I’m going to be honest with you. The first time I read Blue Like Jazz, I didn’t like it for a number of reasons. One, it was getting very popular. I have a natural distaste for the books and bands that are the latest rage (though, most of the time, I end up liking whatever is hip, because it’s actually quite good, and that makes me more mad. So I try to avoid the situation altogether by being judgmental from the start). Automatically, I went into the book, a beautiful purple book with yellow letters on the front, with disdain. And then, I didn’t like the way it was written. I couldn’t follow it; there were too many stories and not enough tying them all together. It seemed scattered to me, circular. Pointless. I didn’t get the themes. And furthermore, I didn’t like the themes. Donald Miller’s brand of Christian spirituality was not…typical. I was in high school, and I thought I knew everything about God and life and writing, and while I thought this Miller guy probably loved Jesus, he questioned the church and its motivations. He believed in God but he didn’t really know about the answers to the big questions. Miller seemed to have very little actually figured out, other than knowing that Jesus was the way to go. That was threatening to me. So I deemed the book interesting enough, some good stories, some good morals, but…nope.
Then I went to college. A Christian university, but one that encouraged doubt and debate, faith and feminism, pacifism and prayer. Starting out, my mind was closed. But little by little, as freshman year so often does, everything opened and then promptly fell apart. I spent a huge amount of time on my knees with tears on my face, wondering who God was and why this world was so broken. Why I was so broken. I read Donald Miller’s book again. And while it still was a little circular and meandering for a structured writer like myself, I got it more. I understood his struggle. I understood his friends. I understood his faith and his fears and his frustration with trying to walk this road with what feels like weights around your ankles. His doubts made sense to me, and his brutal honesty was unlike anything else I had read in the Christian sphere. And this time, I appreciated it, because I was starting to feel those same fears and questions rise up within me as I shed the faith of my family to make it my own.
I kept up with Miller’s writing as he continued to write in the same engaging and honest style that he is now famous for. His most recent book changed my outlook on my life as both an artist and a human. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years chronicles Miller’s attempt to edit Blue Like Jazz for a screenplay, which ultimately meant he was editing his life. He then goes on a journey to find out what it means to live life as an interesting story in which he is the main character.
Here’s the deal — the story is true. The movie Blue Like Jazz is real. Or it’s trying to be, anyway. The screenplay is done, and the roles are cast. The only thing missing? The rest of the funding. As of a week or two ago, the movie was still $125,000 away from being fully funded and ready for production. Miller wrote a blog post and basically said the movie was not going to happen.
If anything, the Internet and social media has taught the Normal Joe that nothing is impossible. And so two guys in Tennessee decided to start up a grassroots campaign to fund this movie via Kickstarter, an online fund-raising website. Slowly it began and grew, and normal people pledged $10, or $30, or more. And now, a little more than $78,500 has been donated to get this movie off the ground. $47,748 to go and 21 days to go.
Here’s why this movie should be made: it is a story worth telling. This book has changed scores of people’s lives with its look at the life of a God-seeker in today’s culture. It has told them they are not alone in their struggles. Honestly, there are many other people out there who do not read books. Instead, they see movies. And those people who only see things as pictures instead of text, they need to hear this story. They need to know that God knows their crap but loves them anyway and wants to change them. This is a story worth telling. We need more stories like this – where Christians are highlighted as loving, thinking, and good-crazy people instead of harsh, angry, and bad-crazy people.
If you think this is a story worth telling, if you have been changed in however small a way by this book and this author, donate, will you? Whatever you can give? If the movie is not fully funded in three weeks (Oct. 25), you will not be charged a penny. But I’m hoping, instead, that we will be charged and this movie happens. Because not only would it be a triumph for second chances (which is what Christ is all about), but it would show that there is a passionate audience for this movie. Plus, I love it when the moral of the story is about community and teamwork!
Please join me in sponsoring this movie. Let’s do this.