“Blue Like Jazz” barely says anything at all.

Eleanor Barkhorn at The Atlantic waylays the movie adaption of Blue Like Jazz. Her critique centers not so much on the production value as it does the message of this story. One paragraph in particular is devastating, and it reflects to some extent weaknesses inherent in the book that the movie was based on. She writes:

Unfortunately, in its attempt to be a more honest voice of evangelical Christianity, Blue Like Jazz the movie ends up saying barely anything at all. It tries to navigate a middle course between mainstream Hollywood and mainstream evangelical movie-making, and in the process loses everyone. The film doesn’t show skeptics anything distinctive about Christianity. And it tells believers not to share what they know, but instead to apologize for it.

Read the rest here.

2 Responses to “Blue Like Jazz” barely says anything at all.

  1. Ian Hugh Clary April 17, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    This is a bit unrelated: Do you find it odd that the author is critical of Christian films, and says that there is a subgenre of pro-life films about abortion survivors? It’s an incidental swipe, but is it true? And beyond that, isn’t October Baby a true story? Why can’t the author just think of it as a biopic? You might know better than me, are there that many films about abortion survivors?

  2. Joshua Wooden April 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    “The film doesn’t show skeptics anything distinctive about Christianity. And it tells believers not to share what they know, but instead to apologize for it.”

    I tend to agree, and this is the primary weakness of the Emergent movement (I’m not positive Miller identifies with that movement, but I think there are some parallels). The main problem is that, it has little to say, and sacrifices substance in favor of more ambiguous, “spiritual” sounding ideas. Therefore, I’m not sure a book like “Blue Like Jazz” has much to say to the unbelieving.

    That being said, I do think there’s plenty of things the already believing can gain from Miller’s book, which helps to explain why its read mainly by Christians. In other words, the popularity of the book, especially among younger Christians, indicates the book carries more weight within Christianity, not necessarily to the unbelieving.

    For instance, when it comes to comments like: [I]t tells believers not to share what they know, but instead to apologize for it.”

    I don’t see this as an either/or. Apologizing for something doesn’t always imply an admission of guilt per se. It also indicates reflective thinking, honesty, and an ability to recognize that something is, indeed, wrong, which is considerably more endearing than a defensive attitude. In this sense, apologizing is an important pretext for sharing what one believes. It helps others to distinguish what we believe from what we don’t.

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