Sunday night, my friend Ryan and I drove to Fort Worth to hear Donald Miller speak on his book tour. First we stopped to see my family and grab the tickets (Thanks Mom!) then we were on our way. The old Methodist Church downtown was easy enough to find. The church was beautiful, Ryan bought a book, and we got great seats! We started off the night watching Susan Iscacs’ one woman performance to promote her book, “Angry Conversations with God.” She was hysterically funny. Her voices and impressions were great. I’m curious about her writing. If her personality and humor shines through her writing, I would be interested in giving her book a look.
Then Donald Miller. I have wanted to meet the Don I have read about for a long time. I used to make jokes that I was going to go to Portland to meet him. I would say that I was jealous of his writing, and I still admire his work a lot. He is funny and down to earth in a way so that everyone feels that they know him, without ever meeting him. His personality seeps out and rises up from the pages like aromas from the kitchen on Sunday afternoon.
He spoke about narrative. I think my life theme of the year is story. Don (can I call him Don as he calls himself?) was learning about how to set up a good story for a movie he was working on. In the process, he realized that what makes a good movie is not often what happens in day-to-day life. What is story, Don asks? A since making tool. In a story, there is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. What of life do we remember? What is meaningful? The parts of our life that fit into a narrative. The Bible is a narrative, and is meant to be read as history and as a way to know Christ. Donald got a little controversial when he said that The Bible will not fulfill you, God will not fulfill you. The story of the Bible will not “fix” people. People will feel fulfilled and meaningful when they begin to live their story, when they are a character who wants something, faces conflict, and overcomes.
In Writing, Don points to the phrase, “show, don’t tell.” I have heard Dr. Shaver and other professors say this to me. Donald said this to the audience: the same is true in life- show, don’t tell. We have to DO something compelling and sacrifice things through conflict to live meaningfully. We have to want something great, something wonderful and meaningful and reaching and conflict has to happen. Since Sunday, I have thought a lot about what Donald Miller said about conflict. In the United States we think of conflict as bad, but Don says conflict is good. We grow through conflict, without conflict we would not feel meaningful. Victor Frankl says that when we can not find meaning, we numb ourselves with pleasure. I thought that was interesting. We do not live for pleasure, we live to make a difference. Just like Roger Rosenblatt said, we are narrative creatures.
Can’t wait to read the new book, “A million Miles in a Thousand Years.”