Hannah's Reviews > The Sacred Romance Drawing Closer To The Heart Of God

The Sacred Romance Drawing Closer To The Heart Of God by John Eldredge
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's review
Mar 07, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: holy-moly

I have mixed feelings about this book. I had shied away from it for quite some time because I was convinced by the title that there was going to definitely be some "I'm the princess, God's my knight in shining armor"/Julian of Norwich (am I thinking of the right religious figure?) "No, I reeeeally love God" weirdness in there. There was a slight bit of that, but I think more than anything, the book was about emotional healing. It framed our lives in terms of the Romance (beauty, wonder, hope, God) and the Message of the Arrows (pain and enduring messages of failure/self-defeating or harmful mantras that we "learn" from past hurts), and talks about how God is a "wild" lover in the sense that God allows people to choose whether or not to love God, and also seems to allow pain or tragic events that we don't understand.

I was a bit surprised because I had expected the book to be much more centered on God, but found it really to be focused on the reader (part of why I think it's more about emotional healing), and basically trying to release one's self from coping strategies that we've developed that either hinder us from following God by contenting ourselves with a hollow busy-ness of "service", or entrap us in our own vices to the extent that we are living as addicts would for the next thrill, and have little other purpose.

I was impressed with the extent to which the authors revealed such personal things about their lives to illustrate all of this working out in their own stories, and felt that definitely took bravery. I also think the idea of framing a relationship with God in a succinct story (that also draws a lot from our "ideal" lives conceptualized by fairy tales) is something that makes sense to do to give people a different view of their lives and purposes.

What bothered me throughout were these constant but unexplored (or underexplored) gender assertions, that all men ultimately want adventure/to be heroes and that all women ultimately want to be recognized as beautiful. While this makes sense coming from John Elderidge as he later went on to write "Wild at Heart," which is all about that line of thought for men, I find that sort of generalization very troubling, especially as part of the framing of a religious narrative. While I think I definitely sought to be beautiful when I was younger as a kind of end goal, I wonder if a good part of that was motivated by societal messages that women are valuable only as much as they are beautiful, or at least, that their main value lies in their looks (look at advertisements; almost everything is sold by a beautiful woman, who seems almost as much a commodity as the item she's holding). Going into adolescence, I think being a hero/being beautiful were much more of conflicting goals, and now I wonder, is it not okay that everyone would want to be a hero(heroine)? Why the need for this gender distinction? (This is not even to go into the issue that this binary of "ultimate" desires is probably too simplistic...) I think you get the point, so enough of this.

This book helped me at least in some of its ideas and its encouragement of looking at how past occurrences are continuing to drive present-day actions (really reactions), and had some good points that I mentioned, so I don't want to dismiss it entirely, but am not sure it's one I'd readily recommend.
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message 1: by Deb (new)

Deb Rhodes My take on the use of gender issues in this book is that the author wasn't saying that that men should want to be heroes, while women should only strive to be beautiful. I think he meant that the two genders are hard-wired differently, and neither the desire to be heroic nor the striving to be beautiful is in itself a bad thing.

Looked at another way, it's a fact (which you pretty much spelled out in your review) that in our society females are encouraged toward the desire to be beautiful and adored, while males are encouraged to be strong and heroic. I believe the author was saying that this is how we are molded by the society around us (as well as in how God created male and females to be complementary to one another, yet different.)

Of course women can long to be heroic (and good grief, just giving birth and raising kids is heroic, isn't it?)

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