Jesus, God, and Jazz
A paradigm shift is taking place in traditional Christianity as it seeks to follow the Way of Jesus in a postmodern culture. Evolution, quantum physics, and religious pluralism challenge Christians to re-think their understanding of God in relationship with the world. Many seek an experience of God over right beliefs. Some traditional approaches no longer appear relevant. Jazz is a metaphor for a creative, open, and relational theological perspective. It speaks of spontaneity, inter-connection, egalitarian relationships, building on the contributions of others, theme and response, creating in the moment what has never been before. This seminar will explore a view of theology that sees God and humanity as co-creators, relating in a similar, jazz-like process of creativity and adventure. We will seek to integrate theology with science, and probe what it means to affirm God as love in a world of great pain and suffering.
The Rev Al Gephart ‘63 is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, USA. He holds a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminar, and a master’s degree in church and choral music from the University of Southern California, where his project was a performance of Ralph Vaughan William’s Dona Nobis Pacem at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. He served two congregations in Washington State; Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church and the Redmond Presbyterian Church. For seventeen years, Al was the pastor and head of staff of University Presbyterian Church in Tempe, AZ, retiring as Pastor Emeritus in 2009. He is chair of the Theological Dialogue Commission of the Arizona Faith Network, and Southwest regional coordinator for the Seminary Support Network of the PCUSA. He regularly attends the Process and Faith Summer Institute and Whitehead Film Festival in Claremont, CA, studying with noted process theologians, John Cobb and Marjorie Suchocki. Al is married to Betsy Wells-Gephart, a lactation consultant. They have two daughters, Eryn Wells and Anna Gephart, and a Golden Retriever named Kellsey. They live in Tempe, AZ.
Suggested Readings: "The Holy Web: Church and the New Universe Story" by Cletus Wessels. "God, Creation, and Jazz: A Process of Composition and Improvisation" by Ann Pederson. "Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art" by Stephen Nachmanovitch. "Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life" by Wynton Marsalis. "Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution" by Diana Butler Bass. "The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe" by Stephon Alexander.