Blue Like Jazz: A book for disillusioned Christian fundamentalists

August 9, 2008 at 9:07 am 170 comments

For the Christian who is disillusioned with the fundamentalists (and the fundamentals), along comes Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, supposedly the youthful and honest voice of modern Christianity (I wouldn’t know for sure – old fart that I am). Miller writes with a very casual style – more fitting to random and disjointed diary entries, than as a cohesive unit. But I suppose that is what gives the book its seemingly authentic and honest veneer. Yes folks, here is a Christian who attends a secular college, gets drunk, hangs out with the dopers and attends anti-Bush rallies. Not that any of that particularly bothers me; I remember fondly the old days of the Pentecostal Jesus movement from the early 70’s. But even though Miller claims that Christianity is at its core unhip, he strives to make himself and his version of Christianity the hippest act in town. Miller seems almost oblivious to his self-absorption, and I continually wanted to shake him in my frustration so as to snap him out of his stupor.

The book was recommended to me by fellow church-goers as a means of questioning my questions, and doubting my doubts. I read it during the early stages of my own suspicions of the claims of Christianity, and I was told that Miller’s experiences would mirror my own. Wrong – oh how wrong they were. What Miller shows is not doubt nor skepticism toward his beliefs, rather disillusionment towards the political right wing that Evangelical Christianity has recently taken. This goes without saying, and answers no questions about honest doubt in God or the Christians’ supposed relationship with him. To counteract his ‘doubts’, Miller devises a tepid theology is of the ‘feel good’ variety. He admits that he never really doubts his faith in Jesus, so rather than try and ground his faith, gains self gratification by a variety of good deeds: feeding the homeless, donating time to charities, and making banners for anti-Bush rallies. Oh yes, and smoking the occasional weed. Not that there is anything wrong with his good deeds; giving is an admirable trait. However this does not make one’s faith grow – I know this from experience. Miller never deals with core issues, such as the reality of Jesus Christ and the holy nature of God, things that I desperately searched for. Sorry Don, but endless similes and metaphors just did not cut it.

Ten pages of meaningless, and frankly insulting, Don Rabbit cartoons don’t make matters much better. But the fact that Miller must fill pages with crude rabbit and astronaut cartoons is symptomatic of the entire book. It is meaningless fluff – fast food, junk candy and brain Novocain. Blue Like Jazz is that bad. Is it any surprise then that many young Christians have no idea what their Bibles even say when they rely on vacuous McBibles like this for their Christian foundation? If Miller’s goal was to meet doubting Christians at a halfway point, I found the effort to be condescending. Miller writes as a self-absorbed young man who attacks traditional institutions like most college students do, Christian or not. The book reads like a diary written during fits of procrastination from doing freshmen psychology homework.

I will be blunt. Blue Like Jazz is garbage. Miller should have left it unpublished and given it to a girlfriend so she can read his ‘most deepest and innermost thoughts’. Other then that, I cannot see how anyone can possibly benefit from this pulp.

On a side note, I found the entire chapter entitled “Confessions” nauseating. Miller attempts to win fellow college students to Jesus Christ by personally apologizing for the 11th century crusades. Did potential converts really talk like that at his confession booth, or was it as contrived as it seemed?

- HeIsSailing
(originally published on 17Aug 2007)

Entry filed under: HeIsSailing. Tags: , , , , .

A Christian Pastor influenced my de-conversion My de-conversion: A discovery of deliberate lies

170 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TheDeeZone  |  August 9, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Personally, I didn’t like Miller’s rambling writing style. Although it is a popular seller at the bookstore where I work.

  • 2. silentj  |  August 9, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    HIS,

    I can’t tell you how often people tell me to read this or I see mentioned on the net. I was guessing that the book was basically how you described it, a mirror for the vast young folks who live around town that are basically average, conservative Christians, but with cool hair cuts and louder praise music.

    I tend to agree with what you seem to suggest: it’s not the aesthetics, the politics, or your choices that make Christianity so difficult. It’s the core aspects of reality that shape the faith: omnipotent god, limited interaction, bizarre salvation, explanation through holy book, etc., etc.

    Only because my reading list is so huge, I’m glad I didn’t take the time to read it.

  • 3. john t.  |  August 9, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    HIS

    LOL. what a review. I kind of liked the book, but then again I didnt really read it from a Christian perspective. I wasnt expecting anything too deep and lo and behold thats what it was. Some days I actually like Mc Ds.

  • 4. silentj  |  August 9, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    John,

    That’s true about McD’s. I definitely like some “low impact” stuff to read, so to speak. But, when it’s praised as a book that’s going to transform you, not so much.

    Of course, that’s the author’s readers, not him.

  • 5. john t.  |  August 9, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    silentj

    One thing I have noticed about many so called “Christian” writers. They are actually more motivational speakers than theologians. Some of them are brilliant and others suck the hind Tit ;)

  • 6. TheDeeZone  |  August 9, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I manage a Christian book store & it is that “fluff” motivational stuff that really sales. When asked for recommendations I will recommend other stuff but Blue Like jazz and other similar titles are the ones that sell better than things like Bonhoffer and Packer. My guess is that many want to feel good about themselves and not think too much.

  • 7. roving_looney  |  August 9, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks for the review of this book. It brings back memories of my hippie-tinged days at college with the Campus Crusaders and a few dissidents.

    Blue Like Jazz was popular within the group, as were the Saw movies. Just ask the student leader of the Campus Crusaders at my small public college in South Carolina.

    This book was heady stuff for them.

  • 8. Prodigal Daughter  |  August 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I read this book when it came out. It was very uncool to not like this book. Suddenly all the conservative Christians I knew started acting a little edgier as if to say “we’re hip now cause we’re into Blue Like Jazz”. I didn’t dare state my true opinion which is very similar to what you wrote here. There was an arrogant tone to his voice that turned me off to anything he had to say.

  • 9. silentj  |  August 9, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    DeeZone,

    The superficial runs across spiritual/religious lines for sure. I worked at a large chain retailer and got very down about the reading public during the process. Of course, I also realize now that a lot of people are doing “heady” stuff during the work week and don’t want to be bothered with deep stuff outside of work.

    On a note about shallow religious thinking: A woman was shopping for a Bible and wanted to know what we had. I asked if her if she had one in mind, which she answered “no.” So, I showed her a few different translations, including the NIV, NKJ, and a few others. I even suggested she read one of the multi-translation bibles we had to find the one she liked. Then she said “Translation? Oh, no. The word of God shouldn’t be translated. I’m going to the get the King James Version.”

    So I don’t appear to be slinging mud, I came across quite a few bright people shopping for quality religious books also, many of them offering insightful information about some of the better books.

  • 10. TheDeeZone  |  August 9, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Silentj,

    I had a customer tell me that the Bibla Hebreica and Greek New testament were incorrect because they omitted some of the verses from the KJV.

    I think one of the best recent Christian books we have is Same Kind of Different As Me. It is a biography but a very insightful book.

    DH

  • 11. orDover  |  August 9, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I’m so glad that you reviewed this book HIS.

    Aside from my husband, I’ve only told one person about my deconversion, an old friend from Christian school who I was never particularly close with, but who I had kept in touch with for some strange reason. He never seemed like an “on fire” Christian, so I wondered if he had deconverted too. It turns out he thought very seriously about it, and was close to the point of giving up on his faith, until he read Blue Like Jazz. Obviously he recommended it to me with the promise that it would change my life. I’m actually kind of sad to hear that the book is nothing but dribble, it makes me think my old friend is maybe not as intelligent as I have given him credit for.

    From the review, it seems like the book is an attempt to bring together hipster lifestyle with Christianity, as if the author thinks that one of the reasons a lot of college age people walk away from the faith is because they want to vote democratic and smoke weed. Wanting to live a more “liberal” or “secular” lifestyle had nothing to do with my deconversion, and I’d guess that the majority of other people here would say the same. It seems like it’s playing on that old notion that people give up Christianity so that they can engage in sin and not feel guilty about it. I’m so sick of that one. I didn’t stop being a Christian so that I could smoke a blunt and get drunk at a frat party.

  • 12. writerdd  |  August 10, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I tried to read this book a few months ago, but I couldn’t finish it. The author’s attitudes were just too immature and shallow for me to swallow. I’m glad I’m not the only one who got this impression.

  • 13. finallyhappy  |  August 10, 2008 at 9:09 am

    After leaving the church, I was told that this book would restore my faith in God. I did buy it and I did read it because, at the time, I was assuming it was my fault I had “lost my faith”, so I was trying to remedy that.
    If anything, it helped me see just how far fetched christianity has become. “If you don’t like the traditional version, here, try this new and improved version. It’s more modern and free–I think you’ll like it.”
    So…it didn’t restore my faith, but it was a great stepping stone in my deconversion and thinking for myself. Not what the author intended, but absolutely priceless for me.

  • 14. HeIsSailing  |  August 10, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    finallyhappy, your circumstances of reading this book exactly mirror mine – except our assisstant pastor loaned it to me. He told me it would help me restore my faith, etc.. etc… just what you describe.

    When I gave it back to him, he asked me what I thought – without criticizing it, I simply told him it did not address my needs.

  • 15. HeIsSailing  |  August 10, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    DeeZone, on a recent trip to Books A Million, I saw what must have been 30 feet of shelf space devoted to, what I dare call Christian Fluff of the Joel Osteen, Joyce Meier variety. There was one shelf, one single shelf, devoted to science and math. I thought then and there that this is a great indication of the mindset of the general populace. After all, Books A Million only sells what people want.

  • 16. silentj  |  August 10, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    HelsSailing,

    I’ve seen similar stores. Do know this: chain stores are a reflection of the buying public. Individual stores stock what people buy. So, one BAM/BN/Borders might have 30 shelves of Math and Science and one of the fluff. Another might be just like you said.

    I’ve seen stores with extremely good selections of Science, Math, and Philosophy, yet typically, the fluff section is still larger than any of those sections. Think about this way though: The Christian sections are almost like self contained book stores in that they have the fluff, Bibles, fiction, Christian cook books, how to fix your Mustang like a manly Christian, etc. So, when you look at it that way, those books are still a small percentage of most stores.

    I don’t know if anyone wants to start the post, but I’d love to see a list of the best Christ-ations of non-Christian things, like lawn mowing the Christian way, No Limit Heaven Hold’em… that type of stuff.

  • 17. TheDeeZone  |  August 10, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    HIS,

    The interesting thing is several people have noticed I’ve started bringing in the deeper stuff but I can only bring it in in small quantities and what I do bring in sales pretty quickly.

    Silentj,

    Well, the types of books you mention usually end up in the bulk lots. Off the top of my head the ones that come to mind would be:

    The Gospel According to Jack Bauer, God’s Gambler, Diva Principle: Using Feminine charms to Win a Man’s Heart God’s way; The Gospel According to Tony Soprano.

  • 18. OneSmallStep  |  August 10, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    your circumstances of reading this book exactly mirror mine – except our assisstant pastor loaned it to me. He told me it would help me restore my faith, etc.. etc… just what you describe.

    I’m not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but what’s also interesting to think about is what the recommendation says about the recommendee’s faith. The fact that the assisstant pastor recomended this to HIS tells me that the pastor didn’t grasp the depth of HIS struggle with his faith, and makes me wonder about the depth of the pastor’s faith, as well.

  • 19. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 10, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    OneSmallStep,

    It seems to me like that’s a symptom of Christianity’s problems. The fact that most of the de-cons here didn’t leave the faith because of shallow problems like this is something no Christian seems to be well-equipped to handle.

    Frankly, the only way I’m coming back to the faith is if I start to see Christianity mesh with what I observe in reality. Since that hasn’t happened in the 23 years that I kept the faith, I don’t expect it to start any time soon. How is a Christian going to deal with this? No amount of discussion of doubt will change the reality that I’m observing. So it seems the only way I’m coming back to Christianity is if I start observing reality differently. And about the only way I can see to do that and return to faith is to abandon reason and critical thought.

  • 20. TheDeeZone  |  August 10, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    OneSmallStep,

    You make a good comment about the faith of the person recommending the book. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that book for someone questioning their faith. The book I would recommend would depend on the person but it would probably be something like Knowing God by J. I. Packer or maybe one of the Strobel books.

  • 21. finallyhappy  |  August 10, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    OneSmallStep,

    Very true. I never thought of it that way.

    I did realize early on that expressing doubts in the circle I was then in, thickened the tension in the room and sat nerves on edge! I seemed as though most wished they could stick their fingers in their ears and scream “la, la, la, la-I can’t hear you!” so they wouldn’t have to deal with their own doubts they continually suppress. Once upon a time I did that…

  • 22. Brad  |  August 11, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    HIS,

    Hehe, your review makes me chuckle. I appreciated Miller’s honesty, but can totally see where you are coming from. Many Christians encounter honesty and are surprised because religious fundamentalism/legalism preclude authenticity.

    I think you would FAR more enjoy Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.” He tackles doubt and skepticism from a philosophical, not religious perspective, and encourages readers to not discard doubt until they have thoroughly explored it. The guy is brilliant, and I would be very interested to hear your review of it!

  • 23. Bobbi Jo  |  August 11, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Brad,

    I actually was recomended Tim Keller’s book to read and it’s on my reading list. I’ve heard he’s a better speaker than writer, though.

    I’ll be the uncool one here and say I did like Blue Like Jazz. I guess I liked Don’s honesty and diary style writing. It mirrors my own thought process. Plus I read it at a time when my thinking was more along those lines. My thought process is always changing though and since both books were recomended by the same person, it will be interesting to see what I think of Keller’s book.

  • 24. silentj  |  August 11, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    This is somewhat of a tangent, but I think it does apply in this situation.

    One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is how I’ve shifted my thoughts in the way I think about the spiritual quests. First, I don’t think anyone stops trying to find meaning in their life. However, I’ve just recently been thinking about how my thinking about the journey has changed. For example, when I was single and younger (especially in college) I didn’t think much about people going through different forms of spirituality. The tone of such conversations was often pretty casual, as if they person had discovered a new band or something.

    However, as a father, a husband, and a professional, it seems like there is much more at stake in choosing or claiming a religion or belief system. I guess it seems like that choice of spirituality matters so much more than it did years ago. That’s not to dismiss or belittle the spirituality of younger people. I recognize that often times we ask some of life’s biggest questions when we’re young. However, when your choice starts to apply directly to other people, suddenly it seems much more important, making evaluation of that belief system much more critical.

    I wonder if that shift in mindset also affects how different people would read a book like Blue Like Jazz, even across belief divisions.

  • 25. john t.  |  August 11, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    However, when your choice starts to apply directly to other people, suddenly it seems much more important, making evaluation of that belief system much more critical. (Silentj)

    This comment is bang on for me. I became so much more aware of what I believe and how I apply it, since having kids. “Do as I Do, not as I say”, became so much more relevant. I wonder how old are you now, and how old were you when you realized the change? Im 44. Thanks for the insight :)

  • 26. silentj  |  August 11, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    John, I’ll just say that I’m younger than you and realized it one night a year ago. I had been reading some pretty heady philosophy and then gave my fairly new born daughter a bath. It was kind of intense.

  • 27. Joan Ball  |  August 11, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    JohnT and silentj: My question assumes (perhaps falsely) that you have both deconverted. If so, do you plan to raise your children as atheists/agnostics?

    My kids were about 4 and 5 when they started to ask me about God and why some people go to church and others don’t. My then-boyfriend-now-husband was a Christian and I was an atheist who had been raised in a completely secular home. While I was more than comfortable with my atheistic worldview, I had a paradoxical hesitation to raise my kids as atheists.

    Would be interested to hear how deconverted Christians handle it.

  • 28. silentj  |  August 11, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    I’m still a young father, so I’ll best answer by saying “take it as it comes.”

    In terms of morals and such, I don’t have any issues, as every rule worth following has a pretty good rationale. I imagine you feel the same.

    Where I can sense your hesitancy, if it’s anything like mine, is that you’re concerned that you’re going to deprive your children of a magical part of growing, making life seem hollow. I plan on addressing that by celebrating an exploration of the world and all of the wonderful things that exist in it. As I’ve said in other posts, I think the world is wonderful without a creator behind it. So, in that regards, I don’t have too many issues.

    I guess my biggest issue is how I’m going to handle raising a child amongst so many children of faith. She’s going to have inevitable questions. I’ll probably allow a deist belief, much in the manner that we let kids believe in Santa Clause. I won’t deter her from being a deist or finding a faith as an adult. However, I’m going to make sure she’s constantly exploring the natural world. We’re not going to answer questions about nature with answers like, “God made it that way.”

    I probably won’t allow her to attend many Christian events, especially if I know there’s going to be an alter call. Ultimately, I’ll probably handle most issues the way my parents raised me to interact with people of other faith: you respect them and don’t question their faith.

    I don’t know. Even the above is probably more than I’ll stick to. I’ll have to see what issues arrive. I know I want her to explore the natural world though and not assume that it was created by a guy in the clouds.

    Ultimately, I want her to be strong, smart, confidant, caring, and in good healthy. Come what may.

    What kinds of things are you wondering about?

  • 29. Joan Ball  |  August 11, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I just knew that growing up with nothing always left me wondering and seeking. I grew up without a defined moral compass and without anything but myself to rely on. I was strong and smart. Not sure I can claim good health since I embraced drugs and alcohol from a very young age (while playing sports and doing all the “good girl” stuff.) I acted confident, but was pretty self-concious. I appeared caring, but only when there was something in it for me. I realize that I may have been the same way if I had grown up in church, so I apply no hindsight cause-and-effect lest I oversimplify.

    I started going to church as an agnostic after marrying my husband and coming to believe in a “power greater than myself” in my mid-30s. This gave my kids exposure to church (denominational rather than ‘Jesus Camp’ variety) and they liked it. This got me off the hook from having to answer the hard questions. I let the church do the heavy lifting.

    I converted when I was 37 at which time my life promptly fell apart, especially in church. Within 6 months of my conversion I wound up in the middle of an insane church scandal and my husband and I almost quit. My older kids, who had come to really like church, did quit.

    I don’t believe in making kids go to church, so we “let go and let God.”

    All this to say that I don’t think that we have that much control over what happens to our kids spiritually. I could teach my kids to be Christians (like many of the parents of the people on this site) and they could eventually turn their backs on it. Or you can raise them secular (like my parents did) and have them wind up unlikely Christians in their late 30s like me. I believe that spiritual things (for myself or my kids) are mysterious and way outside of my control.

    My 19 year old son lists himself on Facebook as a Christian Existentialist. I guess that means he is still trying to suss it out.

    My 18 year old daughter asked to come to church with me 2 weeks ago for the first time in 4+ years. I hope she finds something there.

    My 10 year old son prays all the time without prompting and corrects my husband and I for cursing too much (a vice I can’t seem to shake.)

    I take no credit for any of it…

  • 30. Brandon  |  August 11, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Very good post Joan. For me it was kind of the opposite. The emptiness I had during my years with the Church is what lead me away, I felt no change, no emotion, no joy when it came to Church or God, I didn’t even feel like I was pushed away due to my own doing, I just felt like walking away was the right thing, it seemed instinctive, like walking away is what was meant for me. I often used to ask myself, was my heart hardened on purpose? I don’t know, but somehow I feel like I have changed for the better…I appreciate my loved ones, I appreciate the concepts of love and fellowship, and I definitely make the best of my time on this planet, these are the things that I have learned, truly matter most….at least for me…..however I do still possess a desire to believe……but for some reason I just can’t…

  • 31. CerealMan  |  August 11, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    HeIsSailing,

    Wow, maybe you should try to write a book and see what kind of reviews you get. It seems to me that your review of Miller’s book showed a lack of understanding in the cultural and social changes that Christianity is going through. It also seemed to show more about your own issues with your past and present than to point out anything worth noting about the book itself. And furthermore, it would seem to me that your issue is less with Miller and more with your fellow church-goers who recommended the book to you to some how get you “back on track.” I don’t think that was Miller’s purpose even though many Christians may give it to their deCon friends. I don’t share Miller’s beliefs but as one who grew up in Christianity and still likes to hear what Christians are talking about, I really enjoy his style and content – it is a breath of fresh air as far as Christians are concerned. I don’t believe that his book deserved the overly critical and degrading comments that you made.

  • 32. silentj  |  August 11, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    CerealMan,

    I think it’s hard to separate a work from the context it is received and transmitted. I think you’re spot on in saying that the problem is more with those that recommend it. However, their assumptions about what the work would do for HIS directly influences his critical lens in reading it.

  • 33. silentj  |  August 11, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Joan,

    I think you’re definitely right that parents only have so much influence on how their kids will construct their spirituality. Plenty of psychologists believe that environment (including the friends with whom they spend time) heavily influence kids. Some kids develop spirituality as a shared experience and some as a reaction against an experience. Parents certainly can’t control that.

    The models we provide our kids impact them more than what we try to teach them explicitly. I think if you’re living a moral life, that will teach them much more than any set of laws or rules you try to teach them.

  • 34. john t.  |  August 11, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Silentj

    I heard a good one once. “wherever your heart is your exegesis will follow” Aint that true for our reviews of things too. I understand why many on here are very critical of the Church and all that surrounds it. It seems many were spoon fed too much crap about it when they were younger. It would leave a bitter taste even in the most optimistic person.

    Joan

    I didnt de convert because I never converted. I believe in a Creator, I just try my best to not quantify what it is. After all I would be wrong even if I did. That doesnt prevent my intuition from telling me there is some driving force for all that I see. I like much of what Christianity has to say, but with that said, I also see where it is extremley obscene in its take on the creator. Hey, they did get one thing right, we aint perfect lol. My daughter and I pray every night, we have a non denominational prayer that we say, its pretty cool. We also as a family give thanks when we eat and we try to make ourselves aware that there is more to this world than visual and tactile senses can ever detect, at least at this moment in time. My wife has a son(my stepson) and she has her rituals with him as well, we combine family prayers for thanks together and she does her own bedtime stuff.
    There are many things about this site that pique my curiosity, also I love the fact that most on here are very well read and relatively well rounded ;)

  • 35. Quester  |  August 12, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Bobbi Jo, and anyone else thinking of reading Dr. Keller’s book:

    Some of you might remember Longing for Holiday from when she was spending time here. When I mentioned that this book had been recommended to me several times, she directed me to this Authors @ Google video clip. It saved me some time and effort, and may do the same for you.

    To avoid a wall of text, my original reaction to the video can be found in this comment on my blog. I summarize his points, and give my reactions as “Q”. In short, I’m unimpressed.

  • 36. The Apostate  |  August 12, 2008 at 1:16 am

    john t.

    Aint that true for our reviews of things too. I understand why many on here are very critical of the Church and all that surrounds it.

    The reason I went to Bible college and hoped to become a pastor was because I was critical of the church. I first read Blue Like Jazz when I was just in my liberalizing stage and I thought it was a joke. But that was my perspective from my theological training and sociological understanding. CerealMan above obviously feels it was a breath of fresh air. To each their own – the book did rather well on the Christian bookseller lists (especially for those of my generation).

  • 37. Brad  |  August 12, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Quester,

    His talks are excellent, but as he says in the beginning of his talk, he can’t manage to fit it all into a 30 min (or 1 hour as it turns out to be) talk. Your comment/review was… eh…. close, but I think you’d appreciate the more in depth take he does in the book itself. You can’t expect a 1-hour summary to represent the entirety of a book. It’s a summary and an intro.

    One of the things I found so helpful was his equal-opportunity approach to doubt. The guy really embraces the critique of skepticism, but applies it to all areas of the conversation (including skepticism itself).

    Check it out, even if you still disagree with him, I think you’ll find his approach refreshing compared to most Christians (to include Miller).

  • 38. DagoodS  |  August 12, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Brad,

    Your previous comment piqued my interest enough I did some research on the book. Even read the first pages provide by Amazon, and the table of contents. Everything there I had seen before. In the first part he seemed to be creating Strawpeople (“This is why people dislike Christianity”) and knocking them down.

    I am still interested, though. Can you give me, in one paragraph or more the reason you think a deconvert really should read this book as compared to others? What is in there that is has not been encountered by those of use who have studied the history of Christianity, history of canon, textual criticism, theology and philosophy?

    Thanks for your time.

  • 39. Brad  |  August 13, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Dagoods,

    “I am still interested, though. Can you give me, in one paragraph or more the reason you think a deconvert really should read this book as compared to others?”

    It doesn’t significantly tackle history of canon, textual criticism, or history of Christianity. All of that is briefly addressed in one chapter. It’s biggest contribution is how Keller embraces doubt. And in all honesty, I doubt it will be “new” for any of you. However, to hear a Christian working from a philosophical and rational perspective was incredibly refreshing for me. The guy definitely did his research on all sides of the debate, and he cites every bit of it. Keller encourages his readers to not discard doubt until it has been lengthily considered, weighed, and answered. It isn’t a blind “just believe” exhortation, and it isn’t another Case for Christ by ANY stretch… But at the same time, he challenges proponents of strong rationalism to examine their foundation, as it is also built on many assumptions of faith (at least by their own definition).

    In short, the book is a fair “equal opportunity doubter.”

    “The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly is to discern the alternate belief under each of your doubts and then to ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it… My thesis is that if you come to recognize the beliefs on as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs – you will discover that your doubts are not as solid as they first appeared.” (p. xviii)

    And regardless of whether the reader “changes his mind” or not, he measures success in our ability to not be so polarized in this discussion and coexist peacefully (which would be a result of understanding worldviews different from our own).

    Does that answer your question?

  • 40. Brad  |  August 13, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Also….

    “Everything there I had seen before. In the first part he seemed to be creating Strawpeople (“This is why people dislike Christianity”) and knocking them down.”

    The guy is coming from both a pastoral and academic perspective. His chapters address the major objections to Christianity as voiced by the hundreds of people he has met with over the years. It is not an attempt to set up straw man arguments, but I can absolutely see how it can come off that way. In fact, that same concern was raised by a Christian philosopher friend of mine in a discussion over it last night. Again, he is writing pastorally from an academic perspective, not purely for academics… if that makes sense…

  • 41. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 13, 2008 at 11:54 am

    “The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly is to discern the alternate belief under each of your doubts and then to ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it… My thesis is that if you come to recognize the beliefs on as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs – you will discover that your doubts are not as solid as they first appeared.” (p. xviii)

    The thing is, doing the inverse of this is exactly what led me to reject Christianity. I subjected all my beliefs to doubt, analyzed all my reasons for believing anything, unless it involved my faith. It was when I finally subjected my faith to the same scrutiny that the rest of my life got that I finally de-converted. As I understand it, a lot of the people here have gone through a similar process.

    It sounds like this book was written for either life-long atheists who have always rejected Christianity without ever really taking the time to work out why they believe what they do, or apostates who left the faith for shallow reasons.

  • 42. DagoodS  |  August 13, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you, Brad. I appreciate your response. (With only so many hours in the day, and so many books to choose from, it is difficult to narrow it down. But I must.)

    To be honest—I will pass. It may be helpful and interesting to some, but there are so many other books in areas I find more fascinating, I would prefer to focus on them.

  • 43. Bobbi Jo  |  August 13, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Tthough I didn’t listen to all his (Tim Keller’s) speach (on youtube), I did listen to some of the questions at the end and he doesn’t really seem to do a good job of answering any of them; if that is any indication of how the book is, I’ll pass too.

    Quester, I did like your page where you did his excercise. It was interesting to me. Thanks.

  • 44. Quester  |  August 13, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Bobbi Jo,

    I listened to everything but the questions at the end, and he failed to answer anything there, either. I know he can’t say everything in a short presentation, but after an hour, you’d think he’d manage to say *something*. I feel no need to sift through his book to see if he manages even one actual reason to believe in God in there. If he did, I’d think he’d include it in his presentation.

    I’m glad you got something out of my stab at his exercise. Today, I think I could summarize all those questions and obstales into three (which manage to contain all the others):

    What does God want of me?
    Why should I care?
    How do you know?

    The third one seems to be the trickiest, but without a good answer to it, I see no reason to believe anyone’s answers to the first two.

  • 45. HeIsSailing  |  August 13, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    CerealMan challenges:

    Wow, maybe you should try to write a book and see what kind of reviews you get. It seems to me that your review of Miller’s book showed a lack of understanding in the cultural and social changes that Christianity is going through.

    CerealMan, I am certain that I am not part of the intended demographic audience of Blue Like Jazz. Nonetheless, my review stands. I have been a voracious reader for all of my life, and upon further reflection, I can confidently say that Blue Like Jazz is the single *WORST* book that I have ever read. If I ever do write a book, and it is as stupid as Blue Like Jazz, you can be the first one to trash it.

  • 46. john t.  |  August 13, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    HIS

    “I have been a voracious reader for all of my life, and upon further reflection, I can confidently say that Blue Like Jazz is the single *WORST* book that I have ever read.”

    Im actually amazed that someone who reads so much would actually finish a book that they think is so shitty. Too much time on your hands I guess.

  • 47. HeIsSailing  |  August 13, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Brad suggests:

    I think you would FAR more enjoy Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.”

    Thanks for the suggestion Brad, but I think I am going to pass on this one. I have about 15 books on my shelf waiting for my attention, and I need to get those knocked out of the way before I even think about adding another book to the list.

    Also, several months ago, I already heard Keller’s talk that Quester linked to above. After listening, does not seem to me that Keller addresses the issues as to why I left Christianity. I have no stake in ongoing debate concerning the existance or non-existance of (a) god(s). Keller starts with the bold assumption that a theoretical god must equal the Christian God by default, and therefore if God exists than Jesus died for your sins and you must accept him. Hold on – not so fast! God or gods may or may not exist, but that tells me nothing about who or what that god(s) is, what if anything that god(s) wants from me. So such debates for and against the existance of god usually leave me cold – they simply don’t address the reasons why I left the Christian Faith.

    So thanks, Brad – but I think I will pass on this one.

  • 48. HeIsSailing  |  August 13, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    johnt says:

    Im actually amazed that someone who reads so much would actually finish a book that they think is so shitty.

    And finish it I did. I promised my pastor I would read it. Besides, it only took me a few hours of a single evening to read, so it was not a matter of having too much time on my hands.

  • 49. john t.  |  August 13, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    ;)

  • 50. john t.  |  August 13, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Damn I would so love to go out for beers with everyone on this site. Now that would be an interesting night. :)

  • 51. Brandon  |  August 14, 2008 at 12:01 am

    This is off topic but I just found this tonight….check out MR. Deity on youtube, it is religious satire….let me know what you all think!!!

  • 52. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 14, 2008 at 1:38 am

    Damn I would so love to go out for beers with everyone on this site. Now that would be an interesting night. :)

    It could be the De-Conversion Convention, or De-Con-Con (De’ConCon?)! :D

  • 53. nikki  |  August 14, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    it is sad to me that you sit here and pick apart a persons own personal search and a book that he felt the lord tell him to write. No where does he say that this book is a theological book… also it is very sad that instead of actually standing up for what you believe in- those that didn’t like the book- you decide to come to this website to tell your disconcerns. sad… I would think that we would encourage those that are leading others to Christ- because isn’t that what Christ calls us to do…

  • 54. nikki  |  August 14, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    also those turning to a book to help you out with you skeptical ways and your de- conversion that you say… a book will never turn you back to christ- but only what the Lord does through your heart- so why not try to read a bible instead of picking apart a book… don’t you have better things to do with your time that pick apart books and christianity? apparently not…

  • 55. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 14, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    nikki-

    I would think that we would encourage those that are leading others to Christ- because isn’t that what Christ calls us to do…

    I think perhaps you do not realize what this blog is all about…

  • 56. orDover  |  August 14, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    “a book will never turn you back to christ- but only what the Lord does through your heart- so why not try to read a bible instead of picking apart a book… don’t you have better things to do with your time that pick apart books and christianity? apparently not…”

    The reason this book is being picked apart is exactly because people claim that it is potent enough to turn one back to Christ. We–those who are in the position to be “turned back”–are saying why this book isn’t as potent as a pastor might think, and are saying why it isn’t actually enough to turn us back, like so many claim.

    I’d say picking apart Christianity and it’s apologetics is a pretty important thing to do, considering the extraordinary claims made by the religion.

  • 57. The Apostate  |  August 14, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    nikki,

    it is sad to me that you sit here and pick apart a persons own personal search and a book that he felt the lord tell him to write.

    Publishing a book takes balls. Maybe you are in it for the money or maybe you just want your voice heard, but you damn well be sure your words are going to be criticized – whether for structure, intelligence, literary value, or just basic content. Publishing a book is an audacious endeavour. It means that you feel that what you have to say matters to someone other than yourself. It means you feel you have something to say. The readers are the judge of that. Not only that, but we have an obligation to write down or tell others about it whether good or bad.

    Here is the thing. I was told by four different people on four different occasion to read this book. I don’t have time to read any book. My bookshelves are full of books I am reading or have yet to read. Thankfully the book was given to me so I didn’t have to spend my own hard earned cash on it. I spent my time reading it. Now I can only imagine that many others like myself had this book either thrown in their face by those bored with their traditional faith or crammed down their throats by lazy youth pastors, or simply suggested, in good faith, for their reading pleasure. So is it fair that we have a thousand great reviews by people who rarely open a book or care about serious religious inquiry and those of us who think the book sucks should just sit around and let others waste their money and time buying this book?

    So maybe you think criticism is sad. Personally, I think it is sad that you think this book is “personal.” If it was “personal,” than he would have kept it to himself.

  • 58. TheDeeZone  |  August 14, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    I have yet to understand why anyone would recommend the book Blue Like Jazz to anyone. To recommend the book to someone who is questioning their faith, has doubts or unbeliever is just odd. I really didn’t feel the book was worth my time. Like TA I just have too many books to read.

  • 59. Joan Ball  |  August 15, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Apostate and DeeZone: What are you guys reading now? Anything interesting?

  • 60. The Apostate  |  August 15, 2008 at 1:54 am

    Joan,
    I am currently reading
    Parenting Beyond Belief (ed. McGraw)
    The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (Ehrman)
    Mark: A Commentary (M.E. Boring)
    Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Testimony (Bauckham)
    Moral Minds (Hauser)

    I usually have five books on the go – one sits in the car, two by the bedside, one at work, and one upstairs.

  • 61. orDover  |  August 15, 2008 at 3:28 am

    “Parenting Beyond Belief (ed. McGraw)”

    I just started reading McGraw’s blog. (It’s pretty good, but I wish he’d stay more on topic.) I’m really wanting to get my hands on his book but I haven’t been able to find it at local stores.

    Do you know of any other agnostic/atheist parenting books?

  • 62. HeIsSailing  |  August 15, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Apostate is reading:

    ..Mark: A Commentary (M.E. Boring)…

    ME Boring? Your’re kidding right?
    Ehrman’s Orthodox Corruption of Scripture is probably in my top 5 all-time favorites. I have read it twice, once as a doubting Christian, once as an apostate – and each time I was blown away with Ehrman’s thesis. My copy is pretty beat up and covered in notes.

    I also enjoyed Bauckham’s Jesus and Eyewitnesses even though it had its share of ‘you gotta be kidding’ moments.

    Apostate, I usually read 3 books at a time – one that requires some thinking, concentration and note-taking, one I can read more casually, and finally a paperback that I can keep with me at all times so I am prepared for long lines at the bank and grocery store.

    So right now, I am currently reading:

    A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages – Vol 1 – Henry Charles Lea (available on archive.org)

    The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 – Lawrence Wright

    Man and his Symbols – edited by Carl Jung

    I am also muscling my way through the Quran, but that one is really slow going for me.

  • 63. The Apostate  |  August 15, 2008 at 10:07 am

    orDover,
    So far I haven’t been that impressed with the book. It is unique but I certainly wouldn’t call it a “parenting book.” There are much better books on the market that are not necessarily “religious” or “atheist” which target certain issues within parenting. I would be happy to recommend some, but age/issue specification is usually required.

  • 64. ubi dubium  |  August 15, 2008 at 11:14 am

    orDover
    If you join the Atheist Nexus, there is a group there called “Parenting Little Heathens” that hs some book recommendations, and a bunch of other Atheist parents to talk with.

    (p.s. – I’m reading The Blind Watchmaker, Faust, and the Qu’ran (online). I agree the Qu’ran is really slow going – every third verse seems to be “fiery doom to the unbeliever”. )

  • 65. TheDeeZone  |  August 15, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Currently I’m reading: the Colonial Spy. Historical fiction and a couple of books on PHP.

  • 66. HeIsSailing  |  August 15, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    ubi dubium:

    I agree the Qu’ran is really slow going – every third verse seems to be “fiery doom to the unbeliever”.

    It can be very monotonous and repetitive reading. As an exercise, I sometimes chant the Quran. It was never inteded to be read over Sunday morning coffee – it was meant to be recited. Try it sometime as if you were a faithful believer. Chant it with force and conviction. Recite as if you were doing a call and response over a loudspeaker. This is how it was intended – and I have to tell you it is very powerful stuff when it is read in this way.

    I have also done this chanting exercise with portions of the Bible that otherwise seem meaningless out of their original context. Try chanting the Song of Deborah from Judges 5, Moses hymn in Deuteronomy 32, or practically any of the apocalypses of the later prophets. I am not an adherant of Christianity or Islam, but when I do this exercise, I can understand why these passages are so revered and so powerful to their believers.

  • 67. orDover  |  August 15, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Apostate – I had caught the face that Parenting Beyond belief was more of anecdotal stories from atheist/agnostic parents rather than something meant to give instruction or guidance. But still, it seems like it would be a pretty good read.

    ubi dubium – Thanks for the suggestion!

    (It’s a shame this convo isn’t happening in the forum…)

  • 68. LeoPardus  |  August 15, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Just piping in on books. I’m currently reading
    -Scotland The Story of a Nation by Magnus Magnuson
    -Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir (This is my first try with Weir’s books. I’m always looking for good historical fiction.)
    -Squillions of science papers to keep up on my field.

    I’m also listening to History of Science: Antiquity to 1700 Taught by Lawrence M. Principe. This is from the Great Courses series. (I highly recommend this course by the way.)

    Fascinating to see what folks are reading, hearing, watching.

  • 69. LeoPardus  |  August 15, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    nikki:

    so why not try to read a bible instead of picking apart a book…

    Again, not knowing who/what we are, you make a bad assumption. Most of us here have read the bible multiple times. We’ve also studied it, analyzed it, taught bible studies, etc. We’ve got former ministers, apologists, and the like here.

    So please, as Archibald Asparagus said, “Stop being so silly!”

  • 70. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 15, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    So please, as Archibald Asparagus said, “Stop being so silly!”

    You know, even as an apostate I have to admit that I enjoy Veggie Tales.

  • 71. ubi dubium  |  August 15, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    So please, as Archibald Asparagus said, “Stop being so silly!”

    Ah, yes. I also admit to liking the Veggies:
    “Larry, how much stuff do you need to be happy?”
    “I don’t know – how much stuff is there?”

    I just ignore the preaching and laugh at the Monty Python references and brilliant humor.

  • 72. Bobbi Jo  |  August 15, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    “You know, even as an apostate I have to admit that I enjoy Veggie Tales.”

    Finally! Something I can chime in on! Isn’t that pretty pathetic that I have not read, much less heard of half the books ya all suggested. But I know Veggie Tales. :)

    I am trying to get there. My bro-in-law is giving me a book of Hawking’s. That should be an interesting read. (I probably won’t understand 1/2 of it).

  • 73. Quester  |  August 15, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I’m still meeting once a month with a spiritual adviser to talk about my struggles with doubt. Between meetings, we’re both reading N.T. Wright’s Evil and the Justice of God. There are many interesting bits, and he presents them in ways I had not thought of before. It still all seems to boil down to, “We can not know, so we must believe” but I have only read the first three chapters (out of five). It might pick up.

    Besides that, I’m also reading (for the first time) George Orwell’s 1984 and re-reading Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms. Access to many books is one of the fringe benefits of working in a library that I had missed.

    Lyle the Kindly Viking is my favourite Veggie Tales movie.

    Dance of the Cucumber is the Veggie Tales song which most disturbs me:

    “See the cucumber,
    how smooth its motion-
    like butter
    on a bald monkey.”

    Really, there’s just something wrong there.

  • 74. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 15, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    I’m also reading (for the first time) George Orwell’s 1984. . .

    Ooh, me too. I consider it a grave injustice to all of Mankind that I have not already read this book. After that I’ve got a couple books by Neil Gamon and Asimov’s Foundation series I want to get through. I’ve also got a couple books by Daniel Dennet that I want to read, though I find it difficult to get through anything non-fiction.

    I love the kind of humor displayed in Dance of the Cucumber. But then, I really enjoy Venture Bros. and Metalocalypse, those are some shows with disturbing humor.

  • 75. Quester  |  August 15, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    It’s been well over a decade since I read the Foundation series (well, the original trilogy and Forward the Foundation, anyway). I remember enjoying it, but I have a greater tendency to stick to light humour, more often than not.

    I really enjoy what I’ve read of Gaiman- enough that I can usually ignore that I don’t usually like horror or even dark fantasy. Which of his are you planning on reading?

  • 76. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 15, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Specifically, I have Neverwhere and Good Omens on my shelf (and I know that Good Omens was actually co-written by Terry Pratchett). I’m thinking of borrowing my roommates copy of American Gods sometime, too. I read Stardust and really enjoyed it, though I think the movie they released was actually a bit better, surprisingly.

    I also forgot that I’ve got Tolkien’s Children of Hurin and the Book of Lost Tales 1 and 2 to read.

    Also, I’m ashamed at how badly I butchered Gaiman’s last name in my previous post :(

  • 77. LeoPardus  |  August 15, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    “See the cucumber,
    how smooth its motion-
    like butter
    on a bald monkey.”

    LOL!!

    How DO they come up with such inspired lunacy? WHO, apart from the lunatic, would come up with such a simile?

  • 78. LeoPardus  |  August 15, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    BTW, my favorite Silly Song is still “I Love my Lips”. :)

    Read 1984 years ago. Ditto the Foundation series. Read all of the latter. (That’s what, like 8 books or more?)

    BobbiJo:

    Don’t worry about how much Hawking you understand. I had plenty of trouble with him. Still he is a good read.

  • 79. Oleander  |  August 15, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Personally, I like audio books. Maybe because my eyes aren’t so good.

    Right now I’m listening to the audio version of “Where’s Waldo”.

  • 80. silentj  |  August 15, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Gaiman’s American Gods and Good Omens are great. They’re more fun than deep, but they definately have some interesting ideas.

    Ubi: Which Faust are you reading? Goethe’s?

  • 81. Quester  |  August 15, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Good Omens right now is my favourite book, period. I enjoyed American God, Anansi Boys and Neverwhere, in roughly that order. I find I often like Gaiman’s characters and worlds better than his actual books, if you know what I mean. Anyone here read Eric Idle’s Road to Mars?

  • 82. HeIsSailing  |  August 15, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    LeoPardus is reading:

    Scotland The Story of a Nation by Magnus Magnuson

    I almost borrowed this from my mom’s bookshelf when I visited her last month. It looked good, but I am not Scotish, the book is rather lengthy and I did not know how much time I wanted to invest in it. So I instead borrowed the latest Einstein biography from her. I will get to it … ..someday.

  • 83. HeIsSailing  |  August 15, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Bobbi Jo says:

    I am trying to get there. My bro-in-law is giving me a book of Hawking’s. That should be an interesting read. (I probably won’t understand 1/2 of it).

    Bobbi Jo, I am not much a fan of Hawking’s books, but if I had to choose one for the layperson, get his ‘The Universe in a Nutshell’. It has loads of great pictures and diagrams to keep things understandable and interesting

  • 84. ubi dubium  |  August 15, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Ubi: Which Faust are you reading? Goethe’s?

    Yes – I have a book from my Mom’s set of Harvard Classics (someday I will read them all) and it has both Faust and Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus. Should be an interesting comparison. It’s kind of on the back burner right now, though. Dawkins is more interesting. And there’s a Vonnegut waiting for me once I finish Dawkins.

    (I love my lips!!!! Bee-Bee-Bobbity-Beebity Bow…..)

  • 85. Joan Ball  |  August 15, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Who’d have thought a simple question on books would lead to all of this. I must tell you this is officially the best blog run I have read. Toggling back an forth between some of the heaviest, most serious reading I could imagine and a cartoon full of Christian vegetables–this is the stuff that sit-coms are made of.

    Question for the group. I am going to a conference next week that will be keynoted by a former-atheist-now-pastor author who views spiritual development through the lens of M. Scott Peck’s 4 stages of human spiritual and emotional development (from Further Along the Road Less Travelled.) This theory would put folks who never believed anything at stage 1, believers who believe and do what their told at stage 2, people who question/rebel against former belief and branch out to other or no belief at stage 3 and believers who return to a deeper–often more mystical–experience of faith at stage 4. (This is a highly simplified synopsis).

    Anybody familiar with this? Just curious how people who would fall into “Stage 3″ if the theory were accepted react to the notion.

  • 86. ubi dubium  |  August 15, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I’m not familiar with this hypothesis, but I can’t say I agree with his approach. He makes it sound like non-belief is just some sort of mid-point between stages of belief, rather than a valid end-point on it’s own. It sounds like the tired “you’re just going through a phase” that I’ve heard preached so many times.

    Joan, perhaps you should write up some more details about his ideas and submit your question to de-Convert as a post. Then you could have lots of feedback from those at “stage 3″ to take to your conference.

  • 87. Obi  |  August 15, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    ubi –

    I agree. My rejection of religion/spirituality and supernatural phenomena as null, void, and nonexistent isn’t some “phase” that I’m passing through — it’s a conclusion in and unto itself based on quite a bit of questioning, reflection, and subjection of my beliefs to scientific standards of empiricity as well as rules of logical reasoning. Saying that belief is the highest stage one can attain is extremely presumptive, and it’s also convenient for him since he obviously places himself at stage 4.

  • 88. Joan Ball  |  August 15, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Hey ubi and Obi: Let me pull together a more thorough description of the theory for you to weigh in on before we go too far down the “he’s calling it a phase” road. You may land on the same spot with more info, but I don’t want my short synopsis to misrepresent the thesis.

  • 89. LeoPardus  |  August 16, 2008 at 12:38 am

    HIS:

    I just love history and historical fiction (make that HISTORICAL fiction… history first and accurate, fiction just as a vehicle.) Magnuson’s “Scotland” is history, but he writes like a fiction writer almost. Not at all the dry stuff so many historians write. Anyway, it’s a good read if and when you get to it.

  • 90. LeoPardus  |  August 16, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Thought I’d pipe in on Peck’s stages. Here’s a summary of them I lifted from Wikipedia. It’s more expansive that what Joan wrote and so may help to prevent people from responding inappropriately.
    —————————————————————-
    Stage I is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Very young children are in Stage I. They tend to defy and disobey, and are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own. Many criminals are people who have never grown out of Stage I.

    Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith. Once children learn to obey their parents, they reach Stage II. Many so-called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good law-abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.

    Stage III is the stage of scientific skepticism and inquisitivity. A Stage III person does not accept things on faith but only accepts them if convinced logically. Many people working in scientific and technological research are in Stage III.

    Stage IV is the stage where an individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature. While retaining skepticism, he starts perceiving grand patterns in nature. His religiousness and spirituality differ significantly from that of a Stage II person, in the sense that he does not accept things through blind faith but does so because of genuine belief. Stage IV people are labelled as Mystics.
    —————————————————————-

    I think it’s important to note that Stage Iv does not have to include a return to religion.

    We’ve had some discussion here before about atheists being “spiritual”. Maybe even “mystic” would be a good word.

    Anyway, I hope this makes things a bit clearer.

  • 91. orDover  |  August 16, 2008 at 6:43 am

    It does indeed make it clearer, but I think that if stage IV doesn’t contain a return to religion, that it doesn’t need to exist.

    The scientific skepticism and inquisitivity described in Stage III is enough to inspire awe and a sort of humanist or natural spirituality all on it’s own. I don’t think you generally have a scientifically skeptical person who doesn’t wonder at the vastness of the universe or the brilliance of an electron microscope. That kind of wonder just comes with the territory.

    What’s the difference between blind faith and genuine belief anyway? I guess blind faith, in this instance, is defending your faith with something like “that’s just what my pastor told me,” while genuine belief would require finding out your own reasons to defend your faith? I don’t know that I see a whole lot of difference between the two. It all boils down to blind faith anyway, a reliance on words of a pastor, words of a holy book, or faulty philosophical arguments like the teological argument. Religious faith is by it’s very nature blind, and I have no idea how it can really overcome that, since something more than blind faith would require some definitive proof.

    It does seem like he is suggesting that a Stage III person will eventually come around to Stage IV, or back to religion, which does seem a bit condescending to those who have searched long and hard and arrived happily at Stage III. It just smacks of the “You’ll change your mind when you get older” attitude, which I find intolerable.

  • 92. john t.  |  August 16, 2008 at 7:36 am

    I have a question for the De Cons. From your perspective, If someone believes in a Creator or power greater than themselves does that mean they are religious?

  • 93. silentj  |  August 16, 2008 at 8:32 am

    john,

    No. However, if that one belief is connected to a set of beliefs, then by definition he/she would be religious.

    In Christianity there is a pretty significant amount of hair-splitting on this idea, I guess for good reason. Some Christians think if they don’t follow the strictest tenants or go to church that they are not religious. However, if they follow the creed of Christianity and believe in Christ, they are religious, perhaps not as much as those they try to distance themselves from.

  • 94. LeoPardus  |  August 16, 2008 at 8:33 am

    It ‘s been a long time since I read Peck, so I had to do a quick bit of searching and rereading. Some points I got on reflection.

    -His stages are not stages of religion, but stages of spirituality. So Stage IV does not mean a return to religion.

    -The stages are not totally exclusive. Elements of stage II could be seen in stage IV. Elements of stage IV may be seen in a stage I person.
    I see a lot of overlap, discontinuity, etc. I think Peck has done an OK job of making some categories of human maturity. But he hasn’t made neat, tidy, well demarcated files. Certainly I know scientists who are stage III and seem to miss, “enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature” (stage IV). And almost everyone seems to be unable to get completely past being, “unwilling to accept a will greater than their own” (stage I).

    -This is one man’s effort to categorize human spirituality. I think Peck would admit its shortcomings.

  • 95. The Apostate  |  August 16, 2008 at 11:17 am

    john t.

    I have a question for the De Cons. From your perspective, If someone believes in a Creator or power greater than themselves does that mean they are religious?

    As a student of religious studies, I have to say yes.
    This has nothing to do with my religious or nonreligious persuasion. Entire courses are taught in my discipline on what “Religion” actually is. Defining it is near impossible because of the delicate line between too inclusive and too exclusive (i.e. is Baseball a religion on one hand, or can Buddhism be considered a religion on the other). The first thing that every undergraduate honours student is required to do is come up with a defendable definition of religion. Keeping it simple has usually worked the best. When I speak of the “religious”, I am speaking about concepts that which involve the engagement of human beings with “supra-natural” beings or powers. Of course this leads to the problem of “what is supra-natural.” While this is a philosophical problem, most westerners can agree on what is natural and what is “beyond nature.” Using this definition of the religious, I would not classify most deists under the term, but I certainly would label those that believe in an active greater power that has any sort of “real” relation to themselves.

  • 96. razzledazzle  |  August 20, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I am one of the few young Christians that hated this book. I agree completely with your review. Do youmind if I link to it in my blog? I feel as if a lot of Christians I know are disillusioned by this trash, and would benefit by reading this. I pray that you find the truth.

  • 98. Brian Yerk  |  August 22, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    *shrugs*

    I don’t know. This book really spoke to me. I’ve been a christian for 25 yrs (“saved” in a baptist youth group, degreed at a fundamental bible college, yada, yada, yada…) and i’ve been feeling the same darn way for the last 10 yrs. Our church had modeled itself after the Willow Creek variety and was getting so show-oriented and shallow we need to find another place. Just two divergent paths I guess. Why does honest questoning and discrepancy with your idea of what Jesus meant bother you guys? Are you white, suburban, upper-middle class, lazy-minded, commerical-loving, materialistiic christians? (haha- I am too!) :) Maybe we should learn to be graceful with each other.

  • 99. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Why does honest questoning and discrepancy with your idea of what Jesus meant bother you guys? Are you white, suburban, upper-middle class, lazy-minded, commerical-loving, materialistiic christians?

    Methinks you don’t realize what this blog you have stumbled into is all about. I suggest you look more closely at the title banner at the top of the page.

  • 100. HeIsSailing  |  August 22, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    razzledazzle asks:

    Do youmind if I link to it in my blog?

    Go right ahead. I am glad I am not the only person who hated this book.

  • 101. Brian Yerk  |  August 23, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Methinks you don’t realize what this blog you have stumbled into is all about. I suggest you look more closely at the title banner at the top of the page.

    lol- I’m a dope.

    *scratches previous comment*

  • 102. Thank God for Evolution, by Michael Dowd « de-conversion  |  August 24, 2008 at 12:28 am

    [...] Blue Like Jazz: A book for disillusioned Christian fundamentalists [...]

  • 103. Joan Ball  |  August 27, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Did anyone see Donald Miller’s prayer (benediction) at the Democratic National Convention?

  • 104. HeIsSailing  |  August 28, 2008 at 6:16 am

    No. I avoid those pep rallies (aka National Conventions) like the plague

  • 105. Joan Ball  |  August 28, 2008 at 8:39 am

    You and me both, I just saw a YouTube clip of Miller’s prayer/speech. Thought immediately of this conversation.

  • 106. tim  |  October 8, 2008 at 8:23 am

    rediscovered a sense of God tonight at a bible study held by a friend who pastors a small church group. The study on Acts 2 brought the word of God to life. We dwelled on the significance of the words and thought actively about it. Prayers were said and talking about what christ did in rising from the dead and the prophecies mentioning it nailed it all home for me in a real way.

    We need to stop learning the bible by rote, worshipping in a deep way and not connecting with our peers. Step out of the church and discover a sense of the divine in each other. If the holy spirit in dwells in each one of us it will in evidence by our love for each other.

    BTW I became an athiest because of pentecostal chruches and their flash in the pan style.

  • 107. Shannon  |  December 28, 2008 at 1:30 am

    It has been very interesting to read all of the comments in this thread. I too have been disillusioned with the church at times. I have learned that true Christianity is not a religon it is a relationship with a very personal God. Once someone has really experienced a reationship with God, they will never be the same. I currently have serious questions about church at times but I know that Jesus Christ is more real than the air I breathe even if some churches have really missed it. Even if the church or religon has failed you. He never will.

  • 108. Quester  |  December 28, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Shannon,

    If I could find a god to have a realtionship with, I wouldn’t worry so much about problems with religion.

    Thanks for reading at least one thread before commenting. You might also try to read the threads marked in the sidebar by the large, red, exclamation point beside them. Doing so might help keep you from thinking “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion” is either original, helpful or even meaningful.

    Happy holidays!

  • 109. Lynn  |  January 5, 2009 at 10:25 am

    “The fact that the assisstant pastor recomended this to HIS tells me that the pastor didn’t grasp the depth of HIS struggle with his faith, and makes me wonder about the depth of the pastor’s faith, as well.”

    Really? How friggin’ smug of you. I am a 50 yo pastor’s daughter..and had left the church due to exactly this type of ridiculous thinking that supposes a pastor might have perfect faith…I loved the book and am entertaining the thought of finding a church community once again BECAUSE I read the book. The book did not renew my faith in God and Jesus…it renewed my faith in the BODY of Christ..that, maybe, just maybe,there may be a community that LIKES me…this book never was meant to be a theological treatise. In fact, even my own (previous)church has veered tragically into fundamentalism and with it a TOTAL lack of doctrine…why have grace when you can have judging? Grace is the name of the game in this book…and not what Bonhoeffer calls “cheap grace.” This book is meant as a jumping off point, one man’s thoughts..it isn’t meant to supercede scripture. This book reached me…it has caused me to want to read more, seek others out and do more…and not just to “look good” to God…

    What’s so wrong about the confession booth? Did it reach others? Mission accomplished…true fools for Christ.

  • 110. SnugglyBuffalo  |  January 5, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Lynn, you need to work on your reading comprehension.

    I’m not seeing where anyone is making the claim that pastors should or even might have perfect faith. That the assistant pastor recommended the book as opposed to a random believer is really not relevant to the question of the depth of the pastor’s faith. The claim is being put forward that this book is shallow, and that anyone who would seriously recommend this book to help someone struggling with serious doubts about the truth of Christianity’s claims might have a shallow faith.

    And regarding your closing comment: are you calling the commenters and posters here “true fools for Christ,” or someone else? I think you may have missed the overall purpose of this blog… Perhaps I’m simply misunderstanding the intent of that comment, though.

  • 111. Lynn  |  January 5, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Of course not…. I would hope that we are all Fools for Christ..that’s in the Bible, right?

  • 112. Lynn  |  January 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    …and I was responding to another readers’ notion that a pastor might …oh nevermind. In any case…

    I wish my faith were more than just shallow at this point…but there it is, and this book helped me immensely…my point with Fools for Christ, in the confession portion of the book was just that..perhaps it was awkward, perhapsit was silly,but tome, they epitomized being a Foold for Christ…I’m way to coolmyself to do what they did…

  • 113. Lynn  |  January 5, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    …I normally have better grammar, forgive me…I’m at a laptop and sick in bed. :)

  • 114. Lynn  |  January 5, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Sorry sorry sorry! I did get a chance to read through the whole blog..GET IT! I’m obviosuly on too much Nyquil and should step away from the computer..i’m obviously so angry at the church I attack everyone! and I bet you get that a lot..

    I do stand on my original statement that while this book is not a literary triumph..I liked it..it helped me not hate so much..I still have to work on that…apparently.

  • 115. LeoPardus  |  January 5, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Lynne:

    Thanks for the apology. You’d be astounded (or maybe you wouldn’t) at how many “Christians” cannot and will not do that no matter how ugly they get.

    Glad the book helped you. Anything that may help people be kinder is a good thing IMO.

    Hope you feel better quickly.

  • 116. Lynn  |  January 5, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Thanks!! Actually I read through your blog and truly enjoyed it…

  • 117. SnugglyBuffalo  |  January 5, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well; I just recently got over a nasty cold myself.

    I can certainly appreciate that the book might help some believers. I haven’t read it, so the only evidence I have that it’s a shallow book are basically this blog post.

    As HIS said, “Miller never deals with core issues, such as the reality of Jesus Christ and the holy nature of God, things that I desperately searched for.” If someone thinks that such a book will deal with those kinds of doubts, I have to agree that it seems to belie a rather shallow faith. The book seems to me like it’s oriented more at people who are struggling with the church than with Christianity itself. If you have issues with the church, this book might help you; issues with whether God even exists, not so much.

    Of course, if the pastor really didn’t grasp the depth of HIS’s doubts (as the commenter suggested), I think it’s a little unfair to simultaneously question the depth of his faith for recommending the book. The depth of his faith would be far more questionable if he did grasp the depth of HIS’s doubts and still recommended this book.

  • 118. Alan Skiles  |  January 22, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Thank God! for someone who feels like I do about this book.

    I hated it.

    It was very compelling, but the ideas put forth are shallow and theologically hasty. I hold a degree in theology, am an ordained minister in a “fundamental” church, and I didn’t appreciate the divisive shots at fundamentalism in the name of unity and peace. It was absurd! Donald Miller simply doesn’t know anything about the individual people who make up the fundamentalist movement. I believe in a holy God because the Bible says He is holy. I (believe it or not) minister to and with people who were on drugs, and have conquered their addictions through the power of Christ, and don’t just wallow in the mire of mediocre personal holiness. Instead they, through Christ, have risen above to take their place in the process of sanctification. These people are fundamental as well, but they don’t look down on people who aren’t where they are. They minister to them. That’s the side of the “fundamentalists” that Miller neglected to observe.

    I’m also republican, but not because the republican party appeals to my moral agenda. I honestly believe in a government that isn’t set up to cater to those who don’t want to work. I believe that as the Bible says, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. I also believe that the church and individuals, rather than the government, should be providing for the needs of the poor. Instead of renouncing religion, I take it to heart as the Bible defines it in James 1:27.

    I take personal offence to the fact that something like “Blue Like Jazz” was published.

  • 119. midtownsal  |  February 4, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    HIS,

    When you say: “Miller seems almost oblivious to his self-absorption,” you are completly and totally wrong, He knows he is self-absorbed. In the chapter “Problems,” he quotes C.S. Lewis’ poem about being self-seeking. This is the second chapter. My point is that he is letting us know up front that he IS, infact, self-absorbed.

    Christians and non-Christians alike need to stop taking every “Christian” book so seriously and trying to put it in place of the bible. No words are stronger than those of the bible. If you go into reading a book like this, or any other Christian book, you should be able to tell the difference between that of the book and of the bible. It is one man’s opinion on how we are living our lives, ONE MAN! Whether he is right or wrong, we must remember that it is only a book and not the bible itself.

    I think a common misconception of Christians is that we know everything about the bible and that anything we say about it or any sort of theology we may or may not have is TRUE. Christians, for the most part, cannot spew out the entire bible. We cannot possibly have all the answers to all the questions. I try my best every day to build on my bible knowledge, but I know that I will never know every single word of that book.

    I know that some Christians portray themselves as holier than thou. This is not me. I don’t claim to be perfect, I don’t claim to not be completely self-absorbed. Non-Christians tend to take Christians way too seroiusly when it comes to our knowledge. I think this is where the problem lies with the reading of this book. Take a step back and realize that it is not the Book of Life, it’s only a book.

  • 120. wowy  |  February 4, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Actually, I liked the book. Not that it helped sort out ANY of my intellectual problems with faith. But I liked it.

    Here’s what I liked. There are tons of books on my shelf which I consider important to read, which I’m eager to read and from which I expect answers. But they tire me so much.
    Blue Like Jazz in contrast just totally captured me and I could hardly put it aside. There is an air of something in the book that I found thrilling. It DID attract me and I loved to read about his journey of faith and life.

    I guess it also helped me to like the book that I just viewed Miller’s “playing the cool guy” as a minor point. I guess for some people it’s helpful to realize that you can smoke pot and be cool and still be a christian. I don’t need to hear this message. but there are enough people who do. And for them, miller’s acting cool might be helpful (this might sound a bit condescending from my part, but that’s how I felt…)

  • 121. Max  |  February 12, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Interesting that this book is still being talked about. I’ve read it, and even though I have been in some heated cyber-arguments with the emerging church crowd, I confess to finding the book amusing.

    As the inevitably cynical daughter of a Baptist pastor, I have not had a crisis of’ Faith’, so much as a crisis of ‘church.’ What I did appreciate about the book is it’s realistic portrayal of a Christian who doesn’t pretend to be perfect. I am so tired of the backwards way we do church. And for the record; I’ve yet to meet anyone who isn’t self-absorbed.

    Ideologically, theologically and politically I am worlds apart from Mr. Miller, but as a Christian who doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere, I found it….oddly comforting.

    For those of you having a crisis of Faith, I’d recommend reading Francis Schaeffer. I sat on my Dad’s office floor for an entire summer and read ‘The God Who Is There,’ ‘True Spirituality’ and ‘Fox’s Book of Martyrs.’ We had the odd argument about Grace, but it was definitely the turning point in my spiritual journey–I was 12. (I’m now 45.)

  • 122. Jeffrey  |  February 13, 2009 at 12:57 am

    I read the God Who is There about a year and a half before deconverting. At the time, I thought it was okay, but I wasn’t exactly wowed. The title should have been “When God Isn’t There – the despair of the atheist.” Even if this despair accurately characterized atheism, this wouldn’t be an argument that atheism isn’t true.

    One point that really got to me came through his “evangelism” by means of “showing” the unsaved that they are unable to live with their worldviews. At the time, I accepted his argument, but I then turned it around on myself. Can I live according to my Christian worldview? Even time I sin, I show that I don’t actually believe I will be rewarded eternally. And it wasn’t just me – Romans 7 is a chapter discussing how Christians cannot live according to their own worldview. So even if his case against naturalism is valid, how can he criticize others for a fault he shares?

    I had known about presuppositional apologetics before, but I had always just assumed presup wasn’t actual apologetics, but just what ignorant Christians used in place of real arguments. I was presuming too much rationality in my fellow Christian. Through Schaeffer, I learned that this is the way large segments of Christianity actually think. I was disgusted. This grew into one of my many reasons to reject Christianity.

  • 123. paleale  |  February 13, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Ahh… good ole’ presuppositional apologetics. That was one of the best guns in my arsenal of evangelistic artillery. Take everything to its logical extreme and deconstruct it. Too bad it took me so many years to figure out that it worked on me too.

  • 124. Josh  |  February 13, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Presuppositional Apologetics:

    1) Assume you are right, even if the other person sounds intelligent and informed.
    2) Find all the problems you can with the other person’s worldview
    3) Do not, DO NOT, at any cost let the other person deconstruct your worldview.
    4) If the other person denies the problem you point out, or tries to avoid the deconstructing of their worldview, this is only the sinful nature fighting back. Keep at it.
    5) Don’t give up. Keep at steps 1-4 until the other person either rejects the good news completely or accepts it.

    If they reject the good news, this is more evidence that they are deceiving themselves or are deceived, confirming that you are right. If they accept the good news, this is more evidence that you were right all along.

  • 125. paleale  |  February 13, 2009 at 11:37 am

    YWAM anyone?

  • 126. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    My sister’s doing some YWAM thing in Hawaii. It sure got awkward when my parents asked if I’d be willing to donate money to help her do a mission to Israel afterward…

  • 127. orDover  |  February 13, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    As if Israel is a place that needs to hear the Christian message….

  • 128. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 13, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    I know, right? And with the tensions higher than usual over there, it doesn’t seem particularly responsible to be sending college kids over there to proselytize.

  • 129. paleale  |  February 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Are you kidding? It’s a perfect time! When I was in YWAM I had to use secret passages through cornfields because our contact was being hunted by the Moldovan mafia. I remember kids (KIDS!) being sent to Cuba, China, Tibet, Mauritania all on these undercover proselytizing missions. The armed us with a weeks worth of presuppositional apologetics and ‘Jesus loves you’ and sent us on our merry way. I can’t believe no one I knew got shot. I was detained at the border once and some friends of mine in Azerbaijan got ‘arrested’ but that’s all I ever heard of. I guess being a dumb teenager is the perfect cover.

  • 130. N,E. Koehler  |  February 14, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Wgy is it so hard to discuss, or read about, Chritianity with an open mind. Not all of us are Tillich (referenced in ‘Blue.’) Page 106 of “Jaxx Notes” — Miller’s quick study on BLJ may obtains; “We are too proud to feel awe, too fearful to feel terror.”

    A bit “fearful” are we?

  • 131. Quester  |  February 14, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    A bit “fearful” are we?

    I, for one, am horribly fearful. Here I cower, behind my keyboard, my belly yellow and my shorts damp. I quiver in my boots, bought especially for the purpose of quivering in. I scurry nervously from cover to cover, hoping not to be found by typo-laden, drive-by rhetorical questions that fail to make a point at any level.

    Alas, they always seem to find me.

  • 132. Lee  |  March 15, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    I just got done reading the book and i loved it. It was the best book I have ever read and is by far my favorite book. I have been raving about it to all my friends. I think its one of those books that everyone should read. I plan on reading it again.

  • 133. Blake  |  April 7, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Ah… What a fantastic book. Praise God.

  • 134. LeoPardus  |  April 7, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Looks like we’ve been visited by the McChristians HIS lamented in his review of the book.
    As HIS put it, “Is it any surprise then that many young Christians have no idea what their Bibles even say when they rely on vacuous McBibles like this for their Christian foundation?”

  • 135. TheDeeZone  |  April 7, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Leo, I would certainly agree with HIS statement about McBibles.

  • 136. Craig  |  April 14, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I actually love this book. But I like it because it’s a man’s honest reflections based on his own life and opinions… he’s not making theological points. It’s not a theology, it’s a memoir. It’s HIS writing about his own thoughts and opinions–he never claims to be theologically correct. It’s a personal reflection, not a textbook.

  • 137. John  |  April 21, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Has Miller commented at all on the fact that the Emergent Church (the ‘church’ that is now over-running the Evangelical community with its pseudo-Christian theology) is actually recommending Blue Like Jazz as a substitute to the Bible itself? Seems if Miller ever had a Christian consideration in his character at all, this would horrify him. No doubt, however, he’s basking in the glory of his instant fame and notoriety.

  • 138. Adam  |  April 22, 2009 at 9:31 am

    hey, stop being a winy extreme conservative and embrace good writing! The world recognizes him as a good writer you arrogant jerk. Oh and last time I checked, the Bible says that faith without deeds is dead (and vice versa). Good deeds do help you grow, along with faith. You obviously missed the whole point of this book, along with everything Jesus teaches. grow up you immature legalist.

  • 139. TheDeeZone  |  April 22, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I just didn’t like his rambling style of writing.

  • 140. Paige Hammond  |  June 18, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Maybe you should be little bit more loving in how you review people and their books. After all if you think he should talk more about Jesus Christ and more about core christian beliefs than maybe you should act more like a Christian when you talk about other people. It seems hypocritical to say that he should do so if you are not going to practice what you preach. Please do not continue to bad mouth a fellow believer. The Bible says to love others, and especially your brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, this book has brought a lot of people to Christ. I know from seeing it first hand. There are many different people in this world and not everyone can be reached in the same way. Remember that.

  • 141. Paige Hammond  |  June 18, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Honestly, instead of spending our time criticizing our fellow christians we need to act differently than they do. If we think we are right, we will get more done being the change we wish to see in the world than sitting around talking about it and being vulgar at the same time. Stop arguing! You are brothers and sisters in Christ! It doesn’t matter if you are a conservative, a liberal, or whatever you consider yourself, if Jesus Christ is your savior than look for wisdom and seek for truth in the way you feel is right. Don’t bring someone down because of your pride. If you do correct someone, do it with love. Thanks!

  • 142. orDover  |  June 18, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Hi Paige!

    After all if you think he should talk more about Jesus Christ and more about core christian beliefs than maybe you should act more like a Christian when you talk about other people. It seems hypocritical to say that he should do so if you are not going to practice what you preach. Please do not continue to bad mouth a fellow believer….

    You are brothers and sisters in Christ! It doesn’t matter if you are a conservative, a liberal, or whatever you consider yourself, if Jesus Christ is your savior than look for wisdom and seek for truth in the way you feel is right.

    We’re not Christians. We’re not brothers and sisters in Christ. We not do consider Jesus Christ to be our savior.

    We’re atheists and agnostics who used to be Christians. Thanks for dropping by! Next time you might want to pause and read the page header: “de-conversion.com — a place for skeptical, de-converting, or former Christians.”

  • 143. LeoPardus  |  June 18, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Sheesh! What an IDIOT!

  • 144. Joe  |  June 18, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    If you do correct someone, do it with love. Thanks!
    #141

    Sheesh! What an IDIOT!
    #143

    LOL

  • 145. TheDeeZone  |  June 18, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    I have to agree with you Leo.

  • 146. Rudy  |  November 7, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    If you don’t like the book then don’t talk about it.

  • 147. Quester  |  November 7, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Re: 146- If you don’t like what we’re saying, then don’t comment about it.

    Do you see how stupid that is yet?

  • 148. Jimmy John  |  December 7, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Blue Like Jazz isn’t so terrible…his other book Through Painted Deserts is better, athough I wouldn’t recommend either for de-converting or former Christians. Try Letters from a Skeptic, it does a good job of presenting both sides of the argument.

  • 149. HeIsSailing  |  December 7, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Jimmy John recommends:

    “Try Letters from a Skeptic, it does a good job of presenting both sides of the argument.”

    Too late. I wrote this review.. how many years ago now? I am no longer just de-converting – I am fully out.

  • 150. Noe  |  January 11, 2010 at 2:10 am

    Haha… McBibles.. that has a nice ring to it.

    He was aware of his self-absorption, he mentioned it.

  • 151. Youth Concepts Blog  |  July 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Jazz Youth Mesh…

    [...] €™s goal was to meet doubting Christians at a halfway point, I found the effort [...]…

  • 152. Anonymous  |  July 23, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Seems like most of the comments I read the person is expecting to be changed by some book. That should not be expected by anyone’s words on a page. The “change” you all are looking for comes from the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • 153. ajhogan  |  October 1, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Lasted three chapters then read the end.It was a very disorganized story that doesn’t really establish anything. Thank you for the for the short biography and information most people have about Christianity. I’m a hypocrite for saying he is a hypocrite, but if theres is an e-document of this book it would be interesting to see how many times I shows up. When he explained about self-absorbtion there were many I’s.

    If someone could give a substantial description in detail of this “saving grace”, what it is, where it comes from and how to find/recieve it. Much obliged.

    and Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t exactly mean anything.
    You either speak of Christ (God), Jesus or the Holy Spirit, altogether or seperately.

    and your use of “our” is demonstrative of Christian’s dominate attitude about their religion. You assume he is everyone’s Lord (our) if they agree or not.

  • 154. ajhogan  |  October 1, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Christian Faith (The belief in a God that cannot be verified through any exemplary known to man).
    No means of proof is availible to any of the five senses. Only the mind can accept such a belief. God exists or he doesn’t.
    Once “spreaders of the faith (of their chosen religion)” realize this they will understand why non-believers chose to believe neither, a scientific alternative or simply ask why God is more believable than the Gods of other religions.

    Suppose there is a belief that there are spirits around all of us all the time, constantly moving between this reality and the “beyond”.

    Could this be true, certainly, could this be false, certainly.
    Can you prove either, certainly not.

    If believers could stop shoving Chrisitainity down others throats and simply get over the fact that some other people do not want to believe the same thing they do. They don’t really feel the need to be part of the Christian group.

    Those who have this certainty, good for you.
    Those who have a different certainty good for them.
    My certainty is thought itself, nothing more nothing less, to claim anything else is to lay an imperceptible stake into the ground of the thing which we have agreed to call “reality” in English.

    Nonetheless, as Shakespeare said, the whole world’s a stage.

    So act!

    …..I am currently experiencing Religion Stuffing….a phrase I have coined :) ..wherein people close to a person try to gently ram religion down that person’s throat…
    I was asked to read this book and was thoroughly disappointed…

    If there were proof of God I would be most contented, because I could join the religious people close to me without the feeling that I would betray the essence of truth/verification ( or i would have to for the very sad reason that if God exists or doesn’t what would one have to lose from becoming a Christian), and they would shut-up about the Lord Jesus-Christ our Saviour.
    That was my only hope when I was given that book. Sadly disappointed again, growing tired of smacking ones head against the religious wall I see one fact and one fact alone.

    It is certainly uncertain, the existence of (a) God(s), heaven/hell, spirits, etc

    I badly want to agree with these people, but cannot because there is no validity in the subject matter (cannot be proved).
    and saying, “God is everywhere you need only look is not PROOF!!!!!”

    Also, the hypothesis about the certainty of God (true #1 or false #2) would mean that either Jesus was:

    #1 Everything that he was or that is accounted for (true son of god)

    #2 A mad-man with very good intentions, he maybe the greatest martyr who ever lived, or at least he thought he would be.( If there were a way of measuring the affects of Christianity & religion’s in general as positive for good and negative for bad, what would the balance be? + – or null?)

    #3 There is a creator so to speak, but he cannot be categorized by one religion, denomination, etc. This creator could be of a very human temperment or he could be pure good and right and holy as most religions have interpreted. He sends many messengers that most religions speak of. Then he would have to have enemies which most religions prepose. Therefore it maybe a possibility that most religions have a common thread through which the intrecate blanket of this theoritcal creator his been woven. Part of daily life, yet unknowable and intangible, only through what you come to know as good and bad could you maybe interpret the infinite casaulity of this creator.

  • 155. ajhogan  |  October 1, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    [146. Rudy | November 7, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    If you don’t like the book then don’t talk about it.]

    That’s very funny :) rofl lmao

    This is not insync with reality. I hate when people say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

    You can’t give constuctive critism and you cannot improve if you don’t talk about the problem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • 156. ajhogan  |  October 1, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    :p

  • 157. vamanan  |  October 21, 2011 at 1:31 am

    I like your style and thrust and have begun to follow you, but ‘the holy nature of god’ (about which you were seeking confirmation or clarification from the book you have reviewed) foxed me. What’s in your mind?

  • 158. Anonymous  |  February 25, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Your a BULL HORN, the book is what brought me back to the Christian faith because a$$holes like you drove me away….

  • 159. Paige  |  February 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Hopefully, those considering the Christian faith read the book then Anonymous #158 and not this comment of yours.

  • 160. jonathan  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Great book. If it’s not for you, then its not for you… but that doesn’t mean its garbage.

  • 161. xyz  |  May 12, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Sifting through these numerous comments has primarily reflected a western view of Christian practise and experience which appears to have ‘turned’ them off and in order to confirm their position they have unobjectively stated opinions rather than researched data relating to the Christianity. Of all ancient literature the Biblical recording the closest dated documents. For example the Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in the last few years New Testament fragments dating to the first century. It would be of benefit if the primary reviewer had at least consulted such research prior to presenting paternalistic ‘plastic’ conclusions that reek of ignorance and a biased approach that would not be tolerated within university circles. But then, as they say, ‘everything goes in the US’…

  • 162. cag  |  May 12, 2012 at 1:18 am

    I have no quarrel with the page numbering of the bible. The rest is just bullshit.

  • 163. debbie  |  September 27, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Thanks for the review, HIS… it’s exactly what I wanted to know, as there have been many people who recommended this book to me (I still need to read it).

    For those who want to read an amazing book about struggling with Christianity and the questions that pretty much plague everyone, you’ve got to read “Letters From a Skeptic” by Gregory Boyd. Now THAT addresses questions of doubt with satisfying logic.

    I also recommend this to you, HIS. Hope you enjoy, it’s one of my personal “top-recommended”.

  • 164. cag  |  September 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Debbie, Gregory Boyd is a theologian and pastor. This means that he makes a living lying to gullible people. Doesn’t evidence have any place in your thinking? Does it not seem suspicious to you that there is a class of people who elucidate on the characteristics and generosity of an entity which has no discernible effect on anything? You are probably thinking that my mind is closed, but that is far from the truth. Thousands of gods have been shown to be imaginary, gods that were revered as much or more so than your god, the only reasonable reaction to any god claim is to reject it summarily.
    For your reference, here is a list of discredited gods.

    I recommend that you critically examine the belief system that your parents indoctrinated you with before you reached the age of reason.

  • 165. Anonymous  |  October 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Blue like Jazz is exactly what the author claims it s in his prologue, kind of like letters you write because something drives you to do it. Everyones faith and story looks different, so If your faith is wavering, thats between you and God, a man-written book isn’t necessarily going to change your relationship with the God of the universe.

    I feel this book was great in showing that Christianity isn’t supposed to be about rules and living perfect. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, we can’t be perfect, and God doesn’t care about the rules as much as about you relationship with him. If theres things in your life that come between you and God, then he has a problem with it, and you should too.

    This book was given to me for a lesson in the first chapter, that you can’t change people, you can only be around them. There are a lot of good lessons in the writings, it doesn’t mean you have to handle the situations as he did, but you can compare some of these struggles in your own life and help get and understanding of how to go about them.

    I agree with most of you about how this book doesn’t exactly prove God’s existence of strengthen faith, but that is because God reveals himself to people in different ways and experiences, and your faith is between you and God, and you decide every morning if you are going to live by faith in God, or live by your own lifestyles and own will.

    The book is a great read and has some good lessons and examples of daily struggles for all of us, but if you are looking for faith lessons and how to grow your faith, read the Bible and pray for God’s guidance and teaching, thats the best place to start.

  • 166. cag  |  October 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    #165 Anon says

    read the Bible and pray for God’s guidance and teaching, thats the best place to start.

    So reading fiction, and bad fiction at that, and talking to an imaginary character, one of about 3000 similar characters, is to be considered a good thing and not something insane? If you believe that the earth was created before the sun and universe (earth day 1 and universe day 4), may I suggest remedial education. If you believe that the earth is the centre of the universe and the sun, moon, planets, comets and stars are placed in a firmament, please explain to me how geostationary satellites stay in place. Your god, like every god ever postulated by humans is imaginary, formulated by people who determined that profiting from people’s fear of the unknown beats scraping goat manure from their sandals.

    Please understand that words cannot prove the existence of your god, having your god overcome its fear of public appearance or the elimination of all disease and the regrowth of amputated extremities will suffice as proof of your god. Bloviating by anyone who considers a book that teaches how to treat slaves or forbids mixed fibres, a book that glorifies the killing of first borns and counsels the killing of all except virgin girls (Numbers 31:17-18) among other atrocities such as killing all but one family, proves only the gullibility of the speaker.

    Fortunately your disgusting god does not exist. Read your bible critically. When you read Genesis 1, “In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth” do not think “praise god”, think “that does not make sense”. Do not praise, question.

  • 167. Megan  |  January 28, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    It amazes me how many of you complain about the arrogance of the book and then turn around and thumb noses from a pedestal at the intelligence level of anyone who likes the book. Pot calling the kettle black to me.

  • 168. Let G.  |  June 20, 2013 at 4:30 am

    For me, this book is a good way to start spiritual conversations with friends. It is a good source for people seeking for answers and truth. We have included Don Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz as one of the tools we could give to our non-believing friends to come to Jesus. You can check the site at http://booksforevangelism.org. Heaps of great books can be found in the site which can be helpful for you and your readers.

  • 169. cag  |  June 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    #168 Let G., obviously that piece of fiction that is commonly known as the bible is not a book for people who are seeking answers or truth, so supplemental nonsense is required. Is it not blasphemous to state that the “perfect” book needs assistance?

    Go spam your garbage somewhere else, here it rings up a No Sale.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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