BOOKS: by Reviewed by John MorrisseyNews Weekly
RESPONSIBLE MANHOOD: Reflections on what it means to be a man, by Winston Smith
, September 16, 2006
What a man's got to doRESPONSIBLE MANHOOD:
Reflections on what it means to be a man; how to be both caring and successful.
by Winston Smith
(Mustang, Oklahoma: Tate Publishing)
Paperback: 340 pages
Rec. retail price: AUD$20.00This is not a guide for the politically correct. The author ("Winston Smith" is a nom-de-plume taken from George Orwell's sombre futuristic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four) writes unashamedly from the position of a fundamentalist Christian.
He has much to say that is positive, wholesome and valuable for young men embarking on adulthood. The book is not anti-feminine, but is four-square opposed to what the author sees as the aspects of feminism which have damaged young men, their ability to be men and fathers and family life in general. This he describes as the "demonising of maleness".
The tone of the writer is emphatic. He asserts the authority of the Bible as his only unquestionable source, and discards the arguments of science and scientists, where they are in conflict. For example, he accepts Creationism, and believes that the Fall in Genesis is so interdependent with Salvation in Jesus Christ that every challenge of "Darwinism" must be rejected and that the world could not have been created more than 10,000 years ago.
All scientific dating is rejected as unreliable and the ravages of the Great Flood are held to explain contrary indications in the geological record. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of warm common sense conveyed about fathering especially, in terms that would find a ready response among traditional Australian men, as well as the American audience at whom the book is also aimed.Responsible Manhood
attacks the feminist recasting of society, in which males are so often cast in the negative. It upholds traditional values whereby men felt comfortable with their relationship with the opposite sex, together with their roles as husband, breadwinner and provider.
It laments these familial values being overtaken by feminisation of the culture, and individualistic values which reject Biblical foundations for the relationship between men and women.Materialism
It also laments materialistic progress which has availed us nothing. Dramatically, it tells us, "We've added years to our lives but not life to our years", and "We've been all the way to the Moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour."
Chapters include "how to..." contributions on looking after oneself, managing finances and successfully obtaining work. These are useful, practical and prosaic.
Other chapters such as "Values Clarification" are disappointing. The latter consists of a definition of a mature and well-balanced man as generous, principled and showing integrity, followed by a lengthy list of qualities which he should not possess (violence, greed, cowardice, effeminacy, etc.) and a list of "10 things to remember", such as smiling and being a good listener.
The author reminds us that the sexes are equal but different in essence, and attributes much of what is wrong with society today, and what afflicts young men in particular, to a fraudulent attempt to deny the difference.
He points to the real evidence of the consequences of divorce, i.e., fatherless families, and quotes the statistical results for children. From this he goes on to insist on the necessity of a father for boys especially, the prime function of a father being to establish a separate identity in the boy and to dissolve the symbiotic bonds with mother.
Of role-modelling he says, "Fathers are not assistant mothers", and that they "should do manly things". Winston Smith underpins his rejection of the idea that the roles of men and women are interchangeable by returning to the Biblical creation of Eve as a "helpmeet" for Adam.
Later chapters focus on the actual differences between the sexes and a Biblical justification for not ordaining women as priests or pastors.
From a brief sketch of brain-wiring differences in the chapter entitled "Masculinity...", the author presents the familiar phenomenon of males bunching at the best and worst of the spectrum, while females are more concentrated towards the centre.
This is followed by a procession of male triumphs in all of the arts and sciences, together with other military and civil pursuits. The argument against women's ordination is based on St Paul's letters and Judaic practice, with the observation that pagan priestesses were associated with sexual/fertility rites. Shades of The Da Vinci Code
Unashamedly, Responsible Manhood
is based on Biblical faith, the author's own idiosyncratic observations and some rather infrequent appeals to research and popular writings, yet there is much homespun wisdom and food for thought in what Winston Smith has to offer.
While the author is an Australian, his work will probably have more resonance among American believers, on account of its unabashed sincerity and folksy imagery.