Saturday, October 04, 2008

No grunting necessary

Maybe medieval boys celebrated it when they got their armor and a nice slap with a sword. And I'm sure boys within tribal communities experience this when they're presented with bow and arrow (or some other weapon that can clobber) and the right to hunt. But today, here in 21st century America, we really don't have anything that's a regular, exercised part of our culture. Although some wrongly think it's about belching, grunting, farting, money making, pumping iron, and womanizing.

I'm talking about lost celebration of bestowing true manhood. I mean, I never had anything like what I read in this great book (which is a must read for all men, especially dads of sons):
Although not the most eye catching cover art in the world, the content is amazing. I read it single in my early-mid twenties. This book helped me figure out my manhood. It talks about fathers intentionally teaching their sons (through "threshold celebrations/experiences) how to become men by leading courageously, rejecting passivity, accepting responsibility, and waiting for God's great reward. It thoroughly rejects and doesn't recognize the faux characteristics listed above as true manhood. (If you are male and have never had a type of experience like this-I highly recommend putting something together, it's life changing no matter how old you are. I got to experience and practice what the book taught with the significant men friends in my life. Of whom one is the much missed, new Texan: Matt Nightingale, who actually turned me on to this book).

So the reason I post this is I was invited to participate in such a threshold experience for a boy in our church family who turned 13 this week. His parents arranged a one day journey of meeting (and eating) with Godly men (One of which was PCC's lead pastor, Gary, who has also been instrumental in my life) to talk about what means to be a man (as suggested in the book). For my leg of the tour I took newly turned 13 year old lad and his dad on a mini-hike. It was a very, very, short walk, lets say (in the forest behind where I live), as I didn't tell them ahead of time and so we lacked appropriate hiking gear, namely shoes that would prevent from slipping into the ravine. Nonetheless, it was great as we sat on a tree trunk out in creation and talked about manhood and the great adventure that it is.

* I read from Mark 1 and discussed the example of John the Baptist who led the way for Jesus, and didn't conform to culture. (What a man. A beast of a man who wore crazy clothes and ate crazy things. And he wasn't even in a college fraternity).

* I had Dad and son write letters to themselves to be sent a year from now, about how they want to grow as men. Real men live purposeful, goal oriented lives.

*We listened to Real Men Cry, by the Elms. (And yes it was via my iphone. It's not like we could truly "rough it," I said it was a mini-hike.) Real men are in touch with the way God made them and not afraid to express emotions in healthy ways. And yes, some men are very technically savvy.

* We focused on two attributes of men: Humility and Leadership (displayed in both John the Baptizer and Jesus) .

*We identified Jesus as our great model of manhood. (You knew that was coming). Because Real men are willing to sacrifice and even die for the truth and for God.

*We ended our time picking up large sticks and both the father and I 'knighted" the son (touched his shoulders) by speaking over him with attributes of manhood (integrity, leadership, confidence, etc) and prayed over him.

This is catching on and Dads are taking up the great privilege of leading their sons in our community. I love it.

What do you think about this? This isn't just about men, but women, too. Believe me, I've already starting reading up. (They have many threshold experiences for girls, one is a princess kiss book ala the same thinking ). What was significant in your life to affirm your identity as a man or woman? What did you wish you would have had? If you are a parent do you have any ideas? School me.

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