Blue Like Jazz

My secular-college-student daughter is a fan of Donald Miller, Christian author of the bestselling Blue Like Jazz memoir, now made into a movie that released this weekend. It is showing in 150 theaters nationwide, and I took Cynthia to Denver last night to watch. On the hour journey, Cynthia took out her iphone and read to me some of the most profound Donald Miller quotes she recorded. He’s no light thinker (and neither is Cynthia), and his movie definitely delivers some heavy ideas.

So heavy that you may decide to stay away from Blue Like Jazz. Topics covered aren’t your typical Christian movie topics. There is nothing about purity rings and no one walks through the Four Spiritual Laws and has a salvation experience. Blue Like Jazz earns its PG-13 rating with shock more common for MTV than the Christian movie genre.

Here are just a few. Don’s agnostic father drinks beer in the morning, sleeps with a student intern and mocks Christianity. Don’s mother is discovered having an affair with Don’s spiritual mentor and youth pastor. Don meets and befriends a lesbian after meeting her in a co-ed bathroom. Condoms, homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, etc. Sitting next to my daughter in the theater, these topics made me uncomfortable – especially the humorous take on much of it – most of it unveiled in the first 30 minutes of the movie.

And one of the scenes has Chris & Wendy Jeub written all over it. Don and his new-found atheist friend play a “joke” on Christians by draping a giant condom over a church steeple. A sign beneath it reads, “Don’t let these people reproduce.” Our most loyal trolls couldn’t top that one.

But if you can stomach the edginess of it, go see Blue Like Jazz. It may be a college party movie, but the movie concludes with some of the most poignant Christian messages I’ve seen on the silver screen. Love, charity, forgiveness, good will, redemption – it’s all there, and it’s raw and believable. It’s sort of in your face at the end, leaving you few options but to open up your heart and accept two realities: (1) that our Christian culture doesn’t deliver all the answers, and (2) the real Jesus Christ does.

In fact, while the first 1/2 hour was uncomfortable, the last 1/2 hour was tough to keep up with. So many of the most profound Christian messages were unearthed in the complex journey of the main character. It makes me want to watch it again and take sermon notes. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but let me just say this: I found myself confronted with the love of Christ at the end. Far from a cheesy ending – it was real. I had a lump in my throat agreeing, “Yeah, that’s Him; this is the Jesus I know.”

Here’s the worst – but perhaps the best – reality of this movie: I’m more apt to invite my non-Christian friends to see it. Not because of the edginess, but because of the conclusion. One of the punctual messages is that a life with Christ doesn’t have a conclusion – a “resolution” in the end – but is more about a relationship than attaining perfection or having all the answers in life neatly packaged in a Christian box.

You know, this is a theme of our books and this blog. We’re often judged for our love of Christ and our desire to obey him – and our insistence that children are blessings – but what is sometimes missed in our message is our attempt to expose the fallacy of the perfect Christian. (Read our series on legalism to get the idea.) You mustn’t read Love in the House without coming away with similar answers Donald Miller has for his readers. Miller is pointing a finger at the religious pharisee in us – just as Christ does – and offers us a redemptive choice to follow God.

Maybe Christians should see this movie. I’m not sure if this was Miller’s intent, but it seems Blue Like Jazz is more for Christians than “the sinful world out there.” Cynthia and I found ourselves moved by the movie, which is perhaps exactly what Miller intended.

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BZXHT7XDXDDSOBCWGPTUGYGV5Q Elizabeth

    It sounds interesting. I probably won’t go just because I go to so few movies per year and usually only ones I take my young grandkids to. But your review has piqued my interest enough that I might go see it.

  • lilaf

    I’d really like to see this movie. I read the book and thought that the author brought up alot of good points and ideas, many of which I could relate to.  But the movie, from what you say, sounds much different from the book. I don’t remember anything about the giant condom from the book. But it’s been a while since I read it.  But thanks for posting about it.

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com/ Chris Jeub

      I haven’t read the book, Cynthia has. She said that the movie is nothing like the book, having elements from all of Miller’s books in the movie. The script was written by Miller, adapted to screen by Taylor. 

  • hailey

    After reading this post, I think I will read the book and see the movie. It sounds interesting to me.
    Thanks Chris and Cynthia!

  • salamander9

    Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading your blog. Originally I’ve been quietly simmering and hostile to your message.  But I’ve changed my mind along the way. I would like to say, “I get it now”..  Thanks for opening my eyes.

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com/ Chris Jeub

      You are one of my favorite people in the world right now. =)

      • salamander9

        :)  This is not to say I agree with you 100% on all of your opinions.  However, I believe I understand that you are not willy-nilly attempting to harm people with wild accusations/theories.  I get that you come from a position of love and I think that is the message that unfortuantely, some times is lost in translation from your heart to a “blog” atmosphere.   I think I see that your love has led you to make what some would consider wildly unorthodox choices and I can respect yours & wendy’s freedom to be able to make those choices.  Anyway, I am blabbering on.  Just wanted you to know that I “get” where you and your family are coming from.

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  • salamander9

    Have you seen “Monumental” yet?

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com/ Chris Jeub

      No, we haven’t. We’ll have to wait till this one comes out on DVD.

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