Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Blue Like Jazz

When I was home for Christmas, one of my father's best friends and his wife came over for the evening. I enjoy Wayne and Anne Gordon immensely so I stuck around. As they got up to leave at the end of the night, Wayne finished up a conversation by saying, "You know Gordon, that book is so good, you should give it to your kids for Christmas." I laughed and made a comment about how chintzy a book was for a Christmas present. Dad got pretty red in the face but covered it well.

Of course, it turns out that had already bought the book for all four of us and, probably to address my use of the word chintzy, put a $50 bill in each.

I was finishing up my epic fantasy series and had no time for it until last week. I know that I'm starting to sound like a media gadfly but I think this book is also worth your time. I was moved by it so deeply that I wrote the author a two page letter detailing the ways in which I was affected. And I didn't even know this guy.

Basically, Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller, is a collection of essays that detail the experiences of the author in his personal attempts to live in a way that feels right. It turns out that the way that feels right to him is a Christian spirituality. However, instead of this just being another right-wing, fundamentalist, how-to-live-the-Christian-lifestyle-so-that-other-people-will-approve-of-you book, I found Donald's communication to be honest and personal. It really is about trying to live in a way that has the least amount of emotional discomfort. His discovery of the different ways to do this - which is essentially a discovery of all the different ways to actually love people - is believable and accessible enough to make me want to try to do some of that on a deeper level than I am on autopilot right now.

Others have compared the book to Anne Lamott and I would agree with that assesment, but this resonated with me more. Certainly, it made me laugh but less in an entertained way and more in recognition of my own interpretation by someone else. At one point, he says going to the suburban church that he was attending was like going to church at The Gap. Tee Hee.

Read it.

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