I’m not going to give a full review of this book because I’m not sure that it’s really necessary. However, because I believe the academic exercise of reviewing books is a necessary one to synthesize thoughts concretely, I will at least provide a list of the highlights of my thoughts on Through Painted Deserts.
– This is Donald Miller’s first book in revised and rewritten form originally entitled Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance.
– It’s apparent that this is some of Miller’s earlier writing. While still a good book, it’s not as immediately accessible as Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, To Own a Dragon,or A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.
– Through Painted Deserts is less pointed in its spiritual approach. This is more of a memoir of Donald Miller than a statement about God. Miller does relate pieces of the struggle he had in his 20’s to believe in God over against Evolutionary and Scientific theories, but these struggles take a back seat to the overall story of the book.
– Having read this right after reading The Reason For God by Tim Keller, is was cool to see some of Keller’s arguments for God articulated in Miller’s real life experiences. Keller talks about the beauty and longing found within art and nature as indications of God’s reality, and Miller expresses these same thoughts personally as he relates his story of traveling across America. Miller also relates the insignificance he feels towards himself when observing God’s creation, a thought that is reminiscent of John Piper. So in a real way, Miller helps flesh out the arguments of Keller and Piper.
– This is an enjoyable read, but I feel it is Miller’s least important work to date. If you’ve never read Donald Miller before, I’d suggest reading any of his other books before reading Through Painted Deserts.