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Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Blue Like Jazz (2003)

by Donald Miller

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You get a strange mix of feelings when you arrive late to the party — over ten years late, to be exact — on a book like Blue Like Jazz.

On the whole, I’m glad I finally got around to reading this one.

When Blue Like Jazz first came out, I was barely a teenager. Miller was writing to a generation just a little bit ahead of mine, who were tired with a fading 1950’s cultural Christianity and eager to reconcile their beliefs with a postmodern world.

On this point, I think Miller was incredibly successful. He writes about the real struggles a Christian has with living in our present age while juggling the American cultural baggage many grew up with.

In so many ways, Blue Like Jazz is permission to lean in to doubts and questions and permission to push back against “the way it’s always been.” In that sense, even ten years later, Blue Like Jazz a breath of fresh air.

All that being said, I waffled back and forth about whether this was a 3-star or 4-star book for me.

Read the rest of my review at bigdipperbooks.com! ( )
  melissa_faith | Mar 16, 2019 |
This one is the greatest Christian publication in the last 10 years. Miller is a 30/40ish (young) writer in Portland, and this book is a series of short vignettes about the Christian faith, in an incredibly insightful way. He got a lot of bad press from fundamentalists, but he also described the faith of a generation of folks who couldn't stomach the stuffy structures of their parents. Warning, descriptions of penguin sex :-) - Also, I've never laughed out loud more when reading anything int the Christian spirituality genre.
( )
  patl | Feb 18, 2019 |
I am genuinely intrigued as to who is Donald Miller's intended audience. This book reads like a blog and should have stayed that way, rather than being unleashed on the public. Miller talks down to his readers in the haughty voice of a man writing in his diary to an imaginary audience who already adores him. He annoyingly refers to his supporting cast by nicknames such as "Tony the Beat Poet."

Blue Like Jazz is not a book about religion or Christianity. Blue Like Jazz is the accumulation of one man's thoughts while sitting on the porch smoking a pipe with his friends (really, a pipe?). He repeatedly refers to his status as a Reed College student, when actuality he is simply auditing classes (really?). Miller's sad life belongs between the pages of a journal. I cannot fathom why this book was published under the heading of "nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality."

The only reason I finished this book was because it has been on my "to read" list since 2010 (someone in high school must have recommended it to me) and because it made for light kindle reading while I am on hold at work. I only wish I could get my money back because I will never get my time back. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
This book is a fairly good memoir, but I don't really understand what all the fuss was about. Christianity is in fact (and by design) a religion, which is not a bad thing. But he does do a good job of modeling talking about Christianity without the jargon, which is a great skill to have. ( )
  LauraBee00 | Mar 7, 2018 |
Stories. Our stories, God’s story. In “Blue like
Jazz: Nonreligious thoughts on Christian
Spirituality” Don Miller tells his story, his
journey of faith. This book is an incredibly
refreshing and honest look at what it means to
live a life of faith in Jesus. God teaches him
through the most unexpected people and in the
most unlikely of places. Beautifully written,
Miller humorously and perceptively looks at
himself, the church and what it means to live life as a follower of Jesus. (Carolyn Vance)
  NCFChampaign | Dec 4, 2017 |
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I once listened to an Indian on television say that God was in the wind and the water, and I wondered at how beautiful that was because it meant you could swim in Him or have Him brush your face in a breeze.
"It was as if we were broken, I thought, as if we were never supposed to feel these sticky emotions. It was as if we were cracked, couldn't love right, couldn't feel good things for very long without screwing it all up. We were like gasoline engines running on diesel."
"The genius of the American system is not freedom; the genius of the American system is checks and balances. Nobody gets all the power. Everybody is watching everybody else. It is as if the founding fathers knew, intrinsically, that the soul of man, unwatched, is perverse."
"I can't get there. I can't just say it without meaning it. I can't do it. It would be like, say, trying to fall in love with somebody, or trying to convince yourself that your favorite food is pancakes. You don't decided those things, they just happen to you. If God is real, He needs to happen to me."
"I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again.
God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand the gravity that drew Him, unto us."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0785263705, Paperback)

"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 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:57 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"An earnest evangelical who nearly lost his faith, [Miller] went on a spiritual journey, found some progressive politics and most importantly, discovered Jesus' relevance for everyday life. This book, in its own elliptical way, tells the tale of that journey. But the narrative is episodic rather than linear, Miller's style evocative rather than rational and his analysis personally revealing rather than profoundly insightful. As such, it offers a postmodern riff on the classic evangelical presentation of the Gospel, complete with a concluding call to commitment. Written as a series of short essays on vaguely theological topics (faith, grace, belief, confession, church), and disguised theological topics (magic, romance, shifts, money), it is at times plodding or simplistic (how to go to church and not get angry? "pray... and go to the church God shows you"), and sometimes falls into merely self-indulgent musing. But more often Miller is enjoyably clever, and his story is telling and beautiful, even poignant. (The story of the reverse confession booth is worth the price of the book.) The title is meant to be evocative, and the subtitle - "Non-Religious" thoughts about "Christian Spirituality" - indicates Miller's distrust of the institutional church and his desire to appeal to those experimenting with other flavors of spirituality" -- Publishers Weekly.… (more)

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