Monday, September 21, 2009

Absent Fathers and Sinless Worldviews

Oprah's interview with rapper Jay-Z provides some interesting insights into what it's like for some kids who grow up without their dads. It reveals something of the emotional detachment that happens and the anger that's spawned. As in this exchange:

Oprah: That's too much chicken in a lifetime. So when you were 5, your family moved to the Marcy projects—and then your father left when you were 11. When you look back at that, what did your 11-year-old self feel?

Jay-Z: Anger. At the whole situation. Because when you're growing up, your dad is your superhero. Once you've let yourself fall that in love with someone, once you put him on such a high pedestal and he lets you down, you never want to experience that pain again. So I remember just being really quiet and really cold. Never wanting to let myself get close to someone like that again. I carried that feeling throughout my life, until my father and I met up before he died.

Oprah: Wow. I've never heard a man phrase it that way. You know, I've done many shows about divorce, and the real crime is when the kids aren't told. They just wake up one day and their dad is gone. Did that happen to you?

Jay-Z: We were told our parents would separate, but the reasons weren't explained. My mom prepared us more than he did. I don't think he was ready for that level of discussion and emotion. He was a guy who was pretty detached from his feelings.

Oprah: Did you wonder why he left?

Jay-Z: I summed it up that they weren't getting along. There was a lot of arguing.
Oprah: And did you know you were angry?

Jay-Z: Yeah. I also felt protective of my mom. I remember telling her, "Don't worry, when I get big, I'm going to take care of this." I felt like I had to step up. I was 11 years old, right? But I felt I had to make the situation better.

Oprah: How did that change you?

Jay-Z: It made me not express my feelings as much. I was already a shy kid, and it made me a little reclusive. But it also made me independent. And stronger. It was a weird juxtaposition.

But the interview also highlights the self-deception we all engage in when we don't have a sound view of human sin and depravity. Note the exchange Winfrey and Jay-Z have regarding how to understand and respond to Jay-Z's past life of drug dealing:

Oprah: So what's your personal creed?

Jay-Z: Be true to yourself and keep things simple. People complicate things.

Oprah: My creed is that intention creates reality.

Jay-Z: Now I'm having an a-ha moment! That's true.

Oprah: What's the basis of your spiritual belief?

Jay-Z: I believe in karma: What you do to others comes back to you.

Oprah: But don't you think we're responsible only for what we know? Otherwise, you'd be facing karma for every person you sold drugs to.

Jay-Z: As a kid, I didn't know any better. But now, if I were to act as if what I did wasn't bad, that would be irresponsible. And I'd have to bear the weight of that.

Oprah: Maya Angelou always says, "When you know better, you do better." Do you still think back on that time in your life?

Jay-Z: All the time. When you make music, you're constantly on the psychiatrist's couch, so to speak. That's an outlet for me. Because I'm not normally a talkative person. I don't have conversations like this for no reason.

Oprah's "spiritual belief" apparently amounts to a Christ-less, word-faith (intention-reality), prosperity, I'm-my-own-god system. Which might explain why certain varieties of Christians enjoy her programming. When you think about it, the only difference for some persuasions of Christians is whether or not you add Jesus.

But Jay-Z still has a sense of moral accountability. He's still on the "psychiatrist's couch," which means his conscience speaks to him about his wrongs even though he's going to the wrong place for help. In opting for "karma," he sees the moral nature of the universe and knows that somehow justice prevails. If only his aha moment was the aha that includes a genuine awareness of his sins, conviction, awareness of a holy God, and His need to escape the wrath to come through faith in God's Son.

Because if what we have done in our sin "comes back to us," we're all doomed apart from Jesus' substitutionary atonement for us on Calvary's cross.


Anonymous said...

You are right,

JayZ and Oprah actually attend the same church. The god-goddess of humanism.

This is the dominant theology in those circles and fast becoming the unfolding new age manifestation.

Whether that be hinduism, bhuddism, the masons, kabalaism, numerology, astrology,etc.

They all speak the same language.

No moral absolutes, you are your own god, and lets not mention biblical truth other than to distort it or mock it.

Sadly many christiains, are blinded by the star studded element of media and hollywood, to realize the era and danger of this intentional exaltation of pseudo success.

" That which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God"

Justin W. said...

I was reading Paul Tripp's "Whiter than Snow" after reading this post and thought this quote is a biblical summary of what Jay-Z, Oprah, and mankind collectively need to hear. He is meditating on the Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." He writes:

"Think about it this way: it is the evil inside of you that either magnetizes you to the evil outside of you or causes you to deal with the evil outside of you in a way that is wrong. It is only when you begin to accept that your greatest problem in all of life is not what has happened or been done to you that you begin to get excited about the rescuing grace of Jesus Christ. It is only when you begin to accept that your greatest need is something with which you came into the world that you will begin to hunger for the help that only God can give you. It is only then that you can begin to hunger for more than changes to situation and relationship. It is only then that you will begin to accept the most radical and personally liberating truth that you could ever conceive--that what you and I really need is to be rescued from ourselves!"

The gospel is such good news, but it is good news that demands and honest and ugly assessment of one's self. Sadly, most people would rather go through life in the shadow of their own self-deceived righteousness than admit their need of someone else's righteousness. Reading comments like those of Jay-Z should invigorate our prayer and our gospel proclamation.

Yasmin said...

Justin W wrote "The gospel is such good news, but it is good news that demands and honest and ugly assessment of one's self." - so true!