The New Puritans

Real men have a genuine concern for others, and they will do their best not to purposely offend, but taking responsibility for others’ feelings is not, and cannot be, a quality of Tonic Masculinity. Strong men are not concerned with the nebulous and shifting notion of “political correctness.” Perhaps surprisingly, the refusal to take ownership of other people’s sensitivities is in part motivated by concern for their well being.

Let me explain.

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The Wounded Warrior

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, I popped into Viva Coffee House to grab a drink—Viva is a little coffee shop our family opened in 2017 in Tucson, Arizona.

In walked an older gentleman, wearing a “Wounded Warrior” hat. His eyes, radiating both pain and pride, told me he had stories to tell, so I got up and shook his hand.

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Optimism vs. Realism

The essence of optimism is not its view of the present, but the fact that it is the inspiration of life and hope when others give in; it enables a man to hold his head high when everything seems to be going wrong; it gives him strength to sustain reverses and yet to claim the future for himself instead of abandoning it to his opponent. It is true that there is a silly, cowardly kind of optimism, which we must condemn. But the optimism that is will for the future should never be despised, even if it is proven wrong a hundred times; it is health and vitality, and the sick man has no business to impugn it. There are people who regard it as frivolous, and some Christians think it impious for anyone to hope and prepare for a better earthly future. They think that the meaning of present events is chaos, disorder, and catastrophe; and in resignation or pious escapism they surrender all responsibility for reconstruction and for future generations. It may be that the day of judgment will dawn tomorrow; and in that case, though not before, we shall gladly stop working for a better future. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, anti-Nazi theologian

If ever there were a man for whom pessimism would have been an irresistible siren song, it would have been Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a remarkably thoughtful man of learning and a Christian theologian who watched his country plunge into the utter tyranny and unspeakable horror of the Nazi regime. His country, his freedom—indeed all he believed in, would fall under the crushing authoritarianism of national socialism. A fascinating individual, his involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution in 1945. His Letters and Papers from Prison, published posthumously in 1951, is a profound testament of his convictions.

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The Value of Suffering

“The fact is, life has been found to be more meaningful for many who are in pain, than for many in pleasure. Prior to the problem of pain is the frustration of meaninglessness even when every comfort we pursue comes within reach.” Ravi Zacharias

One of the biggest barriers to believing in a compassionate, all-powerful God is what has been called the “problem of pain.” As a friend of mine said, “What father, if he had the power to do so, wouldn’t save his child from suffering?” Many people refuse to believe God exists because the idea doesn’t square with the suffering they see in the world. Others say it’s possible there is a God, but that He’s either powerless to stop the evil and suffering in the world, He’s indifferent, or He created the universe and then walked away from it.

Yet suffering is crucial to your development as a strong and compassionate man.

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A Good Man is Hard to Offend

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There is no inherent tie between the color of one’s skin and the content their character. However, the “thickness” of one’s skin does indicate the depth of one’s character. A “thick skinned” man is as impervious to insults and slander as a rhino is to a shot from a BB gun. Unfortunately, we are living in a time when being easily offended is considered a virtue, and the most offended among us gets the most attention and social clout. Even when no offense is intended, or a slight is imagined, feelings are everything. One can earn the crown of victimhood simply for having their feelings hurt. Continue reading “A Good Man is Hard to Offend”

The Essence of Masculinity

Straw Man_ misrepresented someone's argument to make it easier to attack. copyThe concept of masculinity has taken a beating in recent times–often having the prefix “toxic” attached to it, as if the two words are synonymous–but is such disapprobation deserved? Is it true masculinity that’s being attacked, or a bogus “Straw Man” version? It’s not so easy to knock a real man down but, the truth is, a man with Tonic masculinity wouldn’t be a likely target to start with. Why? Because he delights all but the most bitter, prejudiced or malignant of society…and he himself is, in turn, a delightful human being.

A man with Tonic Masculinity has qualities of character and demeanor very different than the versions of pseudo-masculinity currently in the crosshairs.

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What Manliness Means

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True masculinity is never “toxic.”

True masculinity heals and restores. Traces of it can be seen in various quarters, and in rare cases, it finds fulfillment in a man who is virtuous and whole. It surpasses parodies and gross stereotypes, standing on its own as a thing of resolute beauty and steadfast strength that edifies all who encounter it. Despite the noise of a world gone mad, authentic manliness quietly does what needs to be done.

You may think you know what “manliness” means and, hopefully, you’ve had at least one man in your life who lived it well; you may also have heard of “toxic masculinity,” or conversely, the “beta male.” Neither of these two hits the mark of a man’s greatest potential to positively impact the world. It’s time to let go of the counterfeits society has imprinted into the collective conscience and reveal something more complex and sublime than any stereotype or social construct. Continue reading “What Manliness Means”