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Return to Father:

Archetypal Dimensions of the Patriarch

by Gregory Max Vogt
Book review copyright © 1997 by Bert H. Hoff

Gregory Max Vogt, Return to Father: Archetypal Dimensions of the Patriarch. (Dallas, TX: Spring, 1991) (order on-line)

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This is one of those books that can make you feel good about being a man. "Patriarchy" has come to be a dirty word -- responsible for all the ills of the world. But as the author points out, most men alive remember a time when the word was used as a term of distinction for a founder of a town, an organization, an institution, or a school of thought. A particular kind of patriarchy has been responsible for an attitude and actin of cruel exploitation of others, particularly of women and children. Traditional patriarchy aspires to domination by conscious control of all people, places, and things, organic and inorganic.

But to define patriarchy so narrowly misses the richness of the figure and condemns the thinker to the same kind of one-up, one-down thinking that he or she is repudiating in the patriarch. Mr. Vogt offers us a vision of "homologous" patriarchy, which honors a different experience of the strength and wisdom of the father. A homologous view of the universe does not see things apart and in conflict with each other, but sees reflection, similarity, parallel, echo, reverberating through all things. Homologous patriarchy is a pattern of prowess, competition and strength exercised for the development of inner and outer man for the good of personal excellence and for the health of the individual, the family and the community. It is not against the female but supports the value of the male body and the male self. It is self-reflective, open for comment. It is courageous and supports warrior values. It is phallic; it is erect for pleasure, production, creativity and relationships with others.

We hear of deep matrix mother Earth, womb of life, which describes the female energy role of establishing our connectedness with each other and with the cosmos. Sam Keen in The Passionate Life coins the term "patrix" to describe the ordering, structuring, and rule-giving role of male energy in our life. Vogt uses the analogy of the "man's house" into which we are initiated. He gives up pride in our great patriarchal tradition of hunter, builder, lover, philosopher, and visionary. The book is a poetic evocation of the strong, positive images of the patriarch.

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