Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Blue Like Jazz

One of the newest and most popular writers on the scene is Donald Miller. He first came to my attention about two years ago when I was turned on to his first major release, Blue Like Jazz, which has as its byline, "Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality." Basically, the book is a personal recounting of Miller's awakening as he left his conservative Christian subculture roots in Texas and drove to Portland, Oregon with a friend. His journy along the way (which is told in his first book, Through Painted Deserts) taught him many new things about God, about himself, and about other people. Blue Like Jazz records some of Miller's experiences (told in his engaging brutally honest style) as a student at and campus minister to one of the most liberal schools in the nation in Portland. His reflections on life and his relationship with God are life-changing to read because they come from his own life-change. His second major work, Searching for God Knows What, is a fresh look at the person and teachings of Jesus through Miller's new cultural lense.

Miller's major challenge to culturally unaware Christians in the south is to drop some of the legalistic baggage that has been attached to following Christ, and really care about people who don't follow Jesus. While doing ministry in a truly pagan environment, Miller learned that major paradigm shifts were needed in order to break through with the message of Jesus. Make sure and read Miller's list of 13 paradigm shifts. I haven't read his newest release, To Own A Dragon, but with a byline like "reflections on growing up without a father," I'm sure it will be another powerfully honest look at his own spiritual development. Just a warning before you start reading Miller: if you are politically
conservative, he will challenge many of your political views. If you don't agree with his views, read him anyway. His work deserves to be wrestled with at a personal level by all Christians.

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