Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blue Like Jazz the movie: a review.

After having my spiritual perspective affected so deeply by reading Blue Like Jazz a few years ago (and then again recently), I was thrilled to see the book come to life on the big screen.  After reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I was interested and curious as to how the book would come to life.  It did.

With many liberties taken in the creation of the movie from the book, I was delighted to see the heart of Blue Like Jazz left fully intact.

Don takes a journey from his conservative Christian world into the college dubbed as the “most godless campus in the country,” Reed College.  He dives head first into a world of experiences that many accurately depicts what many freshman face as they take their first flight from the nest (which explains why it’s rated PG-13).  Don is warned about the dangers of being religious and fears people finding out that he is a Christian.  He goes so far as to ridiculing the religious in order to feel connected at Reed.  The common struggle displayed between who he has been and who he is becoming is relateable and is what our young people need to see.  I wish I could show this movie to each and every one of my college students.  Get ready, friends.  There will be experiences and there will be struggles.  The struggles are part of the journey.  You are not alone.

The film also gives a glimpse of a well doing, intelligent Christian named Penny—an actual character from the book.  She is a refreshing character who is honest, loving, and passionate about creating good in the world as part of her journey with Jesus.  Penny is patient with Don, gives him perspective, and shows a positive image of what faith looks like in the midst of a highly secular setting.  For those criticizing Blue Like Jazz for their criticism of “church life,” we see a beautiful picture of unashamed, love-filled faith in Penny.

Penny knows who she is and calls Don out when she sees he’s living a double life.  I won’t ruin it for you, but Don finally admits his doubt in church, in God.  He admits his brokenness, the brokenness of Christians.  He admits he’s misrepresented and been ashamed of God.  It forced me to ask the question, “when have I done the same?”  Whether at college, in the work place, in the grocery store, at a bar, among “secular” or “Christian” friends, when have I been ashamed of Jesus and what He would actually stand for?  I think more often than I’d care to think about.

Faith involves people, therefore faith is messy.  Mine is messy.  So is yours.  We need to be honest about that mess.  We need to be open about the struggle and in doing so, allow others to do the same.  In admitting the struggle, we gain freedom trusting that God’s grace is enough for our doubts and broken parts and we don’t have to pretend to be resolved.  For we are and will be unresolved until Jesus returns.  That’s the point.  It’s blue like jazz.

Go give it a shot.  I pray it will be thought provoking and moving for you.  I’m excited to see how God uses Don’s story and this film to touch peoples’ hearts across the country and around the world for Jesus.  Or at least open the conversation.  Maybe it’s time for you to stop being ashamed.  Maybe it’s time for you to say “I’m sorry.”  Maybe it’s time for you to see Jesus as Jesus for the first time.

Blue Like Jazz just might be what you’re looking for.

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