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Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us about Suffering and Salvation [Paperback]

By Stephen J. Nichols (Author)
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Item description for Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us about Suffering and Salvation by Stephen J. Nichols...

Overview
In Getting the Blues, Stephen Nichols shows how blues music offers powerful insight into the biblical narrative and the life of Jesus. Weaving Bible stories together with intriguing details of the lives of blues musicians, he leads readers in a vivid exploration of how blues music teaches about sin, suffering, alienation, and worship. Nichols unpacks the Psalms, portions of the prophets, and Paul's writings in this unique way, revealing new facets of Scripture. Getting the Blues will resonate with all readers interested in Christianity and culture. In the end they will emerge with a greater understanding of the value of "theology in a minor key"--a theology that embraces suffering as well as joy. EXCERPT This book attempts a theology in a minor key, a theology that lingers, however uncomfortably, over Good Friday. It takes its cue from the blues, harmonizing narratives of Scripture with narratives of the Mississippi Delta, the land of cotton fields and Cyprus swamps and the moaning slide guitar. This is not a book by a musician, however, but by a theologian. And so I offer a theological interpretation of the blues. Cambridge theologian Jeremy Begbie has argued for music's intrinsic ability to teach theology. As an improvisation on Begbie's thesis, I take the blues to be intrinsically suited to teach a particular theology, a theology in a minor key. This is not to suggest that a theology in a minor key, or the blues for that matter, utterly sounds out despair like the torrents of a spinning hurricane. A theology in a minor key 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 of the worst of times, know to cry out for mercy because they know that, despite appearances, Sunday's coming. . . . The blues, like the writings of Flannery O'Connor, need not mention him [Christ] in every line, or in every song, but he haunts the music just the same. At the end of the day, he serves as the resolution to the conflict churning throughout the blues, the conflict that keeps the music surging like the floodwaters of the Mississippi River.

Publishers Description
In "Getting the Blues," Stephen Nichols shows how blues music offers powerful insight into the biblical narrative and the life of Jesus. Weaving Bible stories together with intriguing details of the lives of blues musicians, he leads readers in a vivid exploration of how blues music teaches about sin, suffering, alienation, and worship. Nichols unpacks the Psalms, portions of the prophets, and Paul's writings in this unique way, revealing new facets of Scripture.
"Getting the Blues" will resonate with all readers interested in Christianity and culture. In the end they will emerge with a greater understanding of the value of "theology in a minor key"--a theology that embraces suffering as well as joy.
EXCERPT
This book attempts a theology in a minor key, a theology that lingers, however uncomfortably, over Good Friday. It takes its cue from the blues, harmonizing narratives of Scripture with narratives of the Mississippi Delta, the land of cotton fields and Cyprus swamps and the moaning slide guitar. This is not a book by a musician, however, but by a theologian. And so I offer a theological interpretation of the blues. Cambridge theologian Jeremy Begbie has argued for music's intrinsic ability to teach theology. As an improvisation on Begbie's thesis, I take the blues to be intrinsically suited to teach a particular theology, a theology in a minor key. This is not to suggest that a theology in a minor key, or the blues for that matter, utterly sounds out despair like the torrents of a spinning hurricane. A theology in a minor key 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 of the worst of times, know to cry out for mercy because they know that, despite appearances, Sunday's coming. . . . The blues, like the writings of Flannery O'Connor, need not mention him Christ] in every line, or in every song, but he haunts the music just the same. At the end of the day, he serves as the resolution to the conflict churning throughout the blues, the conflict that keeps the music surging like the floodwaters of the Mississippi River.

From Publishers Weekly
Its difficult to associate the loneliness and downright mournfulness of the blues with the joyful teachings on salvation that often characterize the Christian religion. Yet in this splendid little book, theologian Nichols engagingly reminds us that the musical genre of the blues helps us to understand what theologians call redemption. Drawing on a wide range of blues singers and their lyrics, he blends the strains of the blues into the harmonies of theology and scripture in order to compose a new song about the powerful manner in which the blues prepare us for understanding the mercy and love of God. In songs such as Mississippi John Hurts Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, for example, the blues record the loneliness and the desolation the singer feels, and Nichols compares this to the desolation that Christ felt when God forsook him on the cross. Finally, in his mournful songs, Blind Lemon Jefferson juxtaposes the despair of failure with the hope that such failures can be overcome. Nicholss elegant study offers fresh insights into the blues and their meaning for religion. (Sept.)Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us about Suffering and Salvation by Stephen J. Nichols has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 07/07/2008 page 55
  • Christian Retailing - 09/22/2008 page 17


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Item Specifications...


Studio: Brazos Press
Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2008
Publisher   Brazos Press
ISBN  1587432129  
ISBN13  9781587432125  


Availability  0 units.


More About Stephen J. Nichols


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Stephen J. Nichols (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries. He is an editor of the Theologians on the Christian Life series and also hosts the weekly podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.

Eric T. Brandt (MA, Wheaton College) is an instructional designer and adjunct professor of church history at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida. Eric and his wife, Megan, live in Lake Mary, Florida.



Stephen J. Nichols currently resides in the state of Pennsylvania. Stephen J. Nichols was born in 1970.

Stephen J. Nichols has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Theologians on the Christian Life


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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Musical Genres > Blues
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Faith
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living


Christian Product Categories
Books > General Interest > Literature & The Arts > Music



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Reviews - What do customers think about Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us about Suffering and Salvation?

Mac N' Cheese have nothing on this book  Nov 8, 2008
Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us About Suffering and Salvation by Stephen J. Nichols was definitely a great find. As one who knew practically nothing of the blues, this book opened my eyes to the soul behind the most soul-filled music ever created. Nichols also did an extremely well job of sticking to the thesis of this book and incorporating the very visible theological themes within this passionate genre of music.

The book doesn't stray far from the Delta River Blues and Blues musicians. As one of the oft-mentioned artist said, "Blues is the roots, the rest is the fruits." Nichols compares this area with that of Eden, a place where something more extrordinary began, but also a place where much torment and separation are always before your eyes and the back of your mind.

Nichols turns the Blues, which are generally thought of as extremely secular, into lessons on Christ, Suffering, Salvation, and Eternal Life in an extremely intricate way. You could definitely find some comfort in this book if you connect with the disheartened, and bedraggled of the world.

The only thing that really hindered my reading was the amount of lyrics inserted between Nichols own words to make his point. I can understand that attempting to make a point about a bunch of songs is difficult, especially when attempting to write for an audience that isn't familiar with these songs, but this made it seem like a college research paper. The points could have been made without so many. But, I would still recommend this book, it just may take a while to work through.
 

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