Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Notes: "Habitation of Dragons", by J. Keith Miller

"Habitation of Dragons", by J. Keith Miller, is an updated version of a devotional classic, newly reissued by Kalos Press. It has short chapters, largely consisting of a personal reflection by Miller, followed by quotations from literature and Scripture. (Actually, the depth and variety of the quotations was one of my favorite parts; Miller quoted everyone from Jung to Augustine, and the quotations were always very apt to the topic of the reflection.)

It was a funny book to read; because it was so personal, I felt like I was having to decide not just if I liked the book, but if I liked the person. And when I reached the end, I still wasn't sure. I wish I knew more about Miller. He's obviously dynamic, but I got the feeling I might find him exhausting in person. (Which probably says a lot more about me - and my stage in life as a tired mom of four - than about him!)

However, he's so sincere and open. And that won me over. I couldn't dislike someone so open to examining his faults, so clear in his intention to serve Jesus, so devoted to the cause of the gospel. In a way, it was almost too good - because Miller is so honest, the book is uncomfortable at times. I'm not sure anyone could read it and not feel driven to admit his or her own faults; the descriptions Miller gives of the ways he so easily falls from charity into selfishness were just so terribly familiar . . . this book is a bit too much like a mirror.

I didn't agree or resonate with everything he said, though. But I appreciated the constant focus on Jesus and his gospel.

And there were several sections that I loved. There's a chapter called "Commitment to Christ", where Miller explains how a life devoted to one thing primarily ends up ordering all lesser parts towards that one thing. Devotion to Christ can be an organizing principle - much in the same way that a devotion to basketball can be for a professional athlete. I appreciated that word picture so much - I'm still thinking about it, and how it applies to my own life, several days after finishing the book.

And for that, I am very grateful.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This book was a review copy sent by the publisher — common practice in the industry. No payment was accepted in exchange for a review or mention, and the reviewer was in no way obligated to review the book favorably

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Sherry said...

I read this book way back in the day. It was written and published at a time, back in the 1970's, when young people in particular put a great emphasis on honesty and openness and a disavowal of hypocrisy. So I can see that it might be uncomfortable at times. Keith Miler and Bruce Larson wrote a book together called The Edge of Adventure that was very influential in my discipleship as a teen/young adult. I haven't re-read it lately to see how it holds up, but I remember being very much influenced by it.

Jessica Snell said...

Sherry, thank you! That bit of context makes the flavor (for lack of a better word) that I was noticing make so much more sense!