7 Reasons Atheists Should See Blue Like Jazz

Like so many movies, Blue Like Jazz began as an even better book. It was a best-seller, and a favorite among progressive, postmodern Christians coming of age at the end of the dawn of a new millennium. The story is a semi-autobiography of the author, who explored his faith (and ultimately came back to it) while auditing classes at Portland's brainy liberal arts haunt, Reed College. Author Don Miller left his junior college, Southern Baptist upbringing, and the suburbs of Houston, Texas behind to discover his vocation in the big, scary, secular world. As far as Christian memoirs go, it's often compared to Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, and the book is used as canonical ammunition for the new-school Christian. It's a well-formed perspective piece that's offered a bit of a roadmap to many thinking believers. And after a triumphant Kickstarter campaign and lots of false starts, it's finally become a movie.

But you don't care about any of that, because you're a big ol' atheist. Put down the Richard Dawkins and listen up: whether you're simply not religious or you're one of those anti- people, there are still plenty of (good) reasons to see the film. Here are seven of them.


  1. Because The Main Character Goes Through A Crisis of Faith

    If your mind is not constantly being changed, you're not following Christ.Don Miller
    The movie follows the exploits of Don Miller's time at Reed. He's a bright young man that's learning and living, while being away from home for the first time and working through some existential, faith-based issues. If you're an atheist, and you've been through this process of rejection and dissolution, this could potentially be a great movie. Although you may not come to the same conclusions as Don (he ends up choosing a life of faith over a secular one), everyone can appreciate his honest approach to dealing with the tough questions of a narrative-based (versus fact-based) faith in the modern world. It's not a commercial for Jesus, and it's not an endorsement of any particular lifestyle. The book (and, ostensibly, the movie) implores you to think and grow, and to live the questions. And that should be amenable to even the most godless of the madding crowd.

  2. Because It's Set in Portland

    If atheism is a mainstay of your pub conversations and personal philosophy and you're super-duper proud of that, there's a good chance that you live on (or love) the Left Coast. While it's often accused of being just so very (Portlandia, anyone?), apologists of secular culture often identify the Oregon town as a bastion of hope — or at least a place where nihilistic, godless views and your suspect cultural practices (read: having fun) are both tolerated and validated.

  3. Because You Read The Book

    If you took the time to read the book, you might as well make the time to go see the movie. If you're the type of atheist that likes to challenge religious folks in an attempt to enlighten them, you might as well have the same ammunition as they do. Also, it looks like they portray Renn Fayre at Reed as some type of wild college glitter orgy (which isn't really the case, although Reed's student newspaper boasts that they capture the spirit of the three-day campus celebration just fine).

  4. Because You Went To Reed

    Parts of the movie were filmed on location in February 2011, and it portrays the college as an intellectual hotbed of sexy, secular activity. Whether you're an alumnus, or you toured the campus but ended up with the rest of us at Chico State instead, you'll recognize local haunts and the beautiful campus as the setting for the film.

  5. Because It's Being Billed As Anti-Christianity

    No matter what it is, there will always be haters. The more unforgiving and sheltering of Christians are bound not to like the film, as director Steven Taylor set out to make a movie about a young man struggling with Christianity, not a "Christian movie." It includes lots of scenes from the secular world, like cursing, sex, a lesbian, and big college parties — so you can be prepared for a certain amount of irrational Christian backlash from the intolerant sectors of the faith. And if the joy of Christian infighting isn't enough to crack a grin, there's always the possibility that you'll learn something.

  6. Because You Hate Christian Movies

    If you hated The Last Temptation of Christ, called The Passion of the Christ a sanctified snuff film, or found nothing darkly hilarious about Saved, then spending two hours involved in the cinematic representation of an authentic thought experiment that deserves to be taken seriously and treated with respect is bound to make your blood boil. Which is precisely why you should see it. This list has barely addressed the hate-filled spewers of anti-religious epithets. These are the atheists that make the humanist, unconcerned atheists look bad to almost everyone, be they faithful or not. If you're this type of atheist, be sure to see the movie. Your comments are sorely needed! Everyone wants to hear you complain! There's a perfect place for you to whine. It's called the Internet.

  7. Because You're Interested In The Future of Funding the Creative Arts

    How Blue Like Jazz got the green-light to be made is a bit of a Cinderella story. It's a little thing called crowdfunding, and it's the rich uncle of crowdsourcing. If you want to put some money behind a passion project, here's a rather salient argument: it's easier to get $50 from 200 people, rather than borrow $10,000 from an angel investor. And the proof is in the pudding. Indie-Go-Go and Kickstarter are spearheading this new, decentralized type of project funding, and everyone, everywhere stands to benefit from it. In the same thought pattern that a collaborative project takes lots of input, or raising a child takes a village, it takes an Internet campaign to fund a movie about a guy who thinks and talks about Christ. And if the story of Blue Like Jazz doesn't inspire you, its word-of-mouth campaign and how the funds were raised absolutely will. See you at the movies!

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