I think my all-time favorite quote from Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz (besides the lyrical bits in the very beginning, where Don talks about not liking jazz and God because they don’t resolve) is when Penny says, “The Bible is so good with chocolate, Don. I used to think the Bible was a salad thing, but it’s not…” This is all I can remember because I just lent the book to my mother ten minutes ago, so it’s not right beside me to properly quote. Then again, if I were going to properly quote Blue Like Jazz, I’d probably just tell you to buy the darn thing because the whole book is just so excruciatingly wonderful.
Tonight, when my mother came back from her excursion to the Redbox two hundred yards down the street, she informed me that she’d rented Blue Like Jazz: The Movie. I immediately went downstairs to pop popcorn. Sad as it is, I didn’t get to any of the North Carolina screenings; they were a little far away from school and it was the weekend before exams, if that counts as a valid reason. So I was incredibly glad to finally be able to see it, and find out for myself whether the movie was as wonderful as everyone has been saying.
Blue Like Jazz: The Movie seemed very different from the book. I mean, the undercurrent seemed similar, but the storyline was definitely different. The latter part makes sense; I understand that a book of new realism essays doesn’t exactly translate into a good screenplay without a lot of tweaking. Or overhauling. And I liked it, I did. I thought the movie was great and I am so happy that they – Don, Steve Taylor, etc. – were able to eventually produce the movie after all the setbacks they faced. It was just so different. The whole theme, Don running from his faith, or at least hiding it at Reed, seemed a lot more like Searching for God Knows What than it did Blue Like Jazz. I was just expecting a lot more of the “non-religious thoughts on Christian spirituality” and a little bit less of Don hiding from his identity.
That being said, I loved Penny’s character. She, and all the other main characters, seemed like very real people, and that’s important to me in a movie. So, while the book is without a doubt better than the movie, it still made my night to finally watch Blue Like Jazz. I hope that it’s been able to reach people who haven’t read Don’s work yet. Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What, more so than any book other than the Bible, have shaped my faith and how I view my God. Kudos to a great author for writing about God and Christianity in such a kind, open, and loving way.