BLUE LIKE JAZZ earned four stars from a group in Nashville last night. I’d read the book by Donald Miller back in 2010 so I knew some of the storylines, but the film by Steve Taylor brings it to life.
I met Donald Miller when he was a speaker at the Inaugural C3 Conference (Christ:Church:Culture) in 2011 here in Nashville, but I was too embarrassed in that brief meeting to tell him that his story is my story, with a few variations. I grew up in New York, not Texas and I was raised Roman Catholic, not Southern Baptist, but the message was the same: believe in what I tell you and don’t question my actions, just listen to my words. My Dad was an absent parent, only coming to life when he was yelling at my mother, or threatening her with physical harm. Don’s question really hit home, “I wonder why it is God refers to Himself as “Father” at all; why would God want to call Himself Father when so many fathers abandon their children?” Growing up, my God was like my earthly Father, distant, depressed, yelling, and with a tendency towards physical discipline.
Just like Don, I went halfway across the country to Oklahoma to College as an escape from my “religious reality” and promptly quit going to church, managing to finish a five-year college education without ever locating the Newman Center on campus.
Don’s rebellion at God during his College years rings true for so many of us. We’re exposed to new people and ideas and it’s when we first start questioning life and its meaning. Don’s admission that he is ashamed of Jesus because he wants to be liked speaks to our human desire to fit in and be accepted by others, regardless of the cost.
This isn’t a syrupy Christian film where the main characters repent, are saved and life becomes rosy. This is a real film about Christians who have been wronged by the church and the people in it, and they react as humans do, by getting as far away from the cause of the pain. The film is about how humans relate to each other and Penny’s character sums it all up: “Don, everybody’s life has crap in it.” The film shows the stark realities of our lives and how we deal with the crap with and without Christ.
Thanks to Don Miller and Steve Taylor for believing that the movie had to get made.
See the film, and then start a dialogue about it!