A few months ago, my thirteen year-old son and I read a book together entitled The Dude’s Guide to Manhood: Finding True Manliness in a World of Counterfeits by Darrin Patrick. Having read not a few things on the topic myself and judging a book by its cover (a practice which is not altogether bankrupt as it turns out), I was pleasantly pleased with Patrick’s very readable book. In my opinion, the highlight of the book was chapter 8, “Say, ‘I Love You, Man’: The Connected Man”. I know this sounds like the biggest fruitcake chapter of them all, but Patrick absolutely nails the modern man’s propensity to be disconnected, overly-independent, uninvolved, and anonymous when it comes to our male friendships and the heavier matters we all deal with in life. He says on page 112, “Sometimes people drift away, but a lot of times a crisis or disagreement drives them away… It takes perseverance to face hard conversations, poverty and wealth, good times and bad… Perseverance means fighting through each others failures — the hurts, the brokenness — and enduring the wounds in order to cultivate a relationship.” In my experience as a pastor working with other men, maintaining a certain relational independence and anonymity toward male friends is an extremely dangerous situation, allowing our lack of perspective as individuals to grow in unchecked and unhealthy directions. But a man with true friends — not fans or drinking buddies but other men who won’t let us go off the rails without slapping us with the truth of where we are headed — is a rich man indeed.
I can see this book used as a somewhat of an evangelistic tool. Patrick has allowed the book to be “scripture lite” for the first ten chapters so as not to come off as preachy or “for Christians only”, but his last two chapters help the reader to see Jesus as the True Man and Hero we are called to follow (chapter 11) and yet how we all fall short and must start the path toward masculinity as forgiven men (chapter 12). But quite possibly the greatest value I experienced as a result of reading this book were the really good conversations that it stirred up with my son.