Quick Thoughts on Blue Like Jazz

from bluelikejazzthemovie.com

Tonight, my church sponsored a showing of Blue Like Jazz. Amazon describes the book this way:

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 ministry that ultimately left him feeling empty, burned out, and, once again, far away from God. In this intimate, soul-searching account, Miller describes his remarkable journey back to a culturally relevant, infinitely loving God.

For anyone wondering if the Christian faith is still relevant in a postmodern culture.

For anyone thirsting for a genuine encounter with a God who is real.

For anyone yearning for a renewed sense of passion in  life.

Blue Like Jazz is a fresh and original perspective on life, love, and redemption.

The movie was really well-done, but to be honest, the book never held the power for me that it had for others (I have my suspicions why, but I’ll keep those to myself for now).

As Miller re-embraces his faith, a few things struck me as important in his (and maybe your) journey:

  • Be wary of overly-neat categories. As Miller enrolls in Reed college, his mother is aware (and obviously terrified) that he is “leaving the tribe.” But the catch is that oftentimes the tribe has become the problem. Though God’s tool on earth is the church, we need to be careful about so identifying the church with God that we come to believe anything outside of the confines of our local faith communities is outside of God’s activity. As Jacob discovered, you can find God in the most unexpected places. Some of the places I’ve see His hand at work include: Elbow (the band), Andrew Goldsworthy, Flannery O’Connor, and my family.
  • Embrace people as, well, people. In the movie, Miller hides his faith from his friends at Reed, and actually comes to almost reject it. Though this caused its share of problems, the gift that it gave him (and can give us) is time, and also the ability to get to know people as human beings (that, incidentally, God created), and not evangelism projects or (even worse), “pagans” who aren’t worth are time, or love. He just comes to accept them as people who are as loving—and as broken—as he is.
  • Lastly, I was struck with how willing the characters are in the movie to simply be themselves. There is a temptation to believe that, as believers, we can only be part of who we are; that God doesn’t love the darker, doubting parts of us. That’s simply not true. God desires fully integrated, holistically loving human beings. The greatest gift we can give God and the world that He loves is a life that is fully owned, fully inhabited, and in the process of being redeemed and healed.

Good movie. Go see it.

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3 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts on Blue Like Jazz

  1. At the time, the book was a very original and refreshing view from the black and white confines from which I was raised. It added a layer of complexity to something (my christian world-view?) that I had seen as overly simplistic and boring beyond belief. At that particular point in my life, I found the book liberating from evangelical bondage. It’s interesting to me that now, 5 or 6 years later, I discovered that the movie didn’t resonate with me in the life-changing way that the book had. His story was what I needed to hear in 2006, not so much in 2012.

    • I think I’m right there with you. I think the fact that life can still be complex and ambiguous in light of our faith blew his mind. I don’t think that’s ever been an issue for me… Still it was pretty well done…

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