Alex Gee is co-author of a new book titled, Jesus and the Hip-Hop Prophets, published by InterVarsity. Alex is a pastor, and his co-author, John Teter, is an area director for InterVarsity in south central LA. Gee picked up his first Tupac Shakur album to learn what the young people in his church listened to, and he discovered why they related better to it than his preaching. Since then, Gee said, more and more young people have attended the church to hear the pastor who listens to rap.
Any missionary will tell you that when you go to another culture, you've got to learn their language. Why is what you did so rare among pastors?
Historically pop culture has had such a negative image. To dive into that and to appreciate it and talk about it and bring it to the pulpit was really sacrilege. I think we have that stigma to overcome. But we don't think of people in our own homeland as being from other cultures. That's for people overseas. Looking at someone who likes rock and roll or hip-hop music, that's not another culture, that's just people going wild.
What are you learning about sorting through what's useful and the recognition that there are elements of it that are just not-not supposed to be part of your life?
I'll use the example of the evening news or newspapers. I don't read it because I enjoy everything that's in the paper, nor is it edifying when you read about murders or obituaries, but it's a part of the news. It's what's happening in society and you want to be informed. When I listen to hip-hop music, there are things that they say that touches my heart, because they're so artistically astute. Then they say some things that are just ugly and raunchy and reeks of misogyny. But I realize that, like other artists, they ...1
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