98 M AGGIE ROGERS | KILLER MIKE | THE TORWALTS JOEL MCHALE | TIM KELLER | LYSA TERKEURST BR ANDON MICHEAL HALL | KIM WALKER-SMITH F A I T H , C U LT U R E & I N T E N T I O N A L L I V I N G
Jerry Lorenzo How he made Fear of God into one of fashion’s most disruptive brands— and rediscovered his faith in the process.
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T H E M A G A Z I N E O N FA I T H , C U LT U R E & INTENTIONAL LIVING
MAR/APR 2019 // ISSUE 98
March/April 2019, Issue 98 It’s Our Sweet 16!
Publisher & CEO | CAMERON STRANG Brand Director | JESSE CAREY Senior Editor | TYLER HUCKABEE Senior Writer | TYLER DASWICK Copy Editor | KATHY PIERRE Contributing Writers: Joseph Riggs, Townes Prescott III, Rachel Givens
Creative Director | JOHN DAVID HARRIS Designer | JORDAN WILLCOX Director of Web Development | DANIEL MARIN
Audio Editor | CHANDLER STRANG Video Editor | CLARKE FLIPPO Contributing Photographers: Gina Canavan, Olivia Bee, Dan Medhurst, Mary Claire Stewart, Diego Brawn, Steven Taylor, Jim Mangan, Samuel Richard, Aidan Cullen, Stephanie Severance, Kings Dream
Jerry Lorenzo p.56
Sales and Partnerships Director | HEATHER COOK
In a rare interview, the Fear of God designer opens up about the role of faith in his journey to becoming one of the most innovative minds in fashion.
Account Manager | FELICHIA WRIGHT Traffic Manager | CAROLINE COLE Marketing Director | AME LYNN FUHLBRUCK
3 8 // KIM WALKER-SMITH The founding member of Jesus Culture is as bold with her story as she is in worship.
4 2 // A LOADED ISSUE There are more guns than people in the United States. Is this a pro-life situation?
Finance Director | MICHAEL BOWLES
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Maggie Rogers p.64
The way this man spits truth extends far beyond Run the Jewels.
The 24-year-old’s debut album premiered at No. 2 on Billboard, which can only mean one impossible-seeming thing: She can become even better.
5 2 // THE BRE AKUP HANDBOOK
7 6 // MAKE FRIENDS IN YOUR 20S
Winter’s colder when your loneliness is unexpected. Here’s how to survive.
Kids sure have it easy. Here’s how to make a friend in the post-recess stage of life.
6 8 // S TATE OF FE AR
8 0 // OUT OF THE DARKNESS
Young Christians face persecution in China. The government’s their worst enemy.
Bryan and Katie Torwalt’s devastating EP tells a story that isn’t over yet.
7 2 // JOEL MCHALE
8 4 // THE SEARCH FOR MORE
Watching reality TV in your underwear with Jesus? He says it’s possible.
If you’re seeking fulfillment, the answer might lay on your bedside table.
4 8 // KILLER MIKE
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FIRST WORD a letter from the publisher
pose). Throughout the story, there aren’t any shots of him looking at the camera. That was intentional. He said he wanted to withhold part of himself in the photo shoot, because in the story he was so open. The eyes are powerful, and he loved the idea of the story having
Doing It by Design
HE WANTED TO WITHHOLD PART OF HIMSELF IN THE PHOTO SHOOT, BECAUSE IN THE STORY HE WAS SO OPEN. THE EYES
conceptual contrast: The mystery of the man
ARE POWERFUL, AND
in the photos, the transparency of the man in
HE LOVED THE IDEA
the conversation. That’s why Fear of God is unique. Every piece Jerry creates, even down to when and
OF THE STORY HAVING CONCEPTUAL CONTRAST:
how it’s released, has intentionality behind it.
THE MYSTERY OF THE
Most people in fashion are striving to be
MAN IN THE PHOTOS,
the Next Big Thing. The problem with that is the industry will chew you up and spit you
out. Jerry is playing outside the lines, doing
OF THE MAN IN THE
things differently with the goal of longevity.
Trailblazers, disrupters and world-
hen you read our cover
changers don’t happen by accident. They’re
story with trendsetter Jerry
people that see things differently. They don’t
Lorenzo on page 56, you’re
accept how things are; they think about how
going to notice something: His
they could be. And they go after it without
label, Fear of God, is full-on
luxury—but there’s a unique
Sure, there’s resistance at every turn.
purposefulness to the high-end brand and
People like things to be familiar. When
almost every aspect of his life.
someone comes along wanting to turn things
Jerry is one of the biggest names in fashion right now, but he’s an outspoken Christian,
on their head, there’s inevitable pushback. Even with our photo shoot. We love taking
getting up at 5:30 every morning to spend time
creative risks in the magazine, but there
in the Word.
was internal debate among the RELEVANT
With Fear of God, he ferociously protects
team about having a cover story shot so
doing things his way instead of accepting the
unusually. It feels more behind-the-scenes
industry’s norms. He is a visionary and, as you’ll
than your typical portrait shoot. Will people
see in the story, thinks over every detail.
understand the underlying visual message?
There’s even a deeper reason he goes by Lorenzo, his middle name, instead of his family name, Manuel. Nothing about his life is
But Jerry had a vision for the piece, and we bought in. It’s a lesson for all of us, no matter
arbitrary. It’s a fascinating story and as you’re
what industry we’re a part of. We all have
reading it, you might even sense a deeper
opportunities to color outside the lines,
thoughtfulness in how it’s portrayed.
refuse to accept the status quo and rethink
Jerry is known for doing very little media, but was extremely transparent in the interview with
what could be. We might not all be a Jerry Lorenzo,
us, welcoming us to his Los Angeles studio and
launching an industry-changing brand.
sharing very personal details about his story
But we all can learn from those who do,
applying the same sort of thoughtfulness
But then for the photo shoot, he wanted an air of mystery. You’ll notice he’s partially covering his face on the cover (not our usual
and purposefulness to whatever it is God has called us to do. In everything we do, let’s do it by design.
C A MER ON S T R A NG Founder & Publisher
CURRENT A B I M O N T H LY L O O K A T F A I T H , L I F E A N D C U LT U R E
The Decline of American Christianity Isn’t As Simple As It Looks Despite a fall in the number of young American Christians, there are reasons to be hopeful for the future of the Church.
OU MAY HAVE HEARD ABOUT
to 29 years old claim the same.
the decline of American
That is a huge demographic shift
Christianity, the idea that the
in just a few generations.
number of Christians is in an all-out free fall. However, new
THE NUMBER OF HISPANIC PROTESTANTS HAS ACTUALLY GROWN SIGNIFICANTLY.
But a few things stand out: The first is that the drop is
data shows this so-called decline is more
most significant among white
complicated than it might seem and there’s
evangelical Protestants. However when it
Christian, those who do are more committed
good news behind the bad headlines.
comes to racial minorities, it’s a different
to practicing their faith than previous
story. The number of black Protestants has
generations were in terms of church
lot fewer self-proclaimed Christians among
held more or less steady from generation
attendance and Bible reading.
younger generations than there are in older
to generation at about 7 percent, and
generations: 45 percent of white Americans
the number of Hispanic Protestants and
exaggerated, per se, but it has been grossly
65 years old and up claim to be Protestant,
Catholics has actually grown significantly.
oversimplified, and there are a lot of reasons
while only 16 percent of white Americans 18
And while fewer people may identify as
to be hopeful about the future of the faith.
According to a PRRI study, yes, there are a
The decline of Christianity has not been
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Americans’ Trust in Pastors Just Fell to a Record Low FOR THE LAST FOUR decades,
Gallup has been charting Americans’ level of trust in top professions, and this
Meet Naomi Scott, the Worship Leader Playing Princess Jasmine
year, one hit an all-time low: professional clergy. Since 2002, Americans’ trust in ministers has slowly dropped, but now, they rank just above journalists and
The 25-year-old is branching out from
“building contractors” on the
her church for a whole new world.
trust index. If you’ve ever waited around for a tardy
EFORE SHE WAS
and creative life. “God is the
handyman to come fix your
cast as Princess
ultimate creative force. Growing
roof, you’ll know that this
Jasmine in the new
up in the Church fostered an inner
live-action remake of
spirituality that also introduced
isn’t good. Just 37 percent of
Disney’s Aladdin, Noami Scott had
me to the concept of music having
a different role in life: She was a
a deeper meaning. There has
a “very high or
always been a connection between
high” level of trust
Along with acting in movies,
my faith, and realizing that music
in people in the
including the recent adaptation
can have a soul and purpose,
ministry, and 15
of Power Rangers and the Disney
which has ultimately affected the
Channel’s Lemonade Mouth, the
way I approach the art,” she told
British 25-year-old is a recording
artist with roots serving in the Church leading worship.
percent have “low or very low” trust in them. The experts at
Recently, her music career has
Gallup point to scandals
taken a back seat to acting though.
in both megachurches and
Following the release of Aladdin,
institutions like the Catholic
U.K.’s Bridge Church, and faith still
she’ll star in a big-screen reboot of
Church as reasons for the
plays a major role in her personal
Her parents are pastors of the
British actor Nicholas Hoult, best known
A photo of an egg has become
The 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
for playing Beast in the X-Men movies,
the most-liked Instagram post of
class is a powerhouse list, including
will portray a young version of the
all time, overtaking Kylie Jenner’s
Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson, The Cure
Christian author J.R.R. Tolkien in a
baby’s photo. Don’t make us
and Radiohead. When does Carman
new biopic. We’re here for it.
answer which one is cuter.
finally get his due?
THE HOT LIST Our Definitive Cultural Power Rankings
Study: Most Millennials Feel Disconnected From Community
get involved (27 percent). The researchers also asked what actions were considered “vital” in order to participate in community. Being “friendly with” neighbors ranked first with actions like donating to charity and regularly helping someone close behind. If only
If only there was a connectionfocused place to attend weekly.
there were local establishments that met at regular times and emphasized connecting people and serving the community ...
MILLENNIALS MIGHT BE THE MOST LONELY C H R I ST I A N AT H L E T E S [Hottest]
God might not affect the
generation. Research from the group CNote found that 64 percent of millennials felt “disconnected” from their communities, and 69
outcome of a game, but
percent said they wanted to be more connected
it’s still cool when He sees
to their local community. So, why are they
the glory of a win.
having so much trouble getting involved? The
T I DY I N G U P [Hotter]
Marie Kondo’s show was
answers varied, but many said they simply didn’t know many people who lived around them (22 percent) and didn’t know how to
PERCENT: THE PORTION OF MILLENNIALS THAT FEEL INCREASINGLY DISCONNECTED FROM THE COMMUNITIES THAT THEY LIVE IN.
big. Time to practice what she preaches. G R EAT A N I M AT E D M OV I E S [Hot]
The LEGO Movie 2 is in
This new concept car is like a real-life
theaters, plus Spider-
Verse is on-demand.
VA L E N T I N E ’S DAY [Cold]
You shouldn’t need a holiday to celebrate your S/O. (But still: Buy a card.) WELLNESS TRENDS [Colder]
The new year always inspires dangerous new fads. Just eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. L A M E ST R EA M CO N S P I R ACY T H EO R I E S [Coldest]
These aren’t cool or rebellious. They just undermine popular culture and attack truth.
The Car of the Future Might Have Legs ... And Could Save Your Life
THE NEXT BIG
innovation in cars may involve … legs? Hyundai recently unveiled a new concept “car” called Elevate that can turn its wheels into four spider-like legs. The company hopes that
one day, the vehicle could save lives. With the ability to climb out of snowbanks, over debris or into dangerous areas, the vehicle can help first responders get to stranded individuals without having to hike
over treacherous terrain on foot. The car can even climb stairs, making areas more accessible for passengers who use wheelchairs. With where this technology is going, we won’t need roads.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sparked a major debate after she implied that Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were refugees at the time of His birth. Though there is simply no direct comparison between modern immigration laws and the laws of Jesus’ day, at the time of Jesus’ birth, Rome had only recently transformed itself into an empire. Herod, a local ruler, could still be overruled by Rome’s Caesar. Joseph and Mary’s
New research from Pew found that for the first time, more Americans receive news from social media than traditional newspapers. So good on you for picking up this magazine—you’re countercultural.
trip to Bethlehem for a census implies they were citizens of Rome, however, they fled to Egypt—a then-recent addition to the Roman Empire—after Herod ordered the death of young boys who might threaten his reign. The U.N. says that a refugee is “someone who
So, Was Jesus a Refugee? Sort of. What the holy family’s escape to Egypt can tell us about immigration policy
has been forced to flee his or her
Lily, a Muppet on
country because of persecution ...
A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution,” so even though the border situation was complicated, Jesus’ refugee status, according to
will become the show’s first character to experience homelessness.
modern definitions seems to be
clear, as does the call to serve those
the storyline will
in the same situation.
create more empathy and understanding for the issue.
Letitia Wright Is the Highest Box Office Earning Actor in the World LAST YEAR, Letitia Wright not only became one of the MCU’s breakout stars
playing Shuri in Black Panther, she was also the most financially successful actor in the world. Her films (which also included Infinity War, Ready Player One and The Commuter) racked up more than $1.55 billion at the box office—that’s more than anyone else, including her male counterparts like Chadwick Boseman and Chris Pratt. At the end of 2018, Wright, an outspoken Christian, tweeted Malachi 3:10, which reads, “See if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.”
Research from Open Doors indicates 1 in 3 Asian Christians now experience high levels of persecution for their faith, be it from government or social pressures.
What the fork is contractualism? Just the way social norms help us rationalize ethical decisions, thanks very much.
Breaking Down the Philosophies of ‘The Good Place’ A guide to the major modes of thinking on television’s funniest show IF A SHOW COULD WIN an Emmy for “Most Well-Read,” NBC’s The
Good Place would have a beeline on the hardware. Creator Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Rec) wove tons of moral philosophy into the sitcom, including the ideas of Scanlon, Socrates and even Jesus. It’s heady stuff, but the show sticks the landing to become not just one of the funniest things on TV, but one of the smartest. Here’s a quick guide to the most prominent belief systems and ethicists on The Good Place.
EXISTENTIALISM EPISODE #18
A person develops through conscious acts of will. Meaning is found in things like a sense of purpose.
People’s ethics are shaped by the study of ethics, which means the show’s characters themselves are practicing meta-ethics. Pretty meta.
She applies utilitarianism and contractualism to human rights (“what we owe to each other”) in order to solve ethical dilemmas like abortion.
Something is good if it benefits the whole group. The Good Place applies this most famously to the ethical dilemma known as “The Trolley Problem.”
A proponent of virtue ethics and the originator of the “Trolley Problem,” in which you decide to let a trolley hit five people, or divert it to hit one.
The Life-Saving Drone That’s Changing Global Healthcare
Is it back-to-school season again? Matt Chandler Zipline’s drones can travel up to 75 miles and deliver medical supplies to remote villages.
and Christine Caine are now grad students at Wheaton College, taking actual graduate courses. Can we listen in on that discussion group?
Coming to the party a solid decade later than everyone else in comedy TV, the producers behind
COMMUNITIES IN extremely
travel much further than
remote clinic needs a certain
remote parts of Rwanda are
quadcopters used by delivery
supply or medicine, he or
the beneficiaries of a new
services like Amazon. The
she sends a text to a hospital
technology that is poised to
drone can be stocked with
in neighboring cities. There,
change global healthcare. The
medical supplies, vaccines
workers load the drone, shoot
and even blood that can
it from a large sling, and it
Zipline has developed a
then be parachuted into
uses military-grade GPS to
fixed-wing drone that can
villages. When a doctor in a
deliver the packages.
Jesus Christ Is Coming To a DC Comics Series
AN UNLIKELY HERO IS coming
to DC Comics, home to icons like Batman and Superman. In the series The Second Coming, Jesus returns and becomes roommates with a superhero, but is soon “shocked to discover what has become of His gospel—and now, He aims to set the
record straight.” Sounds a little irreverent, but creator Mark Russell grew up in the Church and says the idea is to showcase how modern ideas about Christianity often don’t match up to the real teachings of Christ.
Family Guy have announced they will begin to “phase out” gay jokes from the animated sitcom. Way to come around.
To honor Nic Cage at their annual Nicolas UnCaged film festival, a Michigan theater will light a stuntman on fire. We see nothing wrong with this.
How to Simplify Your Life The value of spring cleaning can also affect your soul.
SOME HISTORIANS believe the tradition of
Former pastor and self-described
“spring cleaning” dates back to ancient Jews
minimalist Joshua Becker (he’s written the
cleaning out their homes in preparation
books The Minimalist Home and The More of
for Passover. Not only were there practical
Less) explains why spring cleaning is about
reasons (getting rid of food forbidden during
more than decluttering, the spiritual benefits
the holiday), there were also spiritual ones
of tidying up, how to get started and why it’s
(It helped them remember their quick
probably time to ditch that “Myrtle Beach
escape from Egypt, where they could only
Spring Break 2008” beach towel you’ve been
take what they needed with them.).
holding on to.
“Don’t start by getting rid of the hard things,” Becker says. Instead, begin with things you have too many of, like towels, shoes, dishes and chargers.
CLEAR OUT DISTRACTIONS
Remove things that prevent you from being present. Just throw out that entire junk drawer, and half of the dishes and that season three DVD set of Scrubs.
EMBRACE SMALL VICTORIES
Becker suggests focusing on “the next hardest thing,” not the entirety of the task ahead. To Becker, that means enjoying the peace and calmness of spaces you’ve already tackled.
FIND MARGIN TO BE GENEROUS
Give old stuff away, but don’t replace them with more things. Instead, make generosity a lifestyle, not a chore. Create margin but also protect it.
VALUE QUALITY OVER FRUGALITY
When it is time to buy things, remember that quality is more important than finding “the best deal.” Purchase one nice item instead of five cheap ones.
REAL POSSIBILITIES You’re ready to take your ministry to the next level. All you need are the tools and knowledge to do so.
U N D E R G R A D UAT E G R A D UAT E
With Northwest University’s online ministry degrees, you’ll
learn real skills that you can apply right away in your ministry.
A D U LT E V E N I N G
And though you won’t be learning in person, we guarantee that you’ll be taking classes from a real professor with years
ON CAMPUS OR ONLINE
of real teaching experience at a real university with over 80 years of training ministry professionals. Earn your degree at NU, and you’ll see your possibilities become realities. To find out more, go to northwestu.edu/online or call our admissions office at 425-822-8266.
Since 1934. Kirkland, Washington. 029
Travel Gear That Makes a Difference Before you hit the road this spring, gear up with items that also give back.
WHETHER YOU’RE ON SPRING BREAK or just traveling to
enjoy the first stint of warm weather, we’ve tracked down some of the coolest gear to pack this spring. And not only does it look great—it gives back. Each item is linked with an important cause so you’ll feel as good as you look.
BOOT CAMPAIGN SHOES
UNITED BY BLUE BACKPACK
Designed for special ops soldiers, the purchase of these durable boots supports veterans and military families in need.
For every item they sell, United By Blue removes a pound of trash from local waterways and the ocean.
S H O P. BO OTC A M PA IG N . O R G
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THIS BAR SAVES LIVES SNACK BAR
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Sales of these great-tasting snack bars help fight childhood malnutrition in Haiti and the Horn of Africa.
LSTN gives hearing aids to those in need through the sale of every pair of headphones and earbuds.
Employing women in Ghana, Della provides financial security and entrepreneurship classes to the community.
$23.99 / BOX OF 12
T H IS BA R S AV E S L I V E S . CO M
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D E L L A L A . CO M
Brandon Micheal Hall The star of the CBS hit comedy “God Friended Me” opens up about faith, atheism and making it in TV.
In 2017, actor Brandon Micheal Hall got what he thought would be his big break: He was set to star in the ABC comedy The Mayor. There’s a reason you might not remember it: It was canceled before the first season ended. But Hall wasn’t out of work for long. This spring, God Friended Me—which debuted as one of TV’s most watched new comedies—returns to CBS. About an atheist who starts getting messages
about the world. I never lost faith. I
HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN LIKE YOURSELF
on social media from “God,” the show is
knew God had my back.
PREPARE FOR A ROLE LIKE THIS?
asking big questions about faith, doubt
I stopped praying for one month, and it
and purpose—and, it turns out, so is
from under my feet. That was my first
felt like the entire world was about to
Brandon Micheal Hall in real life.
time being in a situation when I felt
come down. But I needed to know what
the height of an opportunity and the
it was like to walk in that fear.
HOW HAS PLAYING AN ATHEIST LOOKING
complete bottom of an opportunity.
FOR GOD AFFECTED YOUR OWN LIFE?
When I lost that job, that’s when my
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE SHOW?
It’s sort of divine intervention that this
faith was really tested.
We want a smart conversation. We’re
part came to me when it did. I left my
But then The Mayor was swept right
There’s this old saying my
not trying to change people’s lives or
house when I was 16 to pursue acting,
grandmother used to say: “You can only
bring people to the culture. If it does,
and all my ideas about religion and
live on grandmother’s prayers for so
great. If someone comes closer to their
spirituality were tested because I was
long” … I have to learn who God is for
own understanding of what’s true,
reading a lot more and being opened
myself, and until I’m able to do that, I
great. But at the end of the day, we want
to a lot more conversations and ideas
can’t really progress forward.
to get people talking.
Comfort Is an Enemy Lysa TerKeurst on why God might pull us out of our comfort zones
LY S A T ER K EUR S T
apart from the Lord, and their people
is a breast cancer survivor, a New York Times best-selling author,
were full of impurities. They had no
and the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her new book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way was released November 2018.
need to draw upon the Lord’s strength, so their hearts were far from Him. Make no mistake: Being lulled into a false sense of security is worse than going through the process of suffering.
circumstances beyond their control.
Life feels good, so it must be good. No
the Moabites was one of complete ruin.
are all words I long
disappointments. No difficulties.
It would have been better for them
to use to describe my life. I suspect you’d
But this verse is very clear that this
Scripture reveals the eventual fate of
to go through the experience of the
is not what’s best for them. People left
Israelites. To go from vessel to vessel
be OK with these being the defining
in a complacent place too long will get
and experience suffering in doses that
terms of yours, as well. But what
tainted and become like impure wine.
made them strong enough to handle
if the comfort and certainties we
Wine left on its dregs, not poured
suffering in even larger doses.
crave today are a deadly recipe for
from one jar to another, means it’s
complacency that will draw our
been left sitting in comfort for so long
make sure you catch something wrong
hearts further and further away
that it has absorbed the aroma of
in its early stages while treatment is
It’s like getting a blood test just to
from God? There are many examples of this in the Bible, but let’s look at one tucked into Jeremiah: “Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on
possible. Or like
Being lulled into a false sense of security is worse than going through the process of suffering.
its dregs, not poured
before going on a missions trip to a country where diseases are an everyday risk. It’s so much better to get
from one jar to another—she has not
complacency. Winemakers at the time
a small exposure to the deadly disease
gone into exile. So she tastes as she
of Jeremiah would pour wine from
to help build up your immunity than
did, and her aroma is unchanged”
jar to jar for two reasons. First, so the
to be exposed and risk not having the
wine wouldn’t absorb the flavor of the
necessary strength and immunities to
vessel. And second, to rid the wine of
On the surface it may seem like the nation of Moab has it good. They are
the dregs or the sediment that would
comfortable. Life seems predictable.
settle into the bottom and prevent the
so we don’t have to drown in the
They’ve been at rest for a long
wine from being pure.
devastations of tomorrow.
time. They haven’t known what
getting a vaccine
The Moabites were not jarred from
We must sip the suffering of today,
It’s a process that doesn’t usually feel
it’s like to get caught off guard. To
their complacency. Therefore, their
good at the time, but God assures us it
suffer. To endure hardships due to
culture was saturated with satisfaction
will be good in time.
God Is a Foodie Margaret Feinberg explains why eating is a spiritual experience.
M A RGA RE T FEINBERG is a speaker, Bible teacher and author of the new book, Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers & Fresh Food Makers. Find her on Twitter @mafeinberg.
Itâ€™s almost as if God redeemed food just as He does us.
agents of reconciliation. Yet to understand all of these lessons, we have to see that its main teaching is not sociological but theological. Jonah wants a God of his own making, a God
who simply smites the bad people and
Jonah, the Whale and America
blesses the good people, for instance,
Tim Keller explains what the Sunday
the book. As part of the entire Bible,
school story truly says about God.
however, the book is like a chapter that
his own countrymen. When the real God—not Jonah’s counterfeit—keeps showing up, Jonah is continually thrown. He finds the real God to be an enigma because he cannot reconcile the mercy of God with His justice. How, Jonah asks, can God be forgiving to people who have done such violence and evil? That question is not answered in
drives the overall plotline forward. It teaches us to look ahead to how God saved the world through the one who called himself the ultimate Jonah
ike most people raised
nuances of the message. Both episodes
(Matthew 12:41) so that he could be
in a churchgoing
show how Jonah, a staunch religious
both just and the justifier of those who
home, I have been
aware of the story of
Jonah since childhood.
It seems to be about so many things.
Is it about race and nationalism,
since Jonah seems to be more
concerned over his nation’s military
security than over a city of spiritually
him. The book
lost people? Is it about God’s call to
mission, since Jonah at first flees from
the call and later goes but regrets
God’s love for
it? Is it about the struggles believers
have to obey and trust in God? Yes to
all those—and more.
Careful readers find it to be an
Jonah yields many insights about God’s love for societies and people beyond the community of believers.
we readers fully grasp this gospel will we be neither cruel exploiters like the Ninevites nor Pharisaical believers like Jonah, but rather
ingenious work of literature. Its four
chapters recount two incidents. In
opposition to toxic nationalism and
chapters 1 and 2 Jonah is given a
disdain for other races; and about how
command from God but fails to obey
to be “in mission” in the world despite
it; and in chapters 3 and 4 he is given
the unavoidable power of idolatry in
T IM K EL L ER
the command again and this time
our own lives.
is the founding pastor of Redeemer
carries it out. The careful structure reveals
Grasping these insights can make us bridge builders, peacemakers and
changed, Christ-like women and men.
Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and the author of the new book, The Prodigal Prophet.
Reprinted from THE PRODIGAL PROPHET: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy, by Timothy Keller. Published by Viking, an imprint of the Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Timothy Keller, 2018.
How the founding member of worship group Jesus Culture stopped her rebellion and gave her voice to God
or Kim Walker-Smith, the road to
AS YOU’RE GOING THROUGH THESE THINGS, YOU’RE
her role in the Jesus Culture worship
AROUND CHURCH AND HEARING CONVERSATIONS
movement was marked by intense
ABOUT JESUS. WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION OF
trial. Abuse, loss and trauma are all
FAITH AT THE TIME?
in her past, and she shares most of it in her new book: Brave Surrender.
I was aware of God, but I had this understanding
Walker-Smith says writing the book
of God creating the world like some big old man in
pushed her to be vulnerable in a way she never
the sky, watching us. I thought good people went
had to be onstage. Her relationship with Jesus has
to church on Sunday mornings and Jesus was
always been front and center, but the intimate
somehow connected to God, but I wasn’t sure how.
details of her life have not.
Jesus was the actor who’d be crucified on Easter
RELEVANT sat down with Walker-Smith to talk
and make me cry, and my grandparents would
about her story, the growth she’s experienced and
explain who He was and what He was doing. I
how God has revealed Himself in the process.
couldn’t comprehend what that meant for my life as a child, but I felt closer and more connected
YOUR STORY IS MARKED BY TRANSFORMATION.
to Jesus and the idea of His love [than the idea of
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF BEFORE
God]. The Holy Spirit was a complete unknown.
The older I grew, and the more comprehension of God I had, the more I thought God could stop all
Before Jesus, I wanted to put on a mask and show
the pain I was walking through. A lot of my anger
you whatever I thought you wanted to see. If you
began to turn toward Him. It started with, “You’re
needed a good student, I was a good student. If you
letting these things happen to me,” then, “You don’t
needed someone excited and lively to get the crowd
love me and you don’t care about me,” then, “I was
going, I could do that. If you needed someone kind
a mistake. I should never have been born. Why did
and gracious, I could be that. But I had an edginess,
you let me be born?”
too, like something could burst out of me and eat
Even at 18, when I finally surrendered my life
you alive. I was angry and rebellious beneath the
to God and took ownership over my relationship
surface. I had my mind made up about things.
with Him, I still had a lot to process. I couldn’t reconcile that relationship with what I had just
WHAT WERE YOU REBELLING AGAINST?
lived through, and so before I was set free from those pieces of my story, I experienced His love but
I had all this anger inside of me because of
I wasn’t fully trusting it yet. A journey of healing
everything that was going on in my life, from my
had to take place so I could have a full relationship
dad’s first motorcycle accident, to my parent’s
divorce, to all the abuse I went through. Anger was my way of coping with the pain because at least
BEFORE YOU TRUST GOD’S LOVE, IT CAN FEEL
with anger, I had some sense of control. I would
EMPOWERING TO LASH OUT AND ASK HIM
have rather felt angry because it made me feel
QUESTIONS AND MAKE DEMANDS. DID YOU HAVE
strong and that the pain couldn’t touch me. But
EXPERIENCES LIKE THAT?
once that anger was removed, there was no choice but to face the pain and feel it.
Yeah, definitely. I had a lot of questions, and I felt
“I encountered a God who was not afraid to enter the mess with me and walk through that. It wasn’t anger, it was just love.” it was my right to have answers
we bring those questions. He meets
because of what I went through. I
us where we are. In that moment,
had given my life to Him, but there
I encountered a God who was not
was more to be had because I was
afraid to enter the mess with me and
is bold, but her
withholding myself. I felt I was
walk through that. It wasn’t anger, it
vulnerability was tested when telling her story.
looking at God through a veil. I
was just love.
wanted to be with Him, but I couldn’t reach Him, and that was because of
I DON’T THINK THAT IDEA OF
my demand for answers.
CONTINUAL GROWTH, PAST THE
So I had to humble myself. What I thought I deserved didn’t
POINT OF CONVERSION, IS TALKED ABOUT ENOUGH IN CHURCH.
matter, and soon my hunger for There’s this language put out there
for the answers. I was able to lay
that once we begin a relationship
my questions down and hope in
with Jesus, life is suddenly good,
Church wounded and broken inside
God’s plan for me. I couldn’t handle
and that’s not the case. Yeah, you
and feeling a pressure to be perfect.
being disconnected, and that was the
experience love and freedom and
For me, inner healing was like being
beginning of my healing.
hope, especially at conversion, but
fractured in my mind. Because of
there is a process after that in which
my trauma, my mind was shattered,
Years later, my stepdad, who I was
your ingrained mindset and baggage
and Jesus came along and through
really close to, passed away from
still needs fixing and change. That’s
His process, put all the pieces back
Parkinson’s. He had never stopped
why we need redemption. Jesus
together and made me whole again.
praying for God to heal him, and I
didn’t lay down His life for a moment
Talking about that process in the
was so hurt when God didn’t heal
with us. He laid down His life so we
book was vulnerable and scary, but
him and he died. I found myself
could have a lifetime of relationship
Jesus came for restoration. Your need
again with questions and anger and
and become more like Him. That’s
for a Savior is always there. I hope
demands. But that time around, God
the Kingdom of God on Earth: His
we can be a people who want to be
showed me He’s not afraid of those
people restored to what it was always
the best version of ourselves. That’s
questions, and He’s not upset when
meant to be. That’s a process. We
Heaven on Earth manifested in us.
And it still comes up, often.
need more people in the Church
freedom outweighed my demand
talking about that. There are so many people in the
better and He sees what I don’t. I have to trust He’s not only taking care of me, but taking care of me in exactly the way I need. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF NOW COMPARED THOSE CONVERSATIONS CAN ALSO
YOU TO SURRENDER?
TO THE PERSON YOU USED TO BE?
JESUS IN THOSE MOMENTS THAT
Oh, man. The hardest thing is
I would say my boldness is still there,
MIGHT HAVE DAMAGED US.
trusting God will take care of me.
my strong will and mind are still
In my mind, I grew up believing
there, but there’s no rage or anger
That’s the kind of healing He wants
no one could take care of me like
underneath that person. There’s
to bring to us. That’s who God is. He
me. I didn’t believe anyone loved
a peace and calm, and a wisdom
takes nothing and creates something.
or cared enough, so I felt I couldn’t
that knows God is still there with
He takes ashes and creates beauty.
trust anyone to take care of me. I
me and taking care of me. There’s
That’s why it’s so important for us
still reach points in my life where
a real strength, too. Back then, I
to live in a place of surrender and
God reminds me to trust Him to take
thought my anger was my strength.
live our lives in a way that yields our
care of me. It’s still hard sometimes.
I wanted everyone to believe I was
hearts to Him. When we can do that
I have a need for control where I ask
strong because I was so scared, but
on a regular basis, we make room for
God to take care of me in a way I feel
because of the foundation that’s been
the ways He can intervene in a way
is right and good, but He says He’s
built through what God has done in
going to take care of me in a way He
my life—because of trusting in His
knows that’s good for me. I have to
strength, not my own—I can yield to
let that go. His ways are higher and
Him every day.
REVEAL RETROACTIVE EVIDENCE FOR
WHAT’S THE HARDEST THING FOR
Should the debate about gun control be reframed as a pro-life argument?
BY J E S S E C A R E Y
they will melt it down, beat it into
of the book of
a usable gardening tool and send
Isaiah, there is a
it back to you—for free. Martin
recently teamed up with his friend
what will happen
and fellow activist Shane Claiborne
“in the last days.” It’s a stirring series
(co-author of the new book, Beating
Guns) to take the gun-converting
When God’s coming Kingdom is established, “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” It’s a powerful image: One day,
exercise on the road. What they’ve seen is moving. Claiborne remembers the mother of a son killed by gun violence. “As she says, ‘This is for my boy,’” he
weapons and turn them into tools
says. “There wasn’t a dry eye out
used to propel life.
there. It kind of felt like there was
That verse inspired blacksmith
a therapeutic element of this, and
Mike Martin to do something radical:
there’s an element that transcends
Make the prophecy literally come
all the stale redirect of gun control
true. He started a group called
debates and goes right to the heart
RAW Tools (“RAW” is “war” spelled
mission: If you send them a gun,
40% O F T H E WO R L D ’ S GU N S
she starts beating on this metal,
people will take their stockpiles of
backwards), and they have a unique
Gun ownership In the united states
But with the gun debate, “getting
4.3% O F T H E WO R L D ’ S P O P U L AT IO N
to the heart of it” is increasingly
difficult—especially for many
abortion—but I also know that
that’s not the only pro-life issue,” he explains.
Many of his fellow Christians
Today in America, there are more guns than there are people.
THE NUMBER OF AMERICANS KILLED BY GUNS EVERY DAY
don’t really see things that way. White evangelicals—who
Right now, “firearm-related
almost entirely identify as
injury” is the second leading cause
“pro-life”—are also extremely
of death of children in America.
pro-gun. More than 40 percent of
The modern Church’s relationship
It’s right below car accidents, but
the demographic own guns. That’s
with guns is a complicated one.
the gap is closing quickly. Guns kill
significantly higher than Americans
“We’ve got almost five times as
twice as many American children
overall (30 percent).
many gun dealers as McDonald’s
as cancer. In 2017 alone, guns killed about 40,000 American children.
Evangelicals as a whole, a
restaurants,” Claiborne explains.
demographic that has become
And, he says, many times those guns
known for its political power, are
end up in the hands of people who
link between guns and death. For
far more likely than the general
have violent intentions.
Christians who view a pro-life
population to say they are satisfied
ethic as central to their faith, this
with current gun laws or say they
we can make in our country that
should be a reason to discuss gun
want gun laws to be less strict.
might save lives,” he says, referring
Statistically, there is a direct
Guns are disproportionately
Claiborne says this is what drew
owned by and supported by the
him to the issue. “I care about
same group that disproportionately
abortion—reducing and eliminating
identifies as pro-life.
“There are some changes that
to common-sense measures like universal background checks. However, the argument often used by pro-gun advocates echoes
Cities with the most gun violence per capita
1 . N E W OR L E A N S , L A 2 . M E M P H IS , TN 3 . B I RM I N GH A M, A L 4. BA LT I MOR E , MD 5. ST. LOU IS , MO 6 . M I LWAU K E E , W I 7. LOUISV I L L E , K Y 8 . D E T ROI T, MI 9 . K AN S A S C I TY, MO 10. CH IC AGO, I L
Leading causes of death for children in America CAR ACCIDENTS
that of NRA executive Wayne LaPierre, who famously claimed,
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with
a gun.” POISONING
In the days following the mass
shooting at Sutherland Springs Church that left 26 people dead, another church in Texas issued a statement. First Baptist Church of
run workshops for the NRA.
Instead, he believes that Christians
Dallas is one of the state’s oldest
But before he became one of
and largest churches. Appearing
the world’s most well-known gun
taken within the gun industry itself.
on Fox and Friends, Pastor Robert
experts, Correia was in ministry. He
When we talked with Correia, he
Jeffress claimed that smaller
was a pastor for 15 years, holds a
was at Las Vegas’ SHOT (Shooting,
churches like Sutherland Springs
master’s in divinity and has taught
Hunting, and Outdoor Trade)
were “more of a target” because at
Bible courses at seminary.
Show, one of the industry’s biggest
his church, “a quarter-to-half” of
Correia believes there is a
should support measures being
annual events. In recent years,
the thousands of congregants bring
biblical case for his new profession.
suicide prevention has become a
their guns every Sunday.
“Nowhere in Scripture is someone
major emphasis. They’ve offered
required to be the victim of criminal
seminars put on by the American
wasn’t that America needs more
violence,” he says. “Martyrdom is
Foundation for Suicide Prevention
effective gun legislation—it’s that
not the same as being the subject of
to the thousands of exhibitors so the
in order to stop innocent Christians
criminal violence in any way.”
people actually selling firearms to
For pastors like Jeffress, the lesson
from being killed, churches need more well-armed Christians.
For Correia, guns aren’t about taking life. They are about protecting it.
There are 120 guns for every 100 people in the U.S.
“I tell people all of the time, ‘I am
the public could receive training to help spot warning signs and know what resources are available to help people in crisis. “I don’t want to worry about this
a person of peace,
category that people talk about,
and I seek to bring
quote-unquote, ‘gun violence,’”
the Kingdom of God
he says. “I am more interested
wherever I go, but
in removing the qualifier, for us
as a bearer of the
to solve the violence problem in
image of God, I have
America, regardless of its vector,
the right to stop
and regardless of its tool.”
someone from hurting me,’” PREACHING GUNS
In firearm-enthusiast circles, John
STANDING HIS GROUND
he explains. Correia is a staunch supporter of
There are dozens of stories in the
Correia is a genuine celebrity.
gun rights, and flatly doesn’t believe
Bible that can be used to justify
His YouTube channel, Active Self
there are policy solutions to ending
either major position on guns. The
Protection, has more than 1.3
gun violence like limiting access
Old Testament is full of tales of
million subscribers, and his videos,
to firearms or the accessories that
God’s people using violence as a
which aim to “train people in armed
make them more lethal or even
way of conquering unrighteousness
and unarmed self-defense” have
implementing universal background
and injustice. But in the New
been viewed more than a half a
checks. His reason, he says, isn’t
Testament, with the arrival of Jesus,
billion times. He’s a professional
ideological. He simply believes these
firearms instructor and has even
measures won’t reduce violence.
In perhaps His most well-known
sermon, Jesus explains that He
The last thing that the Bible says
has come to challenge traditional
Jesus said at the meal were the
point Jesus was trying to make: “He
understandings of violence and
words, “That’s enough!”
says if you pick up the sword, you’ll
retributive justice. He says, “You have heard that it
For many pro-gun advocates like Correia, the story is an example of
was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for
Jesus seeing the need
tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist
to be armed when
an evil person. If anyone slaps you
bringing the Gospel in
on the right cheek, turn to them the
other cheek also.” So, when it comes to the Bible’s
However, Claiborne sees it differently.
sometimes conflicted message on
“What I think Jesus
Claiborne suggests this is the
die by the sword,” he says. “The early Christians interpret that as the
Access to a gun Increases the risk of suicide by 3x.
violence—and using violence as a
was doing is kind
deterrent for evil—what does Jesus
of airing the dirty
laundry,” he explains. Claiborne
most incredible disarming of every
suggests that is what it means “to be
one of us. They said when Jesus
numbered with the transgressors.”
disarmed Peter, He disarmed every
“This was not a holy thing,” he
Christian. Because if ever there was
During the Last Supper, the meal Jesus had with His disciples before He would be apprehended by armed soldiers to be tortured to death,
argues. He points to what happens
a case for ‘stand your ground’ or
Jesus ended the meal by saying this:
next to underscore his point. When
protecting the innocent, he had the
“But now if you have a purse, take
a man comes to lead Jesus to his
strongest case in the world, and yet
it, and also a bag; and if you don’t
death, Peter pulls out one of those
Jesus shows us that violence is not
have a sword, sell your cloak and
swords, swings it at the man’s head
the solution.” Correia, however, disagrees. He views that verse as Jesus specifically referencing His own circumstances. “Jesus wasn’t supposed to die by
the sword—He was supposed to die by the cross,” he says, arguing that
Gun deaths in the united states
if he’d been killed in a sword fight (instead of on the cross) “that would thwart the will of God.” So, when it comes to effectively Homicide
addressing gun violence, is there a solution everyone can agree on? PULLING THE TRIGGER
The first step in finding a solution 1999
is admitting that gun violence is a problem Christians must address. That’s why Claiborne and Martin have taken their guns-to-tools demonstrations on the road—to
buy one. It is written: ‘And he was
and cuts off his ear in a gruesome
provide a powerful example of what
numbered with the transgressors.’”
scene. Jesus immediately heals the
the Bible looks like if you take it
In reply, the disciples told Him,
man, yelling, “No more of this!” to
literally. They also hope that it will
lead to change.
“See, Lord, here are two swords.”
“I think this is a spiritual and moral crisis, it’s also a public health crisis,” Claiborne says. For Claiborne, it means finding a balance between identifying the spiritual and moral elements of the
Acco rdi ng to t h e FBI,
crisis—which is undisputedly a role
h a nd g u ns acco u nt fo r
the Church should have—as well as
alm o st t wo - t h i rds of
finding “common-sense” legislative
all g u n v iolence.
measures to protect the public. “If we made guns illegal across the board, people would still kill folks,” Claiborne says. “There are people that will say, ‘It’s not a gun issue, it’s a heart issue, or a sin
one true king, not as a proponent
issue,’ and what Mike and I are
for firearm rights.”
saying is, ‘Why can’t it be both?’
The concept that we are to
God heals hearts and people change
bring about a Kingdom—one
new legislation that would help
laws, so let’s see what
where swords will be turned into
widely expand background checks
we can do to save lives
plowshares—is one Correia is
that would be performed before a
in this country.”
looking forward to, even if it means
gun could be legally purchased.
Though Correia may 3.6
he’ll be out of work. “In God’s
It’s a small first step, but one
disagree with Claiborne
coming kingdom, when the lion
that could lead to more, expansive
and other advocates
lies down with the lamb,” he says
legislation—like restrictions on
for gun control
jokingly, “I will have to cross-train,
the number of bullets a magazine
measures, he says
because my job will no longer be
can hold and accessories that
that the debate must
make guns shoot more rapidly
become less politically
But until that day, Christians must
and be more lethal—that some say
toxic, especially for
educate themselves on the scope of
could eventually go a long way in
Christians: “We have to
the problem, and prayerfully decide
be first and foremost
what they think the solutions are.
In her speech to lawmakers,
This winter, former Rep. Gabby
Giffords said, “Now is the time
citizens of the Kingdom of God,” he says. “My
Giffords—a victim of horrific gun
to come together, Democrats and
primary identity is as
violence herself—visited Congress
Republicans. Be bold. Be courageous.
an ambassador of the
to encourage lawmakers to take up
The nation is counting on you.” Those final words could also serve as a call not just to legislators, but also to Christians on both sides of the debate: Be bold. Be courageous.
THE GUN HOMICIDE RATE
The nation is counting on us.
PER 100,000 RESIDENTS 0.5
0.5 0.4 0.3
0. 3 0. 2
JESSE CAREY is the brand director at RELEVANT. You can find him on Twitter @jessecarey.
A R K
KK II LL LL EE RR K I L L E R The acclaimed rapper is taking his talents to TV, and he’s not afraid to tackle big questions about race, money, politics and, yes, Jesus. BY T Y L E R H U C K A B E E
ow many life acts
rap group of the decade so
way,” Killer Mike says.
in what he calls “a very
can one guy get?
far, with three eponymous
“Trigger Warning gave us
Christian household” and
At this point, you
albums of striking creativity
has been exposed to the
could be forgiven
for thinking Killer Mike had
But even that doesn’t
teachings of the Church all
as he tackles issues like
his life. He says he’s grateful
reached his personal and
represent the full measure
gang culture, imperialism,
for what he learned, but
creative zenith at something
of Killer Mike (real name:
consumerism and racism,
he’s also been doing a lot
like three previous points in
Michael Render), whose
but he comes at them from
of reflecting on some of the
his life. First there was his
new Netflix show, Trigger
surprising angles. Maybe
American Church’s issues,
illustrious solo rap career
Warning, takes his wit
his most provocative
which he sums up in one
in the early ’00s, where he
and intellect across the
thoughts are about a topic
phrase: White Jesus.
collaborated with the likes
country in search of difficult
near and dear to his heart:
of OutKast and Jay-Z. Then
in 2013, his career went to
“White Jesus is not good for the African-American community,” he says.
He calls it “the greatest
been random conversations
“My frustration is simple,”
hindrance that black people
in everything from
Killer Mike says. “It’s with
barbershops to bars that
White Jesus. It’s personal
Jewels and have become
I’ve wanted to see on
maybe the most essential
television but in a different
a whole new stratosphere
“These things have just
with El-P, who he met on a Cartoon Network gig. The pair formed Run the
The show follows Mike
Killer Mike was raised
“As an African-American, there’s pain and trauma attached to Him because
M I K E M I K E M I K E
“MY FRUSTRATION IS SIMPLE: IT’S WITH WHITE JESUS. IT’S PERSONAL FOR ME.” the same people that are
responsible for me being
you, and that’s
here worship the same
for anybody of
God,” he explains.
color or not,” he
When slave traders
room for women
United States in chains, they
forced many of them to
There’s no room
convert to Christianity—a
for people, like
practice which was
sex workers, who are
religion in this country,
him “Killer Mike.” While
carried on for years
morally reprehensible to
as any country, is when
and passed down over
you start to see God in a
College, he met the Beat
building you’re visiting or a
Bullies—the production duo
generations. Those roots,
This bothers Killer Mike.
he says, have a lasting and
It bothers him that so many
book you’re holding versus
who elevated artists like
negative effect on black
churches see themselves as
the grass and the trees,” he
T.I. and Ludacris to fame—
gatekeepers, sorting sheep
says. “These are things that
and Antwan Patton, better
with Christianity. He calls it
and goats on their own time
were here long before we
known as Big Boi.
to save Jesus some time
were here and are gonna be
that you’re morally and
down the road. “You want
here long after we’re gone.”
spiritually bound to a God
to connect with God, but
that was first introduced as
you’re told you have to do it
Stankonia, which put him
an oppressive force.
[their way],” he says. “And if
Killer Mike was born and
on the map for more and
“As an American,
for some reason you get out
raised in Atlanta, and he
bigger things in the future,
of line, you’re expelled.”
gained a reputation as
like guesting on Jay-Z’s
a rapper early on, once
“Poppin’ Tags” in 2002.
Christianity is very white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant-
says. “There’s no
shipped Africans to the
He argues that God never
Killer Mike laid down a few guest verses on OutKast’s 2000 masterpiece,
based, so it’s very difficult
intended to be identified
beating his opponents in
to live anything except
with institutions. “The
a rap battle so soundly
performed respectably, but
what their strict Protestant
biggest problem with
that his friends christened
it was with Brooklyn native
A handful of solo albums
sits down with Creflo Dollar,
go,” he says. “They go to
pastor of World Changers
fellowship with people from
Church International, a
the community that they
megachurch in the Atlanta
know and they care about.”
suburbs. Dollar has gotten
Killer Mike—he’s the
for espousing a prosperity
ultimate “tough but fair”
critic. For all his tough jabs
“I want to see a
at the American Church, he
black savior,” Killer
readily acknowledges that
Mike implores a visibly
it’s done a lot of good too.
uncomfortable Dollar. “I
church community is
something that matters
P” Meline make up the duo Run the Jewels.
to people, and is often
Dollar says in hushed
a positive influence on
whisper. “That’s a
people’s lives. Moreover, he
says he doesn’t think people
have to leave their church
The two then joke about Render and Jaime “El-
He understands that
don’t see the guy that looks “They did that, man,”
Michael “Killer Mike”
This is the thing about
in hot water in the past
to have a real reckoning
storming Joel Osteen’s
with some of the damage it
church doors to lead the
black people out of the
Specifically, Killer Mike
pews, leaving the white
says people in religious
parishioners behind with
traditions that foster a sense
their White Jesus. It’s
of prejudice against others
probably worth noting at
can reject those forms of
this point that all this is less
bigotry while still enjoying
Jaime Meline, better known
series, Killer Mike and
than four minutes into the
the community that church
as El-P, that Killer Mike
a few friends travel the
offers. He says there’s value
found a rare, combustible
country conducting social
chemistry. El-P started
It’s quite a moment,
in people staying in the
and it’s probably the only
institution and fighting.
as Killer Mike’s producer
place on any channel or
and friend, but eventually
and finding small ways to
streaming service you
church because Martin
became a tourmate and
put big ideas into practice.
can go to find anything
Luther chose protest,” he
finally, collaborator as
Some of his bold proposals
approaching an honest
says. “Just because you
the other half of Run
involve racial justice, some
conversation about Jesus’
let go of the ideology that
the Jewels—a critically
involve economics (Killer
racial identity and how
causes you to be bigger
acclaimed duo with releases
Mike was a vocal supporter
thoroughly it has been
than your prejudice toward
that scream in equal parts
of Bernie Sanders in the
appropriated by whiteness
something or someone, that
fire, fury and fun.
2016 presidential election)
doesn’t mean you have to
Three Run the Jewels
and some, of course, air
let go of community.”
albums later, and Killer
his grievances against
Mike figured it was finally
Killer Mike says he still
time to turn his attention to a TV show. On the new Netflix
That led to “White
“We have a Protestant
goes to church with family
Jesus,” the episode about
members, albeit rarely.
religion. In it, Killer Mike
“I understand why they
T YLER HUCK A BEE is the senior editor at RELEVANT. You can find him on Twitter @tylerhuckabee.
The Breakup Handbook BY TYLER HUCKABEE
How to Survive a Broken Heart Without Losing Your Mind
The scene that never grows old is the breakup bit from
the fact, the sooner that knot in your stomach will go away. Breaking up with someone is hard because you know it will cause them pain, but it will ultimately make it more painful for them if you string them along. Pray for strength and poise, and do the right thing. If you’re on the receiving end of a breakup, denial looks a
Say Anything. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you
lot like a desperate search for answers. You convince your-
know it. Lloyd Dobbler, played by a fresh-faced John Cusack,
self the person who dumped you isn’t in their right mind or
boombox held aloft into the darkening sky, Peter Gabriel
is just going through a phase. You hunt for tangible reasons
saying for him what his own words could not in an attempt
they dumped you, convincing yourself that if you can boil
to win back Diane. It might be pop culture’s most iconic im-
the reason down into one clear thing, you can fix the break
age of a breakup. Which is a shame.
and things will go back to being what they were.
Because of all the many things you can do with a breakup,
This is what denial looks like. It’s a coping mechanism
one of the absolute worst is to pine over what might have
meant to shield yourself from the reality of the situation.
been, trying to reverse engineer a thriving relationship out
Heartbreak, disappointment and rejection are brutal feel-
of the lifeless husk of what once was. A breakup isn’t fun,
ings, so our minds find ways around embracing them. It’s
so the natural inclination is to back out of one and try to go
understandable, but reckoning with the truth of your situa-
back to being in a relationship.
tion is your first step toward healing.
“A breakup is like a death only the person is still walking around in the world,” says Dr. Suzanne Lachmann, a clinical
STAGE TWO: PAIN AND GUILT
psychologist with an expertise in helping people navigate
That acceptance is going to come with a
breakups. “Any time you are experiencing anything that’s like a death of someone that means something to you, it’s going to hurt no matter how progressive society gets. A loss
sharp, brutal pain that’s known in the business as heartbreak. You go from seeing someone every day
is a loss.”
and sharing your life with them to not
That means you’re going to probably go through some
having any interaction with them at all, other than some
version of the seven stages of grieving a breakup. This is a
tortuous social media teases. (Seriously, an Instagram pic
process identified by Lachmann as a sort of road map for
from that restaurant we used to always go to?!) It can feel
what the days, weeks, months and even years following
like a death, as someone very close to you vanishes from
a bad breakup will most likely end up looking like. These
your life—and the future you’d been envisioning is swirling
aren’t really steps, since they’ll happen naturally. Consider
down the drain.
them more markers to help you get a rough idea of where
There is one thing to remember during this stage and,
you’re at and how to best navigate this season.
unfortunately, it’s not particularly fun. It’s simply to accept the fact that you’re in pain. That sounds easy enough, but
STAGE ONE: SHOCK AND DENIAL
a lot of people struggle with it. They try to convince them-
Your instinctive reaction to a breakup
selves that the pain they’re feeling is silly and juvenile, and
will probably be a little different based
attempt to undermine their own feelings by shutting their
on whether you were the one who initi-
eyes and being a “grown-up.” There’s a reason why Eccle-
ated it or not, but one thing most break-
siastes says there is “a time to weep” and “a time to laugh.”
ups have in common is an initial stage of
Everyone likes laughing, but sometimes we need a reminder
shock and denial in which you don’t fully grasp the reality
it’s OK to just cry and grieve.
of what’s happening.
And yes, rejection is embarrassing and breakups can be
If you’re breaking up with someone, this stage comes be-
humiliating, but that is no excuse to treat your emotions
fore the actual breakup, when you’re refusing to accept in
like they don’t matter. Admitting that to yourself and let-
your head what you already know is true: You need to break
ting yourself feel the full brunt of the breakup is much more
things off. This stage can last as long as you can hold the
emotionally mature than keeping a stiff upper lip and pre-
realization at bay, but the sooner you come to terms with
tending to be hurting less than you are.
STAGE THREE: ANGER AND BARGAINING
a yawning chasm of loneliness, but the day is going to come
Anger usually doesn’t set in immediately.
when you wake up and you’re not thinking about your ex.
Initially, the feelings of loss and loneliness
Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next month. Maybe not
overwhelm any real mad energy, which
even in six months. But it’ll come. The important thing is to
is why people generally turn to ice cream
not try to rush through this stage. Lachmann says that might
and fried chicken immediately after a
just end up making things worse.
breakup. But the anger stage is when people start turning
“I highly, strongly feel there should be no expectation
to stronger substances (do not do this) or aggressive activi-
ever about how anyone processes a loss,” says Lachmann.
ties like kickboxing (much better). Anger is when the initial
“All the different formulas only put pressure and make you
shock of sadness dissipates and all you’re left with is rage.
Sometimes anger gets a bad rap. Sure, the Bible says we
Well-intentioned friends will be there to try and talk you
should be “slow to anger,” but it never says we should avoid
out of your funk, telling you to move on and snap out of
it all together. Here’s the thing: Anger is actually a good sign.
it. That’s what friends are for, but it’s also important that
It’s the first sign that you actually are progressing through
you recognize these feelings aren’t something you can just
the stages. Even better, it’s a sign that you’re starting to take
turn on and off. There’s no set schedule for getting over
stock of yourself again. Depending on your temperament,
stuff like this.
you might be mad at your ex, their friends, the circumstanc-
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Stay plugged in to church
es surrounding the breakup or maybe just mad at yourself.
and don’t hesitate to ask for prayer—it really does work.
You’ve got two options here. The first is to let that anger
Also, remember that counselors are heartbreak experts, and
simmer and calcify into a bitter grudge. The second is to use
having someone with the resources to help you process your
it productively. Anger can be a great motivator. You can take
emotions is more valuable than you might realize.
that energy to the gym, a creative project or even some simSTAGE FIVE: THE UPWARD TURN
ple housework. Pretty much anything is better than sitting in your own anger, stewing on the one who got away.
A quick note: This is a stage where you might be tempted to start dating again, just to prove something. This is called a rebound, no matter how much you try and convince your-
This is obviously a welcome adjustment to your emotional state, and it’s important to remember that it’ll come. Old routines start to set back in. You’re still sad about
self otherwise. Avoid the urge at all costs.
things—obviously there’s no event under which you wake up one morning feeling completely bet-
STAGE FOUR: DEPRESSION AND LONELINESS
ter—but there’s an organization and clarity to your thoughts
“How long will it be like this?” The thing
that you haven’t had in a while.
to remember is that this stage does have
You start having fun again, here and there, but don’t let
an end. It may look like the entire future is
this lull you into a false sense of security or, worse, make
When You Try Your Best But You Don’t Succeed Music can be the only thing that makes sense after a breakup. Both for giving words to the insanely bad feels you’re going through, and for the simple knowledge that someone else out there has felt this way too. Breakup songs do a broken heart good. Here are some of the best ballads for a breakup.
The undisputed queen of
Dance the blues away?
KANYE WEST the genre. Adele’s 21 gave a
Tempting offer, but only
Not Kanye’s most
generation a soundtrack to
Robyn knows how to create
true emotional devastation,
danceable club anthems
album, but maybe his most
manifested by a voice that
that can both get your body
nakedly emotional, brimming
could bring a mountain
moving while nursing your
with pain, guilt, rage and
you feel like you should be doing better than you are.
happened, happened. The sting of rejection hurts, but it
“There’s no point at which you can look up and say, ‘I’m
doesn’t have to define you moving forward.
officially over this thing,’” Lachmann says. “Because you
This is the stage where, at long last, you’ll get through the
have no idea if you might have some association three
day without thinking about your ex—and when you do, it
months later that makes you melancholy for a minute. It’s
won’t come with a wrenching pain in your gut. You’ll be able
not an exact process and the worst thing you can do is set
to move on and maybe start thinking about dating again.
expectation on your own grieving process.”
And, by this point, you might be an awesome kickboxer.
Allow yourself to have some fun and enjoy life, but also, THE END OF THE BEGINNING
take your time. Build yourself back up slowly.
Breakups are made out of two pains: loss and rejection.
STAGE SIX: RECONSTRUCTION AND WORKING
Both take time to heal, and Lachmann makes it clear that
the stages she’s created won’t necessarily go in order. Life,
As a feeling of normalcy starts to return,
like love, is messy that way.
you’re going to have the emotional margin
“You can cycle through [these stages]” Lachmann says.
to start making some changes to your life.
“Go back and forth through them, under them, around
Start thinking about the things you want
them, through them, for as long as you personally, physical-
to improve about yourself and set some goals with realistic
ly, emotionally need to.”
plans about how to achieve them.
Remember your absolute acceptance by God is secure,
Reach out to some friends you haven’t seen in a while
and there is nothing any ex can do to change that. That
or maybe make some new ones. Pick up a hobby (Remem-
won’t necessarily fix the way you’re feeling, but it can pro-
ber the kickboxing thing?). You’re going to have some fresh energy and now is a great time to funnel it toward something proactive, but make sure you’re not using these new activities as a bandage. There will still be moments of pain. “Breakups take as long as they take,” Lachmann says.
“There are most definitely people out there who won’t reject you. You and this person just were not compatible in ways that you didn’t see. That’s all.”
“There are so many ways to distract yourself from feeling sad that we lose sight of the fact that grieving is actually part
vide a true north in a disorienting season.
of the healing process.”
The important thing to remember is that feelings you ex-
In other words, don’t rush yourself. If you don’t process
perience on the heels of a bad breakup aren’t permanent.
this grief now, it won’t disappear. It’ll just show up later,
“Remind yourself that there are most definitely people out
stronger and more stubborn. Better to do the hard work
there who won’t reject you. You and this person were just
now than wish you had later.
not compatible in ways that you didn’t see. That’s all.”
STAGE SEVEN: ACCEPTANCE AND HOPE
Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. Sometimes the wound left by a
T YLER HUCK A BEE is the senior editor at RELEVANT. You can find him on Twitter @tylerhuckabee.
breakup never completely goes away. Acceptance is about acknowledging that what
Jerry Lorenzo’s unique fashion sense made him a style superstar. But turning Fear of God into a cultural force took him turning to a higher power. W O R D S BY C A M E R O N S T R A N G
ear of God’s
have noticed the lack of a
sign on the door.
Inside the renovated
everywhere you look. Take Fear of God’s
innovative fashion brands in the world. But perhaps
founder, Jerry Lorenzo, for
most surprisingly, he is
industrial space, a small
example. He is laid-back
an outspoken Christian
for one of
team works in controlled
and effortlessly cool, but he
leading a revolution in the
chaos. High-end, modern
is a perfectionist involved in
fashion brands in the
furniture is surrounded
every detail of the company.
world. On a nondescript
by hundreds of boxes
He’s a self-taught
corner in Los Angeles’ Arts
stacked in the creative
designer who built the
“I come to work in sweats
District, the brick building
studio, turning what used
brand on his own, and
and hair looking crazy.
is completely unmarked.
to be the design space into a
now is one of the hottest
That’s something that a
You have to text someone to
makeshift fulfillment center
names in high-end fashion.
lot of people can’t do. I’m
figure out which door to use.
for a drop of the latest Nike
He wears sweats to
operating in my freedom
“I’ll come meet you outside,”
Paris Fashion Week. And
and the only boss I have
somehow he’s a playable
is the greatest creative
refined. Expansive, yet
athlete in the NBA 2K19
director of all time. And
God is being discreet
packed. It’s the ultimate
I’m OK with being His
so fashionistas and
contrast of high-end and
sneakerheads don’t come
hustle, which might just be
has turned his penchant
knocking. Or maybe things
a perfect metaphor for the
for ’90s-retro fashion into
Fear of God has become
are just so busy no staffers
brand itself. That contrast is
one of the hottest and most
the brand for luxe apparel
is the reply. Maybe Fear of
I M A G E S BY S T E V E N TAY LO R
The space is raw, yet
In the last five years, he
“I think luxury is freedom,” Lorenzo says.
employee.” Over the last few years,
He’s well on his way.
nice sneakers. He wants to
old Nike shoe, but we fought
When Nike debuted the shoe
use what he does to make
seen the Fear of God Sixth
to do something new,” he
in December, it sold out in
an impact, and he wants
Collection on everyone from
says of the Nike Air Fear of
minutes. Despite being some
people to know the real
Justin Bieber to LeBron
God 1. “What I’m really good
of the priciest sneakers in
source of the high-end
James, Gigi Hadid to Kanye.
at is shape and silhouette,
history at $350 a pop, Nike
designs they’re wearing.
and if I can help change the
was only able to fulfill 5
“I have to really know
collaboration with Nike on a
shape of a basketball shoe
percent of the demand.
where the favor is coming
new line of basketball shoes
and I create a new shoe with
Lorenzo has bigger
that has taken things to an
Nike, we can maybe change
goals than just dressing
quickly get lost in thinking
celebrities and selling
it’s your talents that got you
But it’s Lorenzo’s recent
“I could have just done an
and trendsetters. You’ve
from,” he says. “You can
somewhere, and that’s a
music in the house, and
doing corporate America
scary place to be. Thinking
every night at the dinner
was doing whatever my dad
it’s through your own will,
table the family would
did,” he says.
or your own gifts, that
you’re able to make these
“It says in the Bible, ‘Raise
Lorenzo took a front office job with the Los Angeles
things happen, when the
a child up in the way that he
Dodgers, where he met
reality is it’s the opposite: It’s
should go, and he’ll never
the team’s young phenom,
only through obedience.”
turn from it, and if he does
Matt Kemp. At the time, not
turn, he’ll come back,’” he
only was Kemp one of the
IN TWO WORLDS
says. “I’ve had these spiritual
league’s best players, he
When Jerry Lorenzo was
roots in my life, in heavy
was also a nascent celebrity
a kid, his dad traveled a
part to my mom’s obedience
who briefly dated Rihanna.
lot. A former Major League
and dedication to keeping us
Soon, Lorenzo was doing marketing for the baseball star, which included
“I’m not talking about real fear ... I’m talking about a respect and a reverence, but if you don’t know that, it’s kind of gangster.”
upgrading his style. “I kind of had this knack for knowing what was missing from [Kemp’s] closet,” Lorenzo says. Lorenzo didn’t really set out to start a brand. The “humble beginnings” story is that he had ideas for pieces he wanted for Kemp’s—and his own— closet, but couldn’t find them in the stores. “So I was like, ‘I’ll go downtown, and I’ll make it,’” he says. “I’ll figure it
Baseball player, Jerry
Manuel Sr. coached at
Lorenzo played baseball
out. It can’t be that tough.” A few pieces later, and
both the major and minor
at Florida A&M University
he had a small collection.
league levels, leaving Jerry’s
before getting his master’s
But it still wasn’t a brand,
mother to shoulder a lot of
degree in business
or even close.
the responsibility of raising
administration at Loyola
actually on the L.A. party
Though Lorenzo attended
Lorenzo’s focus was
Even so, he felt like his job
scene. While working in
a mostly white high school
options were limited after
management and marketing
with “grungy Kurt Cobain-
graduation. He got a taste
by day, by night he was
type kids of the ’90s,” his
of the fashion industry
throwing hugely successful
mom would take him and
working retail during
parties, dubbed JL Nights,
his siblings to a mostly
college, but after school he
attended by the who’s who
black church every Sunday.
took a different path.
of L.A.’s scene.
“I remember her being
“At that time, just being
It was in these rooms
a rock of our family
a young black kid and
full of tastemakers and
spiritually,” he says.
finishing grad school, I really
streetwear pioneers that
thought my only chance at
something became clear:
She would play praise
Lorenzo was consistently
would become staples
he says. “When you’re
like Nashville or Colorado
the best dressed guy in
of his fashion line.
in relationship with
Springs, he would have
Him, you’re at peace
gotten labeled as the
were coming together.
with Him. But if you’re
Christian designer (“It
guys have clothing lines,
Personally, well, his life
not in relationship, you
would have been DC
I could probably have a
wasn’t where he wanted
see those clouds and
Talk,” he cracks).
clothing line,’” he says.
it to be.
darkness as literal clouds
“I was like, ‘If you
But Lorenzo’s lifestyle
That’s when his
But in L.A., it was
of darkness, and there’s
different. It was a little
came at a steep cost to
parents read a passage
like a literal fear. I was
weird, a little punk. And
his personal life. Partying
from Oswald Chambers’
like, ‘Man, I’ve got this
sure, it was cool. But for
every night led to a
devotional classic My
foundation I could build
Lorenzo, it wasn’t just
drinking problem, and he
Utmost for His Highest
a brand on.’”
cool. It was a spiritual
stashed his faith in the backseat. He even decided to publicly change his last name from Manuel to Lorenzo to avoid any overlap with his father, the devout,
“I can’t afford to compromise my perspective for price. I think God has called us to excellence.”
respectable baseball manager. Jerry “Lorenzo” had come a long way
that would change
from the churchgoing kid
his life. The passage
idea of the fear of God—a
who sat down for nightly
described God on a
God who could burst
to make good-looking
devotions with his family,
throne, wreathed in glory
through the darkness like
clothes anymore. He
but that all changed
but surrounded by dark
was being obedient to a
during a trip to see his
clouds. Dark and light.
sparked something. “I’m
parents in Chicago. It
“I just had this vision
not talking about real
wake-up call. He wasn’t just out
“Fear of God just gave
was a trip that ended up
of God, and He kind of
fear,” he explains. “I’m
me this foundation that I
having a ripple effect, not
looked just like really
talking about a respect
needed,” he says. “There
just on his own life, but
cool for the first time,”
and a reverence, but if
was the conviction that I
also the fashion world.
you don’t know that, it’s
knew there was something
kind of gangster.”
missing in the market,
This wasn’t a Sunday
Something about the
THE MEANING OF ‘FEAR’
school God. This wasn’t
The Manuels do
a corny, Christian
name stuck. It was cool
conviction that I needed
devotions as a family, so
bookstore depiction. This
whether you knew what
a platform to honor Him.
any trip Lorenzo took to
was an all-powerful God
This is something that,
check in with his parents
who demanded respect
meant a little prayer
and should be feared by
gangster enough to
least I’m honoring God
and Bible reading. At
those who oppose Him.
overcome the Christian
The Fear of God
“I knew that it was
and there was also a
even if it doesn’t work, at
this point, Lorenzo was
“In my mind, I was
partying with a handful
like, ‘Oh my God, this
explains. He knows that
initial pieces caught the
of the world’s most
is a good foundation to
if he’d started the brand
eye of Big Sean and other
famous people and had
build this clothing line
in a more traditionally
high-profile figures in
designed a few items that
on: the fear of God,’”
the hip-hop world. And
Not long after, those
that led to a call from fashion/rap titan Kanye West, who asked for a few Fear of God shirts of his own. “Kanye got a hold of it,” Lorenzo says. “He and I had never connected, but all of his close friends were really good friends of mine. He’s like, ‘Man this is amazing! Can you be in Paris next week?’” Lorenzo was in Paris next week. The meeting led to a three-year collaboration with West. Soon after, Lorenzo was designing high-end tour apparel for the likes of Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and Justin Bieber. Lorenzo was quickly becoming one of the most talked-about figures in fashion, and as his personal profile grew, so did his initial conviction to honor the God he “feared.” The brand gave him more fame but also more access to his vices. “I had a brand called Fear of God, and I had an alcohol problem, and I was living these two different lives,” he says. “I was just like, ‘You know what, God, if you don’t want this thing for me take it away, but know that I’m doing this for you.’ And I changed my life.” Lorenzo decided to get sober after a single AA meeting and rededicated himself to his faith. It’s been three years since he’s had a drink. “I really believed that my old self died on the cross when Christ died on the cross, and I really believed that I wasn’t who I was, and that I was how God saw me,” he says. “I really believed that. And I was just able to walk in that. I don’t know where I got that strength from. I think it just kind of happens when you hit rock bottom. You know, it’s just you and God. I was just like, ‘Take this from me.’” THE LUXURY OF OBEDIENCE Listen up sneakerheads: Your first look at the Fear of God x Nike Air 180 Moccasins, releasing May 2019.
“I feel like God has called us to do the best that [we] can possibly do,” Lorenzo says when asked about the tension of
balancing his faith with
called to be free.
not compromise who he
creating high-end goods.
“Are you finding
“He’s given me the gifts
your freedom having
“This is not a Christian
and talents to express
a bunch of money in
brand, but I’m a Christian
myself at the highest
the bank? Is that your
human,” he says. “And
level, and I’m just trying
definition of freedom?”
as a Christian man, I’ve
to express myself through
he asks. “Because I’m
come to the realization
clothing at the highest
defining freedom as being
that your success is more
level. That costs a lot of
determined by how you
money to do.”
This is where the
Make no mistake, Fear
is—regardless of the cost.
deal with the persecution.
two ideas at the core
It’s not so much in your
of God is high fashion,
of the Fear of God
craft. It’s in how do you
and if you want to wear
ethos intersect: Being
gracefully deal with
it, you’re going to have
obedient to God frees
those who are throwing
to pony up. (For those
him from the pressure
stones at you? How do
lighter in the wallet,
of the industry and the
you represent what you
Lorenzo’s value line
expectations of other
believe in those times?
Essentials is at PacSun.)
brands. And that freedom
But for Lorenzo,
“I think the
provides Lorenzo with
persecution is going to
the ultimate luxury: not
come. I think in anything
expensive clothing is
worrying about what
you do, especially doing
just a sign that he’s
others think. He can mix
something for the
living up to the creative
low-profile comfort with
Kingdom, you’ve got to be
standard he’s been called
high-end luxury. He can
ready for that and it’s in
to. He says luxury and
draw inspiration from
how you deal with that,
obedience are inseparable
the world of sports, hip-
that I think ultimately
values in conversation
hop and the Bible, and
you’re measured by, even
with each other.
he can do it without any
more so than the shape of
pushback. He’s free to
“Yeah, it could be cheaper,” he says.
take orders from God.
“But I can’t afford
“I don’t think God
For him, these clothes, materials, designs, shapes
to compromise my
needs anything to
and shoes—these are all
perspective for price. I
influence or change
an act of obedience to a
think God has called us to
culture,” Lorenzo says.
creative calling. And yes,
“God doesn’t necessarily
that calling mixes some
need a person or a
brand he created. He
platform. He just needs
runs the team. He does
someone who’s obedient.”
and freedom, light and
Lorenzo owns the
the designs. He is the face
dark, high-end and hustle.
of Fear of God. He’s also a
husband and father.
When you leave the
It keeps him busy,
It’s a lot of contrast. But in Lorenzo’s world,
Fear of God offices for
that’s what luxury is all
but he doesn’t have to
the trendy yet drab
answer to anyone, and
because of this, he says
its doors, you realize
he will never sell what
the extent of Lorenzo’s
he’s built. The money
unique vision, and
wouldn’t be worth the
how successfully he’s
loss of freedom, and
manifested who he is
Lorenzo believes he is
through his art. He does
CA MERON STR A NG is the founder and publisher of RELEVANT. Follow him on IG and Twitter @cameronstrang.
Maggie Rogers Really Means It In an industry built on artifice, inflation and influence, the ascendant indie-pop star is as real as it gets. BY T Y L E R H U C K A B E E
it hard to be a
indie star with
legions of fans.
Heard It in a
Is Born milked a
that her years of
Past Life is Rogers’
work are starting
major label debut
to pay off with the
and her first
difficult for those
out of just that
release of Heard It
album since she
outside of that
in a Past Life.
orbit to know for
kid yourself,” the
“It’s been so
movie seemed to
by playing an early
On one hand,
warn. “Success in
says. “I feel like
version of her hit
it looks great. You
this industry isn’t
I’m taking a big
get paid to do what
as easy as it looks.”
breath. Like I’ve
for him (Google
kind of come up
the video if you
you love, making
2018’s A Star
fans happy by
for air and can
haven’t seen it.
see it that way. Of
enjoy it all.”
You won’t be
you believe in. On
course, you almost
the other hand,
have to say that
enjoy. Her album
there are plenty
debuted at No. 2
of years from her
of examples of
but in her case it
on the Billboard
200 and landed
genuine. She talks
the top spot on
struggle to create
about her life as a
for the album to
come together in
a way Rogers was
toxic nature of the
and freshly minted
and thrilling her
There’s a lot to
disappointed.). It took a couple
“I took the time I needed to make a record I love and that I’m really proud of. I think whatever you’re working on, that’s the thing that matters most, you know?” she says.
“If I tell you the whole truth, then there’s nothing you can do to hurt me.”
“That you love what you’re doing. This thing I love is finally out in the world.” But isn’t it hard? The struggle of art?
says she didn’t feel a ton
craft than many of her
finding myself through
The pressure of the
of pressure about the
peers. And she’s proud
a new way, and I’m
industry? The challenge
album, but she did take
of the result.
excited to let it keep
of making something
time to figure out what
“I think if you’re
that really speaks to this
she wanted to say, and
not having fun, then
That spirit bleeds
time and place without
how to best apply her
it’s not worth it,” she
over to the community
talents to saying it in a
says. “Music makes me
of fans who’ve fallen
way she felt good about.
happier than anything
in love with both her
“You are asking
“I love doing music,
else in the entire world.”
studio albums and her
and it’s what I’ve always
loved doing,” she says.
“I’ve been thinking a
“I went to school to
lot about performing
study it. I have spent
“I’ve often come to
recently,” she explains.
“Records, for me, have
every moment of my
describe my job as being
“I think that a great
always been a record
waking life, essentially,
vulnerable for sport,”
performer gives the
of a period in time,”
trying to be the best at
Rogers says. “So I made
this that I can and I love
this record and I’m so
the work that I do. This
of the reasons I always
proud of it and in love
is definitely something
always used music as a
loved going to shows.
with it. And then I’m
I’ve been working for
form of self-care. It’s my
Letting go for a little
gonna make another
and in so many ways,
way of understanding
while and being in this
one. It doesn’t feel
[is] the dream.”
the world around me,”
place with a bunch of
Maybe this is what
she says. “I think that’s
sets Rogers apart from
what I’ve learned over
many of her long-
the last couple of years
a one-way street, Rogers
and satisfaction about
suffering peers: the
is really how to let go,
says. She can set the
what she does shouldn’t
prioritization of the
and in the process I’ve
table, but she says the
be mistaken for
reward over the work—
really grown into my
people who come to her
breeziness. She stresses
the top of the mountain
voice in a different way.
shows give her freedom
that music is her art—
over the climb. Rogers
I’m singing right now in
to be authentic, and she
something she’s been
is a hard worker who’s
a way that I never have
gives it back to them. It’s
studying and working on
put substantially more
and didn’t know was
a conversation: a spirit
for over a decade. She
hours into honing her
possible. I feel like I’m
of vulnerability that’s
like it has to be super complicated.” Rogers’ sense of pride
mesmerizing live shows.
For her, music is
to let go and that’s one
That “letting go” isn’t
fostered and fueled on
essentially saying is
both sides of the stage.
‘You’re so you!’ But, like,
“I really feel incredibly held and supported by my
who the f*** else did you expect me to be?” This is Rogers’
audience,” she says. “I
charm: walking a fine
think as much as we’re
line with so much
talking about making
ease you could be
space to be vulnerable
forgiven for thinking
it takes no effort at
giving their audience
all. She’s carefree, but
permission, I think my
audience also holds
She’s gracious, but firm.
such incredible space
She gives everything
for me to be vulnerable.
she’s got to her fans
I feel really protected
because they give
everything they’ve got
Vulnerability is a gift,
to her. Maybe she’s a
and it comes naturally
mass of contradictions.
to Rogers. You can
Or maybe this is what
hear it in her music,
it means to be an
when she sings about
authentic person in
love, restlessness and
2019. You’ve got to live
the creative impulse.
in the tension.
You can see it on stage,
“I have this mindset
when she performs
of, ‘If I tell you the
with abandon, proving
whole truth, then
that the secret to
there’s nothing you
dancing like nobody’s
can do to hurt me,’”
watching is to dance
she says. “And I think
like you know everyone
that I carry that into
is, and just choose not
my music. Just saying,
to care. She is, to an
‘Here are all the things
I feel, and I’m sure
herself. It’s striking to
they’ll change. Maybe
encounter it, not that
you feel some of the
she sees it that way in
same things. If you
don’t, that’s cool. This is
“The thing that
where I stand.’”
people say to me all the time is like, ‘You’re so authentic!’” she says. “And that seems like such a dumb compliment. I’ll take it, but what you’re
T YLER HUCK A BEE is the senior editor at RELEVANT. You can find him on Twitter @tylerhuckabee.
S T A T E O F F E A R How Chinaâ€™s government is cracking down on young Christians
BY JOSEPH RIGGS
October 2018, a hypothetical question was posed by Wang Yi, the pastor of Early
Rain Covenant Church in Southwest China. That Sunday morning, according to reports, Yi asked the congregation of his large and influential underground church what would happen if the church was no more. “If tomorrow morning the Early Rain Covenant Church suddenly disappeared from the city of Chengdu, if each of us vanished into thin air, would this city be any different? Would anyone miss us?” The question hung in the air for a moment like a cloud as Yi gripped the sides of his podium.
“I don’t know,” he said finally. As it turns out, the question happens to not be so hypothetical. Today, the Early Rain Covenant Church is shuttered, its cross and pulpit gone, the doors guarded by police officers while a construction company and business association set up shop in what used to be the church building. Pastor Yi and his wife have been detained and are charged with “inciting subversion,” for which they could face as many as 15 years in prison. One hundred other members of their congregation have been detained as well, while others remain under close supervision. Stories like Early Rain’s have been common in China since Mao Zedong’s cultural revolution in the ’60s and ’70s, but activists and pastors say the current crackdown on Christianity has reached a terrifying pitch in recent months. Fearing Christianity’s rapid growth, President Xi Jinping drastically tightened China’s religious freedom laws, forcing churches to follow the government’s strict rules about what can and cannot be taught in houses of worship—or face the consequences. And to make sure the crackdown is successful, the government has focused its efforts on one demographic in particular: young people. THE FUTURE IS YOUNG
“When they survey these university students in China they say, ‘What’s your most current curiosity?’ Christianity is at the top. They are curious. They are seeking.” David Curry is president of Open Doors USA, an organization that advocates for persecuted
Christians around the world. He
now of China, they’re restricting
to be in line with the CCP. But as
says the Chinese government
anybody under the age of 18 to come
these religions have spread with
knows there are more Christians
into church, to go to youth group, to
fearsome speed, Xi has tightened
in China than there are members
have summer camps.”
his grip on the unsanctioned house
of the Communist Party, and that
Curry says the Henan province has seen a strict enforcement of
the Church’s rapid explosion by
this new age limit on religious
THE FUTURE IS FEAR
targeting the people most likely to
expression. It’s probably not a
Curry stresses that these
join it. And in the case of China, that
coincidence that Henan reportedly
underground churches are “full
means targeting college students.
has the highest population of
of lawful citizens who are an
Christians in the country, estimated
important part of China.” Their
Atheism, a Chinese academic
to be several million strong. A
only crime is resisting their church
journal, found that there was
widely circulated notice dated April
being brought to the heel of the
a “religious fever” in Chinese
8, 2018, strictly forbid children from
government. They don’t want to
society and “religious forces were
attending church, youth group or
see their church become too closely
A 2013 study in Science and
any religious retreats. “In the past this was
“They’re trying to ... change the theology of Jesus, in some cases and restrict the free expression of faith.” –David Curry
identified with a political party. Increasingly, Christians in China
mainly a matter of
are seeing their faith as a potential
propaganda and education,
tool for social change, akin to a civil
but now this is the red line,
rights movement. That means the
the high-pressure line,” the
Church often finds itself vocally
notice’s stern final line read.
confronting the government about
“Do not disregard this.”
corruption and abuses of power,
To understand how
which experts say is part of why
this works, you have to
Xi is tightening his grip. In 2018,
understand a little about
the government implemented new
China’s attitude toward
rules about religious expression
Christianity. The Chinese
in the country that said one of
government is less
the plans for “promoting Chinese
interested in stomping out
Christianity” from 2018 to 2022 is
the Christian Church than
“thought reform.” The government
it is bringing it in line,
issued calls for “retranslating and
domesticating it and making
annotating” the Bible in order to
it obedient to the party.
establish a “correct understanding”
Officially, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is atheist, but it “sanctions”
of what it really means, according to the government. In short, the Chinese
five different faiths in
government’s vision for the future of
the country, including
the Church is not just that they’ll act
infiltrating colleges.” The study
Protestantism and Catholicism.
the right way, it’s that they’ll think
feared the spread of Christianity
Religious freedom is enshrined
the right things, too. This is what
brought with it a dangerous Western
in the Chinese constitution and
the underground Church in China
has been since the 1980s, so the
is pushing back against, and Curry
government has typically been
says it’s a challenge for all churches.
“It’s a very young church,” Curry
has motivated them to head off
says. “They’re trying to restrict the
lenient toward house churches that
growth amongst young people,
didn’t register with the government
or a home group, the theology and
restrict access. In many provinces
or edit their teaching and preaching
purpose of following Jesus must
“Whether it’s a licensed church
numbers are difficult to come by as churches have increasingly moved underground, but Fenggang Yang, the director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University, predicts that the number of Protestants and Catholics in China could exceed 247 million by 2030, making it one of the world’s largest Christian populations. The government’s methods of cracking down are sophisticated, but Christians in China are savvy and determined. “In this war, in Xinjiang, in Shanghai, in Beijing, Christians in China gather for church. The letters above the cross say “Immanuel.”
in Chengdu, the rulers have chosen an enemy that can never be imprisoned—the soul of man,” Pastor Wang said in a sermon he preached before he was imprisoned that was posted online. “Therefore they are doomed to lose this war.” “This is a vibrant church,” Curry says. “It’s not a weak church. They’re
always be a spiritual endeavor, not
there anybody under the age of
going to need to stand up for their
a political one,” he says. “And that’s
18 here? Who are these people
place as Chinese citizens. As 100
the challenge, that’s the problem.
showing up?” Curry explains.
million strong, they need to stand
They’re trying to now restrict or
Curry says this sort of Black
up and go, ‘We are great citizens.
change the theology of Jesus, in
Mirror-level, futuristic government
We want the right to worship Jesus
some cases, and restrict the free
surveillance has been implemented
freely. Full stop.’”
expression of faith.”
in Beijing, where it then can be
In some cases, this has meant
Curry says American churches
followed up with more old-school
should commit to praying for the
churches in China being forced
forms of oppression like black vans
persecuted Church overseas weekly.
to use a government-approved
with tinted windows, nightsticks and
Unlike many persecuted churches,
edition of the Bible, with the Ten
handcuffs. The overarching message
Chinese Christians are not, generally
Commandments removed. Videos
from the government is: Play by the
speaking, impoverished or lacking in
have been posted of Chinese
rules, and if you don’t, we’ll know.
resources like Bibles and Christian
authorities removing crosses from
literature. But, he says, “They need
the walls of churches and holding
YET THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
boldness and they need strength and
mass burnings of non-sanctioned
“The Communist system has no
wisdom and they need to know that
Bibles. And now the Chinese
moral grounding, so people are
they’re not alone.”
government is using its wealth and
responding to the truth of the
technological savvy in some chilling
teaching of Jesus,” Curry says.
The growth of the Chinese church
“China now has rolled out
has stymied its government, and
and is testing facial recognition
their attempts to squash it so far
technology in churches to see: Is
have been ineffective. Precise
JOSEPH RIGGS is a writer from Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his dog Jude.
joel mchale’s A
BY TYLER DASWI CK
fter a joke about heroin, another joke about co-
charisma and work ethic you admire. “I love playing charac-
caine, a suppressed F-word, an unsuppressed
ters—it keeps me young and away from the heroin,” he says
F-word and a description of his personal hell
(told you). “I see performing like a sport. If you don’t hone
(the Big Brother house with everyone inside
your skills, you don’t work.”
conspiring against him), Joel McHale opened up
Nowhere is this more true than comedy. McHale is touring
about his church. It felt like an alternate reality,
a new stand-up act in 2019, but he’s rewriting the first 15 min-
but it makes sense. Joel McHale’s lived between the real and
utes of every show. Ambitious, but if that’s what it takes to lay
unreal for decades.
off the drugs, so be it.
McHale has a cynical, 47-year-old voice, but he has messy
“I don’t run out there and go, ‘Airline food sucks, who’s
27-year-old hair and a satisfied smile that only comes from
with me?’” he says. “I will find every way to win people over,
earning some of the luckiest jobs in show business: The Soup,
and for me, that first 15 minutes is gauging what we’re deal-
Community, a Netflix series and a new stand-up tour.
It’s easy to like McHale. He reminds you of the friend your
Most comedians earn gigs by clawing their way through
parents worried about: a presumptive bad influence with a
the club scene or catching a break with an improv troupe, but
rise to the bottom
Ever since his days on The Soup, the comedian has reveled in the lowest forms of popular culture. His trick to rising above? He doesn’t.
McHale started filling seats because of
thank God. Now that I’ve done 6,000
With the rise of the inter-
his hosting gig on E!’s The Soup, which
f***ing comedy shows, I have a much
net, the insanity worked
ran for 12 seasons between 2004 and
better feel of how it goes. Now stand-
to not only draw ratings,
up’s a huge part of my career.”
but attract clicks. If an
It was the perfect match between
Across 618 episodes of The Soup,
on-camera meltdown is
host and concept. On The Soup, McHale
McHale asserted himself as the judge
seen by 5 million people
scoured the dregs of pop culture for
and jury of trash culture. He brought
live, great, but it’s better
things to riff on, unearthing satirical
uncommon observation to lowbrow
if it goes viral the next
gold from mainstream shows like The
things like Keeping Up With the Kar-
Bachelor and Vanderpump Rules along-
dashians and Dance Moms. That in-
Are general audiences
side unscripted deep cuts like Steven
cisiveness is key for a comedian, and
savvy to reality TV’s illu-
Seagal: Lawman. No stone went un-
it’s why McHale can not only tell great
sion? Yes. Does that stop
turned, be it on Judge Judy’s witness
jokes onstage, but also talk about reali-
them from watching? No,
stand, inside Oprah’s couch or hidden
ty TV like he’s drafting a thesis.
to a point. People buy into
deep in the jungles of Survivor. The
“After Survivor came out in 2000,
Soup was full of crass puns and bath-
there was a gold rush of reality shows,”
than others, and not even
room jokes, but despite its low subject
he explains. “It was wide open and
McHale understands why.
matter, McHale always stood tall at
there was a lot more mayhem. Take
“These shows are ab-
its center. He was dumpster diving in
Being Bobby Brown—Bobby Brown and
solutely staged, but for
American culture for over a decade,
Whitney [Houston] just allowed a cam-
whatever reason, people
but somehow he came out clean.
era to follow them. A publicist would
are on-board,” he says.
In fact, McHale looks back on The
commit seppuku like a samurai if their
“It’s a gold mine. Some
Soup with a lot of pride. It gave him his
client did that now. Or like when Brit-
of my most intelligent friends can’t get
stand-up platform, where he can skew-
ney Spears and Kevin Federline were
enough of The Bachelor—they’re really
er a lot more than Charlie Sheen inter-
walking around with a video camera
wondering if those people are going
views and Kardashians.
documenting themselves getting high,
to find love. It’s a game show about
that wouldn’t happen now on TV.
desperate, disturbed people who be-
“I’m very fortunate I backed into
stand-up,” he says. “So many comics
“Now, reality television’s a lot more
lieve they’re going to get a husband in
have to earn five minutes here, five
homogenized and the mayhem is on
30 days! It’s crazy to me, but h***, I’ll
“[Jesus] would be around the things elitist people would scoff at. He’d be right there in the muckiest muck.”
watch it. Maybe Jesus would, too.”
he continues. “I
Yeah yeah, Jesus loves everyone,
don’t even know
even people on The Bachelor. We’ve
if it’s reality any-
heard this song and dance. But would
he actually show up to your watch par-
of “What’s real?”
ty and grab the popcorn? McHale gives an emphatic yes.
has been at the
“Jesus would’ve been close to all
center of reality
those things,” he says. “He was nev-
er one to feign away from anything.
If He were here, He would be around
elty used to be
the things elitist people would scoff
enough to engage
at. He’d be right there in the muckiest
viewers, but as
muck, I think.”
minutes there. I’m lucky I can go up and
McHale articulates, the boundaries of
McHale and his wife have been going
experiment for an hour. I’ve bombed
reality TV had to expand to keep peo-
to the same Presbyterian church for 19
horribly—numerous times—but I’ve
ple hooked, and that’s how gimmicks
years (He says without his wife, he’d be
been allowed to work on it onstage,
and extremes invaded the landscape.
“a quadruple amputee for some rea-
swered a billion
ness. That’s how the immunity-chal-
times,” he says.
lenge victories become ecstatic, the
“I defend Hol-
season-finale betrayals gut you and
the most shocking rose ceremony ever
leaves you a wreck on the floor of
there’s a bankrupt
The more we accept things that defy
easy description, the more capacity life
has to surprise us. When that surprise
is rooted in truth, it expands our con-
ple assume this
ception of what’s possible, whether
it’s someone on The Challenge stealing
which it can be,
$250,000 from their season-long ally or
but that’s true
a devoted Presbyterian dissecting that
for any profes-
betrayal with gleeful profanity and
sion. Talk about
devastating insight on his TV show the
For some people, Joel McHale rais-
es the same question as the shows he
lords over: What is real? He curses and
he makes crude jokes, but he also is go-
ing from this interview to his pastor’s
son.”). Their church is ritual-centric and
As for his perceived trashy TV pref-
birthday party, and he talks about Jesus
modern-feeling, with a special emphasis
erences, McHale’s response is simple:
like He’s the most important thing that
on serving the homeless, which McHale
How’s it feel to have that plank in
ever happened to him.
When he talks about church, the edge of cynicism leaves his voice entirely.
Since Joel McHale is real, the con-
“You’re watching it all, too!” he says.
cept of following Jesus is more expan-
“I’m just making fun of it, which is
sive than many of his peers might have
The expertise McHale flexed on The
exactly what I would do sitting in my
thought. In the mainstream cultural
Soup extends to his spiritual life. He has
underwear. For me, faith has been a
sphere, it adds new dimension to who
takes. Non-denominational churches
sanctuary, but not somewhere I hide.
Jesus is, who Jesus wants and who Jesus
aren’t exactly his cup of tea, he says, but
It’s not a place I go Sunday morning
he does enjoy “a progressive church.”
before going out Sunday night to deal
The question isn’t what’s real about
Megachurches, with “movie seats and
cocaine. It’s not like these things are
McHale. The question is what’s possible
keyboards and people practically be-
with McHale, because the image of him
ing drowned during baptisms” are fine,
“Once you start believing,” he con-
and Jesus sitting next to each other on
but not his preference. Raised Catholic,
tinues, “it’s nearly impossible to ex-
the couch in their underwear has truth
he finds the ritual of the Presbyterian
tract yourself from faith. It should be
church “ancient and wonderful.”
in every part of your life. I don’t know
McHale’s says he’s gotten some
what I would’ve done without it, and I
criticism from the faith crowd, and
shouldn’t take it for granted. I need it. I
his edge comes back at any accusa-
need Him all the time.”
tion of a disparity between him and his environment.
This is his reality. Nothing’s for the cameras, and nothing’s for show.
Watching reality television requires faith. These shows are beyond belief,
“When people ask me if you can
but even if you realize it’s ridiculous,
have faith in Hollywood, you’re ask-
the full experience is only available
ing me a question that has been an-
when you buy into the preposterous-
T YLER DASWICK is the senior writer at RELEVANT. Follow him on Twitter @TylerDaswick.
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BY TO W N E S P R E S C OT T I I I
OST KIDS FIND THEIR BEST FRIEND LIKE THIS: One kid on the
bus sees another kid reading a book. That kid is like, “Hey, can the girl on the cover really turn into a skunk?” The other kid’s like “Yep,” and then they start talking about what animals they’d want to turn into if they could. Sixteen years later, they’re standing in each other’s weddings. But after you’ve graduated grade school, making friends becomes much more difficult. A 2018 Cigna survey found 56 percent of people feel those surrounding them aren’t “necessarily with them” and 40 percent feel their relationships aren’t meaningful. Adults are lonely, but kids can (and do) make friends with a rock. Something’s missing—or lost—when we stop trading Go-Gurts and Gushers in
not just Him. That’s
“When we were younger, most
how Jesus showed
of our primary relationships were
us the importance
supported by institutions,” says Erin
of relationship in
Lane, author of Lessons in Belonging
ministry and mission.”
from a Church-going Commitment Phobe. “But when you age out of institutions, it becomes a hustle to
The types of friends you make in your 20s:
So, checkmate. We need friends. The Bible calls us to
cultivate friendships on your own.
be in close friendship
They require more margin on our part
with one another, but
you’re still a grown-
You might be thinking this boils
up and grown-ups have a hard time
It must be about something else
down to “making friends as an adult
making friends, so how do we do it?
that both friends are committed to
means a little more hard work,” and
Let’s start with Aristotle. In his
and passionate about, besides one
to that end, you’re right, but then
writings, the Greek scholar and
another. Think of what that means
you might be thinking, “I don’t want
philosopher articulated three general
for Christians. Christian friendship
to work hard, so my TV can just be
motives for friendship. Friends enjoy
is the deep oneness that develops as
my friend.” Not so fast. People need
each other, are useful to each other
two people journey toward the same
community. Why? Because, believe it
and share a common commitment to
destination, helping one another
or not, the Bible says so.
through the dangers and challenges
These ideas aren’t based in any sort
along the way.”
LOVE ONE ANOTHER
of theology, but they are the roots of
In John 13 Jesus tells His disciples,
any strong community, theological,
run-through of all your friends, that’s
“As I have loved you, so you must
Christ-centered or otherwise.
the point. As Lamb says, “Aristotle’s
love one another. By this everyone
Childhood friendships are immature
If that has you doing a mental
definition is not particularly
will know that you are my disciples.”
enough to survive on the first two
Christian, but it’s robust. It helps you
Richard Lamb, author of The Pursuit
things, evidenced by you and your
assess where you’re weak in your
of God in the Company of Friends,
besties always watching Kim Possible
relationships. Christian discipleship
points to this verse as the linchpin of
together (enjoying each other) or
asks what purposes you’re pursuing
the way Jesus calls us to be in relation
trading desserts at lunch (being useful
individually and together because of
to one another.
to each other). As an adult, a more
your faith in Jesus, and it asks how you
mature friendship will require more
can help each other do that more.”
“To look at the many interactions between Jesus and His disciples, He
of the third dynamic: serving together,
called them not just to Himself but
sacrificing together and pursuing a
friendship, but how do we enter into
to each other,” he says. “We think of
it? Lane expresses the need for adults
discipleship as something an older
This paints a pretty picture of
to find margin when creating room for
person does to a younger person in
PROXIMITY, SPONTANEITY AND
friendships, and she says they need
a weekly meeting or something, but
to do so on three fronts: proximity,
As Tim Keller writes in the friendship
spontaneity and vulnerability.
in the Gospels, we see the mark of a disciple was that they loved each other,
chapter of his book The Meaning of Marriage: “Friendship cannot be merely about itself.
That last one sounds pretty scary, so let’s table it for now. Making room for proximity and spontaneity is simple. You can’t make new friends unless you enter spaces where new friends are available and make time
THE MARRIAGE EXPERT
They have their quirks, sure, but you still enjoy your time together. Plus, their crochet hobby is starting to rub off on you.
This friend put a ring on it when they were, like, 19, and now they have all kinds of takes on your love life.
They have three investment apps and white shirts crisper than the dollars in their wallet. Nice that they pay your tab, though.
for those new friends. Press into your community. Pick one weekly event you can attend three
key litmus test for creating a truly
mistakes (“Get behind me Satan.”) but
forgiving them and caring for them as
“Healthy friendships risk showing
well (washing their feet).
weeks out of four, like a fitness class at
up in the flesh,” Lane says. “That’s
the gym or a worship service at church.
patterned on Jesus first and foremost:
FRIENDSHIP IS A PRACTICE
Then go at the same time every week.
God is hungry for friendship with us,
“To have people we can course-
You’ll see the same people each time,
and when you’re hungry for someone,
correct with is really freeing,” Lane
and in the biz, we call these people
you show up in the flesh, pay attention
says. “Friendship is a practice, not a
“unconceived new friends.” Time to
to their lives and bear witness to them.”
privilege. We’re in practice with one
make it happen. Planning for spontaneity is trickier,
And realize who’s showing up for
another to become our true selves and
you. That’s how friendships grow.
the people God has purposed us to be.
obviously, but Lane advises doing
Reciprocate with people who reach
We’re going to get it wrong a lot, and
exactly that: Carve out a block of time
out to you, and make sure you don’t
we need people who get that. There’s a
in your schedule each week where you
leave the entire burden of initiation
lot of mercy in the relationship.”
won’t decide what to do until that exact
to fall on just one person. You want
moment, like 4 to 7 p.m. every Friday.
people who don’t make you apologize
a lot more effort than sitting next to
Then, when you receive that random
when you ask them to be there at an
someone on the school bus and striking
text or invite, you have an open slot. If
inconvenient time, or when you ask
up a conversation over their cool
you want, you can even be the one to
them to show up when you can’t offer
backpack or which Pokemon they’re
send that random text.
them anything in return. Those friends
hunting for near Saffron City. Making
Is all of this as easy as it sounds?
respect the difference between you
friends as an adult means being as
Pretty much, actually. Sure, this means
and themselves, but they also seek
forward with your shortcomings and
opening yourself up to the possibility
a one ness with you, evidenced by
your time as you are about your sports
that you might get turned down for a
their presence. That balance between
allegiances and the movies you like.
good hang, but vulnerability is part
individuality and togetherness is vital
of it. And, yes, it’s time to talk about
to vulnerability, Lane says.
creating margin for vulnerability with other people in our lives.
Further, it gives you room to mess
Making friends as an adult takes
It’s never too late for a new relationship, so start making the effort. The timing might actually be perfect.
up as a friend. That’s another thing
After all, we make old friends when
that comes from the Gospels: The
we’re kids, but we only know how to
requires both proximity and
disciples messed up a ton in their
be an old friend when we’re adults.
spontaneity, Lane says. You need not
relationships with each other and
only to be present, but open to the
Jesus. They bickered and competed
invitation (from God or others) to
and sometimes pandered to Christ.
share parts of yourself that will be
Jesus showed them grace throughout
surprising. It’s scary, but it’s another
all of that, admonishing them for their
For starters, to be vulnerable
TOWNES PRESCOTT III is an editor living in Kentfield, California with his wife and his bulldog.
B RYA N & K AT I E TO RWALT:
OUT OF THE
because they weren’t matching her circumstances. That’s the central tension of living as a Christian in a broken world— God’s promise of a redeemed creation doesn’t align with what you see around you—and that conflict can muddle how, despite the tension, God’s truth still exists. That murkiness is how lies entered the picture for Bryan and Katie. About a year before
The real struggle—and hope—that inspired the Torwalts’ stunning new worship album.
Indigo was born, Katie remembers encountering some intense vocal problems that coincided with some major hurdles in her songwriting process. She couldn’t sing and she
couldn’t write. Her whole identity
TYLER DASWI CK
was shaken. She couldn’t see the way forward and she had no idea who she was supposed to be. What
if God took it all away? Katie’s confusion became the or the first time in their 10
“We need these songs,” Bryan says.
foundation of “Prophesy Your
years as worship artists,
“As a creative, you have times in your
Promise” on Breakthrough. The
pastors and members
life when stuff just comes out of you.
chorus reads: “When I only see in
of Jesus Culture, Bryan
Then, there are seasons when it’s a
part / I will prophesy Your promise /
and Katie Torwalt didn’t
discipline and you don’t feel like you
I believe You, God, because You finish
have the right words. A
have anything to say. This project only
what You start. / I will trust You in
challenging season of life had unmoored
has five songs because we had a hard
them from all sense of safety and
time articulating what we were going
security, and the way back was marked
through. These were the songs we sang
the midst of that particular battle,
by doubt, confusion and lies. They’d
over our life. These are the songs we are
they say that’s what they had to
been giving other people prayers and
declaring for ourselves.”
do: Return to God’s Word and
songs for years, but in those moments, they couldn’t even hear themselves. Praise Before My Breakthrough, Bryan
In 2018, Katie dealt with postpartum depression after the birth of the couple’s
When Katie and Bryan were in
remember His plan. “During that season, something
now-8-month-old daughter, Indigo.
we reminded each other of was
and Katie’s new five-song EP, is more
Katie had struggled with anxiety and
the people who had encouraged
about the silence of that period than it is
depression for a long time beforehand,
us with the words of God,” Katie
about the joyous shouts that come after
but after Indigo’s arrival her mental
says. “We wrote those words down
rescue. So much worship music is about
illness reached a breaking point. Katie
and stewarded them and spoke
victory and celebration and redemption.
says she was grabbing at words and
them back over ourselves when we
This album is about pain, patience and
prayers from other people, but when she
needed them. And it’s not always
hanging on for dear life. It doesn’t look
turned to the voice inside herself, she
easy. It’s the hardest in the middle
back. It sits in the unsafe, precarious
didn’t have anything to give. The words
[of that fight], but we wanted to be
now. It’s uncommon, and it’s urgent.
she did hear didn’t feel true, either,
intentional about it in that song.
“WORSHIP REMINDS ME OF THE TRUTH WHEN LIES ARE CREEPING IN.”
— K A T I E T O R W A L T
God has to say.”
Bryan remembers a moment about a year ago when he and Katie were
When your identity is shaken, the
onstage leading worship at their
assurance it provides is replaced
church. Katie was trudging through
by loneliness. How can you find
the worst of her mental health
connection with another person when
struggles. They were performing the
you don’t know what’s true about
song “Defender,” a celebratory praise
yourself? Bryan and Katie turned back
anthem that goes: “You go before I
to that sense of truth in God’s Word,
know / That You’ve gone to win my war
even if the evidence wasn’t appearing
/ Your love becomes my greatest defense
in front of them.
/ It leads me from the dry wilderness.”
“One of the big lies we believe in
Katie spun away from the lyrics
difficult seasons of life is that we’re
and entered a spontaneous moment
the only ones experiencing that,
of worship, Bryan recalls. Her conflict,
and we’re alone, and no one can
pain and confusion surged forward
understand, not even God. That is
and Bryan felt the room shift away
truth when lies are creeping in,” she
something we want this album to
continues. “It sets the record straight
remind people of: God is with us. The
of who God is and what He has
Holy Spirit is with us. We’re not alone
onstage, and he’s crying even as
planned for us. Sometimes it feels like
in anything,” Katie says.
he tells the story. The impromptu
“Worship reminds me of the
there’s not a plan and there is no hope,
that come into alignment with what
And that’s why Praise Before My
He remembers he started crying
words Katie sang became the title
but that’s not true, and that’s when you
Breakthrough is a capsule of their
song of their EP. “Praise Before My
have to choose to look for the words
hardship instead of a retrospective.
Breakthrough” reads in sharp contrast
you have less requests.”
“I know the tension of the now /
Another song on Breakthrough
though, they’ve seen movement and progress, both in God and each other.
I don’t always understand / I don’t
came out of that tension: “Be With
always get to see everything / When I’m
Me.” Considering its appearance
holding up my hands.”
on the album and the context of
God miraculously change some
“There’s these moments that just feel
They have trust. “If I’m being honest, I’ve seen
its conception, it comes across as
circumstances and feelings and my
like the truth,” Bryan says. “I could see
uncommonly humble and submissive:
health overall, but I’m still waiting for
Katie fighting in that moment, fighting
“Be with me / I just want You to be with
some breakthrough,” Katie says. “What
through some of the lies she had been
me / I don’t need You to do a thing /
this project has shown me is that I feel
believing, and choosing truth.”
Your love is enough.”
more comfortable sharing after I know
For his part, Bryan was in the middle of an intense period of insecurity. He felt no stability in
It almost doesn’t make sense given the longing of the other songs. “Some people ask us if we’re
God has come through all the way. As Christians in ministry, there’s a little lie that says you have to have something
almost any aspect of his life, and he
contradicting ourselves between
figured out to have authority over it
remembers his prayers to God in
‘Prophesy Your Promise’ and
or you’ll be dragging people through
that season were marked by “I need”
‘Breakthrough,’ then ‘Be With Me,’”
your mess. But God says you do have
phrases. He prayed for financial
Katie says. “But that’s just a picture of
authority and victory over it. He’s done
security, for help from family and
our journey. God wants to move and
friends, for Katie, for his own
heal and perform miracles. He’s still
emotional stability—“I need, I need,
going to come through, but ultimately
where God has set things in motion,”
I need,” he remembers saying.
it’s about just being in the room with
Bryan adds. “It’s been amazing to zero
Him. Amid all the things we’re waiting
in on those things and be thankful
instructions to take our requests to
to see fulfilled, we only have a small
in the moment. Your perspective
God, but he still felt tension in his
picture of eternity. There’s more we
changes. You feel like you’re moving
impositions. Something wasn’t right.
don’t understand yet, and that’s only
Bryan was confident in the Bible’s
“We’ve seen little breakthroughs
“I think it’s good to tell God what
fulfilled in the presence of God.”
The cover of Breakthrough is
you need,” he says. “But when your
What makes Praise Before My
a dove. It signifies the dove that
relationship with the Lord is fully
Breakthrough so forceful, even
returned to Noah with the olive branch
based on what you can get, that doesn’t
uncomfortable, is how immediate it is.
indicating the flood across the Earth
work. There’s no depth. For me, it’s
This isn’t a “remember when” worship
was beginning to recede. The olive
been a long journey—and it still is a
album, and that made it that much
branch was a sign, but it also was
journey—but that depth has changed
harder to write.
assurance the Earth would heal and be
to come from the ability to just be with
Bryan and Katie say it’s tempting as
restored. That’s the assurance behind
God. There’s something about having
worship leaders to share struggles only
your identity grounded in God’s love
after you’ve gone through them. It’s
that assures you He’s going to take care
easier to engage with difficulty when
Katie says. “But it signified the hope
of your needs no matter what. You
you can see the before and after, and
to come. That was the promise for the
have less worry and less anxiety, so
it’s easier to share that difficulty with
future. Maybe you haven’t seen the
others after the fact because you feel
island pop up in the flood, but there
you can maintain your authority if
“The bird just had a tiny little twig,”
people know you’ve come out of that hardship better for the trial. But that’s not this album. PRAISE B EF ORE MY B REAKTHROUG H
Bryan and Katie are still inside this time. They’ve seen victory, but only
The EP centers on hope
some. They have hope, but in things
in the midst of pain.
they haven’t seen yet. They maintain,
T YLER DASWICK is the senior writer at RELEVANT. Follow him on Twitter @tylerdaswick.
THE SEARCH FOR Weâ€™re all looking for things that will make us more fulfilled. But what if the answer has been right in front of us all along?
BY R ACH E L G IVE N S
ne of Chance the
“I’m going away to learn the Word of God, which I
am admittedly very unfamiliar with,” he wrote in the
strengths is his
caption. “I’ve been brought up by my family to know
ability to maintain
Christ, but I haven’t taken it upon myself to really just
the semblance of
take a couple days and read my Bible. We all quote
scripture and tell each other what God likes and doesn’t
his fame. Even
like, but how much time do we spend as followers
as his 2016 album Coloring Book
of Jesus to really just read and KNOW his Word. I’m
confirmed to the masses the Chicago
definitely guilty of not devoting time to it.”
native had staying power, he
Even celebrities of Chance’s caliber, who have
ascended to the top of the hip-hop
everything they could possibly want, still feel the
zeitgeist with a bewildered smile.
need for something more. Some people try to fill that
His connection to the South Side,
spiritual void by taking up meditation or trying less than
where he cut his teeth, felt genuine.
legal substances. But Chance’s approach is one worth
With corny t-shirts and a parade
imitating: Why not give the Bible a shot?
of unending variations of his signature “3” ball cap, he looked
THAT’S THE BOOK
younger than his 25 years. Still
The Bible is 66 books written over the course of a few
learning. Still inquisitive.
thousand years by a motley crew of shepherds, prophets,
No one would have been
kings, historians, disciples and poets. Some of the books
surprised to see this attitude shift
are letters, while some are historical documents. There
as his star continued to ascend.
are census records and government policy updates right
Collaborations with everyone from
next to visions of the end of the world. According to 2
Cardi B to Kanye to Lin-Manuel
Timothy 3:16, it is all “God-breathed, useful for teaching,
Miranda racked up. He even made a
correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness.”
movie with white-hot Oscar magnet
“The Bible reveals aspects of God’s character,” says
independent film studio A24.
Steven Sanchez, professor of Bible at Moody Bible
The natural assumption would be
Institute. “God’s work of salvation in history and the
that a victory lap was in the works,
way Christians should live—all these things are unique.
one where Chance would embrace
They’re only revealed in Scripture. So if you take that
his position among rap royalty
away, what do you have left? You have feelings. You have
with a Coloring Book follow-up that
some things that people told you. Maybe something you
would pull back the curtains on his
conjure up on your own.”
new life as one of the all-time greats. But that’s when things took a
Sanchez says many Christians underestimate or misunderstand the value of Scripture in their spiritual
turn. In early December, Chance
growth. “The Bible is designed to change the way we
took to Instagram to post a picture
think, the way we feel and the way we act,” he says.
of him and his young nephew,
But it can be difficult to know the best way to get
announcing an extended sabbatical.
the words off the page and into your heart, where it
TAK ING A CHANCE
can make a difference. “Just sprinkling a
since most of the books of the Bible
few Bible verses on your day is probably
are really written to be devoured in
not going to do what the Bible intends,”
a single sitting. If you take a whole
Sanchez says. “You read Psalm 119, you see
weekend and dedicate it to one of
the Psalmist meditating and thinking and
the books, you’ll be able to examine
delighting in and ‘my whole day it’s on my
it from both a mile-high, macro
mind.’ That’s the sort of behavior that will
perspective and have some time to
do what the Bible intends, and change the
delve into the nitty gritty, too.
way we love and how we behave. But that takes more time than 10 minutes a day.” The Bible is a unique book, but it still
“Otw to the second half of sabbatical. I read Romans,
To start, make a plan. If you can get away, find an Airbnb or chill camping spot. A different location
is a book, and books need to be read. You
will shake up your routine and
wouldn’t tackle Moby Dick by reading
give you some fresh focus for your
one sentence per day, or jumping around
weekend. But in a pinch, you can
from chapter to chapter. You wouldn’t say
do this from home. Make sure
you’ve read Freakonomics if all you’ve got
to deliberately remove potential
is a handful of popular quotes memorized.
distractions (like turning off your
People take classes to understand
Wi-Fi and putting your phone in
Shakespeare. Understanding the Bible takes
another room) to get the most of
at least that level of commitment.
But there’s no need to go into this blind.
The next step is to figure out
Chance took his sabbatical seriously, and
which book you want to delve into.
I’m currently on day 4 of
while you may not have the income of a
If you’re more into stories and
ZERO CIGARETTES. I feel
world-famous rapper at your disposal to
plot, then pick a book with a lot of
really good right now, thank
do the same, you can still get more serious
historical narrative in it. Any of the
about the Bible. Here’s what a deep dive
Gospels will do, as would Genesis
could look like for you:
or Exodus. If you’re more into
James and Galatians and
preaching, consider Romans or one THE WEEKEND
of the Corinthians. If you like poetry,
Depending on your job and family situation,
Psalms is an obvious answer but
the most realistic opportunity for you
don’t sleep on some of the prophetic
might just be a weekend getaway—just you
books like Isaiah or Jeremiah.
and the Bible. Believe it or not, this sort of
commentary you can reference.
for you to focus your energy. The stricter the
The Bible is an old book, written in
guidelines, the more intensive you can be
a few different languages and no
with your focus.
matter what translation you use,
“Don’t be afraid to pick and choose,”
“I’m on a plane headed out the country on my first sabbatical. I’m going away to learn the Word of God which I am admittedly very unfamiliar with.”
Second, find some sort of
limited time could actually be a great way
there is bound to be some historical
Sanchez says. “There’s no reason you can’t
context that you can only really
start at 30,000 feet and then go deeper and
get by consulting an expert (or by
deeper the next few years of your life, if
learning Greek or Hebrew, but let’s
that’s your goal.”
table that for now).
If all you’ve got is your standard weekend—Friday to Sunday—then your best
THE LONG WEEKEND
bet isn’t to tackle the whole Bible, but just to
So let’s say you’ve got a little
take on one book and really devote yourself
extra time coming up—a four-day
to engaging it. It’s enlightening, actually,
weekend maybe, with plenty of time
to get away. If you’re willing to devote all that to a sabbatical, you’ll be rewarded
“I feel really good right now,
for your efforts. Again, as a reminder, if you can get away, do so. It’s hard to
thank u Father,” Chance the Rapper
overstate the value of changing your environment for something like this.
wrote on Instagram, about five days
One fun challenge for the long-weekend Bible sabbatical is to pick a single
into his Bible-reading sabbatical.
topic and devote your entire sabbatical to how the Bible addresses it. This is a
Judging by social media posts,
bigger challenge for some topics than others (you’ll have a significantly tougher
Chance spent a week committed to
time with “God” than, say, “marriage”), but there are few topics you can get a
reading the Bible. In that time, he
decent survey of if you’re willing to devote yourself for a few days.
kicked cigarettes (Hey, as long as
Now that you’ve got a topic, you’ll need a reading plan and for that, you’ll
you’re reading the Bible, you might
need outside help. Do a little research online and see what extra-biblical books
as well pick up some other healthy
have been written about these subjects and pick them up from Amazon or your local library. Talk to a pastor and get some recommendations about trusted authorities on the subjects. THE WEEKLONG GETAWAY
So, you’ve got a lot of extra time to yourself and you’re interested in making it a real biblical sabbatical like Chance. You won’t regret it.
“The Bible is designed to change the way we think, the way we feel and the way we act.”
The Bible isn’t the world’s best-selling book by accident. Any amount of time spent with it will bear good fruit, and a whole week dedicated to it could very well
habits.) and apparently developed a
change your life.
newfound sense of wholeness.
Choose a portion of the Bible to really dig into. Maybe you want to go with the
The Bible isn’t a magic book.
minor prophets. Or maybe you want to really engage the life of Christ through
Reading it won’t heal your marriage
the Gospels. Or maybe just the epistles: the letters of the early Church. With a
or get you out of debt. But it is a
whole week, you can afford to swing for the fences. You’re not looking to write a
spiritual benchmark—a way of
Ph.D. here; just to really take on a substantive swash of Scripture for seven days.
connecting with God on a uniquely
“You’ve got to set your expectations right,” Sanchez says. “This is not Harry
explicit and literal level.
Potter. This is not C.S. Lewis. This is a lot more complex than all of those books.”
Will it fix your life? No, but it
For something like this, your supplemental reading doesn’t have to be quite
might just do one better. It’ll help
as specific as the other options. Consider a more general book about the Bible—
connect you to that thing you’ve
something to guide you while you read. You need to approach the Bible with a
been missing and give a direction to
humble spirit, willing to be filled, challenged and transformed.
It’s harder than it sounds. Many people will talk about the value of a spiritual
And if you’ve listened to any
journey, but aren’t actually very interested in taking a single step from where
Chance the Rapper, you know what
they are. Changing your opinion about something you’ve believed for a long
happens when the praises go up.
time, being confronted with a wrong attitude you’ve harbored, realizing that something you’ve always considered to be right might actually be wrong—these aren’t just possible outcomes of truly taking God’s Word seriously; they’re a sign that you’re doing something right.
R ACHEL GIVENS Is a writer and editor living in Portland.
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production that conjures images of
Bain creates indie-pop that coos and
popping pink bubbles. Amber Bain, the British
swirls, as her voice is masked behind
native who goes by The Japanese House, creates
ethereal filters that make her sound
music that’s undeniably dreamy, but these dreams
both otherworldly and like she’s sitting
are solid, tangible—rooted in images that feel
right outside your bedroom window.
familiar, no matter how melancholy. When she says,
Her sweetly plaintive murmurs only
“And I think I’m dying, ’cause this can’t be living,”
occasionally take real shape before they
on her new album’s standout “Maybe You’re the
drift back into the foreign, familiar space
Reason,” it’s an undeniable cry of grief, but it’s
she’s one of her
Girlpool SLAVES OF FEAR HEALTH [LOMA VISTA]
You think you’ve heard
Who could not love this infectious duo?
bands bend genres? You haven’t heard anything until you’ve heard HEALTH tackle every conceivable audio
ONE CAN IMAGINE a
lot in this crazy new era of ours, but it’s
emission under the sun,
still pretty tough to
including a few you’ve
imagine someone too
never dared dream.
cold-hearted to resist being won over by the irresistible charm of Girlpool. Their melodies are too effortless and their instrumentation too inviting to not be anybody’s cup of tea. And that’s a good thing too because, as the title of their latest
THE HEARTBEAT OF WOUNDED KNEE DAVID TREUER [PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE]
Oft-discussed but little
album might make you guess, this is a band interested in discussing uncomfortable issues. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad are
honest about their
journeys and their
grapples with one of
opinions, and practice
the darkest moments in American history.
WHAT CHAOS IS IMAGINARY [ANTI-]
On their latest album, Girlpool adds new layers
radical openness in their
of production to their signature indie-pop
lyrics, too. The result is a
sound, but it still sounds utterly of the digital era
lot of complicated things
that spawned it, and it’s still some of the most
that go down smooth
appealing music on the market.
FERAL ROOTS RIVAL SONS
THE SISTERS BROTHERS
BEYOND THESE WALLS
the classic rock acts of
Audiences slept on this exquisite little
How did the criminal justice system
yore, but Rival Sons don’t
western when it came out, and that’s
become what it is, and can it be fixed?
sound like they’re trying
their loss because it contains one of
Tony Platt answers the first question to
at all. On this album, it’s
the greatest acting showcases of 2018.
give us the scope of the second.
Lots of bands are trying to ape the sounds of
just their natural state of being.
Dominic Fike Don’t worry about committing his name to memory. You’ll be hearing it again. And again. DOMINIC FIKE is a 22-year-old
huge major label deal, and his
Naples, Florida, native who
debut album more than lives
grew up obsessed with Red Hot
up to the hype. You can hear
Chili Peppers and Blink-182.
alternative, pop and urban
Nothing about his past would
influence in the songs, but it’s
hint at the upward trajectory
paired with contemporary
he’s found himself on following
grooves and a bracing honesty
the strength of some breakout
about his struggle to grow up
songs he released online.
in a household that dealt with
That led to him signing a
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME, DEMOS [COLUMBIA RECORDS]
The skilled production and effortless melody suggests Fike is here to stay.
SHOPLIFTERS HIROKAZU KORE-EDA [GAGA PICTURES]
This Japanese drama is chock-full of twists and turns, but one guarantee is that it will make you cry. You can take that to the bank, but watch your pockets along
addiction and dysfunction.
PHOENIX PEDRO THE LION [POLY VINYL RECORD CO.]
One of the godfathers of modern indie-rock picks up right where they left off, and you know what? We never needed them more.
ON THE COME UP ANGIE THOMAS [HARPERCOLLINS]
The second novel
from the author of the
BLACK IS THE BODY
INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Bernard’s gripping collection of essays
One of the best movies of
struggles she faces along
about growing up black in America is
2018? Check. One of the best
the way as an artist and
soundtracks of 2018? Check plus.
a young black woman.
excellent The Hate U Give follows a young rapper’s rise to glory, and the
Jon Keith The reluctant future of Christian hip-hop is here.
’m glad God made me a new man, because I wanna talk, I don’t want to throw hands,” Keith raps on “Watch This.” He may talk like a pacifist, but Honeyblonde is a defiant wake-up
call to his hip-hop colleagues, a challenge and a peek at what the future of hip-hop could sound like. Sonically, Keith has a melodic flow that luxuriates in urgency. Lyrically, these songs are inclined Heavenward, communicating a raw and forceful faith.
HONEYBLONDE [KINGS DREAM ENT.]
Fans of early Future and Travis Scott will find a lot to like in Jon Keith’s rap stylings, which would sound just as comfortable on the dance floor as they would in any Sunday morning service.
IF BEALE STREET
himself as one of our
finest living directors,
BARRY JENKINS [PLAN B ENT.]
and his adaptation
new Sharon Van
Etten album is the
SHARON VAN ETTEN
of James Baldwin’s
achingly lovely play
knowledge that you’re not going to hear a single mediocre song.
Barry Jenkins has
finds him at the peak of
The simple joy
This woman doesn’t
his astonishing talents.
of turning on a
know how to write one.
Jessica Pratt SILENCE IS A SOUND as Paul Simon
taught us, and Jessica Pratt has clearly been paying attention to his wisdom. Her music isn’t loud and is just as interested in what you don’t hear as what you do. Instrumentation drifts in and out in curious interludes, crafting a lovely and bewitching spell that keeps you guessing to the last note.
QUIET SIGNS [MEXICAN SUMMER]
On Quiet Signs, Pratt uses a wide range of instruments with a pleasing spareness, making for a wholly unique listening experience.
Bethel Music ONE OF THE MOST TRUSTED worship
bands around is back with a live album that showcases just why Bethel has
been a leader in the genre for so long.
They’re sincere, gifted, desperate to
This live worship
know God—and they want to bring
you along with them. What else do you want from a worship album?
captures the authenticity of a full concert.
YOUR FUTURE SELF
A STAR IS BORN
Nevertheless, this movie is
WILL THANK YOU
worth a watch, if only for
DREW DYCK [MOODY PUBLISHERS]
Drew Dyck’s latest book
is a helpful primer on
Lady Gaga’s wonderful performance, playing an
how to have more self-
By now, you’ve probably
absolute nobody who
A blend of both timeless
control that’s surprisingly
heard all about this movie
learns to accept her rare
biblical wisdom and
funny to boot.
even if you haven’t seen it.
and stunning gift.
“A winsome, reasonable approach to an issue that usually generates far more heat than light.” —PHILIP YANCEY
“This book could change America and awaken Christianity!” —RICHARD ROHR, OFM
“This is a book worth reading and then doing something about.” —BOB GOFF
Learn More at
VA MOOLCHAN CALLS WHAT SHE DOES
“post-punk,” and at first blush you might not completely see why. There are no guitars here, and no snotty, ripped jean
longhairs flipping a bird at the system. But as Sneaks, the Washington, D.C., native nevertheless channels the punk spirit through a lack of conformity. She winds her spoken-word observations over a lo-fi bass and drum machine, along with a few instruments that may very well be just her banging around in whatever room she happens to be recording in at the moment. It’s a raw, gripping sound, channeling the heart if not the exact acoustics of the punk revolution. But none of this would work if Sneaks didn’t have lyrical chops. HIGHWAY HYPNOSIS [MERGE RECORDS]
drum machine trick, and
Her voice is front and center, and she keeps an easy
creating songs that sound
cool over all the music she creates, fluctuating between
much more intricate than
hypnotic chants, hyper-enunciated lyrics and MIA-esque
Sneaks starts to expand
the lack of a studio might
on her signature sound
lead you to believe. It’s
a little here, adding new
a daring gamble, but it
tricks to her bass and
works like gangbusters.
vocal riffs that serve as a sort of organic percussion. If that doesn’t sound punk-rock to you, then you don’t understand punk-rock.
LAST WORD A Thought Before We Go
A New Way Forward for Racial Justice
associate with those most like
History is about context, so
ourselves has left all of us in
studying history remains vital. It
mostly homogeneous social
teaches us how to place people,
networks. action may be the hardest
in the world.
part of pursuing racial justice.
Even the most seasoned racial
Commitment to the ARC model
believing Christians should
requires a total shift in disposition
understand better than anyone.
so that anti-racist activity is a
In our passionate pursuit of
way of life, not simply a topic to
biblical interpretation, we know
which you give occasional and
we must always look at the
context. We want to know the
BY J E M A R T I S BY
Committing to concrete
the broader scope of God’s work Context is something Bible-
about addressing it.
coupled with the tendency to
events and movements within
Systemic racism is real. So let’s get real
he most frequent
one chapter in a high school social
Developing awareness and
relationships may make you
of the text so we can accurately
feel burdened by the struggles
explain and apply it. It’s no
of others, but does that burden
different with racial justice. We
move you to act? Are you willing
question I get when
justice activists constantly learn,
have to develop an awareness of
to set aside preferences and
presenting about racial
question and reform their own
the context to properly exegete
prestige to take the side of the
justice is, “What do we
attitudes and actions. Though
the times and apply biblical
marginalized and despised?
do?” People who ask this agree
not the final word on anti-
that the American Church has
racism, the ARC of racial justice
compromised with racism and
provides a useful framework for
No matter how aware you are,
and institutional aspects of
that racism continues to be a
taking decisive action against
your knowledge will remain
racism rather than solely work
problem. Their next impulse is
abstract and theoretical until
on an interpersonal level?
to want to do something about
But awareness isn’t enough.
To increase your capacity
you care about the people who
the problem. After years of
to fight your own complicity
face the negative consequences
listing random action items, I
in racism, you can start by
have now grouped them into
increasing your awareness of the
three broad categories.
issues and the people involved.
The ARC (Awareness,
The problem is that it is hard to make friends with people
Although you can expand
from different racial and
Relationships, Commitment) of
your awareness in many ways,
ethnic backgrounds. A Public
racial justice helps distinguish
one particularly fruitful place
Religion Research Institute study
different types of anti-racist
to start is by reading and
revealed that in a 100-friend
actions. They are not formulaic;
learning more about the racial
scenario, white people had just
they can happen non-
history of the United States. I am
one black friend, one Latinx
sequentially and simultaneously.
concerned that our knowledge
friend and one Asian friend.
Nor should this process ever be
about racial justice in this country
tends to extend no further than
More to the point, are you willing to address the systemic
The long history of racial segregation in this country
JEM A R T ISB Y is the president of The Witness Black Christian Collective and the author of The Color of Compromise, from which this was adapted.
USA TOUR SPRING 2019 HILLSONGUNITED.COM MAR-APR