Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Review: Wild At Heart

The full title of this book is Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul by John Eldredge. The author's premise is that men in the Christian church are being told that in order to be good Christians they have to be nice guys, when this isn't truly how God wants men to be. Eldredge believes that every man needs a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. However, this is not how society expects men to behave, and as a consequence of denying their true desires, Christian men have generally lost their way. They've also apparently decided that church is 'boring', because everybody knows that you only go to church on Sundays for the entertainment. And the wine, for those affiliated with religions that use it in their ceremonies.

I chose this book from because I have a son and I wanted to see if there might be something in this book that would help me raise him. At first, what Eldredge says makes sense. Boys do need to do battle, at least in their imaginations, and they do need the stimulation found in most adventures. This idea is consistent with my own observations; I am starting to see my two-year old son engaging in imaginary play which has involved much jumping and lots of running. The author's discussion about adult men revisiting those adventures they had as boys to recapture their masculinity appears to be a sound idea. Too many adults believe that play is no longer supposed to be part of their lives, particularly after children arrive, and this just isn't so.

Eldredge's ideas regarding a 'beauty' to rescue, however, are a bit harder to swallow; the implication that a women needs to be rescued and can't rescue herself is just plain ridiculous in this day and age. The author reveals some ambivalence toward women. On the one hand, he spends some time stating that God created women to save men. On the other, he asserts that the secret desire of every woman's soul is to be "captivating". In other words, "just sit there and look pretty, honey!" This made me a bit angry, because I have never in my entire life felt that my purpose in life was to be decoration.

The second aspect of the book that gave me pause was the author's statement that all of our problems were because of the Enemy, aka, the devil. Any time you feel angry, that's the devil making you feel that way. Any time you're depressed, that's the devil. The direct implication is that you, as an individual, bear no actual responsibility for any choice you might make, including whether to be happy or not. It's all the responsibility of the devil. I don't want to get into a lengthy theological discussion about it, but Man does bear responsibility for his own behavior, his own feelings, and the choices he makes. There's a reason that our legal system, which is based on Judeo-Christian ethics, does not have a "not guilty because the devil made me do it" statute on the books. If it did, the prisons would be empty.

This was a difficult book for me to finish. The author starts out strong with his hypothesis, but he veered off the path several times and got into some areas, such as the 'Father-Wound', that I didn't really feel that he was qualified to discuss. In fact, several times I found myself checking the back of the book to see whether Eldredge had a degree in psychotherapy or counseling or even theology. I finally found a reference to a counseling degree, but I also found a reference to Eldredge's employment by Focus on the Family. I thought that perhaps I had some sort of bias, so I asked my husband to read the book. He wasn't able to finish the book at all. But there are apparently many, many men who have been helped spiritually by Eldredge and his book, field manual,and other products, and I can't discount that fact.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome comments, but reserve the right to correct your spelling because I am OCD about it!