October 10, 2011

Blue Like Jazz - Book Review

Last week I finished the book Blue Like Jazz- Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller.  It was really enjoyable to read.  Donald Miller is a good writer, and he kept my attention throughout.  It was personal and real.  He was able to share some deep feelings and thoughts on various aspects of the Christian message, and it was interspersed with just the right amounts of humor to help you relax as you read the book, but at the same time not miss the points that he was trying to make.

But I may have been tainted when I read this book.  When I picked it up from the Local Library book sale I also picked up books like God in Action by Karl Barth and a commentary series by William Barclay.  I was also skimming through some books that I already had, like The Institutes on the Christian Religion by John Calvin and The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink.  To be in the process of filling your mind with deep theological works like these and then pick up a book called Blue Like Jazz can be such a shift in gears that it makes your brain stall out.  Don't get me wrong, his writing was good and he had some deep thoughts, but the key difference is that, on the one hand we are exploring the deep thoughts about Donald Miller and on the other hand we are exploring those deep thoughts about God.  Donald Miller seems like a nice guy, but I find thoughts about God to be captivating.

I also had the repeated experience of reading something that Donald Miller would write and think to myself, "Wow.  That is so right."  But then it would be followed by an immediate, "Whoa.  That is so wrong."  That is where he hovered throughout the entire book, somewhere between those really good critiques of some of American Christianity but then having so many really incorrect conclusions to these critiques.  It was almost as if he abandoned scripture as his primary source of truth and instead relied on his own insights.

What really gets me is how many people that I've heard over time singing the praises of this book.  If you are one of those people, I would ask you why?  What was it about this book that you found to be so enlightening.  I find nothing to be as enlightening as the Bible, the one book that is living and powerful.  If you are reading other things, but they do not point you to a greater love of scripture and the God of scripture, then I would wonder at that book.