Friday, January 11, 2013

Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

I downloaded the audiobook from the public library's OverDrive service.

The Goodreads 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."

My review, originally shared May 23, 2012:

I really liked the first half or so and quite a bit of the end, but when Miller veered off in the middle and began talking about politics and why all churches should be full of artist-types like his church is, he lost me for a while.

Basically this is hipster Christology with quite a bit of social-justice-minded Democrat thrown in. I think Miller does a really good job of showing how Christianity can seem to self-described "cool" young people outside the church and of talking about how we can connect with them better. For a cool young person outside the church with a mind open to learning more about Christianity and Jesus, I think this book could be really helpful. And Miller does address a lot of very real and very valid concerns about the modern Church, and for the most part he does it in a thoughtful and transparent way.

For a lifelong Christian Republican who's never been "cool" and finds the whole hipster thing rather fake and wearying, though, it was a little alienating. At two points in the book Miller does acknowledge that it is possible to be a red-state fundamentalist and still be sincere and still be going to Heaven, but most of the time I felt like he was judging all Christians outside of Portland for not being as awesome and liberal as he and his church are. I could have done without the politics and the complaining about pretty much all other Christians, though some of his points (e.g., talking about how our "unconditional love" is all too often quite conditional) are well-taken.

Stars: 3

Runability: 2 

Yeah. Basically I'm not retracting any of that. I know that many, many other people feel quite differently and that friends I highly respect give this book 5 stars. As I said, there was a lot in the book that was good food for thought and there were a few particularly convicting sections, but overall, I felt like Miller was trying way too hard.

Maybe it's because I'm from Pittsburgh.  

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