Posted by: deerharas | March 2, 2006

03.02.06

I finally gave in … I jumped on the Blue Like Jazz bandwagon.

I started it last night and have pretty much read it every spare moment until about five minutes ago when I finished it.  It is unlike anything else I’ve read, almost like a really long Xanga post.  I have heard several people endorse the book, but at first I dismissed it as simply trendy.  I think it was a combination of praise from Derek Webb on a podcast and the fact that lately I have missed reading for fun that made me finally seek out this book.  This really isn’t meant to be a book review or anything, but in the spirit of using this as a journal, I wanted to write out some thoughts so I’d remember how I felt right after finishing Blue Like Jazz.

The first thing I completely identify with is my innate selfishness.  It seems so inescapable.  And being an only child for eleven years did not help in this area.  It’s crushing, really.  I feel like a deeper understanding of my own self centeredness was awakened.

Another identification would be the struggle of knowing how to love people.  I feel like people are of two extremes … they have a “love” that judges others or they have a “love” that accepts anything.  My spirit echoed Miller’s words as he asked, “How could I merge the culture of the woods and the Unitarian church with Christian culture and yet not abandon the truth of Scripture?  How could I love my neighbor without endorsing what, I truly believed, was unhealthy spirituality?”   I mean, I love Jesus, and I want to love people the way He loves them.  So often I feel like our judgement speaks hatred to a world in desperate need of Jesus’ love, but what is the alternative?  Blanket tolerance and acceptance?  Is that really love? 

Miller goes on to say that he used to withhold love in an attempt to change others.  It didn’t work.  After experiencing a complete paradigm shift in regard to love, Miller writes, “Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them.  If a person senses that you do not like them, that you do not approve of their existence, then your religion and your political ideas will all seem wrong to them.  If they sense that you like them, then they are open to what you have to say.”  Instant conviction.  My mind went immediately to a list of people who I have failed to embrace either because of my own disapproval or their differing beliefs.  It’s not that I am rude or obnoxious; it’s just that I withhold the embrace, the acceptance, the love.  And if you know me at all, you know I’m not good at hiding what I’m thinking or feeling, so how obvious must it be for people to sense when I don’t like them? 

So I need the Lord to help me to love others, to see them as He sees them, to love them extravagantly … inefficiently.  “Loving people is not efficient.” (Derek Webb, The House Show)  Loving for the sake of loving, yes, but with a hope that my love ultimately points to Jesus … and that I would be afforded an opportunity to give an answer for the hope that I have.

I want three people to read this book.  Tracy, my half birthday girl, because she is my left leaning Christian friend, and I think she would relate to the author in the areas that I couldn’t.  Jack, my pastor uncle, because he is a right leaning seeker, and his discernment and insight would help me discern.  And Stacey, my lifetime accountabilty partner, because she is my in the middle burden bearer, and we could discuss the themes of this book over several morning runs.

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