The Cost of Renegade Fathers
Review of “Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation” by Donald Miller and narrated by Kelly Ryan Dolan
Review: 5 Stars (out of 5)
Donald Miller gives a clarion call for honesty and authenticity in addressing the greatest social problem of our current and the next generation: renegade fathers. Physically or psychologically absent fathers leave a hole in the hearts of their children. Miller engages in an autobiographical transparency which, although it is painful at times, is absolutely essential to confront the aftermath of men reneging upon their parenting responsibilities. Dolan does an excellent job narrating a book which is an emotional mine field. Don’t think that this book is solely for those whose fathers were “missing in action.” There are life lessons here for all men, together with a call to believers to mentor those boys and young men who are being left behind.
A special thanks to the folks at christianaudio Reviewers Program for the advance copy for review through the christianaudio Reviewers Program. http://christianaudio.com
-Dave Melton (December 3, 2010)
Gotta say, Donald Miller's Father Fiction:...
Gotta say, Donald Miller's Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation was surprisingly good. Miller's somewhat famous Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality (once again slated to be a movie) was hit and miss for me with his attempts to be self-deprecatingly cool for Jesus. Father Fiction was much better, probably because it had a point as opposed to the meandering life recollections of Blue Like Jazz.
And it's a good point: boys need fathers.
Common sense to some but Miller speaks from experience of not having a father. It shaped his life considerably, not to mention giving him a lot to write about. Miller discovered that a majority of men in U.S. prisons grew up with no father in the home. He argues that male mentoring of fatherless boys might prevent many men from a life of crime. It's a worthy goal, though I'd like to see more data connecting a possible incarceration decline to male mentoring - can male mentors sufficiently fill the role of fathers?
Father Fiction avoids a clear answer. Instead Miller reflects on the male mentors in his own life who helped him learn what manhood was all about. His learnings then become opportunities to dish advice to other men on what it means to be a man (hint: it basically involves having a penis). I was again surprised throughout his life advice chapters. I didn't expect true-blue Democrat Don Miller to so readily endorse the books of John Eldredge, author of Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul. It's an extremely traditional perspective on gender roles and marriage. I'm sympathetic to that traditional husband + wife picture of marriage, but I don't think Miller or Eldredge give enough thoughtful consideration to the gender chaos swirling around us, nor do they give good reason for their vision of masculinity. Eldredge, for example, is all about "man see woman, man rescue woman, woman sighs romantically, woman serves hot meals and hot sex to man every night." Miller's definition of man as "human with a penis" is disappointingly small and Eldredge's heroic masculinity sounds less epic than promised - especially if you're a woman.
But that doesn't detract from the fact that Don Miller is proving himself to be one of the best Christian writers around, not least because he doesn't sanitize his writing from tough topics. Father Fiction won't disappoint.
I read this via audiobook from Christianaudio.com. One of the best audiobook narration's I've encountered. Kelly Ryan Dolan is the man...the narrator man.
I'm so cool that Christianaudio.com gave me a free audiobook edition of Father Fiction just to hear my unbiased review as part of their reviewer program. You should get it from them.
I read Blue Like Jazz because...
I read Blue Like Jazz because Donald Miller was a local author and the book had Jazz in the title. Then I read Father Fiction because Don Miller had written so honestly and un-apologetically in Blue Like Jazz. Father Fiction, however, brought my appreciation for Miller's writing to a whole new level. I found the book to be cathartic. Father Fiction is not just for those who grew up without a father's presence. It is for anyone who has ever felt hurt stunted in their development because of an absent or abusive or distant, or angry...an imperfect father. And to anyone who expects to become a parent, I would highly recommend this book as an honest look at the reality of a father's role in the successful development of his children. (Of course Miller presents truth through his uncanny ability to tell a story we can relate to and have us laughing out loud.) My favorite thing about Father Fiction is that Miller doesn't just write about a problem. He addresses it: http://www.thementoringproject.org/
Also, Kelly Ryan Dolan does an excellent job of narrating this audiobook.
I received the title through the christianaudio Reviewers Program. It’s a pretty sweet way to listen to some uplifting audio books and spread the word about a very worthy business.
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When the opportunity came up to...
When the opportunity came up to review 'Father Fiction' by Donald Miller, as part of the ChristianAudio.com Reviewers programme, I hit the download button imediately. I am a big fan of all of Don Miller's works, and I always make a point of regularly reading his blog output too, but I did wonder if his latest book would have much relevance to me.
'Father Fiction' is a raw and open hearted look at growing up without a father and the effect that this had, and has, on the author. Miller is candid in the explicitly biographical early chapters and there is much tragic humour. The narrator, Kelly Ryan Dolan, delivers the narrative at an easy pace allowing the listener time to take in story and it soon feels more like a dialogue between the writer and the audience.
Miller opens the narrative out in the later chapters and the book becomes a powerful tool for those with or without fathers. Much more is made of the important functions a father – a man – plays in the lives of the young. He touches on key areas of life like authority, role models, work ethic, and traces these into their biblical principles.
Donald Miller has produced another great...
Donald Miller has produced another great work. In Father Fiction, Don tackles one of the hardest issues facing our generation today – lack of a father influence. He shares his own struggle with growing up with out a father, and subsequently his own search for his father and answers that had eluded him for decades.
Donald identifies some key areas for discussion regarding why a father is so important in the life of young men (primarily), but also with women.
* Manhood: God made men – boys need to understand that key point
* Authority – if a boy grows up without a father, it is more difficult for them to understand the role of authority in their lives
* Role Models – even if a child grows up without a father, key men can come alongside the child and show them how to be a man
* Work Ethic – seeing how a man works, and the value of that effort is often learned at a young age. This value is sometimes overlooked, but certainly helps a boy become a man.
Perhaps, the greatest point made in this book surrounds the idea of forgiveness. If your father walked away from you or your family, you still have the power to forgive him. Your choice is independent of any relationship that may or may not develop as result of your forgiveness. Forgiveness is a matter of the heart.
This is a must read for men, especially those who grew up without a father.
This book is not just for...
This book is not just for those without dads, but for everyone to celebrate the awesomeness of fatherhood and what a dad can bring to his children. However, it points out in a very clear way that no matter your situation, we all have a father.
Don Miller does a great job in writing part memoir and part handbook for life. You can tell it's painful for him to make certain realizations about himself, and the chapter on forgiveness is one we should all read.
The stories Don tells about his teenage years will sound familiar to many, and Kelly Ryan Dolan does a great job with the narration moving from the excitement or humor in a situation to the introspection or seriousness of a moment of insight or heavy nature.
Don is a master wordsmith as he paints a picture of every moment he goes through from his teen years, to speaking to a fraternity, to living in the mountains of Oregon.
Over the course of the book you see him grow from a child stuck in self-pity saying "why me" to a leader of a movement to bring hope to those without fathers.
The only thing I would caution on the audio is to listen to the author interview last even though it is first. You will appreciate it more and understand certain points of the book, not to mention the interview gives away a key part of the book in my opinion.
IF you are in the ministry and particularly if you are a youth minister buy a copy for every boy in your youth group that doesn't have a dad.
Donald Miller is, without question, a...
Donald Miller is, without question, a name that his easily recognized in modern Christianity. Some love his works; some, not so much. Father Fiction is my first reading of Miller’s works, and my own response is mixed.
In this work, miller talks to young men about growing up without a dad in his life. The Authors own father was not present in his life, and this led to him struggling through many important developmental issues.
Many authors Endeavour to adopt a style that is conversational in tone. Sadly, most make the reader feel like they are struggling to manage this feat. Not Miller. Miller’s style is easy-to-read. As a reader, I found myself feeling like I was listening to a guy sitting across my living room or addressing a small group. This makes the pages fly by, and gives a great note of realism to Miller’s work.
This work has some very helpful, down-to-earth, advice to offer. Miller talks with frankness to young men about the need to grow up, to take responsibility for life, and to not let their past determine their future. The author speaks strongly about the need for young men to learn to pay their bills, to study for themselves, and to treat women and sexuality appropriately. There is an undertone of devotion to God that flows through these pages as the thing that will make all this actually able to come right.
While there is a sort of God undertone in this book that comes to the forefront, it is not nearly as prominent as would have made me happy with the work. Miller very seldom sites the holy Scriptures, and thus his writing smacks of Dr. Phil’s advice as much as it does Christian writing. Perhaps this is intentionally geared by Miller for a lost audience, but as a believer, it seemed that Miller gave good advice without going to the real source of power for life-change.
In a couple of instances, miller borders on crudeness. Of course, this is not at all uncommon for authors in Millers subgenre. His particular statement about what makes a “real man,” the possession of—shall we say—the proper physical equipment, is very edgy and not something I would particularly like an immature person to be spouting. Don’t get me wrong, I understand Miller’s point, and he is not nearly as edgy as several others in his field. However, this section stands out, and I consider it more negative than positive.
Father Fiction has the potential to speak with piercing clarity to many young men. If you have a young man in your life who is struggling with the lack of a father figure in his life or who is giving himself to too long an adolescence, this book might help. There are certainly points in the book that spoke to me, and I had a dad at home, and I’m glad to have heard them. However, I wish the book had a better use of Scripture and a more developed theology in evidence. Also, it could be used poorly by someone who is too immature to handle earthy language without it doing him harm.
For this review, I read the excellent audio book from www.ChristianAudio.com.
I actually listened to this book...
I actually listened to this book in Audio book for from Christian Audio.
I was fortunate enough to get it FREE as part of the reviewer program.
Donald Miller writes about the struggles and insecurities that he faced personally growing up as a boy without a father. He then shows how his wrong thinking lead him astray into a life of crime and rebellion against authority, he called "Extended adolescence".
Were it not for divine providence and the attention of older Christian men, his life may have continued to spiral downwards.
This book has some great practical fatherly advise - the type of things your dad told you. Even though the book was written for men growing up without fathers, I picked up some good points for myself in relating to my son. The book is interesting and relatable and holds your attention well, and the narrator did a flawless job of reading the book.
There is only one thing that was missing from a CHRISTian book, and that was the reason behind why we do everything we do, basically there was an absence of the gospel, and how Christ's victory on the cross on our behalf talks the the issues we face every day. But that being said, there are still gains to be made and growth to be had by reading the book and applying what it teaches to a Biblical worldview ourselves.
Bottom line - I would recommend this book to anyone who was struggling with issues of manhood. And then after they read/listened to it, get together with them and share how the gospel applies.
Since the release of Blue Like...
Since the release of Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, author Donald Miller has become a household name among many Evangelicals. He is certainly one of the best writers in the Christian market whose writing has gripped the attention of millions of readers. Recently, Miller re-released a previous with updated material under a new title. The book is called Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation and is a book primarily for those who are or have grown up without their father.
What makes Miller so powerful is his ability to tells stories. Most of his books read more like memoirs than the traditional "Christian living" books that make up so much of Christian bookstores. Miller seeks to draw the reader in through the medium of story, not propositions. Many have pointed out that the culture is beginning to favor stories over propositions and Miller has capitalized on that trend.
Miller reminds me of Randy Pausch, the author of the hugely successful The Last Lecture. Like Pausch's book, Miller draws his reader in through the medium of story. This is a powerful device becomeing more popular in our world today. Certainly Jesus understood the importance and power of story as well as anyone as his mulitple parables prove.
But there is one problem with Miller's writing. At times it is hard to tell what the point of it all is. This is why I say that Miller's books are almost more like memoir's then actual books written to people in particular situations. Those who did not know their father will be able to relate with Miller, but will be left asking what next? It is one thing to relate, it is another thing to know how to respond.
Miller shows the reader the importance of godly male figures in a young boy's life, but by shying away from propositions, Miller leaves the door of mystery wide open. Grant it, my father never left and is still a big part of my life, but as a minister, I understand what it is like to grow up without a father. For the entire book, I was left asking myself if I would recommend this to a young person struggling with the absense of his father. My answer: I don't know.
If I want a young person to read a book they can relate too, then yeah, I would recommend this book. But if I want a young person to read a book to better understand what it means to be a man regardless of their upbringing or lack of father in the home, then I probably wouldn't. There are better books out there.
I was fortunate enough to receive a free audio copy of the book via www.christianaudio.com. The quality and production of the book was professional and the narrator was well received. I have listened to some audio books before that were hard to listen to. This narrator was pleasant to listen to and I hope to hear him on future books.
Donald Miller is a rare gem....
Donald Miller is a rare gem. His storytelling prowess makes for a very compelling, though short, book containing the reflections of a guy trying to discover the essence of manhood. Do not be deceived: although this book deals greatly with the challenges of growing up without a father in the home, it is an encouraging and thought-provoking book for both men and women, regardless of whether or not they grew up with a distant father, emotionally or physically.
His book acts as a pseudo-autobiography, but it is arranged topically, with his own commentary on various themes and issues related to manliness, a healthy work ethic, and the beauty of God's creation. At one point he mentions that he fell in love with the concept of metaphor, and it is a love relationship he has developed over time, making comparisons in poetic language that amazes.
His reflections on life are encouraging and challenging; it feels like he's trying to break you out of the status quo in a way that makes you want to, instead of making you feel ashamed or judged. This book has something for everybody. It will encourage and inspire, as well as hug you and hold you. My wife began listening to it the other day and she said she almost cried at a few points. And that honor belongs both to the book and the narrator. It is hard to believe that the narrator isn't the author, because he reads it in such a way as to imply that he were familiar with it through direct experience. Every sentence feels like it should be read the way the narrator says it. And that's what this narrator does. He gives the text personality, or better yet, he reads the personality embedded in the text.
In Father Fiction, Donald Miller writes...
In Father Fiction, Donald Miller writes about the struggles of growing up without a father and what he has learned from it. The book is an updated and expanding version of one of his earlier books, To Own A Dragon.
I was not in the target demographic for this book (those that grew up without fathers) but still found it to be a very interesting read. Miller is very honest about how the lack of a father in his life impacted him. I did tend to wonder though if his ideas about how much having a father improves things were somewhat overstated. Certainly having a good father is very valuable but I'm not sure its the cure-all he sometimes made it sound.
In addition to discussing fatherlessness, Miller shares a lot of wisdom on topics like love, family and work that he has learned on his bumpy life journey. Much of the advice is applicable regardless of your family situation growing up. He also reflects a lot on what it means to have God as our father. I was often challenged by what he had to say and will probably read it again to better understand the material.
I "read" this book in audiobook format. The conversational style of the book makes it a good choice for audio and it was narrated well. It tends to follow a similar narrative style to his other books like Blue Like Jazz.
Regardless of whether you had a good father, a bad father or no father in your life, I think there's things you can learn from this book.
Father Fiction is almost an autobiography...
Father Fiction is almost an autobiography of Don Miller with a particular focus on lessons he has learnt about fatherhood. It's written particularly for men without fathers, who now make up more than 80% of all men in prisons.
Don Miller's writing style is excellent, and really draws you in. His storytelling ability means you don't miss a beat, so if you're not the best at focussing on a book, this is one for you! He writes about a whole range of issues encountered by men without fathers, from discipline to manhood to love and beyond.
If you have any sort of father issues, or are (due to be) a father yourself, I'd thoroughly recommend this book - the content is all good. While I'd normally like to have seen more Bible input, the nature of this book means that it is more lessons derived from Don's experience rather than 'what God says about fatherhood', but that's certainly not to say the content is unbiblical.
The audio version is read well, and includes an interview with the author, which is very good.
I think this is one I'll come back to again and again.
I got this audiobook for free as part of the christianaudio.com reviewers programme. I'm not required to give a positive review.
I feel like I cheated, because...
I feel like I cheated, because I was abandoned by my father at about the same age as Donald was when his dad took off. As Donald Miller waxes eloquently in Father Fiction he often reflects ideas that I've learned through living in the pain, but then he sometimes gets me right between the eyes with an insight. He's particularly strong at revealing his "fatherless" thoughts and comparing them to how others act; he openly shares his weaknesses, explaining them but without excusing them.
When he first begins to grasp God as a father through observing a child's temper tantrum and how a father waits patiently knowing he has a better idea of what is good for his daughter though she writhes on the floor crying out that she is actually the one who is right. How often must God the Father patiently observe us as we throw tantrums about jobs, relationships or circumstance.
Kelly Ryan Dolan narrates this book so well that I presumed it was narrated by the author and the author had taken acting and speech lessons. As funny and irreverent in expression as the author is in prose, they're a perfect match.
Donald Miller gives a smart, insightful...
Donald Miller gives a smart, insightful perspective on the impact of fatherlessness on the human heart. Well read by Kelly Ryan Dolan, this easy-paced work reflects on both the profound and subtle impacts of growing up without a father and what it looks like to experience God as Father. Miller also shares how other men helped to fill in the gap left by the absence of his father and how those influences kept him from trouble in his life. Building on this idea, he believes that mentoring the fatherless will help to drastically reduce crime rates and prison inmate numbers. If you are a fan of Donald Miller, as I am, this book does not disappoint. I highly recommend it.
Like people who are born colorblind,...
Like people who are born colorblind, fatherlessness changes the very essence of the way one sees the world. It may be something that is not readily obvious, but attitudes, perspectives, and missing pieces become evident throughout a child’s maturation and well into adulthood.
In his new book, Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation, Donald Miller paints a picture of his own life without a father. Challenged with his own deviance, he speaks with the perspective of a man who has hope that lives can be changed and healing can come. Miller talks about the destructive path he was on and how the influence of a strong, compassionate man made all the difference for him. While a book on being a boy without a father, many of these same things can be said about those who have lived with a neglectful or emotionally unavailable father. We need to be directed to our Heavenly Father.
The hope that Miller gives is a challenge: to seek out the fatherless, to mentor them, and to help them to live a better life. He believes that we can reduce the number of prisons simply by seeking out young men who lack that basic influence and raise them up to be more responsible adults. In the biblical economy, the fatherless were to be given the same respect and compassion as widows. No doubt Miller’s hope is reflected in Scripture, and this book can help to challenge and inspire people to take the next steps to find healing in their own lives, but to also work to influence others toward a life committed to our heavenly Father.
READ THE REST OF THIS REVIEW AT http://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/book-review-father-fiction-by-donald-miller/
Donald Miller's journey in search of...
Donald Miller's journey in search of a father offers great insights into all too common experiences of those who grew up with an absent or distant father. He tells his personal story in a way that draws you into his childhood and young adult life. His writing style is humorous and yet poignant. This new release (previously released as To Own a Dragon) adds an interview with the author that highlights some of his hopes and dreams for those growing up without fathers. I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook, it was very uplifting and helpful in understanding the importance of fathers and mentors in our lives.