Why Improv Faith?

Lots of reasons.

Jazz isn’t static. If a jazz band was playing the same set three nights in a row, you’d hear different music every night. There would be some unifying factors, such as the band members, instrumentation, the tunes they play and the structure of those tunes, but most of your evenings would be spent listening to different improvisations on those tunes.

I think following Jesus should be the same way. We take some basic structures (fewer than you’d think!) like prayer, scripture, and community, and then improvise off of that. In that way, every follower of Jesus, every community of faith, will look vastly different, while maintaining a level of unity. This is as it should be. It seems like a lot of churches and Christians want others to become carbon-copies of whatever they think it looks like, whatever they think it sounds like to follow Jesus. Usually what they think is heavily influenced by ideas about God from a specific time and place that we don’t live in any more. I’m sympathetic. We all have albums that are so great we listen to them over and over and over again. There’s always a joy in pulling out a recording from an artist you haven’t listened to in a while and remembering what it felt like the first time you heard it. It’s still beautiful. Some people will stick with that, and that’s fine. But there are other artists who are creating new sounds, pushing new boundaries. Joshua Redman doesn’t sound like Jelly-Roll Morton, but they both create jazz. The newer players are indelibly connected and in debt to the ones who came before, and the older cats look at the new developments and smile, giving a blessing.

This is good news! Communities around the world are improvising: developing new sounds, fresh tunes, bigger ideas about what it means to follow Jesus. I hope this blog will be part of that session. You can find more people thinking and talking and jamming this way on the blogroll. Thanks for dropping by, and please join in the conversation!


~ by Joe Paparone on May 31, 2010.

3 Responses to “Why Improv Faith?”

  1. Glad you’re blogging. Miss you, man!

  2. I’m excited to be able to read your thoughts outside of our MAGL community. Looking forward for more!!!

  3. Joe, this is going to be an exciting project!!! I love the concept and I think that you will have a unique voice 🙂

    ummmm… just two sarcastic questions:

    1) are you sure that you are really the right guy to have a fusion of theology/faith and Jazz. I mean, like, do you have any musical experience? or education? Not trying to be a negative Nancy… I just thought I would mention it before the project got too far down the line… you seem excited but you have to think practically.

    2) Are you underestimating the value of a “3 chord verse/chorus verse /chorus bridge chorus chorus – Ad nauseam” look at faith? I just think that there is something to be said for sticking with the tried and true.
    In these chaotic times that we live in, people just need to be reminded of the basics.

    – for what it’s worth


    jk (you are unique qualified and the is exactly what is needed)

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