Sunday, May 07, 2006

Book Review: Pondering Blue Like Jazz

"I never liked jazz music," says Donald Miller "because jazz music doesn't resolve. But sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself...I used to not like God because god didn't resolve. But that was before any of this happened."

Blue like Jazz is one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read. Subtitled "Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality," and accurately so, the book takes you on an adventure through some of the life experiences of Donald Miller: a guy who after being raised in a strick Baptist household, walked away from the faith in college only to return later where he has a very unique but personal relationship with God.

Before moving on, as an introduction to Donald Miller, I recommend this sermon, delivered by Miller at Mars Hill Bible Church called God is Fathering Us. What an amazing insight to our relationship with God as our father and how we have missed the point so many times regarding this idea. This is a must listen to sermon! Allow me to say that the first 11 minutes of the download is Mars Hill ministry updates that, while valuable, is not the material I want to stress here. Feel free to fast forward to about 11 minutes in. Also, you must enter a valid email address to download it, but I assure you it is safe and will not result in any type of spam or unwanted solicitation.

Back to the issue at hand. There are several statements I will now make on what makes Blue Like Jazz so unique...perhaps even unlike any other book you have ever read.

1. Miller is perhaps the most honest author I have ever come across. You really must read the book to fully understand what I mean by this, but Miller has a certain quality about him that allows him to say that things that we were all thinking, even if we were not aware of it. Miller is also very honest about his own shortcomings, as well as those of a myriad of other organizations, including the church and government. However, it does not come across in a judgmental way, but in a "concern for truth" way, if that makes sense. Miller is a man who has thought about things on an extremely deep level.

2. Second, Miller's creativity as an author is unmatched. I do not want to say too much, as I do not want to give away some of the surprises the book holds, but he at times takes a completely different approach to writing than most Christian authors do. For one broad example, whereas Christianity has traditionally looked to the Bible first and then applied those truths to daily life, Miller starts with what is true in daily life, and then points out how that is true in the Bible. This is not to say anything about Miller's view on scripture, just on his approach from a "nonreligious" mindset.

3. Third, Miller is a liberal. Though this may seem like a bad thing to some, it was extremely helpful for me to read thoughts from a different political perspective than my own, even refreshing. I found it helpful because Miller is not pushing a political agenda, but rather viewing God through a framework different than mine. In fact, we live in a country that has 2 political extremes, both of which are unhealthy. I'd like to think that Miller and I could meet in the middle and agree on a much healthier medium view. If you are a strong conservative (like me), don't let this scare you away. Rather, let this help you open your mind to a world that we generally do not get to see. And remember, God is not a Republican or a Democrat.

4. Lastly, Miller is extremely personable. His honesty, combined with great stories from his own spiritual journey and laugh out loud humor make you feel like you are sitting at a table listening to his story. I would love to meet Donald Miller. He seems like the kind of guy that would be a great person to have as a friend. You will feel that you connect with him through his writing.

Take the time and read Blue Like Jazz. You can purchase it using the link on your left. I cannot wait to explore Miller's other works. Let me know what you think of Miller and his works. And don't forget to listen to that sermon above!

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