Just to Get Back in the Habit

of writing: here’s a thought I had a couple months ago as I was planing some trim for the house. (I’d be very surprised if it’s new to all my readers, but it was new to me.)

According to the story, Jesus starts his ministry at (about) 30. I always figured that–up until then–he led a relatively normal life. Perhaps it was punctuated by thoughts about his later crucifixion, but also, you know, relatively normal. Besides, He had ultimate faith in the Father, and outright knowledge that He would rebuild the Temple in three days…so perhaps a bit worried, but also secure in the knowledge that before He started His ministry it was basically a different later life. Before the Wedding in Cana is was just a normal life; a basically comfortable pause before the storm.

As I wondered about that previous normal life it occurred to me that His ministry had probably already started, and that for Him there had been one whole life which was not sectioned off as “pre-ministry” and “post-ministry”. Because Jesus, sent from Heaven to die on a wooden cross for our sins, was a carpenter from his youth. He knew the wood by earthly sight and touch. He would have known the beams’ other uses; what they were good for, and not good for. He knew how its grain ran. He would have known the skill (or its lack) of the carpenter who made the cross. Every day He got up to go to work to get better acquainted with the very stuff that would be used to kill Him.

Go to the Mattresses, Female Edition

New commenter Joe was kind enough to drop some hilarious history here which does not speak well for the shield maiden trope.

During the late stages of the [American Civil] War, the town of LaGrange, Georgia, had an armed all-female militia unit which drilled with weapons and which mustered in the street apparently ready to fight when the Federals arrived. The Yank in command, a gentleman and a diplomat, sent a messenger under a white flag to tell them that their homes would not be burned and that (as I recall) “they could surely do more damage with their eyes than with their old squirrel-rifles”.) Reassured, they stood down. LaGrange was not burned, but in a touch suitable for the worst of novels, the Federal in command later married one of the members of the “Nancy Harts” girl militia unit.

Otherwise: They would have been slaughtered. The Union force was strong enough that the Confederate cavalry fled them; according to a link provided by Dalrock.

In mid-April 1865 Major General James H. Wilson led a Union raid on west Georgia. As the Union troops approached LaGrange from West Point, the local Confederate cavalrymen fled, and the Nancy Harts stepped in to protect the town.

…which was accomplished by entreating the Union soldiers to spare the town, and then surrendering to the strong handsome Union soldiers; even unto the mattress.

We Do Not Box the Air

Scott over at American Dad Web writes:

All of spiritual discipline is like that. I figure, if its something that you personally find hard to do–but God asks you to do it anyway, you should probably do more of it. Struggle with overeating? Restrict your calories more. Struggle with loving your wife even when she is acting unlovable? Love her more. Struggle with obeying your husband because you think you know better? Submit and get over yourself.

So good.

Our conversations in the Men’s Sphere instruct me in the mystery of communication; of how information is transferred and processed; particularly among men. It is amazing. I mean: You talk about one thing, and I disagree. I say so, and then I talk about something else…but that something else has been influenced–pulled towards agreement–by your first statement, and I don’t even know it. And vice versa, and so on back and forth.

And there is the matrix-ing of information. Months ago Oscar recommended to me Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength. Well, Oscar is a big strong guy so I listened to him. I buy Rippetoe’s book and listen to his podcast, and do you know what he says is the best recovery for injury? Lifting weights with the injured limb. He says that physical therapy is a sham which trains one to be weak. Compare that to the words I quoted of you.

Meanwhile, last year someone somewhere linked to an episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast which featured a clinical psychologist and professor named Jordan Peterson. His prescription for solving problems (say, a phobia) is athwart our mass media’s prescription. They say that we should make the problem go away, or that the problem isn’t real. Peterson says (I paraphrase), “No, the problem is real and it’s not going to go away. What you have to do is become stronger than the problem. And you can just like everybody else. Use a tool, chop up the problem into approachable pieces, and then overcome them one by one. The problem doesn’t stop being scary. You just learn to become stronger.”

In all three cases (Scott’s post, Rippetoe, and Peterson) what is brought to mind I will quote below. And it makes sense of why we have a physical body which must die; yet why we are to have hope for an eternal life after that. Here is St. Paul from Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

That hope is that this–life–isn’t just a game. It’s not futile to get stronger (mentally and physically) now only to get weak and die later. Nor is it just of temporal utility; the strength gained isn’t just to make our short lives easier for now. Suffering here is the opportunity to learn to have faith and so to train for eternity.

(Taken almost unmodified from my comment on Scott’s post.)

Real Men Make Riots Safe for Women.

That thought is at the heart of the the conversations about Ann Coulter’s decision to bail from Berkley. The idea that Real Men make _________ safe for women is a particularly effective seduction to use against men. It infers that he–who wants to be a Real Man–has the power and authority to do something about whatever circumstance some woman or women wants to be made safe so that she or they can participate. He usually doesn’t.

A Crime Boss or a Captive

In some comments SFC Ton made a counter-argument that power is manliness, rather than authority.

Authority comes from power, masculinity is power
You can be a good man and use your power and authority in ways the Almighty would approve of and be a good man.

Or you could use power and authority counter to God’s word. Makes you a bad man

But a man either way

Desire is femininity was settled in my mind a long time ago, and in a future post I will talk about some of that. The nature of manhood took a little longer, and a big part of the reason was because of the way we use the word power. As a word, power is like love in that we use it to mean so many things. It confuses our thinking; mine included. I recognized that, but it still took time to work out.

My first answer was: Manliness is competence. I told this to a friend, and two things happened. First, I was frustrated by my inability to explain what I meant in a way which sounded clear as I said it out-loud. The second was that, while my friend agreed, he wasn’t visibly enthused. My friend is sharp. That lack confirmed my frustrations and I knew I hadn’t got it.

I went through capability, forcewill, and a bunch of words–including several returns to power–each time thinking through the ways each word could be used. That power can be used in so many ways forbade it from me every time I went back to it. Power can mean legitimacy in discrimination. It can mean the force used to exercise discrimination. It can mean the will to make discriminating choices. It can mean the ability to persuade another person to do one or all of those, or to manipulate circumstances to make such events likely!

As I thought about these things, I realized that a common formulation which I learned as a child, was slightly, but significantly, wrong. I had been taught that men have responsibility, and that men who properly handle that responsibility are then given authority. That is wrong because we cannot separate responsibility from authority. We sometimes talk as if we can separate them; as if we are responsible for things over which we have no authority. But that only seems to be true either because we believe lies (like modern marriage “vows”), and because other men in authority sometimes abuse their power. Men are susceptible to this because authority is our thing. We want it to be true when we are told we are responsible. We intuitively grasp that to give us one handle of responsibility should gain us the second handle of power and so the whole of authority. Women, though, are quick to point out their own powerlessness when it true, or even when it merely suits their purposes.

So there is one thing: authority, with two parts: power, and responsibility. When we try to separate them, the effort fails and things go badly because men lose their hearts. Any authority with a those two parts out of balance creates, instead of a man, either a kind of moral monster (power without responsibility), or a pitiful wretch (responsibility without power); a crime boss, or a captive.

This Weekend on: What’s the Real Tradition?

I take it as axiomatic that the lives recorded in the Bible are, overall, just like ours; that we can read about their decisions, relate to their circumstances, and think about how to apply that history so that it informs our own decisions. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, or that we always get it right. it doesn’t even mean the people in those histories got it right. It just means we can learn from them.

According to traditionalists (and others): Men are supposed to chase, and women are supposed to be caught. Or they might say: Men are to initiate, and women are to respond. Imagine a party. There are single men and women. The traditionalist wants the men to pick a woman, and then woo her. Then he (the trad) wants her to respond with a Yes, or No, or Show me more. That traditional mating ritual is wrong and foolish. Roissy/Heartiste’s maxim that “Men display, women choose” is much more true. Go to a party and see for yourself.

The traditionalist might counter, “Well, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. A real man pursues what he wants.” I say that is half-assed crossdressing. It is the man acting like a woman while the woman smirks and presides.

If you fancy yourself a traditionalist and disagree, then here is an exercise for you: Search your Bible for a story about a man who woos a woman directly. If it’s traditional it should be easy to do, right? If or when you find it put it in the comments and let’s see how that story plays out, and how it compares to the others. Let us discover what is the real tradition.



Provoked Judgment: The Pareto Principle of Manliness and Femininity

Sexual dimorphism in humans is real. There are sex differences and they cannot be overcome except that they are eliminated altogether; the result of which is less than human. But it is not as pronounced as in other mammals. One poignant example is that no other male mammal spends as much time caring for offspring as human males. Maladjusted and bitter feminists gripe about leaving women behind to care for the children, but men are the most tenderhearted males in the kingdom. A man is more womanly than a lion is lioness-ly. He’s also more godly; since women are also made in His image. The inverse is also true.

The division of male authority and female desire is not absolute. Men have desire too, and women also have authority. For the sake of ease of memory, think of it as another example of the Pareto Principle: 80% of a man’s decision-making is in reference to his authority, and 20% is influenced by his desires. The reciprocal is true for women: 80% of choices follow desire and considerations of authority make up 20% of their M.O.

I’m far from the first to recognize this: Taoism’s yin-yang concept is apt. The difference between my view and the Taoist view is, I think, that the yin-yang is egalitarian, and my view is patriarchal. The circularity of the yin-yang symbol is fundamentally egalitarian; each side chasing the other and going nowhere. I submit that there is an order: Authority–judgment–should rule desire even as desire provokes judgment, and that we should desire to go up, towards God and His authority.

Proposed: Manliness is Authority

The essence of manliness is authority. It’s the need and ability to make decisions, to pronounce those decisions, and to act upon them. Strength, power, command, competency, respect, courage, assertiveness…these are all parts of authority, but they lack the spoken component. Good and right speech is indivisible from authority.

When men succeed, they succeed along the paradigm of authority; be it wise decisions, strength, assertiveness, achievement or any of the other forms of authority. The classic example is the Battle of Thermopylae; which is especially poignant because they all died. Because they died in paramount expressions of wise decisions, strength, courage, assertiveness, respect, and achievement we call them manly, and even though they died we mean that with very high respect because of what went into that fight. They were mighty.

A modest modern example is a young man who decides to get a car. He gets a job to pay for a car and buys it. He learns how to maintain that car. That is manly.

We also count men’s failure along the paradigm of authority. Adam listened to the voice of his wife and ate the fruit instead of acknowledging the authority that was given him, acknowledging the authority that was kept from him, and for at least speaking the truth to Eve when she gave him the fruit. We’re still stinging from that one.

The young man who is given a car, doesn’t take care of it and can’t be bothered to learn how: We call him girly. He is not manly even if that car is a $50,000 vehicle.

Cane’s First Law of Female Attraction

This past weekend I was reminded that I still have not posted the basic concept which I am about to write, but which I have stated over and over since my first (guest) post in the Men’s Sphere. It also prompted me to come up with the category Economy of Respect . I’ll call it “Cane’s First Law of Female Attraction”.

Women are attracted to men who are respected by others; especially other men.

Some of you introverts may be skeptical so here’s a dead-common real-world example. The quarterback has a girlfriend because he’s the quarterback of the football team. Without the team he’s still talented, athletic, and so forth…but he’s not nearly as popular. It greatly matters that he is the leader of a team of men. But even better: Fat white lineman have girlfriends, too.

Everything else–looks, money, power, etc.–does its real work by gaining the respect of men. The women follow that. So:

  • If you want to find a woman: Get friends who respect you, and be seen with them by women.
  • If you want to help a man find a woman: Be a respectful friend to him, and be seen doing it.
  • Single woman: Look for groups of respectable men. You will be attracted to most of them. Give an eligible one your number.
  • Married woman: Encourage your husband to spend time with his friends. I bet you get jealous.

On the Problem of a Romantic View of Germanic Women

I might want to refer to this later, so I’m cross-posting here a comment whichI made at Dalrock’s on his post “Riding to Lancelot’s Rescue”. He quotes C.S. Lewis:

They effected a change which has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched, and they erected impassable barriers between us and the classical past or the Oriental present. Compared with this revolution the Renaissance is a mere ripple on the surface of literature. […] [A] glance at classical antiquity or at the Dark Ages at once shows us that what we took for ‘nature’ is really a special state of affairs, which will probably have an end, and which certainly had a beginning in eleventh-century Provence.

In “Masterpieces of Medieval Literature”, the author talks about this extensively; driving home the point that none of the surviving literature[1] of the Germanic/Norse peoples deal with romantic feelings as a thing separate from sex. The only woman in Beowulf is Hrothgar’s wife–with whom Beowulf has no significant dealings–and Grendel’s mother. Beowulf kills her. Brynhildr is a significant character in the stories of Sigurd, but Sigurd’s attachment to her isn’t a religious-devotion-like romance.

In the Icelandic Eddas[2a], there are stories which include women who make large impact on the stories, but none of them have a purely romantic–by which I mean extra-sexual–element. There is a story about a great man named Gunnar who married a beautiful woman with “the eyes of a thief” and who brings about his death because he once slapped her for stealing. She had two previous husbands killed for the same offense.

However, there was a custom of the Germanic/Norse people which was activated by Romantic Fever and caused it to have a more deleterious effect than in southern Europe: Germanic/Norse and Celtic women had much greater freedom, authority, and strength than either the women of southern Europe, or those of the Near, Middle, and Far Easts.

Once Romantic Fever took over those peoples, pedastalization of women–and thus Feminism–was probably already an unavoidable symptom. Under the infection of religious-devotion to “love”, those Germanic/Nordics had beautiful, strong, independent demi-goddesses on their hands. In more Latin lands (Italy, France, etc.) Romantic Fever didn’t elevate women to such heights.[2b]

[1] This is significant, says Shutt, because only the most popular, the most retold, stories would have survived. The Germanic peoples were late to the written tradition and passed on their stories via an oral tradition. While it’s possible that at one time there existed stories with “romantic” elements, logic says that they weren’t popular, i.e., if they did exist, they didn’t resonate with the audience.

[2a] Because of it’s relative isolation from the rest of Europe, Iceland was less effected by European trends. These descendants of the Norse people (and some Irish) weren’t infected with Romance Fever as early, or for as long, as the Continentals. This allowed them to become literate, yet not become severely romantic. Meanwhile, in mainland Europe, Germanic traditions were infected. So while the same stories of the oral tradition live on for a bit, they were treated as vulgar and passe…sort of like the American Coastal Elite’s view of gun-toting Bible-thumpers.

[2b] We still see this today. My home, Texas, is to America what America is to the world. And it is absolutely lousy with strong, beautiful, independent women who are loud, obnoxious, and monstrously entitled–and the men who enable them. “Sassiness” is virulent. The majority are downright stiff-necked, crude, and ungrateful. Texans are, perversely, proud of this. Women like Sarah Palin are hugely popular down here, and seen as the epitome of conservative strength.

(This post was edited to correct attribution of the quote from Dalrock to Lewis.)