DON MILLER - Blue Like Jazz or Green Like Envy
Continuing on from yesterday we are taking a close biblical poke at Donald Miller's best selling book "Blue Like Jazz". What follows is a continuation of the article by Richard Nathan. I thought this articlewas just too good to pass up for my series on Emergent leaders. Richard is a contemporary of Don Miller's and was saved out of a hippy background. He speaks with authority and biblical insight on the subculture that Miller is so enamured with. Richard also holds a Master of Arts in Religion in Church History and has been a Bible and church history teacher for over twenty years. Here is the second installment of Richard Nathan's article "Green Like Envy".
What is Miller’s idea of love? Is it the sacrificial love of 1 Corinthians 13? Of God’s sacrifice of His only Son? Is it the willingness to die to self? No, it’s none of these. Miller’s “hip love” is self-love. Here’s another situation he describes as cool.
“When my friend Paul and I lived in the woods, we lived with hippies. Well, sort of hippies. They certainly smoked a lot of pot. They drank beer a lot. And man did they love each other, sometimes too much perhaps, too physically, you know, but nevertheless they loved; they accepted and cherished everybody, even the ones who judged them because they were hippies. It was odd living with hippies at first, but I enjoyed it after a while.”
“We would sit around and talk about literature and each other, and I couldn’t tell the difference between the books they were talking about and their lives, they were just that cool. I liked them very much because they were interested in me. When I was with hippies, I did not feel judged, I felt loved. To them I was an endless well of stories and perspectives and grand literary views. It felt so wonderful to be in their presence, like I was special.”
P. 208 continues the story:
“I have never experienced a group of people who loved each other more than my hippies in the woods. All of them are tucked so neatly into my memory now, and I recall our evenings at camp or in the meadow or in the caves in my mind like a favorite film. I pull them out when I need to be reminded about goodness, about purity and kindness.”
Purity and goodness? So Miller calls people indulging in sin as his best examples of goodness and purity. They aren’t Christians—God’s people despite their flaws—but pot-smoking, probably fornicating people.
It reminds me of my own experience as a kind of hippie.
I was raised in a Marxist-atheist family and lived as one of those pagans during the Sixties. I smoked pot, took LSD, and engaged in immoral sex and the occult. If I had read a book like Blue Like Jazz then, it would have confirmed my poor image of Christians as uptight neurotics and my belief in the superiority of my pagan life.
Reed College. I was also familiar with Reed College in Portland, Oregon—the focus of Miller’s adulation. It was already a leftist bastion in the Sixties when we had friends from there. When I read Miller extolling Reed College, it appalled me that anyone calling himself a Christian could think Reed is a wonderful example of intellectual and moral freedom.
We too lived with hippies for several years in a cooperative house in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District during the Sixties—the very vortex of the era’s rebellion. During that time, thousands of hippies held enormous gatherings in Golden Gate Park, right across the street from us, and held protest marches under our windows. I found them to be like me—very self-centered, very selfish, very corrupt, and the total opposite of pure or loving. Either Miller’s hippies were really angels in disguise (pot-smoking angels?) or else worldly thinking has corrupted his perceptions.
But paganism isn’t just another interesting lifestyle among many alternatives; it leads to death. The Bible says there is a way that seems right but that leads to death. Paganism is that way.
That brings up a very urgent question:
Does Miller Know the Gospel - continued Monday.
Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1