Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blue Like Jazz - My Take, Part 2

Another issue with society in general and this book in particular, was the attitude toward people who don't agree with the author. I see it on Facebook, on other internet forums, in online news seems to be everywhere: the attitude of superiority and sometimes downright hatefulness to those who disagree. And while I see it on both sides of politics, it seems that the left side seems to paint the right with a broader brush than the other way around. It is for this reason that I really try to leave my politics off of Facebook; I would rather focus on what my friends and I have in common than to become divisive. Having said that, I sometimes wonder if some of my friends would still be my friends if they knew how I really felt about some of the issues on the table. We live in an age where agreeing to disagree agreeably seems to be a thing of the past.

Having said that, here are some quotes that I felt were divisive and close-minded toward others who take a different view than the author:

p. 132 I felt like, by going to this particular church, (although he really paints all Evangelical churches in this light throughout the book) I was a pawn for the Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans did not give a crap about the causes of Christ.

p. 188 There's not a lot of work in the Christian market if you won't write self-righteous, conservative propaganda.

(I have read many, many, many books through the years from the "Christian market"...and if they were full of self-righteous, conservative propaganda, they would have been promptly returned to the store. I don't read for propaganda...I read to consider new things and hopefully become a better person from the experience.)

The book was laced with other remarks that were less than open to the opinions or beliefs of those who consider themselves conservative, Republican, or Evangelical. And when the attitude pervades that "I'm right, and they're wrong", and yet I find great irony and hypocrisy when the author repeatedly calls those who disagree with him "self-righteous."

Now, do I think Conservatives have all the answers? No. Do I think Liberals have it all together? Absolutely not. There is only One person who has the answers and who will never let us down. I choose to let Him reveal Himself to me through His Word, while the author of this book draws his conclusions about God from his own fickle experiences.

p. 226 My friend Julie from Seattle says the key to everything rests in the ability to receive love, and what she says is right because my personal experience tells me so.

Despite the theology that just didn't match Scripture, I had a hard time reading the book. While some love the "honest", "fresh", "transparent" tone of his writing, I found it self-indulgent and short-sighted. It really read more like the rambling journal of one adolescent male trying to apply universal truths to his own personal experiences. And much of his writing smacked of self-pride (i.e. p. 213 "She had probably never met anyone fascinating like me before.") and condescension (i.e. p. 211 "They were cute, these little Christian people.")

One last episode that just left me scratching my head: on page 208, Miller recounts a time in his life when he was living "in the wild" and befriended some hippie friends (his term) who were working at a resort. He thought it was cool that these friends were like Robin Hood...stealing food from the rich resort owners and giving it to the poor (himself.) Did he not catch that by eating the stolen food that he was stealing himself? He was hardly starving and destitute...and I got the impression that this was an ongoing thing...not a one-time meal.

I have a lot more underlined and written in the book, but these are the main thoughts that have stuck with me since finishing the book a few weeks ago.

Anyway...these are some of my thoughts. Take them or leave them. I do appreciate that Miller was able to make me rethink what I believe about church and Christianity. I believe my own convictions are stronger, and I hope I have become a little more like the woman Christ wants me to be as a result of wrestling with some of these things. We are all, after all, a work in progress. At the end of the day, though, I want to know that my worldview and beliefs about God and Christianity come from the Bible and not exclusively from personal experience. I want to know that I serve and worship a God who created me in His image, and not a god I have created in mine.

If you've read this far, thanks for indulging me. I don't often write book reviews, but I felt I really needed to express my thoughts on this one.

And if you disagree...I hope we can disagree agreeably!

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