Depressed Men and Deep Soul

Rather than traveling the age-worn path to confidence and true glory, many men in the West are stuck in some form of infantile grandiosity, which leads to childishness, addiction, and often depression.  Men seem to have lost their ability to attach themselves and their desires appropriately to God and others.  Instead of a fiercely compassionate community of men, we see emerging gang violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, absent fathers, and heavy use of pornography among other problems. These all point to one deafening reality: we are together lost.  If we cannot creatively assist males back onto their journey towards manhood, there’s no telling how much havoc our community of grown boys will wreak before all is said and done. We must get our males off their “lazy boys” where they flip through and now flip to their “play boys” and position them to enter into the realm of manhood.

Historian Robert Bly keenly observes the predicament.  On the one hand, he notes, definitions of manhood generally adopted by our fathers and grandfathers have proven bankrupt.  The stoic father and emotionally absent husband no longer satisfy the awakening sensibilities of our women nor the rebellion of our young people.  On the other hand and in response, notes Bly, a type of soft male has emerged: “The male in the past twenty years has become more thoughtful, more gentle.  But by this process he has not become more free.  He’s a nice boy who pleases not only his mother but also the young woman he is living with.”[1] Both definitions, the stoic and the soft, suggests Bly, lead only to confusion and heartache.  Both have lost touch with the deeper contours of man-wisdom passed down from generations gone by.  Neither of these ways, I will suggest, reflect the heart of Jesus, whose veiled image should serve as our lodestar. After all, how many men do you know who can strong-arm their opponents with pithy sayings, walk safely through a crowd of people ready to kill him, and willingly walk into the nearest mega-church and overturn the Starbuck’s kiosk, without bringing with him some diagnosable mental disorder or intentions to wound any humans? It is easy to be the uni-bomber.  It is easy to have an affair.  You cannot become Jesus overnight. We need the generations of initiated men gone by to help us get there, free from the placebo of self-help.


[1] Bly, pp. 2.

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4 thoughts on “Depressed Men and Deep Soul”

  1. So here is a thought – do you really think the male person you describe ‘pleases’ their girlfriend and mother? I think maybe the truth is that one false self is affirmed by another false self and what is really happening is that neither is challenging the other to become something more transcendent. I think that a true Christ like man (although I resist that term now for what it has meant) would immensely please the truly maturing woman in any role. Women don’t want weak simpering men. Women don’t want men without strength, even though they will control what they can, just like men will. I believe it is a cycle of deformity that is self perpetuating. The transcendent male is extremely pleasing, utterly attractive. And different than a woman in ways that are tantalizingly magnetic and fascinating. Just saying. 🙂

    1. Hmm….I’m so with you on the cycle. Guys really want to show how sensitive and receptive they can be, and it is a smack in the face when their women seem to want to crush it (the man’s false compassion). This sentence “pleasing their women” came from Robert Bly. I am warming to the track he takes. Here is his opening disclaimer: “There is male initiation, female initiation, and human initiation. In this book (Iron John) I am talking about male initiation only. I want to make clear that this book does not seek to turn men against women, nor to return men to the domineering mode that has led to repression of women and their values for centuries. The thought in this book does not constitute a challenge to the women’s movement. The two movements are related to each other, but each moves on a separate timetable. The grief in men has been increasing steadily since the start of the Industrial Revolution and the grief has reached a depth now that cannot be imagined.”

      I like this idea of “two movements related to one another which moves on separate timetables.” Men often think that if their women are just a little nicer to them or encouraging, they will be able to finally be fulfilled/ show their strength/ display their glory. This moves into the area of differentiation that you have worked so carefully in. I hope in my writing on manhood to help men see their tendencies to fall into their woman’s false self without ever blaming the woman. The woman’s false self can sometimes be the best training ground for our strength, the blessed gift from God that trains us to join God in his work of redemption. The same goes for the reverse, though I sense women experience this self giving more deeply because it is assumed that they will fall in line. Women are expected to sacrifice themselves. Men are honored when they do it.

      Give me some insight…what do you think the term “Christ like Men” has meant?

    1. 🙂 Thanks Ryan. This little project on Male formation and a rite of passage is coming on well. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts once I get a first draft hammered out.

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