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Faith as Hilarious Adventure
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Donald Miller
Jazz Notes:  Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Inspiration (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, 2008.  143p.)

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This is a specialty book, a little bigger than picket size, hardback, a good gift format, which is so popular right now.  Miller here provides some personal reflections and background on the personal experiences and concepts presented in his earlier book Blue Like Jazz.

Miller is a refreshingly honest and personal writer.  He has a self-deprecating style that will have you bursting out in laughter at some unexpected comment!  He can portray his own inner struggle in a way you will identify with!

Spiritual Safari
You can go through the experiences with him, and as he opens up his thinking process, you can think through the challenges and concepts that he was experiencing.  Miller shares his safari of moral and spiritual questing and clarifying.  He was a member of a church, but uncertain, and found some questions not being dealt with.  He proceeded to learn from the world at large and compare that to his Christian background.

He found the figure and teachings of Jesus a continuing solid focus, which continued as a core of values and moral reference.  His writing here is hilarious as he shares some of the unusual experiences he and some friends go through.  He chose to go to a college known for its radical, antichristian attitude.

Exploring and Confessing
He wanted to explore the philosophical context and learn what was motivating some of these students.  In this context, he continues to ask whether being a Christian makes sense on that campus or in this modern world.  He and some friends take some radical approaches to implement the teachings of Jesus, as opposed to the standard church ideas of how to be a Christian.

For instance, he and his small group of Christian friends decided on a special activity for Renaissance Weekend.  They decided to set up a confession booth, address as monks, and take confessions.  Only this was  reverse confession.

They decided they would confess, as Christians, for all the current failures and historical sins of Christians in their society and through history.  They approached this with trepidation, not really sure what this would entail or exactly how they would go about it.  After they began the activity, it so surprised the first person that he went around telling everyone else and it brought about a reconciliation on the campus.  

Surprising and Puzzling
You can imagine this novel approach the young Christians took was puzzling and unexpected to their fellow students.  This initiative facilitated bridging a social gap and clarifying some misconceptions about Christians and the Christian message.  The other students were taken by surprise by this request for forgiveness, and many became their fast friends and advocates.  Miller and his friends tried to bypass the old negative churchy conceptions by focusing on Jesus and the way they were trying to follow him.

Miller shares this and many more experiences in Blue Like Jazz.  In Notes, he provides highlights and some more personal reflections on the background of the events and how the process of trying to be like Jesus has gone for him.

Adventure in Wonder
As you read, the tone you feel is that Miller has found life is a Wonder, an Adventure.  In faith, the adventure takes on deeper meaning, and Faith allows you to question and probe without fearing the answers you will find!

This little gift book is poignant and hilarious.  You can enjoy it whatever your intellectual point of view!  Enjoy it and give it to someone you love!

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[Review] Barbarian Faith versus Safe Religion
[review] The Blues Backstory
[review] The Carnival of Life
[PDF] Christianity and Society
[review] Dialogue on Emergence
[review] Experiencing the Future of Faith
[review] Faith Discovery Quest
[review] God's Trustworthiness in a Misbelieving World
[Review] Jesus' Openly Secret Teachings
[TXT] Postmodernism and the Emerging Church:  Some Thoughts
[Review] The Shack:  a Realization of Relationship and Revelation
[Review] Uncovering the Hidden Kingdom

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Review posted on Amazon and Barnes and Noble 2 May 2009
This version posted on OJTR 3 May 2009
Last edited 14 July 2011

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2009 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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