I recently read Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller, and I must confess that it is far better than Blue Like Jazz. When reading the latter, I found myself bored, the former, while still not something I completely agree with, had many interesting and potentially life changing ideas.
The most impacting of these ideas for me is this: our relationship with Christ is to be that- a RELATIONSHIP. Yes, I knew this before. Yes, I’ve said the same many a time. The key difference here is that Miller uses such a set of examples and anecdotes to make a point that one cannot help but feel it on a very real level. This brings up an underlying question that he also asks in the book: what if we read the Bible not as some sort of formula, not as some sort of 16-step guide to living like Christ, but really appreciate it as God revealing Himself to us. What if we read the stories of David, Moses, Hosea, Job, and all the rest, and instead of asking what things about their lives we can turn into formulaic patterns (eg the prayer of Jabez), look for who God Is in that person’s life. How does He act, respond, love, punish, reward, and love?
Miller says it better, needless to say, so read the book. (Jay, in your case, read it when I give it back to you…) I love the point he makes about the way in which our culture has erred WAY too far to the side of Science. We have made life about facts, about figures, about some cop on Dragnet saying “Just the facts, ma’am.” This isn’t the way humans live life. Even as young children, people tell stories. We tell stories when things go well, we share sorrows when they don’t. We do not tell what happened to us with numbers and facts, we do not say “I fell down three steps and fractured my left olna, causing myself pain in large quantities,” we say “I was walking and was tripped by the dog, then broke my leg, and it hurt like a snakebite in July.” Or, at least, something like that. We live stories, not facts.
I’ve also been reading The Great Divorce over the last two days, and what it is really teaching me is humility. I don’t understand half of what Lewis is saying. Oh, I understand the plot alright, the story at the fore, but for the life of me I cannot see the meaning of many of the things he talks about.
I love this sort of book. When I tried to read it in high school, I could only read a few chapters, then grew bored with it. Now, I am enthralled, but cannot understand but a taste of it. Fifty years from now, perhaps I shall begin to understand, then sometime during eternity I can just ask old Clive what he meant.
Last but not least, I would like to compare the two songs “I Will Go the Distance” by Clay Aiken and “Go the Distance” by Michael Bolton (from Disney’s Hercules). In the latter, the singer is wanting fame, glory, power, honor for themself. They don’t care about others, the people they will save, but merely that he obtains the glory he wants so badly. How much does this reflect the reasoning for why we do “noble” things? How often are our good actions the result of us wanting good PR?
“I don’t care how far, I can go the distance,
I will face the world, fearless, proud and strong
I will beat the odds, I can go the distance
Till I find MY hero’s welcome right where I belong.”
To contrast, in the former, the vocalist sings as though he were Christ, speaking with God the Father and sacrificially saying:
“I will go the distance, I will go that far.
I will give up everything to bring them where You are.
Even though I could choose the path of least resistance,
Father I will take the cross.
I will go the distance.”