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Book Reviews > Christian Living > Poems for Patriarchs: The Verse and Prose of Christian Manhood

Ray VanNeste

Ray VanNeste
Director of the RC Ryan Center for Biblical Studies and Assistant Professor of Christian Studies

Poems for Patriarchs: The Verse and Prose of Christian Manhood
Phillips, Douglas W. (ed.)
Details: 2001, The Vision Forum, Amazon.comISBN: 1929241453
Posted: September 23, 2003

This is an excellent book! In a day when there is great confusion about manhood where it is either despised or what is gloried in is a false caricature, this book presents a compelling vision of what manhood ought to be. I found myself moved, compelled, challenged, humbled and emboldened.

Douglas Phillips through his ministry, Vision Forum, has sought in many ways to restore a vision for biblical manhood among other things. This book is an outgrowth of this mission. In the book he has collected key poems (and a few prose items) which discuss various aspects of a man’s calling such as boyhood, sonship, marriage, fatherhood and heroism. He includes classic poems from Wordsworth, Cowper, Guest and others as well as his own compositions and lesser known pieces. One thing that could enhance the book would be an index of authors.

The purpose of the book can best be expressed by some excerpts from the introduction.

"Over the years I have come to believe that one reason men lack vision is because they lack poetry in their lives. Men no longer sing or recite inspirational verse. Our boys are no longer required to memorize the great psalms, hymns and poems of Christian manhood. The transformation of poetry from ennobling to coarse, the banal, or the irrelevant is as much a sign of our national loss of manhood as it is of the decline of decency and civilization. …"

"Poems for Patriarchs was born out of a conviction that the urgent need of the hour is for sturdy men who will sacrificially lead their families with vision. The very concept of patriarchy presupposes faithfulness, service, sacrifice, fatherhood, and multi-generational vision. …"

I hope the reader will find among the diverse prose and poetry to follow, ample sources of inspiration and delight to bless the soul and build the family. It is my prayer that this small unpretentious selection of prose and poetry will serve as a reminder of the greatness of the biblical call for men to be loving fathers, devoted husbands, and true patriarchs of their household.

I believe Phillips accomplishes his objective well. The reading of some of these poems often helps me come back to my first commitments which are so easily blurred in a hectic world. They stir my soul as I encounter anew the noble vision of manhood which is sorely lacking in the world around me. They stiffen my resolve as I face battles ahead. And they excite me afresh in the task of passing this vision on to my four little boys.

This book would make a great gift for men in our churches to encourage them to take up the mantle of manhood. If they, like many, doubt whether manhood and poetry can co-exist point them first to the section on heroism and bravery.

Ray Van Neste

Union University