Blue Like Jazz Chapter 4 – Shifts: Find a Penny
Like last week, this chapter did not have as many points that really stood out to me, but don’t worry, we’ll get to those chapters that will either make for EXTREMELY long posts, or they’ll have to be TWO posts…HA!
This is the first chapter where Mr. Miller introduces Reed College. Honestly, I’d never heard of the school before this book, but after reading the book, I am REALLY interested in it. It sounds like a place that would really captivate my sense wonder. I can say this because throughout the remainder of the book, Miller refers to experiences he had at Reed or with individuals associated with Reed, painting quite the picture of the place for the reader. The first point from this chapter that I found much appreciation for does just that…
I was challenged by the students at Reed because they were on the front lines of so many battles for human rights. Some of them were fighting just to fight, but most of them weren’t; most of them cared deeply about peace. Interacting with these guys showed me how shallow and self-centered my Christian faith had become. Many of the students hated the very idea of God, and yet they cared about people more than I did.
I truly appreciate the last sentence of that paragraph.
Having grown up in the church, I can admit to being one who grew up believing church people were the “good” people. Those not in the church were not as caring. They were not as “good.”
I believe many times those in the church still fall victim to this way of thinking. It’s easy to think that people who are not “Godly people” or people who are not church-goers are not caring, “good” people. It’s easy to believe that the ability to truly love people, or life in general, is only an ability obtained through loving God first.
I think Miller’s point here is one that I so desperately want to get across to people. I think it is important to understand that a person does not have to go to church to be a “good” person. A person does not have to be a “Godly person” to love people and care about them. There really are “good” people out there that don’t claim a religion or even believe in a God.
I make every effort to love people to the best of my ability. And if you really do have to be a church going, Godly individual to be a “good” person and to truly care for and love people, then I want to be the exception to the rule.
…we talked about God. The thing I loved about Nadine was that I never felt like she was selling anything…some Christians…felt like the had to sell God, as if He were soap or a vacuum cleaner, and it’s like they really weren’t listening to me; they didn’t care, they just wanted me to buy their product.
This is SOO true. So often I find myself being bombarded by individuals trying to sell their faith and beliefs on me. Why is this? Why do so many individuals come off as selling their religion versus encouraging it or simply endorsing it?
I am reminded of two distinct times while I was at ACU where I held discussions with individuals about religious beliefs. In both instances, I took strolls around the perimeter of the campus to discuss topics such as beliefs and going to church and praying and all sorts of matters relating to the topic. I can honestly tell you the two approaches those friends brought to our discussions were what influenced the discussion so greatly. One individual seem so pushy. So devoted to selling God to me; it was definitely uncomfortable for me. It lead to my avoidance of this individual for a matter of time.
But the other individual approached me in a totally different sense. This person came with wanting to understand me and where I stood first. This person wanted so badly to understand what I thought and why I thought it. This person intrigued me with their care and desire to understand versus wanting to tell me how it should be and sell their God to me. This person made me more interested in thinking things out and discussing the matter more often, rather than causing me to go into hiding.
Don’t get me wrong, the second person cared that I was not on the same page as they were in relation to God and Godly matters, but they wanted to understand in order to help me to “see” instead of giving it to me and telling me to hold on.
I truly believe the approach one takes with sharing their beliefs, especially religious and spiritual beliefs, is very important in determining the outcome of the situation.
[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”]