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Sunday, 2 November 2008

Getting the Blues - theology in a minor key

Stephen J Nichols has produced fine piece of theology in a minor key, on what the blues teaches us about suffering and salvation. (Brazos Press, 2008)

This is a wonderful piece of work for someone like myself who has enjoyed musicians like B B King and has heard the tributes to musicians like Mississippi John Hurt by the younger generation of acoustic blues musicians like Eric Bibb but is only very vaguely aware of the roots of this musical tradition.

Nicholls proceeds with humility and respect. It is not his tradition and story."But" he says "I can listen and I can try to understand."

In that journey of trying to understand Nicholls gives us some geography, history and biography of key figures in the history of the blues. Out of this he gives us a theological reading - in a minor key.

A theology in a minor key- or the blues for that matter ... is no mere existential scream. In fact, a theology in a minor key sounds a rather hopeful melody. Good Friday yearns for Easter and eventually Easter comes. Blues singers, even when groaning about the worst of times, cry out for mercy; they know that, despite appearance, Sunday's coming. (p.15)

Nicholls provides a useful discography for the beginner like me. Hopefully he may have solved the issue of the birthday present list for years to come.

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