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Steve Lunetta: Modern-day knights

Right About Now

Posted: May 2, 2010 10:30 p.m.
Updated: May 3, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

My dad really wasn’t much of a dad. I can count the number of “good” times with him on one hand. Heavy drinking tends to take away those good times and replace them with bitter memories.

Mom taught me how to play catch and hit a baseball, which explains why I never played first base for the Dodgers. Dad had more important things to do than teach his son how to throw a knuckleball.

By the time I was 10, dad was long gone. Fortunately, other male role models filled my life and pointed me in the right direction.

Mr. Hawkins, my scout master. Coach Polhill, my cross country coach. Jim, my brother-in-law. My grandfather.

I drifted a bit in my youth, but the Lord saw fit to keep me from major harm. Unfortunately, many sons are drifting today and risk falling into an abyss of drugs, violence, sex and crime.

According to Robert Lewis in “Raising a Modern-Day Knight,” there is a simple solution for male adolescent drift — dads.

“(Fatherlessness) represents a radical departure from virtually all of human history and experience,” he writes. “Only fathers can halt the drift of sons.”

Of course, anecdotal evidence for Lewis’ assertion is all around us. For the most part, families with involved dads are healthier, happier and tend to produce better sons than those without.

Further, Lewis asks the question, “How does a young man know when he becomes a man?” I look back on my life and I can’t think of a time that demarked when I crossed over from boyhood to manhood. That is unfortunate. Many other cultures have coming of age rituals, but not here in America.  

Of course, there are much larger implications for society as well. How do families pass on a legacy to the next generation? How do morals, values and faith live on? Without the intentional passing of culture and values, families and society drifts — often to destruction.

In “Raising a Modern-Day Knight,” Lewis gives us a mechanism for educating sons and helping dads raise boys to men. The model is very simple — use Christian knightly virtues as a framework for guiding a youth to manhood.

The knightly virtues are simple. First, a real man rejects passivity. A real man does not sit back and let someone else raise his son.

Dads often tune out and let their wives deal with the children. A real man steps up and becomes a leader in his home.

Second, a real man accepts responsibility. Real men don’t turn and walk away from their responsibilities. Whether work, church or wife, a real man shoulders his responsibilities with honor and quiet resolve.

Third, a real man leads courageously. Leadership requires a willingness to take risks, to do things that are not fun and to make hard choices. How will sons learn this skill if not from their fathers?

Finally, a real man expects the greater reward. We are talking about faith. Real men imbue their sons with a faith that can carry them through the hardest of times. Without a moral and spiritual compass, young men flounder.

A group of us at Faith Community Church decided to apply Lewis’ ideas and raise some modern-day knights. The first group of four dads has been meeting and doing activities together for nearly a year. We now have two additional groups following close behind us.

We have discovered that there is strength in our group. Teenagers have a tendency to think that “only you think that way,” and “no family is as strict as ours.” When they see other dads and their sons believing and doing the same things, this teen complaint is swiftly pushed aside.

Another thing is happening as well — we are teaching the next generation about our system of morals and values. When dads speak, sons listen. This breaks the cycle of friends and popular culture teaching our sons. We give them direction and purpose.

The knights also use ceremony as a way to mark critical milestones in a young man’s life. As a young man progresses toward manhood, critical points are marked and celebrated. This gives form and substance to a young man’s development.

Are you interested in raising a modern-day knight? Or, are you interested in starting a group at your place of worship? Please feel free to contact me at the e-mail address below.

Sir Steve Lunetta a resident of the shire of Santa Clarita and can be reached at slunetta63@yahoo.com. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the Signal.


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