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Special Edition: The Best Christian Men’s Videos Ever
Welcome back to a special surprise edition of the Masculinist. Merry Christmas, everyone!
I’m sending this out to share some videos I am in with you. Doug Wilson has a new Amazon Prime talk show called Man Rampant. Last year he asked me to record a couple of episodes with him and they are now available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z8GJ72X/
I’m in Episodes #3 and #5. They turned out great, episode 3 especially. In fact, they contain the best video content I’ve seen on Christian men’s issues. So I highly recommend them. Just wait until you see who I use as my example of what Christian masculinity ought to be.
A pastor in NYC I shared these with said he was surprised how good the production quality was. I gather this was because he assumed Wilson couldn’t operate at that level. A lot of people hate Wilson, and their negative vibes have gotten spread around, particularly into urban church and elite Christian circles, such that they’ve managed to give people like this pastor an impression of him that’s not square to reality. Me too, actually, as I was very surprised in a positive way by what I learned when visiting Moscow.
While there’s a lot to potentially criticize Wilson about, virtually every criticism I’ve heard made of him could equally be made about the elite Christians who hate him. For example, people say his community is nepotistic because his children and in-laws hold prominent positions. Well guess what, Tim Keller’s son leads one of the Redeemer locations today, and I’ve never heard the word nepotism mentioned about that. I actually don’t care about nepotism in the church. You know who else practiced it? That’s right, Jesus Christ! Nepotism is a purely secular modernist concern as far as I’m concerned. But if you are going to complain about it, you should at least be consistent. I could continue going down point by point on most of the rest of the Wilson criticisms showing how they could apply as much and often more so to the elite.
I bring this up because many folks like to glom on to criticisms of people to dismiss someone whose ideas they don’t like and don’t want to have to hear. Sometimes these critiques are fair. People who have anything interesting to say are almost by definition outside the mainstream, and thus tend to be quirky at a minimum. But very often the criticisms are unfair. This clearly happens with some regularly, for example, to Rod Dreher. “He just wants Christians to head for the hills!” “It’s too Catholic.” “What about the Great Commission?” Etc. People dismiss him with statements like these, then go back to pretending all is well at their First Church of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.
Wilson is one of those folks who gets treated that way so people ignore important parts of what he’s built out there. Wilson was one of the inventors of classical Christian education, which has had a vast impact. So Wilson has even positively touched the lives of all the elite NYC Christian families who sent their kids to Geneva School. Moscow, Idaho is one of only a couple genuine, functioning Benedict Option communities I have ever seen in the real world (as opposed to semi-separatist groups like the Bruderhof, the Amish, or a monastery). They have their own businesses (including the best coffee shop in town, hip restaurants, etc.), their own schools, and people in the church own significant amounts of strategic local real estate. They’ve built an impressive infrastructure over the course of multiple generations.
Regardless of what one thinks of Wilson, everyone should be looking at what they’ve built in Moscow, because there are important lessons to be learned. I was very impressed with what I saw and think that their model has wide potential applicability, even for people with very different theology or cultural engagement approaches.
In any case, the interviews with me turned out great so check them out here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z8GJ72X/
Thanks to Doug and Canon Press for having me.
The Bronze Age Pervert
I’ve written a lot about how, at the same time the church is failing to reach men, secular men’s gurus are blossoming. Many of them are basically innocuous self-help figures like Jordan Peterson. But others are neo-pagan or Nietzchean, often with “alt-right” type overtones.
I’ll share a few recent examples I saw.
First is an explicitly neo-pagan writer called, I’m not making this up, “Bronze Age Pervert,” generally referred to as “BAP.” He wrote a book called Bronze Age Mindset that is selling briskly. As of this writing, it has 286 reviews on Amazon and is ranked 21,375 in paperback sales and 34,878 on Kindle. To put this in perspective, Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option has 376 Amazon ratings and is ranked 47,931 in paperback and 88,397 on Kindle. While I’m sure Dreher outsold him, I believe that BAP (as he’s commonly known) has sold over 10,000 copies of his book, which is extremely impressive for a self-published book with zero marketing support and, until very recently, no press attention. This shows the organic attraction power that these folks have.
You can read a review of BAP in the Claremont Review of Books. One of their other web sites posted a response by BAP. I bought and read the book after the review. It’s obvious that, contrary to the stereotype of these right-wing internet folks being losers hanging out in their mom’s basement, BAP is extremely intelligent and highly educated. As with Anton, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of every historical or philosophical reference he makes, but for those I’m familiar with, BAP gets it right. Supposedly BAP has an Ivy League PhD. But his style is deliberately designed to be off-putting to “normies” and it’s not clear how serious his writing is intended to be.
What I find most notable about BAP is that he is explicitly neo-pagan in what he advocates. The title alone is a dead giveaway on that. He directly hearkens back to pre-Christian civilization, and finds his ideal of manhood in archetypes such as the conquistador and the pirate. For example, his greatest exemplar of classical manhood as he sees it is Alcibiades.
Whatever you think of this, it is obviously resonating with young men, as BAP has a large and growing fan base.
Anti-Porn and Masturbation Movements
Second is an internet phenomenon known as “#NoNutNovember.” This is an annual internet challenge to young men not to masturbate for the month of November (or even to go without sex at all). This started, I believe, as a parody movement, but people took it seriously. According to a profile by Rolling Stone, there are over 50,000 people tracking their progress on a #NoNutNovember subreddit. There’s a lot of overlap between this and another anti-masturbation movement called #NoFap.
The Rolling Stone article is a bit hysterical, but I think there’s something to their claim that far right elements are involved in this. I noticed #NoFap anti-pornography materials on the Internet last year, and some of them did have an anti-Semitic air about them.
The interesting part here is that far right is ramping up anti-pornography messages just as the church (and the Republican Party) have surrendered on the issue. Politico ran a major article last year on how the GOP gave up on porn. The church talks about porn obsessively, but you’ll notice it’s mostly treated as a personal failing of men. The church today doesn’t talk nearly as much as it used to about pornography as a social evil that should be eradicated or at least curtailed. What’s left is concern about sex trafficking. In fact, I had lunch with the head of a Christian organization that had originally been created to fight pornography who directly said they now focus on sex trafficking instead of porn. Obviously there is some overlap there, but at a minimum they think they feel that they have to talk about pornography in a euphemistic way. (I also love Tim Keller’s observation that the word pornography is itself a euphemism for masturbation, which is true, but again only hits at the personal sin rather than social evil).
But what, you might ask, is the far right promising to do about pornography if they come to power? Execute the pornographers. Here is one of their memes from last year, as tweeted by a major online porn outlet.
Obviously, this is just a meme, not a policy proposal per se. But it conveys the general attitude these folks have.
It’s well known that Weimar Germany prior to the rise of the Nazis was characterized by extreme sexual license and degradation (often brought about the desperation of poverty). I watched part of a half-hour documentary about this that appears to have disappeared off YouTube so I can’t link it, but perhaps that’s for the best. It’s rare that I’m unable to finish watching or reading something because of graphic content alone, but this one defeated me. Just to give you a feel for what was happening back then, various streets were known for different kinds of prostitution. One of them was for pregnant prostitutes, who had a system of lining up in order of how many months pregnant they were so that their customers could select for their exact fetish. There was much more in the same vein.
Here again in our time, while we are not Weimar Germany, we see extreme hard-core pornography saturating the internet, and not a single “respectable” constituent of society doing or even saying anything about it. In fact, major corporations like Kraft and Unilever were recently running ad campaigns on Pornhub.
It’s a very sad day for America when the only ones promising to actually do something about extreme porn is the far right – and that’s definitely not a healthy place for our society to be.
There’s been a brief flareup of debate over porn very recently, probably caused by #NoNutNovember and the Rolling Stone writeup. It’s amazing how many supposed “conservative” figures – including Christians – are out there actively arguing against doing something about porn, typically by attacking the strawman position that it’s not possible to totally ban porn. Perhaps porn can’t be eliminated, and I do believe trying to stamp it out totally would be a mistake (cf: prohibition). But there’s a lot of ground between that and where we are today. Right now it’s harder for an adult to buy Sudafed at the drugstore than it is for kids to access ultra-hardcore porn on their phone. It would seem to me we could start there. Just two companies, both American corporations, control 99% of the smartphone OS market. Why not work with them to figure something out?
Nicholas Fuentes and the “Groyper” Phenomenon
Thirdly, I’ll call your attention to the “groyper” phenomenon. A groyper is a variation on the “Pepe the Frog” meme that has been adopted by acolytes of the young right-wing provocateur Nicholas Fuentes. The groypers are college-aged men who show up to establishment conservative type events such as those hosted by Turning Points USA or Ben Shapiro, and ask trollish questions during their Q&A sessions designed to expose them as fake conservative or shills for donors.
This is one I don’t know much about, but you might want to read up on your own. The key to me is that the groypers seem to have no problem getting many people to show up at events on campuses all over the country, suggesting that they have a significant number of people in their movement.
Again, the key here is that there are just a ton of these movements. While only a few have millions of followers, there are quite a number that have at least tens of thousands even into the hundreds of thousands. These are the movements that are capturing the hearts of young men today. That’s why it is so critical for the church to get into the game.
Back in 2018 in Masc #25 I first noted that all was not well with Jordan Peterson, saying that his all meat diet may be “an indicator that he’s starting to lose the plot.” I made other subsequent observations that he was heading the wrong way. I don’t think anything I wrote in the Masculinist generated more pushback that my raising those questions about Peterson. Now I see that in late September he checked himself into rehab for a drug problem. I’m sure the man’s under incredible pressure, and I hope he’s able to step back from the public eye a bit and start heading in a better direction.
Slate Star Codex: New Atheism – The Godlessness that Failed
NYT: Can FaZe Clan Build a Billion-Dollar Business? – Question: Had you ever heard of these guys before reading that article? There’s a lot going on in the world that is completely off the radar of people of a certain age – and that age isn’t even very old.
The Times (London): I walked out on my husband and kids for true love — and I’m not going to live with aching regret – A mother writes about the most agonizing decision of her life, and why all the trauma was worth it
NYT: The End of Babies
Matt Yglesias (a left wing writer) notes that political conservatism has been bad for the church
Blue Law rollback probably a bigger deal than people realize, and something social conservatives should talk more about reversing. Among other things, Blue Law rollback leading to measurably lower church attendance provides the connection between @annalouiesuss’s thesis about capitalism & reproduction and @DouthatNYT’s point that a lot of this is driven by falling marriage rates. The Republican Party, as an institution, is very effective at resolving all tensions between social conservative imperatives and free market imperatives in favor of capital — to the point where these topics barely exist in the public eye.
Allegra Hobbs: Enneagram: The Self-Help Movement That Is Upending American Christianity – The Enneagram has recently found a passionate following in the Evangelical world, drawing young believers steeped in astrology, self-care, and wellness
I could have suggested that she give up her studies and become a housewife, my wife in fact, and in retrospect, when I think about it (and I think about it almost all the time), I think she would have said yes – particularly after the industrial chicken-rearing facility. But I didn’t, and I probably couldn’t have done; I hadn’t been formatted for such a proposition, it wasn’t part of my software; I was a modern man, and for me, like for all of my contemporaries, a woman’s professional career was something that had to be respected above all else – it was the absolute criterion, it meant overtaking barbarism and leaving the Middle Ages. At the same time, I wasn’t entirely a modern man because I had, even just for a few seconds, been able to imagine the imperative of her leaving it; but once again I didn’t do anything, didn’t say anything, and let events run their course, while I essentially placed no trust in this return to Paris: like all cities, Paris was made to generate loneliness, and we hadn’t had enough time together, in that house, a man and a woman alone and facing one another; for a few months we had been the rest of each other’s world, but would we be able to sustain such a thing? I don’t know; I’m old now and can’t really remember, but I think I was already afraid, and I’d understood, even then, that society was a machine for destroying love.
– Michel Houellebecq, Serotonin