Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Scary Close - Donald Miller

Scary Close
Title: Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy
Author: Donald Miller
Publication Date: 2/3/15
Pages: 256
Genre: Faith / Memoir / Self-Help / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I've been a Miller fan for a while.
Date Completed: 6/1/16

Summary: In the authentic, thoughtful style for which he has become known, Miller explores the idea of intimacy and how terrifying it can be to truly tear down the walls around your heart.

What I Thought: I have been a Donald Miller fan since college. My freshman roommate had to read Blue Like Jazz for a class and I remember picking it up in our dorm room and flipping through the pages. It intrigued me. It would be a couple more years before I read it myself, but I remember that moment distinctly as my first interaction with his work.

When I did get around to reading I think I can confidently point to Miller as one of the first Christian authors I connected with as an adult. He ushered me into a new way of thinking about my faith. For the first time, I was recognizing both the fallibility and the beauty of the church and of individual faith. Reading him, I think, was one of the first times I realized that there was true Christianity outside of the fundamentalist bubble in which I had grown up.

I've come a long way down that path since. I mean, my ravings about Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey here on the blog should attest to that fact already. I've learned a lot, grown a lot, made plenty of mistakes, and have so much further to go on this faith journey. But authors like Miller help me accept that we are all walking the path together, each slowly working out our faith with fear and trembling and grace. Not a single one of us has arrived. We're all works in progress and it's ok to talk about both our triumphs and our failings.

It's surprising to me that this is the first Miller book I've reviewed on the blog. I guess when I started discovering other authors in this "genre," I took a hiatus from Miller for a while. He's come out with a few books since I last checked in with him and I was eager to pick this one up and see if he still would have the same impact on me these days.

The short answer? No.

But wait - before you think I'm about to disavow the man and his work, I have some hypotheses for why that is. First of all, both Miller and I have grown and matured in the intervening years. The brash words and 'shocking' ideas don't pack the same punch, and I think that's a good thing. Secondly, I've read a lot more of this style of book since my first Miller. I think the first few books you read in any genre to which you'll become connected tend to blow you away. You hold them in such high esteem because they feel new and fresh in so many ways. The more you read of that type of book, the more discerning you become in judging the quality. I do think Miller retains much of his quality, but I also think I have more discerning eyes now.

Quotes I Loved:
  • "The strongest character in a story isn't the hero, it's the guide. Yoda. Haymitch. It's the guide who gets the hero back on track. The guide gives the hero a plan and enough confidence to enter the fight. The guide has walked the path of the hero and has the advice and wisdom to get the hero through their troubles so they can beat the resistance."
  • "While everybody is invited [to follow Jesus], not everybody is willing."
  • "Real love stories don't have dictators, they have participants. Love is an ever-changing, complicated, choose-your-own adventure narrative that offers the world but guarantees nothing."
  • "Kids with parents who are honest about their shortcomings seem to do better in life."
  • "It wasn't pleasure mankind was looking for, that men only sought pleasure when they couldn't find meaning. If a man has no sense of meaning, Frankl argued, he will numb himself with pleasure."
  • "Betsy and I are going to try as hard as we can not to put the burden of that longing on each other...Instead, we will comfort each other in the longing and even love it for what it is, a promise that God will someday fulfill us."
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Possibly

A Reduced Review: Though it didn't hold the same magic as some of Miller's earlier work did for me, there is still a lot of good to glean here. 

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