riot*(Via Black Christian News) -The violent edge of rap–“it’s just so angry”–is most often what I hear behind American Christians’ ambivalence about the new wave of Christian hip-hop. But not all of this ambivalence is reactionary, revealing white-bread taste. It’s a real question: Can one authentically rap the Sermon on the Mount, with its Beatitudes, warnings against anger, and meekness? No doubt one can set Matthew 5-7 to rhyme and meter, but would it still be hip-hop? If not, does that rule hip-hop out as legitimate Christian art?

That was the question Ken Myers posed as we talked recently about Christian hip-hop artists Lecrae, Shai Linne, Trip Lee, and others (especially popular among the “young, restless, Reformed” wing of the church). Myers, host of Mars Hill Audio and one of the most respected Christian thinkers on pop culture, has long warned about the church’s tendency to separate the message from the medium. He sees this as an almost gnostic attempt to disembody everything but truth propositions from art.

Music sounds “like feelings feel,” said Myers. That’s why no one could credibly suggest that Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” conjures “feelings of melancholy, humility, tentativeness, or ennui.” And no one could claim that Gregorian chants are “brimful of arrogance, assertiveness, anger, or brashness.”

By contrast, Myers said, “Hip-hop is quite successful in [expressing] raw energy barely contained; it is a form that dares its hearers to contradict its address with a threat of escalation or retaliation.” In other words, rap is anything but about “reticence, patience, self-giving, or submissiveness.”

Read the full story at Black Christian News.