The Jazz Theologian

I believe that listening is part of the essence of jazz.

"The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen."  Duke Ellington

"Jazz is primarily a heard reality…"  Kirk Byron Jones

Listen_2Listening is what helps us make the most of every moment.  There is no such thing as "just a moment."  The gospel is about incarnation and resurrection.  Incarnate living means that we have time to listen to others.  Resurrected living means that we have time to listen to God.

Jazz musicians have a few techniques that help us create the acoustics to a listening life.

  • Having time:  In the same way that a drummer keeps time we can to.  Perched in the back of the ensemble in the worst seat they keep time because it is the best seat to serve the others.  What would it look like to live this as a metaphor for ministry and leadership?

  • The Break:  This is a technique that jazz incorporates so that it is easier to listen to a particular person as they solo.  It is the practice of creating space in the music, a planned moment of disruption.  God gave the ancient Hebrews a way to "break" for the sake of listening:  Sabbath & Selah.  Do you have any insight how you have sought to live these concepts?

  • Developing Your Ear:  Dictation is the process of listening to a piece of music and transcribing it to paper.  Tone Matching is a call and response game in which to musicians of the same instruments try to match what the other plays.  How might we apply these concepts to developing our ear to hear others and God?

Stay in the groove,


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