I thought I would finish Blue Like Jazz before now, but several nights of dozing off while reading made it go a bit slower than I expected. However, it is not a slow read. While I don't always agree with everything Miller writes, I found myself regularly nodding in appreciation at his thoughts and definitely slipping through the pages without much friction at all. Actually, that statement is not entirely true because this book has given me plenty of friction in terms of things I will ruminate on for weeks and that convicted me, but it wasn't difficult reading at all.
I think my favorite chapter (essay? musing?) was the one entitled "Belief: The Birth of Cool." Perhaps it's because he echoes my thoughts about love ("Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon."), or perhaps it's because he makes such a good point about how important being cool is in our world (". . . in the end, the undercurrent running through culture is not giving people value based upon what they believe and what they are doing to aid society, the undercurrent is deciding their value based upon whether or not they are cool."), but I think it's mostly because he elucidates so honestly the thought that it's not enough to be passionate about our beliefs; what we believe is actually more important than how we believe in it ("Andrew is the one who taught me that what I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do."). I love this closing thought to this chapter:
I am learning to believe better things. I am learning to believe that other people exist, that fashion is not truth; rather, Jesus is the most important figure in history, and the gospel is the most powerful force in the universe. I am learning not to be passionate about empty things, but to cultivate passion for justice, grace, truth, and communicate the idea that Jesus likes people and even loves them.
Finally, his words on wonder (from a different chapter) really resonated with me. He writes here what I've tried to explain many times over:
I can no more understand the totality of God than the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me. The little we do understand, the grain of sand our minds are capable of grasping, those ideas such as God is good, God feels, God loves, God knows all, are enough to keep our hearts dwelling on His majesty and otherness forever. (202)
The only bad part about this book is that it was borrowed from a friend, so I'll have to put it on my list of "Books to Buy" at some point. It is exactly the kind of thing I hope my children stumble across as teenagers - I only hope it will still be relevant then.
Next up will be Ten Indians by Madison Smartt Bell. I'm actually drifting in and out of MSB's Narrative Design as well, but this will be my first reading of his fiction.