Vision Forum Builds “Manhood” in the Wilderness

I talked just the other day about the strict emphasis leading Christian Patriarchy organization Vision Forum places on gender roles. One thing I mentioned briefly was the Hazardous Journeys Society. This organization was formed in order to help boys learn to be men in a society Vision Forum views as increasingly feminized.

To be perfectly honest, the Hazardous Journeys Society makes me think of the Boy Scouts, founded during the age of British Imperialism out of concerns that civilized society was resulting in weak and sissified boys.

The Hazardous Journeys Society takes fathers and sons into the wilderness on, well, hazardous journeys. Here is the announcement of the launching of this society earlier this year. Each section – Dominion, Risk, and Manhood – is accompanied by a video staring Doug Phillips and his sons.


Christians have lost a passion for the dominion mandate. We no longer love to explore, to investigate and to wisely subdue the earth for the glory of God. We have lost our vision to “be fruitful” and we have lost our vision for the very commission for work that God first gave us. This film short DOMINION, is a dramatic presentation we hope will kindle a fire in you to see the blessing of reclaiming our exciting duties before the Lord with creation.

Leaders Must Take Risks!

True leadership requires risk taking. Men who fear taking risks will not succeed as leaders. Of course there are wise risks, and foolish risks; necessary risks and imprudent risks. Knowing the difference between the two requires wisdom. In this film short, we present the story of a father who must take calculated risks for the good of members of his family. Take a moment and watch it. It is the 2nd of the HJS Trilogy.

Maturity and Courage Comes to Those Who Seek It

How does a boy become a man? Can we expect great things from, for example, a seven year old?

My thesis is that boys are capable of much—that even a young boy can evidence the signs of manhood when he honors his father, takes responsibility and is about the business of men.

Once you remove the video game distractions, fantasy escapism, negative peer influences and other “manhood” destroyers, and you replace them with books that inculcate nobility, meaningful work, opportunities for adventure, and significant and fatherly discipleship, you will discover that the passion of most boys is to be about the business of men.

Boys are future men. And they are capable of far more than most of us are willing to give them credit.

The Hazardous Journey Society took a group into the Amazon earlier this year. They’re turning the trip into a movie, and also a virtual tour and online study course. Here is the trailer for the movie:

There are more trailers for Into the Amazon here.

One reader said this in a comment on my post about Vision Forum and gender roles:

It saddens me though, that for the most part, VF encourages boys to step outside of their box, to push themselves to fill more space, to expand their minds, while it simultaneously encourages girls to limit themselves, reducing their box to a neat homemaker role.

This comment remembers an important point: Vision Forum is pushing boys to step outside the box. I like the idea of wilderness adventures, of learning and growing and experiencing new things. But in Vision Forum’s world, these sort of adventures are only for boys. And also, Vision Forum only encourages boys to step outside of the box if the direction in which they are stepping is one that fits under words like “leadership” and “manhood.” A boy being girly or artistic? Not so much.

You may of course be wondering what Beall and the Phillips girls were doing while Doug took Justice and Honor into the wilderness. Funny you should ask! That information is behind a paywall on the website, but the main page does offer a blurb:

Beall’s Adventures for the Ladies

While you are journeying with Doug and team into the jungle, make sure to also follow Beall Phillips and her daughters Liberty, Jubilee, and Faith as they share their adventures in ancient Peruvian clothing and textile-making from the heart of the old Inca empire—Cusco. Read their exciting reports and watch their on-the-ground videos about food, local customs, and clothing.

I’m glad that Beall and the girls were at least allowed to go to South America rather than simply left at home, but I’m not surprised that their “adventures” revolved around clothing and food. Not surprised in the slightest. (Although given that Providence does not appear in the films and Virginia is left off the list for the ladies’ adventure, those two must have been left back in the U.S.)

Vision Forum’s Hazardous Journeys Society is just one more way the organization reaches backwards to imperialist narratives to build manhood in the present, and draws a strong line between men and women, and between boys and girls, as it does so. If gender roles were natural, you wouldn’t think they would have to work so hard to make them stick.


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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Alexis

    They aren’t encouraged to think outside of the box at all. They only encouraged to think inside a specific ‘non-mainstream’ box.

  • Danielle

    I have heard rumor that their “Hazardous Journeys” are really not that hazardous and they pretty much just go on established tours in these “adventurous places.” By the way, they just had a manly, masculine retreat recently:
    I have been to that “ranch” they went to many times. It is owned by Young Life and just constructed like less than 15 years ago. Its pretty much the fanciest retreat facility that I have ever seen. I don’t know how much rugged manhood you could develop staying there.

  • Sue Blue

    Pity the boy in one of these families who likes to cook, sew, read, solve puzzles, draw, paint, write, play a musical instrument, act…or – God forbid! – sing or dance. Also the girl who likes sports, is athletic, has natural leadership skills, is interested in so-called “male” careers and longs to explore the world. And what on earth is the status of a boy who is physically handicapped, say, with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy? Are they considered eunuchs or something?

    The importance these narrow-minded bigots put on whether a person has an “innie” or an “outie” between their legs is just completely ridiculous. Apparently, gender roles define a person – not their self-determination, intelligence, and talent. What insecure little patriarchs they are.

    • Staceyjw

      “The importance these narrow-minded bigots put on whether a person has an “innie” or an “outie” between their legs is just completely ridiculous.”

      I am stealing this line! it perfectly describes what I think about the topic.

  • Sue Blue

    I also find it ironic that these evolution-deniers are promoting a kind of “survival of the fittest” means of natural selection. Presumably, the more “manly” these boys can become by overcoming the supposed hardships of the wilderness, the more likely they are to become leaders in their Christian community and attract suitable Christian mates.

  • Bix

    Wow, those films are not low-budget. It’s funny that Phillips rails against “fantasy escapism”, because I was thinking that these films look like fantasy escapism. They’ve got their own little world, where they use vintage hiking boots and compasses and climbing ropes. I think there’s a very strong link to British Imperialism.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I cracked up when I read the words “Hazardous Journeys Society.” (And, yeah, I thought of the Boy Scouts too.) It just seems so ri-goddamn-diculous to make the “hazard” the entire POINT of the enterprise. I really don’t think Lewis and Clark were like “Let’s go on this journey. It will be so wonderfully hazardous!” How about the “Stupid Risks for the Lolz Society” or “Macho Grandstanding Stunts Society.” Also…”…even a young boy can evidence the signs of manhood…” Evidence? What is with the Patriarchy Movement’s obsession with “verbing” nouns? Am I the only one to notice this?

    And, okay, i’ll admit it, traditional textile making workshops etc. actually sound super-fun to me. It’s the kind of activity my dad and I would do together. Doug Philips would totally approve of that, right? :-P

    • Attackfish

      I don’t think they know the difference between “evidence” and “evince “. There’s a joke about these people homeschooling their kids on the tip of my tongue.

    • Karen

      They believe in immutable laws of morality but the rules of grammar are merely advisory. Seriously, the only places I see “between you and I” are the websites of conservative home schoolers.

      • Rilian

        Nah, lots of people make that mistake.

  • smrnda

    I kind of feel sorry for these boys, despite their fathers’ intention to make them into capable men, I’m sorry but weekend survivalist training isn’t going to make a great hook on a future resume.

    • The Other Weirdo

      I don’t think “resume” is what they are interested in here.

  • Lana Hope

    ugh, reminds me of the ATI conference in Nashville when my friends plotted together and said, “lets put blue jeans in our bags tomorrow and ask if we can go rock climbing and repelling with the boys, just for one day. The answer was not just a flat “no.” The leader promptly said, “If any of you ask to do what the boys do again, we will go and get your fathers.”

    Every girl, all 200 or 1000 or however many there were (no idea), worked on one big quilt for three days. Of course, we never saw that quilt again.

  • The Other Weirdo

    “fantasy escapism” Heh!

  • Chryssie

    this whole thing just makes me laugh! I seriously wonder what those boys, in the Hazardous Journeys Society would do if there was a real life endangering situation where real manhood would be required. It has always seemed so fake and insincere to me.

  • yewnique

    Ok, I admit I was naughty. I turned off the sound for the videos and listened to ragtime music while the video ran. The music fit.