Thursday, July 06, 2017

Wild, Man

5 Things I Appreciate About the New Books on Manhood from Zeke Pipher

All this week, I’ve been promoting The Wild Man fable and Wild Mountain Tribe by Zeke Pipher [read our interview here]. In fact, I’m giving away a signed set tomorrow morning (enter by 11:59 tonight!). I’m pleased to do this because I applaud what Zeke is trying to do with these new resources for followers of Jesus Christ.

I haven’t had the time or mental bandwidth to write a full review, but here is a quick list of some of the things I appreciate the most about Zeke’s “wild” books:

1. In writing The Wild Man and Wild Mountain Tribe, Zeke is doing his part to raise up godly men.

It’s easy to bemoan the lack of godly men in this world. I could quickly dash off a paragraph about the pitfalls and failings of “failure-to-launch” males, no problem. But it’s much more difficult to see the problem and then do something constructive about it. Zeke has “manned-up” and done the harder thing, creating something valuable that can be used by others to raise up godly men. I love that he wrote the simple, creative story for his son Aiden in the first place as an exercise in faithful fathering. As the father of 3 growing boys, I am encouraged by Zeke’s example to do my own part.

2. Zeke’s books are a valiant attempt at capturing masculinity.

It’s also hard to get the message of manhood right. Not only does the world offer many false and twisted versions of masculinity, but even when you’re trying to be biblical, there are various extremes that are tempting to fall into. I’m glad that Zeke has taken up the challenge of leading the expedition through the minefield. I love that he calls it the “quest to capture masculinity.” We won’t get everything right, but we are aiming in the right direction. And we’re doing it together.

3. Zeke knows that masculinity is not one-size-fits all.

People who write about manhood often try to pigeonhole all men into one mold. But God didn’t make us that way. He’s much more creative than that! I get frustrated when I read books on biblical masculinity that miss out on the inventive and diverse variations of faithful godly masculinity that are possible. Not all men look or act the same. And a lot of what we think is “masculine” is actually just culturally condition preferences.

Zeke gets that. So while his main characters in the fable do some “traditionally” manly things like hunting, fishing, or sleeping outdoors, he is also careful to not stereotype, especially in the guidebook.

In fact, Zeke has a introductory word on masculinity in Wild Mountain Tribe that says it really well:
In The Wild Man fable, masculinity is represented by hair and physical strength. However, you do not need to have a beard or large biceps to be masculine. Many of the young men who read The Wild Man and Wild Mountain Tribe are several years away from being able to grow facial hair or bench press impressive weights. Likewise, many of the older men who read these books have lost the thick hair and physical abilities of their youth. Neither situation limits a man’s opportunity to be wild. Many authors and speakers have reduced the definition of masculinity down to haircuts, clothing styles, and physical accomplishments. This narrow, external-focused explanation of masculinity pushes many of our manliest men out of the category, and that is a sad loss. To be masculine is to carry the right vision, do the right things, and follow the right King. Being masculine does involve being strong, but strength takes many forms. For this reason, the fraternity of wild men is varied, abundant, and multi-sided. You will find that it has plenty of room for your style, abilities, and skill-set as a man.
4. Zeke’s vision of manhood is biblical, not cultural.

Another way of saying this is that the vision of manhood that Zeke is developing and promoting is biblical, not cultural. If it’s not about being a one-size-fits-all kind of man, what kind of man is Zeke trying to get us to be?

In a word: Christlike.

Look at the list of manly virtues that Wild Mountain tribes will discuss when they get together and you will find a very counter-cultural set of values, including grace, honesty, humility, self-control, responsibility, proactiveness, protectiveness, courage, faithfulness, wisdom, discipline, submissiveness. Oh, what the Lord could do with a generation of men like that!

5. Zeke’s vision is the raising up of a generation (or more!) of wild, but not savage, men.

To tell you the truth, I was not “wild” about the adjective Zeke used to sum up his project.

I told him so when I first read it back in March. For me, “wild” came with too much baggage from other books with similar themes (but different visions) and sounded too...I don’t know...“wild.”

But Zeke has won me over to using this language by doing three things:

First, Zeke reminds me that God Himself is not domesticated. In the words of C.S. Lewis about his stories’ Christ-figure, Aslan is not a “tame Lion.” He is not safe, but He’s good.

Second, Zeke paints a picture of what “wild” means in the context of his fable and the guidebook, and it’s really good. I want to be like Zeke’s Ancient Man and Wild Man. They may seem scary at first, but I actually want men like that around me and walking with me through life. If that’s “wild,” then sign me up!

And third, Zeke explains in the very first week of Wild Mountain Tribe the difference between being savage men “brutish, rude, and cruel” with being wild men “powerful, and even at times fierce, but they are always kind and self-controlled” (pgs. 17-18). That contrast was really helpful for understanding what Zeke was trying to convey.

So, I’m glad that Zeke worked in a few of my suggestions for improving these books–his humility is another mark of manliness!–but I’m also glad that he’s retained the adjective “wild.”

So that now I can tell guys who ask me what I thought of Zeke’s new book, I can honestly say, “It’s wild, man, truly wild.”


Thank you for this kind, thoughtful review, Matt! - Zeke Pipher

You're welcome, Zeke! I hope it helps get the word out about your books and, more importantly, that more godly men are raised up because of it.