Writers can’t control how readers interpret the words they write.
It is something Christian author John Eldredge, of Colorado Springs, has learned first-hand.
“It brings me sorrow and anger to know they are doing this,” Eldredge said Friday in a statement, “and I renounce their use of my words in this way.”
Eldredge is lamenting the use of his words by a Mexican gang of cold-blooded killers called La Familia.
La Familia is a notorious drug cartel founded in 2006 in Michoacan, Mexico, and is known for its brutal slayings of detractors.
Mexican authorities have issued a report on the group, which includes the finding that Eldredge’s 2001 book, ”Wild at Heart,” is required reading for gang members. Spanish translations of the book have been discoverd in La Familia residences by police authorities conducting raids, McClatchy Newspapers reports.
Eldredge leads Ransomed Heart, a Springs ministry dedicated to helping men regain their masculinity and become adventurers in life. In “Wild at Heart,” he writes approvingly of men’s innate love of weapons, combat and hunting.
“Aggression is part of the masculine design; we are hardwired for it,” Eldredge writes. “If we believe that man is made in the image of God, then we would do well to remember that ‘the Lord is a warrior (Exodus 15:3).’”
When the macho passages in ”Wild at Heart” are read in context, it’s apparent that Eldridge’s animosity is toward what he sees as society’s emasculation of the male. His remedy is physical adventures in nature and an embracing of the Bible.
“If (La Familia members) actually read the book,” Eldredge said, “they would know that submission to Jesus is central to the entire message. They seemed to have missed the central point, which gives context to everything else.”
La Familia operates a drug operation that stretches across Michoacan. It has about 65,000 farmers on its payroll who grow cannabis in the state, McClatchy reports. It’s control in Michoacan is so great that it has the ability to monitor state government and police activity to an insider’s level.
The drug cartel is known not only for its numerous assassinations and beheadings of its enemies. It’s also known for its professed adherence to Christianity, family values and giving back to the community. La Familia has helped hundreds of the poor pay their medical expenses, The New Yorker magazine reports. It has also established mango and avocado farms that employ hundreds.
La Familia leader Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, who has a $2 million bounty on him, recently wrote a Christian book called “Thoughts.”
“If you want to say, ‘I Love you!’ to those who surround you and to your friends, say it today,” the drug lord writes, according to McClatchy.
Murders by the organization are referred to as ”divine justice” by Gonzalez.
The Mexican gang tends to recruit jobless and troubled young men seeking direction. ”They bring in motivational speakers to their indoctrination sessions,” Mexico scholar George W. Grayson told McClatchy. “‘You can take your life in your own hands. You can chart your future.’”
This theme of making the most of one’s life is echoed again and again in “Wild at Heart.”
Every man must have “a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue and an adventure to live,” Eldredge writes.