First, you’re probably hoping for an update about something I’ve written. The Chimaera Regiment is pretty much finished. It’s all written. It’s all edited. Except for a few typos, the book is done. It even has a tentative cover (right), and a map, too (below). It has not, however, been published.
I know, I know, it’s terribly frustrating, watching me work. “When will it be finished?” you ask, “When can I read it?” Well, as you may recall, almost two years ago I began an ill-advised and sorely underfunded Kickstarter project, about which I am definitely not bitter. The goal of this project was to produce The Chimaera Regiment as an audio-book (I believe the kids these days call them “audio weblogs” or perhaps “pod-casts”), for which I myself would be voice and guide.
The long and short of it is that this plan forges onward, without the help of crowd-funding. I have less than half the book recorded, none of it edited, and completing all of that will take some time. (Frankly, it should take less time than will pass in its pursuit, but my time is at a premium, and some things take precedence.) It promises to be a grand adventure in roaring fun with a musical soundtrack specially composed to match. Look forward to it.
When the audio-book is complete (not only completed in terms of production, but completed also in terms of performance for the masses), then the book will be published, at which time, you can buy it and read it (in your own, boring voice). Since there are 19 episodes for the audio-book, that means that it will be (A) the rest of production time, plus (B) 19 weeks of release before the printed version (or Kindle version, for that matter) is available.
Certain contests may be result in certain contest-winners receiving signed copies early. Pretend you still have an analog radio, and that anything I produce will actually be on the radio, and then remain attentive to my station by avoiding the rotating knob on the front of your hypothetical radio-wave device. (“Stay tuned!” and “Don’t touch that dial!”)
With that out of the way, I come to my second bit of happy news: my wife is with child, and after the circuit of the days, she will bring forth a son. The joy of these times seems renewed every morning, and cannot be touched by the shadows of despair. I am ecstatic. And so, with my vast array of parenting experience (I have managed to keep the child alive for about sixteen weeks, which is more than a lot of fathers can say these days), I am endeavoring to comment on an issue that stands before our culture in a way that is very poignant:
There have been a lot of books written about masculinity (especially in relation to Christianity). I’ve read plenty of them. There was Wild at Heart by Eldredge, A Young Man After God’s Own Heart by George, The Samson Syndrome by Atteberry, and probably a dozen others that I don’t remember now. You see, when I was a boy, I desperately wanted to be a man. That’s the dream, after all, of all boys: manhood. Whether we idolize our fathers or despise them, we want to be real men. And almost all of us differ on what it means to be a man. Most often, I hear two sides of this argument: “We have to stop feminizing men and attacking masculinity in this country!” versus, “The masculinity presented by society is too violent, and boys need to know that emotions are okay!”
In truth, these two positions are not opposed. As men, and as fathers, we must stand against the effeminacy of the modern man; but as men, and especially as fathers, we must stand against the violent tendencies that our high-spirited wildness seeks to engender. I recently saw a video posted on social media decrying the violence encouraged among the boys of society.
But to be respected, a man must be loved; to be respected, fear must never enter the equation, because perfect love casts out all fear. You cannot beat respect out of another man; violence only elicits fear, and fear only resembles respect among the cowardly. No amount of violence can create respect in a man who is not cowed by his fear. A man like this has courage, and stands for himself – but more importantly, he stands for others. A man who deserves respect is not the one with the biggest stick, but the one with the strongest shield.
So certainly, we must teach our sons not to respond with violence when they are emotionally slighted. Such behavior is inherently unmanly; it is an expression of the fear that someone else could humiliate you, the fear that you have no control – but the truth is that adherence to this behavior, like all sin, is to cede control. In allowing violence to take over, you place your will beneath the fire in your heart.
Ironically, effeminacy is caused by the same thing – except the feelings in charge are seen as feminine, such as tenderness and sorrow. From the perspective of the modern man, there are three emotions: happiness, sadness, and anger. Happiness is what people would have if the world were perfect; sadness is feminine; and anger is masculine. From this perspective, when a boy is sad, he is seen as effeminate; when he is angry, he is seen as masculine; when he is happy, he is seen as naïve. Since he is a boy, the modern man sees feminine as bad, masculine as good, and naïve as foolish; the only emotion encouraged is anger, and uncontrolled anger begets violence.
That is not to say that effeminacy is a figment of the gangster’s imagination. On the contrary, many of those opposed to violence make the same assumptions, only they call sadness “tenderness.” Tenderness is feminine, anger is masculine, and happiness is foolish, because the world is a hard place. Since anger leads to violence, then masculinity is bad, so femininity must be good, and all boys should be encouraged to let their tenderness control them. And it’s true – when you make your will subject to your tender emotions, you will not be violent. But you will also not be manly. Instead, you will cower when threatened, and when someone attacks you or your friends, you will be defeated without contest. And every time a teacher punishes a boy for fighting back against a bully, s/he perpetuates this problem – after all, the bully still hears about how he must be masculine, angry, and violent at home, but now the bullied learn that even self-defense will be punished.
We see here two sides of the same coin: allow your anger to control you, and you will be “masculine,” which means violent; allow your tenderness to control you, and you will be “gentle,” which means effeminate. The real solution is to attack the root of the problem: we’re still flipping the same damn coin.
Violence is not the answer; neither is pacifism. The right answer is the victory of the will. Do not let baser things rule that which was designed to rule. When your urges command your decisions, you have already lost – regardless of which urges are in command. If your violent urges rule, then you will be violent; if your tender urges rule, then you will be effeminate.
But if your will rules, you will be a man.
Our violent tendencies can be dangerous, but when tamed, they can protect the ones we love from harm. Our tenderness can weaken us if left uncontrolled, but when harnessed, it can lead us to lay down our lives for those we love – both literally and figuratively. It is not enough to die for your family; first, you must live for them.
I pray that these are the lessons I will teach my son about masculinity.