The Jazz Theologian


Creativity is born out of tension.  Jazz came about when a group of people had to live as "unfree in a free land."  That’s tension!  But tension sets the stage for creativity and creativity leads to Tertia Quid–The Third Way.

Jesus knew what to do with tension.  One only needs to remember the woman caught in adultery and his response to marvel at what happens when we are willing to live with two opposing views being true at the same time.  (John 8)

The essence of tension is that multiple realities are simultaneously true–it is the result of two strong opposing elements. 

What if we invited tension into our faith?  What if we sought out the "interplay between conflicting elements?"  It wouldn’t be easy, for tension is difficult and painful, but it would also give rise to creativity and improvisation.  In Jazz music the musicians create with the tension of being individuals and a group, brass and strings, at the same time. 

I think that tension would revolutionize Christianity–if we stopped with "either/or" and embraced "both/and."

What if we were liberal and conservative; Republican and Democrat; critics and supporters; sinners and saints…full of grace and truth?

Jazz thrives on tension and a jazz-based faith will discover the wonder of improvisation if we are willing to embrace opposing views at the same time.

Take abortion for example.  What if both sides are correct?  What if life begins at conception and a woman does have the Constitutional right to choose?  We spend most of our time trying to prove the other side wrong, but assume that both sides are equally right, provides the necessary tension for improvisation.

If we were to sit with tension for a while, I bet that we could come up with some real creative ideas and solutions–I bet there is a third way still to be discovered.

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