Mark Houck of “The King’s Men” speaks to the struggle for manhood in not only an emasculated world, but in a world of men desperate for masculinity. He spoke to a universal cry for real men, men of integrity who aren’t afraid to give honor, respect and self-effacing love to God, man and woman.
Men aren’t only chivalrous because they should be, in an ideal world. They just don’t rise above their natures because it makes them feel better. It is expected of them in their role as guardians, protectors, lords, masters, rulers and fathers.
The Child of Chauvinism vs Feminism
In the West, a grinding, post-Christian chauvinism created generations of resentful women, who downed the ‘antidote’ of feminism. Fearful of being hurt, ignored and unappreciated, they opted to crush their womanly natures and become men themselves. Against this rise of self-confident superwomen, surrounding themselves with the psychological weapons of political correctness, men broke like waves on the shore.
Boys grow up in the shadow of strong women, un-initiated by their disconnected fathers. And they are taught that passivity is their supreme virtue, while among women, aggression is their newfound pride.
But men weren’t designed to be women. Just as feminism was a reaction to chauvinism, a rabid aggresionism reacts to feminism. We see it all around us, through an immersion into games and gangs, extreme sports and behavior, an incessant urge to push boundaries and experience a more vibrant life.
Most men are caught between these conflicting messages lambasting us from both sides; aggression and pacifism.
G. K. Chesterton, a prolific Catholic columnist, author and speaker at the turn of the 20th century, indicated that his exploration of the Catholic faith kept turning up confusing opposites. The Church would be attacked of blind war-mongering and at the same time pale pacifism. His continued studies and meditations helped him to realize that the Church had to be bigger than both those labels, if both could be applied to the same entity with equal passion.
And that’s where manhood must arise once more. Not on one side or the other, but in medias res. We don’t want GENTLEmen. We want gentleMEN, who can keep the violence of their virility from overwhelming their natures by learning gentleness and deference. We want men who know when to fight, and when to put away the sword.
“The Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true.” Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings
Understanding the True Man
The header image is worthy of a meditation: the lord and the lady kneeling together before God.
He is the knight who’s sword is consecrated to God’s defense… and hers. They both kneel equally before God in their dignity. They both approach their destinies with different talents. They both complete each other with honor, respect, and love.
Gentility is truly the mark of a True Man, because it calls for more than his testosterone and adrenaline. It is a nobler attitude, looking to Christ Himself for the perfect example; strong against evil, compassionate and generous to the broken and the seekers of good.
Not every man is a gentleman. But every gentleman is a man.
Deep down, every man struggles to come to grips with his biocultural desire to lead, protect and guide, albeit for his family, friends, or special someone. Some men have the vocation to celibacy. But all of them have the same calling to be MEN.
The True Man has a higher vision of reality. He has accepted the God-defined destiny for his life, has regretted his mistakes and moved past his brokenness. The True Man doesn’t try to hide his uncontrolled urges behind a facade of ‘manly virility’. A broken nature is meant to be fixed, not justified and explained away. He patches over his weakness with the Sacraments, with hope, with determination. Most of all, he is man enough to get on his knees and pray.
The True Man also lives in a bond of brotherhood with other men, mutually affirming each other in goodness and a more perfect quality of friendship that doesn’t allow the weakness of sin to erode at authentic virility. The True Man is also deferential, affirming and praising to women, his sisters in creation.
Fr. Thomas Euteneuer mentioned the particular hatred Satan has for womanhood. Paraphrasing, he said, “Angels are unable to reproduce. There’s a finite number of them from creation. Not so with Man. Woman is able to re-create a new member of the species, invoking God’s continuous act of creation in the formation of a new soul-body. Therefore the devil, unable to share in the supreme dignity of co-creation, focuses his efforts on her destruction, degradation, and discouragement.”
Since Eden, who is the only one meant to stand in-between Woman and Satan? Man. Adam failed. Christ didn’t. He stood between the devil and the Blessed Virgin, and paid the price Adam was afraid to; His life. No wimping out. Total self-giving. That is true manhood.
So it can be said that a gentleman is a man who has learned to engage the violence and virility of his nature and harnessed it with his will, able to be gentle and deferential, choosing ideals higher than himself, and dedicated to a constant practice of honor and respect.
And we need more of you.