus hung with thugs, pimps, prostitutes and derelicts. Yet, somehow the Church today is hands off. And, somehow the one following Jesus wouldn’t play loud thug music in solidarity with Jordan Davis, who was denied justice?
Like Thurman suggests: what is “the meaning of religion, of Christianity, to the man who stands with his back against the wall”? If the Church is afraid to stand in solidarity with those who deserve justice, regardless of the costs, what is the use of the Church?
Thug life is popular for a reason. It speaks to the youth for a reason. And, when Tupac was around, “he nurtured the Thug Life philosophy in an attempt to alter the mainstream view of ‘thugs’. To him, ‘thugs’ were at least what society had made them and at best ‘the underdog, the person who had nothing and succeeds.’” And whether society made them thugs or in their condition they still have potential, then shouldn’t the Church embrace them and “make all things new” – including the Thug Life philosophy?
Brother Thurman: you want to know why the Church is powerless in the face of oppression? Maybe because the Church is afraid to stand up. Am I wrong? What you think?