My friends and I approached the concession counter. (One of us wanted Milk Duds.) An employee, a black woman, glanced over and inquired which movie we three white men were seeing. I replied, “Kanye’s,” with a hopefully self-aware smirk. She rolled her eyes and shook her head wryly.

A lot of people have some thoughts on the man, who is “unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest human artist of all time.” (“It’s just not even a question anymore.”) Of those thoughts, both Christian and secular, Slate provides an excellent hyperlink anthology, if a clickable black hole is what you’re after. In the Jesus-y media, reviews have surprised me. I was expecting a lot of suspicion about the authenticity of his conversion, but I guess everyone else was, too, so essays vary from cautiously affirmative to overjoyed. However, these perspectives have mostly been from white evangelicals. Perhaps unremarkably, the essays I’ve encountered from black Christians have centered on something each of those white critics ignored: Kanye’s politics.

For those who don’t know, West adores President Trump and has blamed African Americans for their own abuse. (“When you hear about slavery for 400 years…for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”) Whereas white evangelicals have appraised Kanye’s rebirth on an individual scale, hesitant only about his fame, black Christian writers seem to be expressing suspicion about how his relationship with power affects his relationship with Jesus.

Theologian and performance theorist Ashon Crawley offered a wide-ranging scholarly review that delineates the problems here. Crawley focuses on how Kanye uses black Baptist and Pentecostal forms but without the dissident content:

We are always mixing the political and economic with the religious. Kanye West has used the concept of salvation to obscure that — to disallow thoughtful engagement with his politics. His salvation conceptually supersedes his political messaging about enslaved people in the past, or about sitting presidents today. Such superseding is supposed to make the messaging unimportant. […]

We forget that the gospel message doesn’t belong, like private property, to the Christians, because the message is not a narrative of ownership but one of loving relation against empire. We forget that a brown-skinned depiction of Jesus on Kanye’s merch — that does not wrestle with Jesus’ political and economic message of liberation against empire — is merely representation. It relegates Jesus, like these performances relegate the music, to style and skin color, rather than a disruption to practices of harm and exploitation and violence.

Seen alongside his praise of the political status quo, made evident in his donning a red hat, and his ideas about enslaved people and choice, Kanye’s use of gospel seems to celebrate a lack of imagination, an entrenchment into the constraints of the now moment, the current crisis.

We can see Kanye the individual Christian, but Crawley says we need to understand his injury to communities.

Another striking, and even moving, response to the rapper is music critic Kiana Fitzgerald’s account of Kanye’s mental health in relation to her own, and how those diagnoses have nuanced her viewpoint of him:

We’ve both been diagnosed as bipolar, a mental condition characterized by manic highs and depressive lows. Depending on where you are on the spectrum, mania can either make you feel mildly irritated and erratic, or a deep, yet deceiving, purity that makes you think you’re in touch with God Himself. I fall solidly in the latter group, and my condition began with a grand epiphany that didn’t feel like a mental disability at all.

Taking great care to avoid totally medicalizing or spiritualizing, she offers a perspective of Kanye the mortal, not a mere monster but a sufferer, too. She describes the difficulty of navigating the condition she shares with him in any complex human way:

I wholeheartedly believe in science, doctors and psychiatry, but I’ve yet to find a treatment team that is willing to balance “spiritual encounters” with the clinical. I’m typically told to forget that mumbo jumbo, just take your pills and get back in line with society. (Some doctors are nicer than others, but this is always the underlying message.)

As with any condition, perception is a slippery slope—but to ignore the thoughts and observations that bipolar people feel they legitimately experience is to push them away from medical insights and drive them strictly toward faith and religion.

Of course, neither of these poles will address our human mess. We are organs and souls, and neither is negotiable.

I can’t ignore Kanye’s problematic/unrighteous acts, nor can I simply ignore him (the cultural phenomenon, the Christian, the suffering human). But how do I relate to him, a fellow tax collector, in the midst of such moral ambivalence?

As theologian Lauren Winner would say, Kanye demonstrates the dangers of Christian practice. Like the way medieval Eucharistic theology underpinned the blood libel and antebellum women’s prayer journals backed chattel slavery, might Kanye’s Sunday Service inflict its own “characteristic damage”? Seeing the film and listening to the album felt transcendent (except that one song). But as vigilant critics rightly note, he has evacuated black Gospel music of its essential concern for justice and replaced it with a celebrity image in cahoots with reactionary politics.

Kanye remains “dangerous” and “damaging.” As do we all, of course. But that universalizing statement can also further damage by ignoring the particular texture of this situation. It also feels alien for a white American to say, given that I don’t experience the “real life consequence…of threats to [their] lives” that black Americans do.

Still, how do I relate? Well, I only went to his movie and downloaded his music because the kitsch of celebrity conversions allures me, not because I like his music or even know much about him. Full disclosure: Prior to Jesus is King, I’d listened to 3.5 of his songs. Afterward, I was still more intrigued, especially by the moral problem he poses. I don’t have any settled answer, only continuing discomfort, at least. I see his art alongside his share in our universal slavery to Sin, as well as the specific harm he causes. Seeing how convoluted this moral dilemma is, how complicit we all are in damages, and how unique dangers afflict each of us, doesn’t leave me with any solution here. Looking for Jesus here does give me an orientation, though—not by papering over any of these real ethical problems but exactly by acknowledging them and how they expose our own ruptures. Kanye tells the truth at least once: “Each and every millisecond / we need You.”