Men In The Making
Men In The Making
"To Be Or Not To Be?"
That Is NOT The Question
"Just as the child is father to the man, so the impressions of one's youth remain the most vivid in manhood." (Gustav Stresseman)
"But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed...." (2 Corinthians 3:18)
If you're reading this, hopefully you're a teenage boy who wants, one day, to be able to stand up, bang yourself on the chest, and proclaim confidently, "Now I am a Man." Or maybe you haven't thought that much about it. Maybe you're just scraping by: going from school to practice, to work, to home, to church, etc., etc., blah blah blah. Maybe you haven't given one thought to the type of man you want to be. Or maybe you are struggling with the inevitability of manhood that is being forced on you because you're graduating and moving out of the house or because you have suddenly, unexpectedly become the "man of the house." You know Manhood is coming. In fact it's just around the corner, but you're not sure that you are ready for it. If any of this describes you, then this book is for you, because it's about becoming a Man-whether you want to or not. Whether you're ready for it or not. Because, in reality, that is what happens. Nobody asks your permission. Nobody asks if you are ready. Nobody even asks if you want it.
What do you think are the benefits of such a cultural tradition? What might be some disadvantages?
In other cultures there are clear lines that mark the transition between Boyhood and Manhood. Usually some physical or spiritual ritual clearly marks the event. A male might say, for instance, "In the summer of my seventeenth year, I became a man." More primitive cultures usually mark this transition with some kind of physical test-a very difficult journey, capturing an eagle feather, killing a bear or boar, spending a week in the wilderness. You get the idea. Because of the young male's successful completion of a certain test, he has a definite moment that he can identify as his Manhood moment. As dangerous as these tests might be, they serve a vital purpose in letting the boy know that he is now expected to think and act like a man-a very important landmark (1 Corinthians 13:11).
If you had to say one thing that our culture views as a "rite to manhood, "what would you say it is?
Generally speaking, American boys do not have to survive some dangerous Manhood ritual. It might be better if we did. We are plagued with the questions, "Am I a man now?" "When will I be a man?" "How will I know when I'm a man?" Because of this nagging doubt some American sub-cultures have established their own rites of passage into Manhood. Some of these include: losing your virginity, fathering a child, gang-raping a woman, killing a person, or taking drugs for the first time. Tragically, an 11-year-old could do any of these. Do you honestly think that any of these things can turn you into a man? Being a Man is different from being "the man." If these are the tests of Manhood in America we shouldn't wonder that the state of Manhood has sunk to an all-time low.
From Boyhood to Manhood
That leaves us with the basic problems: 1) We don't know how to get from Boyhood to Manhood; and, 2) We're not sure we'd recognize Manhood if we got there. Edward Abbey said, "In the modern techno-industrial culture, it is possible to proceed from infancy to senility without ever knowing manhood." What a tragedy!
Because of our inability to mark our transition from Boyhood to Manhood, we struggle with irresponsibility, immaturity, and self-doubt. I am well into my thirties (in fact, pushing 40), working on my second decade of marriage, and I have two teenage daughters. Almost anybody would say that I had made the transition from Boyhood to Manhood. But even though that's true, I have no idea exactly how or when t