“But I’m a selfish man. I’ve wanted you since you fell into my office. You are exquisite, honest, warm, strong, witty; beguilingly innocent… the list is endless. I’m in awe of you. I want you, and the thought of anyone else having you is like a knife twisting in my dark soul.”
– E.L. James, “Fifty Shades Darker” Trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey”
Fifty Shades of Grey topped best-seller lists around the world, selling over 125 million copies worldwide by June 2015. It’s been translated into 52 languages, and set a record in the United Kingdom as the fastest-selling paperback of all time.
This is a book that revolves around BDSM (“Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism and masochism”).
Such confusing cultural realities are what men have to navigate in this complicated Tinder and #MeToo world. There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a new cultural wave of witness and wounding.
The sins of the sexes are being openly exposed and good work is coming about because of some of these movements. But there is a deep divide opening up as well and the separation between men and women is alarming to those working with men. What do you do when people’s voices need to be heard, but men are not always the most open conversationalists about matters of their inner and relational lives?
I think most people working with men know that men need sacred circles of other guys to contemplate, communicate and confess their life journey. Too many places are fraught with danger, shame and shallow analysis or answers. Men need to create faithful fraternities that can be the anvils upon which they forge new lives. Amidst the spark, flame and smoke of community, men can be remade, sharpened and hardened in the steel of their inner lives.
This takes time and a commitment by men and those working with them, to invest over the long haul. Too many men’s groups are all flower and not enough root. They are built on events and often fail to connect men beyond attendance life. They get herded into listening gatherings but rarely discover their own voices.
“The tale begins when all those who had escaped the pit of destruction were safe in their own lands, spared by wars and seas. Only Odysseus was held elsewhere, pining for home and wife; the Nymph Calypso, a goddess of strange power and beauty, had kept him captive within her arching caverns, yearning for him to be her husband.”
— Homer, The Odyssey
Where do men go to have open and honest conversations about today’s turbulent relational seas?
Where can a man tell his tale of shipwreck, his story of failure or captivity in the caves of Calypso?
Where can men find priests, sages and warriors to enlighten and empower them to face the “strange power” at work today?
Last night in our ManClan meet-up I listened to men retell their own stories with Calypso:
-The insight gained from multiple failed marriages.
-The witness of battles won over substance and porn addictions.
-The struggles of living in a time when the charges of objectifying women are launched like showers of arrows at men, and yet men can’t go to the gym, store, open a browser, watch a show or listen to a song from the media, advertising or fashion industries without being surrounded and seduced by Calypso culture.
-The lessons learned from orienting life and marriage by “beauty” instead of character, values and faith.
-The stories of men who had found good women and satisfaction in marriage for 4-5 decades.
-The surprising challenges of sexual temptation in the elder years of a man’s life.
-The struggle to maintain one’s life course towards “wife and home” in an era of Calypso caves.
-The joy found in setting aside relationships and distracting sexuality to focus on the rebuilding of one’s life and establishing and staying true to healthy directions.
“…but if you only knew in your own heart how many hardships you were fated to undergo before getting back to your country, you would stay here with me and be the lord of this household and be an immortal.”
Calypso’s are still offering men immortality but in reality it is imprisonment in the caves of unsustainable eroticism, empty worship of fading beauty, surrendering of movement and getting stalled out on maturity for years and fragile self-identities built on the attention of others instead of one’s own core convictions, values and faith.
Men need Divine intervention to escape the Caves of Calypso, last night I heard of such rescues and rebellions.
Every man needs such places to birth hope in their souls and build rafts of escape. I hope you have yours or are building one or might take a risk and check out ours.
There is a seat in the circle and other men waiting for your story to be heard.