Monday, October 26, 2009

Wild At Heart: Chapter One

Hey everyone! Here are my thoughts on the first chapter of Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. Hope you enjoy reading!

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory or defeat.”
--Teddy Roosevelt

“He is not tame, but he is good.”
--C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia

John Eldredge begins his work by describing a trek he is taking through the Sawatch Range in Colorado. He speaks of grand wilderness and stunning colors. He tells the reader how he is searching the elusive bull elk. He wants to catch a glimpse of the magnificently elusive creature but knowing that the likeliness of that happening is not very good. Still he presses on in his journey, and then lets the reader in on a secret: It is not for the bull moose that he is in the middle of nowhere. In his own words he says “There is something else I’m after…I am searching for an even more elusive prey…something that can only be found through the help of wilderness. I am looking for my heart.”

Throughout the first chapter, Eldredge invites men to take a deep and revealing look at their lives and admit that something is off. Something is missing. Somehow, our society has lost the definition of true masculinity and has stripped men of their wildness, of their heart. “The core of a man’s heart is undomesticated and that is good.” He is not talking about violence or inviting men to be cruel with their strength. He is rather inviting men to truly explore what it is about them, at their core, that makes them long for something more, something exciting, something dangerous.

Eldredge makes a great point a couple pages later when he says that “society at large cannot make up its mind about men. Having spent the last thirty years redefining masculinity into something more sensitive, safe, manageable and well, feminine, it now berates men for not being men…how can a man know he is one when his highest aim is minding his manners?”

AMEN! This is one of my biggest pet peeves about how men are represented in society, whether it’s commercials, blockbuster movies or novels. Men are put into a box of being “safe” or a bit dull or dimwitted and when a character falls out of that mold, they are the “bad boy” or the “rebel.” Sheesh. I mean…really…look at, William Wallace, or William Wilburforce. Those were two absolutely powerhouse men who fought for justice in very real ways. One fought on a battlefield, one in a courtroom…but both strong, determined and definitely “unsafe” men. (Incidentally, William Wilburforce is one of my personal heroes…I hope to write a paper or something about him one day. ☺ )
Anyway, back to the book:
Eldredge undresses the typical Christian man. He is stable, dependable, non-drinker, non-smoker…nice guy…and…BORED. Eldredge claims that a lot of the Christian men in America are bored. He is not saying every one is like that but he is saying that the church as a whole has slacked off on inviting men to share their masculinity with the church body. He then asks both his male and female readers “What makes you come alive? What stirs your heart?”
The answers to these questions are essential if we as humans, as children of God as soldiers for Christ are ever going to realize our potential for the Kingdom of Heaven.

There are three desires which Eldredge says are written onto the heart of every man. These are: A battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue.

A Battle To Fight –
(NOTE: Each of these three have their own chapters…so I will do a bit now but will unpack them more in depth when I get to those chapters)
Eldredge claims that there is “something fierce in the heart of every man.” I love this statement. Exodus 15:3 states that “The LORD is a warrior. The LORD is His name.” We serve a God who is not tame, He is not safe, but He is good! He is a powerful warrior, fighting for the souls and hearts of His chosen people. It’s a beautiful, wonderful, exciting story we are a part of and men are specifically chosen to represent the wild, passionate, intense part of God’s character.

Let me pause for a moment and say that I personally believe the heart of a warrior is in the makeup of all men. It might be hidden from years of neglect (as Eldredge suggests and goes into in a later chapter) or it might have been beaten down so much that some men do not believe it exists but it IS there.
“Life needs a man to be fierce-and fiercely devoted.”

An Adventure To Live –
In this section, Eldredge talks about a movie called Legends of the Fall starring Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt. Pitt stars as Tristan, the middle of three sons who is as wild as the country surrounding him. He is passionate, fierce, romantic and completely devoted to those he loves. He is not perfect, he is a flawed character but his strength is to be admired. (I personally really like this movie…just sayin…) but the point is that Tristan, unlike his brothers went looking for adventure. He seized life and lived it to the fullest. He sucked all the marrow out of life. (Dead Poet’s Society reference anyone? Yeah, I’m a movie buff…so there will mostly likely be a lot of movie quotes or examples in here. Probably some books too…)

Adventure is an essential part of anyone’s life. It is something that is written on the heart of people, something we long for like nothing else. It is also something most of us have packed away as impossible or as not responsible. That packing away of our desire for adventure is a dangerous thing…and something which will be discussed in a later chapter (see, I’m reeling you in with all these little preview tidbits…right? Right? Wink…wink…)

A Beauty To Rescue/ A Feminine Heart (two different but related sections)
The first section talks about how it is not enough for a man to have a battle to fight, he must have someone to fight for. “The battle itself is never enough; a man longs for romance. It’s not enough to be a hero; it’s that he is a hero to someone in particular, to the woman he loves.”

Eldredge goes on to talk about the feminine heart and say that like men, women also have deep desires: She wants to be wanted, wants to be pursued, to be fought for. It is not enough to be noticed…a woman wants to be wanted and desired. Women, according to Eldredge also want an adventure to share. We want to be caught up in something bigger than ourselves…to have an adventure to share with the man we love.

When a man offers his strength and a woman her beauty…that is when a picture of beautiful and true unity is formed.

So…that’s a lot of material I know. And I know that I haven’t talked a lot about what I thought or unpacked it that much…but this was just the first chapter and most of these points are unpacked later so I will be able to get more in depth later.

Anyway, thank you for reading this far…and please comment! I’d love to know if you have any thoughts about this too. If you disagree with him, or me or anything I’ve written please let me know. I want this to generate discussion.

I will say right off the bat, that I do not agree with everything in this book and I am not blindly following or spouting what he says without thinking. I am thinking and digesting this and I will be debating and disagreeing with him at times.
ANYWAY, I’m done now. New post next week ☺ Thanks everyone!

1 comment:

laura.elizabeth said...

I'll be really interesting to see more of your reviews on this book! I can say right off the bat that while I think he does have some good things to say and that he's noticed some definite flaws in the way society has looked at men, I have a problem with the way he uses Scripture (or doesn't use Scripture) to prove his point. I think a lot of what he says he bases on the courtly love culture (like in Arthurian literature and stuff), which has major flaws, and while we can romanticize it and talk about the knight fighting for the princess, it's not a perfect example of how men and women should relate. I think he's also kind of focusing on externals--like true men run naked through woods spearing fish with home-made, rustic knives, while the fake men spend some time in libraries and may not have biceps. But! This is all just my perception, and I would love to hear more of what he has to say. Thanks for posting this!