American Exceptionalism: Random Male Violence, Part II

Posted by on Feb 24, 2018 in Anger, Character, Community, Courage, Culture, Fear, Hope, Noble Journey, Venus and Vegas | 9 comments

In my previous post, Random Male Violence, Part I I began to unravel the mystery of why the random violence we regularly encounter happens in the U.S. on a level unlike any other country. Our soul searching requires that we recognize that we are developing wounded males. But all countries have wounded males.

There’s another inescapable reason random mass slaughter happens within American borders so much more than anywhere else— the ease with which anyone, regardless of capabilities, mental health or training can get their hands on assault rifles—weapons of mass destruction. The solution to this issue has proven exceptionally difficult to find, but I don’t think there is any question that this is a central part of the problem.

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American Exceptionalism: Random Male Violence, Part I

Posted by on Feb 24, 2018 in Anger, Character, Community, Courage, Culture, Hope, Redemption, Venus and Vegas | 3 comments

Once again we wrestle with piercing feelings of grief, bewilderment and anger. Yet again a young American male has unleashed his wrath against a vulnerable group of students. Our hearts ache, our heads shake and our minds reel. How can this keep happening? What can we do to make sure this never happens again?

We’re familiar with the spectrum of suggested causes as well as solutions—it’s a mental health issue, it’s a gun access issue, it’s a cultural issue. It’s all of those to some degree, but in my option it’s a horrific case of American Exceptionalism.

I love my country, but I really dislike the way that term is typically used. It implies that American culture is first and best, as if we’re all in a global competition for a mythical cultural gold medal. Having traveled to more than 60 countries over the years I’ve experienced qualities in every one of them that are admirable as well as unfortunate. Mine included.

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The Women in Your Life

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Transcendence, Venus and Vegas | 0 comments

Guys,

Though I can’t recommend everything he has written, Steven Pressfield is a remarkably gifted story-teller, movie writer (The Legend of Bagger Vance) and author (The War of Art). I absolutely love what his latest blog post says about the significance, the impact and the allure of the women in our lives: The Female Carries the Mystery.

Today, think about the sacred mystery your wife, your daughter(s) or female friends bring into your life. You might want to tell them, “Wow. Thank you.”

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Our Spirits Groan

Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Community, Culture, Fear, Hope | 6 comments

We see the news updates on our phones and can hardly believe what we are seeing. We turn on the TV and shake our heads, wordlessly, stunned at the carnage we once again witness in our broken world.

A morally lost 64 year-old man has killed more 50 and wounded more than 500 attenders of an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. He’d probably never met any of them. The audio of machine gun fire, along with the video of thousands running, crouching, weeping, is almost more than our hearts and minds can handle…

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Brilliant Jerks

Posted by on Jul 7, 2017 in Character, Culture, Legacy, Significance | 30 comments

American culture does a good job of creating, idolizing, and then rewarding, young men who are convinced of the following life principles:

  1. Life is a party. Rock on.
  2. You’re the master of your domain. You get to decide how life goes. Others are at your service.
  3. You’re special. The rules that govern others don’t apply to you. You get a pass.
  4. You’re invincible. You’re forever young. You’ll avoid the natural consequences of injury, illness and aging.
  5. It’s all about you. You’re the center of the universe. Grab it.

In 2008 Michael Kimmel wrote an extremely informative book entitled Guyland in which he defined an American sub-culture, males 16-26. These are young men who “shirk the responsibilities of adulthood and remain fixated on the trappings of boyhood, while the boys they still are struggle heroically to prove that they are real men despite all evidence to the contrary.” p. 4.

Kimmel was prophetic, but he may have under-estimated the age range of Guyland. It seems too often to apply to older men who ought to know better.

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Which Will It Be…Rights Or Rites?

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Character, Community, Fathers, Legacy, Transformation | 2 comments

Rite of Passage. Western culture largely views these as age-based rights young adults automatically deserve once they hit a certain date. Depending on local laws 18 or 21-year olds are allowed to consume tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and pornography; they can now purchase weapons and ammunition. In most cases, this “right” is granted regardless of whether youths have benefited from any guidance in the inherent dangers of these practices nor any training in discernment in their use.

High school sports team and college fraternity hazing rituals involving sexual abuse, or deadly alcohol over-consumption, as we saw this week at Penn State and in 2013 at my own alma mater, Northern Illinois University, confirm the consequences of the absence of effective guidance in rites of passage.

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Just Passing Through

Posted by on Mar 22, 2017 in Culture, Legacy, Transcendence | 0 comments

Here’s a simple yet profound reminder to keep our perspective straight. It’s taken from a devotional by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, who claims Jesus as Messiah.

“If you travel to different nations, you have to convert the currency of the place you’re leaving into the currency of your destination. Now what if you were going to a place from which you would never return? What would you do? Convert everything you had into the currency of your destination because anything not converted would be lost – right?

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What “No” Doesn’t Mean

Posted by on Feb 18, 2017 in Courage, Fear, Leadership | 0 comments

It’s taken me quite awhile to learn this lesson. I now know it’s true.

Wisdom from Seth Godin:

What “no” means

I’m too busy
I don’t trust you
This isn’t on my list
My boss won’t let me
I’m afraid of moving this forward
I’m not the person you think I am
I don’t have the resources you think I do
I’m not the kind of person that does things like this
I don’t want to open the door to a long-term engagement
Thinking about this will cause me to think about other things I just don’t want to deal with

What it doesn’t mean:

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Bias From the Bottom

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Compassion, Courage, Culture, Leadership | 0 comments

Author Richard Rohr makes an intriguing observation about the uniqueness of biblical authors versus most authors:

“The vast majority of people throughout history has been poor, disabled, or oppressed in some way (i.e., “on the bottom”) and would have experienced history in terms of a need for change. The people who wrote the books and controlled the social institutions, however, have almost always been the comfortable people on the top. Much of history has been recorded from the side of the winners, except for the unique revelation of the Bible, which is an alternative history from the bottom: from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, culminating in the scapegoat figure of Jesus himself.

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Today’s News Confirms: Men Matter, They Just Don’t Think So

Posted by on Jan 7, 2017 in Character, Culture, Legacy, Significance, Transformation | 12 comments

In one breakfast of scanning the newspaper this week I came across these stories:

1. The Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker wrote a moving editorial regarding Charleston church murderer Dylann Roof. He’s the self-professed white supremacist who slaughtered 9 African Americans while attending a Bible study at their church. (Just typing those words makes me both sick and angry.)

Roof may want the public to believe his insistence that he wanted to start a race war, or that he has justified grievances against blacks he supposes are the cause of his life of misery and social rejection.

Parker eloquently lifts the veil to the real truth of what drove him to this awful act:

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