Broken Masterpieces

June 10, 2005

Book Review - Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller, is a book I've put off reading for awhile now but after enough recommendations from people I admire and respect I decided to read it. I could not be more pleased that I read it. It's a quick read and hard to put down once you get rolling.

Miller, first and foremost, is transparent. This book is a book about his journey of faith (and some of his friends' journey also). He's not a typical Evangelical and really doesn't care about that. The journey is filled with doubts, challenges, victories, defeats and a path to being at a point to accept God's love. I love the way he seeks to be authentic and loving; maybe pissing off a few people along the way as he breaks down some of the silly barriers that American Evangelicals have built up.

I'm positive that Miller and I would disagree on many political issues but where we'd agree is that the association between the name of Jesus and conservative (or liberal) politics needs to be removed. Miller's discoveries included that many people who are not part of the Evangelical movement believe Evangelicals probably hate them. That is not an image I'd like to believe, but I have found it to be true. Not that we hate but we seem to have put out that perception. I'd much prefer that the perception be that we love, do good works and reflect the nature of the God we claim to worship and follow.

I dare all conservative Evangelicals to read this book. Recognize that you can read someone that you may not disagree with but is a true brother in Christ. Miller has so much to offer that a couple of swipes at George W. Bush and fundamentalists is well worth it. In fact, Miller admits he needs some work on loving religious conservatives. Again, he's authentic. I'm hoping that reading this book will inspire me to learn more about the love of God and to be more transparent as I write.

I dare non-Christians to give this book a try. There is a chapter about confession that is truly beautiful and inspiring and is worth the price of admission itself. You will learn a bit more about Christianity (or Christian spirituality) than just what the conservative pundit or the televangalist has told you.

This is a life changing book and worth reading more than once. I'm going to start his followup tonight called Searching for God Knows What. If it's half as good as Blue Like Jazz then it will be worth the effort.

Cross-posted at Blog Critics here.

UPDATE (after finishing it again on 7/10): I just finished reading this book again and I got a bit more out of it. That is always a sign of a good book; you read it again and discover more. One of the issues I deal with is kind of a stale relationship I feel with God. Many times I just don't "feel" like there is a relationship. That's all on me. I need to read the Bible with a passion, looking at what Christ truly has done and why. I also need to accept the love that Christ has for me and that if I don't I won't grow nor will I have the joy that He wants for me. Miller has truly opened my mind to the Jesus that, if I were to sit at a campfire with Him, he'd not tear me down but would get to know me at a meaningful level, would encourage me in my strengths and would help me with my weaknesses.

Posted by Tim at June 10, 2005 09:31 PM

Hi Tim. I think you're doing some good stuff here, and I'd like to invite you to check out my site ( when you get the chance. My design partner and I have done two "visual edition" books so far - Whats So Amazing About Grace and Case for Faith (someone else recently did a good job with Ragamuffin Gospel, and there are a couple of other titles coming from us in the future). My first book is going to be available for purchase at amazon in the next week or so (you can read a bit about it, as well as samples, at my site), but if you'd be interested in reading a free pdf copy to see what you think of it, shoot me an email through the Contact page at my site and I'll reply with the pdf. It's a little more coarse than Blue Like Jazz, but I think it targets a similar audience... I'd be interested in hearing your impressions on it. Here's looking forward to the prospect. Pete

Posted by: Pete Gall at October 22, 2005 06:36 PM