Survival School for Men

26 February 2024

4.3 MINS

“Stand true to your calling to be a man. Real women will always be relieved and grateful when men are willing to be men.” This timeless exhortation by Elisabeth Elliott, to men, well expresses how women feel about the male of the species.

As men, we should all take heart from her words. Perhaps that is why bestselling manhood author John Eldredge brought his live-in Survival School for men to Australia a few weeks ago.

It was an invitation-only event for a relatively small group of leaders in the men’s movement, so Nat and I were thankful to be included.


Jordan Peterson said, “The masculine spirit is under assault. It’s obvious.” I agree with him, and I think that is another reason why John Eldredge brought his Survival School to Australia. I did not need a lot of encouragement to get there, but like good wine, John Eldredge gets better with age.

John Eldredge is the most credible voice for men in the world today. How so, Warwick, you ask? Quite simple, really. John Eldredge has written 26 books, but his 2001 breakthrough book, Wild at Heart – Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul is still the bestselling book on manhood written in the last three decades. Watch this Warrior Poet Society interview with John below.

John Eldredge’s nearest competitor, an admirable book by Robert Bly, Iron John – A Book About Men, written in 1990, has only sold just over 2 million copies, still under half of Wild at Heart sales.

Because men don’t buy books, or read books, it is a miracle that Wild at Heart is a bestseller about men, for men, and is a massive achievement. I recommend Wild at Heart highly, and I am not alone!

Check out John Eldredge below, answering questions from journalist Jonathan Merrit in an article called “15 Years After Wild at Heart“.

Jonathan Merritt: When you look back, what do you think made Wild at Heart resonate with so many people?Wild at Heart – Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul

John Eldredge: Wild at Heart came at a critical moment in our culture; men and women were hungry for some straight talk about gender. We’d lived through the caricatures of the John Wayne and Donna Reed era, followed by the reaction of the feminist movement, and honestly, neither were satisfying. It left a lot of women and men wondering about the reality they found in their lives – that there are deep and soulful differences between men and women and what does it look like to honour one another while preserving the dignity of masculinity and femininity?

Jonathan Merritt: Some of your critics charge that your view of gender – with men as something of a knight in shining armour and women as something of a damsel in distress – is antiquated and possibly damaging. How do you respond?

John Eldredge: Firstly, my response is — that’s not my view of gender. We had been so conditioned by political correctness that for someone to step forward and say, “men are different than women” caused a knee-jerk reaction. Almost as if any attempt to talk about the masculine, in particular, was going to throw us back to the stone ages.

At the same time, we had all those talk shows where you found women asking, “Where are the real men? Why won’t men commit? Why won’t men treat us with dignity?” The point I am making about masculinity is this: Men bear a soulful strength, and that strength needs honouring and cultivating. The firefighters that ran up the stairs in the World Trade Center when everyone else was running down – that kind of courage is exactly what you want to cultivate in boys and men. You don’t cultivate it by telling them all strength is bad.

Jonathan Merritt: I know a lot of men who don’t fit into the traditional rough-and-tumble, domineering understanding of masculinity. What does Wild at Heart have to say them?

John EldredgeWild at Heart isn’t about being a lumberjack. I’m an artist; I never played college football; I don’t enjoy watching hockey. This isn’t a throwback to the “macho” version of masculinity. Whether a guy serves in the military or works as a musician, the core issues are always the same – courage, bravery, self-sacrifice. It takes courage to pursue a woman, to pursue a PhD, to start a record company or a private school.

At our core, men share a lot of things in common. One of the critical issues in any boy’s life is his search for validation and his need for a good father. When you listen to men talk about their deepest wounds, they are always around the issue of validation – of not believing they are a man. Wild at Heart is actually a very tender book, tenderly honest about the wounds men carry. If you can help a man heal from those wounds, he can live as a truly good man.

Jonathan Merritt: What would you change about Wild at Heart if you were writing it today? Anything?

John Eldredge: Here’s the fascinating thing – the proof is in the pudding. Wild at Heart is still the #1 book for men in spirituality on Amazon. We still fill every conference we hold. More importantly, Wild at Heart is being used in prisons all over the world to help men; it is being taught in Catholic monasteries in Europe and in rural villages in Uganda. What does that story say? There are deep and lasting truths about men that transcend time and culture.

More importantly, the thousands of letters we receive every year are stories of men who have become good dads, loving husbands; stories of men getting free from addiction and living a life of genuine integrity. Isn’t that what society needs? Human trafficking and particularly the sex trade are fuelled largely by men with evil intent, men with deeply distorted sexuality. If you can heal a man’s soul, he doesn’t support that industry. That is our only hope for lasting justice.


There is no doubt about it. John Eldredge has the runs on the board. Wild at Heart is worth the read or the listen. Buy it here.

Yours for Courageous Men,
Warwick Marsh

PS: On Friday, we received the sad news that Barry Williams from Canberra, who started Lone Fathers over 51 years ago, has passed away. Barry is a true hero and father to the Australian Men’s Movement. We will keep you informed.

Barry Williams Lifetime Award for Sacrifical Service for Australian Men with Warwick Marsh


Originally published at Dads4Kids.

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One Comment

  1. Kim Howe 26 February 2024 at 10:11 am - Reply

    A number of years ago, I was responsible for a men’s Bible study. I was advised by the leadership that we were studying the book “Wild at Heart” and using an associated video series. I was rather shocked to find the very fist quotation of scripture in the book was actually a misquoting. It said, “The heart of a man is like a wild river”, attributing it to the NKJV. The verse reads, “Counsel in the heart of a man is like a deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.” (Proverbs 20:5 NKJV)

    Sadly, having studied the book and watched through the video series you find the author is happy to quote fragments of verses from a multitude of Bible versions to justify whatever comes into his head – usually popular psychological nonsense, though occasionally mixed with something useful and biblical.

    I would suggest people treat his writing with great care. This is the Counsel I suggest to men of understanding.

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