In hoc signo vinces… nihilo

Easter morning I attended a sunrise service at the beach. Because of the location, the general level of dress was significantly more casual than typical. Many of the men showed up in matching long-sleeve T-shirts which, though I had never seen before, I immediately knew must have been purchased by the men’s group. I knew this … Read more…

Three fundamental truths

There probably won’t be many posts here for a while. I am currently in the midst of several things that relate directly to what we discuss here, but I need to let them play out further before I discuss them. In the meantime though, I will leave you with three fundamental truths–fundamental truths that I … Read more…

Numbers 30

Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, “This is what the Lord has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. “If a woman vows a vow to the Lord and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand.  But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her.

“If she marries a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the Lord will forgive her. (But any vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, anything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.) And if she vowed in her husband’s house or bound herself by a pledge with an oath, and her husband heard of it and said nothing to her and did not oppose her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning her pledge of herself shall not stand. Her husband has made them void, and the Lord will forgive her. Any vow and any binding oath to afflict herself, her husband may establish, or her husband may make void. But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he establishes all her vows or all her pledges that are upon her. He has established them, because he said nothing to her on the day that he heard of them. But if he makes them null and void after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her iniquity.”

These are the statutes that the Lord commanded Moses about a man and his wife and about a father and his daughter while she is in her youth within her father’s house.


Actions beat words


Are you working in the vineyard? Or are you only talking about it?

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go.Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.” —Matthew 21:28-31 (NASB)

Choosing technologies

Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote: The opposite of manliness isn’t cowardice; it’s technology. ― The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms I think he oversimplified, but there is truth behind the statement. While technology in and of itself is not unmanly, dependence on it certainly can be. So how does a man evaluate the various technologies … Read more…

Read: Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It’s been quite a while since I’ve finished this book, but I put off writing a review until now. And really, this will not be so much a review as comments predicated by the book. This book is not a light read. While the main gist is intuitive and easy to grasp, some parts of the book are quite technical and dense. Generally speaking though, it was an excellent book.

The concept of antifragility is something that gets stronger through uncertainty, disorder, or abuse. Think, for example, Christianity: the blood of the martyrs was the seed from which more believers sprang up. While the robust withstands insult, the antifragile is improved by it. Although Taleb does not really get into it in the book, I believe that the concept of antifragility is especially suited to discussing masculinity and manliness.

Manliness is the ultimate example of antifragilty. It thrives in chaos and disorder, and atrophies in peace and safety. Even today, the enclaves of manliness that exist are inexricably tied to increased danger and chaos. Thus, increasing antifragility will also increase masculinity. This is a fundamental concept missing in many modern analyses of masculinity–we think that we can preserve manliness somehow while simultaneously eliminating the chaos and danger that it thrives on. People lament “Peter-Pan man-boys,” but cheer the safety and stability that caused them.

Jack Donovan is one of the few who understand this, saying: “Manliness requires the opportunity for risk, and those opportunities are decreasing in our highly controlled, pacified society. Men need chaos to restart the world.” In fact, reading Donovan’s The Way of Men and Taleb’s Antifragile together makes the link between masculinity and antifragility very clear.

Chaos can not be held down forever. The longer it is held down, the more masculinity will decline, and the fewer men will be prepared to meet it when it rises again.

Hemingway on modern men

He was a boy about sixteen. He came in with no hat on and was very excited and frightened but determined. He was curly haired and well built and his lips were prominent.
“What’s the matter with you, son?” Doctor Wilcox asked him.
“I want to be castrated,” the boy said.
“Why?” Doc Fischer asked.
“I’ve prayed and I’ve done everything and nothing helps.”
“Helps what?”
“That awful lust.”
“What awful lust?”
“The way I get. The way I can’t stop getting. I pray all night about it.”
“Just what happens?” Doc Fischer asked.
The boy told him. “Listen, boy,” Doc Fischer said. “There’s nothing wrong with you. That’s the way you’re supposed to be. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
“It is wrong,” said the boy. “It’s a sin against purity. It’s a sin against our Lord and Saviour.”
“No,” said Doc Fisher. “It’s a natural thing. It’s the way you are supposed to be and later on you will think you are very fortunate.”
“Oh, you don’t understand,” the boy said.
“Listen,” Doc Fischer said and he told the boy certain things.
“No. I won’t listen. You can’t make me listen.”
“Please listen,” Doc Fischer said.
“You’re just a goddamned fool,” Doctor Wilcox said to the boy.
“Then you won’t do it?” the boy asked.
“Do what?”
“Castrate me.”
“Listen,” Doc Fischer said. “No one will castrate you. There is nothing wrong with your body. You have a fine body and you must not think about that. If you are religious remember that what you complain of is no sinful state but the means of consummating a sacrament.”
“I can’t stop it happening,” the boy said. “I pray all night and I pray in the daytime. It is a sin, a constant sin against purity.”
“Oh, go and—” Doctor Wilcox said.
“When you talk like that I don’t hear you,” the boy said with dignity to Doctor Wilcox. “Won’t you please do it?” he asked Doc Fischer.
“No,” said Doc Fischer. “I’ve told you, boy.”
“Get him out of here,” Doctor Wilcox said.
“I’ll get out,” the boy said. “Don’t touch me. I’ll get out.”
That was about five o’clock on the day before.
“So what happened?” I asked.
“So at one o’clock this morning,” Doc Fischer said, “we receive the youth self-mutilated with a razor.”
“No,” said Doc Fisher. “He didn’t know what castrate meant.”
“He may die,” Doctor Wilcox said.
“Loss of blood.”

Full story here.