So I guess I am probably the last person in the world to read Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz but I did finally get a chance to read it this week. My summer semester at Liberty finally ended this week (and the fall semester doesn’t start for a week) and I have had a few days to pick up some, non-threatening read because-you-want-to, books, and the first one was Blue Like Jazz. This book was published back in 2003 and reminded me a little of Churched by Matthew Paul Turner [jesusneedsnewpr] (which I forgot to review but should soon), and even slightly Roose’s Unlikely Disciple (also unreviewed yet), in the fact that it was autobiographical in nature.
Miller takes a self deprecating approach to his life as a Christian and, although he is not a theologian, he is as real and genuine as it gets. He takes the philosophies of growing up as a modern evangelical, that which many of us in the southern bible belt are all too familiar with, and turns it on its head. Miller shows us that there really are orthodox believers, [that is: those who want to hold fast to the teachings of Jesus regardless of denominational affiliations (even those of grace and love)], that live outside of the belt that runs from Texas to Alabama to South Carolina. [We really do know that Christians exist outside of the belt but sometimes we think we are the important ones (especially if you are in the buckle part of the belt) since we hold up the faith’s pants.]
Jesus Was Not a Democrat or a Republican
Who knew. One of the best reminders I took away from Blue Like Jazz is that Jesus was not a Democrat or a Republican (or a liberal or conservative for that matter). If we truly want to follow Jesus’ teachings, we have to follow Him fully, not necessarily some party affiliation. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have opinions one way or the other, but if we seriously look at what scripture says, there are certainly issues that go against (and for) both party affiliations. Jesus taught unconditional love, something that seems almost impossible for us evangelicals to actually live out, every day.
After the first few chapters I almost put the book down thinking Miller was going to just spew a political agenda, but that was really the point. Jesus didn’t have a political agenda during His earthly ministry, he was interested in our salvation, not our politics. I connected with Miller because his background growing up was similar to mine, but that’s where it ended, and it was very refreshing to read a totally and completely different perspective on what it means to be a Christian, not just an evangelical.
Notables in the Text
I try never to read a book any more without a pen handy to underline and take notes with. This book wasn’t a huge notation text but there were several things that caught my attention. One was the story Miller told about buying an extension cord at The Home Depot in the money section. That story was worth buying the book right there. Others that caught my eye were:
- many of the students hated the very idea of God, and yet they cared about people more than I did
- [Jesus] didn’t show partiality, which every human does… and neither should we
- the tricky thing about life, really, [is] that the things we want most will kill us
- the undercurrent running through culture is not giving people value based upon what they believe and what they are doing to aid society… [it] is deciding their value based upon whether or not they are cool
- what I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do
- no drug is so powerful as the drug of self-[addiction]
There were many more but that is a good start. Blue Like Jazz is certainly well worth the time, and if you grew up in the southern bible belt surrounded by the evangelical machine it is a must read. I am now looking forward to reading some of Miller’s other books as well. Next up is Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson, but this one will be read on the beaches of North Carolina (yeah), so it might take a little longer to finish.