According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

Catch some glimpses from the Steve Taylor film, based on the Donald Miller book

Blue Like Jazz Official Trailer #1 (2012) HD Movie


Looks like a movie about a touchy topic thats is done well. Will be watching for it.

Posted By: Mitsubishi 3d Starter Pack
June 24, 2011 7:52 PM

I wonder if criticism of Miller's abstract theology will be as noticeably absent when the film is released as it has been for all his other material.

Posted By: Mark
June 25, 2011 3:19 PM

Donald Miller

Donald Miller (Author)

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 17, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785263705
ISBN-13: 978-0785263708

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Miller (Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance) is a young writer, speaker and campus ministry leader. An earnest evangelical who nearly lost his faith, he 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.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Description

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. 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.

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Average Customer Review
4.0 out of 5 stars (548 customer reviews)

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273 of 314 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars Blue Like Jazz, January 25, 2006

This review is from: Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality (Paperback)

I've been hearing much of late about a Christian author with a rather plain-sounding name: Don Miller. With my curiosity being sufficiently piqued, I set out to purchase and read a couple of Miller's books over the Christmas holidays, one of which was _Blue Like Jazz_.

I have to say right at the start that I like the format of the book. _Blue Like Jazz_ is an essay-style work, each chapter more or less standing on its own. Yet they all tie into the central theme of "nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality," as the subtitle suggests. For these reasons, the book reminds me (ever so slightly) of some of C.S. Lewis' books (e.g. _The Weight of Glory_), which carry a similar format and also deal with Christian spirituality at a grass roots level, sans copious amounts of theological jargon.

I enjoy the way Miller writes. Not only is he readable, Miller often finds the perfect image when describing an event. As one example, he says, "Cusswords are pure ecstasy when you are twelve, buzzing in the mouth like a battery on the tongue." (p. 5) Doesn't that capture the experience perfectly?! And listen to this one: "I am something of a recluse by nature. I am that cordless screwdriver that has to charge for twenty hours to earn ten minutes use." (p. 152) I love it!

For me, Miller is someone with whom I resonate. Being a single guy and living with roommates, I can relate to many of the issues Miller raises (often laced with humor), which are associated with this particular lifestyle. Many times I find myself saying, "I've been there."

Overall, I find _Blue Like Jazz_ to be a fun read, with thought-provoking turns along the way. Miller's self-deprecating manner is effective at these junctures. As the reader, I don't feel like he is sitting in judgment on me for my failures or pointing the finger.

All that said, keep in mind that I'm writing from the perspective of an evangelical Christian. There are a few problems I have encountered with _Blue Like Jazz_, which I want to point out. If you dislike negativity, please skip the rest of this review.

First of all, from the subtitle, the book is about Christian spirituality. Yet Miller never bothers to define the term in a clear way. The closest thing to a definition is found first on page 57. Miller says, "And I love this about Christian spirituality. It cannot be explained, and yet it is beautiful and true. It is something you feel, and it comes from the soul." At the end of the book, Miller says, "I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving Jesus is something you feel. I think it is something very difficult to get on paper." (p. 239) Not only is Miller's understanding of Christian spirituality nebulous, as an evangelical Christian I think it's incorrect. Here's what I believe Christian spirituality is: "Spirituality in the New Testament sense is a means to the end of righteousness. Being spiritual means that we are exercising the spiritual graces given by God to mold us after the image of His Son. That is, the discipline of prayer, Bible study, church fellowship, witnessing and the like are not ends in themselves, but are designed to assist us in living righteously." (R.C. Sproul Sr., _God's Will and the Christian_, 1984, Tyndale, p. 20)

Secondly, Miller makes a few theological statements along the way that are cause for concern. Check out these statements: "Love, for example, is a true emotion, but it is not rational." (p. 54) "I don't believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway? If I walk away from Him, and please pray that I never do, I will walk away for social reasons, identity reasons, deep emotional reasons, the same reasons that any of us do anything." (p. 103) "...Christianity spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained." (p. 115) "There are many ideas within Christian spirituality that contradict the facts of reality as I understand them." (p. 201) "...Jesus didn't just love me out of principle; He didn't just love me because it was the right thing to do. Rather, there was something inside me that caused Him to love me." (p. 238)

I know what the standard response is: "Miller isn't a theologian. He's an author." That's fair enough. Notwithstanding, lacking expertise in an area doesn't grant one immunity from criticism when (s)he ventures into that area. Though Miller is not a professional theologian, he certainly makes theological statements from time to time. When he does, he should be held to the theologian's standard. If I were to write a book in which I made statements about health and fitness, I would expect to be held to the standard of those experts in the health and fitness field.

Thirdly, for someone who claims that Christian spirituality is nonpolitical (see quote above from p. 115), Miller manages to make some political statements. At one point, he says, "Can you imagine what Americans would do if they understood over half the world was living in poverty? Do you think they would change the way they live, the products they purchase, and the politicians they elect? If we believed the right things, the true things, there wouldn't be very many problems on earth?" (pp. 106-7) Ignoring the issue of whether Miller is naïve at this point, the statement clearly carries an underlying socio-political assumption.

Please note that I'm not being negative for the purpose of bashing Miller. I'm simply pointing out some concerns that I have as an evangelical Christian. Perhaps others of a similar persuasion will find these caveats helpful.


227 of 266 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 stars The diary of a "born again" Woody Allen, February 26, 2005

This review is from: Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality (Paperback)

I really enjoyed this book. It is written in a conversational tone throughout, and the author is a genuinely likable guy. This book is autobiographical in that it depicts his journey through a phase of life, and his gradual awakening and acceptance of his faith within the larger context of the society he lives in, and the people with whom he interacts.

There are several high points. The first is the level of honesty. This book does not pull punches. If Donald is struggling with something, he just lays it out there. There seems to be little attempt at positioning himself in a more positive light. That is refreshing and makes for a very engaging read.

For example, he states that "every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself" (Page 20). He depicts how his own world is turned upside down when he realizes that despite his moral views about helping others, he is doing next to nothing for anyone else.

He also depicts his own journey into a sort of fundamentalist control freak, and starts focusing solely on external actions. He basically becomes a complete hypocrite because he doesn't follow his own resolutions. (Page 80). He kind of lost me here though as he seems to find fault with the intent and takes a rather judgmental view on anyone who is more disciplined than he is. Which is about everyone, it would seem.

In a sense the book allows the reader to see Donald Miller in a clearer light than he sees himself. He acknowledges that many of his rather liberal friends have no substance behind what they feel; it is all just for show and to fit in with others. He describes his anti-Bush friend as "She decided what to believe based on whether other people who believed were a particular fashion that appealed to her". The irony here is that this is the same approach that Donald himself takes on nearly every decision he makes. He time and again relies on his perceived value to others and on what others around him reflect to decide who he is and what he should do. He seems to genuinely value fitting in more than his faith.

The book has some really great moments of clarity though. I was at times inspired by his willingness to be honest, and truly put himself out there selflessly for others. In the end he is the walking definition of how God uses imperfect people for good in the world. Overall, I recommend the book as you too will enjoy the journey, if you are at all introspective. While Donald hardly puts out a model life to aspire to, he is at least honest about it.


145 of 171 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars A quest for coolness, May 6, 2007

Nigel (Oregon, USA) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality (Paperback)

I recently told a close family member that I had completely lost my Christian faith, after a lifetime of being a believer. He recommended "Blue Like Jazz", as a testimony from a Christian who has struggled with their faith.

Unfortunately, Donald Miller's book is not very helpful for someone like me, a person that has lost their faith because they no longer believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. Miller's collection of self-indulgent essays is long on feelings and emotion, while entirely lacking in doctrine and all but the most rudimentary apologetic for why he believes what he believes.

There are literally dozens of instances in the book of Miller proving his liberal bona fides by railing against "fundamentalists", Republicans, and just ordinary Christian folks who are so dull and unthinking as to attend a church in the suburbs. Miller takes pains to let us know that they're Christians, too, and therefore he has no choice but to love them. But at the same time, Miller and his circle of highly enlightened friends clearly think that ALL white suburban churches are dens of mediocrity.

Miller loves telling us about the wisdom he's gained from his friends, both Christians and non-Christians alike. The problem is, all of these people share the exact same liberal, bohemian world view, and seem stuck in a perpetual state of extended adolescence. In Miller's world, Christians drink beer, smoke, swear, and attend anti-Bush political demonstrations while they ponder the meaning of existence and the nature of God's love. My problem isn't necessarily that Miller's Christian friends do these things. The problem is that Miller never fails to tell us what he and his friends are drinking and smoking during every conversation they have, reminding us just how "real" they all are IN SPITE OF their shared Christian spirituality.

Miller condemns mainstream Christians for being pawns of the Republican party, simply asserting that Republics = Greed = Bad and expecting the reader will agree. Likewise, anyone who holds these views---regardless of their spirtitual beliefs---are demonstrating the love of Christ, and are therefore the best sources of wisdom in the world.

Blue Like Jazz is not without insight; it's hard to fault Miller's call to live one's faith. But for Miller at least, this faith is all about feelings and vague "can't we all just get along?" expressions of Christian love. But Christianity without doctrine is hardly any different than any one of several half-baked new age belief systems.

Ultimately, Miller comes across as a whiney Gen-Xer trying to reconcile his faith with his socio-political worldview. It's a task he doesn't quite pull off, because his brand of liberal Christianity has it's own orthodoxy that is as narrow-minded as the fundamentalists of whom he is so critical.

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