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Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

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Librarian's note: See alternate cover edition of ISBN 0785263705 here. "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 MillerIn Donald Miller's early years, he was vaguely familiar with a distant God. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, he pursued the Chris Librarian's note: See alternate cover edition of ISBN 0785263705 here. "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 MillerIn 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.


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Librarian's note: See alternate cover edition of ISBN 0785263705 here. "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 MillerIn Donald Miller's early years, he was vaguely familiar with a distant God. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, he pursued the Chris Librarian's note: See alternate cover edition of ISBN 0785263705 here. "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 MillerIn 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.

30 review for Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

  1. 4 out of 5

    Seth T.

    I thought of several different ways in which to begin this review - several witty comparisons that would surely catch the reader's attention. But that was a month and a half ago. See, I started reading Blue Like Jazz on the 20th of July and it is now the 4th of October. I have four pages left and I'm not sure I have the strength to continue. For you see: Donald Miller is wearying. Endlessly self-amused and self-absorbed, he seems to want nothing so much as to be hip, cool, edgy (despite his own p I thought of several different ways in which to begin this review - several witty comparisons that would surely catch the reader's attention. But that was a month and a half ago. See, I started reading Blue Like Jazz on the 20th of July and it is now the 4th of October. I have four pages left and I'm not sure I have the strength to continue. For you see: Donald Miller is wearying. Endlessly self-amused and self-absorbed, he seems to want nothing so much as to be hip, cool, edgy (despite his own protests that hip, edgy, and cool are vanities and wastes of time and energy). And if four years of highschool taught me anything, it is that everyone with a heart is thoroughly and deeply embarrassed when the Very Not Cool Guy walks in and tries to be cool. Think: The Offspring's "Pretty Fly for a White Guy." The thing is: Christianity cannot be cool. There is no reason non-believers should see Christianity as anything even on the same plane as Cool. Christianity says and believes terrifying things about the non-believer. Forget the homosexuals a minute - Christianity says that the friendly, tax-paying, socially-active, community-leading paragon of virtue who doesn't bow the knee to Christ is horribly sinful and an actual enemy of God. No matter how kind and cool they are. For Christianity to become cool, it has to stop having anything to do with Christ and his message. Maybe Donald Miller wants that. It kinda seems like it, but who can say - since he's not that great at expressing anything beyond his own meandering and fleeting feelings on matters. About two-thirds into the book, a friend (who won't receive and identity via nickname, such as Tony the Beat Poet or Andrew the Protester) ask me what kind of a book it was. I had a hard time describing it at first. Then I realized: OMG!! I'm reading a blog on paper! LOLZ!! KBAI! Really, Miller's book is nothing more than a glorified blog in its meandering promise to get to a point that never comes. In reality, Miller would make a much better blogger than he does a writer. Unfortunately, even as a blogger, he would only be so good - because despite moments of value and bits that come close to insight, his style is heavy-handed and obvious for too much of the book's 240 pages (I know, only 240 pages and it's taken me almost two-and-a-half months!). I think his would probably sit in the Occasional Reads section of my blogroll, checked only so often for fodder for my own blog postings—and only out of some sense of duty because he linked to me first. One good-but-obvious point Miller makes throughout the book is that the human expression of Christianity in the contemporary American church is lacking at best, gravely flawed at worst, but most likely, somewhere in between. This is clearly true. But also clearly known to probably most of us. And the real problems are not often the ones that Miller is pointing out - he seems frequently upset at how little the church fits in with a world filled with lovely sinners. Yet still, there is value in his critique. But not much. Again Miller shows himself to be like too many bloggers; and like too many bloggers, he has much criticism and too few answers. If he were a blogger, this might be acceptable; after all, the only cost associated with reading a blog is time (and perhaps mental health). A book, however, is paid in currency. There is real loss if a book does not measure up to its published value - and Blue Like Jazz does not. I hate to say that because there are a few amusing stories and I get the feeling the book wants to be useful - but it just isn't.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tabby

    I wish that reviewers on this site would review books for what they are meant to be and not insist that they be something else. "Blue Like Jazz" is not meant to be a deep theological treatise. If you thought it was supposed to be, then of course it doesn't compare to Augustine or C.S. Lewis. Miller's book is instead meant as a memoir of one man's walk with God, his struggles along the way, and what he's learned from them. I enjoyed this read a lot because I related to many of his struggles. Whil I wish that reviewers on this site would review books for what they are meant to be and not insist that they be something else. "Blue Like Jazz" is not meant to be a deep theological treatise. If you thought it was supposed to be, then of course it doesn't compare to Augustine or C.S. Lewis. Miller's book is instead meant as a memoir of one man's walk with God, his struggles along the way, and what he's learned from them. I enjoyed this read a lot because I related to many of his struggles. While I understand those who complain he placed too much emphasis on "feelings," I think for me it was actually a good reminder that Christianity is about more than just head knowledge. Having grown up in a church that is heavy on doctrine and probably somewhat mistrustful of feelings, Miller's book reminded me of the command we see in Matthew 22:37: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Yes, Jesus does say to love him with "all your mind." Yes, I think it's great for people to read theological classics. But I hope that along the way, we don't forget that Jesus does say to love him with "all your heart." The heart is the seat of our emotions and it's also where we keep the things dearest to us. I think it's important for Christians to cultivate that sense of the awe and grandeur of God, and also to cultivate a deep and affectionate love for Christ. If we don't have those things, how will our lives reflect the love that Christ has shown for us? One of the saddest things for me is to see people who continue to outwardly live "good" lives, but who have lost their passion for the things of God. I know we all go through dry seasons where sometimes all we can do is put one foot in front of the other, and I have sympathy for that, but I hope that's not the place we stay. I think we ought to be striving to maintain closeness to God as much as we can, and do our utmost to keep Him in the center of our hearts, souls and minds.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Originally this got three stars, now it has one. The more I think about this book the more I realize that it is nearly as noxious as most evangelical attempts at converting someone. What makes Miller really any different from the whorish looking teenage girls mentioned further down? Whorish teenage girls probably wouldn't do much to convince me I should be a Christian, but in the right frame of mind (where I excise parts of my brain and forget to be critical) his descriptions of loneliness, feel Originally this got three stars, now it has one. The more I think about this book the more I realize that it is nearly as noxious as most evangelical attempts at converting someone. What makes Miller really any different from the whorish looking teenage girls mentioned further down? Whorish teenage girls probably wouldn't do much to convince me I should be a Christian, but in the right frame of mind (where I excise parts of my brain and forget to be critical) his descriptions of loneliness, feeling like the whole world is an inauthentic rotting pile of shit, and feeling anchorless and rudderless in life I could conceivably fall for the message of this book. This book is deceptive, and I'm not sure if it is intentional or not, but it still is deceptive. Below I start the review with a story about two born-again Christians, one who I don't talk much about. This one was of the annoying breed of BA Christians, and he used an argument favored by practitioners of deception all over the world, the one where appeals are made to similarity between himself and the target. That was a shit sentence. What I mean is he would make arguments like this: "Man, I get that you don't like God, I was just like you, I was studying Environmental Science, and enjoying college, smoking lots of pot, just like you, I believed in Darwin, but then Jesus came to me and I realized Satan put fossils in the ground to deceive us." (how I wish I was making this up, this is really something he said). What this guy and Miller are doing is trying to make me relate to them, and then see that I need to take the same path they did, because if they couldn't find a way out of their problems (emotional or intellectual), then how could I who am just like them. I thought of Miller as the non-obtrusive Christian, but I think he really is just a more subtle version of his friend. The non-obtrusive Christian I think just really liked that religious people were paying him to skateboard. I remember one of the times we were talking to him he brought up evolution and Darwin, and started asking questions about what he had read in a book on Creationism and what Darwin really said about certain things. I didn't know much about Darwin or Evolution, so I couldn't really answer him except with what I 'felt' was true', I think he was genuinely interested in finding out if what he was being taught was true, or if it was bullshit. Deep down I don't think Miller really cares if what he believes is bullshit, he's just searching for things to prop up his belief structure. On Easter evening in 1999 my friend Mike (I'm so tempted to call him Mike the Goth or fill him with some hyperbolic characteristics that would make him sound cooler than any person could really be, but I won't succumb to Miller's influence) were hanging out at an almost empty coffee shop in town when two guys about our age approached us. At the time I was finely attuned to when someone was making an approach to hawk Jesus, in upstate New York it happened fairly often (more on this a little later), in New York City it doesn't happen in the same way. Now this skill set can pick out someone making an approach asking for spare change. I don't know what Mike was wearing, probably something all black, or black with military pants. I know that I was wearing my Amebix t-shirt that had a guy crucified on the front, and 'No Gods, No Masters' on the back. I wore it because I was a shit who liked to passively get a rise out of people, and it was Easter--or Zombie Day as I had wittingly started calling the earlier in the day when Mike and I were heading to a store meeting at Kinko's. So anyway there we were, and these two guys approach us, and the one starts talking to us, making small talk, and I go into shutdown mode, knowing what is coming. Mike keeps answering the guys questions. The other guy who isn't doing much of the talking looks like he is about to explode with excitement, he just wants to say something, and after a minute or two he just blurts out, "Hey, what do you think of Jesus?" I say nothing. Mike starts blurting out Crass lyrics like "I am no feeble Christ not me, he hangs in glib delight..." and "Jesus died for his own sins not mine". Mike seems to be enjoying himself, the Christians seem to be enjoying themselves in some perverse way, and I'm really fucking embarrassed. I will them away but my powers of mind control are absent because by some occult means they end up taking a seat at our table. We talk to them for the next hour. Well Mike talks to them, I sometimes give one word answers to a question if I'm asked directly, but I just stare at my coffee cup and listen. To make a boring story shorter, they all talked, and they tried to get us to sign up for the eternal Jesus plan of salvation insurance, Mike had some fun with them, and every few minutes they would all start kind of talking like normal people, until usually the excitable one would once again shot back with some kind of Jesus thing. A week or so later, maybe more, but not much more, Mike and I were back at the same coffee shop (where we were everyday at some point), and the guy who didn't talk about Jesus quite so much in the conversation showed up and asked if he could join us. We all talked, I was a little more involved in the conversation, and the Jesus guy (sorry I don't remember his name) turned out to be a pretty decent guy, and didn't really talk about Jesus at all. A couple of more times the decent Jesus guy showed up and asked to join us and then sat and talked with us for an hour or so. I didn't mind if he showed up, he was actually a fairly interesting guy, and he was a Christian, but kind of in the same way that I was a vegetarian at the time. I really cared about not eating or wearing animals and if asked I'd talk about why I felt that way, but I never felt the need to ask someone eating a hamburger if they knew they were eating a cow. I'd like it if everyone stopped eating meat, but I wasn't going to preach to someone, they would do what they liked. He was kind of the same way, he never pushed Jesus on us in these conversations. Instead we found out that he was part of this group called Word of Life, which is a Christian all year camp / school for kids to be trained to be evangelical missionaries. The group itself I hold in very low regard, but this particular guy was just a normal individual without a pathological need to share and convert (he may have gotten that part erased from himself over time). He lived at this place, and part of each day he studied the bible and was trained to go out and spread the word of Jesus, and the other half of the day he skateboarded. Seriously, he skateboarded and worked on getting better at this Bible boot camp in order to 'infiltrate' the skateboarding youth culture that hadn't been to receptive to the good word so far. I kind of think of Donald Miller as this guy. As an aside, one of the other battle tactics of the Word of Life was to bring young girls to Saratoga Springs on a Friday or Saturday Evening in nice weather and unleash them from their vans on Broadway. Lots of people are out on the main drag of town in nice weather, and Saratoga is a kind of artsy town, and one of the only towns with a vibrant downtown that people come to, so these girls would be unleashed on the streets to convert people to Christ. On a particular Friday evening I was sitting on a planter in front of a coffee shop that had recently banned me from their premises, reading the brand new collection of short stories by David Foster Wallace Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, when the live action show I'll call Brief Encounters with Hideous Nubile Girls started. I saw the small army of young girls (probably around 15 to 18 years old), unloaded out of the van, and disperse to conquer the hordes of heathens out of the street. All of the girls were wearing very revealing (or slutty) clothing and their approach was to go up to men and start flirting with them, before changing to conversation around to Jesus. It was one of the most surreal things I saw, not legal girls flirting with guys in their late twenties and older and then trying to convert them. Jailbait for Jesus. I don't know if they won any conversions, but they had no trouble getting guys to keep talking to them. Forgive me Jesus I have sinned once again in a really long and rambling tangential personal story in what should be a book review. I wanted to hate Donald Miller. I didn't though. I think that he is terribly misguided and unconsciously (or unintentionally) dishonest but I think he's probably got his heart in the right place. Of course I'll say that because he's pretty much the same person I am, but where I have wrestled with dis-belief in all things for most of my life he wrestles with belief. We are both reclusive, self-obsessed and overly self-conscious. We both have a similar sense of moral outrage at the world, and seem distrustful of institutions, and even ones that basically profess what we believe. He's a Christian who finds churches stifling and judgmental; I've been at separate and overlapping times a punk, an anarchist, a philosophy student and a vegetarian who for the most part has been unable to bear being in the company of others who shared my level of interest or commitment. He would leave church early just so he didn't have to talk to people afterwards, I'd bring pre-calculus homework to punk shows my band played in and then sat off to the side doing that once my band had played just so I didn't have to deal with the people. I relate to him as a person, and there is something likable about him in the book. (He's probably a much more likable person than I am.) In the comments to Ben's review of this book, I said I couldn't wait to rip Miller a new asshole in my review. I'm not going to do that, the book didn't turn out to be nearly as awful as I wanted it to be. But I was ready for it to be, and the first chapter nearly did me in with his description of having his first real interaction with God. I quote it below: My slot-machine God disintegrated on Christmas Eve when I was thirteen. I still think of that night as 'the lifting of the haze,' and it remains one of the few times I can categorically claim an interaction with God. Though I am half certain these interactions are routine, they simply don't feel as metaphysical as the happenings of that night. It was very simple, but it was one of those profound revelations that only God can induce. What happened was that I realized I was not alone in my surroundings. I'm not talking about ghosts or angels or anything; I'm talking about other people. As silly as it sounds, I realized, late that night, that other people had feelings and fears and that my interactions with them actually meant something, that I could make them happy or sad in the way that I associated with them. Not only could I make them happy or sad, but I was responsible for the way I interacted with them. I suddenly felt very responsible. I was supposed to make them happy. I was not supposed to make them sad. Like I said, it sounds simple, but when you really get it for the first time, it hits hard. I was shell shocked. This is how the bomb fell: For my mother that year I had purchased a shabby Christmas gift--a book, the contents of which she would never be interested in. I had had a sum of money with which to buy presents, and the majority of it I used to buy fishing equipment, as Roy and I had started fishing in the creek behind Wal-Mart.... (some stuff about opening gifts) ...So in the moonlight I drifted in and out of anxious sleep, and this is when it occured to me that the gift I had purchased for my other was bought with the petty change left after I had pleased myself. I realized I had set the happiness of my mother beyond my own material desires. This was a different sort of guilt from anything I had previously experienced. It was a heavy guilt, not the sort of guilt I could do anything about. It was a haunting feeling, the sort of sensation you get when you wonder whether you are two people, the other of which does things you can't explain, bad and terrible things. The guilt was so heavy that I fell out of bed onto my knees and begged, not a slot-machine God, but a living, feeling God, to stop the pain. I crawled out of my room and into the hallway by my mother's door and lay on my elbows and face for an hour or so, going sometimes into sleep, before finally the burden lifted and I was able to return to my room. One, this is called becoming an adult in your awareness to other people, as opposed to a child who has difficulty in cognitively having mature interpersonal thoughts (but good for you to think about others, there are lots of people who may never mature enough to realize that what they do or don't do can effect other people). I don't want to belittle anyone's experience, but doing a shitty thing and then feeling guilty about it doesn't need a God in the sky to make that happen; I also think that if I was in the midst of being that close to the omnipotent creator of the whole fucking universe, or feeling so terrible, I wouldn't be falling in and out of sleep; but then again at thirteen I couldn't sleep on my back, because once I lay on my back I'd think that this was the position I would be put in a coffin when I died and the final position I'd ever be in, and that would make me feel claustrophobic, as if I was really in a coffin, and then I'd realize I was going to die, and I'd start calculating how much of my life I'd already lived (this would later become calculations on how much of my life I'd wasted so far), and then I'd think about everyone else I knew and loved dying and I'd keep thinking about this until I stopped laying on my back and distracted myself with other thoughts. (Forgive me again Father for I have once again sinned in transgressing the bounds of book reporting). Miller also says things in the book that sound all emo, and kind of poetic and cool, but which are just wrong. And this would be fine if this was poetry, but he's using these wrong facts to justify believing in God (and for God's existence in an indirect way). Here are the two that really jumped out at me: "My belief in Jesus did not seem rational or scientific, and yet there was nothing I could do to separate myself from this belief. I think Laura was looking for something rational, because she believed that all things that were true were rational. But that isn't the case. Love, for examaple, is a true emotion, but it is not rational. What I mean is, people actually feel it. I have been in love, plenty of people have been in love, yet love cannot be proved scientifically. Neither can beauty. Light cannot be proved scientifically, and yet we all believe in light and by light see all things." Light is a scientific concept, what light is, how we see, even types of light that we don't have the capabilities to see with our naked eyes. It sounds romantic to say that light isn't understood, a mystery, and that as a result it's like God but this doesn't hold any water. We hear a little more on this general theme in a second argument with a false premise just two pages later: In this book Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton says chess players to crazy, not poets. I think he is right. You'd go crazy trying to explain penguins. It's best just to watch them and be entertained. I don't think you can explain how Christian faith works either. It is a mystery. And I love this about Christian spirituality. It cannot be explained, and yet it is beautiful and true." I'm pretty sure penguins don't exist for our entertainment, and as for the further claims of it being a complete mystery that one would go crazy trying to unravel, there are people who do study penguins and have a fairly good understanding of why they do what they do (the penguins being talked about here, are the mating habits of penguins, you know like in March of the Penguins, which is mysterious and beautiful, but not as something utterly unknowable. My real issue with this quote is the Chesterton quote, and using what is a bullshit statement to make hyper-logical / rational thinking seem as a malady, of which the poetic mind is immune to. I don't know much about the history of chess, but I know that every grandmaster didn't go insane. You have Bobby Fisher's, but you also have Gary Kasparov who I've never heard is insane even though he is probably one of the greatest living chess players in the world. On the poetry side I'll just say Arthur Rimbaud, Robert Lowell, Antoin Artaud, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath; and that is just right off the top of my head. I have about ten more of these types of examples marked by little pieces of ripped paper in my copy of the book. But I think I've made my point, and no need to brow beat the poetic licenses Miller's emo-ey confessional prose takes (a style I am a sucker for when it's done good, and hate when it's done poorly. Miller falls in the middle, he never makes me fall in love with his world, like a great writer of this style would do, but he also doesn't make me want to throttle him with his own book..... I wonder if Miller ever read Cometbus, and if Cometbus influenced him. Aaron Combetbus is a good example of this kind of personal prose that can work beautifully, although Cometbus won't make you want to believe in God, it might make you want to go live in squats, travel the country, drink too much coffee, read too many books, smoke too many cigarettes and fall in love with smart beautiful and damaged girls that can only end badly.) But I'll share one more little 'quirk' of Millers, and then call it a night for this review. His belief that Buddhists all rub the belly of Buddha statues and make wishes on them, and uses this as a way of showing how misguided people can be. This is just silly, untrue and even if it was true not any more silly and absurd as believing that a) by praying to God he makes checks wind up at your apartment on the day rent is due (pg. 188), b) that by giving God his tithe of 10% of what you earn he makes it so that you end up making more money, as if he is some kind of mutual fund (pg. 197), or c) the whole cracker and Christ thing (pg. 237). I probably have so much more to say, but I'll leave this review by saying that I found Miller much more likable than I expected, and I imagine if I met him he'd be a nice guy to talk to. Him and I just from different sides who both happen to know that the other side is wrong. Oh, and he seems to have come around to jazz, and I pretty much can't stand it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    This book was recommended to me by MyFleshSingsOut, who is a very religious goodreads friend. He is a Jerry Falwell loving, hardcore, right wing conservative. He believes the entire old testament word for word: none of it is allegorical to MyFleshSingsOut. He doesn't even believe in evolution. You've probably run into him before. He goes around this site trying to save souls. Knowing that I struggle with my belief and that I'm not nearly as religious as him, but more spiritual, than say, the ave This book was recommended to me by MyFleshSingsOut, who is a very religious goodreads friend. He is a Jerry Falwell loving, hardcore, right wing conservative. He believes the entire old testament word for word: none of it is allegorical to MyFleshSingsOut. He doesn't even believe in evolution. You've probably run into him before. He goes around this site trying to save souls. Knowing that I struggle with my belief and that I'm not nearly as religious as him, but more spiritual, than say, the average goodreader, he advised I give this book a shot. And I'm pretty glad I did. It's not a very deep or penetrating book. If you're looking for the deeper questions of science and the existence of God, or musings on morality, this is not the place to turn. Donald Miller was no Dostoevsky, nor was he as analytical as I would've liked. I do not recommend this book for non Christians. The tone is very informal. He's just one of the guys talking to you. He's young too, like just-turned thirty or something. And it shows, not only in his lack of probing depth, but in his annoying need to be cool all the time. He constantly goes out of his way to show that he's not like other Christians, because, you see, he's been there and done that. He drives a motorcycle and has hung with hippies, and he hates Pat Buchanan. He even drinks and goes to parties. You see, he's cool. And if you forget how cool he is, don't worry, because he'll remind you time and again. Yet, there are some advantages to Miller's frank, informal narration. He's brutally honest about his shortcomings, he's entertaining, his prose makes for easy reading, and he does have heart. His message is a positive one: focus on love and Jesus, not doctrine and religiosity. And really, his childlike look at things is refreshing at times: he comes up with some touching insights; the kind that seem simple and obvious, but tend to get lost or go unnoticed in everyday life. So, while I rolled my eyes a number of times, I did appreciate this quick and easy read, for both its entertainment value, and its ability to remind me why I'm a person of faith. Thanks for the recommendation, MyFleshSingsOut! I liked this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    I finished this book a few days ago, and I just can't stop thinking about it. It's not a perfect book by any means, but it was perfect for me at this moment in my life. I'm only bummed I waited so long to finally get around to reading it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason Savage

    The problem with Miller, Bell, and this whole Gen X/emerging church/postmodern church movement is that they want to be so much smarter than they are. Truthfully this book is spiritually shallow and leaves me thinking, "yeah, but so what?" I have already wrestled with a lot of the issues raised by Donald Miller and found myself wanting him to say more. I believe I finally put my finger on the issue. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that one day we would worship in Spirit and in Truth. Miller has fo The problem with Miller, Bell, and this whole Gen X/emerging church/postmodern church movement is that they want to be so much smarter than they are. Truthfully this book is spiritually shallow and leaves me thinking, "yeah, but so what?" I have already wrestled with a lot of the issues raised by Donald Miller and found myself wanting him to say more. I believe I finally put my finger on the issue. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that one day we would worship in Spirit and in Truth. Miller has found the Spirit, but is low on Truth. His book does not challenge me because it is nothing more than the ramblings of an idealist. The difference between C.S. Lewis and Miller is the challenge. Lewis really does challenge me to think harder about my Christianity. Miller makes me feel like we should all sit around and pontificate while smoking pipes. Sounds like fun, but what's the point? I like that. That's how I would describe Blue Like Jazz. "Sounds like fun, but what's the point?"

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Great book, I really like Miller as an author. I loved the scene at the Reed College baccanal where Miller and his Christian friends offered the reverse confessional, brilliant! Even for the non-religious, this book may restore a little faith in humanity. If you find that your faith is somewhat unconventional, this may be a good book for you.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Anne

    This is my favorite book in the world, my own personal bible. It's not very long, and offers a lot of insight onto many different topics in life- college, relationships,etc. My whole book is highlighted in amazing quotes and I try to get all my friends to write in my copy as well. It's so great because Donald Miller explores the idea of fiding Christianity and himself in a crazy world of skeptics and hypocrits. But most importantly, he isn't trying to sell anything. His style of writing is easy This is my favorite book in the world, my own personal bible. It's not very long, and offers a lot of insight onto many different topics in life- college, relationships,etc. My whole book is highlighted in amazing quotes and I try to get all my friends to write in my copy as well. It's so great because Donald Miller explores the idea of fiding Christianity and himself in a crazy world of skeptics and hypocrits. But most importantly, he isn't trying to sell anything. His style of writing is easy to read and fun, with chapters of titles like "Faith: Penguin Sex." I feel as though a few of the quotes speak for themselves: "I think one of the problems Laura was having was that she wanted God to make sense. He doesn't. He will make no more sense to me than I will make to an ant." "In fact, I would even say that when I started in faith I didn't want to believe; my intellect wanted to disbelieve, but my soul, that deeper instinct could no more stop believing in God...There are things you choose to believe, abd beliefs that choose you. This is one of the ones that chose me." "Self-discipline will never make us feel righteous and clean, accepting God's love will." "I think it is interesting that God designed people to need other people...the soul needs to interact with people to be healthy." "It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life reveals answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Instead of critiquing, perhaps let me just share a few of what I found to be some of the most powerful -- powerful because they are written so simply, and so simple in their truth -- lines that provide a glimpse of Miller's style, the beauty of this book, and the beauty of Christian spirituality: "It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like run Instead of critiquing, perhaps let me just share a few of what I found to be some of the most powerful -- powerful because they are written so simply, and so simple in their truth -- lines that provide a glimpse of Miller's style, the beauty of this book, and the beauty of Christian spirituality: "It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things." "And so I have come to understand that strength, inner strength, comes from receving love as much as it comes from giving it. I think apart from the idea that I am a sinner and God forgives me, this is the greatest lesson I have ever learned. When you get it, it changes you...God's love will never change us if we don't accept it." "I think the most important thing that happens within Christian spirituality is when a person falls in love with Jesus." and the quote that hit me personally the most.."I think the difference in my life came when I realized, after reading those Gospels, that Jesus didn't love me out of principle, He didn't just love me because it was the right thing to do. Rather, there was something inside me that caused HIm to love me."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    "All great characters in stories are the ones who give their lives to something bigger than themselves." I really enjoyed this book a lot - Donald Miller has a really intriguing writing style and it is hard to put the book down because of it! I loved all of his stories and thoughts on Christianity - he explains everything in ways that are so easy to understand but still challenge your thoughts on the matter. Overall fantastic read that I would definitely recommend!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    My nonreligious thoughts on this book. === Donald Miller's Most Frequently Discussed Topics: 1. The danger of being self-absorbed. 2. Himself. == He makes a really good point about how truth shouldn't be defined by what's trendy. Then at every turn, he pats fundamentalism on its dorky little head, because can you believe those Christians who, like, memorize Scripture on a (*gag*) schedule? That's not authentic, man. === Fun game: eat a Skittle every time Miller mentions that he's smoking a pipe. Pro t My nonreligious thoughts on this book. === Donald Miller's Most Frequently Discussed Topics: 1. The danger of being self-absorbed. 2. Himself. == He makes a really good point about how truth shouldn't be defined by what's trendy. Then at every turn, he pats fundamentalism on its dorky little head, because can you believe those Christians who, like, memorize Scripture on a (*gag*) schedule? That's not authentic, man. === Fun game: eat a Skittle every time Miller mentions that he's smoking a pipe. Pro tip: buy a jumbo bag. === I kinda hope someone hugs Donald Miller today. He needs it. === But goodness, he also needs to stop obsessing over whether or not his future wife will want to see him shirtless. Dude, calm down. And your habit of kissing your pillow in the morning "as if it were a woman, a make-believe wife?" Didn't really need to know that. === I will never look at Emily Dickinson the same way again. "I saw Emily Dickinson step out of a screen door and look at me with dark eyes, those endless dark eyes like the mouth of a cave, like pitch night set so lovely twice beneath her furrowed brow, her pale white skin gathering at the red of her lips, her long thin neck coming perfectly from her white dress flowing so gently and cleanly around her waist, down around her knees then slipping a tickle around her ankles---" and are you feeling as uncomfortable as I am yet? If getting a crush on Emily Dickinson is "a rite of passage for any thinking man," then dear God, please help me not marry a thinking man, amen. == My best Donald Miller impression: "Guys, guys, guys. I just had this MAJOR epiphany about myself. I'm just really super selfish. Like, I know marriage is great and all, but I just can't imagine having a woman around ALL THE TIME. Wouldn't it be great if I could get married, but my wife could have her own house, and she'd only come over when I felt like shaving? That's...probably not normal, right? Man. I have intimacy issues. Or maybe I'm just really selfish. I should probably stop being so self-absorbed. The world isn't about me. Me, me, me, me, me. That's all I ever think about. But I am not the center of the world. It's not MY world. I don't know why I think that. Why do I think it's all about me? Must be my intimacy issues. Guys, have I mentioned how selfish I am? Welp, guess the only thing to do is indulge in some major introspection and continue to plumb the depths of my tortured soul. Maybe then I will find out why I'm so focused on myself." === In the midst of their college's 3-day orgy (errr, Ren Fayre), he and his friends set up a confession booth for all the drunk, high, naked students. Oh, but heh, small detail: Miller and his friends are the ones confessing. For the Crusades. === My second-best Donald Miller impression: "Institutions suck. Churches are institutions. Find a church that isn't super institution-y. Oh, but Reed College? Best institution EVAH. People say it's godless, but dang if those drunk, high naked people aren't more Christ-like than my fundamentalist friends. Like, my one friend talks like Elmer Fudd, and if he went to church with me, someone would snicker at him behind his back, and that is a tragedy of epic proportions. But Reed College? There is literally not ONE soul at Reed College who would even *think* something bad about my friend. Ugh, Christians suck sometimes. Hippies are freaking awesome ALL THE TIME. Also, I once went to a Unitarian church and yeah, I didn't love the fact they ignored the Bible, but they accepted people, and that's just the best, huh?" === Emergent Goop would be a good band name. Also a better title for this book. === To sum this all up, here is a conversation I had the pleasure of overhearing. Friend: Oh, you're reading "Blue Like Jazz?" Is it any good? Roommate: Hmm. Do you want the long version or the short version? The short version? No. The long version? Hell, no. ^ I think Donald Miller would appreciate her use of "hell." (It was authentic.) === P.S. Too snarky? Just compensating for the 240 pages of emotional mush I just read. I feel better now.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mitch Nichols

    If you pick up Miller's book looking for writing that is chock-filled with passages of Scripture or full of deep and nuanced passages of doctrine and theology then you will be disappointed. But if you approach the book as one man's journey to faith told in a friendly and humorous manner then you will enjoy Blue Like Jazz. Admittedly I approached the book from my very Conservative Evangelical subculture with a little trepidation. Miller uses ideas, terms and political viewpoints that will make th If you pick up Miller's book looking for writing that is chock-filled with passages of Scripture or full of deep and nuanced passages of doctrine and theology then you will be disappointed. But if you approach the book as one man's journey to faith told in a friendly and humorous manner then you will enjoy Blue Like Jazz. Admittedly I approached the book from my very Conservative Evangelical subculture with a little trepidation. Miller uses ideas, terms and political viewpoints that will make the majority of conservative Christians bristle and he pokes at some of the "sacred cows" e.g. Republicanism is next to godliness. But Miller will take you on a journey worth the price of the book and asks some very needful and poignant questions about what baggage we saddle the Gospel with to it's detriment. Are there things in the book that maybe Miller will re-think as the Holy Spirit works in his life? Probably, but hopefully that can be said of you and I as well. I like the book enough to potentially give it to a seeker or someone turned off by the small C "christianity" that subscribes to a group think-you must be assimilated mentality. Miller didn't write it to be a definitive treatise on theological or doctrinal truths...he wrote it to express the need for a little more humility and a bolder testimony before the watching world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cyndia

    I was excited about reading this book originally, then I saw what some people had to say and thought it might not be as good as it was hyped up to be. I still expected it to be an enjoyable read. However, I was completely disappointed. First, you can tell a lot about a book by the first chapter. This books first chapter was terrible. It was like a bad movie that jumped all over the place so much and so often that you come away seasick. There are times where you want to scream out "too much inform I was excited about reading this book originally, then I saw what some people had to say and thought it might not be as good as it was hyped up to be. I still expected it to be an enjoyable read. However, I was completely disappointed. First, you can tell a lot about a book by the first chapter. This books first chapter was terrible. It was like a bad movie that jumped all over the place so much and so often that you come away seasick. There are times where you want to scream out "too much information" but that does not make the author stop. By the end of the first chapter, I knew I was not going to enjoy the book and it would take effort just to make it through the book. Second, the author is not that gifted an author. There is something special about the use of language to convey ideas. You can have simple, flowing language to express deep truths, such as what you see used by Alan Paton in Cry, the Beloved Country. You can use everyday language to convey conversations without dumbing down the subject, as Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, demonstrates in his literature. You can even jump all over the place from one thought to another like William Faulkner. You can tell that Don Miller, the author, is well read and intelligent, but his attempts at the use of language leave something to be desired. He tries to be too relevant to today's audience, and ends up dumbing down his thoughts. Books should make you think and be a challenge. His book purports to make you think, but it only made me think about how I did not want to be like this guy. I hope this book does not become a classic because it will portray our time period in history as one where we thought we were smart, but we were dumb. Third, the author seems to be ashamed of the gospel. If a non-Christian reads this book seeking an understanding of Christianity and Christ, the non-Christian is going to see Christians as a bunch of self-loving whiners who do not know who God is. I was hopeful when I reached the last chapter that purports to be about Jesus because I thought maybe the author was building up to a presentation of the gospel. However, he did not communicate who Jesus was in the chapter. He just communicated that Jesus was someone to find. It left me thinking about Romans where it is made clear that no one seeks after God. No one can come to a saving knowledge of God without being told the gospel. Miller almost seems to be ashamed of this. The gospel would have been a wonderful climax to the book, but it was missing. The lack of gospel left a feeling of emptiness at the end of the book. If what Don Miller portrayed is the gospel, I want no part of it. Give me the cross of Christ where He took on my sin and imparted His righteousness to me instead. Once I have accepted the real gospel, then maybe I will not whine and complain about the church not doing this and not doing that, but be a part of the change motivated by my desire to live for God's glory. Overall, I thought this book was based too much on feelings. Feelings change too much, as evidenced by the author being all over the place throughout the book. The Christian life has to be grounded on something bigger than feelings and emotions. It must be grounded on God's Word. I felt that the author lacked being grounded in something. Even chapters that purported to be about God (such as the chapters on love, worship and Jesus) ended up being about the author. Christianity is not to be self-centered but Christ-centered. This book lacked conveying that idea. I seriously do not recommend that people read this book. Even more, I am disturbed that non-Christians are reading this book and thinking that this must be what Christianity is about. I know this review is a bit on the harsh side, but I think that the church needs to be more discerning about what it promotes to the world. A watered down gospel is no gospel at all. It is time to stop being ashamed and start living for God's glory.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    This book is truly captivating to me. So many friends had recommended it to me and when I started reading it, it was okay, but it didn't really grip my attention until the 3rd chapter. The author tells a story about how Navy Seals go to rescue some prisoners of war. The hostages are so frightened that they don't believe the Seals are American and refuse to come with them. In order to help the hostages trust them, one of the Seals sets down his weapons, removes his helmet, softens his face, and c This book is truly captivating to me. So many friends had recommended it to me and when I started reading it, it was okay, but it didn't really grip my attention until the 3rd chapter. The author tells a story about how Navy Seals go to rescue some prisoners of war. The hostages are so frightened that they don't believe the Seals are American and refuse to come with them. In order to help the hostages trust them, one of the Seals sets down his weapons, removes his helmet, softens his face, and curls up next to the hostages. He was showing them that he was one of them, so that the hostages could trust the Seals to rescue them. Donald Miller makes the analogy that that's why Jesus became man, so that we could trust him to save us. He also makes the analogy that we are being held captive in a world run by Satan, and we have to trust in Jesus so we can be rescued by Him. That story and analogy really speaks volumes to me.. Another reason that that little story really struck me is that just the day before, I had an interesting conversation about how people can sometimes psychologically manipulate others by taking on similar positions or attitudes in order to get people to trust them and feel more open around them... it's a very interesting concept. I'm only halfway through it and already there has been mention of Steinbeck and Chico State.. odd! The author is from Portland and that is where the story is based.. but it always intrigues me when there things or places so close to me are mentioned simply by chance. It seems as though the author is speaking directly to me! It's the same thing as when some arbitrary concept is presented to you -- and then you read about the exact same thing in a different context the very next day, or someone else mentioned the same thing. Or you open the bible and the first verse you read is exactly what you needed to hear at that particular moment.. Or the verse printed on the page of the notebook I'm writing in pertains exactly to the message/sermon I'm taking notes on!! I love it. It's a wonderful book about the author's journey through Christianity and life.. I can't wait to finish reading it!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Candace Morris

    Call me a snob, but I don't understand why everyone thinks Miller is such an amazing writer. Despite his ability to say what Christians around the world have been thinking for the last 8 years--and to say it in an interesting way--I don't think his thoughts or writing compares to so many other philosophy-type books. I think what drives me crazy is that everyone in my "Christian" generation leans towards these trendy, faddish books that finally tell them how they feel about god, when there are so Call me a snob, but I don't understand why everyone thinks Miller is such an amazing writer. Despite his ability to say what Christians around the world have been thinking for the last 8 years--and to say it in an interesting way--I don't think his thoughts or writing compares to so many other philosophy-type books. I think what drives me crazy is that everyone in my "Christian" generation leans towards these trendy, faddish books that finally tell them how they feel about god, when there are so many other great theologians, philosophers, and thinkers that will challenge you. Honestly, I am more challenged by a discussion with my theologian friends than this book. But it seemed like everyone was blown away by this book, and it made me sad that their lives are not surrounded by people who challenge them. I just feel like Miller is fine and great, but everyone hyped up this book way too much for me. His thoughts are simply not that original. He writes as if he is the first one in the world to have original, non-religious thoughts toward God. It lacks the necessary humility grounded in history for me to really respect his writing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    Not a bad read. It took me a while to really get into the book. The first few chapters were laying a foundation, I guess, and didn't really draw me into the book. But, as I kept reading, I enjoyed the book, the characters, and the stories more. All in all - 3.5 stars. It wasn't as earth-shattering as I expected/hoped it would be. Miller didn't really say anything new or revolutionary to me, but maybe it is to many other people. From my perspective, it is nice to know that there's at least one oth Not a bad read. It took me a while to really get into the book. The first few chapters were laying a foundation, I guess, and didn't really draw me into the book. But, as I kept reading, I enjoyed the book, the characters, and the stories more. All in all - 3.5 stars. It wasn't as earth-shattering as I expected/hoped it would be. Miller didn't really say anything new or revolutionary to me, but maybe it is to many other people. From my perspective, it is nice to know that there's at least one other person out there who sees Christianity in a similar fashion as me. That helps me to validate my feelings somewhat. It is a good and quick read and it does a great job of showing that not all Christians are the right-wing nutjobs you see spouting hate on television. He does a great job of pointing out that Christianity should be about love and that we as Christians need to examine ourselves before we can try to convert others. Remove the plank from your own eye before you tell your brother about the speck in his. Christianity should be about being "Christ-like." It's not about politics, it's not about judging, it's not about comfort or complacency or rules or sitting on our high horse. It's not about using government, guilt, or a threat of hell to force people to agree with or succumb to your beliefs. It's about service and love and self-sacrifice and realizing that Jesus never forced himself on anyone. He met people where they were, He loved them, He showed them a better way, and He asked them to follow Him to eternal life. It's simple really. And we've made it so hard.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

    Really enjoyed this. Donald Miller is so relatable and his stories are so entertaining that I feel like we're close friends. Aaaaand that's the way I like reading books.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I was really, really impressed with Blue Like Jazz. I had, just previously, tried to get into Mere Christianity, which attempts to show Christian belief to be the only natural conclusion to a philosophically rational evaluation of the universe. In other words, it was trying to tell thinking people how they can believe wholeheartedly and not abandon their intellect, too. IMHO it utterly failed, right from the start. After that attempt I felt strangely burned on Christian apologist writing in gene I was really, really impressed with Blue Like Jazz. I had, just previously, tried to get into Mere Christianity, which attempts to show Christian belief to be the only natural conclusion to a philosophically rational evaluation of the universe. In other words, it was trying to tell thinking people how they can believe wholeheartedly and not abandon their intellect, too. IMHO it utterly failed, right from the start. After that attempt I felt strangely burned on Christian apologist writing in general. I'm glad I didn't use that as an excuse not to crack open Blue Like Jazz. It's humble, and I believe that's its greatest strength. Where Mere Christianity's audacious reach exceeded its only-human grasp, Blue Like Jazz tells human stories to human beings. I believe it readily asserts how you can believe without abandoning your intellect, but it does so through the simple truths of what Christ asked people to do to each other. It uses the logic of common sense, not the logic of theoretical physics or sociology. But more importantly it tells beautiful and inspiring stories of grace flowing between all-too-human beings. Blue Like Jazz has definitely provided an inflection point in my thinking about God, the effects of which I probably won't fully realize for a long time to come.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I adore this book. There is a very good reason why this is the best-selling book in the Religion and Philosophy room of Powells Books in Portland (the world's largest independent bookstore); it is the most accessible, human, funny, and compelling "religious book" I've ever read (and I've read many). It is much less like a personal spirituality manual than it is a book of quirky essays by someone who happens to be deeply spiritual and learned, through the ups and downs of his life, how his faith I adore this book. There is a very good reason why this is the best-selling book in the Religion and Philosophy room of Powells Books in Portland (the world's largest independent bookstore); it is the most accessible, human, funny, and compelling "religious book" I've ever read (and I've read many). It is much less like a personal spirituality manual than it is a book of quirky essays by someone who happens to be deeply spiritual and learned, through the ups and downs of his life, how his faith was as much a part of his everyday life as breathing and sleeping. I also love this book because it was written in Portland, and the house where the author lived turns out to be right across the street from my church. (By the big gold Joan of Arc statue, if you're a Portlander.) And he dedicated the book to all the coffeeshops and bars in Portland where he wrote it, which I thought was really cool.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Foster

    Let me start with a confession: I didn't want to like this book. This was my second attempt at reading it and I went into it with a lot of pre-conceived notions about the book and its author. Some of them were true. Some of them weren't. But I definitely went into it with the wrong attitude. And honestly, I was proven wrong on many accounts. Did I like this book? Not really. I don't agree with a lot of what the author said. But I can also say that there was some real beauty in this book... some Let me start with a confession: I didn't want to like this book. This was my second attempt at reading it and I went into it with a lot of pre-conceived notions about the book and its author. Some of them were true. Some of them weren't. But I definitely went into it with the wrong attitude. And honestly, I was proven wrong on many accounts. Did I like this book? Not really. I don't agree with a lot of what the author said. But I can also say that there was some real beauty in this book... some amazing insight that was beneficial to me. And it took me by surprise and reminded me that I need to not be so close-minded and judgmental. So where to begin. This book frustrated me. Number one, the author was all over the place. I understand that this was something of a biography, a spiritual/metaphysical journey through his life. But at the same time, the plot wasn't there. It was almost just a hodge-podge of random philosophies and beliefs thrown together in no particular order or organization. Let's start with what I liked about the book. Well, there was actually a lot. He has a lot of great insights, such as "I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time." Ahhhhh! So convicting and so very true. This cut me deep! He was also right on in regards to the innate spiritual nature of all mankind: "We have to be taught to be good. It doesn't come completely natural. In my mind, that's a flaw in the human condition." But actually, that was his friend Tony the Beat Poet who said that. But still true nonetheless. A lot of current mainstream "Christian" authors seem to want to downplay our true sin nature... try to excuse it, say that we aren't really that bad at heart, etc. I liked the fact that at least Miller wasn't dodging this issue. In fact he went on to say "Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror. " I like how he took responsibility for our actions or lack of actions. But then, when he takes a step forward, he takes two steps backwards. So he acknowledges that we aren't perfect, that we have flaws. But then he points inward for the solution: "All I'm saying is that if we, as a species, could fix our self-absorption, we could end a lot of pain in the world." The problem with this is we cannot do this. It is impossible. Only God can fix our self-absorption and that is through showing us that we can do nothing to save ourselves. We are powerless. Only through his Son can we die to self. I think Miller's overall problem is that he is trying too hard to be cool. I have no idea how many times the word "cool" was used in this book because I stopped counting when it got above a reasonable number. He is the pipe smoking, profanity using (yes, he admits to using profanity, such as when he plays video games), George W Bush (and all republicans for that matter) hating, non-fundamentalist cool "Christian." He goes out of his way to constantly talk about this. But the problem is this: Christianity is not cool. It was never meant to be cool. Jesus was not cool!!!! There was absolutely zilch cool about Jesus' ministry: Take up your cross and follow me.... turn the other cheek... see all that you have and give to the poor... pay your taxes... go the extra mile. And this is just a small sampling. But literally, Jesus was not cool! And what he preached was not cool. He was persecuted for what he believed, crucified for it. He didn't sit around at a liberal arts college smoking dope and talking about how love is the cure for the world. No taught that the wages of sin is death... but that the gift of God is eternal life, through Him alone! Just listen to what Miller said: "For me the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained." What??? What exactly is Christian spirituality? What happened to faith? And if you can't explain your belief then how do you share it? How do you defend it? What is the Bible if not an explanation of God's love for us? He also says "I don't think you can explain how Christian faith works either. It is a mystery. It is something you feel, and it comes from the soul." A faith based on feelings is bound to fail. Feelings are fickle. Feelings change. Feelings fail. He also is way too accepting. He preaches tolerance. " I wanted tolerance. I wanted everybody to leave everybody else alone, regardless of their religious beliefs, regardless of their political affiliation." I disagree. Miller believes that tolerance is showing somebody love. I disagree. I think that when you tolerate someone's sins, you are tolerating their damnation to hell. Shouldn't we be so concerned with those around us that we hound their souls, crying out for them to avoid hell? If a bridge is washed out ahead in the road and you see a car headed that way, do you tolerate their choice to drive forwards, towards death and ruin? Or do you stand in the road, screaming in a bullhorn for them to stop? Do you block the road with a tree? Don't you do something? Don't you point out the danger ahead? I'm not saying you don't do it in a loving manner but you can't just tolerate sin, falsehood, ignorance. So where does all of this leave me? I don't like the book. Which is hard to say because honestly, I loved certain parts: "When I was in love there was somebody in the world who was more important than me, and that, given all that happened at the fall of man, is a miracle, like something God forgot to curse." So beautiful!!!! I loved his views on tithing... I loved how he abhors self-indulgence, selfishness, self-absorption. And yet I can't stand his lackadaisical view on sin, faith, profanity and church. He said that he had more "spiritual experiences" at Reed College, a very liberal, unchristian place, than he ever had at church. That just means that he hadn't looked hard enough for a solid church. I'm so tired of all of these new authors and preachers out there degrading "the church" and "Christians" and "Christianity" when they are really just attacking a straw man. They are pointing out the churches that are nowhere near what God desires a church to be and using those as the examples for why Church isn't for them. Recently Miller talked about how he doesn't even go to church anymore... just a couple times in the last three years. I will conclude with a quote from the beginning on his chapter entitled "belief: the birth of cool" "If I walk away from God, and please pray that I never do, I will walk away for social reasons, identity reasons, deep emotional reasons, the same reasons that any of us do anything." How can walking away from God even be an option? And for social reasons? Emotional reasons? You're talking about walking away from the only person who has loved you purely... the only person who has ever loved you unconditionally... the only person who has even sacrificed his life for you... because of social reasons? Not cool!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Lidbeck

    Sometimes he wonders about the whole Jesus thing, sighs Miller in chapter one, giving us hope that a Christian author is about to dig into an earnest inter-faith discussion. Alas, it's a tease. He drops the religious doubt theme immediately and rather than objectively engaging Christianity, he begins using the names 'God' and 'Jesus' interchangeably throughout, the way a church-raised child would; he dismisses Islam as too 'trendy'; he thinks Buddhism is pretty cool like having a motorcycle, but Sometimes he wonders about the whole Jesus thing, sighs Miller in chapter one, giving us hope that a Christian author is about to dig into an earnest inter-faith discussion. Alas, it's a tease. He drops the religious doubt theme immediately and rather than objectively engaging Christianity, he begins using the names 'God' and 'Jesus' interchangeably throughout, the way a church-raised child would; he dismisses Islam as too 'trendy'; he thinks Buddhism is pretty cool like having a motorcycle, but he also indicates that being a Buddhist means rubbing a statue's belly for good luck. I'm not exaggerating. He actually says all of these things. To cover all the bases, he quotes "Sarte" [sic]. Religious naivete and intellectual posturing aside, there's something even more deeply wrong about this book: what it says about its audience, mainstream American Christianity. There's something amiss about the way Miller congratulates himself and his urban Christian community that (gasp) gives sandwiches to the homeless and (OMG) protests the Iraq war. I'm not saying those are bad things--quite the opposite. These are wonderful actions, things everyone should be doing. And--here's my point--exactly what Jesus told Christians to do. So why the amazement? This is where the book is a little unusual for Christian fare. It does go beyond the usual soft stuff. And it says more than Miller intended. It is an accidental revelation on just how dead the whitewashed institution of American Christianity has become: acting like Jesus even in the most minimal way, is, to the church, revolutionary, dangerous, exciting, and totally alien. Giving a sandwich to a bum is cause for breathless self-congratulation? Somewhere Jesus is shaking his head in disbelief. Christians, if this book inspires you to get out and give food to the hungry, or stand up for peace, DO IT! That's great! But remember, someone else told you to do those things, thousands of years ago. And without all the obnoxious navel-gazing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cbarrett

    This is one of those books that becomes popular for reasons beyond my understanding. Like pegged pants in six grade, Blue Like Jazz seems to be cool just because someone somewhere says so. But no one stopped to ask, really? It's cool to tightly bind your cuffs like fruit roll-ups and jack them up three inches above your Reebok Pumps? What is weird is that this book which praises non-religious thoughts on Christian spirituality on some journey with a nebulous destination was (now the popular book This is one of those books that becomes popular for reasons beyond my understanding. Like pegged pants in six grade, Blue Like Jazz seems to be cool just because someone somewhere says so. But no one stopped to ask, really? It's cool to tightly bind your cuffs like fruit roll-ups and jack them up three inches above your Reebok Pumps? What is weird is that this book which praises non-religious thoughts on Christian spirituality on some journey with a nebulous destination was (now the popular book of the day is Crazy Love which probably makes me dated since that book is probably so 2009 now) popular among those who were reared in an environment of religious thought, but who were told that Christian spirituality was really evident by externals. It is sad when moralism is exchanged by relativism. Whatever happened to good old confessionalism, with its confession of truth that governs practice and which encourages the diligent use of the ordinary means of grace (Word, Sacraments, Prayer)...now that is real piety...errrrr, spirituality. But, I will say, Donald Miller is an engaging writer and a great story teller.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    I picked up this book based on the recommendations of some friends and I wasn't disappointed. Miller's thoughts on Christian spirituality are so refreshing, they reminded me of why it feels good to feel more than OK about my faith -- and I'd been needing a nudge like that for a long while. This book will remind you that being a Christian isn't about being a die-hard Republican or a die-hard evangelical or even feeling the need to label yourself a Christian (as Miller says in the book, he gets hu I picked up this book based on the recommendations of some friends and I wasn't disappointed. Miller's thoughts on Christian spirituality are so refreshing, they reminded me of why it feels good to feel more than OK about my faith -- and I'd been needing a nudge like that for a long while. This book will remind you that being a Christian isn't about being a die-hard Republican or a die-hard evangelical or even feeling the need to label yourself a Christian (as Miller says in the book, he gets hung up on the stereotypes himself) -- just that you need to treat others the way you want to be treated (which, at the heart, is what being Christian -- minus all the Jerry Falwell, Left Behind, Purpose-Driven Life dribble -- is all about). For a book that makes you think about thoughts (if that makes sense), this one does a pretty good job of it. Give yourself a few chapters and I challenge you (believer or non-believer) to think differently.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Emergent malaise. I think someone else described it this way, but I think it's pretty accurate: It's like reading a whiny teenager's diary—there are some good points, but he still needs to grow up.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Miller's book is less a treatise of emergent thinking as a conversational and diary-like experience. He values transparency and authenticity and is transparent himself as he talks about his own failings with honesty and humor. This thing he calls Christian spirituality (because Christianity has bad PR) is personal and introspective. One thing I like about Don Miller and the emergents in general is how they want to get rid of the cliché in the church and that is often needed. But this introspectio Miller's book is less a treatise of emergent thinking as a conversational and diary-like experience. He values transparency and authenticity and is transparent himself as he talks about his own failings with honesty and humor. This thing he calls Christian spirituality (because Christianity has bad PR) is personal and introspective. One thing I like about Don Miller and the emergents in general is how they want to get rid of the cliché in the church and that is often needed. But this introspection has them turning to narrative truth instead of propositional truth and you find sensitive passages like this one: "...for so long religion was my false gospel. But there was no magic in it, no wonder, no awe, no kingdom life burning in my chest." In other words, no feeling there. The postmoderns that we call emergent, love to talk about their feelings and experiences and here is another exchange where he's talking about a friend who is thinking about God and Christ: "She wanted God to make sense. He doesn't. He will make no more sense to me than I will make sense to an ant." "I love this about Christian spirituality. It cannot be explained, and yet it is beautiful and true. It is something you feel, and it comes from the soul." There is a lot of heart talk and not much head talk. Truth be told they mistrust the head and intellect. At one point he writes "My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect" and it make me chuckle because not once in this entire book does he discuss his intellect in relation to this Christian spirituality. Where the head can't understand the heart feels wonder. And if those are reversed he will simply label it "religion" and try to get the heart (feelings) back. He doesn't touch on the cross much and what the atonement is for (this is a contested area in emergent circles) but he does touch on the Bible and doesn't seem to think much of its answers. In a period of doubt he writes "I suppose what I wanted...is what every Christian wants...I wanted tangible interaction. I believed if I could contact God, He would be able to explain who and why I was." And approaches God in prayer to say "I'm sorry God...I don't really know who I am, who You are, or what faith looks like. But if You want to talk, I'm here now." As for the missional aspects of his existence it is strained through this paradigm: "For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical system that can be experienced but not explained. And I could not in good conscious [sic] tell a friend about a faith that didn't excite me. I couldn't share something I wasn't experiencing. And I wasn't experiencing Christianity." And speaking of apologetics he says "Ravi Zacharias says that what the heart is really longing to do is worship, to stand in awe of a God we don't understand and can't explain." Would Ravi say that we don't understand and can't explain God? I doubt that, because if he did what would that mean for his apologetics enterprise? And for all this probably the worst thing about this book is the amount of silly, immature thinking enclosed. I don't know how wide Miller is in his thinking but this book is about an inch deep and you will come across passages like "It never occurred to me that if Christianity was not rational, neither were other religions" and "America is one of the most immoral countries in the world" and in a surprised way that "we have a sin nature, like the fundamentalist Christians say." By my reckoning Don Miller was in his early thirties when he published this book and I would be ashamed to say things like I'm afraid to read the Bible because I don't want to become like Pat Buchanan. Though he talks about truth, for Miller, and the emergent Christians he's aligned with, it is really about the experience. And what happens when those experiences cease and the feelings subside?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    It seems like both the suspicious atheists and the self-righteous evangelicals writing reviews here forget that this is not John Calvin's America anymore. No one is forced to listen to a blowhard, rich, white old guy pounding on a pulpit and screaming that you're sinners and God hates them. I'm sorry if you still think that this is how Christianity behaves, atheists, and I'm sorry if you think that this is how Christianity should behave, evangelicals - but you catch more flies (or fish, as we ar It seems like both the suspicious atheists and the self-righteous evangelicals writing reviews here forget that this is not John Calvin's America anymore. No one is forced to listen to a blowhard, rich, white old guy pounding on a pulpit and screaming that you're sinners and God hates them. I'm sorry if you still think that this is how Christianity behaves, atheists, and I'm sorry if you think that this is how Christianity should behave, evangelicals - but you catch more flies (or fish, as we are Fishers of Men) with honey, not vinegar. Atheists - you're right, Miller has an agenda. No lies - he does want you to become a follower of Jesus. But in the same way that Israel has "Messianic Jews" living in it that are Christians in every way but name, he understands that the very word "Christianity" can invoke a dozen different meanings depending on a person's experience with it. Does he seem like he's judging you? It didn't seem that way to me. It seems like this book (or blog?) is written in a very personal way; a man nearing his 40's, musing about his life and relationship with Christ. Evangelicals - Sorry, but if you want to spread faith with a message of sin and judgement, you might as well just stay in your pews and jump up and down. 21st century America is filled with people who are either just like you, or enraged by you. This book is not for either of those groups, but for people who are curious and tentative. A book like this speaks to those people because it's welcoming, loving, and friendly - the best aspects of Christianity. It certainly is true that Miller doesn't mention hell more than once, and then just metaphorically, but you've seen how effective talking about that to 21st century young people can be. They need to learn about the more terrifying aspects of God, of course - but that should come after meeting pastors and Christians like Miller and his friends. Like any relationship, if your relationship with Christ starts off on a bad foot, what incentive do you have to come back? This book is arranged in chapters with names like "Love (for Yourself)" and "Love (for Others)" and Romance, and Money, and Worship. Miller has no distinct timeline; he appears to jump around all over his life and his experiences with friends to any particular incidents that pertain to the chapter titles. It was a bit jarring and I found myself attempting to piece together an actual timetable (or look in the back of the book for one) to see whether he was in his hippy stage, or militant Christian stage, or introvert stage, etc etc. The writing style isn't the best, I'll be the first to admit - but if you're reading this book for the writing style you should probably rearrange your priorities. Miller's sense of humor; wry yet pleasant, was enjoyable. As a liberal Christian myself in a liberal area, I found myself nodding in agreement with a lot of his stories. How do you reconcile the two parts of you, the parts that want to serve God and Jesus and interpret the Bible more literally, with the parts of you that recoil in horror at all the hatred the modern Church spews? Miller has done it, and I think I'll be reading more of his work in the future.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Randall Yelverton

    Contrary to Miller's introduction, jazz music does resolve. A theme is introduced, the theme is played around with, unpacked, reimagined, and then resolved. (There are open-ended compositions, but jazz pieces often do resolve.) And the title and its repetition throughout the work bugged me to no end. Miller really latches on to this image and runs with it, but since the book is not about being sad or even about the color blue, it seems that he just fell in love with the simile and ran with it wi Contrary to Miller's introduction, jazz music does resolve. A theme is introduced, the theme is played around with, unpacked, reimagined, and then resolved. (There are open-ended compositions, but jazz pieces often do resolve.) And the title and its repetition throughout the work bugged me to no end. Miller really latches on to this image and runs with it, but since the book is not about being sad or even about the color blue, it seems that he just fell in love with the simile and ran with it without good reason. It also seems a little faux-cool. Miller's writing throughout is trying too hard to be cool, but one of his theses, I think, was that a cool Christianity would win over converts. But cool can never be nailed down, is subject to the whims of fickle consumers, and is created by ad men. Cool is slight and ultimately meaningless. So Christianity can't and shouldn't try to be cool. And why "non-religious thoughts" on "spirituality"? Ugh. Religion is not a defunct concept and spirituality is not preferable to Christianity. If these concepts are broken, then we should rehabilitate them not discard them. I understand that Miller is trying to appeal to the unchurched or those who have strayed from their faith, but he errs when he chooses the vague, unfocused spirituality over the focused, definable Christianity. And yet, I would reservedly recommend this flawed book because I believe it will be of great use to many who have strayed from their faith and are not comfortable with what they assume to to be the Conservative, unforgiving church. I found the chapter's on selfishness and loneliness compelling. The book is flawed, but valuable and could be a useful means for (re)introducing the faith to those repelled by it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    (Note: I skipped around and read several sections, not the whole book, so I'm probably not giving a completely fair portrayal of the book.) A guy's charmingly awkward memoir of his faith and spiritual growth. It has its interesting moments, like a chapter titled "Church: How I Go Without Getting Angry." There were also places where I got bored or mildly annoyed. The writing is OK but not poetry. It seems to be purposely written in a kind of rough-edged guy style. Random incomplete sentences and (Note: I skipped around and read several sections, not the whole book, so I'm probably not giving a completely fair portrayal of the book.) A guy's charmingly awkward memoir of his faith and spiritual growth. It has its interesting moments, like a chapter titled "Church: How I Go Without Getting Angry." There were also places where I got bored or mildly annoyed. The writing is OK but not poetry. It seems to be purposely written in a kind of rough-edged guy style. Random incomplete sentences and all that. Often stops short before going too deep. Here are some things I got thinking on from the book: "Every year or so I start pondering at how silly the whole God thing is. Every Christian knows they will deal with doubt. And they will. But when it comes it seems so very real and frightening, as if your entire universe is going to fall apart. I remember a specific time when I was laying there in bed thinking about the absurdity of my belief....I felt as if believing in God was no more rational than having an imaginary friend. They have names for people who have imaginary friends, you know. They keep them in special hospitals...." This is cute and funny and real--it's one of those moments where he says out loud what a lot of people think but are afraid to say, and that's definitely worth something. But then he diverges in his topic, wanders; I wanted more on this topic (I don't know what exactly...). Later on, interesting discussion about the power of metaphor in everyday language (referencing a speaker he heard)...he talks specifically about metaphors we use for relationships--we "value" people, we "invest" time in relationships--and the suggestion that such metaphors may subconsciously lead us to commodify people and relationships. (page 218) OK, here's another quote; he is actually quoting a friend of his in conversation: "'I mean that to be in a relationship with God is to be loved purely and furiously. And a person who thinks himself unlovable cannot be in a relationship with God because he can't accept who God is, a Being that is love. We learn that we are loveable or unlovable from other people. That is why God tells us so many times to love each other.'" At first glance, I thought, yeah, yeah, interesting, I agree. But then it started to bother me, I started to feel a little depressed by it. OK, so it's definitely true that human love is significant, meaningful, that it can express for us a part of God's love. It's an important reminder that our choice to love others and express our love to others is meaningful, is powerful, is spiritual. But you have to be careful looking at it from the other direction...the logical implications are troubling. Does this mean that people who aren't loved enough, or who are "unloved" more than they are "loved," are doomed to not be capable of experiencing, receiving God's love? That other human beings control our access to God's love? I think the idea, taken as is (granted, it's just a rooftop conversation between two guys) misses two important things: One, if we believe in a loving all-powerful God, we have to believe that God's love is deeper and wider and larger and more powerful by far than human love. Even our deepest love of another falls short. Human love at its best is one part feeble and two parts self-serving. Christian faith requires a leap of imagination to believe that there is a love greater than we are capable of, greater than anyone else is capable of, greater than we have experienced in any human relationship. And further, I've been under the impression that Jesus reached (reaches) out to the outcast and lonely, the unloved and forgotten. Anyway, it's a horrible thought that someone could be rendered incapable of receiving God's love because human beings had failed to love them adequately. Or that their understanding of God's love would be limited by the limitations of human love. (Although I feel like I could debate this question endlessly within myself--the one part hopeful, wanting to believe that the human soul can survive even in drought conditions, that it can stretch its roots deep down into memories of love, that it can derive nourishment even from small, infrequent waterings; and that God is there, is present in the darkest places in people's lives, suffering with us. The other part of me wonders whether God's ways are fair, why circumstances seem random, why some people seem doomed to tragic fates, suspects his love is capricious (a la Orual in C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces).) Two (returning from tangent), the quote doesn't acknowledge the flip side, which I think is also significant, probably more significant, and more within the realm of our control and choice: We can also learn about God's love by loving others--both the spontaneous kind of love, in which we so easily see and delight in the stamp of God's marvelous creation in another; and the more difficult kind of love that involves making a choice to be kind and respectful to someone we may not easily cotton to, the choice to be kind to strangers (e.g., other drivers on the road, often the most difficult people for me to love...), the choice to see another human being as created and loved by God--to imagine God's deep, deep love based on deep, deep knowledge of that person's deepest needs, gifts, weaknesses, and strengths.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I give this both a 2 star rating AND a 4 star rating for different reasons. 4 Stars: I enjoyed reading the author's struggle with being a Christian and what that is supposed to mean in a practical everyday sense. He verbalized feelings that are somewhat universal but rarely spoken. Things like, "Here are the things I didn't like about the churches I went to. First, I felt like people were trying to sell me Jesus....That rubbed me wrong...I wished they would just tell it to me straight rather than I give this both a 2 star rating AND a 4 star rating for different reasons. 4 Stars: I enjoyed reading the author's struggle with being a Christian and what that is supposed to mean in a practical everyday sense. He verbalized feelings that are somewhat universal but rarely spoken. Things like, "Here are the things I didn't like about the churches I went to. First, I felt like people were trying to sell me Jesus....That rubbed me wrong...I wished they would just tell it to me straight rather than trying to sell me on everything..." (From chapter 12, "Church"). Each chapter is essentially a theme (Faith, Redemption, Grace, gods, Belief, Confession, Church, Romance, Community, Money, Worship, Love, Jesus, etc) where the author tells a story about how he's looking for authenticity. How do you have an authentic faith when it is so unnatural in our culture to execute that faith? In the chapter on Love, he is trying to figure out how to show love to a person in his life who he really has a distaste for. I particularly enjoyed the passage in Chapter 18 about how he felt after spending time with some hippies in the woods. "Until this point, the majority of my friends had been Christians. In fact nearly all of them had been Christians. I was amazed to find, outside the church, genuine affection being shared, affection that seemed, well, authentic in comparison to the sort of love I had known within the church.....My Christian communities had always had little unwritten social ethics like don't cuss..." He expresses his feelings that the Christian culture breeds conditional love while at the same time it preaches unconditional love. He struggles with reconciling his feelings with what he believes. He exposes himself and is hoping his readers will find comfort in identifying. He also has a few great stories, such as when he and his friends set up a "confessional" on a college quad for the purpose of telling the campus they are sorry for not being good representatives of Jesus. For this, I appreciated the book. 2 Stars: First, the writing. I randomly opened the book just now to page 238. Out of 12 sentences, 7 of them start with "I" and of those, 6 of them are either "I think", or "I feel". Perhaps the audience was intended to be in junior high, but, since the author is the one writing, I already assumed that the words written are what he felt or thought. He really didn't need to point that out. Secondly, I would sum up the book by saying it's a book about a guy who struggled and found some authenticity in his faith and he hopes you find some too. That's it. One reviewer likened this book to a long blog; it does feel like a blog. I was hoping for something more out of this book. However, I am not profound or deep thinking enough to say what that would have been. I do know that the bible is clear that it is okay and healthy to doubt. Even Jesus told Thomas to touch his wound (from the crucifixion)if it helped his doubt. The thought I will take away from this book isn't really from this book. In tossing it around in my head, I am thinking that it is such a crock that the word "Christian" has become synonymous with the word "hypocrite". Any group that has standards to strive for can be ridiculed. Yes, Christians preach "love" and then exhibit hate sometimes. But, environmentalists preach "green" and buy trendy products shipped with oil guzzling vehicles sometimes. Homosexuals preach "tolerance" and then bash conservatives sometimes. Pro-lifers preach "value life" and then do nothing to protect abused children sometimes. Anybody who strives for high standards could be convicted in a court of law as a hypocrite. But, our inability to reach perfection should not hinder our efforts at living our standards. I did not find any additional authenticity in my faith through this book, but that's okay; this is Donald Millers story, not mine.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    I have a hard time understanding why this book is so popular among Emergent Christian circles; I feel like it has so many issues. Donald Miller's writing style is fragmented and erratic. He often states obvious facts as if they were surprising, he goes off on odd ramblings that have little to do with the theme of his chapter, he seems to have a hard time connecting the dots, and the only thing he talks about more than God is himself. Because I have difficulty imagining that a fully-functioning ad I have a hard time understanding why this book is so popular among Emergent Christian circles; I feel like it has so many issues. Donald Miller's writing style is fragmented and erratic. He often states obvious facts as if they were surprising, he goes off on odd ramblings that have little to do with the theme of his chapter, he seems to have a hard time connecting the dots, and the only thing he talks about more than God is himself. Because I have difficulty imagining that a fully-functioning adult could be this oblivious, I assume this was done intentionally to endear Miller to his readers. What it actually does is make you feel like you are reading a book written by a poorly adjusted twelve-year-old. The short cartoons that were supposed to convey some kind of profound meaning didn't help the matter. I found Miller's opinions on church and Christian living to be confusing, if not hypocritical. At one point, Miller bemoans the way Christianity tries to be cool and relevant and then proceeds to spend the entire book trying to make Christianity cool and relevant. At one point, he even states that he thinks it would be really cool to go to a Greek Orthodox church because who else goes to a Greek Orthodox church?! Unless you're actually Greek, then it would be more cool and exotic to go to a Baptist church because people don't expect Greeks to go to Baptist churches. Deep, Donald, real deep. Miller also takes every opportunity to talk about smoking pipes, going to coffee shops, Portland, hanging out with hippies in the woods, sitting on the roof, Reed College, protesting, Republicans suck, churches suck (except for his; the people at his church "look like rock stars" and they're all artists), how his friends (who are all actual Portlandia characters) are so cool and edgy and the last people you would expect to be Christians, except they are. I was also bothered by some of his comments about women and the way we think. I believe these comments came from a place of ignorance and that Miller meant no harm by them, but they often bordered on misogyny. While some Christians may somehow find something about this book inspiring, I doubt it would compel any religious skeptic in the slightest. Donald Miller's faith is almost entirely centered around feeling and experience. He even admits that nothing about God makes sense and that he doesn't really have scientific reasons for believing in Jesus, but he feels it in his heart and that makes it so true. While I believe that experience can be a wonderful guide in life, it is only helpful as much as it pertains to the individual. That is to say, one cannot expect their own experience to be taken as gospel by other people, because experience is subjective and varies greatly from person to person. It's nice that Miller had some good experiences with Christianity (excuse me, "Christian Spirituality," because Christianity is so lame nowadays, and, like, totally not cool, man), but some people have good feelings about Buddhism; some people have good experiences with Wicca. What makes Miller's feelings any more true than anyone else's feelings? With all it's problems, I still found this book easy to read and engaging in a how-much-more-eyerolling-can-this-get kind of way. Overall, Blue Like Jazz got so caught up in being "cool" that it failed to be enlightening, and is far too self-absorbed to be revelatory.

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