Q: Your book Man Up! Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man , sounds an alarm to Catholic men that it’s time for a change. You have brought together twelve talented contributors to the book including Jesse Romero, Kevin Vost, Kevin Lowry and Shane Kapler. How difficult was it to coordinate this project?
I was amazed at the willingness of these gentlemen to get involved. One author after the other was gracious and excited about this project. I think the main difficulty was working through everyone’s schedules. To put it shortly, this has been a project in the making for the past three years. But, overall the patient perseverance I feel really paid off and we have had some incredible graces along the way. Anytime you are building an army of Catholic gentlemen you have to be prepared for the spiritual battle ahead, I honestly couldn’t be happier with the men who have been at my side for this journey.
Q: Where did you get the idea for this book? What was your inspiration?
In large part the Catholic masculinity movement was my route of access into a deeper faith and relationship with Christ. When I was in college I became deeply disenfranchised with the secular culture of the college campus. I started to look at my peers, the partying, the craziness and wonder, ‘What the heck happened to my chance to be the next William Wallace?’ I wanted to live heroically. I wanted to be a leader for the better and so I started reading on what it meant to be a man. I originally jumped into the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans; Marcus Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, you name it I was reading it. When it dawned on me that virtue is what makes a man so I then dove into the richness of Aquinas, De Sales, and Fulton Sheen. I then heard Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, Jesse Romero, and many of the amazing speakers give talks on authentic male spirituality, they gave me a challenge and a fire grew within to help change the vision of masculinity within the Church.
Q: In the chapter you wrote you touch upon relativism. How dangerous is that to men today?
Without a solid foundation of truth, or at least the desire to find it, men become gutless and aimless. Truth gives us something to stand for, something to fight for and without it, by our very nature, we are going against the grains of masculinity. Within the belief that all truths are subjective we find blurred lines and blurred lines diminish the front line. Either something is true and worth our very lives or it’s not. To live in, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, a ‘dictatorship of relativism’, is absolutely suicide to authentic manliness.
Q: Our secular society has diminished the role of men considerably in recent decades. How do you think we got to this point? The point where fatherhood has gone from Ward Cleaver and Pa Ingalls to Al Bundy and Raymond Barone?
The easy answer is sin. We are fallen creatures and history proves that we typically won’t stay in a decently moral position for very long. However, I do think that a few sociological occurrences have happened in the past 50 years or so that have contributed to this diminishment and before I give them I must say that a real man never blames outside influences. He takes an objective view of reality and finds how he can fix the problems. So, I think first and foremost is the mushrooming culture of relative thinking. Secondly, there are a lot of ‘isms’ that men and women get caught up in; secularism, extreme liberal progressivism, rampant feminism, unchecked conservatism. These were definitely influential and problematic in their own ways. The hope lies in the fact that the only ‘ism’ we should concern ourselves with is Catholicism which doesn’t reside within any of these fallen ideologies.
Q: What is your greatest hope for your book, Man Up! Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man?
A true renaissance man is one that is well-equipped to handle different situations in a quiet confidence. John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton and even Bruce Lee wrote and spoke about the danger of specialization, the attitude that we must focus all our energy on one aspect of humanity. Rather what they taught and what I firmly believe is that a man ought to be prepared and educated on vast ranging areas of human life. Too often we have men in and out of the Church that center their lives on one thing, be it their job, their bodies, their studies, anything. We are meant to find balance in life of mind, body and soul, we can’t do that if we specialize.
A New Catholic Renaissance Man can discuss philosophy, the arts, exercise, hunting and culture as well as lead in prayer, boldly evangelize, and live a deeply sacramental life. If we had men who were visionaries, leaders and downright saints taking ownership of their faith we would see a springtime of change within the Church. My hope for this book is to equip men with the necessary knowledge from many different vantage points of authentic Catholic masculinity so that they can go and evangelize more effectively. There is not a single aspect of human life that Christ cannot touch through his Catholic Church.
Q: time for my signature ending question. This is a blog about books. What is currently on your bookshelf to read?
I usually have about 5 books at any one time and it’s even worse now that I have a Kindle but I just finished Scott Hahn’s ‘Evangelizing Catholics’ and ‘Manhood’ by Terry Crews and am nearly wrapped up with ‘How to Read a Book’ by Mortimer Adler. I am working my way through Thomas Dubay’s ‘Fire Within’, ‘The Rising’ by Robert Ovies and I just started ‘Spartan Up!’ by Joe De Sena.
You can read my review Jared Zimmerer’s book Man Up! Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man here.