This may sound like the opening line to a joke, but it is in fact, a series of real events...
My first encounter with self-proclaimed Pagan, Jack Donovan, just so happened to be in a bar. As a Christian myself, my religious beliefs aren't particularly vital to this narrative, other than they are vastly different from my then acquaintance (and now friend).
Prior to him visiting, my knowledge of Jack was relegated to his writing, his social media, and a few brief interactions online. Knowing this wasn't the complete picture, I was curious to see what he would be like in person. For those that are unfamiliar, Jack has written several books on the subject of masculinity, most notably The Way of Men, Becoming a Barbarian, and A More Complete Beast.
Based off of the titles alone, one can start to draw some conclusions about the author's personality. Add to that, the viking inspired imagery and prose of his Instagram page, and it starts to paint an interesting picture. Upon meeting him, it was evident these impressions did not tell the whole story. As the old adage goes, you really can't judge a book by its cover.
Photo Credit: Lance Reis @kickassdesigns
Which brings me back to the whole Pagan and Christian thing...
Before bringing someone onto the Savage Gentleman Podcast, I generally like to spend some time getting to know them. This makes for a much smoother conversation when it comes time to start recording. The best ways I've found to get know someone, is taking them up a mountain and punching them in the face (though generally not on the same outing).
After the initial introduction at the bar, the itinerary for Jack's visit included hiking up to a 10,000+ ft summit and some MMA training in the gym. These activities weren't intended to be any kind of litmus test, they just happen to be things I enjoy and like to share with anyone who is willing. But as it turns out, the act of enduring physical challenges together tends to highlight our similarities more so than than our differences.
Despite having polar opposite beliefs regarding religion, I came to realize that our opinions on other matters were strikingly similar...
In most social settings, there is typically a period of feeling-out and perhaps even some posturing that occurs when people first meet. We engage in small talk and common pleasantries, rarely discussing anything of real substance. For most, this process of building enough trust to say what we really think can take years, if not a lifetime. Conversely, through shared hardships or working towards some common goal, we seem to be able to cut through the typical bullsh*t and get to things that actually matter. This phenomenon is something Jack explores quite a bit in his writing.
To paraphrase, he states that as men, we must find a common enemy to aggress against. It is how we form the bonds of our friendships, our tribe, or as he puts it, our gang. As we discuss in the podcast, men today have fewer opportunities to physically work together to overcome some hardship or complete a goal. Ultimately, we can find ourselves feeling out of place and without purpose, and no one to turn to for help.
Seeking out others that share our passions and convictions can be a difficult task, especially if we draw hard fast lines in the sand. In the case with the Pagan and the Christian, our common goal is the betterment of men overall. To inspire and guide those who have settled for less than their full potential. I think for us, the thing we fight is our general complacency as modern men. And in that endeavor, our similarities far outweigh any differences we might have.
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As men of the world, we often feel the need to give advice to those we think may need it. This is perfectly fine and in fact, it is something that is encouraged within the League of Savage Gentlemen. But occasionally, our nuggets of wisdom seem to fall on deaf ears...
There seems to be this impression that there are wolves at the gate regarding masculinity. To me, it feels like a mangy raccoon that is more of an annoyance than anything. Sure, it might get into the trash and there is a small possibility it could have rabies. But is it really something we should fear?