church in the wild

13 06 2012

Human being to the mob
What’s a mob to a king?
What’s a king to a god?
What’s a god to a non-believer?
Who don’t believe in anything?

We make it out alive
All right, all right
No church in the wild

So begins this collaboration between Jay-Z and Kanye West. This song and video, called No Church in the Wild, are a window into youth culture, philosophy and theology. There are name checks for  Pious, Socrates, Plato and Jesus, who said so much and contributed so much to our underlying stories and are the foundations on which our culture have been built… and yet… the song shows the nihilism of those who believe nothing. Nothing.

I live by you, desire
I stand by you, walk through the fire
Your love is my scripture

We formed a new religion
No sins as long as there’s permission’
And deception is the only felony
So never f–k nobody wit’out tellin’ me

The religion is the one where we do what we want; the irony is that in a rebellion against controlling religion that restricts us, it is replaced with a power-play gang culture where the strongest are in charge, the bullies are the decision-makers and the point of life is… is… [insert cliche here: sex, drugs…]

If “there no sin as long as there’s permission”, then there is no inherent value in humanity; we are not simply what we do or who we have sex with, we are not just bodies to have experiences with. We are worth more than that, and our bodies are connected to our souls in a far deeper way than this nihilism allows.

When you watch the video, which you must, you see the realism and the glamorising of riots, of fighting back against… against… authority? the police? But who do they represent? They represent what we as adults have given them. Distrust – even anger – against authority. Rage against the machine. The baby boomers who took the money, invested it all for themselves and when it crashed they kept theirs and left the young to pay the price.

The youth are angry. And they don’t know what to do with it. And that is where the church should be. Because where they are is a wild place. No rules, no backstory, no past or future. There is only now.  Jay-Z and Kanye say there’s no church in the wild? Why would they expect there to be?

Well there is, or there ought to be. So let’s go, church. Let’s be in the wild place. Let’s feel their anger and their hopelessness and let’s give them an alternative to nihilism and rage and nothingness. That alternative might not look like church as we know it, but we are not about church but about Jesus.

Everything looks different in the wild. Even church.

Lyrics taken from




4 responses

14 06 2012

Is the ‘video’ (do they still call them that?) of the uk riots last summer?!

i think the ‘rage’ is a lot to do with confidence and self esteem. Jay z and Kanye seem to see the world and speak for the frustration and agitation of folk, but from the lyrics of other songs they both have got philosophy and belief. Why O Why do so many insist that they have no belief or value, but actually if pushed it is visible. you can only get so angry about something if you care about it!

14 06 2012

Just linking this back to your earlier blog on Plan B, I saw his Ill Manors movie in the week. It picks up on the themes which were explored in his recent single, and those referenced by Jay-Z & Kanye. The movie digs deeper, gets real and asks some hard questions. As one reviewer put it, Ben Drew (aka Plan B) may not have all the answers, but he sure knows what the problem is.
If the kids are not alright, it’s because something went all wrong somewhere earlier.
If fear is the mother of violence, maybe lack of hope is the father of all these battles.

14 06 2012

Thanks Edge – it seems hip hop is where this stuff is being expressed. Not by singer-songwriter’s with guitars any more. Unless they just don’t get the airplay.

And you end on a good note for fathers day. How can we get the hope back? Who will sing the songs of hope?

Presumably not Cheryl.

17 06 2012

Brilliantly expressed! Thanks.

It is exactly where we should be…. and actually, as God causes our hearts to beat with His compassion for those who have drifted, dived, or been driven into ‘the wild’, it’s an amazing environment to see His power and presence transforming lives!

Over the last 8 years, God has taken our little fellowship on a journey right into the heart of that disenfranchised, disillusioned community, and I am often told by dear, well-intentioned, ministers how glad they are that they don’t have to work with ‘those people’!

Well, we wouldn’t be anywhere else!

The amazing thing is that it can only be God who puts that love in us, because in the natural you just couldn’t face the hopelessness and fear time after time, but He has given us a heart for just those people who are bound up in the bitterness and deceit.

We need to be out there declaring the God Who IS (not just the One Who was, and Who is to come) to a generation who live only for the moment. The Gospel is good news now – right now!

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