The Men We Need microReview

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I grew up with two sisters. I did not realize how different I was from other guys until high school and college. Every other gentleman seemed to be big into doing things like eating ghost peppers, playing sports, and exuding swagger. I was quiet, bookish, unathletic, and staring mournfully at my bone-dry tank of self-confidence.

Anyway, that stereotypical introduction to my memoirs aside, I can now say I’m quiet, bookish, unathletic, and sighing as I survey the slow drip of God’s assurance into my tank of faith where my self-confidence never was. My ghost-pepper chomping, home-run hitting, swaggering brothers in Christ no longer intimidate me as much.

To get to this point, I had to ask the inevitable question of every Christian boy: what the heck are we supposed to do as men of God? As men, we communicate, act, and serve in certain ways. Culture moves on and action, communication, and etiquette are not the same one generation to the next. Obviously, our service to God is affected by such things and our service to God should not be based on those things.

Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, Brant Hansen in his book The Men We Need: God’s Purpose for the Manly Man, the Avid Indoorsman, or Any Man Willing to Show Up merely presents six decisions every male follower of Christ must face should that follower truly wish to be what God has called him to be.

In doing so, Hansen covers video games (he is not anti-video game), pornography (he is anti-pornography), toxic passivity, activism, and so much more with a thoughtful, anecdotal, and quirky style full of genuineness and humility. He commiserates and confesses even as he gently remonstrates and rebukes, and there is conviction in the pages for every Christian man. Whether that man nibbles on peppers for fun or not.

The Men We Need: God’s Purpose for the Manly Man, the Avid Indoorsman, or Any Man Willing to Show Up was written by Brant Hansen, published by Baker Books in 2022, and is 256 pages long.

Hand Me Down

Growing up as an only son had its advantages.

Besides the usual exclusive guy time with Dad, I received certain hand-me-downs. I have his first multi-tool. The blade is dull, the pliers slide mechanism worn, and he’s long since purchased the latest model. Memory tweaks whenever I take it out, though. I remember his excitement when he first got it. He was so proud; I think I was ten and appropriately awestruck by the little attachments which folded out and promised a myriad of possibilities.

There are hand-me-downs which I coveted and are never coming to me. One is a red and black checked shirt. Picture the usual lumberjacky-type number you see in cologne commercials and you’ve got it. Many are the times which Dad came in from the shop, wood shavings clinging to the sleeves, waving a new wooden piece of art he’d just created for Mum or one of us with a new tool he unwrapped for Christmas or his birthday. I remember us kids attempting to be helpful and brushing the wood chips off. I remember Mum yelping and saying, “Not on the rug! Brush off in the laundry room!”

The other prospective heirloom was a white sweater with a black, blue, brown, and white geometric pattern banding the torso. One section of the design puts me in mind of the night sky, starless, fireworks exploding over pale mountains. It also reminds me of J.R.R. Tolkein’s artwork in The Father Christmas Letters. My early years in Maine are twenty-six years behind me and yet his sweater is one of my cherished memories from that foggy time. He brought it cross-country and wore it during winter months. I think we found a hole in it once and his face took on a rare, sheepish quality, “Power drill,” he explained.

My sisters and I would get into arguments over who got the iconic clothing. I think my little sister snagged the checked shirt. The sweater disappeared and my mother informed me of its new, unknown residence in a landfill somewhere, so ratty and pitted it had become.

I grumped. My little sister did something more productive and learned to knit. She offered to make me some half gloves since I’d lost mine. “And I can make them look like Dad’s old sweater!”

Wait, what?

She did. By gummy, she did.

The Half Gloves of Sweater Homage
Photo Credit AMEC

There’s a type of knitting called “steganographic knitting” out there where people conceal coded messages within the stitches. Now, you won’t find any codes in the stitches of these gloves, but you can bet whenever I wear them, I will read “Dad” throughout the pattern.