Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Theology

First Advisor

John Ries

Second Advisor

Mark Smillie

Third Advisor

Jack Oberweiser

Abstract

“How is it that something that has no definitive theological intent”, underground hip-hop “being our prime example, provides such a spiritual encounter, and how then can we dare say that one might experience a connection with the true God” in and through hip-hop? (Chung 4) In order to make such an argument possible several theological dilemmas must be addressed. But first, I must qualify that these arguments are a personal attempt at understanding how and why hip-hop is not only liberation but also a point of contact between God and creation. The significance of this exploration reveals the music’s potential to convey the living Word in a manner that moves the minds and bodies ofyouth around the world. The underlying arguments, however, reveal a deeper message: God’s relationship with humanity is shrouded in mystery, but God and humankind are always seeking ways to communicate with one another, and part of that communication is mediated in and through creation. I take this journey under the guidance of the musicians, teachers, and theologians who have helped shaped my understanding of spirituality and hip-hop music. The first three chapters of this thesis will attempt to show that God’s saving grace is present outside of explicitly religious situations, and provide reasoning for the claim that God is not only working in the world, but also that we can encounter God in profound ways through authentically human experiences. The last three chapters will examine hip-hop in light of a theological anthropology, to help determine whether or not the music is an efficacious medium to experience liberation, which is in essence, God’s saving grace.

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