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Blue Like Jazz (2012)
Friday, April 13, 2012
Mature thematic material, sexuality, drug and alcohol content, and some language.
Marshall Allman, Claire Holt, Tania Raymonde
Donald Miller, Steve Taylor, Ben Pearson
In "Blue Like Jazz," Don (Allman), a pious nineteen-year-old sophomore at a Texas junior college, impulsively decides to escape his evangelical upbringing for life in the Pacific Northwest at one of the most progressive campuses in America, Reed College in Portland.
Blue Like Jazz (2012) | Review
Past the Culture Wars
I'm also interested in how those groups achieve their goals. I've had the pleasure of working for a very large multinational corporation, a small business that got bought by a large tech giant, then a small non-profit, and now a large financial institution. Each of these companies had very distinct cultures and customs as far as how people interacted with each other. One company was like a family, the other was like an ant colony where drones moved around at the queen ant's bidding. Another company was very staid and calm while the other was in your face and it was okay to yell at each other. All very different and all very fascinating to me. The one common thread through each company is that they were all different expressions of one goal: making money.
My faith experience (as far as the community aspect of it) has been very much the same thing. I grew up Catholic, then had a major encounter with Jesus at 18 and started going to a Baptist Church. I went to a Calvary Chapel Bible College, briefly looked at the Eastern Orthodox Church and later ended up going to a Calvary Chapel. Today I am going to a Nazarene Church. Each of these churches also have a different culture, very much like the characteristics I described above with the corporations. The overarching goal for churches, though, is that they are all different expressions of loving and worshiping Jesus.
What in the world does any of this have to do with the movie Blue Like Jazz? Well, I think the movie has a lot to do with the Christian and non-Christian cultures and their differences, but in the end culture means nothing. Let me explain.
The movie is very loosely based on the book by Donald Miller of the same title. It is about a young Christian man who becomes disenchanted with the church and goes to a liberal college instead of a Bible college. Once there, he realizes he has grown up in a bubble, or exclusively around Christians, and to fit in he starts bagging on Christianity. He meets more people at the college that need Jesus' love, mercy, and grace than he can shake a stick at, but keeps putting on the ruse that he's just like them. He later comes to terms with his faith and confesses that he should not have been ashamed of Jesus, but rather found a way of being who he really is: someone who loves Jesus.
The movie does a wonderful job of portraying the tension between the extremes of the Christian culture versus the extremes of the non-Christian culture. The scenes that come to mind regarding the Christian culture portray Christians as having their own strange language, being unintentionally and uncomfortably racially prejudiced, closed off to non-Chrisitans, nicely dressed and coiffed and very, very moral. This is then contrasted with the non-Christians at the liberal college who also have their own language, are intentionally and uncomfortably biased against Christians, closed off to Christians, randomly dressed and coiffed and very, very immoral. Sound familiar in an opposite sort of way?
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