Friday, July 06, 2007

Bookmarks for June 2007

Have done more reading that these two reviews show, but much of it has been a poem here or story there in books I might be reviewing next time. Enjoy.

Despite its flaws, Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz (2003) should be required reading for every Christian. Non-believers might also find this book refreshing and interesting. The book is a loose memoir of Miller's spiritual journey from a young child whose images of God are formed by a father who has left him through fundamentalist Christianity to what he often refers to as Christian Spirituality. Perhaps the word "journey" is a misnomer, since what Miller accurately details is that spiritual life is not a journey with an end. Sure, he finds answers, but they don't become the crux of theology he can force on others, but only share as one shares other experiences.

I found Miller's stories fascinating, funny, and touching. Miller appears to be striving for something real in all the religious rhetoric, something that changes lives and gives them strength. His various tales are really inspiring and challenging in the way honest reflections about God must be.

The book is not perfect. Relying so much on one's experiences with God can make one's theology a bit suspect. But there is nothing out of traditional orthodoxy here if one considers that God is one that meets us on the road, whereever we are, really to shape us from whatever state we come to Him in. I believe in a God that is more interesting in our hearts being honest before Him than in "getting it right." Blue Like Jazz book that focuses on the love God has for his creation and not on sqashing sinners (especially "sinners" as defined by humans). This is not to say the book is all "God loves you and nothing is wrong." In witnessing Miller's challenges one might be forced to recognize that change is necessary for all of us. However, painful or difficult this change, there is a God who will leave us, a Savior always willing to love even the most unlovable of us.

The City in Which I Love You (1990) is Li-Young Lee's second book of poems. Here Lee combines childhood memory with (then) present images of a family struggling with the past and with death. One gets the sense that the child who could not make complete sense of events as they happened is still unable to fit all the pieces together, but must render those images and anecdotes, must make the attempt to understand them. The language here is beautiful, carefully wrought. There is plenty of emotion, but no maudlin sentimentality, no "woe is me." Lee presents these pictures and stories and allows the reader to either identify with them or to listen as one would to a friend healing.

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