Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Blue Like Jazz" in Hungarian

Donald Miller's bestselling book "Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality" was released recently in Hungarian, so I borrowed a copy of the book in English to reread it, to figure out whether or not I want to recommend it to our church.

I read this book when it first came out, and now after reading it again, I remember why I liked it so much the first time. The author is so honest, and it is so enjoyable to read, that I always find myself staying up late or stealing a few minutes throughout the day to read it. When I finish a chapter, I look ahead to see how many pages the next chapter is, and think about if I have enough time to read it - and even if I don't have time, I usually end up reading on anyways.

In case you're not familiar with the book, its the author's story of his own frustrations with American Christianity and the sincere questions he had about God and faith - and how God answered those questions, and led him to a real, living faith in Jesus.
He tells about how he came to realize that being a Christian isn't about accepting and following a set of political beliefs and cultural practices, but about truly encountering and knowing the person of Jesus Christ.
He explains how he was turned off by those who misrepresented God, but came to see that their actions don't discount the reality or greatness of God Himself.
He points out that one of the mistakes Christians often make is using love as a commodity that we lavish on those who agree with us and withhold from those who don't, when Jesus simply told us to love our neighbor.

I found his section on loneliness very insightful, his part about social action challenging, and most of all what he says about actually knowing and experiencing God to be refreshing.
I personally know people who have walked away from the church - some even from the Lord - because they have been disappointed by people who misrepresented God, and I think this book has a great message that these people need to hear.

So, I'm probably going to recommend the book to our church. My only hesitation is that, while I know some people will get what he's saying and be totally blessed by it, others might have a hard time getting it, and be confused.

Have you read Blue Like Jazz?
What do you think?


  1. well, i seem to be one of those guys who did not get this guy at all.

    i got the book years ago before it became a bestseller, and i wanted to read the book, i really wanted to read the book, but i kept falling asleep. (although it was during a boring, marathon 2x24 hour trip with air france [phew!], and i was quite bored with the sofisticateed :) french movies they were showing.)

    anyway, after trying several times, i only got half-way through the book. i kept waiting for the guys to make some sort of a point, but i did not find any conclusions or nonreligious thoughts on christian spirituality, just his ramblings.

    i am glad some people enjoy the book, i don't.

  2. French films...blech! They are almost as bad as French cars...
    Yea, its true that the book really is just his ramblings on various topics, not really any concrete conclusions.
    So, I take it your reason for not liking the book wasn't because you disagreed with what he said, but because you didn't find it interesting?
    My main concern is more that some people might be offended by it or find what he says to be irreverent. If they're just bored by it, that's totally fine with me!

  3. Nick - IT here. I read Blue Like Jazz a few years ago early in my own personal reformation. While Miller is not in the same class as the "dead theologians" his book did blow mind mind out with regard to what Christianity really is or could be. Previously, legalism and Americanism diluted and restricted my Christianity to something that was shallow and, frankly, rather dorky. Theologically I'm not sure if Miller is as orthodox as one might hope; some would classify him as part of the emergent movement. But he does shake up Christianity and take the religious element to be something relational, spiritual, and downright real. The story I love the best is where they set up the confessional booth to apologize for being religious snobs to all the party-goers at the college. Miller demonstrates an unfettered Christianity that engages the culture and is not afraid to get dirty to let people see Jesus through them.

    Miller is not Calvin, Lewis, or one of the other really cool dead theologians. It is a light read that did benefit my Christian experience.

    He does reference Mark "the cussing preacher" Driscoll in the book. I have a lot of respect for Driscoll as he is orthodox yet knows how to "take it to the edge" to get people's attention. (imagine a Christian Dennis Miller ) He is a manly-man Christian who reads his Bible and watches UFC (which I don't care for myself). He is not afraid to engage the culture directly in Seattle with his organization.

    Hopefully that made some sense. I haven't had my morning Mt. Dew yet.


  4. IT - good to hear from you!
    Mt. Dew in the morning? That sounds even worse that a French film... I'm a coffee man myself.
    Yea, I know what you're saying about the orthodoxy and the emergent stuff, but after all, it wasn't meant to be a theological treatise.
    One of my personal favorite parts when we he talks about how a lot of modern American Christianity has lost the sense of awe for God, which is one of the trust forms of worship.
    I am also a big fan of Mark "TCP" Driscoll. I've been listening to him for years, and I have gleaned a lot from him and been really blessed by Mars Hill and their example.
    God bless you - hi to your family and the church!