The Theology of Kei$ha #thingsyoudidn’tthinkwereathing
I’ve was never a huge Kei$ha fan when she was at her peak. First of all, there’s that dollar sign in her name (how substantive can you be when money is literally part of your name?). Then, there are the songs that made her famous, which celebrate and champion drunken debauchery. One night of drinking too much and dancing too hard and staying out too late can be celebratory and even life affirming. A lifestyle of that is just demented and sad.
I got a little more interested in Kei$ha as the conflict between her and the producer, Dr. Luke. If you’re not familiar with the case, you can learn all about it from this article in Rolling Stone. To overly simplify: Kai$ha’s music was basically held hostage by the producer after she accused him of emotional, physical and sexual abuse…and a court upheld the hostage taking as legal. She became a symbol for many women who have come out on the losing end of attempts to smash the patriarchy to regain control over their own lives. The legal battle continues as Dr. Luke is no longer CEO of the production company to which Kei$sha is bound and could go on and on and on and on.
But in the meantime, Kei$sha (with a new stylized name that makes the dollar sign look less like a dollar sign) has released the first single from her fist album in five years (set to drop August 11).Based on her catalog of hits and her continued fight to break free of the hold of Dr. Luke, the last thing I expected from a Kei$ha song was to be convicted. I didn’t expect to think, “Great. If she means what she’s singing, dollar-sign-in-her-name pop star is a better Christian than I am.”
The song is, as one might expect, a powerful gut-wrenching ballad, but it is also (unexpectedly) a solidly Christian theological response to someone who has hurt her. The song is clearly directed at Dr. Luke, but instead of praying that bad things befall him (ala Jaron and the Long Road to Love’s I’m Praying for You), she is hoping that her nemesis is the one doing the praying and that his soul is changing and that he will find peace.
She’s actually doing (or at least singing about) that thing we’re supposed to do as Christians, but are generally pretty lousy at–praying for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). That’s something I’ve never really managed to do as sincerely as I think I’m supposed to.
She lets her audience and her tormentor know that she’s not over what he has done. She admits that “there are somethings only God can forgive,” and I have to give her props for that, too. Sometimes the best we can do is hope that people will find their forgiveness from God, because we’re not going to able to give ours any time soon.
The surprisingly solid theological bent to this song makes a little more sense when you discover it was co-written by Ryan Lewis, who has brought us quite a bit of good Christian theology in the music he’s made with Macklemore.
Thought the video is a little weird (although probably not to her target audience), the song has been a great reminder to me that those who inflict hurt and harm on others are themselves hurting, and that praying for them to find healing and a better way of living is the best gift I can offer to them and to myself.