Father Hunger by Douglas Wilson

Those of us who had absent, distant or even abusive fathers know instinctively that “father hunger” means living with longing and insecurity.  It is imperative for us right now, as a society, to consider the role of fathers and the impact of fatherlessness.  Will we bequeath the vision of a father’s strength, generosity and wisdom to the next generation or leave only an empty, father hunger?  Douglas Wilson addresses men on this topic and challenges them to become a father after God’s own heart.

This book communicates graceful truths about many areas of masculine responsibility, from education to the workplace to church leadership.  Wilson paints the picture of a high calling and urges men to “pick it up and put it on like a coat” (p. 199). At the same time, he is unflagging in his passion for a father’s role which goes much deeper than behavior modification or preaching. “Gracious fathers lead their sons through the minefield of sin. Indulgent fathers watch their sons wander off into the minefield. Legal fathers chase them there” (p. 185).

The last several chapters, from which the quotes above were taken, contain the best stuff, in my opinion.  However, I almost did not get past the sarcastic and argumentative tone in some earlier material.  In his discussion of masculinity and gender roles, for example, Wilson labels egalitarianism a “poison” (p. 5), and defends himself against criticisms he imagines will be leveled against him by “humorless” feminists (p. 11).  Although I do not consider myself either an egalitarian or a feminist, I was put off by his abrasiveness, and I can only imagine that sincere Christians with a slightly more liberal theology could feel genuinely insulted.

Taken as a whole this book has value, but I have to offer two caveats.  First, be sure this is the book you want, because it is not a book for women about healing father hunger; it is a book for men about preventing father hunger.  Second, while any new or prospective father – any man searching for meaning and definition in his masculine role – can find direction and inspiration in these pages, there may be some who lose interest or find offense along the way.


I’ll give this book to the first person who asks for it in the comments below the ad.

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