24/10/2008

Blue like Jazz (by Donald Miller)

It's not often that I read a non-fiction book which is a modern best-seller. I hadn't even heard of Donald Miller - this book was given to my husband, as was another by the same author, and there it sat on our shelves. But it was recommended by someone else, and I thought I'd give it a go.

'Blue like Jazz' has 'Nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality' as its subtitle, and it sounded good to me. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. It turned out to be the author's thoughts combined with a bit of autobiography, in roughly chronological order. He covers topics such as love, giving, the church, faith, romance and community, in a refreshing style without using any jargon at all.

It took me a few pages to get into the style of writing. The sentences are short, and casual in the extreme. He writes almost like a teenager at times, delving into his innermost thoughts as well as relating what happened to himself and various of his friends, and the conclusions they draw. Because there are so many anecdotes, it's very readable - and also surprisingly thought-provoking.

I can't say this is my favourite book of all time, nor that it struck me deeply (as did some of the books by, for instance, Philip Yancey, Brennan Manning or Adrian Plass). But I enjoyed it, reading a couple of chapters at a time, and I found it interesting reading such an honest account of someone's life, and searching, and spirituality.

Fundamentalists might disapprove: Miller writes about drinking and smoking and swearing as part of everyday life. But, for many, that's true. If we look at the kinds of people Jesus mixed with two thousand years ago, they're not so different.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who dislikes religious jargon, or who wonders whether all Christians are hypocrites, or simply wants a different kind of take on Christian topics.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 24th October 2008

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