John Sowers’ book, The Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart, had been on my radar for some time before I read it. I felt like I was playing this sort of game, you know, save the best for last. I could tell right away it was going to be good and I wanted to wait until I had time to devote to it to really dig in. While I wish I had jumped on it sooner, I am glad I had the proper time to really enjoy it.
I had been following Sowers on Twitter for a while and had a sense that he and I shared a lot of the same passions about manliness, which in turn excited my reading of the book all the more. I am happy to say I wasn’t disappointed.
The Heroic Path Book Review
It would be impossible for me to write the review without referencing Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, as both to say Eldredge and Sowers have some similar purposes and style, but also that they have different ways to achieving that, and to what ends they take the reader as well. Wild at Heart was my first romance with the idea of a wild and masculine heart, and everything I read along those lines hearkens back to that book. While Eldredge and Sowers both have a very “real” or plain-English, straight-forward way of speaking — which is how men communicate, right? — they start from different points, have different expectations of the reader (as to where they are spiritually), and end at different places.
Sowers Invites You into His World…His Whole World
“Culture wishes for a milder, sweeter version: the safe man, the tame man, the shaved man, the emasculated man.” – John Sowers, The Heroic Path
What first jumped out at me with The Heroic Path was Sowers’ openness, right out of the gate. He freely shares his feelings of inadequacy and uncomfortableness in the world of men. There are a lot of guys that won’t admit that; being a man feels weird when you don’t have a gauge on your own manliness, or if you know you are lacking. Sowers lays it all out there and just gets real.
He takes us through his childhood, growing up fatherless, and while his mother and grandmother are excellent, it’s just not the same. The story takes off from there, but I like how he doesn’t talk in generalities. It’s his life, and it’s a life many of us can relate to.
The Heroic Path Doesn’t Start With a Spiritual Journey Mindset
“Manhood knocks at the drawbridge of our soul.” – John Sowers, The Heroic Path
While it may be said that everything we do has a spiritual significance, as we are spiritual beings, Sowers’ journey doesn’t start us on some mystic path; that comes later. In a way, it is a simple awakening of a man’s heart in the most natural of ways, so that he is more open to the things of God, more aware of his own inner-workings, and more acute to the sensation of some greater force knocking at the gate.
I think too often, Christians and Christian authors, try too hard to keep everything in the neat and acceptable box, the box of religion. People don’t want to be in a friggin’ box, especially men. We work in boxes, sleep in boxes, drive in boxes. We want the wildness, the openness, and the challenges that come with it. We want to face the unsafe, to just explore and discover and not be taught outright, but to be taught in that other way. Sowers gets that.
You Don’t Have to be a Christian to Read It
I can relate to Eldredge because we both have a bone to pick with religiosity and the typical church culture. To really get that you will have had to spent a good deal of time in churches. It’s kind of like watching the movie Office Space. If you have worked in the corporate world, you get it. Otherwise, the movie, which is nothing but inside jokes, makes no sense what so ever. I think Wild and Heart can speak to men whether Christian or not, but I think Sowers does a better job of cutting straight to the issues of men today, yet pulls together the pieces so they make sense for Christians as well, while still calling to non-believers. He doesn’t spend a lot of time in the psychoanalyzing of the heart or the role of man since the Garden. He just states things factually, things we already know to be true, explanation or not; it’s simply how men work and what we need that he appeals to.
To me it was manliness first, altar call second. It’s been a while since reading Wild at Heart, so I may be off here a bit.
Tons of Movie and Book References
In the first chapter alone we have references to the A-Team, Zombies, Wolverine, & The Book of Eli. Sowers continues to include references to Tolkien and other great authors as well as various manly movies and quotes. He sticks with the things that have stuck with us, which results in an ultra-relatable story.
Filled with Quotable Goodness
Because of Sowers writing style, there a ton of memorable and quotable, testosterone boosting phrases throughout the book. You can turn to just about any page and pull out something that will stick in your head just because of its adroit simplicity and manly phrasing.
That being said, those nuggets have a lot of weight to them and can be pondered for some time. Because of the speed at which some of the paragraphs flow it would be easy to overlook some of the more meaningful insights that Sowers throws in there.
I don’t want to spoil The Heroic Path by talking too much about John’s journey into manliness, which is the essence of the book. I do want to say that I highly recommend reading it as you will gain some insight into your own journey.
John Sowers is not a Navy SEAL. He isn’t a boxer, athlete, criminal mastermind, or even a mechanic. In many ways he’s your average Joe Jack, but he has done something most men feel the subtle longing for but never heed. He has found some manliness; the kind that has to be sought.
Get the book from Amazon here.
Did you read it?
If you read the book I would love to get your feedback! Respond in the comments below.