Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dear Calvin Miller

Dear Calvin Miller,

I hope it’s okay to call you Calvin. Reverend Miller is a bit formal. You don’t know me, but I know you, and you have had something to do with my life.

I just finished reading your Letters to Heaven: Reaching Beyond the Great Divide. I have to admit, with a subtitle like that, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But over the years I've read The Singer Trilogy, Letters to a Young Pastor, the Philippian Fragment and quite a few others of your books, and I figured that this book would be something other than what the subtitle suggested. And I was right.

You’ve written letters to 26 people who have died, and most of them have gone on to heaven. Some of these people are well known – Todd Beamer, Farrah Fawcett, C.S. Lewis, Norman Vincent Peale, Madeleine L’Engle. Some should be better known – Paul Brand, Harold Shaw, George Sayer, Jim Elliott. And some are unnamed – like the girl in the iron lung, and Mr.Achiever.

Each of the 26, you say, touched you in a significant way, had an influence upon you, or made your life different and often better. Like the experiences of life itself, not all of these people and the people associated with them were positive, but all were important. Some you knew, and knew well; some you never met.

Calvin, I found myself strangely moved, and moved often, as I read your book. I understood the book and the reason for it better than I anticipated. You’re writing in the full winter of your life; I’m beginning to feel the first touches of frost. You’re leaving a kind of testimony, because it’s important to name the people who made a difference in our lives. Especially in the winter.

I have to confess something. While I liked them all, two letters stood out for me. One was to Dickey, your brother, the brother who drowned when you were not yet four years old. I cried with that letter, Calvin. I haven’t had that kind of loss, but you made me experience yours.

The second letter was the one to Oscar Wilde. I was surprised when I saw it listed in the table of contents. But not when I read it. You grasped his tortured soul; you understood how the cage of prison ultimately destroyed him. And you recognized “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” for exactly what it is, one of the finest poems in the English language. I cried when I read that letter, and I read it four times.

We may never meet this side of heaven, Calvin, but I hope we will on the other side. If such things are allowed, I’d like to talk with you about The Singer Trilogy, I’d like to play ball with you and Dickey, and I’d like to sit next to you as we read “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” together. And for all we know, perhaps Oscar will be there to read it with us.


Your Reader Friend
Glynn Young


Bill (cycleguy) said...

Makes me want to get a copy and read it Glynn. Well done review.

Jerry said...

Wow, I haven't heard about Calvin Miller in a while. This looks really good.

Sheila said...

This review makes me want to read the book.

Right after I finish Dancing Priest, which is the next title up on my list. :)

Megan Willome said...

I haven't thought about the Singer trilogy in years, butI still own it.

P.S. Love the idea of the first "frost."

Jody Lee Collins said...

Glynn, ah do you know how to write a book review...I have another tantalizing read to add to my pile. I have read the Singer trilogy--now I'll need to look for Miller's Philippians book AND this one.
thank you.

S. Etole said...

It's been many years since I read The Singer Trilogy. Maybe it's time to do so again!

Sherry said...

Thank you. I already had this book on my TBR list, and now I am reminded that I need to find a copy. Also, I am wondering: to whom would I write "letters in heaven" if such a thing were possible. The U.S. Postal Service delivers through rain, sleet, snow, and hail, but not past death.