Finding Manhood is Now a Two-Man Show

I’m excited to introduce my brother-in-law David as contributor numero dose to the Finding Manhood blog.

Oh man… this thing is slowly edging it’s self toward becoming more than just a personal spot for musing and rambling.

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Real Men Are Punctual

I recently attended the memorial service for a man who, by everyone’s account, had lived an incredibly full and blessed life of 77 years. The reverend eulogizing this fine man described his incredible gift of woodworking—of creating—and his generosity with that gift. The reverend mentioned his military service, his beekeeping, and the loving family of which he was the patriarch. The reverend listed the distinguishing aspects of his character—those qualities by which he’d be remembered by friends and family alike. Among that list was this statement:

“He was honest, punctual, and direct.”

Honesty and directness are the type of qualities I’d expect to hear listed in such a memorial, as they’re the kind of deep-rooted values that drive our major life decisions, the kind of values we’d all hope would be remarked upon when we pass.

The mention of punctuality didn’t seem to fit the category of the other two. And so, over the next few days, I asked myself two questions: First, How considerate of time must a man have to be in order for his punctuality to be remarked upon at his passing? Second, why does punctuality matter, particularly for the man trying to understand his identity?

The answers to these two questions sort of merged together in my mind into one response. For the root of this answer, I turned to an unexpected source: a corny, silly, and not particularly well-remembered movie, Blast from the Past. Admittedly, it’s not the place I’d normally expect to find the answer to any meaningful question, but there my memory leads me.

“Manners are a way of showing other people we care about them.”
-Adam (Brendan Fraser)

I think we can agree that this aphorism is intuitively true. Next, we can also agree that punctuality is part of manners. The transitive property then tells us that punctuality is a way of showing other people we care about them.

A punctual man is telling others through his timeliness that he cares about them, that he respects their time and their obligations enough to be where he said he’d be when he said he’d be there. Such a man merits the utmost respect—the kind of respect he’s showing others by being on time, all the time.

A punctual man also understands what tardiness implies about his own identity. He recognizes what a consistently late man is. A consistently late man isn’t malicious, nor is he odious. But he just isn’t aware. He isn’t foresighted. He’s a bit selfish. He’s somewhat careless.

So punctuality provides us with two opportunities. One, to show that we—as real men—care about others. Two, to show that we understand who we are and who we want to be.

A New Kind of Evangelism

“Silence every radio and television preacher, stop every evangelical book or tract from being published, take down every evangelical website from the web and simply ask Christians to show one tangible expression of Jesus’ love to another person every day. The world and all it’s people would be far better off.”

-David Di Sabatino via “The Younger Evangelicals” (the book by Robert Webber, not the band of similar name… the lead singer of which I happen to be distantly related to)

Or maybe it’s not so new after all. Perhaps it’s actually a rediscovering of an ancient form of evangelism that was somehow lost in the not too distant past.

A lot of people worry about the future of the church. And yet, when I talk to young people, this idea really resonates with them. If this type of evangelism actually catches on in the broader Christian community and doesn’t simply become a phase that today’s young people eventually grow out of, I don’t worry about the future of the church at all.

P.S. I realize this post is a bit off-topic compared to the usual topics I tend to tackle on the blog, but I’m a firm believer in the idea that a real man believes in and draws his strength from A) a higher power and B) being a part of a growing and vibrant community of other people who also look to a higher power for strength and redemption. For me, Jesus Christ is my higher power and his church is my community.

Real Men are Fighters

A real man is a fighter.

He fights… for what’s right, for the people he cares about, for the power of love, against adversity, to make a difference. He fights… for the cause, for answers, for truth, for honor, for justice. He fights fires. He fights apathy. He fights for his life.

He fights in France and he fights on the oceans and the seas. He fights with growing confidence and growing strength. He fights on the beaches and the landing grounds, in the fields, in the streets, and in the hills. He never surrenders.

The strength of his hands may be required from time to time, but his fight is not physical. He does not fight for bragging rights or to prove someone else wrong. He does not fight for the sake of fighting itself. He does not fight in a fit of rage.

He fights for principles and values. For people, not things. He fights the good fight and though he may be fueled by passion, he’s bridled by experience and tempered with wisdom. He knows that the most powerful weapons in any fight are the ones that no one actually sees him use.

Real men are fighters.

P.S. Fighting in France has nothing to do with being a real man. I just thought this was a good opportunity to quote… er… uh paraphrase Winston Churchill.

Songs that speak to my heart as a man: El Paso

DISCLAIMER: Just because a song speaks to my heart does not necessarily mean I espouse the same values it does nor does it mean that I condone the behavior of any of the song’s characters. That said,

Oh man… I can’t say enough about this one. It’s got all the major themes that speak to the heart of a man.

A beautiful maiden… a passionate love a cowboy’s willing to fight for… heartache from lost love that’s bigger than the fear of death… split second decision making that is rash at best… regret. Add all that together and combine it with a hauntingly sweet Mexican western melody and you really do have a song for the ages.

As always, I do enjoy a good Wikipedia quote and whoever created the entry for El Paso did an outstanding job summarizing the song:

The song is a first-person narrative told by a cowboy who is in El Paso, Texas, in the days of the Wild West. He falls in love with Feleena, at Rosa’s Cantina dancing. When another man makes advances on “wicked Feleena”, the narrator guns down the challenger, then flees El Paso for fear of being hanged for murder or killed in revenge by his victim’s friends. He hides out in the “badlands of New Mexico”.

The narrator switches from the past tense to the present tense for the remainder of the song, describing the yearning that drives him to return to El Paso in the face of almost certain death: “It’s been so long since I’ve seen the young maiden / My love is stronger than my fear of death”. Upon entering the town, he is attacked and fatally wounded by a posse, but the cowboy is found by Feleena, and he dies in her arms.

The funny thing about this song is that even as he’s dying in her arms at the end, it’s not a sad song. I find myself saying, “Well of course that’s how it should end. What other choice did he have?”

El Paso is full of wisdom if you listen for it. It’s a reminder to think before acting. It’s motivation to love deeper. It calls us to be willing to sacrifice for things that really matter. This is one of those songs that I really could listen to on repeat for hours and hours. It’s just that good.

The song and lyrics are included below in case you grew up on another planet and have never heard it.

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl
Nighttime would find me in Rosa’s cantina
Music would play and Feleena would whirl

Blacker than night were the eyes of Feleena
Wicked and evil while casting her spell
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden
I was in love, but in vain I could tell

One night a wild young cowboy came in
Wild as the West Texas wind
Dashing and daring, a drink he was sharing
With wicked Feleena, the girl that I loved

So in anger
I challenged his right for the love of this maiden
Down went his hand for the gun that he wore
My challenge was answered in less than a heartbeat
The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor

Just for a moment I stood there in silence
Shocked by the foul, evil deed I had done
Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there
I had but one chance and that was to run

Out through the back door of Rosa’s I ran
Out where the horses were tied
I caught a good one, it looked like it could run
Up on its back and away I did ride

Just as fast as
I could from the West Texas town of El Paso
Out to the badlands of New Mexico

Back in El Paso my life would be worthless
Everything’s gone in life, nothing is left
It’s been so long since I’ve seen the young maiden
My love is stronger than my fear of death

I saddle up and away I did go
Riding alone in the dark
Maybe tomorrow a bullet will find me
Tonight nothing’s worse than this pain in my heart

And at last here
I am on the hill overlooking El Paso
I can see Rosa’s cantina below
My love is strong and it pushes me onward
Down off the hill to Feleena I go

Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys
Off to my left are a dozen and more
Shouting and shooting I can’t let them catch me
I have to make it to Rosa’s back door

Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel
A deep burning pain in my side
Though I am trying to stay in the saddle
I’m getting weary, unable to ride

But my love for
Feleena is strong, and I rise where I’ve fallen
Though I am weary I can’t stop to rest
I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle
I feel the bullet go deep in my chest

From out of nowhere Feleena has found me
Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side
Cradled by two loving arms that I’ll die for
One little kiss and Feleena, goodbye

Real Men and Expiration Dates

A real man is not afraid to eat or drink something that’s past the expiration date.

Realizing that expiration dates are just a clever marketing ploy created by food and drink manufactures to sell more product, a real man throws caution to the wind and laughs in the face of the few small numbers lightly printed on the packaging of his sustenance.

A real man knows that food past it’s expiration date is simply a little further down the product chain.

Expired milk is sour cream. Expired sour cream is cheese. Expired cheese is blue cheese. When you order a steak at a fine restaurant, what are you getting? That’s right, aged beef. Sometimes they even serve it with blue cheese crumbles on top. Expired grape juice is red wine. Expired red wine is vinegar. Expired vinegar is… well, you get the point.

Disagree? Fair enough. That’s your prerogative. But consider this: It’s not like the expiration date is a poison warning. I see no skull and crossbone in those numbers. What’s the worst that could happen?