Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review (#20 of 2010)

I read exactly the same number of books in 2010 as I did in 2009. Make of that what you will.

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller.

So I'm the last American Christian to read this book (except my wife, as we listened to the audio together, which is also updated with a "where are they now?" afterword. Read by the author, which always makes it better) and I know I should have read it years ago. But, as usually happens with these things, it was probably more timely for me to read now as Miller works through several issues that have been heavily on my mind this year.

Do you use love like money? I mean, do you withhold love from others in an attempt to get them to change their ways? There's an essay in this book about that, I found that convicting. Miller works through how to love people like Jesus did; namely, how to love those Christians who are different than you even if you think they're on the wrong track in their beliefs or attitudes or actions. That's what I currently am thinking about.

I would give the first half of this book to any non-believer as a great witness and apologetic for the Gospel. Miller's adventures and conversations at Reid College are great and extremely thought-provoking. The second half of the book, starting with the part on relationships and Emily Dickinson are only so-so as they are mostly his introspection and stories of him learning to live in community. Helpful, but no moreso than just talking to a fellow believer in your Sunday school class about what they're thinking about. Miller probably didn't intend for this book to be the best-seller that it was as it's simply a compilation of his personal essays. (I now see that he blogs, too.)

How do non-teenagers who aren't raised in the same Southern Baptist context (or someone who was not raised at all in church) that I was come to Christ? What does meeting Jesus look like to them? I find that most of my friends through life were raised in church and struggle with this question, struggle with loving those who come to Jesus differently. It's easier to think of sharing the Gospel cross-culturally in another country than it is in America. That's a problem.

I find myself thinking of Rodney Reeves' guest sermons at my church this year. "If you think someone isn't a Christian because he smokes and cusses, you might be a pharisee." or "If you think God loves you more than someone else because you've been a Christian longer and have read the Bible more than he/she, you might be a pharisee." (Read Matthew 23:33 for why it's not good to be a pharisee).

Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. I need to reconcile a few of Miller's thoughts, which are logically sound, with Scripture. I also need to read Francis Chan's Crazy Love. Hopefully I won't read that book 5 years late.

This is my last book review for 2010. I still have at least a dozen physical, paper books on my bookshelf that I bought either long ago or last Christmas that need to be "read and released." So, I'll be getting to work on those starting tomorrow.

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