Thursday, June 19, 2014

No More Dragons, by Jim Burgen - Book Review

No More Dragons by Jim Burgen

I meant to read this in little bites - a few pages of a chapter at a time - because I was busy and wanted to make sure I read well for the book review. But once I started I could not put this book down until the end - and even then I kept turning back to re-read sections. 

Yep, I was up til 3am - on a work night - reading this!  

No More Dragons is part sermon, part confessional, and all inspiring. Jim Burgen takes you through his journey from "the Pastor's kid" to his loss of faith to the moment where God "undragoned" him - and he does this in an incredibly engaging manner.

"I finally saw that, in spite of the long list of reasons God could hate me, he didn't."

- Jim Burgen

As many will recognize, the title and key concept of No More Dragons comes from the classic moment in C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Eustace is "undragoned" by Aslan. For those not familiar with the tale, Eustace Scrubb is a not-very-nice little boy who becomes a dragon through his own greed and "dragonish thoughts". Initially, Eustace gleefully imagines terrorizing people, and then that recognition of what has really happened dawns on him - he is a dragon - he will never be a little boy again, he will never go home again. He is a monster, and that realization changes his heart. Aslan takes pity on the boy and - in a model of God's redemption of sinners - guides the boy to try and remove his dragon skin. Eustace cannot remove his skin (just as we cannot alone remove our sin), but Aslan can remove the skin if the boy is willing. Aslan removes the dragon skin and brings the boy to a pool where he bathes away the filth of his "dragon-ness" and from that moment he "began to be a different boy" according to the book.

Burgen takes this to the next level, showing how, with the love of God, we can undragon our own lives. He does not claim to have all the answers, and defers to Biblical truth and examples repeatedly - and applies them to "real world" examples any modern person can easily relate to. "Undragoning" is not easy - this isn't a magical process where we say a few token prayers and poof we are healed. No, this is real healing, real change - deep down, inside out. And it requires thoughtful reflection, prayer, and work. We will slip, but we will pull ourselves back up because God is before us, holding out His hand, over and over.

Burgen not only encourages each of us to shed our dragons, and to avoid the dangers of dragons in our lives, but encourages us to "undragon" our very churches - to create real, fruitful communities that support all people in finding the role God meant for them. Even the unsavory people we might shun. 

We read of Jesus with lepers and prostitutes and tax collectors and criminals and those "afflicted of demons," but we all too often shy away from those people - for fear, for distaste, for disgust, for lack of love.

I found myself convicted - having at times turned away.

I highly recommend this book to teens and adults looking to turn away from destructive behaviors, looking to create healthier relationships, looking to create a richer relationship with God. Burgen answers hard questions about God, about sin, about living in a broken world - and he doesn't accept anything less than full participation, heart and soul.

Jim Burgen is the Senior Pastor of the Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, Co. Burgen has also written two books for students: What's the Big Deal About Sex? and What's the Big Deal About my Parents? Burgen co-wrote three books with Scott Nickel: PB&J: Key Ingredients for a Better Marriage All my Life, and Grow a Pair.

No More Dragons is published by Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. It can be purchased for $15.99 directly from Nelson Books, or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other fine booksellers.

Religion, Christian Life, General; Teen/Adult

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trace Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."