My fascination with the Kardashian-West family goes back to 1995. I was 7, and I remember being tucked into my pink and white comforter, listening to the OJ Simpson trial from my parents’ room at night. I was terrified — if Mr. Kardashian won, then OJ would surely come sneak through my window and get me.
While I had a pretty good grasp on the judicial system, I didn’t quite understand geography. Either that, or nobody told me OJ was in California and not small-town Alabama.
Maybe Not Yet
A few years later, I remember driving to high school listening to “Jesus Walks,” one of Kanye West’s early songs, thinking maybe he would be the cool role model all the Christian teenagers needed. Of course, the next song to come on my first-generation iPod was “Gold Digger,” and I remember thinking “Eh, maybe not yet.”
Then, the Kardashian family took over TV and made us want to rhinestone everything. I watched their reality show with equal parts intrigue and jealousy. I’m a pale redhead, and none of my curves are in the right place to make me famous. I also have never had that much money in my bank account and probably never will.
Still, I was cheering them on. Both Kanye West and Kim Kardashian would walk right up to the line of being a good Christian role model, then something would happen, and I’d go back to that same thought — eh, maybe not yet.
For the public school, secular-music-listening Christian teen crowd, they could have been the celebrities we looked up to if they’d just gone to church a little more and cussed a little less. They were so close to what we needed, it would just take a little while to get there.
I started following this story 24 years ago, long before I knew I wanted to be a journalist — although there were probably some early signs since I was listening to the OJ trial at 7.
Now, here we are.
As the only Shattered staffer to keep up with celebrity gossip, I know you might be lost right about now. I’ve had to explain to my coworkers who R. Kelly and Cardi B are in the last few months, so I know it’s not for everyone. At one point, I even rapped Eminem’s “Without Me,” but nobody really appreciated it.
Kim Kardashian is the daughter of OJ’s friend and lawyer, Robert Kardashian. She’s got a lot of money and does her makeup really well. She was once Paris Hilton’s BFF but got pushed to the side a lot. I also grew up in the days of “The Simple Life,” so it was hard to watch Kim get treated like a second-class citizen. It’s hard to watch anyone get treated like that.
The early 2000s were a weird time.
She has a bunch of sisters and one brother, and she’s made some questionable choices in the past — things like making a sex tape and being married for fewer than 100 days.
Then there’s Kanye, who would produce songs like “Jesus Walks” and then turn around and interrupt Taylor Swift at the VMAs. When they got together, the same back-and-forth, one-step-forward, two-steps-back thing continued. They would get their children baptized in Jerusalem, then get into an ugly Twitter fight with someone. For a while, he referred to himself as Yeezus, but to be perfectly honest, I never quite understood if that was blasphemous or not.
Still, I was pulling for them. I wouldn’t call myself a fan because I can’t listen to rap music without picking up a sailor’s vocabulary, but I watched from afar as they got closer and closer to Jesus. It took a while.
I’ve written a lot of redemption stories over the years. Like the one about the guy from the Charles Manson cult. I also wrote the one about Diamond Dee — a story that has more ups and downs than you can count. For the past 18 months or so, I’ve been saving stories on Kanye and Kim as they open up more and more about their faith. The story I’ve been wanting to write became a reality, culminating into the release of his newest album, “Jesus is King.”
Kanye started a Sunday Service, his version of a church service for famous people. I don’t care that I’ve never been invited or that it’s not open for everyone. I think church is probably different when you’re a megastar. He even hosted one at Coachella that drew thousands of people. Those people probably wouldn’t have left a music festival to go to church on Easter Sunday, but Kanye brought church to them.
Then, he started selling Sunday Service clothing — shirts and stuff I could never afford with verses on them. Still, it got the word out about Jesus. If you can drop $250 on a hoodie that says “Holy Spirit,” go for it. I’ll be over here in my homemade raglan that reads: “I love Jesus and naps.”
It wasn’t until this last week, though, when he really spoke out about his newfound faith. When “Jesus is King,” dropped, everyone went crazy. That’s nothing new. People go crazy when this family does anything.
Now that I’m in service to Christ, my job is to spread the Gospel, to let people know what Jesus has done for me. I’ve spread a lot of things. There was a time I was letting you know what high fashion had done for me, I was letting you know what the Hennessey had done for me, but now I’m letting you know what Jesus has done for me, and in that I’m no longer a slave, I’m a son now, a son of God. I’m free.”
Finally. You finally got there, Kanye.
Kanye, Me and Jesus
Here’s what I love about this whole story: He’s done some bad stuff. So has Kim. So have I. So have you. So did most of the people in the Bible. The only difference between my sins and Kanye’s sins is that very, very few people know or care about what I do. I have no paparazzo following me. My house does not look like a museum, unless there was such a thing as the museum of bad chihuahuas, in which case I may qualify.
Like Kanye and Kim, I’ve gone back and forth to Jesus so many times I’ve lost count. Jesus doesn’t play favorites. He loves all us sinners just the same, whether we have a bank account full of money, or we’re eating macaroni and cheese for the third night in a row because it’s cheap.
It’s been a lot of years, but I’m still pulling for them. This story is far from over, and I can’t wait to see how he uses his following to share the Gospel.
And Kanye, if you read this, I’d love to interview you about your faith. Have your people call my people. Just kidding. I have no people. Email me?