Monday, August 6, 2012

Blue Like Jazz

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.


I picked up this book after reading the recommendation over at Should Be Reading and seeing that the movie was coming out soon (Aug 7th). It sounded like it was going to be a great read. "Non-religious thoughts on christian spirituality?" Very enticing... And very rewarding. 

Donald Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz, is different from the books I normally read. Instead of being a novel that follows a specific plot arc focusing on character development and story line, it is a collection of essays. 

Each essay focuses on a different aspect of religion: faith, love, grace, redemption, etc. I loved how Miller broke down his thoughts on Christianity into small, understandable essays that focused on various parts of his life. 

The way Miller wrote Blue Like Jazz doesn't just tell readers what they need to know, it shows them how certain aspects of religion evolved in his own life. How they came out of the wood work and revealed themselves. How he faced many, many obstacles in order to truly be proud of himself as a Christian and come to know Jesus. 

And honestly, this book isn't just for Christians. I was a bit worried that it would be solely focused on recruiting the masses, but it isn't. It's one man's journey to find belief. Faith. Miller even admits that he doesn't like Christian writers who only write to create propaganda. 

The one flaw in the book that I found was the repetition of statements and sometimes Miller seemed to fail at reaching his point. I think the fact these essay were stand-alone-pieces created the repetition. I would have liked the entire book much more if it had flowed better. At times it seemed choppy and uneven, especially at the beginning of a new essay. 

The way Miller writes is very conversational. It's easy to read and easy to understand. But I found myself reading in circles, wondering if Miller meant to write in circles. He would swim around the main point of his topic, but sometimes run out of breath before he got there. Leaving us readers to draw our own conclusions. Which can, of course, be good. Sometimes. But when I'm reading about a man's thoughts on his religious beliefs, I want him to make the statement. Boldly. 

I have to say, though I did have a few issues, I highly recommend this book. My dad read a chapter, and he was laughing at the end of it. Miller brings humor and reality into the realm of religion, stating his doubts and questioning his evolution through spirituality, all while letting readers glimpse the process. 

rating: 3/5 cups

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