Jazz and the Spiritual Life
Jazz is the music of Mystery. Its syncopated improvisations invite us to the intersection of human creativity and holy inspiration. Emerging from a bubbling gumbo of musical influence, jazz will not remain fixed in the categories of sacred or secular. This music emerges from the full range of human emotion, just like the Psalms of Israel. Whether it sings the blues for our broken hearts or sets our toes to tapping, jazz is a music that God’s Spirit can freely inhabit. As we hear this “sweet, tho’ far-off hymn that hails a new creation,” our lives can be transformed.
Through presentations, musical moments, guided listening sessions, and a field trip to a late night jam session at the nearby Deer Head Inn, we will explore the ways that jazz can thicken the spiritual life. Topics include the jazz of holy creativity, “audio divina” (praying through instrumental music), melodies for eco-justice, and the thick harmony of healing, among other themes. Along the way, we will explore how jazz can be a holy gift with the potential to bring us completely alive.
Bill Carter cannot decide if his calling is to be a Presbyterian pastor or a jazz pianist, so he does both. Highly regarded as a speaker, writer, and teacher, he has been a congregational leader, seminary trustee, and mentor to new clergy for nearly thirty years. Yet he also composes music for his Presbybop Quartet, and playing it in clubs, concert halls, and recording studios. His most subversive work has been blurring the dotted line between “sacred” and “secular” by introducing jazz into countless churches across the country.
Books: Jazz in the Pulpit: Biblical Reflections on the Syncopated Art; Swing a New Song to the Lord: Resources for Jazz Worship (both as e-books available on www.presbybop.com)
Recordings: Jazz Belongs in Church (DVD), Jazz Noel (DVD/CD), Psalms Without Words (CD), Interior Window (CD), and the forthcoming Jazz for the Earth (CD, to be released in April 2015)
Cost $365 includes double occupancy room, board and tuition