Tag Archives: blue like jazz

why i’m taking teenagers to see Blue Like Jazz (guest post)

marko here: dave palmer has been my friend for a decade or so. we’re in a group of guys who meet once a year to dig into each others’ lives. and he worked with me at ys (as our vp of marketing) for a couple years. dave’s a buddy, and someone i really believe in. all that, and that i agree with what he’s written here, is why i agreed to have him guest post on my blog (something i rarely do). that, and, i’m on vacation, and this was a good post i didn’t have to write! Blue Like Jazz opens friday (or, with some midnight shows tomorrow night). here’s the website (where you can find showtimes), and here’s a section of the site with tons of free resources for ministry (and home).

Why I’m Taking Teenagers To See Blue Like Jazz
As the Blue Like Jazz team has screened the film for audiences across the country and across the spectrum of faith, one of the things that keeps coming up is the “appropriateness” of the film for high school age teens. The film’s PG-13 rating and depiction of collegiate parties and hijinx seems to give some people pause, and I understand that. I’ve been a volunteer youth worker for the better part of the past 20 years, and have scores of friends who are in the same position. And so aside from my obvious bias in the film’s favor that I have as part of the team that is promoting it, I’d like to express a few thoughts about why, as a youth worker, I am taking a group of teenagers to see Blue Like Jazz this weekend.

1) I’m taking those that I believe are ready for this conversation. Among the teens with whom I’m in regular contact, I know 13-year olds who will devour this movie and have their souls refreshed, and 18-year olds whose minds will be blown. I also know their families, and have taken steps to talk through the themes of the film with them to assure that we’re engaging the right kids, as well as offering to equip parents. That said, most of them have seen The Hunger Games, Transformers, The Social Network and other PG-13 films with content that is, in my estimation, equally as challenging, racy or mature as Blue Like Jazz, if not moreso in the racy department (Transformers & Megan Fox, I’m talking about you).

2) Teens are capable of more than we give them credit for. By the time our teens are in high school, many, if not most of them, are reading Plato, Aristotle, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Keats, The Brontes, Twain, Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck and others. It’s mind-boggling to me that teens that are eminently capable of tackling great works of literature can be treated with kid gloves when it comes to more conventionally faith-infused entertainment choices. If these teens are engaging with these great works of literature, then rest assured they are grappling with the meaning of existence, what they really believe and where they find truth. This really funny movie, Blue Like Jazz, that asks many of the same questions, is not above their heads or beyond their years, and it’s disingenuous of us as leaders to assume that that’s the case.

3) This is a huge opportunity for huge conversations. We know from the research done by Fuller Youth Institute and their Sticky Faith Project, as well as studies by the Lily Foundation, Barna, and Notre Dame youth scholar Christian Smith, that the ability to foster an atmosphere that allows for the articulation of questions and doubts about faith is one of the greatest factors in developing a faith that extends beyond high school. If we shut down those questions in faith communities, where do we think they’ll happen, if they happen at all? I’m not romanticizing doubt, as it is hard work, and often disorienting, but I also don’t think that we are serving our youth well if we shut down or shut out the ability to ask and wrestle with big questions, and this movie does just that.

4) The opportunity extends to parents. For parents, having big conversations about faith and doubt and questions and longing can be as nerve-wracking as conversations about sexuality, divorce or other tough topics. But the chance to have those conversations allows for a greater sense for teens to better know their parents, and vice versa. Mike Gaffney, VP of Young Life College, has this to say about the film: “When I first saw this movie, my hope was that every parent of a graduating senior and college freshman would see this with their child and that they would discuss it afterwards. This could make a huge difference in helping these students transition, and parents understand, the things their kids are struggling with. It would be great for those of us mentoring these students to see it and dialogue with them as well.” By letting the story of Blue Like Jazz be the template, conversations can be focused on that story first before parents and their teens weave their own stories and experiences into it.

5) It takes the taboo power out of doubt. When teens realize that their parents, friends, pastors and other adult influences may have had similar questions, doubts and seasons of struggle, it takes the taboo out of doubt and makes it something that can be addressed openly. It also lets teens know that they are not alone in this struggle, which can create a vacuum that is shut off from the real heart of the process – that we can go through this together.

6) It’s funny. Often lost amidst the loftiest conversations about Blue Like Jazz is that it is a comedy. It’s hilarious, pointed, sharp-witted and beautifully whimsical in places. I believe in the redemptive power of humor and how it allows us to open ourselves up in a way that feels safe and fun – no small challenge for anyone to create.

7) It’s real. As one of the 13 year olds in my Sunday School class asked rhetorically about the recent brouhaha over the rating of the documentary Bully, “are the ratings people afraid that we’ll see what we already experience at school every day?” Blue Like Jazz shows a real struggle of faith and doubt in an honest way, with the college experience captured in spirit, and an inspiring look at what happens when people take real risks by asking big questions and walking through that process together. It’s these risks that help us to know others and be known ourselves. It also helps us to model the search to know God and be known by God, which is perhaps what all of the struggle is really about.

As people who want our teens to be in relationship with a redemptive God, it’s natural that we can be afraid of big questions to which we may not have answers. But I am certain that these huge questions do not scare God. In fact, I think that God applauds us when we emulate Jacob, wrestling through the night and refusing to stop unless a blessing is given, a part of us is known and recognized, and the questions are given respect. I believe that the teens I’m taking will rise to the challenge of this movie and embrace it as something that affirms their search for truth and understanding. I invite you to join me along the way.

Blue Like Jazz The Movie and The Way Bible Giveaway

any reader of this blog knows how completely stoked i am about The Way bible, a bible i spent 2 years developing for tyndale publishers. it’s an NLT bible with hundreds of stories and elements that curate the message of scripture and the kingdom of god. developed with 17 – 30 year olds in mind (but, heck, i think it’s a pretty killer bible for high schoolers, and i’d like it as a 48 year-old), the intent is to create space for questions, doubt and hope.

and, since, you know, i have a hook up with the publisher, i get to give some of ’em away.

but i also have friends connected to Blue Like Jazz (The Movie), which has its theatrical release at the end of this week. of course, many of you have read the book, and some of you have seen a screening of the movie (as i have). and i think you’ll see why it makes sense that i would think this movie (which is great, btw) and this bible would connect with the same kind of people (regardless of age). the cool thing is, i get to give away movie tickets also.

seriously, this is probably the best giveaway i’ve ever gotten to host on my wee humble blog. i’m going to award 20 winners with a prize package including 2 movie tickets (which can be used at any theater, any showing of Blue Like Jazz, good until april 30) and a copy of The Way. the movie tix will be a download code, and the copy of The Way will be shipped to your eager little hands. (so, each prize is worth something around fifty bucks!)

i’d love, love, love it if you would show your support by doing a couple things:

heck, i’d love it even more if you would spread the word. tweet this. send people here to this blog post. use the little social media sharing options at the bottom of this post. send people to the BLJ website or The Way website (which, for what it’s worth, is more of an extension of the bible than a marketing site).

i’ve gone ’round and ’round on how to decide who gets the 20 prizes. i thought about giving ’em to the first 20 peeps who bought something from The Youth Cartel store. but i decided that wasn’t ethical (and probably not even legal!). i thought about just saying the first 20 comments win, but decided that was way too boring, and would be over too quickly.

so i’ve settle on this: tell me why you want them (the tix and the bible). keep your answer to 1 – 3 sentences (no need for massive paragraphs and emotional pleading). i’ll pick the first 10 winners at the end of 24 hours (roughly, that is — i’m on vacation this week, so i’ll pick ’em tuesday morning at some point). and i’ll pick the remaining 10 winners a little later — probably on thursday morning.

this is one of four similar contests launching today. i corralled my friend, and The Way contributor, scot mcknight, into doing one on his blog. so, hey, if you don’t win here, maybe you can win at one of the others!

ok… here we go! why do you want the Blue Like Jazz movie tickets and copy of The Way?

oh, and how about a couple trailers:

THE FIRST 10 WINNERS

choosing winners has been MUCH more difficult than i imagined it would be! i grabbed about 40 that caught my attention and copied them into a word doc; then kinda went with a combo of random choosing and my gut from there! sorry to all those who aren’t in the first 10. i’ll be choosing another 10 on thursday.

but, the first 10 are…

Mookie
Eric McFarland
Vik Schaaf
Stuart Delony
Todd Graham
Rachel Kurtz May
Deena
Jordan Wiseman
Jenny Call
Marv Nelson

and, the 2nd (remaining) 10 are…

Kevin Ibanez
Bobby Mooney
Ian Robertson
Chris Saulnier
Danny Eiler
Dawn Wisner-Johnson
ryan guard
Tim Gleason
Mark (from Topeka First)
Brian Barnett

that’s it folks — thanks for playin’! go see the movie even if you didn’t win, and pick up a copy of The Way also.

save blue like jazz, the movie

donald miller has stirred my imagination and shifted my thinking and encouraged my heart with his writing and speaking. and he’s just a darn swell guy also, from what i’ve experience when he’s been at ys events in the past.

i’d love to see don’s book, blue like jazz, in movie form.

but there’s another factor here: steve taylor. steve is somehow both the quirky christian music icon i listened to non-stop in the mid-80s, as well as the music label exec who had the very best bands in christendom in the 90s, and also a dude who i came to consider a friend (thanks to a few mutual friends).

steve has been working on a movie version of don’s ‘blue like jazz’ for four years (don wrote about the screenwriting process in his last — absolutely brilliant — book, a million miles in a thousand years). i even had a chance to read an early draft of the screenplay.

but now, a major funder of the movie pulled out just before they were ready to start shooting. steve shut the whole thing down. but, apparently, fans of don’s book, and fans of steve’s work, wouldn’t let it go away that easily. people started a little campaign to raise the funds needed; and it’s looking reasonably likely that the funds are truly going to come in.

so… if don’s book(s) had an impact on you…
or if you think steve taylor is cool…
or if you want to support this kind of culture creation by christians…
or if you just want to be able to say “i helped fund that movie” when “blue like jazz, the movie” comes out…

then click here to learn more, and give. i did.