Friendships between men are the true spiritual and structural pillars of our lives. Earl Hipp reviews Brian Plachta’s book, Pillars of Steel.
This article by Earl Hipp was previously published on the Man-Making Blog, and is reprinted here with permission.
Brian Plachta says for too many years of his life he unknowingly followed what he calls, The Man Code. The unspoken but powerful set of rules guys pick up along the way to becoming “a man.” Rules which he feels lead men to emotional isolation, lack of intimacy, the absence of true men friends, and the guarantee of painful consequences at some point in their lives. Now he wants to know if men, ” … have the balls to break The Man Code?”
Do you have the balls to break The Man Code?
As we learn, Brian is a pretty regular guy. He is an attorney, husband, and father of four adult children. To that list you can add, a Christian, writer on spirituality topics, and now author. In his new book, Pillars of Steel-How Real Men Draw Strength from Each Other, Brian provides you with practical suggestions for coming to terms with The Man Code, your life, and your faith. He offers what he feels is a new blueprint for masculinity and “bulletproof friendships.”
In Pillars of Steel, Brian describes how to break The Man Code. How men can utilize empowering “spiritual friendships” to connect with other men intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. In the process of using these four Pillars of Steel, he suggests men will:
- create an increased depth of faith;
- build important, necessary, intimate, and durable relationships with other men;
- and become more emotionally available to all of the other people in their lives.
Brian is the latest of a long line of writers to take on the idea of what I feel has become a vintage model of manhood. A warrior-centric notion of a man who will play hurt, not feel (or acknowledge) his pain, handle the hard parts of his life alone and simply tough it out and keep on going in order to survive. A man who is fully armored with an emotional strait-jacket, keeping him from personal vulnerability, and pressurized with feelings he can’t express … except anger of course, which makes him dangerous. This is a sitcom-esque notion of a man as master of small talk, obsessed with sports, and surrounded by low-intimacy connections to everyone in his world.
While these Man Code men may still be around, or at least men who express some of these characteristics, I can say these are not the men I most often see in my world. I see men who have let go of these old ideas about masculinity and who are much more comfortable in their own masculine skin. They are most often men who are NOT comfortable with the feminist, gung-ho military, sports, or comedic media templates of manhood they have been offered. At the same time, I’d say they are men who are without a natural, comfortable, confident, contributing, even personally powerful vision of “the man I want to become.” I think that vision of manhood is the one that is under construction today.
… I’d say they are men who are without a natural, comfortable, confident, contributing, even personally powerful vision of “the man I want to become.”
What is not at all apparent in Brian’s video clip below is that Pillars of Steel is very much a book with a Christian orientation. Because Brian is a Christian man of faith, he places this work for men in the context of developing and deepening “your relationship with God,” and uses examples of “scriptural friendships” from the bible as models for men. In doing so, he is adding the idea of men’s spirituality (Christian in this case) to the post-Man Code vision of manhood.
Because the journey toward a viable notion of manhood is a quest so many men and young males have underway, I welcome Brian Plachta and his Pillars of Steel into the dialogue. If it only serves some men because of its Christian slant, it’s fine with me. I believe when or wherever men are getting together and having honest conversations about what is real and true for them about being a man, it’s a very good thing.
If you want to learn more about Brian Plachta and his book you can email him. Then consider the following question:
What vision of positive manhood are you pursuing?
Use this link if the video does not appear.
—Photo credit: brianplachta/YouTube