One of my students told me he had read Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
four or five times (I can’t remember the number now). I had not read it and he rolled his eyes when I said so. I didn’t tell him that I had not even heard of it, but I did decide it was time to read a book my college students were reading. So I read it. Not long after that, the student was back in my office, mentioned the book again, I told him I had read it, and he looked at me like I ought now to be converted and really get it. But I disappointed again by saying, “Yes, I liked it, but what’s all the fuss?” His response was another eye-rolling sigh that communicated something like, “You are an idiot but I won’t tell you that. You really don’t get it. In spite of reading the book.”
What did you like most about Donald Miller’s books you have read? What do you think of this new book? How does it fit with Blue Like Jazz?
I do like Blue Like Jazz
. Miller can tell a story, and that is what his new book is about, and I like it much more than I liked Blue Like Jazz
. The book is called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
and in this book Miller moves from one how has honest doubts and wonders about what he believes to knowing he is in a story. In some ways, then, the book forms firmer ground than the previous work.
I think Blue Like Jazz was a form of evangelism for many, an evangelism that said “Yes, we are Christians but we don’t have it all together.” If that book was a bit of proto-evangelism, A Million Miles ushers us into the world of the gospel as story.
In some ways, Blue Like Jazz expresses the inner reality for many postmodern young adults. A Million Miles will push that inner reality to a new dimension because, like the former book, this book also tells the story of postmodern young adults. The world of deconstructing doubt can be exhilarating, but only for so long. Some way, some day, deconstructions yearn for something stable and something solid, and A Million Miles may do that for many. Some, no doubt, will be disappointed that Miller has found firmer ground; others will walk with him. Each of us can learn that life is a story and the story will tell ourselves gives our lives meaning.
The best part of this book is that it talks about Story — how stories work and how they are defined: a character who wants something and must overcome obstacles to get it — as it tells stories, all enfolded in the story called Donald Miller, and it involves his mother and his father and his girlfriend and his bike riding and mountain climbing and the movie makers who are telling his story.