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When author John Eldredge lived like millions of other white-collar Americans, his wife dreaded calling him at the office. He would answer the phone in his "work voice": blunt, tense, and in charge. During those years, Stasi Eldredge says, her husband told laundries to load his shirts with extra starch. Stasi gave his alter ego a playfully derisive nickname: Mr. Crisp.

Today Eldredge would rather emulate William Wallace, the sword-brandishing hero of Mel Gibson's film Braveheart, or Maximus, the single-minded warrior of Gladiator. Eldredge prefers wilderness to office space and risky adventures to living-room couches. He believes that men, as creatures made in God's image, have a God-given heart for adventure—usually starting with adventures in the outdoors, but working up to the adventure of loving a woman, even when she's furious, and the ultimate adventure of trusting God on uncertain paths.

When describing God, Eldredge often quotes the adjectives favored by biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann: "wild, dangerous, unfettered, and free." When speaking of Jesus, Eldredge describes a vigorous man of action, C. S. Lewis's untamed lion, one who would infuriate enough people to get himself crucified. And in describing the Holy Spirit, Eldredge favors a phrase from the mystics of Iona: He is the Wild Goose, always ready to lead us into uncharted and exhilarating territory.

To compare the disappearing Mr. Crisp to the man Eldredge is becoming, begin with the dust-jacket photo on his most popular book, Wild at Heart (2001). Standing amid the red sandstone bluffs at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, looking like he's pausing from a vigorous hike, Eldredge wears an improbable light blue dress shirt with a button-down collar. ...

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In the Magazine

August 2004

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