Historically, the cross has been the most prominent symbol of Christianity ever since Jesus died on the original "old rugged cross" on Golgotha. But over time, symbols can become transmutated, until the people who use them forget what they're really all about.
There is something strange indeed about seeing a fan of hip hop music (or a hip hop "artist"), draped in absurd amounts of ostentatious jewelry (also known as "bling"), particularly when that jewelry includes a big and gaudy gilded cross pendant. It's especially strange when you consider that such a person is likely to endorse or play "music" which is laced with profanity, misogyny and lyrics which endorse recreational drugs, gang violence and other aspects of the "thug" life. None of those things are even remotely congruent with Christian discipleship.
Of course, it isn't just African-American thugs from the hood who are clueless when it comes to the cross. Some wealthy white folks are equally clueless. Last night I was at Barnes & Noble, and I was browsing through The New Yorker magazine. On page 93 of the 7/17/2007 issue, there was an ad for Shrubsole. The ad featured a cross pendant, decorated with "Montana sapphire and diamond". The price tag? $14,500!
Wow. Imagine how many hungry children one could feed for that kind of money. One could probably even build a nice home for a person living in a third world country, using that kind of money.
For that matter, that kind of money would go a long way in helping the poor right here in the United States. I've gone years when I didn't make any more than $14,500, and that was when I wasn't unemployed.
What kind of idiot thinks that spending nearly 15 grand on a cross pendant is a good way to express one's faith in Christ? And what kind of idiot wears a cross for reasons which are unrelated to a desire to express faith in the One who died on the cross more than 2,000 years ago?