Blog Template Theology of the Body: Why Christianity Should be Like Jazz

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why Christianity Should be Like Jazz

When I was in Boston a few weeks ago, I was able to return to my favorite Starbucks in the world: a small and cramped store across the street from the Berklee College of Music. This hospitable location on Mass Ave has an entire spare room full of tables devoted to anxious grad students and their studies. When I studied there as a harried law student, I took great comfort in being surrounded by dozens of music students who came for lattes between classes at their conservatory across the way. The music students would enter with enormous instruments- trombones, violins, guitars in cases- and always with spreads of sheet music to be marked and tweaked. I loved this place. Sometimes, I would share my faith with some of these talented people- they would be struck by the fact that my name is Mary, or that I went to church down the street, or that I was studying Jewish law- and I would pat myself on the back for being able to spark the faith of a future rock star, or better, of a future jazz composer. I adore jazz.

So, as I sleepily sipped my recent latte at the Berklee Starbucks, it seemed appropriate that my ever-inspiring Starbucks cup offered, printed on its side, a rare gem in the vein of that ongoing issue why we bother with orthodoxy. The inspiring statement was written by the fabulous jazz musician Dave Grusin; you can look it up under "The Way I See It" #182. It goes like this:

"In my career I've found that thinking outside the box works better if I know what's inside the box. In music (as in life) we need to understand our pertinent history... and moving on is so much easier once we know where we've been."

...There you have it. An invitation for Christians to live like jazz.