Joel's Reviews > Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
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's review
May 30, 2008

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Read in May, 2008

I was pretty hesitant to pick up this book, after years of hearing how incredible it was from so many different friends. I worried that it was all hip, all trendy Christianity. I worried that people were getting sucked in by style, not by substance. I didn't want myself to be sucked in by style instead of substance. A few years later, I picked it up off of a friend's bookshelf on a whim and began to read.

I guess the first thing I should mention is that it took me days to get through the book. Days, not weeks. Miller is a good writer, draws the reader into his life, his circle of friends, his personal thoughts on Christ and Christianity. There are a few sections I thought particularly good. There were a few sections that frustrated me pretty thoroughly. But Miller always engaged me. This has a lot to do with his appeal to readers, I think. There are people who don't read at all who flew through this book.

I really enjoyed the chapter on sin being thought of as self-absorption. I liked it because it goes beyond our far-too-narrow idea that sin is physically choosing to break a rule. Self-absorption is a heart set, a mindset, that flows into actions, not the other way around. I really liked the chapters on loneliness and then community, showing both the highs and the lows of each.

Some of the things I struggled with were his stream that flowed through the book that Christianity is something that is felt, not comprehended, something that is experienced, not rational. I think this idea is terribly inaccurate and is a hindrance to thinking people. I struggled with his concept of church too, because it didn't deal with the church being imperfect, that in some ways it is always going to fail us. It seemed fairly subjective (i.e. church should be what I want it to be), which is an outflow of Christianity being a felt-religion, not a thought-religion. I enjoyed and struggled with his chapters on love, because again they focused on love as a feeling, which seems to be portrayed as love disconnected with thought (i.e. the Unitarian Church, among other things). Yes, we feel Christianity, it is experienced. But if experience isn't rooted in truth, in actual reality, the next wave of feeling, the one that tells us something of a different paradigm of the truth of Christianity, what will we do with that?

Anyway, that paragraph is too expansive. I enjoyed the book. It was interesting to read Miller's thoughts on Christianity. It is important to know that they are thoughts. I don't remember a time where he goes to the place God speaks to us (the Bible) once for his thoughts, so it is important to take Blue Like Jazz for what it is: thoughts, reflections. It isn't authoritative. Some of his thoughts are brilliant. Some are less so. But it is definitely worth the read for the profound sections, and for the interesting communication of those thoughts.

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Sarah Jo I'm glad you wrote this review. When I read it, it both moved me and annoyed me but I was unable to put a finger on why or form a coherent defense of my reaction. Your review has structure without being overly analytical. Thanks :-]

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