One of my goals for this TV Fast is to read at least four books. In earnest, I wasn’t completely confident that I would be able to accomplish this goal. But, I set it because I like a challenge.
As I said before, I’m not great at finishing books. I am wonderful at starting them, but terrible at finishing. I will buy a book that I have every intention of reading. I’m excited about reading it! And I’ll start to read it. But then, like a child with ADD, I’ll see some other new book that I also want to read. I’ll buy said new book and begin to read it. This is an endless cycle. I must own 50 books that I’m one chapter in on.
So, I picked up one of these books that I started but never finished. (Actually, I was only 2 pages into it. So, I can barely say that I started.) Blue Like Jazz is by a guy named Donald Miller who, from what I think that I can see in his writing, I think that I would get along great with.
As I said before, I finished this book in less than a day; a feat that I attribute to a few things. One, It’s an easy read. Miller writes in a style that reminds me of an old friend telling me a story of how he arrived at where he is now. Two, it’s not structured like most “Christian” books out there. Most Christian books are structured with one (or a few) main points that they want to get across. They will introduce that point briefly in the first chapter, then spend the rest of the book explaining it in greater detail. With Blue Like Jazz, Miller has put together a series of short essays about any number of subjects, none of which he professes to be an expert on. He simply says (not literally), “Here’s what I’ve learned about this stuff from my experience. I don’t have it all together. I don’t have all the answers. But here’s a few that I think that I think are true.” Three, I liked this book. It’s always easier to read books that you like. You might be saying DUH right now.
I should come up with some type of rating system by which I can evaluate each book I read this month. That way, you can decide if, maybe, you’d like to read it too. I think I’ll use the same system by which Dr. Olshine and I used to rate movies. It’s a pretty simple system really. I call it the Five Yarmulke system. Basically, five Yarmulkes means the book (or movie) is amazing. You should drop everything and read it (or see it) immediately. No Yarmulkes means that it should be used as toilet paper, kindling, or paper maché (but only if you’re making a toilet…that you’re going to light on fire).
I give Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller four Yarmulkes. Sometime soon, I’ll explain in greater detail, this amazing and revolutionary system of rating everything.
With all of that now said, here are some things that stuck out to me in the book, and what I think about them.
-“I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time…If he can sink a man’s heart into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God” This rings especially true for me now. In fact, it’s the whole reason why I’m doing this TV fast in the first place! I felt like I was way too immersed in the daily ritual of watching TV. And I totally agree with Miller. Complacency breeds contempt.
-“Why would I forsake the riches of God’s righteousness for the dung of my own ego?” The apostle Paul wrote about this. I feel like so many times I choose my way over God’s way. I feel like I am entitled. I feel like I deserve this or that, or that I can make something work for God, even when He has said it won’t. I tell my students that, sometimes, we let the “good” become the enemy of the “best”. Meaning, sometimes, we choose to settle for something that is alright instead of waiting on or choosing something that is the best.
-“Our ‘behavior’ will not be changed long with self-discipline, but fall in love and a human will accomplish what he never thought possible.” This statement is especially troubling to me. Mainly because I believe it to be so true, that it scares me a little. I was in love once. I would have moved mountains for her. Not because I had to make myself, but because something inside of me compelled me to do so. Not only did it compel me, but it drove me, it powered me. After reading this, and looking inside myself, I can’t help but question how in love with God I am. I mean, this whole month is all about putting boundaries up in my life to help me focus myself more on loving God. Am I making myself do this? If I were really in love with God, would I have to make myself? Or would it just come more naturally to me? I’m not sure. But I can tell you this: I do love God. As much as I know how. But I want to fall in love with Him. I want to fall so in love with Him that something inside of me drives me to be with him. Something that I can’t stifle, even if I tried.
-“Don’t complain about the way God answers your prayers.” Me: God, please do this! God: Aight. Me: No, I meant do this the way that I want you to do it. Not that way. God: Sheesh. ‘Nuff said.
-“Something got crossed in the wires, and I became the person I should be and not the person I am.” One of the things that I value most in life is a connection with reality. Some people call it “being real”. Some call it “authenticity”. Others, “integrity”. Whatever you call it, you can always tell when someone doesn’t have it. When they are pretending. Sometimes, I feel like Miller. Like I’m just trying to keep up with who I think I should be because of my job, not who I really am. That’s why I love to be around the people in my life who really are themselves. Whenever I’m with them, I feel like it’s OK to be me. And whenever I allow myself to be me, it’s like a rush of fresh air to my lungs.
-“What I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do.” I once read a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. He said, “What you do thunders above your head so loudly, I cannot hear the words that you say.” I wonder if there was a scale by which to measure how much I believed something by how much I acted on it, how my beliefs would measure up. Would they even register?
I just realized that I’m trying to post everything that I learned from a book, and everything that I am thinking about, in relation to it, in one post. I know, I’m kind of dense. I’ll say this is going to come in two parts. Part two will come tomorrow...