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Wildmen, Warriors and Kings:

Masculine Spirituality and the Bible

by Patrick M. Arnold
Book review copyright © 1997 by Bert H. Hoff

Arnold, Patrick M., Wildmen, Warriors and Kings: Masculine Spirituality and the Bible. New York: Crossroad, 1991)(order on-line)

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Jesuit Patrick Arnold brings his sharp mind and sharp pen to bear on articulating a masculine spirituality that draws on Jewish and Christian spiritual tradition to find powerful, challenging, healing images for men as they face the dangers, stresses, and vapidity of modern life. His thesis is that although modern liberal tradition has lost awareness of male spiritual needs, and even grown hostile to them, great resources for men still lie buried in the biblical and historical tradition.

As a child Arnold encountered men who spent a lot of time in the Black Hills, who almost always had a very appealing air of wisdom and spiritual strength about them, a sense of belonging to the earth and relatedness to its creatures. "I'm not a religious man, I don't go to church, but up here in the Hills I feel close to God and I talk to him in my own words." There does not seem to be room in the modern church for these men, in part because of the mysandry in seminaries in the last decade or two. After an excellent chapter on masculine spirituality, he urges men to add "mysandry" (man-hatred)(characterized as an ideological spin-off of extreme feminism) to his private glossary of important terms and gives examples of mysandry in seminaries. One of the most compelling is the female theological professor who forbade men from speaking in her class.

The book then presents masculine archetypes from the Bible. Robert Bly, who wrote an excellent introduction, found the chapter on Jonah the Trickster particularly brilliant. Other chapters discuss Abraham the Patriarch and Pilgrim, Moses the Warrior and Magician, Solomon the King, Elijah the Wildman, Elisha the Healer, Jeremiah the Prophet, and the Lover. It concludes with a discussion of the masculinity of God. Perhaps it is this part that Robert Bly was thinking of when he describes this as "a brave, passionate, and sometimes one-sided book."

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