Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Own
Arthor: Donald Miller
Publisher Thomas Nelson Publishers
Length: 255 pp.
Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz is possibly the most acclaimed Christian book of the last ten years (apologies to Rick Warren). Naturally, someone decided to make a movie from the book. When Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson show up at Mille';s door to discuss the movie and a screenplay, Miller is disillusioned to hear that a fictional account of his life is needed to make a coherent movie, that his real life is "too boring."
Miller embraces the idea of reinventing his "story." If he is the writer of his life, why not do the things that his character would do in order to live a fulfilling and exciting life? He then applies the principles of writing a good story into the reshaping of his own life and personality.
In doing so, he realizes that his life is transformed. No longer struggling with depression, he starts living with meaning and purpose. He finds his biological father after thinking him dead for many years. He hikes the Inca Trail in Peru, and rides his bicycle across the United States to raise money for Blood: Water Mission. In short, he finds himself sacrificing his own wants for the commitment of living out Christ's commands. One day, he realizes he is a million miles away from the person he once was.
Miller then vows his future stories will be better, that striving to live for a noble purpose and overcoming the inevitable pitfalls to do so will then create a more compelling story that will have a greater impact.
While some find Miller oblique and meandering, I agree with him that life is a process, and that sometimes it takes a lot of different paths to get to where you wish to be. What fascinates me is that Miller is able to be completely open about his lack of understanding while in that process. Like Rich Mullins, he never elevates himself above his audience, but freely acknowledges his shortcomings, while straining to be like Jesus.
Brian A. Smith