We are posing the question: How many crimes in America derive from one’s effort to “prove one’s manhood”? Yesterday we touched on the killer of 20 children and 8 adults (including himself and his mother) by the 20-year old at Sandy Hook Elementary School ten years ago. And raised the question regarding Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha last summer.
Does this obsession to “prove one’s manhood” apply to many politicians as well? And many of the January 6 Insurrectionists as well? And those who planned and directed it behind closed doors beforehand? And have been cheerleaders for it ever since?
Why do men and their mentors lack a sense of healthy masculinity? Maybe it is because the healthy masculine is too seldom on display in a patriarchal culture and mindset—one that puts “being number one” ahead of being a complete human being.
Maybe also it is because our culture lacks effective rites of passage for young men and young women that are meaningful and effective. The late African spiritual teacher Malidoma Some used to say that without rites of passage, young men get stuck in anger and shame.
It is a mark of our anthropocentric culture that we imagine a rite of passage derives from our accomplishments—graduating from school or getting a drivers license; or joining the army. But that is not so. A rite of passage derives from Nature’s accomplishments. Nature brings us to an age when, no thanks to us, we are capable of bringing a child into the world. Nature calls us to responsibility and community building.
That is why it requires authentic ritual that marries macrocosm (Father Sky) with microcosm (human). Such ceremonies may require, especially for the males, some severity. It must open the youth from “me” to “we.” If not, it fails us.
And lurking behind this failure there will often lie intense anger, hostility, and even grief on the part of the budding adult. The true entrance into the community has never been accomplished. Shame and not-belonging is compounded.
This failure to offer meaningful rites of passage falls on the shoulders of the adults. It is the adult’s responsibility, the elder’s responsibility, to offer meaningful rites of passage for the young.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors for Awakening the Sacred Masculine, pp. 309f.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
What is the role of rites of passage in your life personally? Is it something you were granted by elders? Or something you had to devise? What is your role as an adult leading youth into rites of passage?
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