When Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz was edited to become a movie, Miller decided to make some edits of his own—to his own life. He begins to apply some film narrative techniques—for instance, a character needs to do something good before an audience will love him. Miller writes about hiking the Inca Trail in Peru, bicycling across the country, finding his father who he hadn't seen since childhood, and creating an organization for the fatherless in Portland. Before he began a 65-city book tour in September, Miller spoke with Christianity Today about creating a better story for himself.
In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, you write about making better stories for ourselves. Do you think that's a Christian idea?
No, that is just a good idea. The agenda behind this book is to help people understand how story works and how that could affect your lives. It's more universal. I mean it would be kind of like saying if you wrote a book about how to fix a television. As a Christian, how do you bring the gospel into that? Well, if you brought the gospel into that, you'd be just annoying because people want to know how to fix their television. I try not to spiritualize things that don't need to be spiritualized. And yet, you know, it is written from a memoir perspective, and I'm a Christian, and so that comes into this book.
Should Christians latch onto the idea that God works through the stories in our lives?
I wouldn't go that far. I think this book is much more utilitarian. I think it's very hard for us, for Christians, to understand that it's okay to read a book, for instance, on how to manage your time. There's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't have to be a Christian message and you don't have to proof text with Bible ...