What does it mean to be a man? What makes men different that women? Throughout my tenure as an undergrad, the fallacious claim that men and women are the same but cultured to be different was paraded around as a statement of true equality. This claim although politically correct is wrong scientifically, and spiritually. Men are made (not by society but by God) to fight, yet it is this drive that is attacked in two courts: in society, and by the mirror. John Eldredge’s book ‘Wild at Heart’ offers the path to bring back the warrior’s heart:
“There is something fierce, passionate, and wild in the heart of every mean. That is how he bears the image of God. And the reason most men ‘live lives of quiet desperation’ (Thoreau) is because men have been told that the reason God put them of earth is to be a good boy. To be nice. But every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue”
In every classic tale the hero is not the center of the story, but only a part of a greater whole. In the Lord of the Rings Frodo was brought into a greater and scarier world than the Shire, in The Book of the Dun Cow Chauntecleer was called to defend his home, and so on… Men are called to fight not for themselves but in part of a greater story. The issue brought up by Eldredge in three parts is (1) God has given men warrior hearts (2) we have become wounded and lost our way and (3) God can heal our wounds. We are created to be mighty warriors, but we all have been wounded deeply by a loss of true masculinity. The shells that we wear and the bravado that we parade is a masking of a wound not the fighting for a cause. These wounds are our fears, our inadequacies, our misplaced strength, our father-wounds, and the hardening of our hearts. When we with God’s help conquer and heal those wounds we see that we have a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live.
The greatest fictional hero is the brave (yet insane) knight errant Don Quixote that fought for the world as it should be. Ironically this great soul was stopped by society, not by those he fought against but those who machinated behind his back and used the wounds of the past, and he was stopped by the mirror. When the great knight saw his reflection he fell. In the same way when we see what we are rather than what we should be we fall as well. God is not content with us the way we are but wants us to become more like him. Much like this video demonstrates.
The greatest villain is a person who ignores their own plight and sees themselves as better than anyone else. This is what Chesterton would say:
“A man will plume himself because he is not bad in some particular way, when the truth is that he is not good enough to be bad in that particular way. Some priggish little clerk will say, “I have reason to congratulate myself that I am a civilized person, and not so bloodthirsty as the Mad Mullah.” Somebody ought to say to him, “A really good man would be less bloodthirsty than the Mullah. But you are less bloodthirsty, not because you are more of a good man, but because you are a great deal less of a man. You are not bloodthirsty, not because you would spare your enemy, but because you would run away from him.” Or again, some Puritan with a sullen type of piety would say, “I have reason to congratulate myself that I do not worship graven images like the old heathen Greeks.” And again somebody ought to say to him, “The best religion may not worship graven images, because it may see beyond them. But if you do not worship graven images, it is only because you are mentally and morally quite incapable of graving them. True religion, perhaps, is above idolatry. But you are below idolatry. You are not holy enough yet to worship a lump of stone.”
Of course Jesus said the same thing in the parable on the speck of dust in one man’s eye but a log in another.
Two warnings for those to read this book. First, this is not a book to read alone. It is a book to read in a ‘band of brothers’, a like-minded group of men to hold you accountable – to get you out of the comfort zone. Secondly, this book is not for the comfortable. It will challenge you to fight. It will make you rise again and again even when you fall against those who machinate behind you and use the mirrors of society. It will also cause the ‘logs’ in our eyes to be removed before the ‘specks’ in others are addressed.
A dangerous book that creates dangerous men.