Monday, February 8, 2010

Book Review: A Million Miles In a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

I had my first Donald Miller experience in early 2009 with Blue Like Jazz (I know, I know, a little behind the curve, Jared). I loved the narrative-style theology that was described as "non-religious thoughts about Christian spirituality". There was enough depth and orthodoxy that I could loan the book to my mom, but not so much that I couldn't loan it to my coworkers.

The same could not be said of Searching For God Knows What and Through Painted Deserts. While the narrative was still there, the theology and simple, deep humanity was markedly absent. And while the story-telling was good, it was not strong enough to carry the books alone. So I ended 2009 one for three in the Donald Miller book category and looking for redemption.

And I found that redemption in A Million Miles In a Thousand Years. The book takes shape as Miller is approached to make a movie out of his stories in Blue Like Jazz. So as they try to craft the slightly disjointed chapters into a more linear story arc for a movie, Don begins to see the life he has lived in the common elements of storytelling.

While Miller's primary point seems to be that we should stop being mere observers and start taking steps to write a story worth living, I was struck with other thoughts that he perhaps did not intend. Like the fact that a steady, faithful life is as good a story (if not so glamorous) as a bike ride across America or hiking the Inca ruins. Or that our stories are written for us as much as they are written by us.

Don't expect the same theological depth as Blue Like Jazz. I have a sneaking suspicion that Donald Miller would feel like that was cheating, like he was using the same angle. But A Million Miles is a satisfying offering and a worthy shelfmate by Donald's first opus.

This book was a free review copy generously provided by Thomas Nelson.


Steve Hayes said...

I see on my blog roll that you have written about a Trinitarian critique of presuppositionalism in your latest post, and as this is the latest post U can find, I was disappointed to see that "presuppositionalism" was not explained. Can you explicate, please?

Steve Hayes said...

When I clicked on the actual post, I got this message:

Page not found
Sorry, the page you were looking for in the blog Christians in Context: from orthodoxy to orthopraxy. does not exist.

Have you deleted the post?

I'm still curious about what "presuppositionalism" is though.

Ian Clausen said...


The author of that previous post felt it best to take it down, I'm afraid, as he ventured on a subject without really doing his homework first. I'll say this much, however: whatever it means to have a presupposition, which is the real target of the past post, it is not presuppositionalism which the post accurately assaulted. Maybe when the author gathers his wits about him he'll approach the subject again sometime.

Sorry for the confusion.

Ian (said author)

Anonymous said...

My favourite book of Miller's was Searching For God Knows What. I liked his thoughts about compassion for the hurting, at least that is what jumped out at me the most.

I've enjoyed dipping into all the books, but sometimes I do find myself shaking my head a little as if to say, 'Come on Don, you don't have to try and make Christianity so cool by saying that or telling us you did that.'

Oh well. I believe in being authentic. Oh if we would only be more authentic as His followers. But I also think there might be an over-obsession with making sure we all remember that we can be Christians and cool at the same time.

But I am interested in reading this new one soon.