Jesus and the Jazz of Being Existential

Existentialism 1There is no place to hide in the existentialism of Sartre and Beauvoir, but one does not go there to hide, but to realize. Jesus was the first existentialist (as Kierkegaard showed), and the early Christians lived by choice, reborn in an existential rejection of a status quo existence, rejecting their birth rights (and wrongs), if they had any, their birth situation, for a choice that gave meaning to their lives. The early Christians chose choice; they chose freedom, and the choice was all encompassing.


Beauvoir is far more devastating than Sartre in criticizing roles, lifestyle as identity, faces prepared to meet faces. She obliterates the sub-man, the serious man, the nihilist, the adventurer, the passionate man.


Jazz is the music of the existentialist. The jazz musician takes up his instrument, develops a musical attitude. His tone reveals his attitude toward the piece, an attitude that must change with each playing. The music is constantly being reborn, the jazz musician improvising, every measure a rebirth, every performance one of doubt – otherwise, why play it yet again, yet again differently?


Where is the religion that might do for Christianity what jazz has done for music?  “To will oneself free is also to will others free” (Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity).

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