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Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality [Kindle Edition]

Donald Miller
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (715 customer reviews)

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Book 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." ―Donald Miller


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.


For anyone wondering if the Christian faith is still relevant in a postmodern culture.


For anyone thirsting for a genuine encounter with a God who is real.


For anyone yearning for a renewed sense of passion in  life.


Blue Like Jazz is a fresh and original perspective on life, love, and redemption.



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.

About the Author

Donald Miller is a writer, campus ministry leader, and speaker. He is the author of Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance, a road-trip narrative about a spiritual quest. His writing has appeared in periodicals such as New Man Magazine, Youthwalk, Believe Magazine, and Faith M.D. Miller is active in a small, but resilient and growing campus ministry at Reed College, which has the distinction of being ranked one of the most intellectual colleges and one of the most godless colleges in the country.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2691 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000TRMM8M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,831 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars blue like what? December 1, 2005
Format:Paperback
"Blue Like Jazz" questions the very notion of what it means to be a Christian. Donald Miller writes about faith with a variety of topics on coming to faith, why to have faith, how Christ can transform, what to do with that faith and how to live a life as a Christian. Other than the last chapter of the book where Miller writes that if Ani Difranco wasn't a lesbian he would marry her, what interested me most was how Miller's perspective on being a Christian did not really come from a sense of organized Christianity as an institution. While he was a Christian and went to church and was even a youth group leader Donald Miller knew that there was something lacking. He believed in his head and he knows that Jesus was God, but he didn't truly believe in his heart. He didn't truly believe with his life. The organization of the church was telling him one thing, but it wasn't quite right for him.

There are several very interesting chapters dealing different aspects of faith that focus on Miller's time at Reed College. Reed is a college that people at his church and other believers declared was extremely immoral and that the college was voted "most likely to not believe in God". That much is true, but it was also a strong intellectual school. When Miller started attending, he met up with some Christians at the school who were essentially an "Underground" group of believers. They talked seriously of what it meant to believe and live for Christ and it was a transformative kind of living, more than just attending church on Sunday it was living as a follower on Monday and Tuesday and every other day.
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474 of 536 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blue Like Jazz January 25, 2006
Format: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.
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256 of 305 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A quest for coolness May 6, 2007
By Nigel
Format: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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great gift to non-believers
I have given this book to a few of my friends, who want to know what Christianity is all about, but do not want to be sold on it. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Sean
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic read for the heart!
This book changed my heart and perspective in many, healing ways. I feel freer to love and be loved. Absolutely recommend it to anyone, at any point in their journey.
Published 6 days ago by Drew G Wallace
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Christian thoughts
The author is quirky, but makes you think about Christian ideals and the way we behave. sometimes felt like a throw back to the 60's or 70's. Don't miss the message in the stories.
Published 8 days ago by Rick Oberdick
5.0 out of 5 stars SURPRISE!!!
I really didn't know why I had purchased this book...it was/is a religious book, right...well not exactly! There is someone out there that thinks like I do... Read more
Published 28 days ago by reedaj
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this man's story.
So many things to think about in a story told by someone who has thought through what it means to be a Christian.
Published 28 days ago by Allean Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars Don Miller hits it!
Thought provoking and insightful. Our Men's Group loved this book. Not a traditional Christian perspective, at times, but engaging and overall a great read.
Published 1 month ago by pat gagnon
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Put words to feelings I have had most of my life, and has helped me analyze my relationship with God and figure out how I can improve upon it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by victoria wenger
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!
Donald Miller manages to put into words the honest, raw struggles so many believers wrestle with. I felt that he had been inside my own head. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marsha Griffin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great no matter your background
Donald Miller writes in a very Authentic way. You truly feel as if you know him as you read. He is very real and ask very real questions that really need to be asked. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Nathanel Czajkowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Three times...
Such a great read - find out what your song sounds like. This book seems still very contemporary. I'm using it with some folks who are spiritually searching.
Published 1 month ago by dennymeyer
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More About the Author

Donald Miller grew up in Houston, Texas. Leaving home at the age of 21, he traveled across the country until he ran out of money in Portland, Oregon, where he lives today.

Harvest House Publishers released his first book, PRAYER AND THE ART OF VOLKSWAGEN MAINTENANCE, in 2000. Two years later, after having audited classes at Portland's Reed College, Don wrote BLUE LIKE JAZZ, which would slowly become a NEW YORK TIMES bestseller.

In 2004 Don released SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT, a book about how the Gospel of Jesus explains the human personality. SEARCHING has become required reading at numerous colleges across the country. In 2005 he released THROUGH PAINTED DESERTS, the story of his and a friend's road trip across the country. Don's most recent release was a book about growing up without a father called TO OWN A DRAGON.

Don has teamed up with Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson to write the screenplay for BLUE LIKE JAZZ, which will be filmed in Portland and Nashville in 2009 and released thereafter.

Don is the founder of The Belmont Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation which is working to recruit 10,000 mentors through 1,000 churches as an answer to the crisis of fatherlessness in America.

A sought-after speaker, Don has delivered lectures to a wide range of audiences, including the Women of Faith Conference, the Veritas Forum at Harvard University, and the Veritas Forum at Cal Poly. In 2008 Don was asked to deliver the closing prayer on Monday night at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Don's next book, A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS, humorously and tenderly chronicles Don's experience with filmmakers as they edit his life for the screen, hoping to make it less boring. He then shares the principles storytellers use to make a story meaningful and exciting, exploring their effects when he applies those principles to his actual life.

Of his new book, Don says: "It might be the greatest book ever written. I don't think anybody is going to read a book again after they read my new one. I think God is proud of me. I am going to make a killing off this thing, and I'm going to use the money to go to space."



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the rescued soldiers at Bataan
I read this book several months ago, and I don't remember it referencing Bataan... (?) but "Death March: The Survivors of Bataan" by Donald Knox is extremely good. It is told by the soldiers who were there.
Dec 6, 2007 by R. Landers |  See all 2 posts
Welcome to the Blue Like Jazz forum
I started recording a podcast devoted to discussions of jazz music about a year ago. Unfortunately, I live a in a kinda jazz vaccum up here in Canada. If you have time give it a listen and send me your comments and opinions.

"If It's Sunday, It's The Jazz Podcast" Find it on iTunes... Read more
Sep 1, 2010 by Joel Karwatsky |  See all 3 posts
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