Saturday, October 31, 2009

D-Mil's New Book

I like Donald Miller. He's easy to relate to. He has an honest approach to Christianity. I don't think he's the most brilliant Christian thinker out there. But, I like what he has to say.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years ranks up there with his other notable books (Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What).

In real life, he and some friends wrote the screen play for a movie adaptation of Blue Like Jazz. He uses the brainstorming sessions as the basis of this book. He focuses on story. And how he learned about story. And about how he started to live a good story.

To be honest, the blatant use of "living a good story" seemed a bit self-help bookish to me. Something to repeat to oneself in order to live life on the edge. At times, I was wondering if I was reading Wild at Heart, as if in order to be a true super-human/Christian, I needed to go kayaking or hike a mountain (a similar feeling I got from Wild... a book to which I do not give a lot of cred).

But I think Donald's approach is a little less regimented. He even states that often times, life can take a rhythm and that's OK, but it's usually the moments that we 'overcome' that we really remember and grow. So I don't feel the pressure to bike across the US (cause that won't happen, Donald). He simply uses his difficult physical challenges as examples of his turn as the protagonist in a story.

He includes a part about how Denmark is the happiest nation on earth because they have low expectations. This sounds kind of contradictory to his main thesis of dreaming big dreams for our stories, but I think I know what he's talking about. We need to get rid of unrealistic self-absorbed dreams and start enjoying real life. That's one I need to work on.

As usual, Donald had me laughing. I will end with a paragraph from the last chapter (spoiler?):

"Before I learned about story, I was becoming a fatalist. I was starting to believe you couldn't feel meaning in life because there wasn't any meaning to be found. But I don't believe that anymore. It's a shame, because you can make good money being a writer and a fatalist. Nietzsche did it with relative success. Not personal success, mind you, because he rarely got out of bed. But he's huge with twenty-something intellectuals. He's the Justin Timberlake of depressed Germans, and there are a lot of depressed Germans."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Call Me the Prodigal Adam

I’ve gone to Oak Pointe church (in Wixom) the last couple Sundays. My workplace (Uptown Coffeehouse!) has been scheduling me on early Sunday afternoons, not giving me enough time to travel to my ‘preferred’ church home of Hope Community, located downtown Detroit. Oak Pointe has a lot of things going for it. It also has a few too many fog machines, stage lights, and large screen projections of the worship band or pastor. With that said, I don’t mind going there with the fam (Mom) whenever I can’t make the trek to Detroit.

Last Sunday, the church began a series on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (& our “Prodigal God”). The pastor is a quiet man and has a PhD and it’s evident in his teaching. My thoughts stem from his general teaching but don’t reflect his sermon directly. His teaching on the two sons involved in the prodigal son parable got me thinking. It got me thinking about how, for most of my life, I’ve thought of myself as the unhappy brother. You know the one: played by the rules, respected his father, didn’t have much fun. I easily identify.

But I’ve also come to realize that I’m the prodigal son. As I get older and realize that I’m not as great as I think I am, I realize that I need to return to the Father on a more consistent basis. I think for a lot of people (especially those outside Evangelical Christian homes), the opposite may seem more relevant: identifying with the prodigal son and then with the unhappy brother. What I’m realizing is that we all have a little bit of both brothers in us, both brothers need to be invited into the party. Good thing both brothers have the same great Father.

Transition that may or may not make sense:

The idea that both brothers had sin issues (even the “good” one) made me think of the story of Adam & Eve. It made me think that we all are fallen and we all suck at life. And for some reason, during church even, I had the sacrilegious thought that maybe the story of Adam & Eve was just a parable of the beginning of every man. That each one of us has chosen to break the relationship with God.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Adam & Eve never ate the forbidden fruit? I know I have. The parabolic reading makes me own up to my very personal decision to be a fool and sin against God. It helps me realize that I was seduced by that sneaky, slippery snake and sunk my teeth into that delicious fruit.

I don’t really think the story of Adam & Eve is just a parable. But I like the parabolic reading of it as well.