Catholic Mangate

[ 15 ] August 1, AD 2012 |

This post is a response to When NCB Meets NCG.

I thought it would be appropriate for an actual Good Catholic Man (father of five, husband of one, provider, dater-of-wife, and one who is approaching 10 years of marriage this December) to respond to what one seraphic writer described as “a bull in the china shop of the heart.”

Before I begin, let me remind my emotive readers that I already wrote on the topic of marriage, and the role of men today. Yesterday, in fact, I told men to take up their diapers and follow me. If you read those two articles (and a few others), you might notice a trend in my thought. I believe that men find themselves in a really awkward place in the modern world. This place simultaneously emasculates them and then gives them the worst examples of machismo manhood imaginable. In turn, modern man is weak, even with a bowie knife and flannel shirt on, dancing around in the image of Men’s Health — abs and all. It’s awkward, for women, and nothing makes this reality more apparent when some average looking dude walks down the street sporting some miss-USA bride.

“Why not me?” modern man bemoans, not realizing that women want men and what modern man has become is something far less than really manly. Even if we grant that it is man’s primal instinct to reproduce, then it is woman’s instinct to care for that reproduction. Therefore, a Nice Catholic Girl (NCG) might be cautious about who she is going to share the cave with. Let’s consider the author’s proposed dilemma for NCG:

The trouble is, however, that if you look around the venues in which one is likely to meet an NCG, you are likely to find that there is a decided shortage of Nice Catholic Boys (NCB). In other words, the girls outnumber the boys. The NCB’s on their part, generally fall into three categories:
1) The Seminarian. Definitely the smallest category, and correlatively the most awesome.
2) The Taken Guys. These are either married (almost as rare as the seminarians. They tend to get whisked off to other realms.) Or the guys with girlfriends.
3) The Unattached. These are the guys who are the enigma of the group. They seem to be NCB’s. At least they are showing up to Mass or Bible study, or that Catholic group (or maybe they are only showing up to Mass and leaving immediately afterwards. But that’s something isn’t it?)…

The author then goes on to say:

Men just aren’t as anxious as women usually are to get married and start a family, but in other ages this didn’t seem to be much of an obstacle. If the only way a young man is going to have sex is to marry, this becomes a powerful incentive towards marriage. But in our present age we have the phenomenon of a whole generation of men who are (apparently) living the Church’s teaching in this regard, but without the incentive to seek out a Catholic woman to marry. Why?

The Reasons:

1. Wants to play on the internet
2. Lack of maturity
3. The amount of time, energy, and money it takes to get a career started

All of this amounts to a lack of prioritization. The author wants us to believe that the problem is that NCG’s aren’t ready for Good Catholic Men (GCM). However, I reject this premise. In fact, this premise seems more like one postulated by one of The Unattached, and that modern manhood has told him that because he shoots a bow, has big biceps, and a good job, HE IS MAN. Watch him roar! Rarrr!!!!!!!!! (which might not be the case, but I’m just relaying my impression)

And so, the little lioness, only ever playing with the lion cubs, is scared to death that big, strong, Lion-man will rip her to pieces. He is so untamable, so not-into-you-and-your-girly-stuff, and so the stand-off persists. Now, to be fair, the author made a great observation. A real GCM will be a real man. I believe the Catholic faith opens men up to the possibility of being a real man, despite everything our culture is telling them. The culture, of course, proposes two extremes: doormat or deadbolt. On the former, man clips his wife’s toenails while reading Danielle Steel, meeting his guy friends for a play-date, and checking out the latest sale on avocado cargo shorts at Express for Men. On the latter, man is spilling beer all over his wife-#9!*x-tee, on his way to the mailbox to pick up this month’s Field & Stream — all the while stepping over piles of unfolded laundry and dirty kid or two (he’s not sure exactly how many he has).

Depending on which lie you have bought, one of those two caricatures will actually bring a smile to your face. And, if you examine your heart, one will foster affection. The affection you have for one of those two scenarios directly represents the way in which “the pattern of the world” has shaped your heart. In those areas, we must be transformed by “the renewing of our mind”. Which means, men, we must repent.

Moreover, the author’s definition of a GCM fails to appreciate his vocation. If you are a man, you are either called to be single or married. If single, you are called to be celibate — either priest or lay. If married, you are called to be one with your spouse. So, a definition that says:

A true GCM is never going to belong entirely to his wife. He will have another life outside. He will have a vocation that is not you, and it will be his life’s work.

is so utterly lacking in proper connection to one’s vocation, I barely need to critique it. My work is never done in isolation from my wife. I work for my family. That is what a GCM called to marriage does. It is why I must be very cautious around single women at work. My dedication to my family — not my biceps, brains, or defined jaw — is the most attractive thing imaginable. Home-wreckers, check yourself before you wreck yourself. All that semi-silliness aside, the modern dead-bolt man works for himself, because although he thinks he is different than self-obsessed metro-man, he is just like him. His obsession with his work as an end for itself — divorced from its proper relationship to family (aghast!) — is a true sign that modern man is no more man then he is a thing, on object. For, it is precisely man’s relationship to that defines the unique creature God made him. We are not islands: men included.

Let’s continue:

The fact that he is striving to be a true man of God does not guarantee that he won’t leave the toilet seat up. It does not mean that he won’t find fart jokes hilarious. Some interpersonal drama that upsets your entire day may seem comically petty to him.

Sure, but that would just mean that he is not striving enough. That would mean that he fell short. Toilet seat?  That’s an honest mistake and one that his mother should likely take the blame for either way. But, being inconsiderate to your spouse is unacceptable. If interpersonal drama is “comically petty” then so is Notre Dame football — and no man would appreciate constant belittlement over every little cheer that rises up from the living room on Saturday afternoons in October.

The point of my little rant here is I want GCG’s to be of good cheer. There are men out there. There are. They realize that the fulfillment of their vocation of marriage terminates in you. Wait for that one. Some people think men should not “need” you, but that is wrong. Adam needed Eve. He was incomplete because his vocational calling was not yet realized. So too, the GCM called to marriage. Don’t settle for a boy, I agree, but also don’t settle for some dude who’s just “not that into you”.

My 2-cents.

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Category: Family, Married Life, Men's Issues, Single Life

About the Author ()

is a father of five (+ 1 in heaven), husband of one, convert, and a generally interested person. He has a BA in Theology, studied graduate philosophy, has an MBA, is a writer (or so he tells himself) and prefers his coffee black. His website is Almost Not Catholic. His Twitter handle is @2bcatholic. His favorite color is blue.
  • Anon

    While it’s true that a -vocation- is to your spouse, a vocation is not equivalent to a -final end- or telos. I think both of you are right in a sense: our vocation is to our spouse, but our final end lies beyond us and beyond our spouse. For example, there are no marriages in heaven. I think sometimes people have a tendency to view their vocation as the goal, when the vocation is supposed to be a means towards achieving our final end. A man’s vocation can lie entirely with his wife and children, but he can never belong totally to them because family life itself is oriented towards a final end that is larger than the family.

  • http://www.healingandempowerment.blogspot,.com Phil Dzialo

    My two cents, also, Brent…
    I agree with your description of modern man (not very different from Neanderthal man). I also agree that there are an abundance of such creatures inhabiting out planet. While I agree with your symptomotology, I heartily disagree with the tautology and casuistry of the problem. “Mangate” is a learned behavior unless you ascribe to social darwinism. So here is my analysis of the fundamental root of the issue you present the reader with.
    All Abrahamic religions are misogynist in expression. Remember the wedding at Cana when they ran out of wine and Mary, Jesus’ mother pointed this out to him? John 2:4 ” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Now, if you or I referred to mom as “hey, woman!” we would get a crack across the head…calling mom “woman” is rather snarky, even for a god. And don’t forget the prescriptions of Paul of Ephesus, wearing veils in temple, being submissive, not speaking out, walking behind the man, etc. Since Christianity, Judaism, and Islam since a common root in Abrahamic religiosity…hence, the cause can be found here. Learned and enforeced by “moral leadership” and passed on from fathers to sons, either by word or by example. That’s the cycle of learning.
    The Abrahamic religions are fundamentally misogynist and reinforce the John Wayne sterotype. I’ll bet John Wayne didn’t change diapers. As an aside, psychological literature finds a close brotherhood between misogyny and homophobia. So people, put the pieces together, patriarchal organizations promote and reinforce mangate…time to get back to mother earth and the unity of animus and animae. Just sayin’….two cents fro a 65 year old man, happily married for thirty plus years ….joined equally with a woman who equally shares the 24/7 care for a totally disabled adult son. Men can escape “mangate.”

  • http://notaminx.blogspot.com Trista

    Beautiful post, Brent. I think you articulated your points wonderfully!

  • Brent

    Anon,

    For those called to marriage, marriage becomes the Sacrament by which we can receive the grace to obtain our final end.

    Phil,

    1. The role of Mary’s “fiat”, the role of women in the New Testament — especially as credible eye-witnesses of the Resurrection, and the trans-formative role women had within Christendom, as compared to the Greek world, far out-weights any modernist cry of misogyny.

    2. The term “Woman” has as its referent a very important prophecy given in Genesis, when God told Adam that “the Woman’s seed would bruise Satan’s head”. Christ calling his Mother “woman” cannot be remotely compared to some guy in the woods asking his wife for a drink with the phrase, “Woman, get over here!”. No. Instead, Christ was affirming Mary’s prophetic role in salvation history — a role never seen before in any religious tradition, anywhere (nor seen sense).

    3. Psychologism suffers from the “post hoc ergo properter hoc” fallacy. In other words, correlation does not mean causation.

    4. Congratulations on your marriage, and I commend you and your wife for your care for your son. Your lives demonstrate the virtue present in the experience of suffering, and demonstrate why “aborting” children like your son actually causes a decrease of such virtues entering the world.

    Peace to you

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  • Sarah Babbs

    Brent, I love this. I too, thought the GCG post smacked very much of being written by an unmarried man. I also have to say that my husband would love this and agree with it.

  • Elizabeth

    This is a beautiful post, Brent. Marriage requires us to get over ourselves and try new things…I discovered to my great surprise that I really enjoy shooting a rifle, so now the range is a date. :) My husband has no problem perusing the kitchen store with me and taking notes on the wattage of different stand mixers. It doesn’t compromise our masculinity or femininity to learn what brings the other joy.

  • http://www.almostnotcatholic.com Brent

    Elizabeth,

    That is right! Genuine interest in the other as other is love. The complimentarily of male and female is in the difference, and what that means is that we are called to love what is not like us. Some of the differences come easier to love than others. : )

  • Perinatal Loss Nurse

    Interest in the other and complementarity as love. What a great description. Some people I work with live this not in the length of life but in a crucible of a very short time.

    I had a young couple I was recently preparing for a delivery where the baby would likely not live to leave the delivery room. During one of our conversations, I said “think of what you want to do with your son. THink too that what each of you want may be very different. What can you, wife, do with your guys as a sacrificial act of love so that your husband can have a certain memory with him and husband, what can you do as a sacrificial act of love so that your wife gets to share a hoped-for memory with her child?

    The things they chose to do with him during his 89 minutes of life went from the profoundly sacred to the downright silly that left us all laughing out loud (I encouraged them to fill the room with laughter while the baby was alive, there would be plenty of time for tears later). My contribution was to respect (and encourage the mom to join me in it) the dads need for the silly and to see real value in it. If I had acted scandalized by it, the mom would have been embarrassed and the whole dynamic would have been different.

    (Im not saying that in all couples the woman is serious and the man is silly, I was only remarking about this particular couple…I see each person and family I work with as completely unique individuals)

    Respect for the “other”…really important.

  • Marcus

    Well written, Brent. There is a nice balance here but I wonder about your first sentence …” an actual Good Catholic Man”.

    It seems plenty of other “actual” good Catholic men have already weighed in on this recent event on separate threads. Another is more than welcome, of course.

  • http://www.almostnotcatholic.com Brent

    Marcus,

    I meant it only officially. I know there are plenty of us out there.

  • http://girlwhowassaturday.blogspot.com/ TGWWS

    Ooh, this:

    “My work is never done in isolation from my wife. I work for my family. That is what a GCM called to marriage does. … [O]bsession with his work as an end for itself — divorced from its proper relationship to family (aghast!) — is a true sign that modern man is no more man then he is a thing, on object. For, it is precisely man’s relationship to that defines the unique creature God made him.”

    It’s more or less what my dad said when I described Ryan’s post to him. “He sounds like a good guy, but he also sounds like he’s not married! Not integrated.”

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  • Ann

    Wonderful post! I had the same idea but Brent articulated it much better. There are GCM out there but they won’t be flashing their sanctity around and telling the Catholic single world how right and smart and orthodox and learned they are. They will be humble and unassuming. And it is perfectly alright for you single ladies out there to want to get married, have babies and read to your toddlers. That is a holy and noble desire. If a guy doesn’t find that exciting enough, he’s isn’t the guy for you.

  • Episteme

    Good news, Single Catholic Men, we say that the Church does nothing for us, but tomorrow is apparently our very own saint’s day — the Feast of St. Roch: patron of bachelors, dogs, plagues, and the falsely accused! ;)