Who is a Healthy Man, What is Healthy Masculinity?

Who are the men you most admire?  What qualities about them stand out to you?  

Thich Nhat Hanh sitting next to his friend, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Photo taken from website of Plum Village.

These questions seem to offer a good starting point for examining healthy masculinity in contrast to what passes for manliness in our patriarchal culture including those who bring AR15’s to protest marches and including the silence of Republican leaders in congress about a fellow congressman threatening to kill a woman colleague.  By their silence, all other male Republicans in congress apparently agree that that is an alright thing to do.

I alluded in a recent DM about the relationship between manliness and virtue; virtue and virility.  Hildegard of Bingen, doctor and saint of the Christian church, is explicit about this—and she knows something about men as she lived alongside monks in a monastery for over forty-five years before moving on with her sister nuns to found their own monastery nearby.  

The Dalai Lama, a great example of healthy masculinity, discussing how to deal with anger. Originally posted to YouTube by Official Channel of The Dalai Lama.

She corresponded with many men of stature and influence including popes and emperors, kings, abbots, bishops, archbishops, priests, monks, and more. And she was a keen observer and a blunt and candid truth-teller to them all.  

Time and again she talks to both men and women about developing virtue as “manly strength” and “warrior energy,” etc.

Another source to consider about virtues and values, virility and authentic manliness, is Webster’s Dictionary.  There we learn that “virtue” derives from Latin virtus, strength, manliness, virtue….more at VIRILE.  

Also: Morality.  A conformity to a standard of right.  A particular moral excellence.  Manly strength or courage:  Valor.  A commendable quality or trait: Merit.  A capacity to act: Potency.  

Virile: from vir, man, male.  Having the nature, properties, or qualities of a man.  Energetic; vigorous; characteristic of or associated with men: Masculine.  Masterful.  Forceful.  The quality or state of being virile.  Manhood.  Manly vigor.  Masculinity.

See Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine. And Matthew Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human, pp. 103-145.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Sitting in the Grass” by Nicholas Githiri, Pexels.

Queries for Contemplation

Who are the men you most admire?  What virtues do they display that are important and truly of valor, merit, vigor and praiseworthy?   

Recommended Reading

The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
An awe-based vision of educational renewal.Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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10 thoughts on “Who is a Healthy Man, What is Healthy Masculinity?”

  1. Avatar

    I too, like Mathew would highly recommend engaging in the ceremony of the sweat lodge. Over the years, I have participated in many sweat lodge ceremonies, both women’s and mixed. I remember the very first time. It was with a group of sisters. When I arrived back home at 2:00 a.m., and crawled into bed next to my husband, he said a brilliant white light enveloped him, and he felt something powerful opening up inside himself. He asked me where I had been and what I had been doing. When I shared my experience verbally, that which he was experiencing on an energetic level, he desired this experience for himself. I hooked him up with the brotherhood and our journey in Indigenious Spirituality began.

    My husband, Terry is someone I deeply love and admire, for he truly is a man whom walks as a sacred image of the balance of not only the masculine, but also the feminine within himself, which I have received many blessings as a result of throughout our 30 year marriage. I am most grateful for this relationship and I am a better version of my truer self because of this gift.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, I think the true gift in a marriage is when the two of you are both coming from the same place spirituality, and it seems like that is the case with you and your relationship with your husband!

  2. Avatar

    I just returned from a grocery store where two fortyish men were stocking the produce department. Of Kyle Rittenhouse , one man said, “That boy needed a father in the house.”
    Not the whole answer to Rittenhouse’s problems, but pretty wise.

  3. Avatar

    I think the perversion of the second amendment and its virtually wiping out of the first is the result of perverted masculinity, as you say. It is truly pathetic and tragic that for Kyle and so many men, masculinity is destructiveness, and it is expressed in murder but also in rape and other forms of abuse toward women and children. Apparently, human trafficking is increasing, and this, too, is the result of toxic masculinity, I believe.

  4. Avatar

    I fear for the future of our civilization. When jurors have to look though the eyes of a 17 year old and remember what is normal in their state instead of looking through the eyes of the victims, we are in trouble.
    When Americans elect politicians with no sense of morality or ethics and condone violence, we are it trouble.
    When politicians support each other for threatening death, we are in trouble. We need the help of millions of Saint Hildegards. God help us.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Meg, You are right! We need millions of Hildegards now. She was not afraid to speak out to the highest authorities in her country and in the Church…

  5. Avatar

    Having read the mag, Creation Spirituality, back in the day and being fortunate to live in a family of mostly men who are gentle and women who are strong (none of us untouched by patriarchy of course) I am disappointed that our choices for male models, all of whom I love, does not include a man noted for a faithful egalitarian relationship with his female partner. Or even his male partner. A loving male parent and son. Hmm. The challenge of success in a patriarchal world.

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