by Brian Foulks
Rhetoric Race and Religion Contributor
And only prayers are the tightest game you can have-Andre 3000, “Thought Process”
Church was my hustle.-James Baldwin, Fire Next Time
The life of a person of faith is one of slippery trajectory into assuredness. The assuredness is the product of the promises of God; the slippery trajectory is the product of fickle humanity. God in God's infinite wisdom has given humans the chance to explore the divine while trapped in a human suit. Interestingly, God never said how that would look for each individual person.
Baldwin denotes that as a teenager growing up in New York, everyone had to have a hustle. His hustle was church. He saw church as a means to an end and a way to capture his mind enough to keep him out of the street. Church was the constant variable that brought a level of structure to moments of chaos. It was this very same “notion” of church that also led him away from the church. Seeing the hypocrisy that imbued the leadership of his church drove him to a place of uncertainty about church, but not God. Amazingly, Baldwin understood that the people in the church had no real orthoproxy that mirrored their orthodoxy-they did not live out what they read.
Andre 3000 delivers a punch when he makes a sanguine conclusion that “prayer is the tightest game you can have.” He understands that nestled in a prayer life is a level of stability that is not gathered in any other place. He starts his verse with the fact that he was born on the outside of life where others did not warn him of the trials of that life. But he understands the sovereignty of God (directly or indirectly) controlling his every move-one way or another. He spits the verse,
“Like elevators but I ain't the one that's pushin' the buttons
I got off at the 13th floor, when they told me that it wasn't one
They said it skipped from 12 to 14”
He understands that though others try to sell him short of his own intellect, God has a way of getting one to a desired spot regardless. He continues to draw conclusion of a false world with that of stark reality. He compares cops and robbers to having real fear of Wayne Williams-the suspected black man that killed 29 black children in Atlanta. But, in the midst of the verse, he states that prayer in the tightest game one can have in their life.
This connection with God funnels the entire premise that God, or the concept of God- the luminary figure with insight to the game, is in control-whether we like it or not. The key is to connect with God in some fashion or another. Whether through a traditional connection with a church or through personal prayer, God is able to complete the next move.