Donald Miller is active in a small but effective youth ministry program at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Miller has written two books on spirituality from a uniquely Generation X perspective. His latest book is Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality (Thomas Nelson.)
Why did you call your book Blue Like Jazz?
I was coming out of the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night, and I saw a man playing the saxophone. He kept his eyes closed the whole time. You could tell he just loved playing that music.
Before I saw him, I didn't like jazz music because I thought it didn't resolve. It didn't seem to go somewhere or have a conclusion. But I watched this guy playing the saxophone. He loved it so much that I found that I liked jazz music. It is not uncommon for people to see somebody else love something and it helps them love it themselves.
The more I thought about it, the more I liked this as a metaphor for my spiritual journey. I used to not like God because I felt he didn't have resolve. I couldn't figure him out. Faith seemed to contain a lot of paradoxes that I didn't want to hurt my brain thinking about.
Also, jazz music is just a language of the soul that you can't say with words. That's very much like Christian spirituality.
When Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France the other day, or when an athlete wins any big game, there's sort of a barbaric yelp, as Walt Whitman would say. We might think, "Well, he's not saying anything." But he's saying a lot. He's saying stuff you can't say with words.
Why did you write this book?
I saw this great interview on CNN with Tom Arnold, the comedian. He just wrote a book called, How I Lost 5 Pounds in 6 Years: An Autobiography. The interviewer asked him, "Why did you write ...1