My Four Weeks of Fine Men fizzled out only halfway in. I knew it was an ambitious undertaking when the idea came to me, but I impulsively ran with it anyway. As it turns out, that pace was unsupportable, and I’ve spent the last week recovering and dealing with some of the balls dropped during my two weeks of preoccupation with #tonicmasculinity. I do hope to continue writing about #tonicmasculinity, and I enjoyed the opportunity to use this blog to… Read more

Today, I want to share with you some of the small glimpses of good readers and friends have shared with me since I began Four Weeks of Fine Men. These are mere glimpses–not stories, not even enough for a good snapshot view of the people involved. Some of these glimpses are of men following the example set by their communities, faith, or family. Some of them are of men who have led far-from-ideal lives and have to struggle to overcome… Read more

Last Fall, the Patheos Catholic channel was rocked by a scandal–the revelation that one of our fellow Patheosi was a serial sexual predator, exploiting his position as a public Catholic to seduce multiple vulnerable women with a combination of lies and misrepresentation. It was an example of a kind of opportunism that preys on the vulnerable, the kind of man who is attracted to brokenness because it gives him an advantage to exploit, and yet there were those who wanted… Read more

When I chose the tag #tonicmasculinity for this story, I was pleased with the wordplay in replacing “toxic” with “tonic,” and liked the implication of something restorative and rejuvenating. Today’s story fits that label better than most. This is Hasib. Hasib was my friend Stasa’s grandfather, a Muslim man who lived in what was then Yugoslavia. Describing him to me, Stasa wrote, “he passed away when I was six. I remember the last time I saw him he stopped by… Read more

I took this weekend away from the computer to breathe a bit, enjoy the nice weather and my family, and think about what I want my Four Weeks of Fine Men series to accomplish. It was an easy decision to start my series with my Opa Wynands and Opa Feddema, but maybe it was too easy. When we write of the dead, we have a certain freedom to fill in the blanks with our own projections, to embellish the good and… Read more

This is a guest post by Sheila Marie Connolly, who agreed to write about her grandfather as part of my Four Weeks of Fine Men series. Thank you, Sheila!  This week, I saw a re-enactor pretending to be my grandpa.  His plane was being installed in a new park, with a plaque describing him as “Lieutenant Colonel Colin A. Clarke, recipient of the Air Force Cross.”  The re-enactor talked about the mission Grampy had flown, how he flew for nine… Read more

  I saw an old friend this morning. I was out taking our dog for a morning romp in the dog park, and spotted my friend Derek walking past. After an exchange of greetings and a bit of catching up, he mentioned that he’s been following this blog series with interest. Was I interested in stories about personal growth, or do I intend to profile mainly men who are already basically saintly? If “toxic masculinity” is a toxin, a poison… Read more

From a reader, I have this story of young men who are choosing inclusion and encouragement over exclusion and resentment, and blazing their own path towards a tonic masculinity. I chose this story to share because these young men superficially resemble some perpetrators of school violence: one is fatherless, the other is non-neurotypical, both have been victims of bullying and social shunning. However, as many have discovered before them, while you don’t get to choose how other people treat you, you… Read more

To continue yesterday’s post, let me introduce you to Gerald Wynands, my grandmother’s second husband. Gerald was a Dutch immigrant himself. By the time he met Anna, he’d already worked his way up from laboring on other people’s farms to investing, with a partner, in a farm of his own. Having got the new farm up and running to his satisfaction, Gerald left it in the capable hands of his business partner and took a trip to see more of… Read more

I’d like to kick off my four weeks of fine men by telling you all a bit about two men whose ordinary choices shaped the family and world I was born into. This is the story of the first of my two maternal grandfathers. This is my grandmother, Anna van Bakelen, and her first husband, Jan Feddema. While the setting for their romance may seem pretty dramatic to us–they fell in love and courted during the German occupation of the… Read more

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