Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review – Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

imageThe subtitle for this book is “Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul”.  Well, what woman with husband and son wouldn’t appreciate knowing the secret of a man’s soul?!  I was really looking forward to reading this book.

The main point of this book, as I see it, is that men and boys have the need to be the hero.  They want to be brave and strong and adventurous.  This is all well and good and it has helped me understand my husband’s “need” to go hunting each fall, as well as my son’s need to play just a little on the dangerous side sometimes.  They want to be challenged, and know that they are up to the challenge.

However, the author went a bit overboard in my opinion.  His tone throughout the book seemed a bit derogatory towards “nice guys” who go to church – suggesting that they are bored, and that you can tell this simply by going to church and looking around.  Honestly, what is a man in church supposed to be doing that would make him seem more manly?  In my opinion, simply being there and being a role model to his children, is manly.

He mentions Mother Teresa in a couple of passages.  Once, when talking about the fact that many portraits of Jesus show him as being gentle and kind - “Kind of like Mother Teresa.”    Then he writes, “Telling me to be like [Jesus as pictured], feels like telling me to go limp and passive.  Be nice. Be swell. Be like Mother Teresa.”  How limp and passive was Mother Teresa??  I found this very insulting, and also proof that the author knows nothing about Mother Teresa and her courage.  How “nice” and “swell” was she in her Nobel award speech?  She had to have great courage to go among the poorest of the poor, tending lepers and other outcasts.  He does go on to say that Christ is the incarnation of tender mercy, but also brave enough to take on the Pharisees when they needed correction.   This, I suppose, is what all Christians are called to be – tenderly merciful when needed and brave when needed.  There were several things in the book that I felt were thoughtlessly written, but I don’t have the room to put them all down here.

The book was peppered with movie quotations and scenes, used to help explain the author’s view of what lies in a man’s heart… movies like Braveheart, Legends of the Fall, and Gladiator.  I haven’t done a count, but I feel like he used movies much more often than scripture passages to make his points.   It seemed a little strange to me that he would use movies made by fallen humans to describe God’s intention in creating men. 

Unfortunately I can’t recommend this book, unless one is willing to skip over half of the nonsense in it in order to learn something worthwhile about the men in their lives. 

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a free copy of this book to review.


  1. I tried the read the female version of this book (Captivating) and had the same feelings toward it as well.

  2. I agree with Lindsay about, read captivating and had the same feelings. too much..also did the study with a small group at church..just cant recommend that one either.

    thanks for the honest opinions!

  3. Thanks for the comments, I think your review has told me what I heeded to know, I, as a man, get so frustrated by this assumption that all men have to be macho and tough adventurous sorts to be 'manly' these people usually suggest the opposite for women, I know plenty women who love the adventurous life and would be insulted at the thought that they should be any different, I personally hate the stereotyping, God made me a man with a tender heart & a more gentle manner, that's what I needed in order to fulfil his calling on MY life and that is certainly not to be weak and weedy or wimpish but it does call for me to have plenty of empathy & feminine traits, this does not make me any less a man, my wife still considers me to be a man! but my calling is such that I need those gifts and qualities that God has blessed me with and feel insulted by the continual assault on my own identity, which only tends to come from people within the church!
    This then lines up with the idea that we need to make worship more 'manly' and do away with the intimacy as this is an affront to manhood! What rubbish is that eh? What about Jesus? he was comfortable expressing deep intimacy and yet was the bravest and strongest man who ever lived.


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