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Michael Todd

Misquoting Scripture in Wild at Heart

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Not sure I feel quite so strongly about this as you Nardis, but their view does seem to be that men and women are fundamentally different "at heart". Men apparently are "wild", women apparently are beautiful romantic heroines. Can anyone just be bits of both, or neither?

Matt

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Eldredge cites that men are "wild", because unlike Eve, Adam was created outside the Garden of Eden. Ever since then boys have been uncomfortable indoors. Which begs the question, so did God curse Adam by placing him in the Garden of Eden?

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lol

Eldredge cites that men are "wild", because unlike Eve, Adam was created outside the Garden of Eden. Ever since then boys have been uncomfortable indoors. Which begs the question, so did God curse Adam by placing him in the Garden of Eden?
two words spring to mind. This first is "complete" I'll leave you to work out the second one.

Matt

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To read about this view of women's "ideal" desires just after having led a discussion of Dorothy L. Sayers's Are Women Human? is deeply bizarre.

I bet! Sheesh.

nardis, you should check out the other thread on Wild at Heart here. Some good discussion on these same issues, although at that time women weren't yet being counseled on the virtues of chick flicks by Stasi. You will find that most of the (few) women on this board don't have much patience for the Eldredge clan.

So glad my life doesn't look like a chick flick,

Kate

And the curious thing is that I have heard some people argue (including myself periodically) that the chick flick can become the female's counterpart to the commonly-stated men's struggle with pornography for the way that we women can use it to objectify men for their affection, expecting the men and relationships in our lives to react to us in the same "she's better than this; I should rescue her" way that we see on the screen ... and oddly enough, it seems similar to the way in which I can unhealthily approach my relationship with God ... hmm ...

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For the women reading this thread, how unusual do you think you are in comparison to your female peers? Captivating sells well, just as Wild at Heart did. Obviously, women are buying the book and what it says. I am impressed by what is said here by Nardis, Beth, Kebbie, and Ruthie, but are you several standard deviations above the norm of American women, in your ability to see past the pornography that Hollywood proffers?

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After serveral years of working with college and high school women I found it common, although nowhere near universal, for young women to espouse "princess" language. While I never enountered this language as a metaphor for their relationship with God, it was very frequently used in their relationships with males. Typically, it was used in a teaching setting. Typically it went along these lines:

1. You are a princess

2. You deserve a prince

3. Don't settle for anything less than the perfect prince

4. Until you find that prince wait

Just based off those instances I'm not surprised at the popularity of Mrs. Eldridge's book.

Something that I've been thinking about lately is why these books are so appealing to large masses of men and women? I'm not a fan of Wild at Heart, but many men are. What is it about the book that they find appealing? What questions/concerns do they have in life that Wild at Heart or Captivating is addressing? If those books are meeting a felt need that the church hadn't been meeting in their life, that is great.

My impressions of the princess language is that these young women felt invalidated in their daily existance. They felt used. They felt objectified and they felt alone. Attention from men became an unhealthy means to feel somehow validated even if it was for all the wrong reasons. Thus, they would settle for unhealthy relationships.

The princess language became a means to encourage these young women to recognize their God-given beauty (in every sense of the word). They were worth more than these young men who used them and treated them lesser than the child of God that they were.

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And here we go again:

The Way of the Wild Heart

Description: Many men face two looming questions at some point in their life: "What does it mean to be a man, and am I one?" In his bestselling book, Wild at Heart, Eldredge empowered men to embark on an adventure to reclaim their manhood. The Way of the Wild Heart offers a detailed map on how to become a man. Exploring six biblically based stages of manhood, Eldredge initiates men into a new understanding and ownership of their masculinity and equips them to effectively lead their sons to manhood.

Availability: This product will be released on 10/17/06

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In a way, I hate to say it, but: the Eldredges seem to be making a lot of money from these books.

I don't think the fact that the Eldredge's books are financially successful should reflect on the books' sincerity. Sure, they're making money on them; that's because people are buying them. I don't think John and Stasi are in it for the money, though. Love em' or hate em', they seem convinced of their beliefs. I never feel as though they're trying to "sell" anything (and believe me, that's a feeling I get from a lot of other Christian themed books).

Edited by Jeff

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I think that could be argued about the original book or two, but suddenly they have a load of money making spin-offs and it's hard not to be cynical about stuff like that.

Perhaps that just reflects the cynicism I have after the Prayer of Jabez book that had so many cash-ins that it was pretty much available in a special edition for one-legged mid-western farmers called Arnold.

Matt

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I think that could be argued about the original book or two, but suddenly they have a load of money making spin-offs and it's hard not to be cynical about stuff like that.

Perhaps that just reflects the cynicism I have after the Prayer of Jabez book that had so many cash-ins that it was pretty much available in a special edition for one-legged mid-western farmers called Arnold.

Matt

It could also be a reflection of them seeing how many people seemed to get a lot out of what they were teaching and their attempt to continue spreading that message.

My dad's a pastor. He gets invited fairly frequently to speak at events/meetings/etc. Though he has given literally thousands of different talks, he often gives the same basic talk over and over again depending on the group that he's speaking to at the time. For instance, he there's a talk on relationships that has proven to be immensely popular with college students. So it makes sense when he plans to speak to a group of college students that he would give that message. So far the difference between what he's doing and what the Eldridges have done is that he's not really making $$ off of it. But that's where one's personal bias or perspective comes into play.

What if I told you that a few years ago he decided to do a book version of that talk and offer it for sale. (He did.) You might read that and assume that he's looking to capitalize on the popularity and make some dough off of it for himself, since it's obviously a popular message. I can assure you his motive was much less sinister. His desire is to see hearts and lives changed, and this particular talk seems to be one way that God is using him to do that. Why wouldn't he seek to spread that message farther and wider by publishing it so it can be available for anyone to read?

In the same way, one's particular preconceptions of the Eldredges are coming into play here as well. There's simply no way to accurately tell whether or not their heart is in it for the $$ or whether they're just trying to give people more of what seems to be helping them.

I agree that the more tie-ins and do-dads that start to get attached, the more it can start to look like cashing in. And sometimes certainly it is. But even then I'd argue that we probably can't positively tell whether the cashing in is on the part of the author, or on the part of the rights-holders to the material (publishers, etc.) who get to basically do with it what they want once the contract is signed. For instance, it's standard contract terms for an author to have to give the movie rights to a book to the publisher as part of the deal. Does that mean that if a money-grab movie comes along that it's a reflection of the author's greed?

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I think that could be argued about the original book or two, but suddenly they have a load of money making spin-offs and it's hard not to be cynical about stuff like that.

Perhaps that just reflects the cynicism I have after the Prayer of Jabez book that had so many cash-ins that it was pretty much available in a special edition for one-legged mid-western farmers called Arnold.

Matt

My dad's a pastor. He gets invited fairly frequently to speak at events/meetings/etc. Though he has given literally thousands of different talks, he often gives the same basic talk over and over again depending on the group that he's speaking to at the time. For instance, he there's a talk on relationships that has proven to be immensely popular with college students. So it makes sense when he plans to speak to a group of college students that he would give that message. So far the difference between what he's doing and what the Eldridges have done is that he's not really making $$ off of it. But that's where one's personal bias or perspective comes into play.
No I think there's another difference - he is doing one off talks. Sure he could just do it once, record it onto MP3 and let all the other groups listen to it, but that's not really how it works. It makes sense if you are going to a new place anyway to tailor the material that's different from re-tweaking the material in a book (or just putting it in a new funky cover) when the original book would have done.

What if I told you that a few years ago he decided to do a book version of that talk and offer it for sale. (He did.) You might read that and assume that he's looking to capitalize on the popularity and make some dough off of it for himself, since it's obviously a popular message. I can assure you his motive was much less sinister. His desire is to see hearts and lives changed, and this particular talk seems to be one way that God is using him to do that. Why wouldn't he seek to spread that message farther and wider by publishing it so it can be available for anyone to read?

Again, no issue here (either with your dad, or with Eldredge. I've contributed to a book in a similar field for precisely the reason I think it's good to have stuff out there

In the same way, one's particular preconceptions of the Eldredges are coming into play here as well. There's simply no way to accurately tell whether or not their heart is in it for the $$ or whether they're just trying to give people more of what seems to be helping them.

Well there are ways, but yes, I'm certainly not in a position to make that call. However, in any case, it's more that...

the more tie-ins and do-dads that start to get attached, the more it can start to look like cashing in. And sometimes certainly it is. But even then I'd argue that we probably can't positively tell whether the cashing in is on the part of the author, or on the part of the rights-holders to the material (publishers, etc.) who get to basically do with it what they want once the contract is signed.

Yeah, and I never said who I was suspicious of, but SOMETHING is amiss with this stuff IMO.

For instance, it's standard contract terms for an author to have to give the movie rights to a book to the publisher as part of the deal. Does that mean that if a money-grab movie comes along that it's a reflection of the author's greed?

I don't think this really works as an example, as this isn't about "Wild at Heart" the Movie (but in that case no it obviously wouldn't). But if a greedy publisher (or whoever) comes along and says we'd like you to write a new introduction so we can re-package your book and sell a load more copies, I think the author has a duty to question the integrity of agreeing.

Matt

Edited by MattPage

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I really appreciated The Wild at Heart men's retreat I attended a few years ago. It had John and three other white, middle-age, upper-middle class, white Evangelical Christian men discussing their struggles as men, husbands, fathers, and Christian brothers. Like every men's retreat I've ever been to, it ended with a call for a small group that would continue to meet after the retreat. This particular small group was called -- A Band of Brothers.

It didn't get off the ground, but that is what men's retreats' small groups seem to do at my church.

What was most interesting about the videos is how these guys portrayed themselves as real men, doing real, masculine things, like ride horses, repel off cliffs, and stack hay in a barn. All the equipment they were using was new. The repelling gear was shiny. The hooks they were using to grab the hay was new.

I guess this stuff works with a lot of men, because ultimately, like most humans, we just like seeing ourselves on TV. White, middle-age, comfortably-wealthy, Evangelical males may not look too deeply at watching other white, middle-age, comfortably-wealthy, Evangelical males doing things that clearly they do not do that often. I found it contrived.

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That is what I wish I had Jeffrey ask Eugene Peterson. Who makes the decisions for all the marketing tie-ins for the Message? There is the Message Remix, the Message Devotional, and coffe mugs, book markers, and leather bomber jackets. Alright, there isn't a leather bomber jacket, but I bet someone is selling a Message wind breaker.

If you read his other works, this almost seems like he is contradicting himself. Watching the explosion of Christian paraphenalia surrounding the Message was like finding out Wendell Berry is really a yuppie on a laptop from Portland.

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The John Eldridge(sic) thread is locked, so this will have to go here.

According to Time Magazine, and also The Guardian...

drug gang, La Familia Michoacana, has been buying up the works of a Colorado evangelical, John Eldredge, and making new recruits read them as part of their induction process.

Matt

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That's fascinating. It doesn't change my view of Wild at heart, particularly, but it's fascinating.

Ok, after reading the Time article I should probably say 'sickening', rather than 'fascinating'.

Edited by stu

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That's fascinating. It doesn't change my view of Wild at heart, particularly, but it's fascinating.

Ok, after reading the Time article I should probably say 'sickening', rather than 'fascinating'.

Agreed. I've read a few more bits about that particular cartel since Matt posted the links yesterday, and it's just terrifying. I'm no fan of Eldredge (and I particularly agree with the Byron Borger critique that kebbie posted in the original Eldredge thread), but I can't imagine how it would feel to realize that a cartel was using your book to help train new recruits.

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Agreed. I've read a few more bits about that particular cartel since Matt posted the links yesterday, and it's just terrifying. I'm no fan of Eldredge (and I particularly agree with the Byron Borger critique that kebbie posted in the original Eldredge thread), but I can't imagine how it would feel to realize that a cartel was using your book to help train new recruits.

I wouldn't be one to argue that who reads your book and what they do after they read it is no indication of the content of your book (good luck trying to estimate the amount of bloodshed motivated by Karl Marx's Manifesto and Nietzsche's Will to Power). However, regardless of what parts I like and dislike in Eldredge's book, having actually read it, I can say with complete confidence that there is nothing in it that would advocate the crimes of a decapitating-happy, murderous, drug cartel (without being misused and misinterpreted). You might as well question why a serial killer on death row likes reading Louis Lamour or why John Hinckley said he was motivated by J.D. Salinger.

It's not like anyone's ever misused the Bible to try and justify and promote slavery or genocide ... oh wait.

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I think it's probably unfair to single out Eldridge in particular for this kind of abuse. The problem really is the whole slackness of the Christian publishing industry in general ...

The problem is that care, integrity and diligence in these respects is considered of no consequence in the christian publishing industry, and to an extent in evangelicalism in particular. If you want to say something, and you can find a few words inthe bible that can be vaguely be made to express that (by the time you have apple picked from among the translations) then that's considered all you need to do - sad.

Matt

Best post on this entire thread, by the way. This book here is probably the best summation I've read explaining the main problem that you've nailed here.

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Thanks Persiflage. FWIW I wrote this a year or two before the book critic for a major Christian periodical over here, wrote a review of a book I had contributed to in which he jokingly trumpeted the fact that he'd skipped various chapters. I found it incredible that:

1 - A reviewer earning money for reviewing a book would skip bits which, in this case, they could have no idea what their content was (because they were written on a variety of topics by a variety of authors)

2 - That they would admit to such in their review

3 - That they would do it in such a fashion as to suggest they were trying to look cool by looking like a slacker

4 - That his editor would let it through rather than kick him up the arse.

I wrote to the editor in question and got a reply saying that he though the reviewer not reading it because there were too many guest chapters (which came out of one of the key parts in the book that we need to walk the Christian life with others and no try and go it alone) was a valid criticism, and funny.

Love the Lord your God with all your half hearts, none of your minds and with very little soul...

Matt

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