Blue Like Jazz

Blue-Like-JazzA couple of weeks ago I posted after reading the book Scary Close written by Donald Miller. After enjoying Scary Close, I picked up the paperback copy of Blue Like Jazz I had sitting on my dresser.

Some characterize Miller’s writing as “a stream of consciousness,” where he writes a book like a journal entry or simply carrying on a conversation. There are times where he will finish one thought in a chapter and jump to another. It makes for a very readable style.

One thing that I appreciated in both books is his dry sense of humor. For example, near the end of the book he makes this statement: Television drives me crazy sometimes because everybody is so good-looking, and yet you walk through the aisles of the grocery stores, and nobody looks like that. I’ve had that same thought as I’ve watched TV. Who looks like that all the time? Doesn’t seem like reality.

There were two parts of the book that lodged themselves in my memory. One was a cartoon illustration of an astronaut who wore a suit that kept him alive without food or oxygen. The space station the astronaut was on exploded and it sent the astronaut into orbit around the earth. He could see the planet yet couldn’t get to it. No one came to rescue him. His space suit kept him alive and he simple orbited the earth day after day after day. Miller shared how he would lie in bed and think about what life would be like to be cut off from all relationships, to simply be in orbit totally alone. As Miller thought about it, it scared him to think of life like that. It is a disturbing thought. Seriously, imagine it for just a bit. Disconnected from every relationship. Frightening.

The second was a realization Miller came to while listening to a speaker. As he looked at Christian culture, he said we treat love as a commodity. When people act like we want and do what we want, they receive our love and acceptance. If someone is acting opposite of what we like or even rubs us the wrong way, we withhold love from them. Miller admitted that he used love like money. He would give it out or withhold it based on the response and actions of other people.

I realized, at times, I do that, too. While I know that God wants me to love all people, some people get a greater share of my love and affirmation. As I read that chapter (#18), it challenged me to look at how I treat those around me.

Blue Like Jazz was a good read, filled with humor, interesting stories and challenging thoughts. I’m glad that Scary Close moved me to pick it up.

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Scary Close

scary closeScary Close is an apt title for this book because in it, Donald Miller allows his readers to get scary close.  In his latest offering Miller pulls back the curtain of his life and heart and permits us to see the good and the bad, the successes and the struggles.

This is my first time to read a Donald Miller book.  I’ve heard of him as an author and have even had a paperback copy of Blue Like Jazz sitting on my dresser for a while.  For me, it was a great introduction to his writing.

In chapter 11 of his book, Miller writes this:  “Vulnerability has served me well. It’s one of the few ways I’ve been able to connect with others, including readers.” This book is all about the author being vulnerable.

In Scary Close Miller shares about his tendency as a writer to disconnect from people so he can write books that impress people.  He describes his journey to a therapy camp for adults that helped him uncover some things about himself and how we relates to others.  From that experience he reveals a painful memory from is growing up years that impacted him more than he realized.  He confesses his struggles in dating relationships and describes his courtship with the woman who is now is wife.

This statement probably sums up his book well:  The idea that authenticity leads to deep and healthy relationships fixated me for a long time.  I’m convinced honesty is the soil intimacy grows in.

This is an honest an honest where Miller connects with his readers, but also provides some principles and tools for the reader to move toward intimacy in his/her relationships.

I found the book to be both challenging and engaging.  Plus, it moved me to pick up the copy of Blue Like Jazz sitting on my dresser.  I’m already 7 chapters in.