Mike Cope's blog

Monday, February 07, 2005

This weekend I read BLUE LIKE JAZZ by Donald Miller. His writing is what one reviewer called "Anne Lamott with testosterone." A few teasers: About the title: "In America, the first generation out of slavery invented jazz music. It is a free-form expression. It comes from the soul, and it is true." About blowhard preachers: "A couple of years ago . . . I visited a church in the suburbs, and there was this blowhard preacher talking about how television rots your brain. He said that when we are watching television our minds are working no harder than when we are sleeping. I thought that sounded heavenly. I bought one that afternoon." About sin: "Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror." About mystery: "I don't think you can explain how Christian faith works either. It is a mystery. And I love this about Christian spirituality. It cannot be explained, and yet it is beautiful and true. It is something you feel, and it comes from the soul." About trendy religion: "I don't think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supposed new church believes in trendy music and cool Web pages, then it is not relevant to culture either. It is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing." On kissing dating goodbye: "When I first moved to Oregon I was befriended by this vibrant kid who read a lot of Bible. Josh was good-looking and obsessed with dating, philosophies of dating, social rituals, and that sort of thing. He was homeschooled and raised to believe traditional dating was a bad idea. I traveled with him around the country and introduced him at seminars he would conduct on the pitfalls of dating. He wrote a book about it, and it hit the bestseller list. No kidding. A couple years later he moved to Baltimore and got married. I called him after the wedding and asked him how he got to know his wife without dating. He said they courted, which I understood to mean he had become Amish. But he explained courting is a lot like dating without the head games." On living with buddies: "I have a picture on my desk of the six guys at Graceland, which is what we named the house. People thought we named the house Graceland because we wanted it to be a place where people experienced God's grace and unconditional love. But we didn't think about that till later. We really named it Graceland because that was the name of the house Elvis lived in, and, like Elvis, we were all pretty good with the ladies." On worship and wonder: "At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know the chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay. And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don't think there is any better worship than wonder."


  • Good morning, Mike!

    Finally!! It only took me two weeks longer than expected to get a new ISP, and here you have me again, ready to dive in with comments. I've missed this "cyber-congregation" more than I can say! But to the comments. :o)

    "And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow."

    What an exquisite expression of our never-ending and futile attempt to put God in a box! Oh, that we would 'wonder more' and 'map out' less.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 2/07/2005 05:38:00 AM  

  • The part I really liked from the book was from the introduction (I think...). I'll try to paraphrase it:

    I never liked jazz, until I watched someone who loved it listening to it.

    Something like that. That speaks to the need for a genuine, Christ-following, Christ-loving community who are involved in people's lives, so that they will be drawn in like we are!

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 2/07/2005 05:39:00 AM  

  • Mike, the little bit that you shared with us makes my taste buds desire to eat the whole sandwich..........so my next click is to Amazon to get it ordered! :) I am sure Jan will be appreciative of you causing me to buy ANOTHER book. You know it's your fault, right?

    Thanks for sharing with us!

    By Blogger David U, at 2/07/2005 06:27:00 AM  

  • It's quite the tribute to Schleiermacher that we have a hard time knowing where his mind ends and where Christ's begins. I guess thinking and feeling like a Christian romantic isn't so bad, until it keeps you from doing anything. . . . Must get to work . . . after prayer, of course.

    By Blogger Frank Bellizzi, at 2/07/2005 06:27:00 AM  

  • Sounds GOOD! Looking forward to reading it...

    By Blogger Jana, at 2/07/2005 06:45:00 AM  

  • My favorite section in the book is the one about his friend who doesn't go to church but still "tithes." Cracks me up everytime - and yet also convicts me.

    By Blogger Josh, at 2/07/2005 07:01:00 AM  

  • First... I am with Kathy on the appreciation of this "cyber congregation". Its nice to feel in touch with the congregation from down here in South America.. and also to be able to join in discussions and comments despite not really being able to put any faces to names.. yet.

    Second.. I love all of what I read in the "teasers" and am putting it on my list o things to buy upon returning to America.

    Lots of Love and prayers all around!

    By Blogger Phyllistene, at 2/07/2005 07:31:00 AM  

  • The author says: “I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. . . . I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve..."

    Ah, but jazz DOES resolve. And just like God, it resolves on its own terms, in its own time.

    Thanks for the teasers, the "About trendy religion" bit makes me want to order the book now.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 2/07/2005 09:20:00 AM  

  • It's a great read just for the insights into one person's journey to find spirituality.

    But it's equally vaulable for helping gain insight into the Post-Modern mind -- one that seeks spirituality, not rules; one that seeks mystery, not scientific fact; one that values relationships, not established organizations. And to learn that not just the younger generations are Post-Modern in thought, but that many of us further along in years find that this manner of thought has become attractive to us as well.

    By Blogger Jim Hughes, at 2/07/2005 10:15:00 AM  

  • That book has a special place in my heart. It spoke hope into me when I really needed it. Donald Miller doesn't present himself as an authority...just as a guy thinking through some things. When I picked up his second book (Searching for God Knows What) it was like having a conversation with a long lost friend.

    By Blogger Adam, at 2/07/2005 10:34:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Neat reading material you got there. Just wanted to say how wonderful it was to see you at Highland yesterday. I was really touched and honored to serve and share communion with you guys. You are very much loved and prayed for.

    By Blogger TKP, at 2/07/2005 10:52:00 AM  

  • "It is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing."

    Wow, thanks Mike. I'll have to get this book.

    By Blogger Jared Cramer, at 2/07/2005 03:21:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    I loved "Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintance". I figured since I read Sun Also Rise, Purple Land, Blue Highways, Into the Wild, On the Road, etc. It was the next book to read. The search and struggle was very comforting and was an easy one to share with my college bound son.

    By Blogger happytheman, at 2/07/2005 03:32:00 PM  

  • I had no intention of giving this book a second thought. But on the way home, I noticed I was thinking about it. . . . So I stopped by the bookstore, read a few pages, and wound up buying it. Halfway through now. Think I'll wind up sharing it with my daughter. Thanks for the recommendation.

    By Blogger Frank Bellizzi, at 2/07/2005 04:24:00 PM  

  • A really solid read. Don't analyze, just read.

    I especially liked some of the characters: Andrew the Protestor, Tony the Beat Poet, and Mark the Cussing Pastor. I wish we had more cussing pastors.

    This book kicks ass.

    By Blogger nashvillekid, at 2/07/2005 05:35:00 PM  

  • Authenticity. What you see is what you get. Quit playing church. Removing masks. The journey continues. It sounds like Miller may be getting closer.

    By Blogger David Michael, at 2/07/2005 06:19:00 PM  

  • My favorite part of this book was the confessional booth he and some other Christian students did at Reed. If I understand what he was trying to say in this part--I think we have lots of confessing to do.

    This is a great book. I laughed out loud so many times. At other times I just wanted to shout "Amen".


    By Blogger jettybetty, at 2/07/2005 08:05:00 PM  

  • I have a good friend who says that "Blue Like Jazz" is an interpretive guide for relating to postmodern generations, particularly in the church culture.

    Glad you read it Mike.

    By Blogger Kyle, at 2/07/2005 08:10:00 PM  

  • Hey nashvillekid,

    If you're looking for a "cussing pastor" check out Steve Brown. Now, he won't truly be cussing, but he tells it like it is with a great sense of humor.


    By Blogger Jeff, at 2/08/2005 05:11:00 AM  

  • I enjoyed BLJ once I got past the Holden Caufield style of writing. He has some really good nuggets of insight.

    However, I have had the HARDEST time getting into Searching for God Knows What, the follow up to BLJ. I don't know why.

    Just another thought on the junction.

    By Blogger Phil, at 2/08/2005 09:19:00 AM  

  • Don Miller has another book coming out with NavPress (the publishing company I work for) that will hit the streets this time next year. It's called "To Own a Dragon: Rewriting the Legacy of an Invisible Father." It's an amazing book (of course, it's Don) that promises to have great impact on those growing up in a "fatherless generation" ... something we're all feeling the effects of, even if we had great dads. Just thought I'd throw this out there. :)

    My heart longs to be with my Highland family, but I keep praying from Colorado. Much love.


    By Blogger Melanie Knox, at 2/08/2005 03:19:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    I'll just have to add you to the list of people who have been bugging me to read this book. Blessings to all our Highland friends back in Abilene. I enjoy your blog, though I don't comment often.

    Thanks be to God that we'll never "figure him out."

    By Blogger Trey, at 2/08/2005 07:50:00 PM  

  • There goes another $13 bucks I was planning to squander on food, clothing, shelter or lottery tickets.

    By Blogger Larry, at 2/09/2005 03:21:00 AM  

  • Melanie,
    How do I get on the early reviewer mailing list?

    By Blogger Tod Brown, at 2/09/2005 02:02:00 PM  

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