Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Book Review: Future Men

(Douglas Wilson: Calvary Press, 2001)

So the thing about Douglas Wilson is... you are never at a loss to know what he thinks about a matter! And such is the case when it comes to raising boys.

Having a man-child of my own, I was particularly interested to read what Wilson had to say and enjoyed this book a lot. The work proceeds in four sections: Understanding Future Men; Molding Future Men; Future Men Against Themselves; and Future Men with Others. If you have not figured it out yet, the idea is that the little boy we love to play with and tease and kick a ball toward... is one day going to have large feet and big muscles – he will be a man. But real manhood is more than stature, it something arrived at after a process of shaping and molding. Hence, we need to view our boys as our future men.

I loved the whole premise and the “call to arms.” It reminded me of one of my favorite poems from The Book of Virtues:

A boy that is truthful and honest
And faithful and willing to work;
But we have not a place that we care to disgrace
with a boy that is ready to shirk.

Wanted--a boy you can tie to,
A boy that is trusty and true,
A boy that is good to old people,
And kind to the little ones too.

A boy that is nice to the home folks,
And pleasant to sister and brother,
A boy who will try when things go awry
To be helpful to father and mother.

These are the boys we depend on--
Our hope for the future, and then
Grave problems of state and the world's work await
Such boys when they grow to be men.

(Taken from The Book of Virtues, William J. Bennett, editor)

Wilson covers all the major concerns of shaping boys into real men: laziness, sex, secret sin, courtship, girls, friends, fights, school work, and sports to name a few. Each section is written with that “serrated edge” he is known for, so you need to read with a smile and not take offense if you are to gain from many of his good insights.

The section on maintaining a covenant home was a valiant attempt to explain how to treat our sinner boys as Christians without immersing them in some presumptive regeneration hoogly. As you can imagine that was not an easy task and I do not think Wilson succeeded – not for lack of effort, but simply because the position is untenable. Other than that, however, the book is a good read and full of excellent advice for North American fathers in particular.

If nothing else, you will be entertained and challenged. Wilson is a vivid author and when combined with a subtle wit, it makes his work quite compelling. And the whole concept of thinking about our boys as boys – read here, “not girls” – is so vital in a feminist-dominated culture that I think every dad should read this – whether he has boys or not. There is a lot of value in the book for raising our young women, too.

So, I highly commend the book to any parent or person that works with kids. You will be personally challenged in your manhood (if you are a man) and find many excellent helps for raising those future men, should the Lord bless your quiver with one or six.