A few years back, tons of my Christian friends and a few of my non-Christian friends were raving about Blue Like Jazz, a book I knew nothing at all about at all until recently. I knew they were supposed to be making a movie out of it, but until I saw a copy of the book for 50 cents and grabbed it, I really had forgotten about it.
I’ve yet to read the book, but when I got home from the thrift store, I saw Blue Like Jazz, the movie, on Netflix and immediately added it to my queue. Since that day a few weeks ago, I have watched the film 3 times.
First and foremost, it is great that a “Christian” film can be not sucky. I’m used to the Cloud Ten Pictures lot, where they forgo plot and aesthetics and spend their entire budget on booking Corbin Bernson or Mr. T to star in the awful, awful film.
This, however, is not the point. Instead, what I wanted to touch on is how touching the film truly is and what I got out of it.
All you really need to know for purposes of this discussion is that Don, the main character, is a Southern Baptist from Texas, who helps with his youth group and is devoted to his church. His deadbeat, Atheist father hooks him up with a friend to get him into Reed College, a prestigious, atypical, ultra-liberal college in Portland that boasts an unofficial motto of “Communism, Atheism, Free Love”. While there, he first hides his faith, then loses his faith, then eventually discovers a new faith.
Don is a great poster child for kids like me. I grew up a PK. My disenfranchisement with the church was much different than Don’s, but I completely felt it the whole time I watched the film. He went from Bible-banger to full on God-hater… which was far more drastic than my personal journey, mind you… but through a series of events, Don not only rediscovers his faith, but perhaps discovers a whole new type of faith.
Like I said, I am a PK (“pastor’s kid” for those not fluent in Christianese). By the time I left for college, I found myself really weary of the church. However, I still ended up at a Christian college… and only hated it there half the time. Truthfully, I was never ashamed of Jesus, as Don admits to being in the film, but I was ashamed of being a “Christian” and sometimes still am in some ways. Like Don, I have discovered a different type of faith as I have grown.
I don’t like church, really. I don’t like Christianese (though I sometimes speak it unintentionally). I hate bigotry disguising as Christian doctrine. I loathe the ridiculous divisions in the Church. I could go on…
But, like Don realizes at the end of the film. Jesus isn’t about that stuff. He’s about love. That’s my “religion”. I believe in Jesus, therefore I believe in love. Love is a verb… remember that, it’s pretty important.
So, really, all I’m saying is that I’d like to thank Don Miller, Steve Taylor, and everyone else involved in this film. It is truly something that can spark renewal in others. I hope that things I write and things I do can sometimes spark that same type of renewal.