Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

by Donald Miller

Paperback, 2003

Status

Available

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.

Publication

Thomas Nelson (2003), Edition: Illustrated, 256 pages

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Rating

½ (1294 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member tymfos
I bought this book on a whim. I liked the title. I liked the cover. I liked the description of the author (in one of the blurbs) as "Anne Lamott with testosterone." And I loved the author's note:
"I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in
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Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. After that I liked jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way. I used to not like God because God didn't resolve. But that was before any of this happened."

This book is a bit uneven in quality. Some of these autobiographical essays were less than impressive to me. But others stopped me in my tracks. This is a book with which many Conservative Christians might be uncomfortable. Miller has his complaints about the church, and about the way many Christians view faith and interact with those around them -- especially those who are different from them. He has no use for empty ritual (though its clear that not all ritual is empty to him), or being judgmental of others, or of the kind of morality that is almost obsessed with sexual behavior.

He does acknowledge the reality of what traditional theology calls "original sin" -- the fact that all people, and the world, are broken and need fixing (the need for salvation). He zeroes in on the sins of self-righteousness and self-centeredness, and the primacy of the commandment to LOVE. In this, I believe he is a faithful follower of Jesus.

He has problems with religion, with Christianity (as an institution), with "religious people," but loves and has faith in Jesus and invites the reader to love Him, too. He does all this with an honesty about his own failings and shortcomings that is refreshing. He gave me some things to think about, so I consider the time spent in reading this book worthwhile.
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LibraryThing member echoesofstars
I just finished reading a book entitled Blue Like Jazz. And I recently revisited The Ragamuffin Gospel. If you're going to read one or the other, read the second. I think it has more depth of thought than Blue Like Jazz.

Anyway, what strikes me most from books like these is how surprised and/or
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shocked people are that the Christian Church is messed up, empty, or hollow-feeling. The author of Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller, describes how disillusioned he became with the White Republican Suburban Church and therefore with Christianity itself. He stated that the people of the church "withheld love" and only gave it to people who upheld the same ideals. He described how he much rather preferred his pot-smoking hippie friends that loved freely.

But my question is, what did he really expect? If you were to read the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament, you will find that God's people have always been messed up, just like everyone else. The only church that loved people properly for a short period of time was the church described in the book of Acts. The later Epistles are warnings to different churches that they need to clean up the spiritual and social messes that they created when they got off-track from seeking God.

If you think about it, it makes sense that the Church is dysfunctional. Broken people, sometimes with severe emotional and social problems, seek out God and come to a church to be around other broken people who are also seeking God. People with low self-esteem, terminal health problems, manic-depressive disorders, divorcees, drug addicts, womanizers, ex-convicts, and the power-hungry all gather in the same place to "worship." We initially come because God has been pulling on our heartstrings and we want to come closer to Him. But we all wind up trying to impress one another with hollow self-righteousness, with only moments of sincere worship peppered in the mix.

It's truly a miracle of God that we haven't killed each other in the process.

Yes, the Church is messed up. Don't be surprised - it always has been. The purpose of the Church is not to whitewash souls; it's to try to seek God together and support each other along the way. And as we sincerely try to come close to Jesus, He is the one who declares us righteous and washes the dirt away.
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LibraryThing member RidgewayGirl
So I heard this was being made into a movie and since I've had the book on hand for quite some time, I thought I'd read it before the film was released.

Blue Like Jazz is about Miller and his spiritual life told in a series of chatty chapters. He keeps things a bit simpler than I'd like, using
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short sentences and building ideas slowly. I found this a bit annoying, especially since he's dealing with the some charged issues, primarily the difficulty of having lost faith, not in God or Christianity, but in the church. The American Evangelical church does have some serious issues. When the pastor of a megachurch can go on TV and declare that helping the poor is wrong and when a man in a position of leadership of a large group of churches feels comfortable making racist statements about the Trayvon Martin case, there's a problem. And the easiest solution for many is to walk away. It's how to turn around and find a sense of community and not to be angry that's difficult.

Miller managed to do this and I was very interested to find out how. He skirts the issue for much of the book, but he's too honest to avoid it. He's extremely careful with his words and his solution is to forgive, move on and find a church that doesn't look at others (gay people, feminists, liberals, etc...) with fear and loathing. Pretty easy for a guy in Portland, Oregon to say, but he's probably right.

Miller's a likable guy. Any guy who's had a crush on Emily Dickinson and who was able to successfully navigate moving from a hippie camp site to a religious summer camp job has to be. Blue Like Jazz is, despite the subject matter, entertaining and easy to read. Miller's being dumped on a bit for the mild criticisms he's written, and I'm sorry for that.
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LibraryThing member ctpress
Cool like Jazz. Donald Miller is cool. Or he wants to be. Even when he describes how un-cool christianity is - it sounds cool. I enjoyed the reading of Millers semi-spiritual thoughts and reflections on faith, the church and Jesus - in view of his own life experience. Plenty of laughs which is
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refreshing in a book about how God touches a persons life.

He loves to say things like “I like the idea of..” or “I feel comfortable with this definition” or something like that - If a theological statement sounds beautiful and he has a got feeling, then Miller may admit it contain some element of truth.

I sometimes have problems with this laissez-faire, laid-back attitude to faith and dogma. Like when he describes some of his friends that have left there churches and become greek orthodox....and adds something like "I think it sounds very cool”. As if it doesn’t really matter which theology the church are based on - who cares as long as it sounds cool and feels cool. (Oh, yes...I know. It is a very un-cool thing to say).
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LibraryThing member andersoj
While I guess I understand why folks like this book, I found it terribly difficult to get through. The writing style leads one to believe that the author is something of a social simpleton. The work he has done to connect himself to healthy, loving, and open-minded Christian community is good work,
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but his account of that work is far from profound, and leaves plenty of room for misunderstanding. An example of this is the pervasive "find yourself" / "believe in yourself" approach to Christian faith espoused by Mr. Miller. While there is wisdom and value in "knowing thyself," it is easy to mistake that adage as a tenet of the author's faith, and I'm fairly sure Christian scripture, tradition, and experience counsel caution in a faith formed by what Works For Me.

As a fellow Portlander and Christian, and having grown out of a fairly conservative evangelical background to find deeper roots in my faith tradition, I was expecting to love this book, and came away disappointed. Sigh.

I hope the author revisits some of the topics contained in this book with a clearer voice, stronger editing, and in a less namby-pamby manner.
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LibraryThing member julesnpebbles
i do have opnions on this book and his thoughts on "christian spirituality". I was troubled because it's an extremely popular book and highly recommended. anyway, that said, i was really taken aback by the selfish version of "christianity" that I read in the pages.

I'm not saying that he's not a
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christian or that he needs to follow Christ just like me. but i am saying that his take on the Bible, on "fundamental Christians" and on the spiritual disciplines left me concerned about the message he was giving to these who were searching, who were new believers etc. He emphasizes finding something that fits YOUR taste, YOUR interest, YOUR style. He emphasizes that you just be yourself - smoking pipes, not studying Scripture, drinking, smoking and cussing - without even considering whether that honors the Lord or not - in fact, he makes it amusing in the case of these cussing, smoking pastors and he puts down the 'fundamental' christians who are 'trying' to live holy lives. He doesn't hide his hostility and criticism of 'fundamental christians". Btw, he characterizes these christians as those who "behave as if they loved light and not 'behave' as if they loved the darkness." He said he was one once - and he said he was absolutely ashamed to admit it now. His quote "We would fast all the time, pray together twice each day, memorize Scripture, pat each other on the back....we read a great deal of Scripture and hadn't gotten anybody pregnant."

anyway, it's hard for me to explain why i think this book is misleading and yes, even dangerous. His style is readable, entertaining, humorous, pensive and even inviting. But his search is for a religion that suits his hippy, cool, 'beautiful dude', political activist style of 'spirituality' that doesn't have a whole lot of Scriptural truth to it - he has his epiphanies and aha moments but they don't seem much more than philosophical eye-openers. oh, i could go on. i do pray the Lord uses this book to draw many to Himself - but I wouldn't ever recommend it and you will do well to stay away from this fluff.

(ok, was that too harsh? i usually am not so critical of books! but this drew something out in me very strongly).

hope i didn't offend anyone who LOVED this book. it just didn't cut it for me.
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LibraryThing member dckenney
I don’t know that I have ever read a book like Blue Like Jazz before. Author Donald Miller is a best-selling American author and public speaker based out of Portland, Oregon who focuses on Christian spirituality as “an explanation for beauty, meaning, and the human struggle.”

He is also the
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author of Searching for God Knows What and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

Miller writes,

“There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing. They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz. And as I lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. Of course, I had always known He was, but this time I felt it, I realized it, the way a person realizes they are hungry or thirsty. The knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. I imagined Him looking down on this earth, half angry because His beloved mankind had cheated on Him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for her.”

Blue Like Jazz is the coming of age story of the author as he struggles with his own ideas of religion and the new world he encounters away at Reed College. This isn’t your parents “Inspirational Christian Reading” book either, this is a visceral piece full of honesty and truth. Blue Like Jazz is easily one of the best Christian experience books I have ever read. Miller is an extremely talented writer.

Blue Like Jazz will make you laugh out loud while asking you the toughest of questions.

Read with caution! Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member laholmes
Miller is a great writer, and this rambling memoir of sorts takes you into his head and his world, and helps you understand him better. He offers an honest takes on things, and is worth the read.
LibraryThing member Othemts
It's hard to know what to make of this book. At first it seems to be a hipster reflecting on Christian ideas in the secular world. Then I learn that the author is a lifelong Christian and it feels like a bait-and-switch and that this is going to be a sneaky evangelical tract. Miller fortunately is
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none of these things and is blessedly impossible to put in any box. Still I find Miller hard to read, I think because he's so much like me - shy, inconsistent, overwriting and overthinking things. I'm finally won over by the chapter in which Miller and his friends in a small Christian group at a largely hedonistic college decide to participate in the college's annual bacchanalian festival. Miller jokingly suggests setting up a confession booth and the group ends up doing so, but for the purpose of confessing the crimes of Christianity and their own personal failings as Christians to the partying students who come to their both. Miller is much better than Frank Schaeffer at writing about humility, transcendence, and how to lead an authentic Christian life in a secular world.

Favorite Passages:
My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don't really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don't believe in God and they can prove He doesn't exist, and some guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it's about who is smarter, and honestly I don't care. I don't believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway? If I walk away from Him, and please pray that I never do, I will walk away for social reasons, deep emotional reasons, the same reasons that any of us do anything. - p. 103
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LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
Miller offers a nice alternative to evangelical Christianity. This might be subtitled, "How to Take God Seriously Without Becoming a Jerk."
LibraryThing member fundevogel
It seems like I'm the only atheist that read this book so allow me to present an unchristian perspective on this book.

I am an ex-christian and I was loaned this by a family member who wanted to re-convert me. I read it out of respect for her. However the arguments in favor of the Christian God
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aren't really arguments, they're sentimental appeals. The author talks about how he feels as a Christian and what he thinks he gets out of his take on Christianity/God but he never actually addresses why, other than it feels good, I should believe what he believes. Considering this book seems aimed at people who are either faithless (like me) or having religious doubts I'd have to say it struck out.

I suppose if you're someone that's looking for a feel good reason to believe in God or want something to cozy you up to the God you already have this might be just the book you want. As someone that's interested in hard won facts, logic and refuses to scrutinize the idea of God and religion any less than any other facet of life I was unimpressed.
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LibraryThing member rwk
This book was instrumental in guiding me through a time of transition in my life. It has shaped much of my thinking about church, contemporary Western Christianity and my own personal spiritual life and journey. The tone is conversational, down-to-earth and witty, none of which masks the real depth
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and profound nature of what Miller has to say.

There is one word of caution, however. If you're leading a comfortable Christian life this book may introduce you to some dissonance in your spiritual thoughts, attitudes and practice. That may, or may not, be helpful - but I've read this book a half-dozen times and keep finding something refreshing and new in it.
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LibraryThing member scrappy214
What a great read! I love Miller's style of writing. You feel like you sitting in a cafe talking over a cup of coffee. He's authentic, real, and honest. Very refreshing. And he has an authentic, real, and honest faith. Very inspiring.
LibraryThing member texasblue
interesting perspective. difficult to read at first due to his writing style. great thoughts to ponder about how our christian walk can influence non christians, getting outside our christian life bubble.
LibraryThing member amwhitsett
Donald Miller is beyond incredible. He's prophetic in his siimplicity. Here is a man who has thought long and hard about the life of Jesus. Miller shares anecdotes from his life, but more importantly his thoughts throughout those situations. This creates an album of snapshots dedicated to his
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coming to know God. Miller is a funny guy and humor is what sucks you into this book, but you stay for the bites of wisdom that could not be said better. Miller writes with a humble honesty that is not meant to impart great epiphanies to the reader, nor ivory tower theology. No 10 steps to getting into heaven here. This book is Don Miller's way of sitting down with you over a cup of coffee and having a chat about what it's like to be a Christian in his experience, imparting commaraderie and companionship to ease the birth of your own thoughts and memories. I've had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Miller a couple of times and what you see on the page is what you get in person. He's a rare find indeed. Please don't miss this book or any of his others.
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LibraryThing member sacrain
After reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years I felt like I had to IMMEDIATELY read everything Don Miller had ever written, so this book was next on my list. I loved it.

Miller explains his view of Christianity in such simple, easy to understand (for me) verbiage, stories and examples I think I
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might have converted even if I were Jewish. His writing just makes sense to me. It felt like coming home.

One of the things I love about this book is that Miller never bashed other religions, or people who believe in Jesus or don't. He explains his views, and why he beleives what he does. He also discusses some times in his life when he had questions, he didn't go to church, he had trouble finding a church he was comfortable, and struggles some of his friends had with not believing in God and then reconciling that belief with wanting to and ultimately believing.

Miller's writing is so beautiful it's like one long, easy to understand poem. Sometimes I found myself re-reading passages just for the beautiful way he strings words together.

I think anyone would enjoy this book -- young to old, devout or curious, and even atheists might like it just for his writing style. This is another book I would give as gifts to everyone I knew.
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LibraryThing member justindtapp
So I'm the last American Christian to read this book (except my wife, as we listened to the audio together, which is also updated with a "where are they now?" afterword. Read by the author, which always makes it better) and I know I should have read it years ago. But, as usually happens with these
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things, it was probably more timely for me to read now as Miller works through several issues that have been heavily on my mind this year.

Do you use love like money? I mean, do you withhold love from others in an attempt to get them to change their ways? There's an essay in this book about that, I found that convicting. Miller works through how to love people like Jesus did; namely, how to love those Christians who are different than you even if you think they're on the wrong track in their beliefs or attitudes or actions. That's what I currently am thinking about.

I would give the first half of this book to any non-believer as a great witness and apologetic for the Gospel. Miller's adventures and conversations at Reid College are great and extremely thought-provoking. The second half of the book, starting with the part on relationships and Emily Dickinson are only so-so as they are mostly his introspection and stories of him learning to live in community. Helpful, but no moreso than just talking to a fellow believer in your Sunday school class about what they're thinking about. Miller probably didn't intend for this book to be the best-seller that it was as it's simply a compilation of his personal essays. (I now see that he blogs, too.)

How do non-teenagers who aren't raised in the same Southern Baptist context (or someone who was not raised at all in church) that I was come to Christ? What does meeting Jesus look like to them? I find that most of my friends through life were raised in church and struggle with this question, struggle with loving those who come to Jesus differently. It's easier to think of sharing the Gospel cross-culturally in another country than it is in America. That's a problem.

I find myself thinking of Rodney Reeves' guest sermons at my church this year. "If you think someone isn't a Christian because he smokes and cusses, you might be a pharisee." or "If you think God loves you more than someone else because you've been a Christian longer and have read the Bible more than he/she, you might be a pharisee." (Read Matthew 23:33 for why it's not good to be a pharisee).

Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. I need to reconcile a few of Miller's thoughts, which are logically sound, with Scripture. I also need to read Francis Chan's Crazy Love. Hopefully I won't read that book 5 years late.

This is my last book review for 2010. I still have at least a dozen physical, paper books on my bookshelf that I bought either long ago or last Christmas that need to be "read and released." So, I'll be getting to work on those starting tomorrow.
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LibraryThing member navets
I had been reading the book for a couple of months but finally got “into” the book enough to read it through in just a couple nights.

I like reading again.

The book is amazing. By amazing, I mean that it is totally different than any other book I’ve ever read. It’s almost like you’re
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reading a book by a person who decided to write every single word that came to his mind as he sipped on a latte at his local coffeeshop.

Donal Miller is a Christ-follower - his words met my heart over these last few nights with the kind of “meeting” that says - “hello, I’ve felt that way before”. There isn’t a lot I DISAGREE with in this book, except maybe the fact that I don’t know how many beers Donald had to drink while he was writing.

It still amazes me how “anti-drinking” I am at this stage of my life - I guess I’m just a Wesleyan through-and-through..

Anyways - the book carries the subtitle: “Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality” - and that is exactly what it is. Don Miller talks like a preacher’s kid - with his insight to the “Christian subculture” and his outrage with it. It’s an exciting book for me to read and it will take another reading to even scratch the surface of what great stuff this book is made of.
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LibraryThing member bflatt72
This one's for you Tom Bombadil. And for anyone else who cares about this sort of thing as much as I do. Or even if you don't.

Tom has been recommending a certain book by a certain "Christian" author to me for quite some time now and I have been telling him for quite some time now that I would get
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it to it. Well, I finally got to it. The book is Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I devoured this little 250 page or so book in about 5 or 6 hours, almost at one sitting.

It was just so refreshing to finally see a "thinking" Christian, someone who has wrestled with the same issues that I have been wrestling with for so long. If more Christians were like Don, I truly believe there would be more Christians in the world.

Donald Miller is basically not your Grandma's Christian. My own mother would probably call him a heretic. For you see he loves Jesus, but he drinks beer and smokes cigarettes, cigars and pipes. He even attended what he termed the most liberal college in all of America, while auditing a few courses, Reed University in Portland, Oregon.

To me, Donald Miller's version of Christianity is MUCH closer to that originally envisioned and taught by Jesus Christ himself. I can't really put it all into words, Don did such a fine job of it himself.

But... not to rain on the parade, there were still some problems with all that he had to say, things I didn't quite agree with.

For one, he says at one point, that the story of the Fall of man, whether viewed allegorically or as actual historical fact, is the ONLY explanation for why man is the way he is, why mankind is so selfish, mean, etc. Hold on a minute, Don. Is it REALLY the ONLY explanation around? I think not. Maybe the only explanation he has ever heard of but certainly not the only one. Maybe the only one that makes sense to him, but certainly not the only one. Evolutionary biological theory explains it all pretty well if you ask me. As does the Buddhist way of looking at the concept of suffering. Even IF the Fall of man in the garden of Eden WERE the only explanation around, where does that leave us? All 3 Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity AND Islam believe this same story. But they each have very different views on the way to salvation, only one of which believes Jesus is the one and only way.

So even if I concede that the story of the Fall of Man IS the only explanation around, great, now we have narrowed the field down to 3 different religions, each of whom believes the other two are going to hell. We still haven't progressed much past ground zero, have we?

Also, he says that it doesn't really matter if the story is taken allegorically or as fact, it is still the only explanation. But... it DOES matter if the story is allegory or not, doesn't it? Truth matters, does it not? Are we merely subscribing our beliefs to what makes us feel good? If the story is not really true but just an allegory, just myth, then it explains nothing. Some cultures have stories about how the earth is suspended on the back of a giant tortoise and when you ask them what holds the tortoise up, the answer is another tortoise, ad infinitum. This story explains things, does it not? But it's not the truth. There are lots of theories around the world relating to creation, they all explain what is observable, but they can't all be the truth.

Another minor point of contention, is that Don at times, resorts to old Christian cliches. You can readily tell that he was raised in a more conservative Christian surroundings. When he was in the mountains at one point in the book, he is staring up at the stars and all of a suddent has an epiphany. He says that God holds the stars and the heavens static in the sky. Apparently, he didn't audit any basic astronomy courses at Reed or else he would have known that nothing in the universe is static, not even the stars which appear to be static. God does not hold anything in the heavens static, everything is in constant flux.

Lastly, it all just appears to me as if, not only him but his many friends who were once skeptics but become Christian, do so as a sort of intellectual giving up, so to speak. It's as if they have just given up. The questions were just too difficult for them to bear, and the society in which we live tells us that Christianity is the answer, so after much internal wrangling and fighting, they just gave up and defaulted back to the religion of their youth. His friend Penny had some major issues with Christianity, as far as I can tell from the book, none of them were answered, she just called him one day to say, "Hey, I love Jesus now too."

Having said all of that, if I was to become a Christian again one day, this would be the kind of Christian I would be. Don seems like a really cool guy, a really smart guy who loves the arts and is not afraid of intellectualism. I really loved the fact that he once fell in love with Emily Dickinson. Here is a man that understands that just because one loves Jesus does not mean they have to be a monk. There is still much beauty in this world to behold, much to enjoy, and that includes reading, the arts, a good beer, and even watching South Park.

I am not saying that this book totally convinced me, as I said, there were some issues that I had with it, but it's come closer than anything in a really long time to showing me that it's ok to be a Christian and that the Christianity I grew up is not necessarily all there is to Christendom.

I understand what he means when he says that believing in Jesus is not something he can intellectually explain to someone, but it is just something he feels in his gut. I can understand that. I can respect that. I can relate to that. Even as I have run away from the Church, I have still always found myself believing in God, I have NEVER been able to make the leap to Atheism and I have always admired and revered Jesus Christ, even if I haven't always admired and revered the Church that sprang up after his death.
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LibraryThing member gdill
I really enjoyed this read. The story basically follows Don Miller's exploits as a Christian throughout his college years at Reed College in Oregon. My favorite part of the story was the confession booth setup by Miller and his friends on the campus of Reed College during the Ren Fayre festival. It
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wasn't a confession booth for non-believers to come and confess their sins, it was a booth for non-believers to come and listen to the confessions of these humbled Christians asking forgiveness for their wrongs of the past and the present misgivings associated with today's Christianity.

Miller writes like a masterful storyteller, with a lot of wit and charm. I appreciate Miller's transparency as he shares with us his struggles with shyness, women, love, money, and integrating into community. He shares with us how today's evangelical Christian has hopped on to the conservative Republican bandwagon and essentially scared away anyone who does not share these same socio-political ideologies. How true this is. It took me many years to see this myself as a one-time staunch Republican.

I highly recommend this book to both Christian and non-Christian alike. Specifically for those who are seeking and in their college-aged years.
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LibraryThing member 1morechapter
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligous Thoughts on Christian Sprituality makes some very valid criticisms about the Christian community. First, that sometimes Christians are obsessed with outward appearance rather than the condition of a person’s heart. I fully agree with this. I don’t think God cares one
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hoot what we look like–whether it’s tattoos, piercings, the color of our hair, whatever. He is concerned with where our heart is toward him. That’s all.

Secondly, that Christians don’t love “sinners” because all they see is the sin and not the person. I wholeheartedly agree with this as well. Some may be more apt to “look down their noses” at a “sinner” rather than just reach out in love. This is obviously not what God wants Christians to do.

Thirdly, that many Christians support right wing causes to the absolute exclusion of any left of center concerns. Guilty again. We do need to give to the poor and take care of the needy, particularly widows and orphans. Jesus taught that as well.

I do have some concerns with some of his philosophy, however. He seems to advocate a grace and “acceptance” that go a little too far. I’m not talking here about non-Christians at all. I’m talking about people who claim to be followers of Christ. He lifts up Christians who appear to be following God in one or more areas, but yet are still engaging in practices not pleasing to God. He implies we shouldn’t judge and just accept. Of course God is the ultimate judge of all of us. Yet, the Bible clearly states that we ARE to point out to Christians (NOT non-Christians) areas that are not God-pleasing. Donald Miller himself has actually done that very well in his book!

My point is this. Once we are a follower of Christ, God loves us unconditionally and forgives us everything we do. That I believe. His grace does go far–really far! But, just as he forgave David for being a murderer and an adulterer, he also pointed out that there would be consequences to David’s acts. These consequences were the natural result of David’s sin. Yes, we are forgiven, but we still have to face the consequences. So why not try to obey God so as to receive our reward in heaven? I’d rather not just barely “escape through the flames” and be a toilet-scrubber in heaven. Of course, that’s just a figure of speech. What? You say you’ve tried and just can’t live up to what God wants? NONE of us can. Not without his help. That’s the whole point of Christianity. We couldn’t do it ourselves, so God took care of it for us. If you have the desire to please God, all you have to do is ask for his help to do it.

In conclusion, I think the Church would do well to examine some of Donald Miller’s points. But we can’t say that it doesn’t matter what we do because God loves us unconditionally and his grace covers all–EVEN THOUGH THAT’S TRUE!!! Because honestly, I wouldn’t want to live with the consequences of my actions if I just did what I wanted all the time. And even aside from the consequences, Christians should love God and WANT to please him.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
I'm sure this book sold a lot of copies and I'm sure it meets an audience. It came highly recommended by a friend. I had lunch with her today and we discussed the book. I simply could not relate to the preaching and what seemed to me to be highly conservative religious beliefs.

It was well written
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in segmented chapters of different catchy titles and subjects. There were some pearls of wisdom, but I can't recommend it.
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LibraryThing member NickAngelis
Similar to jazz music, the book isn't very coherent and wanders from theme to theme as the author explores his Christian faith and various epiphanies he's collected over the years. However, his musings are surprisingly funny and often irreverent, which in some cases lead to seeing a fresh look at
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spiritual topics from another point of view. Miller's goal of being completely authentic is realized, flaws and all. I'd like to see the other books he's written but am suspicious that they all overlap a bit, since most of them are philosophical memoirs and this one seems to encompass every crisis of faith Miller has experienced.
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LibraryThing member McWolf
I started reading this book because it was thrust upon me. "You need to read this book, its great' "Have you read this book yet?" so dutifully I picked it up and read it.

It was a struggle to start off with; maybe it had something to do with the 'post-modern' memoir structure, where he jumped
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forward and back through the years in a non-linear structure. It was an interesting read while I had the book open and some ideas Miller brings forward were thought provoking and I must say that I did end up enjoying what I did read.

However, after I put it down it was often difficult to pick up again to read. A good read yes, an enjoyable one? Not really.
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LibraryThing member tcarter
I loved this book. I picked it up from recommendations here on LibraryThing, for which I thank my fellow Thingamabrarians. Miller provides a stunning example of the strength of communicating the realities of faith in Christ by describing the impact of those realities on a life. The transparent
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honesty of the self description adds significant weight to the testimony to the transforming power of Jesus in this life. Along the way Miller manages to cover significant elements of Christian doctrine, ethics, consistent Christian living, and church stuff in accessible and relevant ways, never pulling any punches but always challenging the reader to take responsibility for their own reaction to what is written. Read the book, take responsibility, and your life may very well change.
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