Elfstrand Affirms Manhood with 10 Passions of a Man's Soul
- Friday, July 27, 2007
So, why do we have this kind of a problem in our culture, that guys who come through the ages of 21… 23… 25 never grasp that they belong in the fraternity of men? I think part of the reason, that’s been identified by Dr. Robert Lewis, is that we don’t have ceremonies. In the Jewish tradition you’ll find a ceremony, a Bar-Mitzvah for a young man, and he’s essentially embraced by other men. And as Dr. Lewis has said, only a man can affirm another man’s manhood. Not a mother, but a man!
And so we’ve come to a culture where fathers have disappeared out of the household to a large degree. And they go to work – my dad did, he worked outside the home every day, so when I got to see him when he came home, if he had time, maybe we’d do some things together. And then we have a lot of single-parent homes right now with moms raising boys, and there is no father present. You start compiling all that data and you can kind of see why, without those ceremonies, without those benchmarks, without that affirmation, we have a significant problem of men not feeling like men.
I would agree with you there. Even as someone who had a great relationship with his dad, something really resonated with me that was recently written by John Eldredge, who I know has given some insights to your book. One thing in John’s latest book that struck a chord with me was his story about how ill-prepared he felt to even fix his sprinkler system, how feeling like you were absent from school that day stems from how these ceremonies just aren’t there to help a man feel connected. You’re talking about being embraced by men, and being able to know that you have been affirmed… what sorts of rites of passage do you talk about in 10 Passions?
There are a few ways that men can actually get this kind of affirmation that we’re talking about. One of them is for young guys to get involved in something like Boy Scouts, or a scouting program, where you’re taught things about men, and other men are leading you. And you notice there again that there are benchmarks that you can move through.
There are church groups like Awana, where fathers get involved with boys. Even for single moms this is a very important thing. Single moms will ask you: “What do I do about this?” So, there are places you can go. Small groups are a natural way for guys to deal with this subject. It’s just not something that you would see generally come up in a small group. That’s part of the reason for writing a book like this, is to say, “Can we get the discussion on the table?”
So, for example, with a small group of guys you’re meeting with - four or five - bring up the subject, just start by bringing up the subject. A friend of mine is using [10 Passions] as a discussion book in his small group. That’s what he’s chosen to do. But let’s bring up the discussion: “How many of you in here, in our small group – let’s just talk about this – where did you sense that you were dealing with the issues of manhood?”
I have a very good friend who was a bank president who had me [get] involved with his men’s group, come down and kind of spend some time there. And I went through this, and I told the very same stories. And at the end of the evening (and he’s probably around 60 years old – anything you’d notice about him, he’s totally a manly guy) he just starts to tear up. And he said, “I’ve never felt affirmed in my life as a man. Ever.” And so there again, is it too late? No! It’s not too late. That’s what those guys were doing at that retreat we had – they were standing up. In other words, there needs to be those mechanisms. It sounds awkward, it sounds like something we shouldn’t have to do, but for guys who have been struggling with this, now is a very important time to do it. So there’s a number of ways that you can actually engage in [ceremony].
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