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November 22, 2012 / robinswood

New feedback from Steve Bell…

Singer/songwriter Steve Bell weighs in on the book

I’ve just finished God’s Mind in That Music, and found it a surprising and exceptional read. I plan to immediately return to the first page and start over.

I have a limited capacity for jazz, and therefore no particular interest in Coltrane. But Jamie’s love of the music, the complex story, his capacity to articulate the artistic (mystic) way of knowing, and his thoughtful theological explorations make for a unique and important experience. Ever dialogical, Jamie also draws into conversation a respectable range of writers who have thought deeply about the intersection of arts and theology.

After a short but well researched history of theology’s engagement with music, a thoughtful discussion about the story of jazz, some careful biography (never hagiography,) and many touching, very human stories gleaned from research and interviews, Jamie, like a gracious sommelier, illuminates eight Coltrane pieces compelling the reader to taste the music for h(er) self. Before I started to read, I wasn’t assuming I’d be purchasing the music, but I found myself at several points having to put the book down, find the piece on iTunes, then take a walk around block with my headset on before returning to the book.

One doesn’t need to be a lover of jazz or interested in theological exploration to enjoy this book, but I can’t imagine the reader’s interest not being piqued after reading it. The enthusiasm comes from Jamie himself whose engagement is masterfully invitational and infectious. This sounds almost silly to say, but though the story itself is fraught with very human brokenness and loss, the book left me hopeful, even happy, opening new trails to adventure.

Steve Bell

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