Muse Reporting on the arts and culture

Quiet time with Chance the Rapper

Media | The hip-hop artist screenshots his Bible readings for the masses
by Mary Jackson
Posted 1/11/19, 03:07 pm

For years, Grammy Award–winning hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper has referenced his Christian faith, both in his albums and on social media. But last month, the Chicago native professed a desire to learn Scripture, and since then he is sharing about it more openly with his 9.3 million Instagram followers.

The 25-year-old rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, and philanthropist announced in early December that he was taking a short sabbatical to study the Bible (and quit smoking): “I’m going away to learn the Word of God which I am admittedly very unfamiliar with. I’ve been brought up by my family to know Christ, but I haven’t taken it upon myself to really just take a couple days and read my Bible.”

Since then, Chance, whose real name is Chancelor Jonathan Bennett, has posted regular updates for his followers such as, “Take time to be still in My Presence so that I can strengthen you,” with Scripture verses from the books of Isaiah and John and the Psalms. He noted, “I read Romans, James and Galatians,” and posted a devotional passage from Scottish theologian John Baillie’s A Diary of Private Prayer. In mid-December, Chance read the first two chapters of Galatians on Instagram Live.

Chance cited the recent birth of his nephew as a factor in his Bible reading: “He needs his uncle to be educated.” His 2016 album Coloring Book featured gospel artists such as Kirk Franklin and a remake of Chris Tomlin’s worship song “How Great Is Our God.”

The Christian hip-hop news site Rapzilla has covered Chance the Rapper “with bated breath,” reporter Justin Sarachik noted, because he often teeters between “impactful gospel-infused rap” and “sexual/drug-ladened raps.”

Sarachik encouraged Christians to pray for Chance, who is engaged and has a 3-year-old daughter. He recently posted a photo of his daughter walking toward a church with the caption, “Train up a child in the way she should go,” a reference to Proverbs 22:6.

Associated Press/Photo by Mark J. Terrill Associated Press/Photo by Mark J. Terrill R. Kelly performing at a 2011 gala in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Reliving a nightmare

A new documentary on sexual abuse accusations against R&B superstar R. Kelly has sparked a rash of condemnation and apologies from artists who collaborated with him over the years. Though accusations of sexual misconduct with underage girls have dogged Kelly for years—he was tried and acquitted on charges of child pornography in Chicago in 2008—the documentary includes harrowing new details from women who say the singer held them captive and used them for sex.

Since the six-part series aired on the Lifetime cable channel, celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Chance the Rapper have spoken out against Kelly and apologized for working with him. “Any of us who ever ignored the R. Kelly stories, or ever believed he was being setup/attacked by the system (as black men often are) were doing so at the detriment of black women and girls,” Chance tweeted Saturday. “I apologize to all of his survivors for working with him and for taking this long to speak out.”

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said Tuesday she watched the documentary and found it sickening. At a news conference, she appealed to Kelly’s victims to contact her office so she could open a new criminal case against him. The singer denies all accusations of wrongdoing, and his lawyer accused producers of falsifying the stories in the documentary. —Lynde Langdon

The CW The CW Ruby Rose as Batwoman in Elseworlds

Outing Batwoman

In the new CW Network television series Batwoman, the lead character is the bane of street criminals, super-villains, and that more dangerous “thought criminal”—the marriage traditionalist.

The lesbian Batwoman, played by 32-year-old Australian lesbian actress Ruby Rose, is “armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind,” according to a synopsis of the series.

The irony of a lesbian Batwoman is that DC Comics introduced the character in 1956 in response to intimations that Batman and his sidekick Robin were homosexual. She was Batman’s love interest and a crime fighter in her own right until DC killed her off in 1979.

When Batwoman reappeared in the comics in 2006, the black-haired superhero had become a redhead with a Jewish heritage and a new sexual orientation. CW tested the waters with a Batwoman appearance last month on Elseworlds before giving the green light for a pilot episode for a new series.

The new Batwoman has scars in her past, much like the actress who portrays her: Rose suffered childhood sexual abuse, depression, and bullying. The fictional social justice warrior must “overcome her own demons before embracing the call to be Gotham’s symbol of hope,” according to the synopsis.

The emphasis on Batwoman’s sexuality underscores the ongoing pressure on TV producers to give every character they create a role in the culture war. Between campaigning for LGBT rights and social justice, when will the new Batwoman have time to catch the bad guys? —Daniel van Oudenaren

Associated Press/Photo by Mark Lennihan Associated Press/Photo by Mark Lennihan Harvey Weinstein leaves court on Thursday, Dec. 20, in New York.

Technical ruling

Actress Ashley Judd’s civil case against former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein took a hit this past week but will still move forward. A U.S. district judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday dismissed Judd’s claims of sexual harassment, saying the law did not apply because Weinstein was not her boss at the time she claims he made unwanted advances. The law in question was amended to specifically include producers and directors, but not in time for Judd’s case.

Judd claims Weinstein sabotaged her career after she rejected his sexual advances in 1997. The lawsuit states Weinstein made “baseless smears” about her to Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and cost her a role in the blockbuster franchise. The judge ruled that Judd’s other claims against Weinstein, for defamation and economic interference, can move forward. If she wins the case, it would bolster the ability of sexual assault victims to collect remuneration from their abusers.

Weinstein still faces numerous allegations of sexual assault, including some that led to criminal charges in New York. He denies all the accusations of nonconsensual sexual contact. —L.L.

Tebow takes a knee

Former professional and college football quarterback Tim Tebow announced his engagement to Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, a South African native and the 2017 Miss Universe. The 31-year-old Tebow posted photos on Instagram of himself down on one knee and 23-year-old Nel-Peters wearing an engagement ring. Tebow, an outspoken Christian athlete, now plays baseball in the New York Mets organization and works as a college football analyst for the SEC Network. —L.L.

Mary Jackson

Mary is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute mid-career course and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and four children. Follow Mary on Twitter @mbjackson77

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