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The Jazz Music of the Spirit: An Excerpt from A Body of Praise



Our friend W. David O. Taylor should be no stranger to anyone here. He’s served as the keynote speaker at Hutchmoot, written for the blog, and appeared on podcasts, and we’ve always appreciated his sharp mind, his strong faith, and his generous spirit.


David’s latest book, A Body of Praise: Understanding the Role of Our Physical Bodies in Worship, released earlier this year, is an insightful work on the human body and the importance of embodiment. In order to whet your appetite for the book, we have an exclusive excerpt to share with Rabbit Room readers!


The Spirit Who Plays Jazz A final aspect of a theology of spontaneity is captured in the language of the Spirit as jazz player. While this particular metaphor is widely used in theological writings about the Holy Spirit, it remains useful for our purposes here too. Jeremy Begbie helpfully unpacks the meaning of the metaphor as it relates to the context of corporate worship. Over against the presumption that only order and disorder might characterize our experience of worship, Begbie proposes a third mode, non-order, and uses laughter as an example. “It is not order (predictably patterned),” he writes, “but nor is it disorder (destructive).” It is instead what might be called non-order or the jazz-factor. Begbie explains at length:

W. David O. Taylor (ThD, Duke Divinity School) is associate professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. An Anglican priest, he has lectured widely on the arts, from Thailand to South Africa. Taylor has written for the Washington Post, Image Journal, and Religion News Service, among others. He is the author of several books, including Glimpses of the New Creation: Worship and the Formative Power of the Arts and Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life. In 2016, he produced a short film on the psalms with Bono and Eugene Peterson. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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