Dancehall, Rap, Soul, Jesus and Worship



This picture of a dance hall scene on the cover of the Yellow Pages, objected to by a religious group,  continues to be the subject a raging debate on my country.
Issues of class, whose morality, priorities of the church, the need to protect our culture and the relevance of the church,  have all emerged during the debate.
One young lady, who I engaged on Twitter, a total stranger,  in my mind, captured the essence of the ‘ push back’ against the church group’s objection, with this tweet, after I unintentionally ‘ provoked her’:
 “apologies accepted. The cover is symbolic of a piece of our culture. I cannot see beyond “excitement” when I look at the pic”
One of the problems we face as people created by God to worship Him and Him alone, is that 

‘ excitement ‘ about culture, or work, or family, or our preferred political party or ‘ maximum leader’, or even ‘ Denomination ‘ can, if we are not careful, quickly deteriorate, or perhaps more appropriately ‘ escalate’ into worship. 
I am not saying that these young people worship dance hall music, why they are so strident in their ‘ push back’,  but just making the point that,  there is often a thin line between passionate defense against, or advocacy for, an issue, and worship.
And I would be the first to admit, that as a young man growing up in the ’60s  and 70s,  I sailed very close to those winds that would have caused me to worship the music of those times,  featuring Bob Marley and the Wailers, locally,  and The Temptations and others, in the USA. For then, in a real sense, music, football, and dating a nice girl,  was what life was all about. 
School work and going to church, though important, couldn’t really compete with all the ‘ excitement ‘.

Thank God, no doubt among other things, because of my mother’s prayers, and the grace of God,  I was rescued. But not all of my friends! For some, unfortunately,  are still in the ‘ excitement’ phase of life.
And this is the problem for non-religious people! And religious too, if captured by ‘ false doctrines’;  they are still under the influence of ‘ excitement’. Whether it be ‘ the prosperity gospel ‘ or  the music of #Stillinjail Kartel in Jamaica or Bieber in America.

It can’t therefore be by coincidence that I was moved to post this challenging reflection on Facebook this week…an expanded version
David Foster Wallace – American award winning best selling post modern novelist……known for his boundary-pushing story telling……A few years before he died he shared this at a commencement speech at a college:
“Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some kind of god….to worship….is that pretty much anything you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough.
It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure, and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a thousand deaths before (  your loved ones) finally plant you….
Worship power, and you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need more power over others to numb your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that there are evil or sinful; it is that they’re unconscious.  They are default settings”
Wallace was by no means a religious person, but he understood that everyone worships, everyone trusts in something for their salvation, everyone bases their lives on something that requires faith. A few years after giving that speech, Wallace killed himself. And this non-religious man’s parting words to us are pretty terrifying.

 ” Something will eat you alive “.

Because even though you might never call it worship, you can be sure you are worshiping and you are seeking.
And Jesus says” Unless you are worshiping me, unless I am the center of your life, unless you’re  trying to get your spiritual thirst  quenched through me and not through  these other things, unless you see that the solution must come inside rather than just pass by outside,  then whatever you worship will abandon you in the end – Rev. Timothy Keller extract from 

 ” Encounters with Jesus ” 
It might seem like a simple debate. It might seem to be just another example of the class war in Jamaica and how some have ‘ abandoned ‘ their culture. 
It may seem to be yet another example of ” the church overreaching itself ‘, and yet unconcerned with ” more important issues “.
 It may even  seem to be another example  of ‘ the barbarians ‘ knocking on the gates of the morally upright, and threatening  to ‘ take up residence ‘ in the living room. But ultimately this is issue of what is important to us. And even what we worship. And like it or not, believe it or not, everyone worships. 
The question  then, is whether what you worship will ‘ eat you alive ‘, and abandon you at the end. Or Who you worship, Christ The Crucified One, who has promised never to leave you nor abandon you. Even to the end of time!  And He proved His love for all mankind, and faithfulness,  by His sacrificial death on Calvary.
And so we sing ” Every praise to our God “!  And leave the ‘ excitement ‘ of Kartel and Bieber and Carnival  ” tempted to touch’,  to the God who judges all things in due course.



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