It’s been about seven years now since I first experienced Blue Like Jazz. I picked up the book one morning and read through it all in one day. Don Miller’s honest and vulnerable story of a very personal journey of faith resonated with me. It was refreshing.
When I was in college, I wrote a very short concept for a Blue Like Jazz film one day during screenwriting class. Later that same year, I found out that Steve Taylor had beaten me to it.
So when Blue Like Jazz finally made it to the big screen, I wanted to be there for opening weekend. Even if that meant a long road trip from the hills of Arkansas to someplace with skyscrapers.
If you want to read film reviews, there is a diverse selection of them available on your local internets. I’m not a critic, and have neither the ability nor the desire to write a proper film review. I’ll leave that to the professionals. What I can tell you is that Blue Like Jazz is probably the most meaningful and important film I’ve seen in a long time.
Because in Blue Like Jazz, I see myself.
From Don’s nerdy hairdo and tucked-in polo shirts during his Baptist days to his realization that he’s hid his faith because he was ashamed of Jesus, I felt like I was looking in some sort of a retrospective spiritual mirror. It’s a story about how someone who had never had much experience outside the Evangelical sub-culture is stripped of all the extraneous trappings of his religion until he is forced to confront his own belief in Jesus and decide whether or not it’s worth keeping. It challenges assumptions about how Christianity should be practiced, where we should stand in the “culture wars”, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It shows us the danger of ignoring how we represennt Jesus to our culture. More importantly, it reminds us that Jesus wants us to discard labels – agnostic, liberal, gay, religious – and simply love people as individuals.
I want to take everyone I know to see the film. To my fellow Christians, I’d say “Look! This has been our journey. Let’s just follow Jesus.” To those struggling with doubt, I’d say “It’s ok. See? You’re not alone. But doubt does not have to end in disbelief.” And to those who don’t know Jesus, I’d say, “Like Don, I’m sorry for all the times I’ve failed to show you Jesus. He’s not like me at all.”
If you get a chance, go watch Blue Like Jazz. Let yourself be carried into Don’s story. You may find, like me, that it’s remarkably similar to your own.