Man to Man: An Interview With Donald Miller
- Monday, May 08, 2006
CW: Isn't there also another branch extending help and support to single moms?
Miller: Yeah, that's the first year. We're going to try to take care of some of the needs of single moms, to decrease the amount of stress in their lives so that they can give more energy and time to their own children. We want to fix their washing machines, fix their cars, paint their houses. We want to provide them with educational seminars where we provide childcare and they can afford to take the day off to attend classes on meeting the specific demands of being a single mom. Basically, we just want to release some of the stress that's going on in their lives.
CW: Switching gears a bit here, Don, one thing that kind of astonishes me about your writing, especially from the perspective of biblical relevance, is how different it is from other works of Christian encouragement in that it's not just littered with scripture addresses - no distracting colons or parentheses - even though you often mention important Bible passages. Why leave the references out, and have you encountered any resistance or negativity about it?
Miller: I haven't encountered much. I just leave the references out; in fact I often will paraphrase without mentioning I just paraphrased scripture. The reason is because I read a lot of books with scripture references that either feel misplaced, or like that's not actually what the text was trying to do, or where I sense that the author has a point and is trying to use an ace card to say, "See? God agrees with me, here's the scripture reference." That's not an enormous percentage of the Christian books out there, but there are some that do that and I wanted to disassociate myself.
The other thing is if scripture has power, then it has power regardless of whether I put the reference in there or not. If it's true, it's true. As to putting the reference in, it's rarely about helping the reader. It's all about me, as in, "Look at me quoting scripture." I don't need that. The reader is either helped by it or not helped by it, and truth is just truth, regardless of whether we put a parenthetical reference in there or not. The interesting thing about the text itself is that - as we all know - before the Nicene council, there were no references at all. So are we really defending the Bible, or are we defending a numeric code by which we have dissected the Bible?
CW: Without scripture references your writing - I admit - comes across as less preachy and I think that's definitely a strength; you're able to just sit down and be honest. Kind of like how back in "Blue Light Jazz," you introduced us to a lesson from the animal kingdom regarding penguin sex, and now, in "To Own a Dragon," we learn about the mentoring habits of elephants. Are you planning on using any other great metaphors from the animal kingdom to explain spiritual truths?
Miller: (Laughs). No, I don't have any more right now; I'm sure some will come to me.
CW: I was wondering what inspired you to come up with those. Is it Discovery Channel viewing?
Miller: It is! I'm an Animal Planet/Discovery Channel junkie. I don't have cable in the house, but when I'm in a hotel or something I just get stuck on those channels. The great thing is that they feel like a documentary. You know, I went to a movie place last night and came home with three documentaries that were boring animal stuff, so yes, I'm just a junkie.
CW: Speaking of nature, did you consider using some of your co-author John's landscape photography for the book cover?
Miller: You know, we didn't just because it wouldn't have made sense with the title of the book. It would have made sense inside the book to show some of John's photography.
CW: So instead, you went with this, um, very interesting orange-tinted photograph of what I take to be a man's lips and beard. Who is this and why use this picture?
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