Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller and What I Gained From It


I read a couple of blogs from people who work at Thomas Nelson.  Somehow through Twitter I found Lindsey Nobles and Michael Hyatt’s blogs, and through their tweets and blogs I found out about the Book Review Blogger program Thomas Nelson has. 

A month or so ago I saw some chatter about the new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to get it because I had a book I was in the process of reading to review for them.  I was walking through a bookstore one evening when I saw Miller’s Blue Like Jazz and decided to buy it.

As I started Blue Like Jazz I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it or learn anything from it. Miller writes with more of a stream of consciousness voice than what I am used to reading. It’s rather odd I say this, though, simply because that’s exactly how I write in my journal. 

The books I read are a bit more "organized" I guess. But I pressed forward determined to see what all the praise Blue Like Jazz had received was for.

I am so glad I did. Sometimes I wondered if Miller was inside my own head.  He addresses so many aspects of Christianity that I’ve often been perplexed with myself.

He talks of how he felt like people in churches were trying to “sell” him Jesus, about how each church touted their own greatness against others; about how they seemed to pity those who needed Jesus instead of just loving them.

Miller also talks of how he felt like the “church” has spent too little time allowing ourselves to be in awe of God. “By reducing Christian spirituality to formula, we deprive our hearts of wonder.”  While I personally feel there are merits to some of the let’s say “habits” of some denominations I also agree with him that many times Christians tend to get very out of sorts when something is not done a certain way. For example, I’ve heard pastors told that they shouldn’t be in a pulpit without black shoes on. I’ve heard class members become irate because certain chairs weren’t put back in a certain classroom after a vacation bible school.

How often do we forget to just stand in amazement of God; in amazement of everything he has created and done? I think in our amazement we become more grateful also.

One aspect of Blue Like Jazz I found incredibly interesting was Miller recounting his time living with hippies in the woods of Oregon. He writes about how free he felt with them. He was still a Christian, but he didn’t feel like he was being loved because he followed a certain set of rules.  This portion made me wonder how often I myself forget to look at non-churched people as God’s creations and love them for simply being that. How often do we look down on non-Christians because they don’t conform to a set of rules the church has come up with. How often do we judge them?

Miller covers so many more aspects of Christian spirituality in Blue Like Jazz than just the few I’ve mentioned here. It will definitely make you think and whether these aspects are true of your Christianity or simply rules of religion.

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