Saturday, August 11, 2007

Blue Like Jazz

For NoVa Dad.

Here are a couple of reviews:

From Publishers Weekly
Miller (Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance) is a young writer, speaker and campus ministry leader. An earnest evangelical who nearly lost his faith, he went on a spiritual journey, found some progressive politics and most importantly, discovered Jesus' relevance for everyday life. This book, in its own elliptical way, tells the tale of that journey. But the narrative is episodic rather than linear, Miller's style evocative rather than rational and his analysis personally revealing rather than profoundly insightful. As such, it offers a postmodern riff on the classic evangelical presentation of the Gospel, complete with a concluding call to commitment. Written as a series of short essays on vaguely theological topics (faith, grace, belief, confession, church), and disguised theological topics (magic, romance, shifts, money), it is at times plodding or simplistic (how to go to church and not get angry? "pray... and go to the church God shows you"), and sometimes falls into merely self-indulgent musing. But more often Miller is enjoyably clever, and his story is telling and beautiful, even poignant. (The story of the reverse confession booth is worth the price of the book.) The title is meant to be evocative, and the subtitle-"Non-Religious" thoughts about "Christian Spirituality"-indicates Miller's distrust of the institutional church and his desire to appeal to those experimenting with other flavors of spirituality.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Book Description

"I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. . . . I used to not like God because God didn't resolve. But that was before any of this happened." In Donald Miller's early years, he was vaguely familiar with a distant God. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, he pursued the Christian life with great zeal. Within a few years he had a successful ministry that ultimately left him feeling empty, burned out, and, once again, far away from God. In this intimate, soul-searching account, Miller describes his remarkable journey back to a culturally relevant, infinitely loving God.

When I read Blue Like Jazz it was simply different from anything else I'd read before. I haven't read Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, buy many people say they have a similar feel. Miller himself says he patterned Blue Like Jazz on Lamott's book. He was taken with her honesty and openness. Blue Like Jazz was my first experience with anything resembling "emergent" or "postmodern" in the world of Christian thought and practice. It was like a breath of fresh air to me. I agree with the Publisher's Weekly review that Miller sometimes gets simplistic and introspective (read "naval gazing"), but it was well worth the read. I've bought several copies for friends, and as high school graduation presents.

Miller has the first chapter in .pdf on his site:

Let me know what you think if you decide to read it!


Bill said...

Have enjoyed all of Miller's writings, particularly Searching for God Knows What. But I am from Portland and enjoy that angle.

carrie said...

Searching for God Knows What is my favorite, too. My future son-in-law is from Grant's Pass. I've never been to OR, but hear it's a beautiful place. Hopefully I'll find out some day.

Susanne B. said...

I loved Blue Like Jazz -- I read it last year just before hearing him speak at Point Loma. He was an even better speaker -- so laid back and hilarious. Always on the lookout for a good joke.

We're reading BLJ for our church's reading group next June; we just finished Traveling Mercies which everyone seemed to like. This month we're doing Shakespeare's Measure for Measure which is also playing locally. In fact, Carol may be able to slip down here from Temecula tomorrow night to see it with us. :)

I haven't had time to read anything else of Miller's, but I want to.