"Explain to me please, why in our literature and art (that) so often, people absolutely incompetent in this field have the final word?"

- Mstislav L. Rostropovich, Master Cellist, Conductor
Testing Our Assumptions

Jeffrey Overstreet has a lengthy review of the movie, Blue Like Jazz. His opening section is very good, but not about the movie specifically. Here's a quote from the part about the movie:

Don Miller (the character) is not running into unbelief so much as he is running from the comfort zone of American evangelical fundamentalism into what author David Dark would call “the sacredness of questioning everything.” ... But Christians aren’t the only ones being challenged to look in the mirror. Blue Like Jazz is also about how skeptics who have appointed themselves judge and jury over Christians learn to recognize that while they have plenty of complaints — including some very valid complaints — against Christian culture, their objections have ballooned into prejudice and presumption. Taylor doesn’t make the mistake of making heroes out of church-bashers. They’re shown to be as prone to cruelty and intolerance as the Christians. Note the church sign that vandals have altered to say “Abstinence makes the church grow fondlers.” Those who champion “tolerance” are quick to abandon their principles when it comes to insulting the church. And Don’s father, who sees some things very clearly, conveniently ignores that it was the church who paid for the Miller family’s groceries when he abandoned his wife and child.

Blue Like Jazz has the courage to portray all participants in this “culture war” as similarly fallible. It dares to suggest a path through the confusion — relationship rather than shouting, respect rather than antagonism, and an openness to testing our assumptions, loving our neighbors, and growing alongside one another.


Trackback URL: http://brandywinebooks.net/bloo.trackback.php/4844.

Comments on "Testing Our Assumptions":
1. Michael Lynch - 04/17/2012 3:51 pm EDT

Hey Phil,
Just wondering if you had a chance to listen to the audio that Denny Burk posted today. I think what is said there about relativism (often hypocritical)coming out of the lofty idea of questioning everything is my real concern (as opposed to how I may have come across about politics--although, there's a connection). We CAN know things.

Also, another review:http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/04/why-blue-like-jazz-wont-save-christian-cinema/255965/#

2. Phil - 04/17/2012 9:11 pm EDT

I'm listening to it now.

3. ChestertonianRambler - 04/18/2012 4:59 pm EDT

The folks at Christ and Pop Culture said that it was akin to Sherwood Pictures productions, in that it would likely draw in audiences who agreed with its message while alienating everyone else with weak characterization and shoddy craftsmanship.

Then again, movies like Courageous draw in crowds because of a sense that something needs to be said, but isn't. Maybe critiquing these movies on the basis of thoughtful, self-questioning characterizations is a bit like critiquing a sermon on the basis of its delivery. But it does seem that movies like this make people think of Christians generally as incapable of creating skillful and thoughtful works of art.

4. Phil - 04/19/2012 1:47 pm EDT

That makes sense, but I don't want to judge the technique of this film too harshly.

Michael, about that lecture, he makes some good points, but I thought he read into some things as well. In short, he has a good perspective. I doubt I'll read this book, but I may dip into it a bit and I may look for Miller's more recent work, A MIllion Miles in a 1000 Years.

Leave a Comment:
URL: (optional)
Email: (optional - will not be published)

Notify me via email if any followup comments are added to this post (show help)