Brad Miner’s book is one I haven’t read, but I have encountered several who have and their descriptions and discussions have definitely put it on my “wish list” for future consideration.
One description summarizes the book this way:
Neither prude, nor prig, nor fop, the gentleman is a classic combination of strength and selflessness, contemplation, correct action and, yes: cool. He is the aristocrat not of wealth or birth, but of virtue. Miner is too wise in the ways of young men to think they will respond to lectures or another guidebook on which fork to use. Instead he tells of an ideal and the men throughout history who have tried—always imperfectly—to live up to it. Three masculine archetypes emerge-the warrior, the lover, and the monk or scholar-and combine in the character of the compleat gentleman, who always practices his virtues with the discretion, decorum, and nonchalance that the Renaissance called sprezzatura, and we call cool.
The cool men of the past had three personas that contributed to their total identity.
1. The Lover. Hold up. Don’t get too far ahead. It’s not what you think. He is the lover of all that is good, all that is noble, all that is beautiful (OK– it does include woman, but the beauty that is not just physical… that’s another post and another topic). Does it remind you anything from scripture? See Philippians 4:7-9 (NIV)
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
2. The Monk. Again — don’t let the modern connotation throw you off. The Monk was not necessarily a celibate hermit. In this context we are talking about the Monk as a scholar. One who seeks knowledge and truth. The Monk is the one who wants to continually grow and mature in all aspects of life — including piety (another ancient word we can discuss later). 2 Timothy 2:14-16 (KJV)
14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
3. The Warrior. OK–now we’re talking. Rough and tough — a fighter! Well, yeah, but maybe not as you think. It isn’t so much a Bruce Willis action hero image as it is the man who is willing to push back and push down his fear and do what is right — regardless of the consequences. He loves what is beautiful and noble — He seeks the truth and what is right — He will stand and fight for these values in face of overwhelming odds (the dragon slayer of old). Maybe he is a bit of the Bruce Willis / John McClane action hero. I cannot help but think of the Armor of God as found in Ephesians 6.
In the Koinonia movement (a lay-led retreat for both men and women) there are three talks which focus on three legs of a stool. All three are required to make the stool stand. The three legs are:
Piety — think Lover. Study — think Monk. Action — think Warrior. Rise up! O Men of God. Be done with lesser things…..
Post Dedicated to my father Walter C. Hahlen, who would have been 93 years old today. Miss you, Dad! Thanks for teaching us boys to be Complete Disciples (and Gentlemen).