Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Act Like a Man"

One of the things Father Paul Scalia, our Courage chaplain, often appeals to, and tries to build up, is our sense of manhood (for whatever reason, and I say this strictly empirically rather than normatively, most Courage members are men). Father recently gave a broader talk on this subject as part of the Arlington Diocese's "Theology on Tap" series, titled "Act Like a Man." The Podcast of his talk and the Q-and-A is right here. (WARNING: The hyperlink is to a very large mp3 file -- 56Mb; so automatic downloads beware.) And here is the page with links to a menu of all this season's Podcasts, with some alternate formats.

I would say, RTWT, except that it's not a written text, so ... LTTWT. And as a bonus, if you ever wanted to hear a priest talk about his first date with a girl, this is your chance.

In Father's Theology on Tap speech, Topic H never came up, either in his prepared remarks or in any of the questions. But I could hear, between the lines with knowledge of what he says in his ministry to us, a lot of the same things, indicating that the collapse of manhood is the social problem, with the rising amount of and acceptance of homosexuality being merely a symptom. He says in his presentation that the title comes from one of the commonest things he tells men -- "grow up" or "be a man, not a boy," something he's said to me individually, with the caveat that "we are raised in a society that makes it difficult." That latter point is the focus of the bulk of his talk.

Father Scalia notes a crisis of manhood, citing the usual statistics -- the education-achievement gap, the overwhelming number of fatherless men in prison. He tells ToT that this is because boys have to be taught to become men (or in Camille Paglia's formulation, "a woman is; a man must become"), and have it done by other men. But our culture doesn't do that, instead keeping males as boys. Biology rebels though, so males not socialized to be men will try to become through other means, which accounts for the popularity of gangs and the "conquest" culture. In the past, he notes, every culture had some rite of passage, which while it often involved taking care of oneself, but it also commonly involved taking care of others. Malcolm X said something similar in his speech at Harvard about the difference between making babies, "which any fool can do," and being a father. Well, that's what Denzel said in the movie.

A father specifically, and other men generally, give a boy something to strive for, men to inspire us. "Every man here knows this," Father Scalia says. But in the absence of that, boys become prey to whatever comes along, a slave to their passions. Males want to sacrifice and be heroic, even in defeat -- it's what makes you a man. He cites examples from the Titanic to the Birkenhead, where men observed the code of honor -- "women and children first" -- even at the cost of their own lives. This is what men want and need, but the culture breeds it out of them. Even in defeat. The Spartans failed to keep the Persians from advancing through Thermopylae, but the 300 men stood in the face and did their duty in the face of overwhelming numbers. He also cited the Chosin Reservoir and Black Hawk Down battles. Father also cites how in boys' war games, everybody wanted to die the noble death, knowing that no greater love exists than to lay down one's life for others. "When boys play war games, they're usually not in the supply lines," Father jokes. But our culture is so phobic to this that even in the 1997 movie about the Titanic, the film-makers said they didn't show the "women and children first" nobility because "nobody would believe it."

Father Scalia says that males need to be called to manhood in three ways -- through the habit of sacrifice, reached in its highest earthly form by laying down your life as a priest or as a husband, but which encompasses even minor sacrifices (he cites the Three Young Men in Daniel as prepared by their observance of Jewish dietary laws); through friendship with other men, which he said all too often now takes the form of drinking buddies, rather than exhorting to and encouraging virtue; and through interaction with women, to make sure it is noble and worthy of a man.

On this last point, Father Scalia also says something that a priest has unique insight on, and he's not the only priest I've ever heard saying it. Namely that many women come to him with matters that really are for the father/husband to handle, or at most, by the priest with both of them there. "He's a good man, but he doesn't do the religion thing," Father Scalia cites the women as typically saying. In many respects, other priests say, these women want a man to listen to them. But, he told the women in his ToT audience, "If you want men to be men, you must not only allow it, but insist on it." He says that the reason for the old rules such as opening doors or pulling out chairs was not that women couldn't do these things for themselves (the feminist lie and absurd on its face), but to teach men both leadership and to equate leadership with service.

And he said we see these three callings exemplified most strongly in Our Lord, with the Cross as the ultimate model for sacrifice, the disciples as the model for friendship, and His relationship with Our Blessed Mother as how one relates to women. Father Scalia noted from "The Passion of the Christ," that every time Jesus looks ready to give in, he sees His Mother. And resolves to soldier on (his speech is filled with martial language even in not-obviously-martial contexts). "There's nothing more manly than being devoted to a good woman," Father concludes his speech.

Not bad for a celibate.


Jeron said...

CM, podcasts are blocked by our webmaster here. Any way I could find the text of his speech?

CourageMan said...

Not to my knowledge ... did you try the Windows Media file (at the page of all the speeches I provided) in addition to the mp3 I directly linked to?

I'll see what I can do from the horse's mouth, but it'll take a few days since Father Scalia is out of town until the weekend.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing recounting of what was obviously a profound and moving talk. Father S manages to set the disordered conventional 'wisdom' on its head with great precision and passion--and keeps people listening.
Balto-Baldo Guy (from Tuesdays)

Dad29 said...

Good stuff.

He's right, too--it applies equally to heteros.

See Rockford Institute or The Family in America ( for more proof than anyone ever needs.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

"There's nothing more manly than being devoted to a good woman," Father concludes his speech.

Not bad for a celibate.
Not bad at all!

Antonio Manetti said...

Regarding courage, masculinity and heterosexuality, it should be noted that homosexuality was quite common among the 300 Spartan warriors who defeated the Persians at Thermopylae.

CourageMan said...

The Spartans did NOT defeat the Persians at Thermopylae (that was part of Father's point in mentioning them).

homosexuality was quite common among the 300 Spartan warriors

Not even close. On two counts.

"Homosexuality" ... as we understand the term ... did not exist in the ancient world.

In the sense that "something our modern mind constructs as homosexual" did exist among the 300 ... it was actually "universal," not "common."

Dale said...

Yep: the Persians' hash would only be settled at Salamis and Plataea (with all due respect to the Athenians' victory at Marathon).

I disagree with the "not bad" comment as applied to Father's discourse. Actually, it's something quite close to excellent.

Anonymous said...

Who are we to judge how you have to act? Who cares if you are gay, hetero, bi? Where is this mentioned in the bible?

Anonymous said...

We should follow theh straight path, better not make life complex.
We have to choose peace or pleasure , why some people like to suicide , i wonder.

Thanks to all who has faith in God and repents for their wrong doings.

_ hasnain @ gmail . com