Monday, March 20, 2006

Blue Like Monday Mornings

Blue Like Jazz Chapter 10 – Belief: The Birth of Cool

This chapter is a big one for me. I love topics like values and beliefs. I think what one believes is so very important to their life in so many ways. Because of this, there are a many different points I want to comment on from this chapter. A very good chapter!

My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don’t really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care. I don’t believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway? If I walk away from Him, and please pray that I never do, I will walk away for social reasons, identity reasons, deep emotional reasons, the same reasons that any of us do anything.


I would say my doubts, or if you want to say, my “reason for walking away,” if I ever was officially there in the first place, would be for intellectual reasons. Many times I debate the existence of God with myself and when sometimes I have found my heart wanting to accept His existence, I can’t get my mind to agree with my heart. I truly believe my struggle is one of intellect.

With that being the case, I get the impression that Mr. Miller has been in that state too, before. It was that second sentence of his that brings me to that conclusion. With that being the case, I honestly wonder if my intellectual struggle is one of those “being in your 20’s” things. Though I’m not exactly sure of Donald Miller’s age, I realize he is at least in his 30’s, so it makes me wonder if I’m just in a phase right now. And believe it or not, I know many others going through God and/or religion/spirituality oriented struggles right now too. They too are my friends sitting in their 20’s. On Oprah not to long ago, it was said that your 20’s are a time of doubting things and figuring yourself and life out. I would agree. So maybe it is a phase.

But then I question Miller’s final part of that point. I don’t know if I truly agree that social/identity/emotional reasons are the only reasons why we do anything. If that’s the case, then I couldn’t say my state of doubts and reasons for not going to church right now is based on intellectual reasons then could I? But I truly believe it is. I mean if I was making a decision based on social reasons, coming from an ACU setting with all my the close friends that I have, I think we would both agree that I would be wanting to fit in and would be a church attendee.

Do you agree with Miller’s ending statement there? Or am I maybe just not understanding it right?


I was wondering the other day, why it is that we turn pop figures into idols? I have a theory, of course. I think we have this need to be cool, that there is this undercurrent in society that says some people are cool and some people aren’t. And it is very, very important that we are cool. So, when we find somebody who is cool on television or on the radio, we associate ourselves with this person to feel valid ourselves. And the problem I have with this is that we rarely know what the person believes whom we are associating ourselves with. The problem with this is that it indicates there is less value in what people believe, what they stand for; it only matters that they are cool. In other words, who cares what I believe about life, I only care that I am cool. Because in the end, the undercurrent running through culture is not giving people value based upon what they believe and what they are doing to aid society, the undercurrent is deciding their value based upon whether or not they are cool.

Wow. I think I agree. It’s sad though.

Nowadays we all are so wrapped up in being “cool.” I do my best to be “cool.” I think most all of us want others to view us as “cool.”

And while I like to think I don’t jeopardize what I believe in order to be “cool,” I do agree that many times we will associate with people because we view them as “cool” without having any earthly idea what they believe. Which many times, could turn out to be beliefs that are very contradictory to what we ourselves believe. But like Miller pointed out, that is not what the concern is, it is all about who is cool and who we can associate with.


Can you imagine if Christians actually believed that God was trying to rescue us from the pit of our own self-addiction? Can you imagine? Can you imagine what Americans would do if they understood over half the world was living in poverty? Do you think they would change the way they live, the products they purchase, and the politicians they elect? If we believed the right things, the true things, there wouldn’t be very many problems on earth.

You know, with as powerful and rich of a nation we are in America, we truly could fix so many of the world problems with some outpouring of love. And no, I’m not talking about moving in troops.

Probably the main reason why I love the Oprah show so much is because of the light it sheds on so many situations that are happening today on this earth that we call home. The exposure that that shows gives to so many situations and issues that many people, including Americans are totally unaware of is so beneficial to the viewers who tune in. And believe it or not, all the problems are not just in other countries. Many times Oprah exposes taboo topics that are occurring every day here in our own neighborhoods.

As Oprah often comments, I too agree that once we see or hear about these things that are going on, we can no longer say “we didn’t know,” meaning we are left to feel as if we need to take action. It is that action that can change so much!


But the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something. And there is something inside me, some selfish beast of a subtle thing that doesn’t like the truth at all because it carries responsibility.

I think that is what I was referencing when I said once we are exposed to what is going on—once we accept the belief that poverty is a problem in most of the world, we are left feeling as if we have a responsibility toward addressing the issue at hand.

It is like how the education program has gone to six-week report cards now, instead of just quarters and semesters. Because it isn’t until that parent sees that six-week report of a low grade, that they begin to feel the responsibility of getting their child on task to be improved for the semester grades. Those in charge of the education in school districts realized that when they make the parents more aware of what is going on, they are more likely to accept the responsibility they have as a parent to their child because they are now in the light.

But back to Miller’s point here, he is so right. It is our deepest beliefs that drive our passions. It is those beliefs that make us passionate enough to behave in accordance with the belief, usually in a manner that is costing us one thing or another.


If you believe something, passionately, people will follow you. People hardly care what you believe, as long as you believe something. If you are passionate about something, people will follow you because they think you know something they don’t, some clue to the meaning of the universe. Passion is tricky, though, because it can point to nothing as easily as it points to something. If a rapper is passionately rapping about how great his rap is, his passion is pointing to nothing. He isn’t helping anything. His beliefs are self-serving and shallow. If a rapper, however, is rapping about this community, about oppression and injustice, then he is passionate about a message, something outside himself. What people believe is important. What people believe is more important than how they look, what their skills are, or their degree of passion. Passion about nothing is like pouring gasoline in a car without wheels. It isn’t going to lead anybody anywhere.

Wow. I SOOOO agree! I LOVE that passage! For someone who is confident and passionate about their belief, they are more likely to get followers than someone who is simply stating they believe one way or another.

I appreciate healthy levels of passion! I admire people who are aware of what they believe and are passionate about it a manner that isn’t overbearing.

I agree that what people believe is so very important. However, it is important that I note that disagreeing beliefs does not mean one belief is right while another belief is wrong necessarily. I believe what someone believes is important because it should define how they are as a person and how they will choose to live their life and behave in their time on this earth. I am not saying it is important that people believe one way or another. Beliefs are important in that they guide our lives so much.

With that being the case, I believe it is important that we do have a passion for at least some of our beliefs. Having a passion in life can be so very important when viewing life as a whole.


I like Andrew because he actually believes things that cost him something…Andrew is the one who taught me that what I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do.

Yep. That’s it. It is your actions and behaviors that lead your life that will tell others what you believe. I admire those who can live their life saying less and doing more. It is because they don’t need to say what they believe when they are behaving in a manner that shows it.

And when one is willing to believe something that “cost” them, I see it as a sacrifice. One who is willing to sacrifice some selfish desires because of what they believe, they are gaining respect in my eyes.


Tony asked me one time if there was anything I would die for. I had to think about it for a long time, and even after thinking about it for a couple days I had a short list…Andrew would say that dying for something is easy because it is associated with glory. Living for something, Andrew would say, is the hard thing.

Well, for the first part…
That really is a hard one. And the more I think about it, anything that I love enough to want to die for it, means there is a lot of “love” involved. And the thing with love is that it brings so much of a self-pleasing feeling that it makes it hard to dismiss that selfish desire for that love; dismiss it in a sense of willingly saying you would choose to die and miss out on the love experienced with that person or principle.

Willing to die for a person or a principle takes a very humbling spirit, which is hard to come by many times. I suppose if I sat down and thought about, I could come up with a list, but like Mr. Miller, it would be very short.

I think in my above explanation, it indicates my difficulty in agreeing with Andrew’s thoughts from the above point. Even if dying is associated with glory, the individual who died will not experience any of that feeling of glory, in that they will be bed.

I think what makes all this so difficult for me is my love for life. When one loves life as I do, death is not a situation to be thought about as pleasing in any manner. I love my time here and I would not choose to speed up my time to die in efforts of being glorified.

As for living for something, I do not see it as very hard when one has a defined purpose in their life.


My life testifies that the first thing I believe is that I am the most important person in the world. My life testifies to this because I care more about my food and shelter and happiness than about anybody else.

I can admit to having times of complete selfishness and feeling like “I am the most important person in the world.” These are not times I am proud of, but they are times I experience.

I can, however, relish in fact that I do not feel that way all the time. I am also blessed with an interest in those that I care about, and with that blessing, I am able to give of myself in manners that put others before me. It is in these times that I am proud to be more than one living a life solely for myself.

I’ve heard it said that we truly grow up when we start living our life for someone other than our self…

[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”]

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