Nurturing Voyeurism, Vibrant Sexism, And Violence: Why We Can’t (Yet) Afford To Forget About “Wild At Heart” -- By: Philip T. Duncan

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 31:1 (Winter 2017)
Article: Nurturing Voyeurism, Vibrant Sexism, And Violence: Why We Can’t (Yet) Afford To Forget About “Wild At Heart”
Author: Philip T. Duncan


Nurturing Voyeurism, Vibrant Sexism, And Violence: Why We Can’t (Yet) Afford To Forget About “Wild At Heart”1

Philip T. Duncan

Phil Duncan holds master’s degrees in both indigenous studies and linguistics and is working on his PhD in linguistics at the University of Kansas. Along with his wife Monica and their children, Phil attends Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lawrence, Kansas.

I have long deliberated the possible efficacy of another Wild at Heart critique. Although many excellent critiques arose in the years after the book’s initial release in 2001,2 it still sells unusually well, progressively working its way into churches, homes, and minds. The English language version has sold over 4.5 million copies,3 annual sales exceed 100,000,4 and it currently holds the #1 Best Seller spot in Christian Men’s Issues on Amazon.5 To date, the book has been translated into thirty languages. Beyond this, the ideologies of Wild at Heart find expression in subsequent books written by John and Stasi Eldredge, most notably Captivating,6 as well as numerous contemporary Christian works on sex and gender that display direct influence from the Eldredges’ teachings or promote similar ideas.7 Hardly a year passes without some popular Christian book on gender or parenting acknowledging the Eldredges and their teachings or listing Wild at Heart as recommended reading.8 Stephen Mansfield, for example, calls the book “masterful,” listing it first in “The Ten Essential Books for Manly Men,” because it provides men with “the tools for understanding and living out the essential passions of manhood.”9 For Eldredge himself, such steady reception confirms its timeless truth. It is somehow paradoxically “truer” than before, because “it rings eternal, and universal. God was in it then; he is in it still.”10

Perhaps, then, the unremitting popularity of the book despite multiple well-argued criticisms urges us to address its “theological and cultural vices”11 anew. Detractors may be tired of talking about Wild at Heart, but, nevertheless, the book and its ideas still find favorable reception in the Christian community. Its sustaine...

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