Prayer, Plain and Simple

Legendary rapper Guru has died after a year-long battle with cancer. He was only 43. Our condolences. 

Born in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, Keith Elam was a member of the group Gang Starr. He’s considered one of the pioneers of hip hop-jazz crossover. His stage name, Guru, is an acronym for “Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal” and/or “God is Universal; he is the Ruler Universal” Both are references to the teachings of a fringe, esoteric offshoot of the Nation of Islam called “Nation of Gods and Earths.” The Nation of Gods and Earths teaches that the “Original Blackman” is God and the “Original Blackwoman” is planet Earth. NGE teaches that through hidden mystical powers of the “Gods and Earths,” black people can possess their true potential.

Like many artists, Guru used his creative expressions to deliver an eccentric philosophy to an audience that otherwise would reject his views as extreme or bazaar. And examined independently and objectively the teachings of “The Nation of Gods and Earths” are not only weird, but divisive and dangerous. But when wrapped in an innovative art, and delivered by talented and passionate musicians fringe messages become all the rage, literally.

We pray today for those undully influenced by Guru’s life and art. As a musician there is little doubt that he broke barriers and forged new genres. He was, in that sense a true genius. But the power of the ideas he delivered in this art has not been enriching to either individuals or our culture. Guru championed racial superiority even as he idealized a gang lifestyle of abuse and violence.  My prayer is that now in the wake of his death we will step back to judge his art not out of sentiment but from a standard of God’s universal Truth. We need a healthy dose of discriminating Guru.

“God we thank you for giving artistic gifts to men like Keith Elam. Creativity expresses your nature. You love to do new things; you make us to invent and build and expand as well. But Lord, when men and woman use their art to turn the hearts of others away from Truth, we can cannot and should not value their expressions. We pray today that people will rightly discriminate and judge the output of Guru’s art. May they look beneath the sentiment and “cool” and examine his message. And may they examine this message against the unchanging standard of your Universal Truth, expressed in the Bible. We ask that the influence of artists like Guru would be tempered by your unchanging love and justice. In Jesus we pray this…”

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