Wednesday, February 9, 2011

True Guys

Shortly before the release of one of this summer's biggest blockbusters, Iron Man 2, Writer Bob Smithouser of Plugged In Online wrote a very insightful and interesting article called "Why We Love Super Heroes." The article gave the interesting insight into our culture's penchant to not only demand, but pay our $6 in large amounts to watch superhero flicks. Iron Man 2 grossed in almost 130 million dollars  in its first weekend. So what is the connection?

In the age of trying times and not too many real life heroes, it's easy to cling to fantasies like afore-mentioned Superhero flick, where Tony Stark is single-handedly keeping World Peace under his thumb with clear ease. But wait, haven't we who have ever read or heard the Bible Stories of old heard that before? Wasn't that guy named King David? I mean, David had a pretty great reign right? I mean, sure he had an issue with stealing a soldier's wife and all, but he repented after he realized the shocking aftermath.

We see a similar story with Stark. As long as his eyes are on the right objectives, he can achieve the world (pretty literally as well). But after a slightly drunken slip-up at his birthday party shoots his reputation with the U.S. Armed Forces, things go out of hand and he has to fix it. But he does. And the millions who saw it rooted for him.

So God raised up great men in the Bible, and our secularized culture has turned them from merely upstanding humans into guys with lots of money, beefed-up modern-day armor suits, and/or the kinda cool super-humanizing after-affects of a science experiment gone wrong. Let's call them True Guys.

I love hanging out with other teenage guys of like mind. It's one of the main reasons I go on retreats and other youth events. There are some really great guys who want God as the center of their lives and are willing to look culture in the eye and resist it to achieve that. But what is my connection between King David, Iron Man, and teenage guys?

We could be those guys. We could be real life Men of Iron, who can take whatever comes at us with bravery and die fighting for the world. We could live like David did (for the most part), using the gifts God has given us to proclaim his glory and allow him to council us. Indeed there are some doing it that way. But what is the majority up to?

There are so many different directions I could take with the post. so I'm going to try and condense them all into the one negative influence that is disassembling our Iron Men and dethroning our kings: the negative channel of energy known as MTV  modern culture's expectations. What does our culture, or extremely popular rappers and rock artists like Metallica or Eminem expect out of guys? Party it up, rock it up, do what you think is best and who's to stop you? These standards are degrading our society bit-by-bit, and it shows.

While I watched the Superbowl with my dad last Sunday night, I had my Facebook profile up on my laptop. With the plethora of devices that now support Facebook, people could post their thoughts on anything (maybe even the  Superbowl)  from their Iphone, Ipad, Macbook, Zune, Laptop, Blackberry, etc. So as I posted my thoughts on dopey things like "The Force vs. Volkswagon" commercial, I waited to see what other people posted. For  the most part it was people poking fun at whatever team was losing (always Steelers, cough cough*) and the people rooting for them and it was all good fun. And then the add for the new Transformers movie came on during a commercial break. While I didn't post it, I've always loved seeing trailers for the new movies, because while half of them aren't worth it, there are sure to be LOTS of whiz-bang explosions and superheroes and lots of cool cars on display. But this movie is being met with some opposition because its main female star (whose name I consider a sin to even utter) is no longer in it. Almost instantly after the trailer ended, one of my friends from Cathedral Prep (retreats which are meant to teach chastity and a strong relationship with God) posted the movie was not worth it because this seductive actress was not in it.

In hindsight, I probably should have seen this coming and ignored the comment, but I didn't. I quickly responded that this might not be a bad thing, but this guy was convinced.

These are the standards our culture is not only allowing, but encouraging. while some have had the courage to resist, many have taken the "castle in the sand over a shack on a rock" perspective and simply let whatever they make of themselves be constantly reformed by culture's changing tides and how popular their beliefs may or may not make them.

While many may not consider this macho, I live in a house where gender-wise, we're split down the middle. My Mom spent a year of her life in England as a child, and she fell in love with the adaptations for TV of Jane Austen's beloved tales and has shown us many of them. Mom and Elizabeth  just adore them. While as a guy they can get a little mushy-gushy from time to time, there is a general lesson to be taken away by many of the men in all 18th and 19th century literature: their morals and respect. They wake up in the morning, lead an honest job, and live an honest life. They come to the aid of their friends at any time, even after they have wronged them, sometimes very cruelly as well. And on top of that, their morals in concern to romance and marriage are extremely high. First, they always introduce themselves to the girl and her parents right off the bat. From there comes a very honest, steadfast and chaste courtship before their picture-perfect wedding and happily ever after. Now while the last part is obviously a little fantastic for common real-life, the point stands firm, from righteous Biblical figures, to the Sir's and Mr.'s of 19th century literature with high standing morals, to Stan Lee's Spider Man, Iron Man, etc. There are high moral standards more of us guys could be embracing, maybe even more openly than we already are. And we should. And we need to.

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