Right from the opening few paragraphs ‘The Map – The Way of All Great Men’ by David Murrow grabs your attention and takes you on a literary rollercoaster ride. Written in a similar style to a Dan Brown novel the pace is fast, the story full of apparent intrigue and mystery, and the writing direct and easy to read – and, I have to say, nothing like any other Christian book I have ever read to date!
But this is the appeal of the book. It has a different concept and delivery, the first half of the book is fiction, the telling of a story that is used as an illustration for the non-fiction second half of the book where Murrow gets serious with some inspirational teaching and encouragement.
And, overall, it mainly worked, for me at least.
The story is simple.
David Murrow, the writer and main character, wakes up in a barn, somewhere in the middle of Greece, having travelled half way across the world from his home in Alaska to find a map that supposedly holds the key as to why men are leaving the contemporary church across America and the rest of the Western world. Can he find this mysterious map before it is to late, and then do what he does best, write a book so that all can see and understand why this strange phenomenon is occurring.
We then find out that this story is in fact a fiction, which is used as the background for the teaching elements in the second half of the book, where Murrow outlines his thoughts about why men are losing interested in their ongoing faith and spirituality?
His conclusion is stark and direct – the church has become too feminine and female orientated. Men as a result don’t find what they need and so leave to find fulfilment elsewhere.
Where does the map come in? Well the map, according to Murrow, is the ancient map of manhood found hidden in the gospel of Matthew. This map needs to be understood and taught to men in church so that they can recognise that they can grow to be spiritual giants and yet still retain their masculinity, getting the right balance between what Murrow calls the feminine trait of submission and sacrifice with the masculine trait of strength.
This is all well and good, but I can’t help but feel that Murrow ends up describing the path of discipleship for all Christians not just men. Yes, I can understand where he is coming from, but after a while his insistence on submission and sacrifice being girly and feminine, and strength being ladish and masculine rubs a bit, and to be honest, gets a bit patronising and, dare I say it, chauvinistic.
For me, in the end, it was a good book on discipleship spoiled . Too much emphasis was put on the differences between men and women and the need for men to come to terms with their ‘feminine’ side and characteristics – and I don’t think it was necessary! Murrow could have got the same message across without it and instead could have focussed on the need for all in the church to become disciples – mastering submission, strength and sacrifice as part of their walk of faith together.
Having said all that, I really enjoyed reading the book and agree wholeheartedly with the substance if not the detail.
I would recommend this book to everyone – not just men, because there is a lot of truth in it that we all need to learn. The first half of the book is a brilliant story and one that will appeal to most readers of contemporary ‘pulp’ fiction. The second half, however, for me, should be read carefully and thoughtfully, and with 1 Thessalonians 5: 21 in mind, “Test everything. Hold onto what is good”. There is a lot of good to hold onto, but unfortunately, at times, how it is framed can be a little annoying.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the US Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
3 thoughts on “A Review: ‘The Map – The Way of All Great Men’ by David Murrow”
Thanks for the interesting review, Martin! I’d never heard of this David Morrow, so have done a bit of googling (*)… Obviously a gifted writer/ communicator. (I especially liked his 10-10 format for teaching: 10 minutes-speaker, 10 minutes-discussion in groups of 3 or 4, etc.) But am a bit concerned that, humorous as he may be, he makes a ‘manly-mountain’ out of what is actually a molehill. I mean, IS this the main reason why men/people stay away from the local church, i.e. that the gospel is presented in too feminine a way?? Are men really repulsed by intimate expressions of worship to Jesus?? I didn’t think so, but being female, I’m no authority here… Martin, and all my brothers out there, please tell me what you honestly think! (*) e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zTgxGZ396k http://texas4palin.blogspot.com/2009/06/who-is-david-murrow.html (!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhfOIoBjchY
I’m not sure that Morrow has it right on this one. Let’s face it, both men AND women seem to find church a challenge these days. Looking at the gender stuff is perhaps a starting point for exploring the reasons why people struggle to connect with the gospel, but it’s only that – a start point. (And you have to start somewhere – fair enough).Although the balance is shifting, for a long time church was male dominated and male orientated, yet it didn’t put off the ladies. I think there are many reasons why people are reluctant to set foot inside a church building, let alone respond to the gospel message. For some it MIGHT be the emphasis on sacrifice, compassion etc, but I think that applies equally to both sexes. Our consumer, me-first, throw away culture has a large part to play for sure. I’m assuming that Morrow only talks about the western church in his book? I’ve experienced vibrant, growing churches in asia (trad male dominated parts of asia at that) and observed no shortage of men. I’d love (that word – sorry chaps) to hear what the men out there really feel. Is Morrow right, or has he built a box and put you in it?
I have thought long and hard about this over the last week – and still can’t really articulate a proper answer! I don’t think there an easy one to be honest – but I will have a go at writing something to add to the discussion.Culture and contemporary history is important – and the reasons why men don’t like going to church in the UK and Europe is definately different than in the USA.If we go back 100 years men had no problem with church at all in the UK – but then we had two World Wars which changed everything. It is a historical fact that men started leaving the church after the first World War – to some degree because so many were killed – but also as a result of the horror of war in the trenches. World War 2 made it worse – and by the 1950’s the number of men in church had dropped dramatically to what it was before 1914.Over this same period and into the 1960/ 1970’s saw the rise of the feminist movement. This was a good thing for women as they starting to come out from under the cloud that held them back – mainly male dominated structures and systems.However, I think this also had an effect on the way men viewed spirituality.Women are more naturally spiritual than men and find it easier to articulate their feelings and emotions. If you leave a man to himself he will naturally deal with things internally without ever needing any reference to anyone else – men don’t talk about things because as a rule they don’t need to in order to come to terms with them. I know that this is something that women find difficult to understand.To some extent this is changing with the advent of the post-modern man – the metrosexual male – the man in touch with his feelings. But as a rule the ‘average’ UK man will go through his life avoiding as much emotional involvement as possible. The most he might get involved in is crying over winning a World Cup or Premier League – and even then that is more associated with pack mentality than emotional depth.Therefore, if men are not encouraged or forced to take responsibility then they won’t do – they will avoid making emotional or spiritual decisions if they can – hence the rise of the ‘rogue male’, grown men who live like teenagers most of their lives, playing on their PS3 and addicted to the male comradery of sport rather than taking responsibility for family and community.This is where women come in – mothers, wives/ partners and/or female friends. In the past, women needed men to navigate through a male dominated world and as such they would encourage or force their husbands/ sons etc to take responsibility for them, their families, their communities and their own spiritual lives. Now women no longer need men – they can stand up in their own right in society – and as such we see the fall away of men in church, in places of social responsibility and community – and it will continue to get worse because the average male, to be honest, just couldn’t care less.It is different in the world of sport and ‘cut-throat’ business – where agression and male bonding is paramount – and is a haven for men to be men – more concerned with the win rather than emotional involvement – shallowness rather than depth – cursory involvement rather than long term commitment.Another strand to take into account as well is the way church has changed over the last 100 years. Church now is more emotional – mainly because women are having more say in the way church is delivered. I think this is the case even in churches with a lot of men – mainly because of the influence of feminism – consciously or sub-consciously. Men who are in this environment for a while get used to it – and find it easier to open up and become more emotionally available – become more balanced! Men who come in from outside don’t necessarily find it easy – especially if they are not being pushed to come to terms with it by a mother, wife or partner.Hence the reason why men don’t like going to church :SNot sure if I am anywhere near the mark here – this is just me doing a brain dump – but hopefully the above will spark more discussion.Bless ya