Musing on God Knows What

Posted on January 10, 2011. Filed under: Books, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , |

I finished reading a second book on my list of 50 books yesterday and thought I would share a short review of it with you all.

Donald Miller is a well-known (at least in my circles) Christian author. His books are all in the realm of Christian non-fiction from my understanding, and before he authored books, Miller went on crazy adventures, joined various churches, experienced God at Reed College, and wrote for other, smaller publications.

I picked up Blue Like Jazz because a friend recommended it to me. To be fair, I’ll admit I didn’t want to read it. Not because it didn’t sound like a good book but because it was like so many Christian books. As soon as someone liked it, it became an instant sensation with people buying it up left and right. I always liked being able to find the more obscure or older books that seemed more personally meaningful to me, so I avoided it when it joined the Christian craze.

But my friend told me I would like it, so I grabbed a copy before going to China, left it in the house, and have subsequently picked it up again. It’s an easy, short read and took me about a day to read the whole thing.

Blue Like Jazz carries the subtitle “Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality,” which is a fairly good description of the book. Instead of spewing the same Christian terminology and teaching why we should do this or do that, Miller looks at his own life and faith and describes those using metaphors the church, as a whole, might find a bit odd.

I enjoyed reading the book as it was quick and easy to grasp. I didn’t enjoy some of the stream of consciousness moments that seemed at random and unmoored with the theme of the chapter. Each chapter is broken into themes that are basically the idea for the whole chapter, and no chapter is completely sequential. I tend to think you could take the chapters apart and read them separately, out of order, and be just as happy as you would reading the book through from beginning to end.

What I liked about it was Miller’s blunt honesty. He never sugarcoats things, and the whole book is laced with his derision towards organized religion, particularly churches as a whole. At the same time, you come to recognize Miller’s faith for what it is: the faith that an individual person has developed through his own myriad of experiences.

It’s a journey I’d like to take sometime.

So while this isn’t the best Christian non-fiction I’ve read, it’s good, and I enjoyed it. I would even recommend it to some of my non-Christian friends as a means of understanding more of the Christianity I strive to move towards. It’s no Mere Christianity, but then again, few authors compare to C.S. Lewis. In his own way, Miller chronicles his journey of faith and reminds me that I, too, have a story to tell if I can just muster the courage to explore my own life and faith. And that is encouraging.

So what’s next? I decided to read something different and am now in the middle of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game in my second attempt to like sci-fi. We’ll see how it goes, but so far it has been a fascinating read. I like Card’s writing style, but I’ll talk more about that in a subsequent blog, I’m sure.

Oh, and I started reading Chinese for Dummies and practicing all the lovely Chinese I can find in the book. Let’s just say this is going to be a lot tougher than it looks!

I’ll update with more later!


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