Blue Like Jazz Book Review

Blue Like Jazz, Miller, D., (Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003) Pbk, Vol 1, ISBN 0-7852-6370-5

‘Blue Like Jazz’ is branded as “non religious thoughts on Christian spirituality” and that does basically sum up what Donald Miller has set about to do. He starts off the book with talking about how he viewed God when he was a child and how distant he felt from knowing God properly. Over the continuing chapters, Miller takes the reader on a journey through his life process and his developing Christian spirituality. Each chapter focuses on one major aspect at a time and how the situations, circumstances and people have helped him shape his own worldviews and character. Donald Miller engages the post-modern culture head on with his book and brings to light the answer to the question; is “Christianity still relevant today?” with a nice resounding ‘yes’. Miller goes through his life and experience with God, talking and commenting on the way he came close to Him, and how he found what was really missing from his life all along. He mentions often about how people all have a yearning desire inside them for something more in life, how something always feels missing in life. He also talks about how it “felt like [his] soul wanted to be forgiven”1 – that he wanted God. As Miller goes on through the book he is presenting the Gospel message in a very subtle way. But because he tells it from his own perspective, rather than telling the reader they need salvation, it comes across as a more ‘real’ message because you can see how God has impacted his life. In this society which is very postmodern, this book would probably speak to them better than what the Bible might to non-Christians looking for God, because it’s all based on one mans personal experiences, and in a post-modern culture personal experience can be accepted as truth. Donald Miller writes his book in a very personal way, as though he is talking to a friend, which is what I liked about it. It’s a very easy read and flows nicely
1

Blue Like Jazz, page 35.

Luke Wilson

Page 1

09/02/2008

because of that, but that can be misleading and make you overlook certain things because Miller talks about some deep subjects in quite a light hearted way. Miller is very down to earth with what he talks about, making it easy to relate to. The issues he talks about are what every person struggles with in one way or another – whether it is their journey to finding God or their struggles in life and faith. The thing I like is the way he shares his friends stories too; of how they became a Christian. I like it because you get to see the many different ways God communicates and how He wants to know us all personally, and also what the people go through at the time. In chapter nine, Donald Miller speaks of one of his faith crises and how he got through it. He talks of a time after High School graduation where he is leading a student Bible study group at a church near Houston. Miller got the opportunity to teach all the time at the Church and loved it. But the more praise and attention he got the more fake he became with his faith. By fake he means that he ended up just being and saying what he had to and not actually meaning it at all. Eventually, after a road trip across America, he gets to the point where he just confesses to God everything and then how he felt at peace after that. Miller talks about faith and how confusing it really is, how it defies all logic and intellect a lot of the time with out making much sense. At one point in his book, Miller sums this up nicely when he talks about his friend Laura. She wanted to understand God in a rational way but couldn’t. She just couldn’t get her head around belief in God properly or understand how people can believe any of it. The way Miller explains this is with the example of love. Love, he says, is a true emotion, but not rational. The same thing with light: it can’t be proved scientifically, yet we believe it exists2. Miller explains his faith with penguin sex. How penguins have a intuitive knowledge ‘built in’ to them of where to go, what to do, and when to return to their eggs at the exact time of hatching even if it’s the first time that penguin has laid eggs. He says that penguins just follow this ‘radar’ without understanding it and that’s like himself. He says;

2

Blue Like Jazz, pp.54

Luke Wilson

Page 2

09/02/2008

“I have this radar inside me that says to believe in Jesus… Maybe it isn’t so foolish I follow [it].”3 I think this book, although useful to me as a Christian, would be more beneficial to give to a non-Christian to read as it would give them a better understanding of God and His love for us. I’m not sure if it would help people gain a very biblical worldview but it would most likely bring a more relevant worldview to people – especially post-moderns - thinking on Christianity, dispelling all the ‘religious’ illusions and hopefully showing that Christianity is more about a personal relationship with God and Jesus than it is about rules and regulations. Once people understand this, I believe the post-modern generation would be more willing to turn to Christianity and get to know God. Don Miller’s book, which is all about his personal journey to God in a very non-religious way, is a good starting point to reach the secular world as it is now since post-modern thinking tends to go on believing personal experience as a reliable source of information.

3

Blue Like Jazz, pp.57

Luke Wilson

Page 3

09/02/2008

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.