The Big Four

It is hard to believe that the revival is twenty days old already and that this week will be my sixth post to the blog. A lot has happened this past week and I am so excited to see that, we hit new records on the number of views for the blog. That tells me that the message is resonating and connecting with you.   I get the pleasure of meeting some of you in person every once in a while and your feedback is really important to me. Please keep forwarding the site to your friends and be sure to send them to the intro page since it is the best place for a newcomer to begin.

In this weeks post I will dig deeper into four foundational questions that every male needs to answer, if indeed, he wants to be a real man. In addition, we will take a look at the four frames that one can use as one seeks to root out incoherence in his worldview. I want to thank you for sticking with me as we go through some of these hard topics. There are so many practical truths that I almost can’t wait to share with all of you; however, wouldn’t feel right in doing so without first addressing these foundational things. As you may recall, the four questions are:

  1. Where did I come from (The Question of Origin)?
  2. Why am I here (The Question of Purpose)?
  3. What are the rules (The Question of Morality)?
  4. What happens when I die (The Question of Destiny)?

If you recall from last week, I made that case that, as males, we were not made for relativistic thinking, but that our very nature craves absolutes. Being a man is about a certain degree of absolute thinking, which leads to the kind of absolute living that enables us to lead and love in the ways we were designed. In addition, I attempted to make the case that cognitive dissonance, caused by incoherence or conflict among these core beliefs is to blame, at least partly, for the fact that males, on the whole, are being marginalized in the western world. Towards the resolution of that, I have proposed four frames that you can use as you sure up your worldview:

  1. Naturalistic
  2. Pantheistic
  3. Polytheistic
  4. Monotheistic

Which frame you chose to use to answer life’s four questions, is entirely up to you; however, this is the first absolute you must decide. If you think you can get by with the selection of a naturalistic view of human origin and mix in a little monotheism when it comes time to answer the question of destiny, then you need to go back and read last week’s post. It simply isn’t possible. A cohesive and coherent worldview is one that is answered consistently within a frame.

Sociologist Daniel Bell defined culture as “the effort to provide a coherent set of answers to the existential questions that confront all human beings in the passage of their lives.” That is exactly what I am referring to here and notice the use of the word coherent, just in case you think I am presenting to you some new fangled and untested concepts and ideas.

I sincerely hope you were very intentional about carving out some time over the past week to consider your own worldview. I cannot stress enough the importance of rooting out incoherence and disagreement in your fundamental beliefs. I will go so far to say that if you have an inconsistent worldview that is riddled with conflicts and disagreements in core beliefs, there is no hope for you to find peace in a pattern of absolute thinking and absolute living. Rest assured, I will bring this up regularly in future writings. On a practical note might I suggest you get a notebook, physical or electronic, it doesn’t matter the medium, and begin a journal to catalog this part of your journey. Even if you are certain you have a set worldview and answers to these questions, you will find value in the writing down of them. To make sure you don’t miss the point, that was an action step!

I’ve decided that the most logical place to begin is to first briefly define what I mean by a frame and then define each of the frames. When it comes to answering these deep questions, each of you will have to decide upon what set of premises you will base your conclusions. It is really a consistent set of premises that will allow you to quickly identify conflicts and incoherence in your worldview and deal with those one at a time.  What I call frames are simply a collection of like premises, which will makes sense more as we go over them. Please know that entire books have been written on each and I am in no way claiming to fully explain them. If you do not already have a frame settled in your mind, I would encourage you to do some significant research and thinking before moving on. There will be no shortage of content for you to consider if you do the research.

The Naturalistic Frame

In this frame everything in the world around you can be explained naturally and scientifically and the only empirical truth is that which can be known ultimately, which is that which can be tested, observed, and proved by way of the scientific method. There is no room for the spiritual or supernatural, nothing transcendent, when using the naturalistic frame to form a worldview. When answering questions about origin, purpose, morality, and destiny, the naturalist must look only to the natural realm for answers.

The Pantheistic Frame

In this frame god is everything and everything is god. Pantheism, unlike naturalism, provides for transcendence but not a transcendent god. Which is another way to say that in the pantheistic frame there is no separate being called god.

The Polytheistic Frame

In this frame multiple gods and/or goddesses form a system of deities. Not all gods and/or goddesses are equal nor to they necessarily work together in harmony.

The Monotheistic Frame

In this frame there is only one transcendent god. This god operates autonomously and is often described as the creator who has no creator.

Again, this way of thinking might be new to you and the definitions offered here are short; that is intentional. My hope is that they peak your interest and inspire you to do your own research as part of your journey to form your own worldview. As we explore the next section, you will see why having some sort of frame is helpful. Having briefly identified a way to group your premises together into a frame, we can now briefly discuss the four big questions. So I wonder how many of you are wondering why I am spending so much time on these things. These questions may seem so basic; however, it is in the simple things that we often overlook the details. I can’t say it enough; one of the first hurdles to clear in the metamorphosis to manhood is the decision to accept absolute thinking as a means to absolute living. I’m not going to spoon-feed you the absolutes, you are on your own for that, but you simply must have them.

First things first, everyone has to answer the question, “Where did I come from” and I’m not talking about the facts of life. I’m talking about the origin of humans on the whole, each of knows that our parents made us, but who made our parents? How you answer this question will have ramifications in the answers to every other question.

Having answered that question, the question of purpose naturally comes to mind. So why am I here? Not just why am I here but why are we here? For example, If I have answered the question of origin using the naturalistic frame, I will have settled on biological evolution. Having settled on biological evolution, there are a certain number of ways to answer the questions related to purposeful human existence. As you explore this area, you will quickly sense any areas where your answers become incoherent. For example, and I’m not picking on any particular view here, a naturalistic worldview with a purpose having anything to do with making the world a better place. Making the world better is totally foreign to a naturalistic frame. The way you make the world better is by using every advantage you have to survive and thrive, that furthers the advancement of the species through natural selection.

Rules flow from origin and purpose; there is no way around it. Your answers to these two of the big four start to box you in at this point as you consider the questions of morality. What is right, what is wrong, and why? The naturalistic frame is the only frame free from a moral law; in fact it is incoherent to introduce moral law in naturalism because it naturally interferes with the survival of the fittest and advancement of the species.   Every other worldview has a series of rules, of moral laws, and you must as well. Not only must you know what these are, but also you must know from whence they came. Moral laws must have a “law giver” and a judge who will measure. For the polytheist, this can be a bit of dicey since various gods or goddesses might have varying moral laws and scales. For the pantheist, there is karma. For the Jew, Mitzvot and Halakha. For the Muslim, the Quran and Sharia. For the Christian, there are the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. No matter the frame, there is no way around this reality. Even for the naturalist, while there is no moral law, nature itself dictates certain behaviors by way of compulsions, wills, and desires. How you reconcile your own views on a moral law will shape the way you live your life.

Having now reconciled and settled your beliefs one through three, you will land squarely on the question of destiny. Where do I go when I’m all done here? Make no mistake, how you answer this question will change every single thing about your life. Allowing incoherent views here, views that conflict with your answers in any prior question, will serve as a pebble in your shoe. Not just any pebble, but a jagged little dirty pebble in the shoe of a runner in a race. This pebble will be but a minor annoyance at first, then a painful reminder, then the source of injury, and eventually a festering infection. I’m not overstating for dramatic effect. I am stating a reality that the way you answer this question simply must be in absolute agreement with how you answer the ones that came before.

The great men that have come before us, the men who have set examples of living, the men upon who’s shoulders we now stand; these men had answered these questions. Dietrich Bonhoeffer comes to mind, a Lutheran minister who saw the Nazi regime come to power in Germany. Bonhoeffer had spent time at the Bethel Infirmary, a place where many with mental and physical handicaps were sent to live. As he learned of the infamous Nazi euthanasia laws to rid the German race of what Hitler called “useless lives”, he couldn’t help but think of the sweet souls at Bethel. For many reasons Bonhoeffer came to face the reality that, as he said, “it was not a case just of a deluded, vainglorious Germany. Rather, a sick man was in charge of a sick nation in a sick world”. And upon that realization, he made his decision to join the resistance. Never for a moment did he ever come to terms with Nazi power. His believing was absolute and his absolute living followed thereafter. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a real man and he was executed in a Nazi death camp for his participation in a plot to assassinate Hitler. You don’t have to agree with his actions, but you can’t help but be inspired by his resolve. Real men must have a core set of beliefs that they have honed and tested and that they will die for if they have to. You can be sure that beliefs like that will compel you to action.

I spend a good bit of time driving, from client to client, activity to activity … at least a few hours per week for sure. During this time, my mind often wonders off to higher order things, like this blog, much of it is written in my head before I ever sit down in front of my computer. I’ll admit that I am a terrible driver, that goes without saying, but there are times where I get to where I’m going and really don’t even remember much the act of driving? Can you relate? So why is that? How is it possible, given the complexity of driving? Other than the fact that after twenty some years of driving, it’s just automatic. One factor is in the existence of certain driving laws and rules that have become engrained for me. As I drive, there are lines on the road to tell me where I am supposed to be. I say, “supposed” because, for those of you who have had the misfortune of being a passenger with me, you know I take those lines as more of a general guideline. Nonetheless, the lanes are set for us. We have speed limits as well as other processes and procedures. It is safe to say that the rules of driving have been set for us and there is great comfort in that. In fact, more than comfort, there is freedom. Why can my mind journey to the esoteric as I drive? Because the basic questions of driving have been answered for me.

The same is true for our male ancestors of old. Even just one hundred years ago, most young males inherited a pretty rigid and set worldview from their fathers. More so even farther back, into the early eighteenth century, before the enlightenment, but even after that, as recent as just one hundred years ago, most young males didn’t have to struggle with the questions of worldview alone. And even those who did, the frame was given to them, and while they probably tested in the hubris of male youth, generally it was accepted as truth. The problem is that in today’s world, we have undone that. We have sacrificed the passing down of coherent worldviews upon “the alter” of open mindedness and put our young males out to drive on highways with no lanes, in a world where you have to make up the driving rules as you go. Imagine, literally, driving in a place where there are no rules, no lanes, no limits, and you must make it up as you go. That is what it is like to drive in certain parts of the world and, having driven in some of those places, I can assure you your mind doesn’t have any cycles for pondering while driving under those conditions.

It is with this post that I can close the chapter on the second main point of the revival. You may recall that the first endeavor was to convince you all that real men are the world’s most endangered species. Now the second has been to convince you that the first action step starts with you and what you believe. Being a man is about absolute thinking and absolute living. Over the next few weeks I will weave into these posts some examples of how this journey has played out in my life and how what I believe has come to shape all that I am and all that I do.

Stay tuned this week for a hard hitting, but still lighter post, on Wednesday this week. I am going to attack some “stereotypical man bashing dribble” that is circulating the internet right now and I want to make sure that you see it for what it is and that we are unified in our response to this internet fodder. One of my mentors ends each of our conversations by saying, “stay in battle” and it is with that, I close this week’s post.

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