to own a dragon

November 29, 2006 | 9 Comments

When I first saw that Donald Miller was going to release a book about growing up without a father, I was a little disappointed. It’s not that it’s a great subject, but I was never without my dad, and it just seemed like such a serious turn for him to take in his writing.

The flipside is, I enjoy Miller’s writing so much, I decided to pick it up anyway. So glad I did.

The book continues to carry his style which is so readable and so insightful all at the same time. I can’t express enough how much I appreciate this.

Even more than his writing, I appreciated his perspective on manhood. I think the homophobia that is so prevalent in Christian circles creates this need for a macho image of the Christian man. I loved Miller’s perspective that it is okay for him to own the John Hughes DVD collection and still be a man. So much is lost in a manhood that leaves no room for tenderness and creative expression. That message alone made the book worth reading for any man as far as I’m concerned.

Miller is a great thinker, and hopefully that isn’t lost in his ‘boy next door’ persona. I look forward to more books themed around difficult subjects.

  • ken

    such a good book. I didn’t think i would like it either, since i’m about as close to my father as anyone could be. It was definitely a good surprise.

  • scott

    john, do you recommend it for those of us that grew up without a dad?

  • Alex

    So I guess some John Hughes movies no longer have to be considered “guilty” pleasures?

  • i too grew up with a dad (though a bit detached) and since it seemed to be more directed towards men, i initially didn’t plan on reading it, but i couldn’t help myself. ha.
    it was a great read, for sure. miller hasn’t disappointed me (through painted deserts was a bit hard for me to follow along with, but thats okay)

    you bring up an interesting point. it seems like men in the church are told they must be this battle-ready, braveheart-like real man. (Mark Driscoll, John Elderedge). I have been hearing even from women that men seem to be becoming, for lack of a better description, more and more neutered from their manhood, taking less responsibility for things in life, becoming too passive… maybe due to the rise of feminism some would say. i personally get frustrated when i hear this stuff from driscoll and think it is probably hurting a lot of men who don’t quite see themselves in that way. do you have any thoughts on this?

  • Michael Box

    i too grew up with a father (although we had a strained relationship). i enjoyed this book because whether growing up with or without a father figure or as miller’s case with several inadequate ones, we all know what it is like to face a dragon in our lives. at a certain point we will beat it or it will take us. i agree with Lacey, we hear a lot about the neutering of the male Christian. we also hear a lot about the overly macho male Christian. there has to be a balance somewhere. our example should be Jesus, who was tender enough to cry in front of his friends, but stern enough to stand up to the pharisees. i think that most people will be able to relate to this book.

    while we are doing book reviews: is anyone else reading anything interesting. i love John’s perspective on what he has read, but i have usually read those books as well. I would love to get turned on to some new stuff.

  • JJ

    Does he mention anything about watching Gilmore Girls? I’m two episodes behind on my Tivo and I want to make sure it is OK to catch up.

  • Lacey,
    I think there is a movement toward extreme versions of manhood that stray away from anything that might be considered feminine. There is so much fear of gender bending that there is an over response toward machoism.

    Even as I was blogging this last night, I was watching my U2 – Vertigo Live DVD. Not to overplay Bono more than he already gets, but I was thinking about how well he portrays I manhood that I would be willing to embrace. He is very tender and expressive, and yet displays great strength in his call to protect and take action in favor of the oppressed and overlooked.

  • Since I was in love with Donald Miller at the time, (how can you not be, when you read his books, HA!) I read it right away when it came out. The thing I appreciated most was the insight into his growing up experience. So many people grow up without fathers in our day, that it is good, for those of us who have a father figure, to know what it’s like not to. I came away with a deeper understanding of my friends and family who have grown up without a father.

    I think it is a great read, having grown up with or without a father!

  • jamie

    Michael, I recommend Shane Claiborne’s book: The Irresistible Revolution: Life as an Ordinary Radical.