It’s about time we added a jazz influenced tune to The Jukebox Hero Hymnal, don’t you think? Now a lot of folks feel the improvisational nature of jazz makes it an uneasy fit for spiritual music because, in theory, it puts much more focus on the human achievement rather than on God.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. As acclaimed jazz guitarist Fr. John Moulder explains, “That’s one of the things that is really special about the experience of being an improviser––many times you do experience moments of transcendence. I guess we could call it a little bit of self-forgetfulness… you become immersed in a way that has parallels with spiritual practice and meditation, like being in the moment and letting go of our egos for a moment. It’s a unitive experience.”
Case in point, OmU’s track, “Lost and Found.” What’s that? You’ve never heard of OmU? Don’t worry, most people haven’t. In fact, I only stumbled upon them by accident on my local college radio station a few years back. OmU was pretty much a one-off, it’s main contributors quickly moving on to form Blue Paradox. What’s that? You’ve never heard of Blue Paradox either? Don’t worry, most people haven’t. They’re sort of the house band for the Sacred Fire Community, a relatively small affiliation of folks whose beliefs are a jumble of various new-age style wisdom traditions.
Now, most wisdom tradition types aren’t usually big on Christianity, it being a tad bit too organized for their tastes. They also don’t seem to appreciate anyone suggesting their individually chosen spiritual paths might not actually be leading anywhere good. Bummer. And yet, despite the wisdom traditions movement’s antipathy towards dogma, the members of OmU can’t help but give a musical nod in “Lost and Found” to the awesome concept of grace as taught by the Church. “Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.”
Hmm, sounds like there might actually be some good stuff that comes along with all those doctrines, doesn’t it?
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7, NABRE)