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Responsibility costs

Satan, who I believe exists as much as I believe Jesus exists, wants us to believe meaningless things for meaningless reasons. Can you imagine if Christians actually believed God was trying to rescue us from the pit of our own self-addiction? Can you imagine? Can you imagine what Americans would do if they understood over half the world was living in poverty? Do you think they would change the way they live, the products they purchase, and the politicians they elect? If we believed the right things, the true things, there wouldn't be very many problems on earth.

But the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something. And there is something inside me, some selfish beast of a subtle thing that doesn't like the truth at all because it carries responsibility, and if I actually believe these things I have to do something about them. It is so, so cumbersome to believe anything. And it isn't cool. I mean it's cool in a Reality Bites, Welcome to Sarajevo, Amnesty International sense, but that is only as good as dreadlocks. Chicks dig it to a point, but you can't be all about it; you also have to want a big house and expensive clothes because in the end, our beliefs are about as enduring as seasonal fashion. In the end, we like Ethan Hawke even though we don't know what he believes. Even our beliefs have become trend statements. We don't even believe things because we believe them anymore. We only believe things because they are cool things to believe.

—Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Intended to post this snippet last night, but got too tired and sidetracked. Now I've read further on and have different bits to wrestle around (probably in writing). This is still weighty enough to stand on its own, however, so the rest will just have to keep for a while.


In response to the quote: well, okay, so we're totally screwed, whether we're inside the Church or outside.
Hm, I didn't get that. I just read that we in the Church have a long ways to go, and will need to truly believe better, truer (and perhaps less cool) things to get there. And that has costs.
The first paragraph was interesting & thought provoking. The second was cynical to the point of uselessness and bordered on asinine. But I suppose that's what happens when things are out of context. I hope you post your musings.
Honestly, I suspect I may resemble a combination of your descriptions of the first and second paragraphs.

Miller's tone shifts pretty abruptly from profundity to humor, and sometimes I have trouble tracking with him and knowing whether/when he's joking. Not having more context doesn't help (he "bookends" that second paragraph with a short, more serious one along the lines of the first, which is a context clue), but the last chunk I posted was pretty huge and I didn't want to overwhelm.

Oh, and I get lazy typing.
Can you imagine what Americans would do if they understood over half the world was living in poverty?

It is funny how it is always the Americans' fault.

My alternate phrasing of this would be: Can you imagine how little of the world would be in poverty if they truly believed in God and kept His law over multiple generations?
Actually, yeah, I didn't bother mentioning this bit, but I agree.

Spot on

Miller has clear political leanings. Regarding that sentence, I personally don't believe it would make one whit of difference if Americans (or anyone) understood that fact if they didn't believe (read: live out) the gospel. The fact that others live in poverty is not, in and of itself, motivating.

Along the same lines of your alternate phrasing, I'd try "the Church" in place of "they" and see how it works. America isn't under orders to care for the poor of the world. The Church is.
Donald Miller needs to meet more people like you - people who have made real, hard sacrifices for what the deeply believe.
Maybe you need to meet Don Miller.

And maybe the point that's being missed here is the intent of his book. It's a confession. He's not attacking you and yours, he's talking about his own. The entire book is written in that tone - not what YOU need to do and learn and be, but what I need to do and learn and be. When Don talks about Americans, he's talking about himself. Many of us have identified with his voice. I would never give his book to someone who I thought would hate it - it's not a book to change what you think, it's a book to help you understand and express the way you think.

That's what I've found it to be, anyway. And I hate to sound defensive...but I guess I am. I've met Don, he's a friend of friends, and I hate to hear people who don't know him talk bad about him.
I think Miller and I would enjoy each other, even though we'd disagree on some things. I don't think of myself as much of an example, though.
I have no idea who Donald Miller is, but as a social observation, I thought this was pretty accurate:

n the end, we like Ethan Hawke even though we don't know what he believes. Even our beliefs have become trend statements.

In my experience, people do adopt beliefs (or here in DC, causes, like Freedom fot Tibet) because they are cool and trendy. It's not cool and trendy to get too into it (that would indicate a 'lack of balance' ie, putting something before your happiness, which is, as we all know, insane and unthinkable). but yeah, beliefs are fashion statements.
You'd have no trouble adjusting to Seattle at all, Tonto.


No comment on the passage. I'm just glad to see that you're reading the book. Granted, I didn't agree with everything he said, but I did love the style the book was written in. Very random...like me! :o)

Re: Yay!

So far, it's such an easy read. I'm enjoying it. I'll wrestle around a disagreement or two, too. Thanks for recommending!