Getting the Blues

Currently, I am reading a book that is against type for me and I'm loving it. The book, Geting the Blues by Stephen J. Nichols (research professor of Christianity and Culture at Lancaster Bible College) is about "what blues music teaches us about suffering and salvation." Although I'll make a more formal and interactive post when I've finished the book (I'm about half way through), I found the following quote worth your attention.

The stillness of Good Friday scares us. The immobile Redeemer, pierced and scarred and shut up in death, is too much for us. We prefer "Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o'er His foes," and rightly so. But failing to linger at Good Friday, failing to keep Good Friday as an essential piece of our senses diminishes and distorts the full weight of Christ's work. If we don't linger at Good Friday, we have no hope to offer those who suffer from great floods, or from injustices, or from any of the litany of curses in the fallen world. Without Good Friday there is nothing left to say to those left mourning in the shadow of swaying bodies hanging from trees. And without Good Friday, that dark, cold night, there would be no redemption. Because there is Good Friday, there is something to say to those under the curse. Because of Good Friday there is the redemption and the fullness Blind Willie Johnson sang of. It is the redemption and freedom that the Child brings to the sons and daughters of Adam. (p. 108)

The references to the litany of curses in the fallen world are events that Blues musicians regularly sang of. I grew up in the happy-clappy world of evangelicalism where everything was always rosy and sin was rarely talked about, except for some outsiders who smoked or drank and tragedy was routinely ignored or confessed away. How does a happy-clappy Christianity help in times of troubles, you know, when you have the blues - when financial markets collapse, a loved one is suffering? It doesn't because you are just to get over it and be happy. Unfortunately, life isn't that simple. The blues creates the category which the Bible defined long ago in its own blues. We call it sin and the curse of the world. Until this age ends, we all will be singing the blues.

This is a terrific short historical-theological treatment of probably the only real music type founded in America (it spawned jazz and rock and roll, etc.). Nichols has succinct biographies of the men and women who sang the blues with insightful analysis about the impact this has for the church. It's worth your time.