We started a class on Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. It’s truly a fantastic book, providing a platform to launch deep and stimulating conversation off of. It’s unlike other Christian books in that it’s not a formulaic, step-by-step book to greater ________ (you fill in the blank). I felt very inspired by the class today, so I’m going to post my notes.
Blue Like Jazz
Session #1: Introduction & Ch. 1-3
Living Within The Harmonic Structure
Vulnerability & Openness
- Today, we are looking at what it means to live within “life’s created order,” this harmonic structure, this idea of God’s story and how we fit into that. Blue Like Jazz is a story, a collection of thoughts compiled and beautifully juxtaposed in such a way to give us a platform to discuss life, faith, and God.
Mad Libs Activity
- Don talks a lot about stories and the basic components required in story. If they don’t contain certain structures, certain elements, the story won’t make sense. As we see in the Mad Libs, even if they have the required pieces (nouns, pronouns, adjectives), they sometimes don’t make sense, they don’t work, they’re out of place. These stories, like jazz music, don’t always make sense. But more on that later…
Watch Esperanza Spalding (By the way, check her out on Youtube! Unreal Jazz musician)
- What are your reactions?
- Jazz music, if you’re like me, doesn’t always sound great to me. But what is AMAZING about jazz is that these musicians are playing within this bass line of a harmonic structure. If she sings a note out of this structure, it would sound terrible!
- What’s similar about the Mad Libs and Esperanza Spalding?
- Think about the Creation Story. God gave his people a garden to play within and they went out of bounds. They went out of the harmonic structure. They fell out of rhythm.
- Where are you? Are you in rhythm? Are you playing within the harmonic structure?
Watch Video of Don Miller to 15:00
- “Creeds provide boundaries, but stories are more powerful than creeds.” Stories, narrative, also provide boundaries.
- What are the essential elements of a story? (Setting, conflict, climax, resolution)
- What do you think Don means when he says “If he can sink a into habit, prevent him from truly engaging God.” Semper reformanda…
- Who played make believe games growing up? I played hours of whiffle ball and gun wars. Wanted to be someone fancy and no one wants to be themselves. To Don, God was magic, selling something He wanted.
- Who has ever viewed God like that? If I pray, I’ll receive. Put my coins in and out comes the answer. Make us new? How?
Navy Seal Story: “Cuddled up close to the hostages and whispered, Follow me…”
Don says Christianity offers us a climax to this conflict and setting of life. We can follow Him, but like Jazz music, it’s not always something we can write about or put on paper. Where is the end destination? Perhaps like Mark said, the destination is the journey. Follow me within this harmonic structure. Here’s your garden. Here are your boundaries. Here is the story. Play, be free, live, but play within these elements and you’ll find life and rhythm.
Like Don says, Christianity is a lot like jazz music – It’s something you feel and something very difficult to get on paper. It hangs there like notes on page. You can feel your rhythm…