Man to Man: An Interview With Donald Miller
- Monday, May 08, 2006
Editor's Note: This interview originally ran on May 8, 2006. We run it again today in conjuction with the release (and corresponding new interview with Miller) of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Click the link to read the new interview.
The latest offering from the increasingly-popular scribe of "Blue Like Jazz" and "Searching for God Knows What" is titled "To Own a Dragon - Reflections on Growing Up Without a Father." In it, Donald Miller, co-writing with friend, mentor, and father figure John MacMurray, spares us none of the wounds he received growing up trying to define his place in this world without the guidance of a male parent.
Miller weaves his story around his experiences living with the MacMurray family in his 20s, and relates the lessons he gathered watching a real father in action for the first time in his life to obstacles he's overcome and struggles he still has.
Recently, Miller took the time to chat it up with Crosswalk.com about men, manliness, prison, men, his writing style, guys, The Discovery Channel, dudes, compulsive habits, book covers, and did I mention… men?
Crosswalk.com: I just finished reading "To Own a Dragon," and got a lot out of it. Congratulations on another success there.
Donald Miller: Thanks!
CW: Even though in "To Own a Dragon" you speak directly to an audience of the fatherless, the text still spoke as relevantly to me (I had a very good father and I like to think I'm a good father) as your "Blue Like Jazz" or male-focused books like "Wild at Heart." Why do you think even guys who had positive role models as fathers still take so much from this book?
Miller: I think the message is just the same, regardless of how great our father was. We still have to transition to God being our father, and it's also just basic wisdom. In our culture we're just inundated with bad advice all the time, so there's a benefit to having basic life wisdom just crash through, and in saying here's how it really works, and I think that's a part of it.
CW: There is a lot of personal life wisdom in "To Own a Dragon"; was it difficult to write about such a painful subject? And as you wrote did you ever struggle with feelings of animosity toward young Chris MacMurray or other guys with great fathers?
Miller: There's no doubt about it, I absolutely did, which is a weird thing if you think about it. Here I move into the family, I'm in my 20s, it's the first time I've ever seen a family with a father in the home, and I'm jealous of the three-year-old kid because I wanted somebody to be a father figure to me. I wanted somebody to be there and care but there wasn't. Then there was animosity, there was anger, there was hostility, all were issues that I tried to work through, or had to work through. It was either live in frustration or work through those issues.
CW: It was well detailed how you actually worked through that. The book concludes with the idea of being a "wounded healer." How do you hope that you and others who have been hurt by fatherly neglect can become wounded healers?
Miller: Well, Desmond Tutu talks about taking somebody from arrogant victim to wounded healer. This [progression] cannot be accomplished except through a deeply-rooted spiritual life. So what I think is involved is faith in God, and submission to God. To say, "God please move from me arrogant victim to wounded healer - I need to be healed." And the process begins. Inviting God into that journey is the first step, and then surrounding yourself with a group of people who can help you, who can mentor you.
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