Jeff Morton reviews Two Stories of Everything

Jeff Morton has recently reviewed my book Two Stories of Everything (Credo House, 2018) for the Journal of Global Christianity.

Here is one section:

Miller’s presentation of Islam’s story is spot on. He offers us a conservative, orthodox, Sunni version of Islam; since this would include the majority of Muslims, it is a wise choice. The heartbeat of each of the two metanarratives, as he sees it, is anthropology. I think this will surprise most readers. Why? One might suppose the doctrine of God is the essential and defining doctrine of any religion. Yet Miller takes an approach that is anthropocentric. It is each religion’s view of human beings that directs the story, he claims. God may have initiated the story, but the object of divine action is humankind – essentially true for both Christianity and Islam. Let the reader not be surprised; I am confident Miller will win you over in the end…

The PDF of the journal is available HERE.

Stephen Bedard interviews me on Islam & Christianity

Some time ago Stephen J. Bedard, blogger at Hope’s Reason, reviewed my book Two Stories of Everything. Stephen is a pastor, teacher, blogger, author, disability advocate and a promoter of discipleship.

As a follow up of that interview, he interviewed me recently for his podcast. Listen to the whole interview here and check out the other resources at his blog. I really enjoyed talking with Stephen and I think you’ll enjoy the podcast.

Review of *Two Stories of Everything* at Biblical Missiology

I’m glad to share with you all this recent review of my book Two Stories of Everything: The Competing Metanarratives of Christianity (Credo House, 2018) over at the website Biblical Missiology. Here is a segment:

Miller’s book is not a polemic against Islam, though he begins the book by clearly stating his Christian conviction. He concludes this helpful book as follows: “It is obvious that I find the Christian metanarrative to be more fulfilling, consistent and beautiful, not just because it tells the truth about God, but because it allows for us to make sense of ourselves—our great capacity for good living side by side with our great capacity for evil. In the case that a Muslim has read this book, I extend to you an invitation to be reconciled to your Creator, but according to the path Jesus son of Mary presented to us, and to acknowledge that commitment by public baptism at a local congregation of his disciples” (p. 137).

Miller’s approach helps students of both Islam and Christianity arrive at a realistic comparison. He gives an accurate and even-handed picture of the two faiths and their respective communities. For all these reasons, I highly recommend Two Stories of Everything to both the casual reader and the specialist.

Read it all HERE.

Review of *Station Eleven*

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have tried to read (or listen to) every end of the world, apocalypse book I can get my hands on. I was excited then to hear about a new addition to this genre. Unlike many other books in this genre this one ends up on a slightly hopeful note. These books usually focus a lot on technology and getting things working again, or simply letting them die out as people return to a state of more primitive life (like my favorite book of the genre, Earth Abides).

Station Eleven is not only an end-of-the-world book though. It is an exploration of art, fame, family and relationships. Because of this the book has a depth to the personal relationships that is not common for books in this genre.

I will say that I thought the idea of a traveling art caravan with actors and musicians in the post-apocalypse was, well, a bit romantic and naive. I am also pretty sure that as the smothering arms of mother State die out that people will return to what is natural to humans–an awareness of the centrality of religion and a reliance on God. Mandel’s people are unrealistic in this way, though, as they seem happy to continue with their secular humanist worldview–a highly artificial and unnatural way to live, and one which is completely dependent on the welfare state for its existence.

View all my reviews

Review of “Unexpected Grace” by Farifteh Robb

Unexpected Grace: A Life in Two WorldsUnexpected Grace: A Life in Two Worlds by Farifteh V Robb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some years ago while completing my research for a PhD I interviewed Farifteh Robb. That led to the publication of a brief article titled “The Secret World of God: Aesthetics, Relationships, and the conversion of ‘Frances’ from Shi’a Islam to Christianity” in Global Missiology. At that time Robb was not discussing her history publicly, but I’m glad that she decided to do so.

This books brings a welcome contribution to the growing literature by converts from Islam to Christianity. Robb’s strong background in literature allows her to reference great authors and work in a way that other converts cannot. The fact that she ended up in Anglican Christianity as opposed to evangelical or charismatic Christianity is also rare for such conversion narratives. My favorite thing about the book was reading her personal recollections of what life was like in Tehran before, during and after the 1979 revolution.

Finally, the author has a light and witty style. Her sense of humor is much appreciated.

View all my reviews

My review of *Caves of Steel* by Isaac Asimov

The Caves of Steel (Robot #1)The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Returned to this book for a reread after decades away. I really enjoyed it, again. Jess is a bit melodramatic. Some things feel a bit out of place in the future, like Elijah’s penchant for smoking his pipe indoors. But overall the vision of a future in caves of steel, the distantly related spacers coming back to earth, and the development of a C-Fe society–they still feel fresh and like plausible insights into the future.

View all my reviews

Fred Farrokh’s review of *Two Stories of Everything*

Over at goodreads the Rev. Dr. Fred Farrokh has posted his review of Two Stories of Everything: The Competing Metanarratives of Islam and Christianity. Here it is:

How do people best learn? How, therefore, should we teach? Historically, Christians have emphasized communicating “propositional truths.” An example would be the famous tract, “The Four Spiritual Laws.” Now the pendulum has swung away from propositional truth teaching to “storytelling,” since much of the Global South communicates truth through stories, parables, humor, etc. Both paradigms can boast a biblical basis. Duane Miller encompasses and eclipses these paradigms by suggesting that the best way to understand and appreciate Islam and Christianity is through their respective “metanarratives.” I could not agree more.

Duane Miller has distilled hundreds of Bible, Qur’anic verses and Islamic hadith into coherent grand-narratives which feature similarities and differences. His experiences living in the United States, Europe and the Middle East provide abundant illustrations in an amazingly brief book. Dr. Miller gives the Church a “C” in fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission; he grades the Islamic “Umma” with a “D” for fulfilling its respective obligation of advancing the Islamic narrative. It is an even-handed treatment of the world’s two largest faiths and their communities. He handles many hot potato questions, such as “Is Islam a religion of peace? And, “what is the future of Christianity in the West?” Truly this book is an educational treasure.

Review of Ralph 124c 41+

Ralph 124C 41+Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo (foreword by Fletcher Pratt) Gernsback
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What was the first science fiction novel? Many would say Frankenstein: The 1818 Text. But a lot of readers today think of sci-fi as being related to envisioning a future with new, exotic technologies. And if that is indeed essential to sci-fi then this book is in fact the first ever sci-fi novel. Beginning in 1911 the book started being published as a series of short stories but the author eventually brought them all together in this one book. It does have fantastic technologies–personal space travel, agricultural wonders, floating cities, and even the conquering of death.

What really caught my attention was how some technologies suggested were so distant, while other things sounded passe. The flying cars are still a long way off. But a flying taxi still had a driver, something that is not outdated yet, but will probably be in a decade.

Ultimately the book is a romance. The clear templates for masculinity and femininity are not chauvinistic or sexist (I think–but I’m a guy) and this older vision of human relationality will appeal to more conservative readers while leaving younger readers mystified. The book still reflects the naive modern confidence in human reason born of the so-called ‘Enlightenment’. Two world wars have disabused us of the falsity that science solves all our problems or that education somehow makes people good–though these myths are at the heart of that other sci-fi fairytale world, Star Trek.

Anyone interested in the history of sci-fi should read this book. It is a great book for when you cannot focus on detailed plot twists or read for lengthy periods of time. (This is my nice way of saying take with you when you take your kid to the dentist or are waiting in line at the post office.)

View all my reviews

Earth Abides by George Stewart: a review

Earth AbidesEarth Abides by George R. Stewart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have a PhD in divinity, have taught and published on the Roman and Ottoman Empires, and have conducted anthropological research throughout four continents. This book challenged me in all of these areas.

Let me first say that the book is not dated. There is a certain timelessness to it that the greatest books have–I think of The Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Flies. Indeed, I kept on going back to meta-metaphor of the hammer in Earth Abides in relation to Piggy’s glasses in Lord of the Flies.

But this book touched me on a deeper level: I am like Ish. I am the kind of person who is always asking. Or as one former girlfriend asked me a long time ago: don’t you ever stop thinking? Like Ish, I cannot.

This book is set apart from other ‘end of the world’ books, like Lucifer’s Hammer or The Stand, in that it extends decades beyond the apocalypse, which in this book is a plague which eliminates very close to 100% of humanity. While those other books focus on the preservation of technology, this book gets to the primordial question: is civilization better than primitivism? Does reason, and so science, and so applied science–technology–make life better? What is progress? Is it, in fact, good?

Enjoy the audio book version I listened to. It is narrated by Jonathan Davis and he does this masterfully. The language is refreshingly clean, so let your children listen too while you’re on a trek from, say, San Antonio (where I live) to Denver (where my dad lives).

I will, in closing, note that the main character’s name is Isherwood, but he is always called ‘Ish’. It is a Hebrew word. It means ‘man’.

View all my reviews

Review of ‘Lucifer’s Hammer’

Lucifer's HammerLucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is about how a comet hits the earth, how people prepare for it, and the aftermath. It follows various story lines, mostly set in California, and ties them altogether in the end.

My favorite sections were the little scientific summaries and global descriptions that often preceded the narrative in the various chapters. Some of the conversation feels a bit dated and corny, but overall I really enjoyed it.

Underlying the whole book, which is full of action and suspense, is a real foundational question: what is civilization? The authors handle it with delicacy and tact.

Other books in the genre are The Night of the Long Knives and Other Works and The Stand.

View all my reviews