I don’t have a PhD in Literature.  Or Classical Studies.  Or English.  Or actually, anything for that matter.

I’m half-way through a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership that will never be completed.

Once in a while, I contemplate returning to school full-time to enroll in Purdue’s Masters of Creative Writing program but then come to my senses.

I’m not a professional book reviewer.

I tell you this because sometimes I find those in academia (remember that I live in a Big Ten College town) are completely befuddled when I open my mouth and actually might have something intelligent to say about literature.  Or anything really.  Because you know, I stay home with my children and all.  And I’m blonde and everyone likes to make dumb blonde jokes around me.

But alas, ’tis true that I have no formal credentials to state what I’m about to say:  I know good literature when I read it.  I know good writers.  I know bad ones, too.

I also know that I have a MILLION miles to go in my development as a writer and I may never “make it” to be a deep one at that.  The good news is that I’m OK with that.

However, I will say that I am avid, insane, crazy reader.  To the point that if I don’t watch myself closely, I worry that my children will think they are second to books.  Much like an alcoholic who can’t gaze at a bottle, I keep books out of my “everyday life” areas so I am not tempted as well.  They are tucked safely behind the doors of my bedroom.

I’m reading a book in which I can say is just plain old excellent literature.  Donald Miller is quite possibly one of the best writers I have read in a while.

He spoke at the MOPS Convention (along with Margaret Feinberg, my other new favorite writer) and I thought he was funny.  He talked about hiking to Macchu Piccu, which some of you remember my husband just did recently, and he spoke of growing up without a father.  JJ also grew up without a father present so I thought these two might have a lot to talk about.

I purchased “Blue Like Jazz” and at first, I was unsure if I would like it.  But then…oh my.  He drew me in.

David Sedaris is another hysterically funny, gifted writers who I adore.  Yes, I know he is living an “alternative lifestyle.”  I still love his words and his voice is spectacular.

However, I now love Donald Miller even more because he is a CHRISTIAN version of David Sedaris.  He’s making me laugh out loud almost every time I read this deep yet entertaining book.

I started adding bookmarks to each page that contained a quote that I loved but then found that I was bookmarking pretty much every page (I’m using my Nook).  I thought it would be fun on this Random day to share some of his quotes that are absolutely wonderful and have made me stop and really think or simply say “Oh, yeah!!!!  He’s so right!!!”

I might mention also that I am only half-way through so perhaps there will be a “Part 2” to this post as well…

Some nuggets of wisdoms I’ve enjoyed so far…

“God was no longer a slot machine but something of a Spirit that had the power to move men’s souls.  I seemed to have been provided answers to questions I had yet to ask, questions that God sensed or had even instilled in the lower reaches of my soul. The experience of becoming a Christian was delightful.

I don’t think, however, there are many people who can stay happy for long periods of time.  Joy is a temporal thing.  Its brief capacity, as reference, gives it its pleasure.  And so some of the magic I was feeling began to fade.  It is like a man who gets a new saw for Christmas, on the first morning feeling it’s weight and wondering at its power, hardly thinking of it as a tool from which he will produce years of labor.

Early on, I made the mistake of wanting spiritual feelings to endure and remain romantic.  Like a new couple expecting to always feel in love, I operated my faith thinking God and I were going to walk around smelling flowers.  When this didn’t happen, I became confused.

What was more frustrating than the loss of exhilaration was the return of my struggles with sin.  I had become a Chrsitian, so why did I still struggle with lust, greed, and envy?  Why did I want to get drunk at parties and cheat on tests?” (p. 56-57)

The smelling flowers part?  Loved it.  A few more then I’ll stop…

“My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect.  I don’t really do that anymore.  Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter and I honestly don’t care.  I don’t believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons.  Who knows anything anyway?  If I walk away from Him, and please pray that I never do, I will walk away for social reasons, identity reasons, deep emotional reasons, the same reasons that any of us do anything.” (p.82)

Isn’t this so true?  I can’t handle “talking head” arguments and he is absolutely right – it’s not about God anymore when we are trying to showcase our “vast knowledge.”  It’s about us.  It’s about winning.

He has a very poignant chapter entitled”The Birth of Cool” in which he basically describes how our culture is obsessed with what is considered to be “cool” and not necessarily about what someone believes or behaves.  He stated that “The problem with Christian belief – the belief that there is a God and a devil and a heaven and a hell –  is that it is not a fashionable thing to believe.” He made up a hysterically funny story about a Christian guys that is “cool” but since this post is getting too long already, I will refrain from including it.  Perhaps I will post it next week…

Lastly, here is my favorite one thus far:

“But the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.  And there is something  inside me, some selfish beast of a subtle thing that doesn’t like the truth at all because it carries responsibility, and if I actually believe these things I have to do something about them.” (p. 85)

Amen, Don.  Amen.

Next Friday is “Q&A” time!  Ask me anything and I’ll answer it on next Friday’s post!  No topic is off-limits! :) Just simply leave a question in the comments OR  shoot me an email (ncnsapp@gmail.com) OR on my Facebook fan page.

For more Caffeinated Randomness, please visit Andrea and Under Grace and Over Coffee!

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