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Book review: “Blue like Jazz”

blue_like_jazz_donald_miller I like authors who invite you in. Donald Miller is an open door.

Blue like Jazz started out slow for me because I was expecting fireworks. I’d heard so much hype over this book.

But the more Don rambled his way through, the more he sucked me in. I was intrigued with his self-labeled “non-religious thoughts on Christian spirituality.”

Now, count me in as one more pusher for this book.

Don lets you walk with him on his journey from burn-out to zealot. You amble here and there, back and forth. You’re never sure where you’re going or where you’ll end up.

You meet his friends along and the way, and learn what he learned from them.

…Andrew is the one who taught me that what I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do.

…I think what Rick said is worth repeating that by accepting God’s love for us, we fall in love with Him, and only then do we have the fuel we need to obey.

…My friend Julie from Seattle told me that the main prayer she prays for her husband is that he will be able to receive love. And this is the prayer I pray for all my friends because it is the key to happiness. God’s love will never change us if we don’t accept it.

But the best thing about ambling along with Don is that you’re forced to consider your own place in this journey. What do I think about church? How would I treat the atheists that Don talked to? How do I love the unlovable people in my own life?

I relate when he says this:

I am the problem. ...I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.

And I hurt when he says this, because it’s true for me, too:

The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me.

He has a knack for getting to the gut-wrenching bottom line like that. I especially like authors who do that. Don’t make me wade through fluff to get to the good stuff. And when it comes to Christianity, the bottom-line good stuff is Jesus.

Stop ten people on the street and ask them what they think of when they hear the word Christianity, and they will give you ten different answers. How can I defend a term that means ten different things to ten different people? I told the radio show host that I would rather talk about Jesus and how I came to believe that Jesus exists and that he likes me.

He ends the book in the last few pages with these words:

There is this lie floating around that says I am supposed to be able to do life alone, without any help, without stopping to worship something bigger than myself. But I actually believe there is something bigger than me, and I need for there to be something bigger than me. I need someone to put awe inside me; I need to come second to someone who has everything figured out.

Don writes so conversationally, that by the time you finish the book, you feel you know him. I’m now looking forward to his next book to be published in September: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. I read excerpts already and it promises to be good.

Can it be as good as Blue like Jazz? That’s asking for an awful lot. But I’m going to count on it.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

This is one of my favorite books. It has been about 5 years since I read it and yet one passage came back to me and I went to find it to tell you - am sure you will remember its poignancy.

It is at the end of Chapter 13 when Don talks with his friend, Paul about marriage. Then he goes home to finish the play he was writing but changes the ending as he recognizes the need to surrender to God's love and to love others truthfully and vulnerably.

Thanks for the review. Thanks for the preview that a new book by Miller is on the way.



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