Author Donald Miller was featured in The Blade's religious section under the curious title, "Liberals can be Christians too, author says." Miller has written four books, but BlueLikeJazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality was the focus of the AP article.
The BlueLikeJazz website features the author's words on the book:
When I started writing this book I just wanted to end up with something like Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, because in Traveling Mercies it felt like she was free, free to be herself, to tell her story, to just vent, to rant, to speak as if she were talking to a friend. Traveling Mercies helped me write this book, and in a way, for a while, Anne will be "The Beatles" of spiritual books, because she has influenced so many of us.
I definitely feel as though I got permission from Anne Lamott, permission to be human and to interact with God without all of the mind-melt that comes with growing up in a religious family. I never believed it would be published, and so I was pretty open in this book. My career was dead when I started this thing, so I felt like I was just talking to myself, or to the little reading group that met at my house.
Sting has this song where he says that he is alone on an island and puts a message in a bottle and throws it into the ocean, only to wake the next morning and have a hundred million bottles washed upon his shore. He sings "I guess I'm not alone at being alone." and I think that sums up how I feel about Blue Like Jazz. It feels like I thought I was alone but woke up one morning to discover nothing could be further from the truth. And people have been incredibly kind."
Back to The Blade title: Liberals can be Christians too. Funny stuff. As if the conservatives, the fundamentalists have a corner on Jesus. Naturally, they will tell you that they do if you should ask, but I'd advise that you don't ask. Should you, you'll be in for much more than you could have imagined. It seems that Jesus belongs solely to them.
Poor Jesus, he has been spun into the ancient god of Israel, Yahweh, whose name could mean 'storm,' the derivation of the name from Hebrew hawahor and/or Arabic hawa . Storm, lightening and thunder- to scare the dickens out of you! Conservative Christians love to do just that as guilt plays a major role in their theology.
In the writings attributed to Jesus we see a 'storm' of sorts, but a storm waged against bigotry, hypocrisy and injustice. These three social ills were the prime topic of many of the writings. His choice of Mary Magdalene as close confidant is perhaps his greatest slap in the face of those righteous Sadducees who ran the Temple during his time. She is quite the thorn in the side of today's conservative and fundamentalist Christians. They don't know what do do with her and so she is often ignored, even though it is she who is at the side of Jesus at his crucification, burial, and resurrection.
Odd stuff, indeed. Many believe that Jesus was quite the liberal as he demonstrated throughout his life. Author Miller has brought that Jesus to our attention in BlueLikeJazz. Send a copy to your conservative friends and ask if they would like to begin a book discussion based on the book.