Tag Archives: men

Not much organizing for the organizers

There is very rarely anyone to organize for the organizers. If you are one who facilitates community or feels called to it, you may already know this to be true. I’ve had a few conversations with some wonderful men over the last few days that have made this very clear in my mind.

You see, in an ideal community, led by elders and leaders who have earned their leadership and authority by virtue of their years and their life experience and giving, ceremony and ritual would flow naturally. For a man in my place, a soon to be first-time father, the community of men would naturally be planning an initiation into fatherhood… a blessing rite… or something of the sort. But in this time, if I (or anyone else) want to encourage the ideal, I am the one who has to do the organizing or subtle (or not so subtle) hint, hint, hinting. I’m sure there are others who can share this sentiment. No hard feelings… it just is what it is right now.

We have a long way to go… as a community and society. I am realizing that peer pressure, in a positive way, can be very beneficial and very transformational. In a village society, where we are having rites of passage, ritual, and are led by true elders, the community-push for men to participate fully is natural. But in our current context, men want to do their own thing and worry about their own direct families. We don’t want t o take off work, drive to a remote site, be asked to show up fully, fast, and then sit in the wilderness alone for 24+ hours. What man is going to step out of his comfort zone to do this? Not many. Because it is hard work. So there is a huge chasm between the place and time when peer pressure can be a positive thing and now when a man can just say, “What?!? Are you crazy? I’m staying home.”


Life is SIMPLE even in the changes

I’ve moved into a new place… a new place, a new place. Many, many things changing and a new, fresh perspective on self.

Not thinking so much, feeling more, listening more. Heart space holding, care for the community… less directing, less trying to make things happen for myself.

Link to photographer

Went through the Men’s Rites of Passage, through the Center for Action and Contemplation.
Grieved unresolved grief, felt death
Learned the importance of ritual and experience
Heard from my soul and felt what it is like to get out of my head
Felt drumbeat in my heart and gut… new practice with the drum
Called a man… an initiated man
Fasted… isolated in the wilderness
A new connection with my dreams… the subconscious

And life is simpler. I know what I need to do. The questions I need to ask… what kind of friend will I be? What kind of dad will I be? How to listen? How to lead from my depth? I focus on my personal practice now… less need to say, more just being. Less time emailing, facebooking, blogging, googling, surfing, distancing… more time face to face in each other’s company. I will make good scones and muffins and do my thing… you know where to find me.

Why we can’t make changes from the top down

I post this quote, in part as a response to Greg’s questions HERE, and also as another effort in processing the importance of “elder wisdom.”

Richard Rohr, in his article, “The Catch 22 of Male Initiation” (LINK), writes,

It has become rather clear to many of us that both top leaders in the church and leading politicians in society are largely made up of men who wanted to get there.  They pursued roles and positions of power for any multitude of reasons, some of which are even praiseworthy.

At the second level of “management” you find priests, ministers, civil employees, and corporate bureaucrats who have rightfully sought their own career goals, but unless there has been some influx of wisdom, suffering, or mentoring from life itself, their ego structures tend to be pretty well intact and self serving. “My personal upward mobility, but for the sake of the kingdom of God” is the best we can hope for!  They have done even good things, but the underlying motivations of self image, security, status, and self aggrandizement have never been looked at or seriously questioned.  In fact, they assume this is what life is all about.  This creates a major spiritual blindness at both levels of leadership, and of course in all men who have not stumbled, fallen, and been raised up (the central paschal mystery).

What is lost to our society, however, is much needed wisdom and the common good, and often just basic spirituality.  Such patriarchy becomes a self perpetuating machine at an arrested level of consciousness. Uninitiated men appoint, affirm, and promote other men at their same level of moral development, because their own ego standards are all that they have to judge by. In other words, the water never rises, levels of consciousness do not naturally proceed by attraction and promotion from the top, which is what we all hoped for. This is the meaning of eldership, seniority, and mentoring, but it only really works in “wisdom based cultures”, which we now have very few of (Tibet, Bali, and small, hidden pockets, especially in remaining native cultures still found on all continents.)

So wisdom often has to come from the outside, the bottom, or the edge.

So the reason I call it a “Catch 22” is that you have to build your tower of success, even though it is the very thing that can destroy you, and will destroy you if we do not see through it.

We will lose if we do not find our power.  But we will also lose if we find our power and then do not “unfind” it!

So you must let go of the very thing that you have supposedly found.  But the trouble is you are very identified and attached to it by then!  So someone must warn you ahead of time, or it is often too late.  That is initiation.

I love this, and it speaks to my own thoughts on adults in leadership running around as adolescents. I have to be careful here in how I say this, as I myself am only just beginning in my journey of maturity and wisdom. I would say though, from experience, that there are many men of whom I know would have much to offer me and my peers in our “becoming,” but from whom I feel as though I don’t really have much to learn from in regards to what it means to be a well-rounded and wise man in our world. We must call them out.. call them to a higher standard… but I get the sense that many of them, in their “ego worlds” would not hear our requests for more present leadership. This, don’t get me wrong, is not always a fault of their own, but often due to their own father wounds and also to merely being a part of a perpetuating cycle that has lost its emphasis on initiation.

Our adults are adolescents

My hope in the next few weeks is to begin to develop a greater focus in what I am writing here. Namely, I will be emphasizing many of my thoughts and perceptions regarding the general perpetuating cycle of generational segregation that I believe is causing such great detriment to communities, families, and society in Western America. This damaging cycle, which has been going on (and getting worse) for decades, has much to do with the absence of intentional rites of passage (the handing on of manhood and womanhood responsibilities) from the elders to the “becoming ones,” the Western educational system which gives men and women the marks to achieve but sends them out as professionals and not necessarily the maturity to face society as adults, and the honoring of children and seniors as gifts to our society.

I won’t plan on any specific order, but I am sure there will be repetition of some of the main things I feel need to happen. Starting with education…

I have been through the education system. High school, college, graduate school (seminary)… I’ve done them all. My sense is that the Western modern educational system leaves men and women still wondering what it means to be a functioning and mature adult in our society. What they do get is a lot of knowledge and a degree that shows that they are responsible in their field… sometimes even an expert. The final goal is most often based on what they are now able to produce, or the job that they are now able to get. We then send them off into the world, telling them that money-making, job keeping, house and car buying, and family raising is all up to them to figure out. But there is so much that they do not get.

Young adults do not necessarily get elders who show them what it means to live life maturely and selflessly. They do not get lessons on conflict management, self-awareness, and honorable behavior. They are instead sent out into society without any sort of leadership in character development. This is something they must figure out on their own. I see the problem being that they don’t have any idea of where to look for it. They could try churches, but I have much doubt that they are finding it to a great degree there, as much of our churches are based on the modern education system anyway… about producing a packaged product bound for “success.” They could look at the media… but media does a terrible job honoring humanity and the gifts that we can offer as mature men and women. They could try to find their elders themselves, but this is a daunting process that often amounts to an endless pursuit of ever-elusive elders that have “done their work in society” and are looking to do their own thing now.

No one steps in to take over where our fathers and mothers have left off and we are left with trying to find replacements who will heal many of the wounds from which we have never recovered. I would argue that the perhaps the majority of adults in our society are still floundering in adolescence… lost during their most transformative years. It is not only until LIFE initiates us (at 50.55.60 when we look back and wonder what we have really done in life and why we feel so unfulfilled) that we as men and women begin to realize that there is more to life than being a professional getting a good paycheck and having a “safe” environment for one’s family (if they can even provide this!). Unfortunately, it is too late for our kids. We have already sent them off to “further their education” in a system that is directing them to learn the same values that we have all been learning all along. They are already on the track to being stuck in adolescence.

I’m not sure that the education system is what really has to change… more so, the perspective of the elders and those “becoming-ones” who will be elders one day. A larger topic for a later day.

a request on the behalf of the “becoming-men” of bend

In lieu of my over-exposure to my computer in the recent weeks as I work on publications, emails, scheduling etc… I am now in the business of posting quotes from others and things I wrote elsewhere.

So this is an email I sent to a number of men that have reached out to me in the last year and a half. It is a vision I have… for men AND for women. I, however, can only handle the men side of things and will be looking for women to hand the vision over to. Together we will begin to restore the “village-culture” of community once more.

I have thought long and hard on what I want to write to you here. Many months of sitting with this… praying with this… and after a conference this last weekend the pieces began falling into place for me. This is why I am writing.

I have sent this to you because I know you have been involved either with men’s work in the past, or simply because I myself have experienced you to be an “elder” that has such a significant amount of wisdom to offer my generation of becoming men. Before red flags of commitments that can’t be made begin to flash in your mind, please hear me out.

We need you… and by we, I mean the young 21-35 year old men in Bend who are both trying to sink in roots and also those who are just here for a short time. We are to be the leaders of our neighborhoods and our cities… and many of us are confused about what it means to be men in this world. So many of us are in positions of significant leadership, or have it in us to be there soon, but we need you to vouch for us… and not just that, but to shepherd us into those places.

I only write this because I know how significant you all are to us. I have spent the last 5 years of my young age of 28 seeking out men for myself to show me the way and know how important this is. But if left up to the young men to find their “shepherd.kings,” it will never be more than an exception to the norm. We need you to pursue us.

So here is what I am thinking… I am only at the beginning of developing a strategy of how we can make these necessary connections happen… but I want to know if you are interested. I can promise you that you could make a significant difference in this city even in giving two hours a month to one of us. If it is in your heart to do it, we could transform this city with one or two hours a week.

Please send me a note back and let me know if you would be willing to gather with other “city elders” to talk about what we can do together.
Nate Bettger