Review: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller




The author Donald Miller writes and speaks on issues relating to Christian spirituality, literature and culture. Brian McLaren writes: “I can think of no better book than Blue Like Jazz to introduce Christian spirituality (a way of life) to people for whom Christianity (a system of beliefs) seems like a bad maths problem or a traffic jam.”

And that’s the nub of Blue Like Jazz. And I think that Miller’s message is just as interesting today as it was when the book was first published in 2003. In some ways it’s a classic work, which can be revisited time and time again. Miller seems to be exploring a return to authenticity in the way Christians express and live out their faith.

The thread of thought that starts his exploration comes after watching a busking jazz saxophone player. The musician shuts his eyes and plays endless variations on a simple melody. The sound is smooth. The texture is rich. The passion with which it is played comes from the soul. The passer-by is drawn in, stops to listen, and becomes captivated. Miller writes: “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”

Miller challenges, in a humorous yet honest way, some of the notions which Christians (and I include myself here) seem to have accepted without question. The chapters seem disconnected at first, and the headings create an air of intrigue eg ‘Church: How I Go Without Getting Angry’ and ‘Community: Living with Freaks’.

Miller draws on his own life stories, and his relationships and conversations with friends, and gradually makes sense of the many unresolved issues in his life, especially those regarding faith in God. This book really helped me to check the relevance of all that I have come to believe, and set a course towards renewed passion and expression for the faith which I committed to in my teenage years.

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller is Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers

Main Photo Credit: Lukas Rodriguez via Pexels

Bob Fraser

Bob Fraser is a singer-songwriter, men’s group leader and Regional Director for CVM aiming to open up conversations about life and faith.

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