Sunday, May 24, 2009

Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller

I recently read this book- I've had several friends recommend it to me, and when I'd pick it up in the store it just seemed incredibly wishy-washy... Too hip for itself. An attempt to make Christianity cool. And I was like, money vs. book I don't think I'll like. So, I passed on the book... Then, a friend loaned it to me and I read it.

(Yes, that should tell you where my priorities were. I wasn't willing to spend the money on trying out the book, 'cuz I only buy books I know will be good. And most of the time I buy books I've already read & know I'll re-read, or books by authors I love. I don't spend money on books I'm not sure of.)

I wasn't really interested in trying this book. I picked it up a couple of times and caught bits about smoking pot, having a thing for Canadian girls, or a cartoon about Don Astronaut circling the earth. Blech. Trust me, I don't have time to read books that aren't good... I've got kids to catch and tame, beads to string, dinners to make... But friends whose opinions I respect liked it... I kind of decided it must be a guy book, just something I wasn't gonna get or enjoy.

But then my small group leader loaned it to me. And I read it. And I liked it. I related to Miller's descriptions of questioning the church. I appreciated his honesty. I got his struggle with selfishness, and liked that he talked about it openly. (I think most of us get the whole selfish thing, but just don't want to talk about it, and he just GOES for it, and is almost TMI with how his selfishness runs his life.)

Here's a selection from his book:

My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don't really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don't believe in God and they can prove He doesn't exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it's about who is smarter, and honestly I don't care. I don't believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway? If I walk away from Him, and please pray that I never do, I will walk away for social reasons, identity reasons, deep emotional reasons, the same reasons that any of us do anything.

My friend Julie Canlis from Seattle has this beautiful mother named Rachel who is small and petite and always remembers my name when I come for a visit. One morning I was sitting at the counter in the kitchen talking to Rachel about love and marriage, and she was gleaming about her husband a little, and I told her in one of those rare momemts of vulnerability that I was scared to get married because I thought my wife might fall out of love with me, suddenly after seeing a movie or reading a book or seeing me naked. You never know what might trigger these things. Rachel looked at me through the steam that was coming off her coffee and said, very wisely and comfortingly, that when a relationship is right, it is no more possible to wake up and want out of the marriage than it is to wake up and stop believing in God. What is, is what is, she said.

And that's when I realized that believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is like making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon. And so I bring up that story about Julie's mom not because I want to talk about love, but because I want to talk some about belief. I have come to think that belief is something that happens to us too. Sure, there is some data involved, but mostly it is the deep, deep conviction, like what Julie's mom feels about her husband, this idea that life is about this thing, and it really isn't an option for it to be about something else.

From Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller

So, I relate to this guy. And it's okay with me if you don't like the book. I didn't like every bit of it, and I found some of it kind of whiny... As a mom, I found myself wanting to say to this guy, 'get over it, and grow up' a couple of times; however, as a Christian who finds herself quite perplexed by some of the choices the 'church' has made, and disturbed by the face we paint on for the disillusioned world, I get where he's coming from.

Blue Like Jazz is worth the time. It may not change you, but it might make you feel like you're not alone... There are people out there who are just as confused as you are about the church and the Christian faith.

No comments: