Audra Krell

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Archive for the tag “Blue Like Jazz the movie”

Breakfast Club on Jazz

We attended closing night of the Phoenix Film Festival and saw Blue Like Jazz. The film opens nationwide on April 13.

Let me first say that I loved the book. God used it to change my life. Donald Miller gets abandonment. It was one of the first times I felt understood in my struggle with parental abandonment. Miller helped me to see that even though I didn’t feel worthy of people sticking around, I have a Father who has never left me.

In my ongoing heartbreak with subsequent familial abandonment, I return time and again to the truths I finally understood through Miller’s writing. God’s love lasts much longer than the stabs of current rejection. His love is the only thing that is eternal.

Now on to the movie. It’s not advertised for, nor is it appropriate for children or young teens. We took our 13 and 16 year old sons. I was embarrassed, and as mom to three teen boys, it takes some doing to make me blush. I also was uncomfortable with the mocking of Christianity. I get that for free every day out in the world, through all social media and especially on TV. My son lives it everyday at the University he attends, the other boys at their middle and high schools.

Some reviewers say the movie is a great conversation starter for Christian families and helps them transition their young adults to the next stage of life. I wonder where they think we live? Do they really believe all Christians live out in the country where the most violent act we witness is a calf being born? Where our biggest problem is what dress to wear to church on Sunday? No, Christians face the exact things the world does, on the same moment- by -moment basis. When I attend a film, I want to be taken away from the world, not forced to relive my college days in all their lewd glory.

Reviewers said the movie was going to have a hard time and comments like the one below tend to polarize viewers:

A challenging book to turn into a film due to its stream of consciousness narration, director Steve Taylor and crew have for the most part succeeded in turning out a generally entertaining film, but one that will probably be too centered on Christianity for those averse to religion and too “edgy” for those of the Christian faith who like their films Kirk Cameronesque. -Linc Leifeste, Smells Like Screen Spirit 

I agree, it was too difficult to turn Blue Like Jazz into a film. As a person of faith, an avid movie goer and someone who respects Kirk Cameron, I don’t prefer my films to be Kirk Cameronesque. I further don’t consider mocking Christianity for 95% of the film to be edgy in any way. It’s an effort to reach the masses with an attempt to entertain. Mocking anything is usually good for a sure laugh.

The central message of Blue Like Jazz the movie, is that every flawed creature is worthy of respect, which we know is the gospel truth. The film had the chance to go deep with that and ended up a glorified, modern day version of the Breakfast Club with a jazz soundtrack. Basically an “accept all sin now, just be certain to ask forgiveness later.”

I highly recommend the book, it’s a completely different experience.

Blue Like Jazz the Book

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Save Blue Like Jazz

I can point to several authors who influenced my Christian faith: CS Lewis, NT Wright, Henri Nouwen and Walter Wangerin Jr., to name a few. There are fewer authors that influenced me as a writer. But I can only think of two authors who influenced me as a writer of faith: Anne Lamott and Donald Miller; specifically, Traveling Mercies and Blue Like Jazz.

By 2004, my spiritual and professional life had hit the skids. The only job I could get was working at a church office. (God sure has a sense of humor). It wasn¹t a bad job, actually. My bosses were cool, and my pastor let me come into his office at lunchtime and vent my frustrations and doubt. He¹d nod and say, ³Yeah, I know what you mean.² He loaned me several books that encouraged my faith. Not happy titles, mind you: Dark Night Of the Soul by St John of the Cross, Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb, and A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser. The latter title sounds positive, but it¹s written by a man whose wife, mother and daughter were killed by a drunk driver. The book is great. Read it.

BlueLikeJazz

But it wasn¹t my pastor who told me about Blue Like Jazz. It was this random artsy guy who stopped in to visit the seminary intern working at the office. You know these young, artsy guys. They dabble in creative pursuits. They have their whole lives ahead of them and think the answers to all their questions will be Yes and Amen. ³Get back to me in ten years,² I want to tell them. So this artsy guy was sitting across from my desk, raving about some über hip writer who had defined faith for his generation. ³Blue Like Jazz,² he said and tapped on my desk. That¹s all he said: ³Blue Like Jazz. Read it.² And then he and the seminary intern went off to smoke cigars.

Two weeks later our pastor brought in an entire box of Blue Like Jazz and gave me a copy. It was like he was daring me to read it. I took it home, ready to pick it apart with my cynical, artistically mature eye. I didn¹t want some young hipster dilettante telling me what my life was like. Then I read the intro. I had to admit his analogy was creative: God was like jazz because neither resolved. He had a way with words. I read the first couple of chapters and had to admit he made some great points. When he said that going to a big church ³was like going to church at the Gap² I laughed out loud. When he wrote about the confessional booth, I cried. Blue Like Jazz was better than Random Artsy Guy had said. It was terrific, and Don Miller became my hero.

When I sat down to write my own book, I thought of Blue Like Jazz and Traveling Mercies. Those books gave me permission to write honestly, and provided a yardstick with which to measure my own work. Six years have passed. I¹ve had the privilege to meet Don and get to know him. He's not some über hip artsy dilettante. He's a funny, talented, generous guy. I got to tour with him last fall. (God really has a sense of humor).

For the past two years, Don and Steve Taylor have been trying to make a movie based on the book. I read the screenplay, and it¹s great. But they¹ve run into problems with financing. And after two years they have finally given up. So, how come this insanely popular book can¹t get made into a low budget movie? Money. Basically, the guys who have the money to make the movie aren¹t from the same generation as those who¹ll go see the movie. The money guys probably like going to church at the Gap. They don¹t cuss or smoke (at least, not in public). The movie has a little cussing and smoking, and the Money Guys can¹t get around that. Now in Hollywood, old guys fund young-guy films all the time. Who do you think funded Superbad? Not Michael Cera¹s friends. But in faith-based filmmaking, they can¹t bridge the gap.

On September 16, Don announced on his blog that the movie was being shelved. In Hollywood they say it ³went away,² because no one likes to say ³over.² But the film was over. Or was it? Two crazy young guys got an idea: get the kids who love the book to come up with the $125,000 still needed to make the movie. It was like Michael Cera¹s friends decided to pass the hat. Here¹s their video.

Save Blue Like Jazz from Save Blue Like Jazz

Maybe you're thinking: ³Why should I donate? I¹m an old white guy. I like wearing Dockers to church.² Or, "I'm a young white guy and the movie will ruin the book for me." Or, "I'm poor, I don't have a buck to spare." Well I¹m an old white chick. I go to an old musty church with incense and choir robes. But if we are going to show how Jesus matters to another generation, we need to speak that generation¹s language. Young twenty-something hipsters won¹t respond to the things I respond to. But they¹re going to respond to the way Jesus and faith are presented in this movie, because it¹s written for them. Do you have a child or a friend who doesn't "get" your faith? If you could make Jesus come alive to him or her, would you spend ten bucks to do it? Then do it. I¹m that random artsy guy tapping on your desk. "Blue Like Jazz. Fund it."

Check out the Save Blue Like Jazz website.

This post is written by Susan Isaacs and is used with permission. Follow her on twitter @SusanIsaacs, check out her blog SusanIsaacs.blogspot.com and go to her website at SusanIsaacs.net.

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