*Would you like to advertise on Donald Miller’s blog in 2011? Click here for more information. I’m stepping away from the blog for the rest of the year, but will return on January 3rd. I’m looking forward to another year of blogging, though I can’t commit to anything beyond that. Having not blogged much before, I decided to take a year and see what committing to a weekly, and many times five-days per week column felt like. Here is what I’ve discovered, personally: 1. Keeping a blog is a good experience because it forces me to look for interesting paradigm shifts in life that I might not otherwise notice. I remember spending a winter month on Orcas Island up at Len Sweet’s place years ago. There’s not much to do on Orcas during the winter except for write and hike around to see the beauty of the place. In other words, write and rest. I can see why Len has been successful at what he’s done over the years, and also why he’s such a mellow and understated guy. His personality grows out of that island. Anyway, while there, I picked up my first camera, mainly because I was seeing [...]
The following is an excerpt from Besides the Bible – 100 Books That Have, Should or Will Change Christian Culture, which will be released this month by Biblica. The book was authored by Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison of the Burnside Writers Collective, and features guest essays from Donald Miller, William P. Young, Jonathan Acuff, and Phyllis Tickle, among many others. You can order the book from Amazon or, our favorite, Powells.com, and you can learn more about the book at BesidesTheBible.com. What Jesus Meant, by Gary Wills Essay by Penny Carothers In college I was drawn to Jesus the radical—the champion of the underdog and the Jesus of liberation theology. Except for one little catch: I wasn’t drawn as much to Jesus as I was to the way he lined up with what I already believed. A theological system is far less challenging than the person of Jesus. Other people like slogans, too. I know some folks who wear a lot of black who like to say that Jesus was homeless and a vagabond. So, too, are they. Others I know base their life on the belief that the Christian faith is the system by which we [...]
The following is an excerpt from Besides the Bible – 100 Books That Have, Should or Will Change Christian Culture, which will be released this month by Biblica. The book was authored by Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison of the Burnside Writers Collective, and features guest essays from Donald Miller, William P. Young, Jonathan Acuff, and Phyllis Tickle, among many others. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, by Mark Noll Essay by Dan Gibson As a writer, I always love to come up with a great opening line — something that just destroys the reader with my cleverness and wit. That last sentence wasn’t a particularly skilled opener, but Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind has one of the best: “The scandal of the evangelical mind, is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” I don’t think Noll, a professor at Notre Dame, was aiming for a real zinger, but instead a tone-setting lamentation over the state of Christian intellectualism in America. Even more than a decade and a half later, the stinging criticism of that line still burns as I reread it. It’s one thing when the secular world calls us out as [...]
The following is an excerpt from Besides the Bible – 100 Books That Have, Should or Will Change Christian Culture, which will be released this month by Biblica. The book was authored by Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison of the Burnside Writers Collective, and features guest essays from Donald Miller, William P. Young, Jonathan Acuff, and Phyllis Tickle, among many others. Silence, by Shusaku Endo Essay by John Pattison Francis Xavier disembarked at the southernmost tip of Japan in August 1549, and for two years the trailblazing Jesuit missionary preached in the streets, debated Buddhist monks, and conversed with local warlords. When Francis left Japan, he was hopeful about the modest inroads he had made bringing the gospel to the Japanese. And for a time Christianity did seem to flourish there. By 1582, two hundred churches served 150,000 Japanese believers. The number of Christians increased to 200,000 by 1591 and 300,000 by the early years of the next century. But an ill wind was blowing. In 1597, the pilot of a galleon from the Philippines told Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a powerful territorial lord, that the Spanish Empire used missionaries as pawns to pave the way for a future invasion. [...]
This week I’ll be featuring essays from a new book to which I contributed called Besides the Bible. It’s a great book for book lovers in that it contains essays about books that should, will or have created Christian culture. Some books you’ll agree should be in the book, and some you’ll disagree and some will just shock you. All in all, it’s a tribute to the strong literary history Christian culture has enjoyed throughout the years. I’ll feature my essay first, then keep going all week. Enjoy! Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl Essay by Donald Miller The following is an excerpt from Besides the Bible – 100 Books That Have, Should or Will Change Christian Culture, which will be released this month by Biblica. The book was authored by Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison of the Burnside Writers Collective, and features guest essays from Donald Miller, William P. Young, Jonathan Acuff, and Phyllis Tickle, among many others. In 1942, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, along with his parents and pregnant wife, were taken by Nazi soldiers into the concentration camps, where his family would eventually be killed. Frankl survived the camps, including Auschwitz, and in the most [...]
At The Mentoring Project, we’ve taken our donor relations to a very small level, or rather, a very intimate level. For our key donors, we are issuing an invitation to my home for a house concert. If you’re already giving more than $50 per month, make sure you are on the invite list. And if you’d like to start helping The Mentoring Project provide positive role models for kids growing up without fathers, sign up. We’d love to have you over sometime in 2011. There will be more than a few opportunities, so if you were planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, consider planning it around one of the concerts at my house. You can learn more here.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m reading The Weight of Glory this week and was struck by Lewis’ comment that much of what we do we do to “win worship.” Much of what we tweet, blog about, write about, and say in conversation is an attempt at such. Lewis considered this an inheritance from Paganism. What is most sad about winning worship for ourselves is that any attempt at such marks a disinterest in God who is worthy of worship. I don’t say that to make us feel guilty, which doesn’t do anything to serve us in this instance, but in that freedom from self is found in love, in having found something so incredibly big and beautiful and awe-inspiring that in the face of it we are hardly self aware. Winning worship, then, is what happens when we aren’t aware of something greater than ourselves. When I attempt to “win worship” it’s because I’m not standing before anything bigger or more impressive than myself, and in fact see what’s standing in front of me as less than me, and am calling it to worship what I believe is the most impressive thing in the room, myself. It’s gloomy.
The great stumbling block of the creative mind is the awareness of self from the perspective of others. Self awareness isn’t the enemy, because we are in fact masterworks of God, but rather the overemphasis regarding what others think of us. When we think too much about the opinions of others, we are letting them edit a book God has written. In his introduction to C.S. Lewis’ sermon The Weight of Glory, Walter Hooper says Lewis was not capable of writing a great work until he converted to Christianity, not because only Christians create great work (obviously) but because his conversion marked an inner change in which he ceased to take much interest in himself. In an age in which we can project an image and score that image based on immediate Facebook and Twitter feedback, thus making a video game of life and a false-reality composed of lies, what gets lost is a joyful obsession with the work we create from the purest of motives, a sheer joy in the act of creation itself that causes us to lose ourselves in something else, and in a way die to ourselves over the absolute love of a thing we are [...]
A few nights ago, twelve friends and I attended the lighting of the Portland Christmas tree in Pioneer Square. My friends had all flown in for Thanksgiving, and we decided to join ten-thousand others who walked from all over downtown for the event. What we didn’t know is the spot where we squeezed into the crowd was 25 feet from a van filled with what a young man believed were six, fifty-gallon barrels of explosive material. As you know, the FBI had staged a sting, and as the young man made a call on his cell phone from the train station across town that would detonate the bomb, we were singing Christmas carols well within the blast zone. We didn’t hear about the threat until the following morning, and didn’t even know how close we were to the bomb until I saw a picture in the paper, taken only a few steps from the corner of Pioneer Square where we had been standing. I’ve not talked about Islam or terrorism on this site at all. But reading about the young man, and hearing the talking heads discuss the threat on the internet has me wondering what we are really up [...]
So it’s been about a week since I left Nashville, and I miss the cast a lot. Not only do I miss watching them act, because they are amazing, but I miss them as people. Tania Raymonde is brilliant. I vote her the best person to have a cup of coffee with at 4 in the morning, which is usually about the time the cast and crew is taking a coffee break. She will be playing Lauryn, who is based loosely on Laura from the book. Here’s Tania: Introducing: Tania Raymonde from Blue Like Jazz The Movie on Vimeo.