don miller

I’ve read a lot of books.  But there are a lot more I haven’t read even though I’ve wanted to.  Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz is one of these.  My husband first read it in college, and though our reading tastes usually differ quite a bit, his high opinion of Blue Like Jazz (as well as Miller’s other work) has long placed it on my mental to-read list.  So when Miller came to the area on a book tour for his new book, we took advantage of the chance to see him in person.

After hearing from Miller, I’m only more interested in reading his work.  Though he didn’t read directly from his new book, he talked about how he has come to view the idea of story and conflict and the roles these play in our everyday lives.  Miller discusses religion and spirituality somewhat unconventionally, and he is entirely unapologetic about voicing his thoughts and ideas, even when they conflict with those generally espoused by organized religion.  But interwoven in everything he had to say were humor and sincerity, and I’m eager to see how these come through in his books as well as his talk.

But besides getting to hear about his written work, we also got to hear about his community efforts.  Miller, who lives in Portland, OR, grew up without a father and has founded an organization called The Mentoring Project to work with boys in this situation.  A significant number of men in prison grew up without fathers, and fatherlessness is also linked to a number of other societal issues, such as unwanted pregnancies.  It’s Miller’s belief that the church has the infrastructure to address the issue in ways governmental organizations can not, and it is this belief that led him to found The Mentoring Project.  Though it is currently only in Portland, the organization plans to launch nationwide in Fall 2010.  It seems entirely too rare to hear of a writer of Miller’s stature putting his beliefs into real-life practice.  The project may still be in its early stages, but it will be interesting to see how Miller’s attention to this issue impacts communities throughout the country.

I’ve read the first few pages of Blue Like Jazz since seeing Miller the other night, and already, I can tell that he has an appealing writing style and an intriguing narrative voice.  I’m looking forward to getting further into it and hearing more of Miller’s story.

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~ by Molly on November 7, 2009.

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