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Blue Like Jazz

January 13, 2005

Tonight, Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, was speaking at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. A group of us went to together to hear him read some of his writings and answer some questions. We thought if we got there at 6:30 pm for the 7:00 pm start that it would be plenty of time. The Belcourt is a small theatre that only seats about 300 people. It was free, but regardless of that fact, I believe we were all a bit suprised by the turn out. We didn’t get in for the 7:00 pm start. There wasn’t any room. Donald agreed to do another engagement at 9:00 pm to satisfy the demand, and that engagement was also a packed house. The theatre actually cancelled the showing of a movie that was supposed to happen after he spoke at 7:00.

If that isn’t enough reason for everyone to read this book, well, then you are skeptical and stubborn and not wholly unlike myself. I read Blue Like Jazz back in October and was quickly and easily drawn in to the writing of Donald Miller. “Real” and “authentic” are two current buzz words among Christian circles today and also in the greater American culture. I would like to take a moment and think of different words to describe Donald’s writing….okay, got them. Honest and beautiful. It is honest because, well, it is honest. He makes no attempt to cover the messiness of life with simple cliches or pad Christian answsers. In fact, this book might be more about discovering that we have a myriad questions rather than finding the answers. He said that reading Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies” gave him the courage to right honestly. Anne’s writing, I will speculate, is not palatable to most of the Christian sub-culture, although she is very much a follower of Christ. She and Donald both write in a way that makes us okay with our messiness and the messiness of others and reminds us that life is a process of constant re-creation. It is beautiful because reading this book is like following the melody of a song. The words are strung together with such seeming ease that it is very easy to forget that you are reading at all, but feels rather like you are listening to a song so beautiful that you cannot tear yourself away from listing to it. Many times I have sat in my car in a driveway or a parking lot to finish listening to the song that is on the radio or the current track on a cd, because I cannot tear myself away from the power or beauty of the song. I kind of have this complex, too, that when I turn a song off in the middle of a track (a good song, like Patty Griffin’s “Forgiveness”) that I am somehow being really rude to the artist. It is weird. Go ahead and think it. Anyway, that is what reading this book was like for me. Just like listening to a beautful song.

I got to meet Donald afterwards and he signed my copy of Blue Like Jazz. I was the last one in line and as I approached the desk he was sitting at, I saw a familiar face. It was Kyle, one of the publishers at Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson published Erwin McManus’ last three books and also publishes Donald Millers writing. Anyway, I had met with Kyle in October about possible opportunities to write and more so for advice about writing. Kyle and I chatted for a few seconds and then he introduced me to Donald. So that was pretty cool.

All that to say, buy this book, read it and pass it on to everyone.

“The goofy thing about Christian faith is that you believe it and don’t believe it at the same time. It isn’t unlike having an imaginary friend. I believe in Jesus; I believe He is the Son of God, but every time I sit down to explain this to somebody I feel like a palm reader, like somebody who works at a circus or a kid who is always making things up or somebody at a Star Trek convention who hasn’t figured out that the show isn’t real.

Until.

When one of my friends becomes a Christian, which happens about every ten years because I am such a sheep about sharing my faith, the experience is euphoric. I see in their eyes the trueness of the story.”

-Donald Miller [Blue Like Jazz-pg. 51]

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One comment

  1. 1. what is a url and why do you need it ? 2. you have to get your thoughts in print !!!!! 3. you go girlie



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