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March 12, 2013

Author of DWU freshman reader to be Stark Lecturer

MITCHELL — Apparently nothing forces introspection like an autobiography.

Author and film producer Donald Miller learned this as he began to turn his first book, “Blue Like Jazz,” into a movie, and will share stories behind his two books, including “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” during the annual Stark Lecture next week at Dakota Wesleyan University.

Miller will give two public lectures about “Living a Life of Meaning” during the annual Stark Lecture at 6:30 p.m., Monday, March 18, during a community worship night, and again at 11 a.m., Tuesday, March 19, for a campus presentation, both in the Sherman Center at DWU.

“Blue Like Jazz” was about his own experiences growing up in a Christian environment, having those values and beliefs challenged and finding his way back. His story is filled with insight and self-reflection, but while trying to make it into a movie, he realized it lacked pizzazz.

So he began living differently and wrote about this transformation in his second book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” which was chosen as this year’s freshman reader – a book assigned to all freshmen to read before the fall semester and used in their Learn Strong classes.

“He intentionally chooses ‘storylines’ that will make his personal story more interesting. In doing that, he finds he’s living a more rewarding life, ” said Diana Goldammer, director of student life and one of the people, along with campus minister Brandon Vetter, who chose the book.

The campus decided to switch things up this year by bringing two speakers to campus, both tied to the freshman reader. The first, “Blue Like Jazz” director Steve Taylor screened the movie in the fall. Taylor is the director and producer of the movie and worked alongside Miller during its making.

“We chose this book (“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”) because we felt it was appropriate to college students’ place in the world,” Goldammer said. “Often they arrive at college and wait for ‘college’ to happen to them. We wanted them to realize that they have to choose the storylines they live. They have to seek opportunities for growth, have to take risks, reach out and choose to make things happen.”

In conjunction with the books and lecturers this year, Goldammer also reached out to the DWU community for staff and faculty to write their own stories. Several people responded and their “books” may be found online at www.dwu.edu/religion/coming_lecturer.htm, along with a link to Miller’s blog, “Storyline.”

Miller lives and works in Portland, Ore., and hosts a conference called “Storyline” several times a year. He has also launched an online software package for Storyline. He is the founder of Generation One, a national effort geared toward strengthening American families, and is the founder of The Mentoring Project, a national organization that provides mentors for children growing up in fatherless homes. Miller also served on The Presidential Task Force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families and advised the White House on policy decisions regarding American families.


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Last updated: 3/12/13