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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2008 / 8 Adar I 5768

What child-men need is some tradition

By Rod Dreher


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Some years ago, a young painter about to complete art school complained bitterly to me about his education.

"They told us all that we were geniuses the first day we showed up," he said. "They never taught us the basics. Whatever we wanted to do, our teachers thought was brilliant. Now I'm about to graduate, and I don't know much more about being an artist now than when I started."

The young artist's point was actually more profound than I realized then and helps explain the pathetic phenomenon of child-men — those woebegone males who seem stuck in perpetual adolescence.

This unhappy student rightly recognized that the preceding generation — the baby boomers — had failed in its responsibility to pass on to him a tradition. Had his art teachers only drilled him in tradition, they likely would have bludgeoned his creativity with mannerism. Instead, they declared tradition irrelevant and made each student's individual desire the only necessary standard. Without a tradition against which to measure oneself as an artist, there is nothing to learn, no impetus to learn it and no penalty for not learning it.

The student asked a question — What is an artist? — for which his culture no longer provided an authoritative answer. But if you ask a far more important question — What is a man? — the culture comes up equally short, and for the same reason. To be sure, the definition of manhood is culture-bound and has been talked about since time immemorial. The first-century Roman teacher Quintillian warned against spoiling boys. "If the child crawls on purple," the tutor wrote, referencing the imperial color, "what will he not desire when he comes to manhood?"

"We have no right to be surprised," he continued, speaking of boys who don't know how to be men. "It was we that taught them: They hear us use such words, they see our mistresses and minions; every dinner party is loud with foul songs, and things are presented to their eyes of which we should blush to speak. Hence springs habit, and habit in time becomes second nature."

Today's child-men have been formed by a culture that has lost — or, rather, thrown away — a relatively fixed standard of manhood. It used to be that virtue was the measure of a man. Was a man just? Was he brave (and not necessarily in terms of physical courage)? Was he honorable in his dealings with those weaker than he? Did he respect women? Did he believe in something higher than himself? Did he submit to the concepts of duty and respect?

It's not that all men, or even most, lived by this general code. It's that they recognized that they would be judged by it, and judged themselves by it.

That's mostly gone, replaced by a therapeutic model in which the autonomous self is its own judge, and personal satisfaction is the measure of a life well lived. For 40 years now, we have been living through a cultural and psychological revolution that has rendered young men (indeed, most people) incapable of recognizing and submitting to authority. As social critic Philip Rieff foresaw at the dawn of this revolution, the loosening of traditional constraints would make man free, but it would be a liberty fraught with anxiety, even psychological paralysis.

Which brings us to our latter-day child-men, the wayward sons of a generation that crawled on purple and never got over the experience. Quintillian and his successors through the ages knew that the process of becoming a man requires a juvenile male to subordinate his own desires to an objective code of conduct — which is to say, some sort of higher authority. In this sense, the self could only be understood and realized in relation to one's community and its values.

The culture warriors of the previous generation were not wrong to question conformity, but they went too far. They have deprived their sons of authoritative tradition, both in word and example, and with it the ability to transcend the adolescent state. Much in our dominant culture conspires to keep young men in a permanent state of adolescence: conscious only of their desires and the impulse to fulfill them. This dependency is tailor-made for a consumerist economy built on creating and exploiting wants. Making the world safe for big business, no doubt, wasn't what the '60s generation had in mind, but it's a little late for do-overs.

The fathers of today's child-men gave to their sons the freedom to choose their own paths through life. But how to choose and what to choose? On that, the gray ponytails must remain silent. All they have is the hope that, having turned their sons loose in the world without a map, habituated to the idea that their maps are useless, that the young men find their way out of the wilderness.

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Rod Dreher is assistant editorial page editor of the Dallas Morning News and author of "Crunchy Cons" (Crown Forum).

PREVIOUSLY

02/05/08: A Republican victory this year could do more long-term damage to the party than a loss
01/22/08: Putting faith in Obama: Do GOPers tempted by him know what they're supporting?
11/20/07: We can't fix the world with The Care Bear Stare
10/17/07: Every father should read this book to his son
10/03/07: Not even our parks are safe And I lay at least part of the blame on the cultural revolution and our obsession with the individual
08/22/07: The Decalogue, dangerous? Advice for a society that cringes at commandments
08/15/07: Playing the anti-science card
08/01/07: How the U.S. can avoid its own version of the fall of the Roman empire
07/24/07: Conservative author: Big business can be as dangerous a threat as big government
07/09/07: All quiet but the doleful pleas of a father who knows
06/28/07: When we let conspiracy theory masquerade as news, we fall prey to much more than deception
06/20/07: Stranded on Delta: They may love to fly, but it certainly doesn't show
06/13/07: When did conservatism start to mean never having to say you're sorry?
05/08/07: PBS darling gets abused by PC police
05/02/07: Impervious to beauty and deadened to depravity
04/20/07: What I know about being a loner
10/28/05: How the conservatives crumble

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