Friday, January 06, 2006

Blue Like Jazz

I'm reading this now, along with too many other books ( The Constant Gardener, American Gods, The Victory of Reason and All The King's Men), but I have been gripped by Miller's thoughts in the first few pages:
"It is hard for us to admit we (Americans - cjr) 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...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 if the founding fathers knew, intrinsically, that the soul of man, unwatched, is perverse."
And, shortly thereafter,
"I know now, from experience, that the path to joy winds through this dark valley.  I think every well-adjusted human being has dealt squarely with his or her own depravity.  I realize this sounds very Christian, very fundamentalist and browbeating, but I want to tell you this part of what the Christians are saying is true.  I think Jesus feels strongly about communicating the idea of our brokenness, and I think it is worth reflection.  Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror."
Even though he is merely restating what are the most fundamental and self-evident doctrines of Christian thought (original sin and man's incapacity), he does so in a truly compelling and gripping fashion.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the book.
I would suggest, if you have a few minutes, you read this by my friend and brother, Jeff Baker.  On my initial reading, I thought it harsh.  And, in fact, it is harsh.  And would be too much so if one were to read it as anything other than self-referentially.  But if you can get past that, it is truly a convicting message to our modern age.

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