Million Miles in a Thousand Years

September 29, 2009


Though I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I began Donald Miller‘s newest book Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I am sure those expectations were exceeded.

Some years ago a professor of mine told me about a book called The Drama of Doctrine by Kevin Vanhoozer.  The basic premise of the book is that Scripture is the screenplay in which we find ourselves.  It tells us where we are (place + time=setting), who we are (characterization), what’s wrong (conflict) and how it is all going to be fixed (resolution).

“The task of theology is to enable hearers and doers of the gospel to respond and to correspond to the prior Word and Act of God, and thus to be drawn into the action” (The Drama of Doctrine, 2005 Vanhoozer p. 44)

In other words, the Bible invites us to continue living in its story, to live well (or wisely) in light of the cosmic story it tells.  Don continues this line of thinking, adding that good stories are not only worth reading, they are also worth living.

Early in the book two screen writers come to Don asking if they might make a movie out of his life based on Blue Like Jazz.  After Don’s agrees and the process of editing the fictional Don begins, the real Don also sets out on a journey editing his own life using story to guide him in to greater more purposed living and the journey takes him across continents to become a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

In the comments preceding the book Rob Bell calls Million Miles “disturbing” and “unsettling” and I have to agree.  All of us inhabit stories, and most of our stories are not ones worth telling, or certainly ones worth watching.  Not because we are not able to produce that kind of life, but because we refuse to or have never stopped to see the grand story in which we live, “the powerful play” in which each of us is bound to contribute a verse (to steal from Whitman).  Only the most purposed and the most imperceptive will end the journey through this book unscathed.   For the rest of us, Million Miles will be a challenge to live well, to inhabit our stories and find the conflict for which we are striving.

Let me leave you with some quotes:

“When we watch the news, we grieve [people suffering], but when we go to the movies, we want more of it.  Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in.  We think God is unjust, rather than a master storyteller.” (32)

“The world needs for us to have courage…The world needs for us to write something better” (118)

“The ambitions we have will become the stories we live.  If you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask them what they want.  If we don’t want anything, we are living boring stories, and if we want a Roomba vacuum cleaner, we are living stupid stories” (125)

“You become like the people you interact with.  And if your friends are living boring stories, you probably will too.  We teach our children good or bad stories, what is worth living for and what is worth dying for, what is worth pursuing, and the dignity with which a character engages his own narrative.” (160)

Follow Donald Miller on twitter or read his blog here.

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4 Responses to “Million Miles in a Thousand Years”

  1. Mom Says:

    I think this book is one of his best-I found myself very challenged, and reassured that there was actually purpose in accidentally purchasing three copies. It is definitely one I will be happy to share around with my friends.

    How easy it is to get consumed by the immediate.

  2. joewulf Says:

    I definitely agree this is one of Don’s best. He really seems to journey through the book, emerging at the end as a different character (which makes me glad you accidentally ordered three copies 🙂 -JW


  3. […] already blogged over Donald Miller’s latest book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years here, I’ve run across a couple other resources on story I wanted to pass on.  Similar to […]


  4. […] Go check out Don’s original post here and if you haven’t read much of Donald Miller check him out (maybe start here) […]


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