Tuesday, January 26, 2010

but my favorite food is pancakes...

I read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller over winter break. I was also listening to his newest work, A Thousand Miles in a Million Years as an audiobook. This post, however, will deal mostly with Blue Like Jazz.

I like reading books about religion and society. The subtitle of Blue Like Jazz is "Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality." This seems like a misnomer. The book is almost entirely devoted to religious thought on Christian spirituality, in mostly an evangelical sense. There were parts of the book that I liked and other aspects that I could have done without.

An excerpt:

"I think Laura was looking for something rational, because she believed that all things that were true were rational. But that isn't the case. Love, for example, is a true emotion, but it's not rational. What I mean is, people actually feel it. Love cannot be proven scientifically. Neither can beauty. Light cannot be proved scientifically, and yet we all believe in light and by light see all things. There are plenty of things that are true that don't make any sense. I think one of the problems Laura was having was that she wanted God to make sense. He doesn't. He will make no more sense to me than I will make sense to an ant."

I like the whole idea of accepting things that can't necessarily be proven scientifically. Belief in various ideas and concepts is very difficult for me. I like to understand the rationale and logic behind ideas. I like "proof." Many people believe that religion is pitted against intellectualism, because people that believe in God cannot "prove" his existence. And yet there are other things, such as beauty and love, that we cannot prove, justify, or quantify. Hence the metaphysical poets (we are studying Donne in Brit Lit right now).

Miller's newest book, A Thousand Miles in a Million Years, is more my style and I highly recommend it. It is more of a "why am I here and why does it matter" type of book. In one memoir, he addresses religion, the Tour de France, living life as a story, cancer, riding a bike across the country, and consciousness. He does a pretty good job, in my opinion. I haven't read his arguably most famous book, Searching for God Knows What, but I plan on reading it fairly soon.

Miller, on love and acceptance in Blue Like Jazz:

"I can't do it. It would be like, say, trying to fall in love with somebody, or trying to convince yourself that your favorite food is pancakes. You don't decide those things, they just happen to you..."