I had contemplated going to see Blue Like Jazz so I could write a more thorough critique of it, but I don’t have the time. So I’ll just share a few thoughts based on an interview with Donald Miller and an article from The Christian Post.
First, the Christian Post talked to director Steve Taylor and wrote that, according to him, the film “isn’t a Christian film at all.”
Boundless also interviewed Donald Miller and Steve Taylor and asked what they want Christians and non-Christians to take away from this. Miller gave this response, which I found to be very bizarre.
“When I go to church, when I’m embedded in church culture, I tend to get this feeling that I can’t really share all of who I am. Like I can’t share my struggles and even my actions, right? ‘Cuz it’s just not accepted socially – for good reason – because it’s wrong. So the flipside to that, is that I’m not totally known,” Miller said.
He continued, “And when I go to work or I go to school I can kind of let go of some of that, and it’s not because I want to be this awful person. Partly, it’s ‘cuz I want to find out who I am and I want to be known. And I think that church culture can maybe cause a disintegration between the parts of ourselves …”
I need to interject here – What is all this about wanting to find out who he is? The Bible tells us who we are (sinners in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ), at least in relation to who God is. When Jesus called his disciples he told them he would make them fishers of men – so our calling is made clear. As for our character, who we are supposed to be is also very explicitly laid out in scripture, although surrendering our will to Christ is a daily challenge. We are called to be holy and blameless, to not be lovers of self, etc. Take a look at Ephesians 5 if you want a very convicting list of what we should be.
As for church culture causing some sort of disintegration within ourselves – this sounds like the rampant problem of hypocrisy. If you are one person in church and another outside of it you are a hypocrite.
That is not to say Christians will be perfect. Even those saved by grace sin, but choosing to habitually live in sin is incompatible with Christianity. Jesus wants to transform us and make us more like him, so our old self should be disintegrating as we become more like Christ. Read Romans 6! We die to sin, are made alive to God and become his servants. Romans 6:22-23 says: “22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Later on in the interview Miller says that we should be in touch with our depravity. I might agree, but I can’t quite tell from the way he said it. I do believe we have to be aware of our depravity and constantly asking Christ to prune it out of our lives – we are not to abuse the grace of God by wallowing in it.
I linked to a couple of reviews of the book, Blue Like Jazz, in this previous post.