This is one of those books that a lot of friends really liked, and were really moved by, and I wanted to be as well. I really need it right now.
This is one of the few books where I marked pages, underlined things and made margin notes. One was under this sentence: "I hear addicts talk about the shakes and panic attacks and the highs and lows of resisting their habit, and to some degree, I understand them because I have had habits of my own, but no drug is so powerful as the drug of self." If he'd said, "I did heroin for years," or "I was an alcoholic for decades," that sentence wouldn't sound like such self serving crap.I have been addicted to things, and I HAVE panic attacks and highs and lows; I've seen people in withdrawal throwing up till there's nothing left inside them. I've seen people shake and have seizures. And this dickwad dares to compare fighting an addiction to his battle against "the drug of self"?
I believe the margin note I wrote there (and underlined twice) was WHAT INCREDIBLE ARROGANT HORSESHIT!
There were so many people I loved in this book: Donald Miller has met some interesting people. So has Billy Bush, but I don't like him one bit. Some of the stories were good and valid. But I found so much self-indulgent whining, that I marked the hell out of this poor copy of the book. One time, he was lamenting that he never had any money from writing.
Know who else didn't? Stephen King. So, Stephen King stopped sitting around moping, and he got a f***ing job teaching school, so that he could, you know, PAY HIS BILLS. He wrote on his own time, and his first novel became a bestseller. Granted, Stephen King is a much better storyteller who writes in a genre other than "Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality."
I read this, and I'm not sure what the guy believes. It seems like he picks and chooses his way through the Bible like one of those really slow people at an Asian buffet.
The most telling part, for me, was when he made some reference to Catcher in the Rye. THEN it made sense. To me--and God knows I'm in the minority (and this guy's version of God would smite me for being insolent enough not to love another author-approved person properly)--Holden Caulfield is the most self-absorbed, whiny little dickhead in the literary world. (I loved every other book and story J.D. Salinger published, but oy vey, that one bugs me)
Blue Like Jazz has some great parts, some truly insightful parts that would help one along his or her spiritual journey.
I noticed one idiosyncrasy, though. I found that I learned the most, not from the narrator--whom I really didn't like--but the greatness in the characters he describes, the disparate people he meets during his travels (and he seems to have logged more miles than Led Zeppelin, despite complaining that he's always broke). Penny, who is a close friend of his (and whom I would like), shares her introduction to Christ. Laura, an avowed atheist, finds herself fighting against feeling God's presence. When she finally accepts, YAY! The people he runs across are awesome.
Still, one thing I don't get. He spends a month or two with a bunch of "hippies," and he finds that they are the most loving, accepting people on his travels. Then he goes off to a Colorado Christian Retreat, and finds that he feels oppressed, and that there's no sense of love.
Why not go back to the hippies? I'm not condoning weed-smoking and free love (although after the day I've had...), but if he's trying to find love, that's where he found it.
He treated his roommates like crap, and made a big deal about apologizing to them, and how difficult it was for him.
Here's an idea: don't treat people like crap, and you won't have to apologize.
I'm neither an atheist nor an agnostic, but this guy spent 230 mostly self-indulgent pages looking for what the Bible sums up in two nifty verses: "Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and anyone who loveth is born of God, and knoweth God; he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. So beloved, let us love one another." (1 John 4:7-8 (thank you church camp))
In other words, just shut up and love people. If and when you find a church where you feel welcome, great. If you have to practice your faith on your own, great. God says we have to love each other; He doesn't say we have to like each other.
Thank God for that.