|The Way of the Wild Heart: A Map for the Masculine Journey
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I can fix it. I don't need directions. I can figure this out on my own. These thoughts that erupt from a man's bravado, from his deep urge to be a real man. Yet underneath this, there is a louder voice countering, You can't. You're not capable. You're weak. Many men-possibly all men-face two looming questions at some point in their life. What does it mean to be a man, and am I one?
The Way of the Wild Heart reaches out to "unfinished men" trying to understand and live their role as men and fathers. Exploring six biblically based stages, John Eldredge initiates men into a new understanding and ownership of their manhood and equips them to effectively lead their sons to manhood.
- Who died and named this guy the spokesperson for masculinity?
John Eldredge means well. He writes of a generation of men who were fathered poorly, and how asking Jesus into our lives to fill that gap and continue to father us is the best gift we can give ourselves. On that count he's absolutely spot-on accurate, and everything he delivers in support of that is a well-intended gift from the author's heart. But he makes a big mistake in taking on the role of spokesperson for God's intended definition of masculinity. In fact, he's radically off base with it. Ironically, the very generation that fathered us so poorly, with their racial prejudice and their emotional retardation and their addictions (they all wanted to be Sinatra) and their handed-down "manly" hobbies... these are the things Eldredge ascribes to for himself, and then assigns them as God's intention for men. Ridiculous. Jesus wouldn't fish, he'd cradle the poor creatures in his hands and heal them from the hook your Dad tore out of their mouth. He surely wouldn't hunt to make himself feel masculine, he'd buy his meat at Safeway. And to be sure, he wouldn't be a gun hobbyist. On page 67, we are told a story of a man who longed for the toy gun of his childhood, and how receiving a REAL one later in life was a gift from God: "Gary will often go up to the shooting range all by himself, just with his rifle, to be with God." This is the most ridiculous sentence in the history of spiritual writing. Guns are WEAPONS. They are instruments of destruction, and any argument to the contrary is an obvious justification by someone who needs a prop to their self-image, cleary a Napoleon complex. Short of advocating giving your son a box of Cuban cigars, the author signs up for all of his father's stereotypical badges of masculinity, assigning reliousity to fishing (newsflash, John: fishing is no more spiritual than pumping iron at the gym), hunting, camping, even fast vehicles -- from page 74: "I needed to smell gasoline, and go fast. Essentials for the masculine soul." Really? Says who? Not Jesus, that's for sure. Just Eldredge. I know a lot of men who feel three sets of bench presses twice a week is just as spiritual. Obviously, this guy has masculinity issues, and he heals them with his father's outdated masculine badges. Too bad, because as I said, his intention is noble. But he's a throwback, today's real man knows that masculinity has nothing at all to do with beer and football and, God help us, fishing. It has to do with courage, with being there for your family, especially (as it pertains to his book) for your son. To love him well and openly, to model manhood in a healthy way that allows him to pursue his own passions without the stigma of a father's stereotyping, and the strength to guide and discipline when things are tough. That's a real man. It has nothing at all do with with "the wild." That's what Jesus would do, that's the man that He was. This is dangerous stuff for men who are searching for answers. Hey, just grab a fly rod and some junk food and take your son to the lake, say a few prayers while you're there. Take a hike and find God. It's that simple, right? Eldredge would have us believe so. (Feedback invited: [...])...more info
- Book Review
Good book from a great author. Not as strong as other books, but worth the dollars to keep in your library....more info
- Bought it for my husband, but I enjoyed it!
I actually got this book for my husband for Christmas, but I enjoyed Wild at Heart so much that I was interested in reading this sequel. Overall, this book is about the masculine journey as inspired by scripture and other spiritual forerunners. Ultimately, Eldredge outlines the different stages in a boy/man's life in order to live life to the fullest.
The first stage is "Boyhood" which talks of the world of wonder and exploration. The second is "The Cowboy," which begins in adolescence. In this stage, a boy is encouraged to seek adventures. The third stage is called "Warrior" and there are great examples of how "God is a Warrior because there are certian things in life worth fighting for, must be fought for. He makes a Warrior in his own image, because he intends for man to join Him in battle" (140). The next stage is "The Lover," where man is to be inspired by nature and beauty. "A Lover has been awakened by the Great Romancer. At this stage a man's relationship with God opens a new frontier. While in other realms God will remain Father, and Initiator, when the Lover begins to emerge God invites the man to become his "intimate one." This is the crucial stage. The danger for the Warrior is that life becomes defined by battle, and that is not good for the soul nor is it true to our story, for there is something deeper than battle, and that my friends, is Romance" (192). Solomon and David are great examples of this fourth stage. The fifth stage is King- "to wield power, influence, and property in his name. It is as great and noble an undertaking as it is difficult" (220). And finally, the sixth stage is "The Sage." "He knows what he speaks, for he speaks from his experience, from a vast reservoir of self-discovery."
All of these stages remind me of Shakespeare's poem "The Seven Ages of Man." I believe this is a universal theme and Eldredge puts it in great perspective. Though I thought some of the book was not applicable, maybe at times not realistic, the underlying message was good. He tends to give extreme examples of masculinity, but I think in all things, there is a good balance. This a great read for everyone, but especially fathers.
- Not yet read but will be!
When my son was 14 he brought "Wild at Heart" to me and said "Here Mom, read this!". I did, and my eyes were opened as wife and as the mother of two sons. It had a profound impact on me and prayerfully on my guys as well. I have read the Eldredges other books and intend to read "The Way of the Wild Heart" as well.
My take is that we need to consider the heart of the messages of anything we read. Reading the reviews of the Eldredges books is like watching a very odd tennis match. On one side are people whose eyes have been opened and whose lives have been or are being changed. The life of Jesus is finding open doors in their hearts. On the other side are people who, rather than simply saying "This didn't work for me", are counting the number of film references in each book. Ouch.
Don't you imagine that the world looks on with the same disbelief and walks away from the match puzzled?
I can't help but be reminded of the woman at the Pharisee's house weeping with joy and anointing our Lord's feet, and the Pharisee himself grumbling under his breath "And he calls himself a prophet--he doesn't even know who is anointing him!"
The hearts of the Eldredges are for Jesus; I know that. Some of us have been impacted deeply by their words, others may not be impacted. And that's okay; I don't believe they assume that all hear the same way. But to not be impacted is so very different from standing in a vulturous and critical posture--looking for reason to scorn. I am so grateful that's not how our Jesus looks at us....more info
- Wild at Heart II
Having read the first half of the book, I was starting to think it was more of an in-depth work book of 'Wild at Heart'. But then I started learning new things that made the whole book worth while reading.
It only takes one paragraph from a book like this to help a man bring parts of his life into perspective that he has been struggling with. 'Wild at Heart' did this for me and now 'The Way of the Wild Heart' has also enlightened me on certain subjects that I was not getting answers on from elsewhere.
Thank-you John Eldredge for stepping out and publishing a very personal book like this. I know your books have touched many a man's heart, and have also shown them what it takes to raise their son's to become men of God.
I would urge you to overlook the negative reviews of this book. I really don't think the negative reviewers understand what the author is trying to get across. This book is not the definite guide book to being a man, nor does the author want you to feel that way. Even though he heavily explores an important aspect of being a man, he does not leave out the other ones. In fact he does a good job of covering all the different aspects that the negative reviewers are saying he rejects!
The readers are not only shown how to implement what is shown in this book into their lives, but into their sons lives.
I would encourage all men, religious or non-religious, fathers or not, to read this book....more info
- Powerful book
John, though often accused of being another naked, drum banging, macho man, shows the full picture of manhood in this book. He shows us we have permission to be tender, sensitive, as well as the warrior, kingly, authoritive types other men's books often demonstrate.
Most non-Western societies, in addition to Jewish and some other more Western influenced societies, have initiation into manhood. We've lost that in the West, and we are hurting due to it. John gives a framework for initiating a boy, and for a male adult to recover the initiation he missed. I like that he gives it in a framework fashion, as each male is an individual. This is often missed by readers and listeners of Eldredge -- that he gives example and frameworks, not a prescription. Each dad reading this is given enough to frame an initiation that goes for his son's heart and points the son to the Father, while seeking from God what the dad missed.
And as always, John points to God for final say, not his own ego. ...more info
The mythic stages John taps into are a joy to read about, and his insight is always refreshing. He is probably the most needed voice in the Evangelical world.
My main disappointment was with the subtle attacks on the goodness of his own heart, which come through when he criticizes himself and other men for, say, wanting a sports car in an effort to heal a Cowboy wound, or climbing a mountain for climbing's sake, or enjoying the initial relaxation of retirement. God uses the world to heal us, and even post-industrial technology like air conditioning can be an instrument of his love (but that's departing from the gospel of Wendell Berry, which has taken me awhile to work through). Martha Beck has an excellent antidote for this longing-suspicion in a story she tells in "Finding Your Own North Star," on page 186. (That whole book is a great companion read for J.E. fans, and fills in spots where wounds & Evangelical-style gnosticism are getting in John's way.)
The stories would have been more enjoyable if the editor had been able to whittle them down, but I blame that on the publisher, who usually has a too-long word quota to meet. And I'd also enjoy John's particular exploration of the concept of God's silence and the "dark night of the soul" - how those fit into the battle/mythic perspective (though "Transitions" by William Bridges might fit the bill enough to leave John free for other things). Maybe in future books. All in all, it's a good buy, and I'm looking forward to reading the next stage in John's journey....more info
- You can tell a lot by the enemy's a book or author makes.
You can tell a lot about a man by those who are attacking him. I got this book before the general release and was surprised to find a lengthy review posted before I had even got a chance to start reading the book and again this was before the book was released. I suspected the reviewer was off on his review and simply doesn't get John's work or something is personally stirred and it is easier to dismiss those things that are hard to face than to face them. However, before I actually wrote a review I wanted to have read the entire book. I have now read the entire book and have to date read every book John has wrote and this is one of his best, though it builds upon the work he has done in other books so I don't think this is the book to start with as you need to understand what he is building on in this book to understand it.
I first wanted to dig into the book in digging into the review I read a while back and the problems it points out, or rather fails to point out, but labels the book any ways.
I would agree that we can't measure something just by the sales, but just because something has a lot of sales is also not reason to dismiss it. No book is sold more than the Bible and clearly we do not dismiss it simply because it sells the most of any book in the world.
What you will notice is that the book is attempted to be discredited as being unscriptural and having flaws by the reviewers remarks, but he gives no examples of what is unscriptural or flawed, it is merely a label and we can't dismiss something merely by labels.
"Unfortunately, sales figures do not indicate which books are most faithful to Scripture (indeed, one could probably make an argument that sales figures are inversely proportional to theological faithfulness) and a large number of reviewers, myself included, have pointed out some troubling flaws with the book."
To be called heresy sounds horrible and ungodly, never mind that Martin Luther was called this when he began and those who would say this book is out of touch with scripture and label it with out giving scripture to demonstrate such have no ground to stand on.
He then goes on to quote another book, throws in that it was edited by MacArthur to build upon the creditability of a well know Christian leader, and labels the book with, "an insufficient view of Scripture; an inadequate picture of God; an incomplete portrait of Christ; and an inaccurate portrait of man. In short, the book was deeply flawed." And yet gives not one example of any of these. This is what I find most critics who are slamming the work of Eldredge, label, label, label, but no meat, no scripture to back anything up.
As we read on in the review a good over view of the book is given, and then we see more labeling when the reviewer writes, "like Wild at Heart, there is much in this book that is both original and mighty strange." This is clearly something that can not be backed up scripture and is mere opinion. I could say this reviewer is mighty strange, but it is mere opinion, readers can determine what is normal and what is not, they do not need me telling them, but to call something or someone mighty strange sets it up to be seen as such.
He then says there are "explicit affirmations of anti-intellectualism (rare is the mystic who can also embrace a logical, intellectual relationship with God)" and yet gives us no examples from the book of such. More labeling and no substance.
Then he goes on to say, "one begins to wonder he is almost losing touch with reality." Again mere opinion, and one that within 6 months I would guess will not be the majority of reviews posted on this book...what is reality one could ask...can we be in it and be in the minority of views of the book? It would be a hard case to build upon, but I do agree that we can't always rely on sheer numbers.
He attempts to discredit such questions by Eldredge like, "How has God been wooing you? What has stirred your heart over the years?" To which any one who knows God should be able to say...yes. To woo is to pursue, love and stir ones heart with passion...do we think Jesus's heart was not moved when he drove money changers from the temple with a whip? Clearly it was not hate moving him to do such things, it was love and zeal for His fathers house.
He then goes on to say, "Another common concern with Wild at Heart was the fact that Eldredge often criticized fathers for their inadequacies. He goes further along that path in this book writing such blanket statements as `Most of our fathers are gone, or checked out, or uninitiated men themselves. There are a few men, a very few, who have fathers initiating them in substantive ways. Would that we all were so lucky." Has the person who wrote this review looked into reality and in our world? Fathers, marriages and family's are facing hard things in our culture and most are not making it out on top...it isn't so much that John is blaming the generation of fathers out there now as the cause of it all, it's a continous thing, their fathers did the same to them, it has to start with the father reading the book to be the change in the family lineage if it isn't already there. Being in church does not make a father a better father, divorce is just as present in most churches as out of them, and there are fathers who are better fathers who are out of the church than some in the church. It is not a matter of disrespecting fathers, it is a matter of being real and facing what is the truth in a man's life.
He goes on to say, "This book continually criticizes and even belittles fathers with sweeping generalizations. While I will grant that Eldredge does this in an attempt to convince men to become better fathers, such statements are rash and often disrespectful." And to this I simply say the reviewer does not get John Eldredge's message, the point isn't to criticize fathers, its to bring out the truth of ones relationship with their father. It isn't a matter of disrespect, it is a matter of respect. Love is never the easy choice, to remain blind to things that are not as they are to be or were to be, is not to respect. Respect is hard love at times.
He then goes on to again say, "It has the same inadequate view of Scripture, the same inadequate view of sin and the same emphasis on worldly therapy. It still argues from experience over Scripture, still twists Scripture to lead down all sorts of strange rabbit trails, and still draws as much (possibly even more) from film than from Scripture." And with this again, all labels, no examples, no scripture to back his review. Nothing. Zilch. Labels. Labels. And no substance.
He then goes on to criticize how Eldredge quotes from movies, and to this, we must first realize that there is nothing wrong with using cultural examples of biblical truthes to illustrate biblical truths. You must also realize that the power of the greater story, (things were once good, something bad happened, life was lost, a hero must come to save the day, against all odds, and life is found again.) is in all movies and stories that are great and do great in any culture or country, despite culture differences because they all borrower from the power of the greater story written on our hearts by God. God has written eternity on our hearts. As we begin see the truth of a world view that demonstrates again and again the truth of the scripture, it helps us to take ownership of it. Hence why John quotes so much from movies and let us not forget stories are the language of the heart, this is why Jesus used parables to teach, Jesus didn't just open the old testament and stand reading it all hours of the day, he used stories to teach the truths of the word. This is what Eldredge does with video and books. The reviewer doesn't understand this though it would seem.
He then goes on to say, "I can't help but think that the sheer weirdness of this book will drive many of them away." To which again, labeling and if my opinion has any weight, I loved this book, and it expands on this other work so well. I have grasped more of the message John is retelling through this book. It is one of his best, but you cant start with this book as it builds on his others and I don't think it will make as much since if one starts with this book.
We finally start to see the views of the reviewer, which are not so bold up until this point, "This book is a complete mess and it was a trial to read. At three hundred pages Eldredge says a lot, and yet it seems like he doesn't say much of anything. It is puff; it is filler; it is a near-complete waste of time. Avoid it." To which we now see the reviewer didn't enjoy or like the book, which is different than labeling it as He did through out his review. It is also interesting that if it was such a trial to read, why read it? If something is a waste of time, why keep doing it? It makes no since.
The book is a great work of Eldredge's, but it build upon his earlier work and I highly recommend reading more of his other work before reading this book. I would have missed much of what is in this book and its message if I didn't have the ears, eyes and heart to see and understand it having read his earlier works.
Read it and judge it for yourself. Don't take my word and don't let others deter you away on mere labels of authors and books, always look for the substance to what one says. The reviewer who posted his review on this book, had no substance in his review and I suspect that on which he pulled from for his review was much of the same or simply didn't understand the message Eldredge has.
- Willing to risk offending in order to stay true to what he believes is God's purpose and design for biblical manhood
John Eldredge has made it his mission to assist men in discovering a Christ-honoring, biblical roadmap to living out manhood as designed by God. Eldredge, author of the bestselling WILD AT HEART, now presents a companion title (with an optional workbook) on equipping men and their sons for the challenges of living in a technological, post-modern society. He cautions readers that this book is a map and as such "...is a guide, not a formula. It offers freedom." So saying, Eldredge highly recommends stepping back and reading WILD AT HEART first, as this new text builds upon the precepts offered in the earlier volume.
Eldredge opens this new book with a frustrating account of feeling totally inadequate at fixing his sprinkler system. Even with written instructions and an online video for some measure of guidelines, he confesses that it's not enough. He realizes he needs another guy to help him, and he's "hacked off" because he can't do it himself. Eldredge comments that men frequently face that sudden terror of recognizing that they're being called upon to "play the man" and yet have no idea how to go about it successfully. And, asserts Eldredge, life is constantly pressing the message that there is "no room for error," so a man better get it right. He calls this the "unfinished man syndrome," or the fatherless condition so many men know far too much about. This is why Eldredge hungers to lead other men in the way of "bestowing" masculinity upon their sons before it's too late.
In a six-stage, sometimes overlapping, pilgrimage, Eldredge lays out the masculine journey as he sees it: Boyhood to Cowboy to Warrior to Lover to King to Sage, all within a typical 80-year life span (or thereabouts). According to Eldredge, each stage must have its allotted time for learning appropriate life lessons so that the man grows deep in his foundations; otherwise, the scarring of an underdeveloped soul might result and assert itself when strength is most required.
In his chapter on raising the Cowboy, he expounds upon the strength of adventure, allowing it, encouraging it and experiencing it. Christian men and boys need something "epic" for which to fight, something beyond themselves worth giving their lives for with abandon. Eldredge is all for offering initiation opportunities that mold and invite males into a fellowship of men where commonality, hard work and deep soul sharing can flourish. No matter how differing the circumstances may be, living intentionally is key, writes Eldredge, for much is at stake.
As is true with his other works, brief discussions of worthy films, books, poems and music are referenced as additional sensory life markers. And, as always, Eldredge writes from the heart, shooting straight with his reading audience and willing to risk offending in order to stay true to what he believes is God's purpose and design for biblical manhood.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
- Another great book
As a father raising boys and a husband, I find these insights invaluable. I think for me the great takeaway is to give inspiration for, and to be more intentional with, fathering. I echo much of John's frustrations, confusions and desires for my life and how these may conflict with raising 'healthy' children. Here both healing is advised and encouragement offered. I so appreciate how he is allowing himself to be used by God to encourage fathers and husbands like me who are trying to juggle so many balls in life - without apparent immediate effectiveness.
John's anecdotal assessment of so much around us that is simply 'not working' is readily combined with descriptive (not prescriptive) solutions for working out our own salvation (restoration) and raising the next generation.
Under the reign and Lordship of Jesus I see someone who is daring to ask the questions and, even more daring, asking the Holy Spirit for the answers. Here is someone I am really looking forward to meeting when God's Kingdom is finally consummated. ...more info
- Heartful Writing for Men and Parents of Boys
John Eldredge writes from the depths of his rich spiritual well to speak to the heart of men. Eldredge conveys meaningful insights about the stages he perceives men going through in healthy life transitions. He labels the stages as: "Beloved Son," "Cowboy," "Warrior," "King," and "Sage." These stages seemed right on for men. He writes about each one and follows the theme of the stages throughout the book.
Eldredge's writing appears more mature and refined with each new book he writes, as does his precision in targeting the experiences of men. This book offers myriad insights into the soul of men.
Eldredge continues his fascination with certain movies and books that speak to him about men and relates many tales of adventure in the great outdoors. In both cases, he succeeds in emphasizing the points he is trying to make using these tools and tales.
Some readers may weary of the emphasis on "manly" things like climbing mountains, guns, hunting, fishing, and blowing stuff up. I think Eldredge uses these to make good points but also has come to an understanding that not all men share these passions.
God has blessed Eldredge with a quiver of sons, and he shares his experiences with fatherhood. The lessons learned from him in this book make it valuable reading for parents of boys. I recommend it to mothers of boys because it will share with you ways to help your son be all the things God has designed him to become.
Craig Stephans, author of Shakespeare On Spirituality: Life-Changing Wisdom from Shakespeare's Plays
- A Man's heart and its responses
I consider this one of the several choice books available from John. It is certainly up to his other books and I found it head and shoulders above much of the herd. It is an easy read, but thoroughly provocative with regard to how a man's heart works, and what to do about it if it hurts.Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential into Reality
- A Great Book
This is a great book. I got it so I can understand my husband and my sons better. ...more info
- Great Book for raising boys and helping men
I am a wife and mother who read this book to help inspire my boys to be all that God meant them to be. I learned a lot and even as a woman, I was challenged and it helped me understand some of the stages and wounds that I experienced and why. It also really inspired my husband to be the kind of father that our boys need to grow into healthy men. The Way of the Wild Heart is very good and worth reading. ...more info
- A must read
I think that the reviewers who give John's books poor ratings read it from the mind of logic or analysis, but forget that it truly IS from the heart that we come to know and experience God...for that IS where He abides in the heart of a Christian individual.
Nobody has "made" John the expert, and nobody has said he was...infact, if one reads into John's book, they will see that he does not proclaim himslef to be, but simply...he writes on what God has given him to experience and what he has observed. Life is the same way. Albeit, if one is truly experience a life totally and completely surrendered to Christ, then they have received God's Spirit--who gives us understanding, direction, and wisdom.
Thank you John, for allowing God to use you in your writing. Praise Yeshua HaMeshiac for His wonder love, passion, and even beauty that can be found in the heart of the redeemed man. Despite the critics, they truly have their own agendas or biases...because even they are diametrically oppossed to allowing God/Holy Spirit to examine and take them deep into their hearts.
I recommend this book to all!...more info
- Don't Waste Your Time (Or Money)
John Eldredge's Wild at Heart is a runaway bestseller. Though it debuted in 2001, it still remains near the top of the list of Christian bestsellers and has sold over three million copies, no small feat for a title marketed primarily to Christians. Unfortunately, sales figures do not indicate which books are most faithful to Scripture (indeed, one could probably make an argument that sales figures are inversely proportional to theological faithfulness) and a large number of reviewers, myself included, have pointed out some troubling flaws with the book. In Fools Gold, edited by John MacArthur, Daniel Gillespie examined the book and nicely summarized the foremost problems with the book, suggesting it has: an insufficient view of Scripture; an inadequate picture of God; an incomplete portrait of Christ; and an inaccurate portrait of man. In short, the book was deeply flawed.
Though John Eldredge has written other books since Wild at Heart, none has been a true sequel to the bestseller. Or none has been a sequel until now with the upcoming release of The Way of the Wild Heart (due for release in October of 2006). In this book Eldredge says many of the same things he said in Wild at Heart, but offers more detailed and specific guidance. "This is a sort of sequel, a continuation of the journey, offering much more specific guidance. Those of you familiar with Wild at Heart will find many of its themes repeated here, which makes sense, for the masculine heart does not change."
The Way of the Wild Heart is subtitled "A Map for the Masculine Journey." Eldredge attempts to show men how they can proceed through life and how they can teach other men and boys to do the same. Masculinity is not something that simply happens, he argues, but something that is bestowed. A boy learns who he is and what he is made of from a man or from a company of men. Masculinity is not intrinsic. Unfortunately, men have abdicated this responsibility, leaving many boys and men unsure of who they are and who they are supposed to be. "What we have now is a world of uninitiated men. Partial men. Boys, mostly, walking around in men's bodies, with men's jobs and families, finances, and responsibilities. The passing on of masculinity was never completed, if it was begun at all. The boy was never taken through the process of masculine initiation. That's why most of us are Unfinished Men. And therefore unable to truly live as men in whatever life throws at us. And unable to pass on to our sons and daughters what they need to become whole and holy men and women themselves." He later says, "We need initiation. And, we need a Guide." So what does Eldredge propose? "What I am suggesting is that we reframe the way we look at our lives as men. And the way we look at our relationships with God. I also want to help you reframe the way you relate to other man, and especially you fathers who are wondering how to raise boys." Eldredge teaches that a man's life is a continual process of initiation as he progresses through the stages of life. He defines these stages as follows:
* Boyhood - Boyhood is a time of wonder and exploration. It is a time of doing what boys do and learning what boys learn. Above all, though, it is a time of being the Beloved Son, the apple of your father's eye.
* Cowboy - The Cowboy stage comes around the age of thirteen and runs into the late teens or early twenties. "It is the time of learning the lessons of the field, a time of great adventures and testing, and also a time for hard work." It is the time that a man answers the question Eldredge introduced as being the core Question to men: do I have what it takes?
* Warrior - In the late teens emerges the Warrior. This stage may last well into the thirties. "He heads off to law school or the mission field. He encounters evil face-to-face, and learns to defeat it." He learns the rigors of discipline and learns that he must live with courage.
* Lover - At some time he also becomes a Lover. The Lover comes to offer his strength to a woman, not to get it from her. In this time he discovers the Way of the Heart--"that poetry and passion are far more closer to the Truth than are mere reason and proposition He awakens to beauty, to life. He discovers music and literature; like the young David, he becomes a romantic and it takes his spiritual life to a whole new level."
* King - When service for God is overshadowed by intimacy with God a man is ready to be a King and to rule a kingdom. He will be tested and must prove himself able to meet this challenge.
* Sage - The Sage is the grey-haired father with a wealth of knowledge and experience, whose mission is to counsel others.
The book is framed around these stages, with each of them receiving a couple of chapters. In general the first chapter for each topic describes Eldredge's personal experiences, while the second tends towards the practical. As with Wild at Heart, the book is deeply personal, though this time Eldredge relays many experiences he has shared with his three sons. And also like Wild at Heart, there is much in this book that is both original and mighty strange. For example, Eldredge details the "vision quests" he has prepared for his sons--a year-long time of testing as they proceed from Boyhood to Cowboy. This is a time where the boys are apparently seeking the answer to the ultimate masculine Question (do I have what it takes?) and are still seeking to be the Beloved Son. And so, over the course of a year, he provides them with manly experiences and challenges them to seek after experiences with God. The year culminates with the presentation of a sword (a real, sharp sword) and a celebration of the boy.
Many reviewers commented on the mystical bent Eldredge displayed in Wild at Heart. This mysticism continues in The Way of the Wild Heart and may well be even more prominent. Coupled with some explicit affirmations of anti-intellectualism (rare is the mystic who can also embrace a logical, intellectual relationship with God) one begins to wonder he is almost losing touch with reality. Passages like the following are all too typical. "How has God been wooing you? What has stirred your heart over the years? God has been bringing hearts to me for a long, long time. It's one of our intimacies. He gave me a rock in the shape of a heart again yesterday, as a reminder. And as I was praying early this morning, I looked out my window and the cloud before me was in the shape of a heart. God has many such gifts for you, particular to you, and now that you have this stage of the Lover to watch for, eyes to look for the Romance, you'll begin to see them, too."
Another common concern with Wild at Heart was the fact that Eldredge often criticized fathers for their inadequacies. He goes further along that path in this book writing such blanket statements as "Most of our fathers are gone, or checked out, or uninitiated men themselves. There are a few men, a very few, who have fathers initiating them in substantive ways. Would that we all were so lucky." He continues to a discussion of "father wounds." "Whether through violence, or rejection, or passivity, or abandonment, most men did not receive the love and validation they needed as boys from their fathers." Most men, he says, carry do not feel that they have what it takes, and most men bear this wound because their fathers did not provide what was needed to answer it. This book continually criticizes and even belittles fathers with sweeping generalizations. While I will grant that Eldredge does this in an attempt to convince men to become better fathers, such statements are rash and often disrespectful.
I could go on, but I think it will suffice to say that almost every concern levelled at Wild at Heart and Eldredge's other books could also be made at The Way of the Wild Heart. It has the same inadequate view of Scripture, the same inadequate view of sin and the same emphasis on worldly therapy. It still argues from experience over Scripture, still twists Scripture to lead down all sorts of strange rabbit trails, and still draws as much (possibly even more) from film than from Scripture. I lost track of the number of movies quoted, but reached at least thirty-five, several of which were mentioned repeatedly, and one of which (The Kingdom of Heaven) was quoted in almost every chapter.
The Way of the Wild Heart really is more of the same. Those who were troubled by Wild at Heart will be equally troubled by this book. As for the millions who loved Wild at Heart, well, I can't help but think that the sheer weirdness of this book will drive many of them away. This book is a complete mess and it was a trial to read. At three hundred pages Eldredge says a lot, and yet it seems like he doesn't say much of anything. It is puff; it is filler; it is a near-complete waste of time. Avoid it....more info
- Wild Ride Worth Taking!
What a fabulous combo these two books are........"Way of the Wild Heart" gives a roadmap of how men develop through various stages in becoming men and "Wild Men, Wild Alaska" takes the next step and shows how real true adventure can help men discover their heart through awesome experiences.
I have been an Eldredge fan for awhile and was very happy when his new book came out. I think he has taken the principles he espoused in Wild at Heart and refined them. Of course people can't be completely put in a box but the general stages and guidelines that Eldredge has described certainly have merit and can be an excellent source for women understanding men and men understanding themselves. In reality the book, I feel, helps all of us to understand ourselves better. That has to be a good thing.
I would highly suggest to anyone to buy both books because they compliment each other so well. Way of the Wild Heart will give you a deeper perspective of manhood and Wild Men, Wild Alaska will demonstrate those principles via real life and death situations through intense and inspiring adventures in the wilderness of Alaska.
- Jungian Christianity
This is my first exposure to John Eldredge, although some Christian friends of mine have told me about him for a couple of years now. Although I myself am not Christian, I found his way of discussing his Christianity not off-putting.
The book is an unusual blend of Jungian archetypes (and their implications for boys becoming men and for men who are missing pieces of their path to greater consciousness) and what might be called "manly Christianity".
I feel I am already a better father with my seven year old son because of some of the insights of this book and that is a great gift indeed and so I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
The reason I give it a 4 instead of a 5 is that, like the other Christianity to which I have been exposed, I feel that it misses Jung's insight that "The idea is not to imagine figures of light, but to make the darkness conscious." Still, overall an excellent book.
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