On 2Pac's Relevance...

Some of you who have e-mailed with me have probably noticed my e-mail address is tupetewalker@hotmail.com (now, more easily: peter@emergingchristian.com). My friend Adele (www.ExistentialPunk.com) recently asked me, “What’s with the tupete name?”

Well, it’s a little silly (probably a lot silly), but I’ve had a nearly-lifelong affinity for rap & hip hop culture. So much so, that a few college buddies called me 2Pete as an ill-deserved homage to 2Pac. No, I never tried to alter my speech or pretend to be anything but a white kid from the suburbs. But I loved the music.

Hip hop was only a listening preference for me until I began listening to Tupac Shakur in the mid-90s. It wasn’t the media-stereotyped “ho-pimping” or “money-grabbing” that caught my attention (though they were there); Shakur rapped about injustice, poverty, abuse of women, violence, hope, faith & fear. His music spoke to whatever dormant Christian sensibilities were in me, & I began to realize something was wrong in my microcosm: Maybe "equal opportunity" was a misnomer, if opportunity changed depending on where you happened to be born. Maybe "the American Dream" wasn't egalitarian, if the majority of prison inmates were black males.

Shakur once said, "They didn’t even want to stop the Vietnam War until people saw the pictures of how horrible it really was. So I said to myself, that’s what I’m gonna do with my lyrics: I’m going to paint a picture of the horrible aspects of life, & maybe then they will try to stop it."

Shakur still resonates with me, 12 years after his death. The injustice he spoke to still exists. And there are stories in the church that need still telling. The sexual sins of the Catholic Church have begun to be told. But I know stories that go beyond the satellites of Rome. So do you, I’m sure. So maybe by telling them, we can stop the soul-sucking machine of corporate religion.

Don’t worry, I won’t start rapping.

As a growing subset of Christendom begins to see the blood on its hands (our hands), tension arises. Our paradigm teaches us subservience to the Christian institution. Like Star Trek’s Borg, we were raised into assimilation. “Obey the church. Don’t question the Word of God.”

And maybe that’s karma: we brought this system on ourselves by building the kinds of empires we were supposed to help destroy.

Tupac said, “I am society’s child. This is how they made me, & now I’m saying what's on my mind & they don’t want that. This is what you made me, America.”

So with less hubris but as much conviction, I guess I see myself as Christendom’s child. And I'm certainly not alone. Our little personal rebellion against a culturally-constricted worldview is the Church’s bitter offspring. Oh, some of it may still be youthful exuberance – but I’m almost 30. I can’t use that excuse for long.

I don’t listen to Shakur as much as I used to, but his words still remind me that there are issues worth being angry about. And there are injustices worth shouting & swearing & spitting about (Shakur was a real “media darling,” regularly spitting on paparazzi). I don’t plan on spitting on anyone, but I’ve taken plenty of criticism for being impious &/or disrespectful. And such criticism is probably well-deserved. But peaceful protest is better than the alternatives. Martin Luther wrote, “Blood alone moves the wheels of history,” but I pray that isn’t true. We must learn how to move these wheels without blood. Or leave the wheels behind, & go it on foot…

I think I’m trying to leave those wheels behind, but my footing is still wobbly.


Existential Punk said...

Can i still email you at Tupetewalker as i LOVE it?! it's got way more pizazz than pete@emergingchristian.com


Peter said...

Oh yes! Of course! I'll always keep that addy ;)

DanWright said...

Hey Pete, you know Tupac is still alive right? He just got sick of all the attention and faked his own death!

Sherri Watt said...

I like your honesty and conviction. I found you on High Calling blogs. I will be checking back to see what you have to say!

God Bless!
You can check out my blog if you like http;//beaboutyourfathersbusiness.blogspot.com

Erin said...

I just heard Dear Momma on the radio the other day and remembered how much I love some of his songs.

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

I think it would do us good to repack how we present the gospel. The world doesn't look the same as when Jonathan Edwards (the 1800's version), and it doesn't look the same as when Tupak was "preachin" either.

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