Friday, April 9, 2010

Inconsistent Like Jazz @christianaudio @donmilleris

Overall, I like jazz music. My college roommate was a music major and loved jazz. He played it, so I saw a lot of his concerts, and he took me to see big name jazz musicians. I didn't enjoy as much as he did. It sometimes just seemed odd. But overall, I like jazz a lot.

I had the same feelings to Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I have heard many excellent things about it over the past few years, so when I saw the audiobook version for $5 at Family Christian Bookstores, I had to pick it up.

First of all, the narrator, Scott Brick, was very good. He was one of the better professional narrators from the christianaudio imprint. He sounded like the great narrators of many of the bestselling fictional books I've read. Like I've said before, though, I still prefer the author to read it for books like this, particularly when written in the first person.

The content overall was good. Miller does a nice job of presenting a realistic, authentic, experiential faith. He appropriately challenges assumptions American Christianity holds, and I deeply appreciate that. He emphasizes the importance of the journey of faith and not always having the clear-cut answers. As readers of this blog know, I emphasize these points frequently.

However, Miller interestingly got stuck in at times in some fundamentalist-like perspectives, particularly around Scripture. He mentioned friends of his by only saying their first names, but based on the context and other information, I could identify them as some people who have solidly fundamentalist streaks.

These people tend to appear to be hip and challenging the establishment (and they do in many ways), yet they approach Scripture in very literalistic and Calvinistic ways. This came through frequently in Miller's text, and it really distracted from the usefulness of his message.

From other reviews and posts on this blog, people will know I do not hold to a strict, literal interpretation of Scripture nor in strict Calvinistic interpretations. Just as Miller challenges many cultural assumptions of the church, these are cultural assumptions that must be challenged. Yet he holds them up as universally accepted ultimate Truth.

At the same time, many people who hold these values are often not willing to consider challenging their other assumptions. So if Miller earn credibility this way to have people begin to challenge themselves, this could be a blessing in disguise.

Overall, I would recommend the book. Just don't ingest it whole without challenging the thoughts. We shouldn't do this with anything though, anyway...

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