Book Review: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Author: Donald Miller
Title: Blue like jazz : nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality
Publication Info: Nashville : T. Nelson, c2003.
ISBN: 0785263705


It’s hard to know what to make of this book.  At first it seems to be a hipster reflecting on Christian ideas in the secular world.  Then I learn that the author is a lifelong Christian and it feels like a bait-and-switch and that this is going to be a sneaky evangelical tract.  Miller fortunately is none of these things and is blessedly impossible to put in any box.  Still I find Miller hard to read, I think because he’s so much like me – shy, inconsistent, overwriting and overthinking things.  I’m finally won over by the chapter in which Miller and his friends in a small Christian group at a largely hedonistic college decide to participate in the college’s annual bacchanalian festival.  Miller jokingly suggests setting up a confession booth and the group ends up doing so, but for the purpose of confessing the crimes of Christianity and their own personal failings as Christians to the partying students who come to their both.  Miller is much better than Frank Schaeffer at writing about humility, love, transcendence, and how to lead an authentic Christian life in a secular world.

Favorite Passages:

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 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, deep emotional reasons, the same reasons that any of us do anything. – p. 103

Rating: ***

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Author: L.M. Montgomery
Title: Anne of Green Gables
Publication Info: Books in Motion (1999)
ISBN: 1596077328


I listened to the audiobook rendition of this classic novel while refoldering.  I read the book in print 20 years ago.  I guess it was atypical of a 16-year old boy to read this book, but I was not a typical 16-year old boy.  Megan Follows helped too.  Anyhow, Anne Shirley wins me over every time with her cheerfulness, resourcefulness, intellect and determination.  The character I relate to most is Matthew Cuthbert who I think is my literary hero.  (I wept when he died).  Anyone who hasn’t read this wonderful novel – child or adult, male or female – should give it a try.
Rating: ****

Book Review: Patience With God by Frank Schaeffer

Author:  Frank Schaeffer
Title: Patience With God
Publication Info: Philadelphia : Da Capo Press, c2009.
ISBN: 9780306818547


You ever get the feeling that Fundamenatalist Christians and the New Atheists are two sides of the same coin, both steeped in literalism and blind to any other point of view?  That’s the basic premise of this book where the author takes on both ends of the spectrum.  Sometimes I feel like cheering on Schaeffer as he tears into his victims, but my more charitable side finds the book excessively snarky when Schaeffer critiques the Fundamentalists and the New Atheists. I think the premise is excellent but the book needs a more objective perspective to work.  The better parts of the book are when Schaeffer talks about his own life (he grew up the son of a famed evangelist, left for a secular life, and returned to a more progressive religiosity in the Orthodox church) and the need to for transcendence and humility in human life.

Rating: **1/2