Confession: I’ve tried numerous times to read Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
, but have never been able to get past the first few chapters. That is how I read most books, though, just random chapters at a time. But a few years ago, my wife and I listened to A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story
on CD as we drove across Country, and then re-listened to it twice more as we finished our drive, and I fell in love with what was going on. I’ve looked forward to seeing the movie for so long, and the other night I got to take a small group of students to see it.
I know other Youth Pastors who have done bible studies that read through the book, and am sure they are taking students to see this movie. But I also know there are others out there who may be leaning against the idea of this movie. If that’s you, I wanted to give you 5 reasons why I think you should take your Youth Group to see Blue Like Jazz, and see it this week!
1| To support it. As I will get into in a bit, this movie breeds dialogue about Faith, and this conversation is one that is very easy to have after this movie. You may not agree with some of the things about Don Miller or this movie, but neither would countless other people who don’t agree with anything having to do with Jesus, church, or Christianity. By supporting this film, you are giving greater opportunities to those who really need this message to be able to see the film and start that conversation.
2. It’s Highly Relatable to teenagers living in a Post-Christian world. The college in this movie reminds me quite a bit of my calling to ministering to High Schools near Boston, where many of my students can definitely relate to the idea portrayed that if you want to have friends, you have to keep Jesus hidden in your life. Doing ministry in the Bible belt previously, I’d say that students there feel a bit of that pressure as well. Maybe it was just the coincidence of the Small Group lesson we had just had going perfectly with the major themes of this movie, but I would say my students were easily just as moved after this movie as any other “Christian” movie they have seen. Many of them want to see it again, and so do I, because they felt so connected to Don in the movie.
3. It breeds Conversations. The final 8 minutes of the movie are pure dialogue, but its such rich dialogue. I saw one review about this movie mention that they didn’t appreciate that at the most pivotal part of the movie, rather than giving the Gospel, Don instead apologizes to his Atheist friend for being Christian. This reviewer clearly missed the point, and I would easily say this is some of the best minutes of any movie. The honesty and truth in this apology and the context of the relationship with the friend are beautiful and moving. More so, its not an apology for being Christian, its an apology for being ashamed of being Christian and not living the way he should have as a follower of Christ. Honestly, the 45 minutes of driving to drop students off after the movie, there wasn’t much conversation about this because they were still digesting it. But its come and is coming. The sentiment of this speech is something every single one of us can relate to and see in ourselves, and the themes of this dialogue will be coming out in conversations with my students for a long time.
4. It’s entertaining. Most Christian films aren’t that entertaining, at least not to me. Maybe its a bit of the whole “don’t take something worldly, add the word Christ to it, and call it Christian” mentality that drives me nuts, but this movie is not an attempt at this at all. This is a beautiful story, and although it may be different from the book, its one that will move you, keep you watching to see whats going to happen, and it leaves you almost sad when its over. The one fault of the movie was that it seemed like it ended too early. But this isn’t even a fault. The Christian Movie would have shown Don going on to go back to teaching Sunday School and sobering up. But that movie wouldn’t have started conversations about what happened.
5. It’s clean. As someone who made the mistake of taking a student to see a wildly inappropriate movie before, without freaking out, I was actually very surprised that shortly before taking my students I second-guessed myself and wondering if it would be ok. Honestly, for a movie portraying a severely hedonistic group of people, this movie was mildly tame. I don’t remember any nudity, which is my main point of concern, but I will say there was swearing and drinking and drug use. But realistically, if your students can watch this entire movie and leave with their main thought being “I want to go be like that,” this movie was not the cause of it and they have greater issues going on. With that said, I do think its too much for Middle School students, because the generic Middle Schooler wouldn’t fully understand the closing, but your High Schoolers should absolutely be able to handle it.
So there you have it. Maybe its just my context, but I thought this was a great movie for a Youth Group. How about you? Have you seen it and want to tell me I’m way off base? Are you going to see it? What are your thoughts on this movie?
- Why do kids really leave the church? SEX! (averageyouthministry.com)
- Why I give two thumbs up to Blue Like Jazz even though I have yet to see the movie. (eugenecho.com)