Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Searching For God Knows What

In my effort to occupy my time, I've checked out a bunch of books from the library and borrowed several from a friend. The first one I'm reading is Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. It's been on my to-read list for awhile. I read Blue Like Jazz, also by Miller, several years ago, and liked it. I also saw a video a few weeks ago of Donald Miller preaching, and it was really good. He has a great sense of humor, and a realistic approach to, well, reality. I'm two chapters in, though, and while I think a lot of what he's saying is good, I'm struggling with some of it, which, I guess, is probably a good thing. I mean, I'm sure Donald Miller wouldn't want anyone to read his book and agree with everything he says.

So... one bone to pick with him. In the first chapter, he's talking about formulas, and how many people approach God with a formula in mind: do this, and this will happen. Pray for this, and this will happen. Give money to the church and this will happen. I'm with him 100% that this is the case, and that this is not the way to approach God. God is relational, and that's his whole point, that we have to be in relationship with God. God is not a snack machine, being one of my favorite parallels. We don't just put in our money, type in A2 and get our goods.

But one of the examples Miller uses is Harry Potter. In a brief example, he talks about a CSPAN show he was watching, where a literary critic was talking about Harry Potter, and wondering why it's so popular. The critic says it's "wish fulfillment." "He said the lead character in the book could wave a wand and make things happen, and this is one of the primary fantasies of the human heart." Miller agrees.

Okay, so he's making a bigger point here than why people like Harry Potter. But I feel I must make a point as to why people like Harry Potter, with the help of this article. Rather than using Harry Potter as an example of what people are wishing for that they shouldn't be wishing for, Harry Potter is an example of what we should be working toward: relationships. I believe that, within the backdrop of a magical world, JK Rowling has created a parallel universe in which people fight for what's right and wrong, and struggle to create and sustain deep, meaningful relationships that alter your existence. Sure, Harry's got a wand, and all he has to do is point it at the light and say "lumos" and there's light. But does that make everything easy? No one, and I repeat no one, could have created seven books about getting what you want that easy. 

No, I think Harry Potter is the perfect example of what Donald Miller is striving to share in the first chapter of this book. Relationships are the key. Sure, in Harry's world, just as in ours, there are formulas to get some of the things you want. Think back to tenth grade Chemistry. Or just walk in your kitchen and look at a recipe. But when it comes to the truly important things in life, those that shape us as human beings, there's no formula to create that. And throughout the Harry Potter series, this is exactly what Harry learns. He continually tries to go it alone, even to the last fight, only to discover time and again that not only can he not do it alone, he doesn't really want to. He needs his friends. We need God. And our friends, too, of course. 

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