Incarnational jazz...

One of the ways my experience and insight into a "spirituality of music" differs from much of the historic writing on this subject is that I believe that music is NOT an abstraction but rather an encounter with incarnation.  That is to say, unlike Kandinsky or even the earliest Phythagorians - who emphasized the relationship between music and timeless truths - my experience with music is how it is grounded in the spirit becoming flesh:  music happens in real bodies, in real instruments and in real time.  Jeremy Begbie has been essential in articulating this fact for Christian people of faith for the past decade. He writes:

To insist that Christians are to be spiritual is indeed quite proper, but to be spiritual is not to renouce the body per se... It is rather to be Holy Spirit inspired, an inspiration that emcompasses the body - indeed, liberates the body - and as such grants a foretaste of what it will be like to have a spiritual body beyond death... This outlook has perhaps never been better expressed than by a composer, that virtuoso of the visceral, Igor Stravinksy."The very act of putting my work on paper, of, as we say, kneading the dough, is for me insperarable from the pleasure of creation... The word artist which, as it is most generally understood today, bestows on its bearer the highest intellectual prestige, the privilege of being accepted as a pure mind - this pretentious term is in my view entirely incompatible with the role of the homo faber. (p. 217, Resounding Truth)

One of the many reasons I resonate with jazz is the way it helps me incarnate both the blessing of God's grace and the challenges of living in a broken and wounded world. Since arriving in Montreal I have been using the Book of Common Prayer's "Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families" for Morning Prayer.  It begins with Psalm 51:

Open my lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in my a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence
And take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Give to me the joy of your saving help again
And sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

My lips sing - my mouth moves - my heart feels, my body senses just as my mind thinks and reflects and my spirit is united with God's in rejoicing and confession.  It is all incarnational, not abstract.  In an hour we head off to hear some more incarnational music that will include the blues, songs from Brazil and even a little bit of the bizarre. It will be physical and spiritual both at the same time:  thanks be to God!


Black Pete said…
Put another way, my man: no bodies=no music. Period.

Popular Posts