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Do you know about Robert Gelinas and his new book Finding the Groove: Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith? There are very few books like this one — in fact, there is none. I really liked this book, and I will return to it over and over as the image shapes my own thinking.
How are Christianity and theology and theologians like jazz?
I place this book alongside Kevin Vanhoozer’s proposal of doctrine as drama; for Gelinas, Christianity itself is jazz and he is a jazz theologian. Though many may not use his terms, he is in the company of many other jazz theologians.
This book explains Christianity, the ministry, and Christian living through image of jazz — that is, through syncopation, improvisation, and call-and-response.
Robert Gelinas is known in Denver as the teaching pastor of solid
church, Colorado Community Church. I met Robert a few years back, and I
was hoping someday to sit down with him for a long spell and get to
know his heartbeat. It’s in jazz:
Along the way we are introduced to the history of jazz and all kinds of
jazz, including major jazz musicians — John Coltrane — and “jazz
novelists” like Ralph Ellison and to a host of other African Americans
who have shaped the soul of African American Christians. And along the
way we are introduced to hermeneutics as jazz improvisation (came close
human paradox and tension. We learn what it is like to be in an
“inter”denominational (not “non”denominational) church, and jazz
explains it. To finding your voice — in the big musical picture and
doing your own solo in the midst of the community’s music.
Surely the most potent chapter in this fine, and well-written book, was
the chapter on singing the blues — and he moves from Billy Holiday to
the cross of Christ. Jazz theologians alone see the blues in the cross of Christ and the call to follow him.