Book Review: Scary Close by Donald Miller
In 2006, I had just been fired from my job as a pastor in St. Louis. I was struggling a lot personally and professionally. I had an interview that spring for a new pastor job. I had made it to the final 3 candidates for a church in Austin. I was in St. Louis, and the lead pastor of that church flew to Chicago and set up at a hotel restaurant at the airport. He met all of the candidates there. I flew to the Chicago airport, had the interview and flew back.
The meeting went really well. He actually helped counsel me some in how I was struggling. I recognized that I still needed a lot of help. Before I got back on the plane, I went to the bookstore in the airport, where they sell books for the low cost of 120% of the cover price. I saw the book Blue Like Jazz. I’d heard a lot about it, but had never read it. I picked it up. I then read it in one sitting. It impacted me big time. Donald Miller gave voice to some of the confusion and hurt I was feeling and he gave me hope and courage to keep going.
After reading his book, I heard rumors that he had drifted from the Christian faith. It had already happened to some prominent Christian authors that were “rethinking church.” It’s still happening (cough, cough, Rob Bell). I didn’t want it to be true, so I chose not to read any more of his books. I wanted that book to have its place in my heart, without being tainted by him rejecting Christianity(the way the Nooma videos are now). I know that’s not the most mature perspective in the world, but it’s what I did.
Then a couple of months ago, Mark Palfreeman picked the book that we would read as a staff and it was a new book by Donald Miller. I was nervous, but I didn’t need to be. The book was tremendous.
Book: Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy (Click here to buy on Amazon)
Author: Donald Miller, Author and Director of Storyline and Storybrand
Why You Should Read It: Miller tells the story of how he discovered, through the pursuit of his girlfriend that would become his wife, how broken and dysfunctional he was with relationships and in his own heart. As he is telling his journey to personal, relational and spiritual health, he gives insights into what keeps us from our own health. There are no lists or proof texts or 5 keys to anything. He is a master storyteller that I am now convinced lives in my head. We have been discussing the book in staff meeting and it has taken over, in a good way. We start discussing it and the next thing we know, staff meeting is over. We are a diverse group of people and everyone is being impacted by this book.
Why Some Would Say You Shouldn’t: It’s that Blue Like Jazz guy. Is he even a Christian? I heard he doesn’t go to church. There aren’t any Scripture references in this book. Where are the action items? Is this even a Christian book?
Why They Are Wrong: It’s not a traditional Christian book. It is not linear. It doesn’t have to-do lists. He barely references the Bible at all. He also doesn’t go to a local church. All of that is true. However, he is clearly gifted in communicating truth. He is incredibly insightful into what goes on inside the human heart. Go in understanding that this book is unlike the other Christian books out there and you will be challenged.
Questions to consider: What is holding me back from intimacy with other people? What has happened in my past that is holding me back? What dangerous things do I believe and think that I’ve come to believe are just “who I am?” How are these keeping from being who God has called me to be? Am I emotionally and personally healthy? Am I willing to even ask that question? Do I even understand that question?
Conclusion: Buy this book. Get a group of people you trust and read it together and discuss it. Don’t read it alone. Read it with people that can process with you what he’s talking about.