I have mixed feelings about the book Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. One the one hand, this guy can write. His chapters read easily. He slips in and out of conversations easily and he manages to bring seemingly meaningless ramblings around to make a point. Not only that but he’s about as cool as a person can possibly be. He’s got some ideas about faith and about living as the church that are definitely worth listening to. It’s hard to not like the way he presents his ideas too. He’s funny and intriguing. I wish I had gotten the chance to hear him speak at Calvin recently.
On the other hand, I sometimes wonder if, amidst all that cool and cleverness if there really is a point in there. Sure, Miller makes a number of little points along the way and the note on the book cover calling him Anne Lamott on testosterone is pretty funny and helpful but that’s exactly the comparison in which Miller comes up a little short. When I read Anne Lamott I either find myself impressed with her ability to make a point in a way that amazes me or I just laugh and enjoy the writing. I never get the feeling that I’m being set up – something I got occasionally in reading Blue Like Jazz. Of course, comparing Miller to Lamott is hardly fair – that’s a pretty tough standard to hold anyone to.
All this may be nits that I’m picking because I really did like the book. I especially enjoyed reading about the hippies he lived with one summer and how that taught him about loving people unconditionally, something we don’t do in the church very well – let’s be honest – something I don’t do very well. So I’m looking forward to picking up another one of Miller’s books. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it – he writes too well for me not to.
8 months ago