When I started reading “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” I had never read a book by Donald Miller (or at least I didn’t think I had. When I was looking at Donald Miller’s Wikipedia page I realized I had read his first book “Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance“.)
Many, many people have read his “Blue Like Jazz“. In fact, Blue Like Jazz is being made into a movie by Steve Taylor. And “A Million Miles” is the memoir of what Miller learned while writing the screen play for the movie and the couple years around that time.
The overall theme of the book is that we are all living a story, and if we don’t like the story we are living, we should change that story. It is not as simple as that and Miller makes that clear. He is also very real and does not present himself as having the answers. In fact, after reading it I really do understand why so many people don’t like him as an author. He talk about having a beer on several occasions, he knows he doesn’t have the answers and doesn’t pretend that he has it all together. This is stark difference to the tone of many Christian books I have read. It is refreshing.
Some of the reasons that others won’t like Miller are exactly what I like. Miller isn’t concerned about systematic theology or apologetics (at least he doesn’t write about it). Instead he is interested in God as a writer of stories. We are jointly writing our stories with God. It is not that I don’t think that theology and apologetics aren’t important. I went to seminary and thought that the theology and study was well worth my time. But people that are not Christians are rarely interested in theology. Most of the time, their questions really are not about apologetics. Most of the time the questions are more emotional or relational. The problem with much of evangelism is that we speak only to the head. We think that if only someone hears the right message then their head will click with the message than they will get it. If this were true then all we would need to do is get the message in front of every person in the world. And most people in the world would be Christian by now.
I read “A Million Miles” in a few days and was ready to buy a few copies to give away. A friend loaned me the audio book of Blue Like Jazz. I was not supposed to post this review until Sept 29 when the book is official released so I started listening to Blue Like Jazz . It was the abridged version but it was narrated by Donald Miller himself, so hopefully that offset the missing parts.
The common theme between these two books is Story. Reading them backwards, it almost feels like Miller was foreshadowing the Million Miles book. Obviously, he knew what was in Blue Like Jazz and hit several of the themes a second time. But there was more depth, more life behind them. In several areas I honestly wondered why he hadn’t gotten it yet. And maybe he had but was just allowing the reader to catch up.
These books are post modern in the a good way. They are not post modern in a way that most Evangelicals would hate (Miller does not assume that all people can get to heaven any way they want to.) But they are post modern in a way that I believe in. They focus on the story, the emotion and method of reaching out to God, not just the intellectually method. They assume that we as people will not ever fully understand what God has for us short of heaven. They assume that we are going to stumble and mess up, both because we are sinners and because we are simply human and limited in our understanding (which is also caused by sin, but is a different result.)
I liked these books and I am going to go find some more Donald Miller, once I get through some more of my book list.