BOOKS: Wild at Heart

Hello all,

I am currently interested in the book “Wild at Heart” I dont know too much about it, but I am wondering if this book is appropriate for a Catholic to read? Does it in any way, go against the teachings of the Church?

Thanks and God Bless

Who is the author? What is it about? Is it self-help or fiction or what?

I read it and loved it and did not find anything completely against Church teaching or anything like that. It does blame “the church” for feminizing Christianity and therefore making men not want to be part of the religion. However, I’ve seen that in many ways, more so in Protestant churches than in the Catholic Church itself. Other than a few of those comments, it really is an excellent book! My husband loved it as well :).


Has anyone here read the book “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge?
I’ve read a fair bit of it and so far I think it’s pretty good. I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on it.

Pax Domini,

My, my.

There is a TON of controversy about this book and Pastor Eldredge in Protestant circles.

I remember thread after thread on the Protestant boards about this, and all were very lively and argumentative. You want to start a fight among Protestants, just say the word “Eldredge,” and prepare to duck!

I haven’t read it, but I’m a woman. I’m not sure that I agree with the basic idea that “church” has become feminized.

I think that certain practices have unjustly gotten the reputation of being “effeminate” e.g., singing, wearing vestments, praying, etc.

But since all I’ve ever read of Eldredge is the opinions about him and his book, not the book itself, that’s about the extent of my opinion at this time. I will be extremely interested in seeing what Catholics think of Eldredge and the “Feminine Church.” Thanks for bringing this up.

Charges of “feminization” are quite common. This book addresses it from a Catholic perspective, arguing that feminization in the Catholic Church started 700 years ago.

My, my.

There is a TON of controversy about this book and Pastor Eldredge in Protestant circles.


Well I cirtainly didn’t start this thread to raise any controversy. I just want to know what people think about his book, and as part of my curiosity, I’d like to know how people may relate this book to JPII’s “Theology of the Body”.

Personaly, having read alot of it, I think part of the reason why this book is considered controversial is because of how honest and real it is (though I don’t agree with absolutely everything he writes).

I haven’t read it, but I’m a woman. I’m not sure that I agree with the basic idea that “church” has become feminized.

As for the idea of the church having been feminized? I’d have to give that more thought and do more research to come to a more educated conclusion.

If anything, I would encourage you (especialy being a woman) to read it because I think it’ll help you have a better idea of how/what makes us guys tick.

I think that certain practices have unjustly gotten the reputation of being “effeminate” e.g., singing, wearing vestments, praying, etc.

I agree. I don’t believe that singing, wearing vestments, praying etc. are effeminate. If anything those practices are specificaly oriented towards worship of God, and that in itself is where the specific role of men come into play because Christ’s Royal Priesthood is rooted in masculinity, not femininity.

But since all I’ve ever read of Eldredge is the opinions about him and his book, not the book itself, that’s about the extent of my opinion at this time. I will be extremely interested in seeing what Catholics think of Eldredge and the “Feminine Church.” Thanks for bringing this up.

If you’re realy interested in this subject I’d highly recommend an audio CD presentation called “The Neurology and Psychology of Masculinity” by a catholic psychologist named Dr. Philip Mango. His work is based on Theology of the Body and is quite orthodoxed.

Pax Domini,

Thank you for the book recommendations. This subject is extremely interesting.

The men’s group at our parish is using the Evangelical book Wild at Heart (praised bt Chuck Swindall, and very popular among Evangelical circles) for a focused study over the next few months. Any thoughts about using this book for a Catholic Men’s group. I struggle with this because there is so much other Catholic material that can be used, Bible, Cathecism, Lives of the Saints, Pope encyclicals…etc…Thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

I have not read the book and will not do so. Non-Catholic materials are not without value, but they can be dangerous. The unfortunate thing is that they sometimes contain things that are contrary to Catholic teaching. This may not be the case with this book, but why take chances?

I would suggest using only Catholic materials. I think Steve Wood may have materials that will provide your group with what you need.

Take a look at Steve Wood’s website at:

You can also look online for reviews of Wild at Heart. Read the negative ones as well as those that are positive. This may give you some insights as to its ultimate value.

The only real issue I think I have with this is the possible perception that one denomination is just the same as the other because is memory serves me well, Chuckie is not a virulent anti-Catholic.

Here is link I ran across today that I found interesting:

Since it is a Protestant-based book, it likely contains less theological depth than a Catholic publication. Protestant theology is considerably different from ours. I don’t know the book, but It could condone birth control or other behaviors that are sinful. With the largest church in the world, containing the most members and writers, you’d think we wouldn’t have to water our faith down just to appeal to a men’s group. There is better available.

Having read a number of John Eldredge’s books, I think I can safely say in his defense that he is not anti-Catholic. A previous comment about the books having relatively shallow theology is spot-on, however. A look around at the book reviews on the Internet shows that some of Eldredge’s harshest critics are also virulently anti-Catholic. (Not anti-Catholic in the sense that “they’re good people, but they’re just plain wrong about purgatory/transubstantiation/papal authority”, but anti-Catholic in the Chick tract “the members of this Satanist cult that claims to be Christian will deservedly burn in hell” sense)

Eldredge’s general thesis is that God is calls every man to be an example of “strength in action” in the service of building the Kingdom of God. He cites a lot of examples from movies and popular culture, and he takes a fair amount of criticism from both sides of the spectrum for this. He argues that one reason why movies like Braveheart, The Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, etc. resonate so well with men is that they all touch a nerve regarding men’s deepest desires about how they should act and live. Eldredge says that this isn’t coincidence, that God really does want you to have the same courage and strength of character as William Wallace, Aragorn, and Maximus.

His books are a fairly decent read, but they miss the mark somewhat for most Catholics. Still, there is a real opportunity here to take some useful principles on masculinity and spiritual combat from Eldredge, back it up with more rigorous theology, and develop a vibrant, pro-active, Catholic men’s ministry.

While I am by no means saying that he endorses any of John Eldredge’s works, I think that Father John Corapi is a pretty good example of what you would get if you cross an orthodox Catholic priest with Eldredge’s ideas on Christian masulinity.

Here is a link to a thread in a different subforum here about using Eldredge’s work in a Catholic men’s ministry. I include this link only because I cannot make both this thread and the other one appear in the same listing of results, even though they are about the same topic!

I have heard that the book suggests two somewhat unsettling ideas: that a human being’s heart is as it should be and needs no changing inside, and that only males have a deep drive to be heroes (not true, you’re getting that from the horse’s mouth right here).
That’s why a lot of evangelicals don’t use it in their own groups.
I know of groups that are called “Bible study groups” that actually studied Bondage Breakers, A Heart Like His, The Purpose Driven Life, some books about financial responsibility and one about how the Bible says women don’t need respect and men shouldn’t give it and that men don’t need love and women shouldn’t give it (which I already knew isn’t true from my own scattered Scripture knowledge and apparently church leaders didn’t, so I helped a friend with the chapter-and-verse of the refutation of the thesis).
I wonder why they call these groups “Bible study groups” if they actually study something else, not the Bible.

Thank you, Celticsword, for calling that to our attention. I’ve moved the thread from the Non-Catholic forum into Popular Media and then merged it with this current thread since it appears to be a better fit for Popular Media.

A frequent criticism of Eldredge is that he completely blurs the line between theology and modern pop-psychology on masculinity.

With regards to your first point, I think the issue stems from Eldredge’s fairly common Protestant assertion of “Once saved, always saved”. He frequently urges men not to worry about their sin, because their sin has been dealt with through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He then argues that because of this, all men have a new heart in Christ, and therefore are not the desperately wicked creatures that they may have been led to believe themselves to be.

As Catholics, we believe that all people have the ability to reject God at any time in their lives, thus undoing any previous “saving”. So while all of your sins committed before your baptism are completely washed away (a lot of good that does for those of us who were baptized when we were only a few weeks old ;)), and while you’ve received absolution for sins committed prior to your last Confession, you are still held fully accountable for what you do after walking out of that confessional.

In Eldredge’s defense, however, I have met all too many Catholic men who seem content to wallow in the assertion that they are rotten to the Core, continue with their sinful ways, go to Confession occasionally, and leave it at that:
“I routinely spend my spare time viewing pornography and neglecting my wife. Well, I’m just a sinner at heart, and this is just simply who I am. I’ll just have to go to Confession again this Saturday.”

Buried somewhere in Eldredge’s message, however, is a useful thought. Yes, you are a sinner, but forgiveness is there for asking. Not only that, but God is calling all men (and women, but more on that later) to leave their sinful ways behind and start living the message of the Gospels.God wants you to be good. So “be a man”: cancel your pornography subscriptions, break off your extra-marital affair, start being a proper husband to your wife, a proper father to your children, and go out into the world and be the spiritually strong and holy man that God is calling you to become. Choose this path, and God will supply you with the grace and strength you need to overcome temptation.

The board just told me that my post was too long, so I’ve broken it in two.

Continuing the previous post…

So, I gather that you are a woman with a deep drive to be a hero? If so, cool! :thumbsup:

There is a book that Eldredge has co-authored with his wife Stasi called Captivating, which is kind of like a female version of Wild at Heart.

This is where Eldredge crosses over in pop psychology, I think. He argues (and he is far from the only author to do so) that all men and all women, deep down have the same basic fear or question.

For men, it’s a fear of failure or of not measuring up. Even a financially successful 45-year-old man might still hear the voice of the little 10-year-old kid inside, fearing "I’m not man enough for this job. They’ll discover that I actually have no idea what I’m doing at any moment now, and it will all come crashing down."
Am I man enough? Do I have what it takes? Am I really a man or just a 40-year-old helpless kid pretending to be one? Am I smart enough? Am I strong enough? Can I provide for my family well enough? Men who give in to these self-doubts either become passive sadsacks, or go to the opposite extreme and become abusive “macho men”.

You get the idea. And, from my own personal experience, that’s actually a pretty good analysis of the psyche of myself and a lot of men I know.

For women, it’s a fear of abandonment or of not being loved. Or even, the fear that you actually are not lovable. That no one finds you beautiful, lovable, or…captivating (hence the title of the book). That no one is willing to pursue you or fight for you because you, quite simply, are just not worth the effort. Women who give in to these self-doubts either become mousy wallflowers who never stand up for themselves and stay in abusive relationships, or they become cold-hearted, ruthless Femi-nazi types that deny any and all sense of vulnerability. In short, they become like Type A personality men.

Another idea I’ve read from both Eldredge and others is that a lot of women feel that in a Great Adventure, they want to be a crucial and irreplaceable part. All too often for men, the women aren’t part of the adventure, they are the adventure. They don’t want to be a “prize” for the hero as he rescues the damsel, slays the dragon, and overthrows the wicked king. Rather, after the hero springs them from the tower, they want to guide him down the secret path that only they know that leads into the dragon’s lair. They want to fight with him as he retakes the kingdom, and they want him to win their hearts by the end.

Of course, though, I’m a man, not a woman. So this last part has been purely academic on my part. I have no clue as to whether or not any of this is actually true with regards to women.

Probably because they are picking and choosing appropriate passages from appropriate Biblical translations to support their theses. Kind of like with statistics, you can find a Biblical verse that will tell you whatever you want to hear. It’s all in the interpretation. If you don’t like the interpretation, then break off from your church and form a new one based around your new interpretation.

And now we have thousands of different Protestant churches in the U.S. alone, almost none of whom can agree on the interpretation of Scripture. :rolleyes:

My dh read it and I started reading part of it. I found the idea that all women have some kind of ‘hurt’ that their man is supposed to save them from was a little annoying. I am far from a feminist, but I’ve also never felt abandoned, offended, trapped by a dragon I need rescuing from, etc. I’ve lived a perfectly ordinary life.

That said, the book was written for men and I know my dh got some good insights out of it. However, even before converting to Catholicism, he was done with the book and had no trouble getting rid of it. His final response was that it was much more pop pyschology than Christian teaching.

Perhaps you and the men’s group would get more out of St Josemaria Escriva’s writing.

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