20 August 2010

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

This is one of those rare books that really makes you think and then makes you want to change how you relate to God.

Donald Miller is so willing to be transparent and vulnerable about his own life. His style is casual and often humorous. My 28 year old son, Jordan, loaned me this book and I'm so glad he did. Blue Like Jazz has a stream-of-consciousness sort of feel to it. It breaks many of the rules I'm learning in college writing classes and I think it's great! I found so many quotable passages reading through it that I'm not sure where to begin, but I'll try to choose a few to whet the reader's appetite.


"I wonder what it would be like to use food stamps for a month. I wonder how that would feel, standing in line at the grocery store, pulling from my wallet the bright currency of poverty, feeling the probing eyes of the customers as they studied my clothes and the items in my cart: frozen pizza, name-brand milk, coffee. I would want to explain to them that I have a good job and make good money.

I love to give charity, but I don't want to be charity. This is why I have so much trouble with grace." (quote from Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller p.84)

"The days and weeks before a true commitment to Jesus can be terrible and lonely. I think I was feeling bitter about the human experience. I never asked to be human. Nobody came to the womb and explained the situation to me, asking for my permission to go into the world and live and breathe and eat and feel joy and pain. I started thinking about how odd it was to be human, how we are stuck inside this skin, forced to be attracted to the opposite sex, forced to eat food and use the rest room and then stuck to the earth by gravity. I think maybe I was going crazy or something. I spent an entire week feeling bitter because I couldn't breathe underwater. I told God I wanted to be a fish. I also felt a little bitter about sleep. Why do we have to sleep? I wanted to be able to stay awake for as long as I wanted, but God had put me in a body that had to sleep. Life no longer seemed like an experience of freedom."
(p. 98-99)

"I am wanted by God. He is wanting to preserve me, to guide me through the darkness of the shadow of death, up into the highlands of His presence and afterlife. I understand that I am temporary, in this shell of a thing on this dirt of an earth. I am being tempted by Satan, we are all being tempted by Satan, but I am preserved to tell those who do not know about our Savior and our Redeemer. This is why Paul had no questions. This is why he could be beaten one day, imprisoned the next, and released only to be beaten again and never ask God why. He understood the earth was fallen. He understood the rules of Rome could not save mankind, that mankind could not save itself; rather, it must be rescued, and he knew that he was not in the promised land, but still in the desert, and like Joshua and Caleb he was shouting, "Follow me and trust God!" (p. 100-101)

I'm finding it's harder than I thought picking out passages to quote because they must be read in context. These quotes don't really capture his "writing voice", but the parts that do get rather lengthy. I don't recommend this book for youngsters as he gets into some nitty-gritty aspects of his life, but us oldsters may learn a thing or two. If you're struggling with too much "religion" or just asking questions about Christianity this book will give some fresh perspective. I found it quite life changing.