IN PRISM’S BOOK BAG: Donald Miller’s THROUGH PAINTED DESERTS: LIGHT, GOD, AND BEAUTY ON THE OPEN ROAD (Nelson Books)

Before writer Donald Miller (http://www.donaldmillerwords.com) became the person whose thoughts on faith in books like BLUE LIKE JAZZ would resonate with hundreds of thousands of people tired of the religious status quo, he first had to travel from Houston to the Pacific Northwest in a temperamental VW van.

Miller began to crystallize his thinking on God, life and meaning during the road trip he chronicles in THROUGH PAINTED DESERTS: LIGHT, GOD, AND BEAUTY ON THE OPEN ROAD. It’s his latest contribution to a new kind of Christian literature: authentic, funny and irreverent.

Embracing change, seeking beauty, rejecting both American consumer culture and the brand of Christianity that imitates it – these are classic Miller themes that took root on this trip. Leaving home was spurred by his fear that he was wasting his life on mundane pursuits: “how do I get money, how do I have fun, how do I become happy?”  Searching for answers to bigger “why” questions, he became further disillusioned: “Here are the five keys to a successful marriage I would be given as an answer. It was as if nobody was listening to the questions being groaned by all of creation.”

Life on the road with the laconic and wise Paul, and folks they meet along the way, gives Miller a deep appreciation for friendship and community. Paul, an unexpected spiritual guide, confronts Miller with the notion “that most of the things we worry about are not worth worrying about, that a low bank account or unfashionable clothes won’t give you cancer.”  Paul, he says, “has become a human who no longer believes that commercials are true, which perhaps is what a human was designed to be.”

The Miller readers met in BLUE LIKE JAZZ (2003) and SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT (2004) has also become that kind of person. He’s found the “peaceful, calming why of life” and wants his readers to find it too. This completely revised edition of Miller’s first book, PRAYER AND THE ART OF VOLKSWAGEN MAINTENANCE, is a glimpse into the formation of one of the most original writers working today.

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