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An Ecumenical Ministry in St. Patrick's Catholic Parish

Friday, January 12, 2018

Helping Men Man-up

Helping Men Man-up
In "Manhood Is Not Natural," Glenn Stanton argues that "no society can endure if it does not harness male sexual energy and teach men to take care of the children they father and the women who bear them."
As George Gilder explains pointedly in Men and Marriage, "Unlike a woman, a man has no civilized role or agenda inscribed in his body." The boy has no onboard GPS directing him toward his future. His transition into manhood can only come into being with significant, intentional work by other men. As a behavior, manhood must be learned, proven, and earned. As an identity, manhood must be bestowed by a boy's father and the community's larger fraternity of men. His mother can only affirm it. …
Maleness just happens, but manhood does not. The first is a biological event, while the second is a developed character quality. When manhood is not formed and cultivated, males fail to mature, resulting in the "perpetual adolescence" or "failure to launch" that plagues our culture. When so many men play beer pong into their forties, live in their parents' basements, play videogames twelve hours a day, and encounter women only in the form of pixels on a porn site, it seems clear that we have a manhood problem.
Stanton argues that large social problems result from this. For example:
Ghettos are not created by city planners, crime by the police, or failing health by big pharma. Each of these social ills arises by inattention to the sexual behaviors of males. If he doesn't have to marry before having sex (and potentially fathering children), the average man won't. So he hasn't. The feminization of poverty and the accompanying declines in female happiness and childhood well-being are the tragic results.
No, it's not that simple, as Stanton would be the first to admit. But it strikes me that the larger point—the need to teach manhood—is crucial for any society.
Personal Fake News
For all my vexation with Trump, I do find his candor refreshingly humorous at times. For example, in response to news reports that he may not be smart or sane, he recently replied that his campaign is evidence that he is a "very stable genius." Of course this is manifestly false, as are similar declarations by pundits about other presidential elections. As Seth Masket in The Pacific Standard notes,
Barack Obama allegedly ran "the greatest presidential campaign ever" in 2008. Bill Clinton's team produced "a carefully honed message and organized a campaign of taut, centralized discipline" in 1992. Conversely, every election defeat is taken as evidence of disorganization, incompetence, and aloofness. Pundits claimed that Hillary Clinton, whose campaign was headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, lost because she was out of touch with rural white voters.
And then adds: "But there's very little evidence to actually back up all these post-hoc narratives. Or, more accurately, there's plenty of evidence to construct any narrative you want."

What interests me is not political analysis as much as what Trump's comment reveals about human character. Who of us isn't tempted to credit our successes to our genius (although most of us have learned that saying it out loud is not posh). Constructing a narrative that makes one look good—one might call it fake news about the self.
Truth Is Not Dead Apparently
This week's long read, from Slate, forced me to reconsider some assumptions I've held about the effectiveness of contemporary media. The subtitle sums it up: "We've been told that facts have lost their power, that debunking lies only makes them stronger, and that the internet divides us. Don't believe any of it." The argument is more careful and nuanced than that, which is what for me makes the point more believable. And that helps me despair a little less about the state of America. But just a little less.
What Sort of Greeting Is This?
"Learning to Say Hello Again" is a helpful reminder to people like me—who get wrapped up their own thoughts too much of the time—about the power of a simple and warm greeting, even to complete strangers. Philosopher Doug Groothuis says it's a very metaphysical thing to do.
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

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