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Making Better Men

"When I ask my friends for their formative, positive male role models, the answers (real and fictional) were often men of quiet confidence and steadfast service, like St. Maximilian Kolbe or Atticus Finch of To Kill A Mockingbird.

G. K. Chesterton suggests that Christian manliness is well illustrated by the medieval Christians’ creative re-reading of the Trojan War, a reading that treats Hector as the protagonist. The great loser of Homer’s story becomes the model of chivalry—valiant in defense of hearth and home, gracious in victory, self-sacrificial in defeat. The “tamer of horses” serves as a classical forebear for the Christian chevalier or knight. As Hector used his strength not for earning renown but for protecting the innocent, so our valor is not for inflicting violence but for safeguarding and providing for those who depend on us. Fittingly, Hector’s name comes from the Greek word meaning “to have” or “to hold.”

This knightly example is an ideal to strive towards. Often, we fall short of it. But let us not confuse a stumbling search for chivalry with the different and dingier paradigm of manliness we see too many public figures pursuing.

Donald Trump, for example, presents himself as a paragon of masculinity. But his idea of what a man should be is small and mean and dangerous. We saw again his true colors in the recently published video of him boasting about infidelity and about forcing himself on married women. We cannot honestly dismiss this talk as mere “boorishness,” or with a “Billionaire boys will be boys.” The entitlement to women’s bodies and the preening self-worship on display in the video are not aberrations—they have colored the whole of Trump’s campaign. Witness his knee-jerk attacks on any woman who annoys him. Conservatives must call wickedness by its name. When Trump tries to brush off his immorality as “locker room talk” he is not offering a valid excuse, but rather indicting his wicked model of male culture. If this characterization of locker rooms is correct, it’s time to burn down the locker rooms."

Man in tunnel

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