Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality - Don Miller

It isn't often I read a book written by somebody I know. I don't know many published authors, and the few I do know, well, I just haven't gotten around to their books yet. I heard of Blue Like Jazz shortly after moving to Portland, and lots of people at my church talked about the book and Don Miller, the author. But it wasn't until later that I actually met Don and got to know him a little myself, at which point several of my other friends were incredulous that I hadn't read his book yet. Well, finally I was emailing a high school friend in Georgia, and when he told me about Blue Like Jazz, I decided it was finally time to check it out.

First, it's just fun to read a book that's set in a city I now know a little, because so far many of the books I've read are set in well-known cities that I just haven't spent much time in (such as New York or Chicago). There are also people in the book whom I've met, and so that's another new experience for me, seeing people I know in a book. Finally, since I've met Don and at least know what he looks like and how he talks and where he lives, it makes the book that much more personal; it's no longer this voiceless author's photo from the back cover, but a real person speaking to me.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, on to the book itself. The book is, as the title states, a collection of "nonreligious" thoughts about Christian spirituality. I suppose he made a point of not saying "Christianity," because part of what he talks about in the book is this discomfort with the way that term has been twisted and distorted to the point where it tends to turn people off instead of pointing towards Christ. Don's method is basically to tell stories about people he knows, or stories he's heard from other people. Sometimes he interprets the stories, and sometimes not, but all the time he's piecing together thoughts about God and what it means to fall in love with Jesus.

A good way to give you a feel of the book is this quote from the Author's Note:

I never liked jazz music 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.
What I noticed about his book is that sometimes his stories don't resolve either; that is, he'll tell a story but not necessarily wrap it up with a "here's the lesson to be learned" or sometimes even "here's how everything turned out." For some people, that may be a little frustrating, but he has an easy conversational style that's pleasant to read, so I got over it.

Overall, it's a pretty good book, and offers some unconventional wisdom about the church, faith, love, and other such topics.

Fed to jonathan's brain | November 28, 2004