Good Shepherd Lutheran Church


The Shepherd's Staff

IPAs and Jazz

Posted by Ted Moeller on

  India Pale Ales (IPAs) and jazz music are two things I like—but not as much as I’d like to like. More of an aspirational fancy than a passion. For one, I’m not very knowledgeable about either. So just saying, “I like this one,” or “That one didn’t do it for me,” without being able to explain why seems unsophisticated. Even more problematic, however, is the extremely broad range of what falls into either category. Both defy uniformity. I might find one IPA delicious, while another bitter enough to suck the saliva out of my mouth, or be laced with some fruit no one should ever mix with beer. Jazz is the same way. I’ll hear a number that is haunting and evocative, but is then followed by another that puts my teeth at edge. with a sax honking like a goose That’s why I hesitate to say I enjoy IPAs and jazz; there is simply too much variance.

   Which makes them a lot like people. And, I would go further and say people of another race. If there is a vast disparity within IPAs and jazz, how much more between individual people. I wholeheartedly agree with all those signs that read: “Black Lives Matter.” Because they do. But to use “ALL Lives Matter” as a counterpoint is wrong. Both are true; but in both cases, we are talking about an extremely wide and diverse category (as “all” tends to be). We should concentrate less on the colors of those lives and more on what we mean by “matters.”

   What makes anything matter? Familiarity. Getting beyond and beneath the generalizations and stereotypes and becoming knowledgeable. Lives that truly matter are lives of people we know. A Washington Post study found that 80% of white people in America do not have a person of color as friend. The number of Black people with white friends is higher, but only slightly. We need to diversity our friendships. That’s the way to end racism: putting names and faces and encounters to those lives. Then they will matter.

   Last April, a young lady I know shared her experience of her first protest march. She said she participated in hopes of undoing years of social injustice against Black people. But what she got out of it was three hours of walking side by side with two sisters from Hood River. “I don’t remember spending that much time with or bonding that well with any white people before.” She said her “Protest” wound up being more an “Acceptance.” At the end of the day it was not so much what she was against, but what she was for.

   For me, moving from general to specific with IPAs and jazz is easy. Rather than saying “Yes or No” to all IPAs, I sampled quite a few to find those I enjoy (like Deschutes’ Inversion).  Instead of a blanket judgment on jazz music, I began listening to KMHD 89.1 FM, Portland’s jazz station, and discovered that for every honking goose there’s a saxophone riff smooth enough to be “butterscotch to the ear.” With racism, it’s more complicated and challenging, but has the chance to be much more rewarding. Loving your neighbors as yourself means getting to know those neighbors. Start by saying, “Hi.” Cross the street. Make the phrase, “Don’t be a stranger,” your own personal challenge. Work your way up to making friends. That’s how to make more lives truly matter.