Scottk's Reviews > The Way of the Wild Heart: A Map for the Masculine Journey

The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge
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May 24, 07

bookshelves: spirituality
Read in April, 2007

Okay, I realize I am putting my reputation on the line, but I am throwing caution to the wind. I read this book on a whim, and probably against my better judgment. But turns out- I liked it. Eldredge's uber-macho approach to masculinity is polarizing and in many ways shame inducing (i.e. you're not a man unless you love to kill things, participate in extreme sports, and ride a horse). I understand why so many are turned off by his words. However, despite my distaste for his limited perspective, I found myself personally resonating with his description of the masculine journey. Of course I had to peel back the silly male caricatures (cowboy, ranger, warrior, etc.) before finding it- but its there. The masculine soul struggles with and is haunted by the question “do I have what it takes?” Elderedge takes a pseudo-developmental approach to describing how this existential delimma unfolds for the male. He highlights such tasks as attachment (beloved son), individuation (cowboy), and transcendence (Sage). He also highlights the importance of initiative, industry, and identity (Ericksonian development). Interestingly, he does not use psychological literature to support his claims, instead he utilizes biblical stories and popular movies to support his assertions- a very significant weakness in the book. I am sure this was intended to appease his traditional reading audience (it is all about selling more books).

Although a little melodramatic, I really liked his emphasis on intentional living. In particular, the significance and importance of rites of passages. Much like a vision quest, each boy must pass through several rites of passages before crossing over to manhood. I also myself gravitating towards the idea that masculinity begets masculinity, meaning only a man can teach a boy how to be a man. Makes sense to me, but I understand that concept carries a lot of political baggage.

So, this book left me questioning if the process of individuation, attachment and transcendence looks different in each gender? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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