Monthly Archives: December 2008

Your Word Is Like Honey

Fine linguification enthralls and pleasures; it punches, wounds, caresses, flies, swoops and embraces.  Language grows.  It does not stagnate in tidy categories, inflexible rules and grammatical strait-jackets.  As any student of a language knows – what takes the time is learning the exceptions.  When you learn the exceptions you know the thing has a life: it isn’t Esperanto.

And because language does not fit; because language moves as well as observes; because language writhes and wriggles and cannot be tied down; because it is always open to newness; language gives pleasure.  It takes one to new places, and we are not always sure how we are getting home.

And when the Bible talks about language, the comparison can be with honey (juicy and sweet); when it uses words, these are often played with; and when God comes he is described as language.

Blue Like Jazz

It was as if we were broken, I thought, as if we were never supposed to feel these sticky emo¬tions. It was as if we were cracked, couldn’t love right, couldn’t feel good things for very long without screwing it all up. We were like gasoline engines running on diesel. I was just a kid so i I couldn’t put words to it, but every kid feels it. (I am talking about the broken quality of life.) A kid will think there are monsters under his bed, or he will close himself in his room when his parents fight. From a very early age our souls are taught there is a comfort and a discomfort in the world, a good and bad if you will, a lovely and a frightening. There seemed to me to be too much frightening, and I didn’t know why it existed.

From page 18
It is hard for us to admit we have a sin nature because we live in this system of checks and balances. If we get caught, we will be punished. But that doesn’t make us good people; it only makes us subdued. Just think about the Congress and Senate and even the president. The genius of the American system is not freedom; the genius of the American system is checks and balances. Nobody gets all the power. Everybody is watching everybody else. It is as lif the founding fathers knew, intrinsically, that the soul of man, unwatched, is perverse.

References All creation groans (Romans 8)
A broken world (Romans 1)

I am the problem

Key Words Sin Transgression Responsibility
Source Blue Like Jazz
Source Author Miller, Donald
Location 20
Quote I think every conscious person, every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself. I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle “within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.

The thing I realized on the day we protested, on the day I had beers with Tony, was that it did me no good to protest America’s responsibility in global poverty when I wasn’t even giving money to my church, which has a terrific homeless ministry. I started feeling very much like a hypocrite.

More than my questions about the efficacy of social action were my questions about my own motives. Do I want social justice for the oppressed, or do I just want to be known as a socially active person? I spend 95 percent of my time thinking about myself anyway. I don’t have to watch the evening news to see that the world is bad, I only have to look at myself. I am not browbeating myself here; I am only saying that true change, true life-giving, God-honoring change would have to start with the individual. I was the very problem I had been protesting. I wanted to make a sign that read “I AM THE PROBLEM!”

Page 23:
Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror.


Key Words Authenticity Identity
Source Blue Like Jazz
Source Author Miller, Donald
Location 29
Quote Everybody wants to be fancy and new. Nobody wants to be themselves. I mean, maybe people want to be themselves, but they want to be different, with different clothes or shorter hair or less fat. It’s a fact. If there was a guy who just liked being himself and didn’t want to be anybody else, that guy would be the most different guy in the world and everybody would want to be him.

The Navy Seals

Key Words Identification Mercy Incarnation
Source Blue Like Jazz
Source Author Miller, Donald
Location 33
Quote Miller relates the story he heard at a folk concert:

The folksinger said his friend was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a building in some dark part of the world. His friend’s team flew in by helicopter, made their way to the compound and stormed into the room where the hostages had been imprisoned for months. The room, the folksinger said, was filthy and dark. The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified.

When the SEALs entered the room, they heard the gasps of the hostages. They stood at the door and called to the prisoners, telling them they were Americans. The SEALs asked the hostages ,to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t. They sat there on the floor and hid their eyes in fear. They were not of healthy mind and didn’t believe their rescuers were really Americans.

The SEALs stood there, not knowing what to do. They couldn’t possibly carry everybody out. One of the SEALs, the folksinger’s friend, got an idea. He put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He soft¬ened the look on his face and put his arms around them. He was trying to show them he was one of them. None of the prison guards would have done this. He stayed there for a little while until some of the hostages started to look at him, finally meeting his eyes. The Navy SEAL whispered that they were Americans and were there to rescue them. Will you follow us? he said. The hero stood to his feet and one of the hostages did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go. The story ends with all the hostages safe on an American aircraft carrier.

I never liked it when the preachers said we had to follow Jesus. Sometimes they would make Him sound angry. But I liked the story the folksinger told. I liked the idea of Jesus becoming man, so that we would be able to trust Him, and I like that He healed people and loved them and cared deeply about how people were feeling.

References Incarnation (John 1:14)
Taking the form of a slave (Philippians 2)