Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What's Blue about "Blue Like Jazz"?

Professor Mark Coppenger has written a clever and insightful review of Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. I just now discovered it, but it has been up since March.

4 comments:

Josh S. said...

He has some valid criticisms. This isn't one of them:

"At book’s end, he thanks establishments for their good coffee and beer. That's not helpful for impressionable young Christians seeking to find their way."

Jeremy said...

Josh

This isn't argument; it's just assertion. You give no reasons why we should agree with you.

In fact, is it really a good thing to so lightheartedly endorse the use of alcohol when a vast majority of the audience is probably under age? Is alcohol really no big deal? I don't believe in abstanence, but alcohol use is no laughing matter. If it is abused, lives are destroyed. Christians (people who are just as suseptible to the temptations of abuse as any other persons) should not be in the business of whimsically endorsing such a possible (truly more than merely logical possibility) death trap.

Josh S. said...

Jeremy,

I wasn't trying to make an argument, otherwise I would have put one.

In fact, is it really a good thing to so lightheartedly endorse the use of alcohol when a vast majority of the audience is probably under age?

I'm not so sure "a vast majority" of his readers are underage, but it is possible. Even if they are, I don't think that matters. I'm sure he wouldn't condone under-age drinking. I mean, is it wrong to talk about marriage and sex to teenagers? Just because they can't do it doesn't mean they can't know that adults enjoy those pleasures.

Is alcohol really no big deal?

It depends what you mean by "big deal." I think abuse of anything is bad, and abuse of alcohol can be devastating. Everyone knows that, and everyone with an ounce of decency hates when families are torn apart because of alcohol abuse. But abuse of sex can be just as damaging — in fact, I know more Christian families that have been broken from sexual misconduct than alcohol abuse. These things can be something to enjoy, or something to abuse. If we didn't do everything that could be abused, we wouldn't do anything. And the Bible certainly doesn't condemn alcohol — it celebrates it. Even Jesus made it!

I don't believe in abstanence, but alcohol use is no laughing matter.

I never said it was a laughing matter, but I'm not sure what you would consider a "laughing matter." Do you mean someone can't joke about alcohol? Why not? Regardless, Miller wasn't really joking — he was serious.

Christians (people who are just as suseptible to the temptations of abuse as any other persons) should not be in the business of whimsically endorsing such a possible (truly more than merely logical possibility) death trap.

Should Christians endorse driving? Think of how many people have been killed by cars. Should Christians endorse sex? Think of how many people are tempted by sexual abuses. Just because something can be bad doesn't mean it is bad.

All that to say, I've read Blue Like Jazz and didn't want to go get drunk. In fact, I don't even drink. Reading Luther would be more dangerous about this than Miller!

Josh S. said...

One more comment: If I said that I didn't believe in "miraculous gifts" because they could be (and are) abused, wouldn't you tell me that is a bad argument? Wouldn't you say the gifts are to be enjoyed and celebrated, even though people must guard against abuse? (Of course, I'm presuming you believe in miraculous gifts!)