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Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
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Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  62,410 ratings  ·  3,034 reviews

"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." ―Donald Miller


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 mini

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Paperback, 243 pages
Published July 17th 2003 by Nelson Books (first published July 17th 2002)
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Seth Hahne
Feb 05, 2011 Seth Hahne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one in particular
I thought of several different ways in which to begin this review - several witty comparisons that would surely catch the reader's attention. But that was a month and a half ago. See, I started reading Blue Like Jazz on the 20th of July and it is now the 4th of October. I have four pages left and I'm not sure I have the strength to continue.

For you see: Donald Miller is wearying. Endlessly self-amused and self-absorbed, he seems to want nothing so much as to be hip, cool, edgy (despite his own p
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Greg
Originally this got three stars, now it has one. The more I think about this book the more I realize that it is nearly as noxious as most evangelical attempts at converting someone. What makes Miller really any different from the whorish looking teenage girls mentioned further down? Whorish teenage girls probably wouldn't do much to convince me I should be a Christian, but in the right frame of mind (where I excise parts of my brain and forget to be critical) his descriptions of loneliness, feel ...more
Ben
Oct 17, 2009 Ben rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ben by: MyFleshSingsOut
This book was recommended to me by MyFleshSingsOut, who is a very religious goodreads friend. He is a Jerry Falwell loving, hardcore, right wing conservative. He believes the entire old testament word for word: none of it is allegorical to MyFleshSingsOut. He doesn't even believe in evolution. You've probably run into him before. He goes around this site trying to save souls.

Knowing that I struggle with my belief and that I'm not nearly as religious as him, but more spiritual, than say, the ave
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Samantha
Instead of critiquing, perhaps let me just share a few of what I found to be some of the most powerful -- powerful because they are written so simply, and so simple in their truth -- lines that provide a glimpse of Miller's style, the beauty of this book, and the beauty of Christian spirituality:

"It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like run
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Carrie Anne
Jul 05, 2007 Carrie Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people looking for ideas and not preaching, on Christianity.
This is my favorite book in the world, my own personal bible. It's not very long, and offers a lot of insight onto many different topics in life- college, relationships,etc. My whole book is highlighted in amazing quotes and I try to get all my friends to write in my copy as well. It's so great because Donald Miller explores the idea of fiding Christianity and himself in a crazy world of skeptics and hypocrits. But most importantly, he isn't trying to sell anything. His style of writing is easy ...more
Jason Savage
Aug 14, 2007 Jason Savage rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those searching for a starting place with God.
The problem with Miller, Bell, and this whole Gen X/emerging church/postmodern church movement is that they want to be so much smarter than they are. Truthfully this book is spiritually shallow and leaves me thinking, "yeah, but so what?" I have already wrestled with a lot of the issues raised by Donald Miller and found myself wanting him to say more. I believe I finally put my finger on the issue. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that one day we would worship in Spirit and in Truth. Miller has fo ...more
Tabby
I wish that reviewers on this site would review books for what they are meant to be and not insist that they be something else. "Blue Like Jazz" is not meant to be a deep theological treatise. If you thought it was supposed to be, then of course it doesn't compare to Augustine or C.S. Lewis. Miller's book is instead meant as a memoir of one man's walk with God, his struggles along the way, and what he's learned from them. I enjoyed this read a lot because I related to many of his struggles. Whil ...more
Mitch Nichols
If you pick up Miller's book looking for writing that is chock-filled with passages of Scripture or full of deep and nuanced passages of doctrine and theology then you will be disappointed. But if you approach the book as one man's journey to faith told in a friendly and humorous manner then you will enjoy Blue Like Jazz. Admittedly I approached the book from my very Conservative Evangelical subculture with a little trepidation. Miller uses ideas, terms and political viewpoints that will make th ...more
Danielle
Aug 31, 2010 Danielle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!
Recommended to Danielle by: Mihai Banulescu
This book is truly captivating to me.

So many friends had recommended it to me and when I started reading it, it was okay, but it didn't really grip my attention until the 3rd chapter.

The author tells a story about how Navy Seals go to rescue some prisoners of war. The hostages are so frightened that they don't believe the Seals are American and refuse to come with them. In order to help the hostages trust them, one of the Seals sets down his weapons, removes his helmet, softens his face, and c
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Cyndia
Jul 17, 2008 Cyndia rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
I was excited about reading this book originally, then I saw what some people had to say and thought it might not be as good as it was hyped up to be. I still expected it to be an enjoyable read. However, I was completely disappointed.

First, you can tell a lot about a book by the first chapter. This books first chapter was terrible. It was like a bad movie that jumped all over the place so much and so often that you come away seasick. There are times where you want to scream out "too much inform
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Alex
I was really, really impressed with Blue Like Jazz. I had, just previously, tried to get into Mere Christianity, which attempts to show Christian belief to be the only natural conclusion to a philosophically rational evaluation of the universe. In other words, it was trying to tell thinking people how they can believe wholeheartedly and not abandon their intellect, too. IMHO it utterly failed, right from the start. After that attempt I felt strangely burned on Christian apologist writing in gene ...more
Mme. Bookling ~
Jun 07, 2007 Mme. Bookling ~ rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the non-academic
Call me a snob, but I don't understand why everyone thinks Miller is such an amazing writer. Despite his ability to say what Christians around the world have been thinking for the last 8 years--and to say it in an interesting way--I don't think his thoughts or writing compares to so many other philosophy-type books.

I think what drives me crazy is that everyone in my "Christian" generation leans towards these trendy, faddish books that finally tell them how they feel about god, when there are so
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Taylor
Mar 24, 2008 Taylor rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Stephanie, Emily, Kathleen
Not a bad read. It took me a while to really get into the book. The first few chapters were laying a foundation, I guess, and didn't really draw me into the book. But, as I kept reading, I enjoyed the book, the characters, and the stories more. All in all - 3.5 stars.

It wasn't as earth-shattering as I expected/hoped it would be. Miller didn't really say anything new or revolutionary to me, but maybe it is to many other people. From my perspective, it is nice to know that there's at least one oth
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Claire
Mar 19, 2007 Claire rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Intelligent, Witty, Sassy Christians; Northeast Portlanders
I adore this book. There is a very good reason why this is the best-selling book in the Religion and Philosophy room of Powells Books in Portland (the world's largest independent bookstore); it is the most accessible, human, funny, and compelling "religious book" I've ever read (and I've read many). It is much less like a personal spirituality manual than it is a book of quirky essays by someone who happens to be deeply spiritual and learned, through the ups and downs of his life, how his faith ...more
Jonathan Lidbeck
Sometimes he wonders about the whole Jesus thing, sighs Miller in chapter one, giving us hope that a Christian author is about to dig into an earnest inter-faith discussion. Alas, it's a tease. He drops the religious doubt theme immediately and rather than objectively engaging Christianity, he begins using the names 'God' and 'Jesus' interchangeably throughout, the way a church-raised child would; he dismisses Islam as too 'trendy'; he thinks Buddhism is pretty cool like having a motorcycle, but ...more
Gail
I picked up this book based on the recommendations of some friends and I wasn't disappointed. Miller's thoughts on Christian spirituality are so refreshing, they reminded me of why it feels good to feel more than OK about my faith -- and I'd been needing a nudge like that for a long while. This book will remind you that being a Christian isn't about being a die-hard Republican or a die-hard evangelical or even feeling the need to label yourself a Christian (as Miller says in the book, he gets hu ...more
Gary
Years ago when asked, "What is your favorite book?" I would respond that I do not have a favorite but that I mostly identified with Holden Caulfield and if you wanted to understand me you should read "Catcher in the Rye". That was a long time ago. A friend of mine, who had gone to Bob Jones University, took up the challenge and read the book and was soon conscerned that maybe she ought not to hang out with me. Sometime later Mel Gibson did a movie "Conspiracy Theory" where he was sort of a psyco ...more
Brian
Mar 31, 2009 Brian rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who know what they believe, and why
Shelves: 2009
Miller's book is less a treatise of emergent thinking as a conversational and diary-like experience. He values transparency and authenticity and is transparent himself as he talks about his own failings with honesty and humor. This thing he calls Christian spirituality (because Christianity has bad PR) is personal and introspective. One thing I like about Don Miller and the emergents in general is how they want to get rid of the cliché in the church and that is often needed.

But this introspectio
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Krista
(Note: I skipped around and read several sections, not the whole book, so I'm probably not giving a completely fair portrayal of the book.) A guy's charmingly awkward memoir of his faith and spiritual growth. It has its interesting moments, like a chapter titled "Church: How I Go Without Getting Angry." There were also places where I got bored or mildly annoyed. The writing is OK but not poetry. It seems to be purposely written in a kind of rough-edged guy style. Random incomplete sentences and ...more
Kristen
I give this both a 2 star rating AND a 4 star rating for different reasons.

4 Stars: I enjoyed reading the author's struggle with being a Christian and what that is supposed to mean in a practical everyday sense. He verbalized feelings that are somewhat universal but rarely spoken. Things like, "Here are the things I didn't like about the churches I went to. First, I felt like people were trying to sell me Jesus....That rubbed me wrong...I wished they would just tell it to me straight rather than
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Tim Chavel
This is a very interesting book. Don writes like he is journaling. He does not hold back. He made me think and I like that. I didn’t agree with everything he wrote, but he did give me food for thought. I would like to share the following quotes from the book:
I believe the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man’s mind into habit, he will prevent
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Randall Yelverton
Contrary to Miller's introduction, jazz music does resolve. A theme is introduced, the theme is played around with, unpacked, reimagined, and then resolved. (There are open-ended compositions, but jazz pieces often do resolve.) And the title and its repetition throughout the work bugged me to no end. Miller really latches on to this image and runs with it, but since the book is not about being sad or even about the color blue, it seems that he just fell in love with the simile and ran with it wi ...more
Tara
My nonreligious thoughts on this book.

===
Donald Miller's Most Frequently Discussed Topics:
1. The danger of being self-absorbed.
2. Himself.

==
He makes a really good point about how truth shouldn't be defined by what's trendy. Then at every turn, he pats fundamentalism on its dorky little head, because can you believe those Christians who, like, memorize Scripture on a (*gag*) schedule? That's not authentic, man.

===
Fun game: eat a Skittle every time Miller mentions that he's smoking a pipe.
Pro t
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Bryan
Aug 24, 2008 Bryan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who feel alone, and people who are curious about Jesus
I was really anxious to read this book because I'd heard so many great reviews. Plus, as a believer and follower of Jesus myself, I've felt really challenged when people ask me about my faith but discount my comments when I reference the Bible, since they may not believe in the Book. I hoped Blue Like Jazz would help with that, given it's subtitle about non-religious thoughts, and for the most part it did.

I believe there is a big disconnect between the central message of Christ and the socially
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Zach
May 29, 2012 Zach rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Zach by: Christine Esche
It seems like both the suspicious atheists and the self-righteous evangelicals writing reviews here forget that this is not John Calvin's America anymore. No one is forced to listen to a blowhard, rich, white old guy pounding on a pulpit and screaming that you're sinners and God hates them. I'm sorry if you still think that this is how Christianity behaves, atheists, and I'm sorry if you think that this is how Christianity should behave, evangelicals - but you catch more flies (or fish, as we ar ...more
Sandy
I've sort of been rolling this book around in my head for a couple of days to decide what I was going to say about it. I told myself that I had to justify with words why I did or didn't like something, and I kind of feel, in finishing this one--I don't KNOW. I do know I find Donald Miller obnoxious. But, his writing was entertaining and accessible (and he would probably argue--relatable, but I don't think I'd agree with that). He had some good ideas. He made me think about what he was saying.

But
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Jim
The book was not captivating for sure.I was disappointed but not overly so. He made at least two discoveries on his quest for answers. That some people are able to behave in a manner of Christ teachings and not be Christians. Also he found out that he did not love himself therefore he could not love others. The long descriptions of the different characters was a turn off for me. I read his other book Searching for God Knows What before this one and I feel about the same for both. He does put fun ...more
Drew
Picked it up as a lark. The cover says he writes somewhat like Anne Lamott--that is, he can be very funny--and I'm finding that to be true.

I don't agree totally with all of his theology (but then again, whose theology do I agree totally with) but I liked the book. Miller is humble, very humorous, vulnerable and deeply committed to being a follower of Jesus, which is different that being a subscriber to Christianity, which Miller is not. He shares personal experiences on subjects many Christians
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Seph
Don and I are friends. At least... that is the way I felt after reading this book.

Blue Like Jazz is an honest, humorous, poetic, train-of-thought perspective of God's work in Donald Miller's life. Don has a way of making me want to be different without telling me that I need to change. I not only appreciated his perspective, but have found that his method of writing is so disarming that it is helpful as a method of connecting with people.

God used this book to show me Christianity from a differ
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Shannon
The back cover of Blue Like Jazz compares Donald Miller to Anne Lamont, an author I've never read. I would have been more likely to compare this book to C.S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy. In Surprised by Joy, Lewis writes to a modern audience about how he came to believe in Jesus. In Blue Like Jazz, Miller writes to a postmodern audeince about how he fell in love with Jesus.

I found this book to be really absorbing, something I rarely say about nonfiction. Miller's thoughts have spiritual depth, and
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Donald Miller grew up in Houston, Texas. Leaving home at the age of twenty-one, he traveled across the country until he ran out of money in Portland, Oregon, where he lives today.

Harvest House Publishers released his first book, Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance, in 2000. Two years later, after havin
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More about Donald Miller...
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life Searching for God Knows What Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road To Own a Dragon: Reflections On Growing Up Without A Father Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance: Finding God on the Open Road

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“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in 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.”
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“Writers don't make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don't work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck's book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man's stupid words. And for this, as I said, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more.” 266 likes
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