Emerging thoughts about a spirituality of jazz...

As many of you know, I have written and reflected a great deal about something I call a "spirituality of rock and roll."  It was, after all, the theme of my doctoral dissertation and continues to be part of my "spiritual practice" as a contemporary person of faith.  Over the past two years, however, I have been playing more and more jazz - for a variety of reasons - and while I will always want to get down and shake my ass to the backbeat, I know that I am experiencing a whole new set of practices that hold implications for the inward and outward journey.

So, as seems to be one of the blessings and curses of my life, I am feeling drawn towards articulating what I sense to be an emerging spirituality of jazz.  Now please note that when I write about spirituality, I am not discussing the vaguely sacred feelings about peace and love that are sometimes evoked by shared music (although I genuinely value that experience.) Neither am I addressing what the ancients once believed to be the point of music - helping us literally sense the presence of a holy order within creation - as our ears and bodies vibrated to the tones of mathmatics. 

No, I when I refer to spirituality I mean the spiritual disiplines and practices that shape and guide our lives born of a theological commitment and tradition.  Spirituality, you see, involves practices and habits established to nourish faithful living in the real world.  As a Christian, this means that I will want to ground my starting point in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. I will also want to search for clues within the Scriptures and traditions of this world with a deep sense of creative imagination, too.  For while I know that "time makes ancient truth uncouth," unlike New Age spiritualities I have no need to reinvent the wheel either. 

 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Over the next few days in Montreal, I am going to try to sketch what this emerging spirituality of jazz looks like to me.  I have already begun to offer blog posts as clues bubble up from my thinking and experience but now is a time to go deeper.  One outline that resonates includes:

+ Theological foundations:  certainly a playful treatment of Genesis 2 and the creativity of nourishing a garden (rather than paradise) will be part of this reflection as will some thoughts about the Word being incarnated (John 1), new wineskings (Matthew 9), Jesus as the Lord of the feast and source of the unforced rhythms of grace (Matthew 11) and living fully as a spiritual sacrifice (Romans 12).

+ Spiritual practices: so far I have discerned three broad themes - listening, practicing and playing - as the disciplines essential to a spirituality of jazz with four aspects to each discipline.  (I am not going to list these today but will over the course of the following postings.)

+ Musical examples: it would be important to ground this within real jazz music so... stay tuned.

There is one other essential element to this project - sharing my writing within the context of an on-going review/critique/encouragement conversation with actual jazz musicians (some of whom share my faith commitments) - to minimize the bullshit.  This is a whole different groove so...nous allons le voir!



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