Update: Don actually contacted me through Twitter and thanked me for the post. He was very gracious, which is not surprising. My goal was not to have contact with him but to truly apologize to him and get a little closure on something which had haunted me. His kind reply did the trick, for which I am thankful.
(The following should be read in light of yesterday’s post…)
“Crap, I’m going to have to apologize to him. Publicly.”
My particular sin of choice is to be wrong, know it and then not want to admit it. Call it insecurity. Call it self-protection. I am not sure what it is besides that ancient fortress of the human soul, pride. I hate everything about it. Well, not everything. There is that liberating moment of admitting when I admit I am wrong. You know, when you finally say it out loud. Wait. That feels pretty good and really awful…in a John Cougar “Hurts So Good” kinda way.
All the young people I had discipled in youth ministry were reading Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Them and their parents. Their Dentists and their Hair-Stylists. And everyone for that matter. I could not go anywhere without hearing about this book. This could not be good. Because he was not endorsed by those I read the most, is how I knew, thank you very much. So I decided I did not like this book long before I even set my eyes on a physical copy.
The first time I saw a copy, I was spending some of my book budget on Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Vol. 1. As I walked up to the cash register at the small independent bookstore in the small Mississippi town in which I lived, there it sat. It sat there in all it’s best-selling non-Reformed, wishy-washy theological glory. Without a doubt, it’s proximity to the cash register would cause unsuspecting shoppers temptation to spontaneously buy such claptrap.
So I bought it.
Why did I buy a book I had already gone “Green Eggs and Ham” on? I couldn’t very well write a negative review of a book I had not read. So I had to read it. And then put it on my “bad book” shelf. I can actually remember the guy who sold it to me, asking me if I had read it yet, and though my answer was “no,” I wanted to make sure he knew I was not interested in how much he liked it. I was also mad because I loved the cover and the title. But Hell’s Bells, Brian McLaren defaced the back cover with his recommendation. How could I, for the love?
So I read it, having already decided to hate it. Green eggs and ham, man. Green eggs and freaking ham. But deep down, even as read it and found reasons to not like it, a seed took root. I could not ignore how well-written it was. There was so much to like. Full of humor and honesty and great sentences, I read it quickly. If I had been fully honest, I would have admitted how wrong I was. But I decided to blog on it, anyway.
Sadly, I do not remember everything I said. More sadly, the internet and the ‘2nd most popular blog among Christians’ do remember the salient points. Go ahead. Take a look…. Hopefully everyone thinks that Matt Redmond is the worship leader.
Humility-coated arrogance wants me to think it does not matter. He probably has not seen it and even if he did, he would not care. But the fact is I committed a grave error doing what I did. And the error/sin is no less real even if no one ever saw what I thoughtlessly wrote. I not only prejudged him and his book, I also reviewed it for anyone and everyone to see after doing so. What is worse is that I never acknowledged the seed. Deep down I knew it was a good book and have known so after years of thinking about what he wrote. I have grown to like it a lot over the years though it was just 2 days ago I picked it up to read again.
The only way Don Miller would know I exist is most likely by reading that post. But here it goes anyway…
“Don, I am sorry. For all the reasons above, I apologize. Please forgive me.”
There. Now I feel better. In a John Cougar sort of way.
The beautiful coincidence is that under your quote on Challies is a blurb about McLaren. I am nothing if not grateful for the way that God has grown me over the last 4 years. I'm begging Him to grow me more in the next 4 years. If I went around and apologized for all the ways I erred 4 years ago, I'd do little else. That said, your being sensitive to the Spirit and walking in obedience is a lesson in humbleness for us all. Thank you for blessing me with it. And because I can say it, and just because you might hate that I said it, I'm proud of you:)
Great post, Matt! I had to deal with similar feelings when I whole-heartedly endorsed Don's books because of the profound impact they had on me, but then found myself wanting to retract everything when he endorsed Obama so publicly.I heard Don Miller last year when he came to Birmingham with Susan Isaacs and was impressed with his humility and his heart. I can relate to his journey of faith.
Nice post, Matt. Good point, Amy.
Beautiful. I love your blog. You are invited to check out my blog.
If there were a "like" button at the bottom of your posts, I would click on it….we should look into that.
Thanks for being honest, bro-in-law. I remember when you and Bethany told me what a terrible book it was two years ago and I just did what I've done many times: I ignored you. I relate to Don Miller because my journey to know Christ has been full of bumps and pot holes. I hope many broken people stumble onto Blue Like Jazz.
I've not read this book or any of its reviews (where have I been, right!) But I am impressed by this blog post. It shows that peer pressure and 'ism exclusiveness are not acceptable and will end in a rut. The same rut we're trying to climb out of by being so meticulously correct (or people pleasingly selfish). God Bless!