Friday, May 13, 2011

Blue Like Jazz

"I never liked jazz music ... sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself ..." So, this is what served as the taproot for Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I wonder if it is only those who have personally experienced his opening statement who will ever truly appreciate his point of view.

As for me, there was a time I did a walk-through of the Kunsthistorisches museum in Austria by myself in under 30 minutes. Dry, musty, old. On my way out the door, I happened upon a friend who asked for some company to tour the museum. Many hours later we were asked to leave because it was closing time. Without the light of my friend, my eyes would have remained closed to a world of beauty and technique and grandeur. I would have taken nothing away from that afternoon. Yeah, I understand what Miller is saying. I get it, in a very personal way.

Blue Like Jazz is the second book by Miller, and was published in 2003. It is the story of Miller's own life as he moves in fits and starts toward finding a way to define his spirituality. It includes a series of stories, essays, and reflections of his life during his college years that detail his growing understanding of what a Christian is and is not, and how to live life as a Christ follower. The subtitle of the book is "Non-religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality", yet that, in my opinion, is a bit of a misnomer. This subtitle really is used because Miller was seeking out an authentic relationship with God and Jesus, the sort that is completely removed from pretense and pretending. It is not the kind that is built on the ramblings of a mega-preacher, the finger pointing and rule making of the Pharisees, or the polite Christian-lite banter overheard in the church foyer before and after the Sunday service. Miller asked questions that I would like to think all Christians ask before devoting themselves to this path. His style is honest, straightforward, and filled with innocence and humor that most will appreciate and understand.

But like listening to jazz, had he tried to find his way alone, he might have walked away, without a taste for the medium. It was only in his experiences with other people did he learn to love it for himself, did he learn the language and music of his soul. This book was written with a very unique and personal voice that spoke intimately to me. At times I almost felt like Miller and I were sharing stories over coffee, and I was given my own nickname and was part of his circle. An absolutely wonderful book that I highly recommend. I look forward to reading his other works.