Universe Next Door Analysis

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In the world today, the only common qualities that we can expect from others are our differences. Living in a pluristic world, we commonly come across people with different worldviews. These worldviews can range from Christian theism all the way to New Age spirituality. These foundations by which people live can be shaped by their specific surroundings or upbringings. They can also be modified as the person changes or gains new experiences. To view a figure who has recently shifted their worldview we need to look no further than the multi Grammy winning musician, Kanye West. In The Universe Next Door, written by James W. Sire, a range of different worldviews are examined and explored. By becoming familiar with these differing worldviews, then analyzing the lyrics and themes of Kanye West’s music, we are able to see a clear shift in his personal worldviews. What began as a Christian theistic view of the world soon shifted towards a cold or modern deistic view.A worldview, according to James H. Olthius, is “a framework or set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it…it is the standard by which reality is managed and pursued; it is the set of hinges on which all out every day thinking and doing turns.” Simply put, it is the foundation on which we live our lives. As Sire discussed worldview in his book, A Universe Next Door, he stated that it is “important to note that our own worldview may not be what we think it is. It is rather what we show it to be by our words and actions (Sire 2009, 21).” This means that it is easiest to gain an understanding of one’s specific worldview by examining what they say and do. This will help you understand their specific view of the world. By doing this and examining the early words and actions of Kanye West, we are able to understand his Christian Theistic worldview. This worldview is shown through his music and words in songs like “Jesus Walks”, “Never Let Me Down”, “Family Business”, and “Two Words.” Christian Theists, according to Sire, live in a universe charged with the grandeur of God. These theists have a specific view of the nature and character of God, the nature of the universe, the nature of humanity, and what happens to a person at death. According to the theistic worldview, God is infinite. He is beyond the scope of time and above all else. He is also personal, omniscient, sovereign, and good. By knowing God is personal, theists are able to relate and speak with God. The Christian theistic view of a personal God is portrayed through Kanye West’s lyrics, in his song, “Jesus Walks”. In the song, West speaks of his quest to follow Jesus and stay away from temptations that surround him. Lyrics such as, “I want to talk to God…we haven’t spoken in so long” and “hear ye, hear ye/want to see Thee more clearly/I know He hears me when my feet get weary” show that West is able to speak with and have a personal relationship with God. This is a specific Christian theistic view, one which believes God is much more than just an impersonal creator of the universe. Aside from their view of God, Christian theists also have a specific view of the universe and how it functions. These specific theistic views are also congruent with the views of Kanye West, as seen in his early work. According to Sire, a Christian theist believes “External reality is the cosmos God created ex nihilo to operate with a uniformity of cause and effect in an open system (Sire 2009, 31).” This means that God created the universe but is still involved in its ongoing operation. The belief that the universe is orderly but not determined leaves the possibility open for God to step in and create miracles. This is commonly referred to as the “open system”. The Christian theistic worldview is once again seen in Kanye West’s early artistic work as he speaks about an open system in his songs. This specific worldview is touched upon in the song...
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