The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture
Monday, August 01, 2005
Why Is Everyone so Jazzed about Blue?
I have heard bits and pieces about Blue Like Jazz. That it was cool. (With a title like that, how could it not be?) That is was admired by the "emergent" set - The Ooze.com crowd. That it was postmodern and Christian. I even saw that Donald Miller, the author was invited to speak at a $75-a-plate business luncheon by George Fox University - the local evangelical college. And there was the gushing review in ByFaith (PCA) magazine.
Well my wife's friend loaned her a copy of the book she had just finished reading. I picked it up started to read it Saturday during lunch. By last night I had read about 2/3s of it.
There is no doubt that Miller is a gifted writer. His prose is a pleasure to read - even intoxicating at times. He has had a quirky life and he is a supurb storyteller, using his unique life experiences to map out some basic Christian truths. I also like the fact that much of the book is about Portland. I have been to many of the neighborhoods and spots that Miller describes. It is familiar terrain for me.
Overall, though, I don't find him saying all that much. Challenging and insightful in spots. Full of relational awareness (which is a weakness of mine). Even though his mapping out the contours of the Gospel, he almost never (ever?) quotes scripture. But on the whole it is pretty weightless, really. I would say that Blue (as a whole) has the same weight as three or four paragraphs of John Piper or Sinclair Fergusson. Or maybe two paragraphs of Calvin's Institutes. The book is engaging but hardly profound.
Could it be that people are grabbing onto Miller's autobiographical, personal approach? Reading the book is like evesdropping on a conversation in a restaurant. You want to hear the conversation to the end. Anne Lamotte's books/essays are the same way for me. As are the early books by Annie Dillard. But is it really all that different from C.S. Lewis' Surprised by Joy? Of course there is grand-daddy of this form: Augustine's Confessions.
All this makes me want to find my copy of Larry Woiwode's What I Think I Did and finally get around toreading it. I doubt I'll be able to read 2/3s of it in a couple of days...