I just finished a reading a great book. It took me 4x longer to read than normal because of all the other stuff I HAVE to do...yet that was nice in a way because I actually was able to invest more into it. I had more time to think on it and take things away from it and roll them around in my head. I'm sorry I am finished reading it. I wish I had a slot in my head where I could insert this book so that everything in it would be in me.
The book is called Blue Like Jazz. It's written by Donald Miller. I love Donald Miller's books. I've read everything he's ever written so far. He writes very conversationally. To read what he's written is very similar to hearing his thoughts or having a conversation with him, I imagine. It's funny because while I read along I will get to a passage where he makes a point that I am as passionate about and yet have never been as able to articulate. In those moments I feel as though, should he know me, we would be great friends. How could we not? We think and feel the same on this issue! Yet Don's writing is so honest that later he will share something about himself that makes me think, "oh, he's selfish." and I think I really wouldn't be his friend. Until I get to another part where I again agree passionately with what he's written. I just love that he shares so much of himself and what he's learned. I do think he would be a great friend.
Donald Miller mostly writes about spiritual Christianity and the church and how he finds himself in the most peculiar of circumstances as a believer in Christ. He relates more with those the American Christian church broadly think of as "lost". So his books share how these "lost" teach Donald more about Christ and community and covenant than anyone in the church. They are books rich with stories and ripe with passion. Only not passion of a sexual nature. More like the passion to know God and to love others.
Chapter 11: "Some of my friends who aren't Christians think that Christians are insistent and demanding and intruding, but that isn't the case. Those folks are just the squeaky wheel. Most Christians have enormous respect for the space and freedom of others; it is only that they have found a joy in Jesus they want to share. There is the tension."
Throughout the book Don writes about the tension between being a Christian and living in the world. The tension of being a Christian at a liberal, secular college. The tension of being a liberal Christian in a conservative camp and church. The tension of what is taught by people in the church and what is taught by Jesus in the Bible. In the end, it all comes down to love. And what Don learns, and teaches us through his writing, is that love is treated like a commodity. Like cash. We withhold affection and affirmation from those we deem different or unworthy and we lavish, or spend it, upon those we enjoy being with. The truth is, love isn't cash and popularity isn't a means for earning love. Every human being is priceless and worthy of our love.
I am not doing this book or the author justice. If you have ever wanted to read someone's nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality, I highly recommend picking up Blue Like Jazz, or any of Donald Miller's books. One of my other favorites is called Through Painted Deserts.
If you do read this (or any of his others) book, or if you have a good book suggestion, please leave a comment or drop me an email. Thanks!