I recently finished the latest book from John Elderedge called The Way of The Wild Heart and...wow.
It's no secret that I've been very interested in the things that guy has been saying over the years and how books like Wild at Heart and Waking The Dead have been catalytic to the things that have been happening in my life, but I think this book may be the most powerful yet, at least for me.
Let me first say this though - this book is like a 400 level course. To be quite candid, I wouldn't suggest it to anybody who hasn't read and really understood what's being said in W@H. Without that, there are concepts in this book that might do more harm than good to a man without the right context. The reflections on desire and calling in particular could come off as cruel if a reader isn't already familiar with the groundwork laid for having a good heart. That having been said...
The central theme of the book is "initiation." He suggests that over the course of a man's life there is a path that leads us through a series of stages: The Beloved Son, The Cowboy/Ranger, The Lover, The Warrior, The King, The Sage. Each stage has it's own purpose in God's plan and roughly describe maturation and fulfillment. However, while this path was the primary way in which boys have been raised into men throughout history, we've almost entirely lost it in the last 100 years.
And so really, when it's all said and done, the book is about fathers and how absolutely critical a father's role is to his children. And alas, how many, many men of today are essentially fatherless. Whether through divorce, or death, workaholism, or fathers who simply check-out, we live in a world of unfinished men - basically boys in men's bodies who feel utterly lost and unprepared for the life we find looming over us on the other side of our diplomas.
As mentioned in W@H, there is the idea that masculinity is bestowed, not learned or discovered. Boys become men in the presence of, and through the investment of other men. There is no other way. And this is a process of years, probably decades, as opposed to just a week in the woods or an 18th birthday ceremony. Not that those things are at all bad, but they aren't enough. And to throw a boy into the maw of the world with no more than a pat on the back is like that dreadful scene at Helm's Deep where swords and helmets are being handed out to 13 year olds who can do little more than stand in line to be slaughtered.
The book focuses much on the purpose of each stage, how we enter and pass through these stages in a series of initiations, and how these stages usually get wounded, polluted, or squandered.
But the good news is GREAT news. When we take the time to listen, we find that regardless of the failings of our earthly fathers, our Heavenly Father has never left our side. Where there may not have been anybody to initiate us into the important things of a man's life, God is always in the business of initiating us into his plan for us. And each and every stage we may have botched or had stolen from us, can and should, be redeemed.
Anyway, I don't really want to write a book report, but I really liked this book and suspect there will be a lot of things to think about, and blog about, as it unfolds.