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Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality Paperback – July 15, 2003

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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 the author of several books, including the bestsellers Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He helps leaders grow their businesses at www.storybrand.com. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Betsy, and their chocolate lab, Lucy.

 

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Product Details

  • Series: Blu like jazz, nonreligious thoughts on christian spirituality
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785263705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785263708
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (813 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Donald Miller is a student of story. He's the author of New York Times Best Sellers: "Blue Like Jazz," "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years," and "Scary Close." He co-wrote the major motion picture "Blue Like Jazz" which debuted at the SXSW Film Festival and was listed as one of the top four movies to get you through freshman year by USA Today. He has served on The Presidential Task Force for Fatherhood and Healthy Families, a joint effort between government and the private sector to rewrite the story of fatherlessness in America. Currently, he helps people live a better story at www.storylineblog.com and helps leaders grow their businesses at www.storybrand.com. Donald lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Betsy, and their chocolate lab, Lucy.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Joe Sherry on 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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516 of 582 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 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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296 of 353 people found the following review helpful By Nigel on May 6, 2007
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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