Book Reviews,  Theology/Bible

Review of “Blue Like Jazz”

Shane Walker at 9Marks ministries has reviewed Donald Miller’s popular book Blue Like Jazz. What can I say? The review is devastating and gets at the heart of all that’s wrong with the postmodern ethos in certain sectors of the Emergent church movement. Here’s a teaser from the review:

Don wants to invite the reader to authentic Christian spirituality, but he’s not really sure what it looks like. He can only report back what he’s experienced—and it’s been a confusing trip. This means that some of his readers will walk away even more confused, but more resolved to get another tattoo, another piercing, grow those dreads, attend another anarchist protest, or say another profanity. They will learn that watching South Park is not so bad, having crushes on lesbian pop stars is cool, and that smoking pot is an ambiguous moral question. Taken in isolation these are petty sins, but as a lifestyle they draw people away from Christ by confusing who he is and inhibiting the joyful freedom experienced in obedience to him. . .

Likely, right now someone in your church is reading Blue Like Jazz or some similar book. It will resonate with them in style and content—it is cool and Christian. And it is extremely unhelpful. The only antidote seems to be twofold. The first is to reintroduce young Christians to the biblical Jesus: the person who died an agonizing death for their sins, who will tread the winepress of the wrath of God, and who listens to their prayers. The second is to begin the battle against the cool. The godly must begin to prove in the pulpit, in writing, and in their lives that Christianity is the deadly enemy of the cool. And the cool is the Western postmodern entertainment driven culture that has tutored our children and ourselves for the last fifty years.

You need to go read the rest of the review. You can find it here: “Review of Blue Like Jazz.”


  • sofyst

    This is all great and all…but I am waiting on YOUR review of the book. 😉

    Perhaps you should discuss this book with Josh Orr, he is a BIG fan of it. I thought it was a VERY entertaining book. I LOVE his writing style, I almost envy it.

    If you asked me what his purpose was for writing the book, or even if I think he fulfilled that purpose, I would answer: I dunno.

    I don’t know why he wrote that book, or what he was attempting to convey. Other than being a fantastically told story, I don’t know what the author intended to convey through this story.

    I know perhaps what he DID convey, and all that is not necessarily good.

  • Denny Burk

    Dear Sofyst,

    I agree that we as Christians need “to begin the battle against the cool.” They look to me to be accomodating themselves to America’s hip entertainment culture.

    How come so manyu of the people that I have seen who are a part of the emergent church look like a homogenous group of mainly white middle-class 20-30 somethings who like to dress like the lead singer of Oasis?

    Is it just me, or does it appear to anyone else that the emergent church seems to be allergic to having poor people and elderly people in their congregations? (By poor people, I mean really poor people–not college students, and not newly graduated college students who are trying to find themselves while living in an apartment with three friends eating pizza and playing X-box all day in their stale smelling cargo pants.)

    Are they really that different from the “Seeker-sensitive” churches that they are rebelling against when they appear to embrace the same sort of homogeneity?

  • RosieBoo

    In my opinion, the “emerging church” members, as you’ve described the demographic, will never grow up? Why? No older role models to pattern their life after. I shudder to think what these 20-30’s emergents will teach the next generation.

  • Luke Britt

    “How come so many of the people that I have seen who are a part of the emergent church look like a homogenous group of mainly white middle-class 20-30 somethings who like to dress like the lead singer of Oasis?”

    That’s a great quote. However, I do disagree with the conservative Christian view on the ‘postmodern emergent missional seeker whatever-the-heck-it-is church movement.” With the comment about poor and old people, I think we should really think about our churches as well as judging the movement. Let’s take my church. We are preparing to begin a church in the north Dallas area and have not gone public yet, but I do feel like I have neglected the elderly in my thoughts as I vision the church to be a young-person kind of church. I have thought about the poor, although no poor people attend my church, because they run rampant in my city.
    So, the next step is for you to ask yourself about what your church is doing to embrace the “emerging generation” as well as disciple the elderly and poor. Do the senior citizens in your church rule the church with their pseudo-power and fat check books? Does your pastor back down from people with money? Do the people in your church think poor people are not as good as they are? Do your people get trained for ministry each and every week?
    I think the last question is the most important, considering it is one of the church’s main purposes. If your church is not training people, whether you have an old nursing home church, or a hip, candle-burning church, or a church that meets in a living room, you must be training people for the Lord’s work.
    I know this has nothing to do with Donald Miller’s book, which I haven’t read entirely because I thought it wasn’t acheiving anything, but I think these comments are somewhat relevant.
    Shane Walker says that Blue Like Jazz fails as a gospel tract. This is an unfair statement, since I don’t believe the book to be attempting that, but I may be standing with thousands asking, “What the hell is it about?”

  • Jcoleman

    An apt read for you and your blog-followers would be “Adventures in Missing the Point”. Miller did a wonderful job of helping me crystalize many of the struggles I had been having for years in the evangelical way of life. Many struggles stemmed from my continued friendships and fellowship with non-followers of Christ and the difficulty the “church” seemed to have in dealing with it. Not to mention the need for cherry picking scripture to live by – especially in defining the “petty sins” or heavy sins. Admittedly, it is a difficult task to step out of your own particularities and renormalize to the true teachings Christ….especially following his example of love.

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