It’s GOOD to be a Man

Non-fiction by Micheal Foster and Dominic Bnonn Tennant

Preaching to the converted, and converting the unpreached.

Let me begin with the only negative thing I have to say about this book: the title. It is a negative chiefly because if I had been browsing in a bookshop it would have put me off, and in the sea of books that is a bookshop, I doubt I would have picked it up to investigate further and discover differently. Instructional manuals on manliness are not an interest of mine, since they are generally absolute contemporary-pacifist ‘toxic’ bunk&bullshit to put in plainly. Maybe if the ‘GOOD’ on the cover had been in a gothic Bible-y script it might have been enough to indicate this was a very different animal? Anyway, I received it as a gift, so it made it into my hands anyway, for which I am grateful.

The boldness of the opening line—’Patriarchy is inevitable’—this sets you up for the highly biblical and counter-cultural device you are reading, for this book is more like a device than a book; it is dividing things, and examining divisions. It does not care for any of the cozy worldly niceties that have sprung up around contemporary biblical-narrative interpretations, but clings to the Word and demands your correction.

What the authors have done here is manage to navigate through a whole range of important biblical maxims and demands upon us … and unreservedly and unapologetically place them in the real world for real men—right now. I came to some of these realisations myself on my road back to Christ, but there was still plenty of material here to astound me and challenge me too. And there is a distinct un-pagan stoicism too that men (Christian or otherwise) will find highly enticing, once maybe they get over some of the highly counter-cultural but well-argued tenants, such as the overarching demand of taking dominion, being mission-orientated and glorifying God this way.

While Christian Nationalism and the narratives that surround it tend toward a very big-picture view of life and the nature of political dominion, IGTBAM gives the reader a biblical big-picture and then drills down into highly practical and versatile applications available to all men; something Good is bound to come out of reading this book for any thoughtful Christian man. And there’s no ego-stroking claptrap here. The work is still on you. Do the work.

‘…a man can be masculine without being virtuous, but he cannot be virtuous without being masculine’.

At the heart of it all is call to be what God designed for us to be; that when man was judged as being Good. Aggression is Good … when it glorifies God. Otherwise, it’s bad. It’s the same with all our qualities; all virtues can be vices.

Another key virtue elucidated upon is gravitas, or the capacity to weigh-heavily, which is something that comes with settling into our Christian identity as men …a dim reflection of the gravitas of Yahweh. The authors go on to suggest means by whish to draw these things upon the reader, and the suggestions are always practical and steeped in scripture.

It is, after all, not just a book, but a handbook; it’s to read and be read, but it’s also something fundamentally designed for doing-ness. And this is the books chief virtue. It’s a real game-changer, they maybe many people are not yet ready for. But I think some are, and that some will become more, and many. And this device is another catalyst.


Bigger & Bigger Ben-Hur

“…to redeem the race, he must make himself once more manifest; HE MUST COME IN PERSON.”

Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur was the highest selling novel of the 19th century; and is also one of the most commonly abridged novels of our time. The edition I read was unabridged, and like most avid readers I’m not at all interested in anything other than the fully story as approved by the author … but, by the time I had finished this book, I could see why. Wallace is unafraid of letting his story lavishly wander about, in terms of setting and in terms of background. Certainly, a modern editorial team would have tried very hard to rein him in.

Photo by Brian Kairuz on Unsplash

Having said all that, I am glad that I read it. Wallace does manage mood and atmosphere very well, and in the strong poignant moments he really excels. He does get you in the feels, and this could be why he stacks so much backgrounding in—for this to work on you.

Much of it is still very interesting to read, and you go along for the ride, but there were points where I really just wanted him to get on with the story. Now, a 19th century readership, particularly an American Christian readership that were not novel-readers, since the form was considered highly un-Christian at the time, would not have found it so: hence its huge popularity; the many filler-scenes and ornately described Holy Land vistas would have been drunk up like thirsty desert travelers. But I became impatient. And even though I don’t specifically recall ever having seen any of the film versions, the plot itself is quite predictable and sometimes lacking in verisimilitude…

Also, the first five chapters which details the backgrounds of the three wise men and how they came to be… the whole book is worth this part. My sense of these characters in the story, and then the wider story of the Christmas narrative will be forever couched in Wallace’s depiction and understanding of them.