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Be a Man

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Be a Man: The Ultimate Guide lets men of the world (and the women that might live with them) know that they are not alone.

To “man up” is an expression originally used in football and military contexts, meaning not much more than toughen up, move into battle, “grow a pair,” with the apparent failure to do so often resulting in one getting referred to as a girl or lady (who in this context epitomize softness, equated in many a male mind with weakness). My body could feel alive and my heart could feel warm only when testosterone reunited me with that boy at age four who, I so clearly remember, dreamed of being a man. The world scooped me up and gave me a warm welcome in places I could never before have entered comfortably, and many of the people closest to me turned away, betrayed by a transition they took personally. And such shaming usually becomes internalized as yet another aspect of the inner critic (a heartlessly negative self-appraisal originating in childhood), the shaming finger of which gets waved in our face so often that it gets normalized.

The Foreword, Introduction, most of Chapter 1 ‘Contexts of Childlessness’ and sections of other chapters can be viewed on Google Books Preview. If you’ve read your share of popular advice on relationships and being a man — but realize on a gut level that it’s going to take some serious inner work — here’s a deeply practical guide to that most rewarding of challenges: doing what’s needed to fully embody your authentic manhood. I had been scrutinizing masculinity my whole life, trying to perfectly replicate it in my gestures and clothes and physique. The moment at the Hotel Chandler when I am lifting my hands over my head and jumping up and down and taking photos and posting them everywhere is the beginning of revelations, the ones I will try to convey to you in these pages.

To Be a Man challenges current ideas about maleness and offers a road map to a deepening, fulfilling, and awakened masculinity. It only took this long to read it as I left it alone for months at a time, really just using it for some comic relief. This indispensable guide for all men’s rituals and practical habits belongs in every man’s back pocket. Such pressure, such insensitive or out-of-tune motivational intensity, is but unhealthy or toxic challenge. This internal drill sergeant, this love-barren relentless inner overseer, simply wears us down even as it pushes us to be better, to be more successful, to be more of a man, etcetera after self-castigating etcetera.

From an early age, boys thrive in the presence of healthy challenge — non-shaming, age-appropriate, loving encouragement infused with a significant but safe degree of risk — learning firsthand how to both extend their edge and respect their limits. I think this is an excellent piece of scholarship that covers an often unspoken topic in a sensitive, novel and comprehensive way. And my vulnerability here is a direct response to the vulnerability and courage that psychospiritual explorer and teacher Robert Augustus Masters brings to bear around his own struggles with aggression, power, belonging, sexuality and finding authenticity in the all but impossible edge between culturally sanctioned manliness and “nice-guyness. This book is a careful, balanced, scriptural look at the task that God has assigned to men, and is a celebration of God’s good wisdom.

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