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

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  110,698 ratings  ·  4,151 reviews
Librarian's note: See alternate cover edition of ISBN 0785263705 here.

"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 Chris

Paperback, 243 pages
Published July 15th 2003 by Thomas Nelson
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Michael Chapman I would guess he definitely is not trying to speak for Christians, only for himself.

Also, who is any Christian to claim they speak for Christians - y…more
I would guess he definitely is not trying to speak for Christians, only for himself.

Also, who is any Christian to claim they speak for Christians - you, me, or the author?(less)

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 ·  110,698 ratings  ·  4,151 reviews

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Seth T.
Jul 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: religion, biography
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
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book a few days ago, and I just can't stop thinking about it. It's not a perfect book by any means, but it was perfect for me at this moment in my life. I'm only bummed I waited so long to finally get around to reading it. ...more
Jason Savage
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 01, 2009 rated it liked it
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 av
Sep 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great book, I really like Miller as an author. I loved the scene at the Reed College baccanal where Miller and his Christian friends offered the reverse confessional, brilliant!

Even for the non-religious, this book may restore a little faith in humanity.

If you find that your faith is somewhat unconventional, this may be a good book for you.

Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
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
Carrie Anne
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"All great characters in stories are the ones who give their lives to something bigger than themselves."

I really enjoyed this book a lot - Donald Miller has a really intriguing writing style and it is hard to put the book down because of it!
I loved all of his stories and thoughts on Christianity - he explains everything in ways that are so easy to understand but still challenge your thoughts on the matter.
Overall fantastic read that I would definitely recommend!
Jul 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
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 introspect
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Mitch Nichols
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Candace Whitney Morris
Jun 07, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Zach by: Christine mary
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
Mar 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this. Donald Miller is so relatable and his stories are so entertaining that I feel like we're close friends. Aaaaand that's the way I like reading books. ...more
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
Emergent malaise. I think someone else described it this way, and it's pretty accurate: It's like reading a whiny teenager's diary—there are some good points, but he still needs to grow up. ...more
Zachary Foster
Apr 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
Let me start with a confession: I didn't want to like this book. This was my second attempt at reading it and I went into it with a lot of pre-conceived notions about the book and its author. Some of them were true. Some of them weren't. But I definitely went into it with the wrong attitude. And honestly, I was proven wrong on many accounts. Did I like this book? Not really. I don't agree with a lot of what the author said. But I can also say that there was some real beauty in this book... some ...more
Bailey Dykes
Mar 19, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Of the few couple Christian books I have read, this book stands alone with its unique honest and relatable tone. I think that is why it was so hard to put down. Miller put into words thoughts I had and didn't know how to express, and I was constantly having little "ooooh this makes sense" moments. ...more
Jonathan Lidbeck
Oct 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
This is one of those books that becomes popular for reasons beyond my understanding. Like pegged pants in six grade, Blue Like Jazz seems to be cool just because someone somewhere says so. But no one stopped to ask, really? It's cool to tightly bind your cuffs like fruit roll-ups and jack them up three inches above your Reebok Pumps? What is weird is that this book which praises non-religious thoughts on Christian spirituality on some journey with a nebulous destination was (now the popular book ...more
Eric Sutliff
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Not sure what took me so long to find Donald Miller. It reminds me a little bit of my freshman year of college when I met this really awesome guy on move out week. He lived next door to me the whole year. I think I’ve talked to him once since. I have been reading and listening to most of Miller’s influences and contemporaries, but just am now sitting down with him. I will keep sitting down with him. I used I a lot in that paragraph. I sigh...

His simply beautiful writing style drew me in and kep
Oct 24, 2012 rated it liked it
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
The real issue in the Christian community was that it was conditional. You were loved, but if you had questions, questions about whether the Bible was true or whether America was a good country or whether last week's sermon was good, you were not so loved. You were loved in word, but there was, without question, a social commodity that was being withheld from you until you shaped up. By toeing the party line you earned social dollars; by being yourself you did not. If you wanted to be va
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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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“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.”
“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.” 335 likes
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