Tonight I stole away by myself for my own book junkie fix. In fact my oldest son came home and announced to me that he did not do well on a literature test today. As a "punishment" of sorts I thought I would take him out to dinner and then make him come with me! I, as a good father, would give him some exposure to understanding what goes on behind the scenes in creating a book. He would meet some real-life authors and be exposed to their passion and their craft. I got the typical moans and groans from my son whenever I make him do the father/son thing but the end result is always good. He was glad he came! So enough about Zach! Plus I felt my grandma smiling down on me who was hugely responsible for exposing me to art, classical music and a passion for reading at an age where I really wasn't feeling it yet, but it made a difference later on.
I wanted to journal some of my thoughts about what I learned at this book tour. Donald Miller talked about story and the significance of how the elements of a good story fit into our faith journey. The things that stuck with me are:
1. Conflict existed even before the Fall. Adam could not find a suitable partner in all of God's creation. God gave Adam a job to do: name all the animals. This had to be a job that lasted a very long time as the anxiety of not having a relational connection to anything in God's creation built up over time. In the climax of this conflict, God put Adam to sleep and created Eve. When Adam saw Eve for the first time he was in awe. Had God given him what he wanted without the tension of conflict and time, Adam may not have fully appreciated the beauty of what God created for him.
2. Conflict is a given in this lifetime. The cross was not the climax for Christians. The cross is a massively significant event, but conflict still exists. In fact when we present this type of worldview, believe in Jesus and He will make everything better, many people walk away from the faith disappointed when they run into problems and conflict after their conversion. The "Final Act" of Christian history is in the New Heaven and the New Earth. It is that which we put our hope in when Christ makes all things right and restores the creation back to what it was like in the beginning.
3. A good film or book has a final climactic event that resolves all of the previous issues. Unfortunately, this is not real life. Or should I say, this is not the present life. Our lives will always be filled with conflict. It is how we respond to that conflict that will determine who we are. Viktor Frankl suffered in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. He dealt with many Jews who just wanted to commit suicide to escape the horror of the camp. But he realized that there was significant meaning in persevering through the conflict that they were in so that others would be moved into action by their stories and never let something like this happen again.
4. Mentoring young boys who do not have a father is a hugely important issue. The odds are stacked against those who do not have a father. But if the church takes action to mentor boys within their community who do not have a father, they will do a lot to change those odds. Donald Miller started an organization called The Mentoring Project. We as a youth group are now sponsors for $10 a month. This will go towards paying for a boy to have a mentor. Awesome stuff.
5. Donald Miller's reflections on the art of story and analysing its different parts and then relating it to our faith is just extraordinary. I love it. He understanding of faith brings so much significance to my life and the areas of conflict that I have encountered.
6. I also met Susan Issacs who wrote "Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir". She was very funny. She talked about her faith journey as she wrestled with God throughout her life. She has some very genuine struggles throughout various stages of her faith journey that she is able to reflect on with a smirk, a little irreverence, and a whole lot of wisdom. I am very fascinated in reading her memoir.
If you get a chance to make it out to "The Million Miles Tour" do it! The authors really open up their hearts and minds in a personal way that makes the evening very enjoyable and thought provoking.