Man Alive: A Book Review

Men’s ministry leader Patrick Morley is an expert on men. He must be, he keeps writing books about them. The Man in the Mirror sold more than three million copies, he has a Bible study with 5000 men (okay most of those watch the webcast) and he has had coffee with thousands of guys. He also has a Ph.D in management and races his 1974 Porsche 911 for sport. All this tells me, he knows and understands what it means to be a man!

Okay, so the case for Morely’s expertise may be laid on a little thick, the proof is in the pudding. Does Man Alive prove his mastery over manhood? Well yes and no. Morely is complementarian in his approach to gender roles (which I am not) but most of his advice is sound. A lot of what he says would applies equally to both genders but men behaving badly don’t always get the message. His ‘seven primal needs’ which, when addressed, can transform your spiritual life can be summarized as follows: the need for community, the need for faith in a benevolent God, that one’s life has purpose, that there is freedom from sin/addictions, the need for transcendence, the need for love/intimacy.

None of these needs seem particularly gender specific to me but I agree with Morely that if you address these needs of the soul, you will become a better man (providing you already are a man, otherwise I can’t help you). This book is full of personal stories and stories of men that Morely has been privileged to walk alongside. It is evident that Morely has helped men come out of their isolated shells, fulfill their God-given potential, and grow in their love for God and others. So, yes, Morely has some good stuff to say here.
I agree with Morely that part of what men want is to love and be loved, do something significant with our lives, and that we were created for transcendence.

Where I would critique Man Alive is that Morely seems to apply an instrumental and formulaic approach to spiritual transformation. The stories shared here are all victory stories. Sometimes men follow God and their lives still fall apart. With Morely, I trust in God’s providential care, but I wonder how helpful this book would be for those guys who have been ‘doing the steps’ but are still stuck in the mire. I know, because Morely tells me, that he has walked alongside men facing divorce, contemplating suicide, and other really bad stuff. So I know he probably sees the reality of things, but what is presented here is a little too simplistic.

That being said, this book would be read profitably in church men’s groups and ministries. Each chapter has questions for reflection and discussion and there is a brief leader’s guide at the back of the book (and a two page bio of all Morely’s accomplishments).

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review