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Facing a Phalanx

Facing the Phalanx

The Phalanx

John Keegan – The Book of War, 1999:  “Without discipline, however, armies are ineffective instruments, needing leadership to order their numbers and concentrate their power. The concentration of power at the highest level achievable with hand-held weapons reached its apogee among the Greek city-states of the 5th Century BC, where the Phalanx, a densely ranked mass of spearmen, won battles by sheer weight and momentum in a few minutes of deadly pushing and stabbing. Since the survival of each of its members depended on maintaining the closest possible bodily contact with neighbours, the Phalanx generated and intense spirit of collective effort, which in turn was reflected in the civic life of the Greek states… In its heyday, the Phalanx was invincible.”

When Jesus sent out His followers with nothing else, He sent them with another believer (Luke 10:1-6). The Christian life is not to be, and maybe cannot fully be, lived without other followers.

I want to offer a quick note that I think is vitally important for the audience that is reading this material. There is much more that will follow about this concept and its significance to us as men: friendships, community, brotherhood, etc. is pretty profound.  The word “Brethren” is used hundreds of times in the Holy Scriptures.

But for now, just the basics.  

Maybe Jesus was trying to teach His followers that this one of the most basic things about living in His Kingdom.

We cannot do this alone.

In the last of three battles, one version pits 110,000 Persians under Mardonius (Xerxes head general) against about 10,000 Greeks.  They fought through the day and whent he dust settled, around 60,000 Persian bodies littered the field mixed with less than 1,000 Greeks.  It was one of the most one-sided battles in all of history.  How was this done?

The Greek armies developed a way of fighting in which the men learned to see themselves as part of a formation – not as individuals. They learned to see their shields as defending not just themselves, but the men to their sides and behind them. In fact, they learned to see the area protected behind their shields as spreading all the way behind them to their wives, children, homes and nation. The soldiers were called “Hoplites” because of their ‘Hoplon” shields (the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae are the most famous). The formation and philosophy was and is called “The Phalanx.”

Their devotion to their brothers defined them.  The shield was the physical expression of that devotion.

In the phalanx formation itself, each man’s shield covered himself and the man on his side, as well as the men behind. Each depended on the other. When, about 500 years before the birth of Christ, Xerxes led an army of perhaps well over a 1,000,000 men (some say two million) into Greece, the Greeks defeated him in only three main battles. On land and sea, the Hoplites made use of this philosophy of warfare to win even though they may have never had an army larger than maybe 30,000 men (some say ten thousand)… and usually outnumbered at least 10 to 1.

They knew what we too often forget. I meant what I said before.  If we are to remember that we are heroes, we will need brothers to remind us, pray for us, challenge us, confront us, love us, live with us and die with us.

We are not and cannot be in this alone.

Please remember to involve other men in your lives, into the lives of your family, of your children, your church, etc.

 Mainly, though, into your life. We make use of teams to take care of things at work that are nowhere near as important to us as our lives and families – why not involve others? This will mean you, as a father, brother, leader, husband and man, will have to get to know other men well enough to let them help mold and train you. 

They will also be there to help you mold and train your children. You will have to be able to trust them not to abuse or mistreat your child – but even more – trust them not to teach your child something you would hate!

This patrol must involve pastors, youth ministers, and other church staff. However, it also needs to include your friends… and if you are typical of many men in America, you don’t have any real friends you know that well.

My encouragement to you is to pray and begin to work to create those kind of relationships. You will need them in your life and your kids will need them in their lives too. Check out Stu Weber’s book Locking Arms, Steve Farrar’s King Me, Smalley & Trent’s The Blessing, Dobson’s Bringing up Boys, Kimmel’s Raising Kids for True Greatness, and Robert Lewis’ Raising a Modern Day Knight. These men were and are in it with us as well. We are all in this together.

Incidentally, Lord willing, this will also be the name for a ministry to churches to help them develop powerful and integrated Men’s ministries.

Brother to Brother, Shield to Shield, Soul to Soul, Iron to Iron.

Deo Volente’

PS please go and read the “We are Heroes” Blog next:  http://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/phalanx-introduction-2/

Ideas for dating your wife:

Gentlemen, I want to create a place where men can offer up their own ideas and experiences for creative, kind, and/or considerate dating
ideas.

These can range from actual date planning strategies, like a

Type I  schedule and plan for an entire date, or a great addition to a “normal” date (see Bookstore) to a…

Type II habit to develop with your date planning (“does the restaurant have TV’s all over the place to distract me from her?”) or even to a…

Type III specific opportunities or recommendations (“skip _______ movie, it stinks” or “Cowen Center in Tyler has some pretty sweet opportunities http://www.cowancenter.org/)

Men:  if you try an idea or have tried one in the past that was good (or maybe a bad one could be fun too) PLEASE offer it up here as a comment.
We are all in this together and we are all better husbands than each of us can be.

Ladies:  if there is an idea that you think would be a sweet idea for a husband to do, please post that in a comment too.   If you think an idea one of us men put here is good, needs a tweak or is bad, let us know about that too!  Plus, you might have a cool date idea for other women to read to use with their husbands.  Most of these ideas are not gender specific anyway, but we men tend to be the one who needs extra help.

Truly, all, I want this to be a spot from which I can steal ideas, and the rest of us can too!

So, here are just a few that I have in my head:

Type I:  In the past, I have purchased a card or candle or flower and delivered it to the restaurant before we arrive and ask them to bring them (it) to our table soon after we are seated.

Type II:  Always write in a card – don’t just sign it.  Even just one special thing you appreciate about your wife makes a card a keeper.  You paid $4 for the dumb thing, it might as well be worth something to her!

Type I:  When the weather is nice, try a picnic.  Avoid anyplace that is at all creepy if you are going for an evening picnic.  Picnic can mean just something to drink, a blanket to sit on and snacks or it can be a full meal you prepared or picked up.  If evening, then a candle or two is a must.

Type II:  Nice is good, but don’t try to purchase her affection with cash… dates don’t have to be too expensive.

Type I:  Schedule a night away in a cabin on a river – no tv, limited cell.  Focus your attention on her.

Type II:  Keep an eye out for local opportunities.  I am never endingly amazed at what even small towns can offer in the way of concerts, plays, etc.  Keeping your eyes out means you are thinking about her!

Type II:  Generally, try to remember to hold doors and pull out chairs, etc.  This is not some macho trip, but she will probably appreciate it.  If she doesn’t, use the opportunity to find out why – maybe you don’t need to, or maybe you need to more faithfully once she understands you think she is worth more than she thinks she is!

Type I:  Take her to a bookstore, go to the children’s section and find your favorite book from childhood.  Read it to her and then have her do the
same.  Cool memories can be found here.

Type II:  When you are walking (maybe a Type I idea there), try to remember to hold hands.  This simple gesture used to take your breath away, and now is a sure way to communicate you just want people to know you are together.

Type ?:  read out loud or at least at the same time together.  I will list soon all of the books that I have read out loud to Ginger (or her to me) over the almost 18 years of our marriage.  I wouldn’t trade this for anything.  Plus she scratches on me while I read!

Type I:  Borrow or rent a fun car.  Even a simple date can be livened up with a convertible.

Type I:  go shop for a game and play it.  This can be a whole family date too.

Type II:  make your cell phone as invisible as possible.  ‘nuff said.

Type II:  don’t use your wife as a bad example.  I don’t know why we do this – maybe it is hanging on from pushing a girl in the mud to let her know we like her, but it isn’t cute anymore.  I hear about this all the time.

Type I:  itunes hunt for the best songs from your generation.  Go somewhere with fast internet and a $20
itunes card.  Go nuts.

Ok – who else has some ideas?

Ladies (this means you, Ginger)  – if you happen to read this list, and your husband finds out about it and does something he reads here, don’t criticize or comment that it wasn’t his idea.  Most, if not all, of the things you do in your marriage have been done before and were someone else’s idea… weren’t they?

Basic education for men

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK2OakMoW_c&feature=related

Here is a series of ideas for men in regards to loving their wives… some of them may seem a little cheezy, but I guess that doenst mean it will to you – or much much more importantly, our wives…

http://www.familylife.com/site/c.dnJHKLNnFoG/b.4126505/k.D43C/Simply_Romantic_Tips_for_Him.htm#

Once I heard a story preached that I think makes some great points about our roles as men in our families, and especially our marriages.  Honestly, I am dubious as to its veracity, accuracy, or at least its specifics, but whether based on history or not, it preaches well even as a parable.
Here it is:

The Tale of the Eight Cow Wife

Once there was a missionary who’s ministry was to a small community of tribes in Africa.  One of the more quirky traditions of the tribe was the process for choosing a spouse.

When a father deemed that his daughter was old enough to be married, he announced it.  Over the next few days and weeks, the eligible bachelors communicated their desire to marry her by tying cows to the father’s fence.
In the end, the one who had paid the most cows got the girl (and the dad got the cows).

Obviously, the more of the traits of a good wife (culturally) that a woman demonstrated, the more cows she would bring.  If she were kind, submissive, smart, beautiful, etc. then she might bring 4 or 5 cows (6 was the record).  Others might get 2 or 3 cows.

The missionary was mentoring a number of young Christian men preparing them to be ministers for their own people.  One, in particular, he was friends with.  This young man had committing himself to finding the greatest wife ever.  He insisted that he would keep looking until he found an “8 cow wife.”

Despite the protests of the parents and the missionary, the young man was intent… and unmarried.

Eventually, the missionary was called back home for a furlough break.  While home, he received a telegram from the village. “_________
married, eight cow wife”.

The missionary was intrigued and couldn’t wait to get back to the village to find out more.

When he finally did, he went straight to the young man’s house and was welcomed in by the gentlest, most deferential, beautiful young lady he
had ever seen.  As the men sat to talk, she served them kindly and was clearly very smart.  She brightened the room in every way.

Stunned, the old missionary proclaimed “You did it.  I must admit that you have found an 8 cow wife indeed!  Where did you find her?”

The young man replied, “Oh, that is _________ from the next village.”

The missionary was surprised.  “I knew her, certainly she was a kind and pretty girl, but, no offense, I would not have thought of her as an eight cow wife, and certainly I would never have recognized this wife as her!”

The young man smiled and said “After you left I searched and searched and was despairing of ever finding my eight cow wife when I believe
God intervened.  I believe He revealed to me this truth:  there was one way to get an eight cow wife.  I chose a woman and paid eight cows for her.”

*****

We can imagine the effect on the village the scandal of the thing!  We can also imagine what it did to the young lady of character when a man chose her so certainly and with such finality and in doing so making her the only 8 cow wife in the history of the community!

Men, generally speaking, I believe that we have the wife of our choosing.  Some of them are more hurt and timid and more comfortable hiding than others, but the effect of a MAN who chooses her and pursues her and proclaims her, has a huge effect on her.  Much of this is true of wives in regards to husbands as well – maybe most of it, but I was talking to the men.

I am not saying that women are passive members of a marriage… much less powerless ones… but I have just seen too many times when
men are missing their opportunity to communicate such a Godly message to their wives… so, husbands…

What have you done recently to communicate to your wife that you see her as a treasure of great value?

I would love to hear about it, and so would everyone else!  Ladies, feel free to post something that communicates what how your husband might communicate it… we need wisdom and good ideas …After all, we are all in this together.

Two kinds of Men

I used to love to read Westerns when I was a young man and I still do. 

Now, I realize that part of the reason is that there is a representation of life, purpose, right and wrong, and especially masculinity that is simple (meaning “not unnecessarily complex” rather than “foolish”) and straightforward.   Not a lot of things are presented that way anymore; more’s the shame.

 In one of these old Westerns, I once read a distinction about masculinity that has been very helpful over the years.  I cannot remember if the author was Louis L’amour or Zane Grey (it might have been Riders of the Purple Sage)… but the distinction went something like this:

There are essentially two types of men.  The first are the kind of men that women fear, but no real man does.  These are the abusers, intemperate children in men’s bodies.  The second are those that no women would ever need fear, but that every man must take into account… the Western equivalent of respect

There are plenty of men out there that I would be certain would never intentionally hurt a woman – especially not in anger, but that I would feel the need to take into account before I acted, especially if it were in a foolish or immoral way. 

I am not talking about the freaky extreme situation that might be possible, but that the vast majority of us will never come anywhere near – some kind of dramatic violence posed against a child or something, I guess…

I will periodically ask a man in my counseling what the ugliest expression of his anger has ever been.  It is amazing to me how many often there has been slapping or pushing… or at least physical intimidation (cornering, yelling in her face, gripping her arms)… or even just calling her foul names. 

This is sad but intriguing to me.

Why would a man dishonor himself this way?

Virtually all of the men who I hear this from know this is not ok.  In fact, I will often ask them “what would you do if another man spoke to your wife this way, or treated her this way.”  The answer I expect (and kind of hope for) is some version of “those would be fighting words.”

Men,  I would recommend you don’t say or do anything in anger to your wife that you would want to kill another man for saying or doing.  This seems like a simple and obvious place to start, at least, doesn’t it?

It is beneath you as a man.

In fact, we have to acknowledge and accept the power that we have in the lives of the people around us.  There is more about that concept in the article about being  *heroes and I will write more in a follow up article on meekness * (http://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/phalanx-introduction-2/)

Leave it at this for now – be the kind of man that other men would respect (or had at least better take you into account), but that women would always know that your physical power and presence would be used in for them… but they would not need to fear it, or you.

A brother has submitted to the Phalanx a site for sending free online cards – maybe a surprise online card will be just what she needs!  He says that 123greetings.com is a good site for this.  I found a cute one and sent it to my wife.

We are all in this together!

Chris

The other way that a person can experience sexuality is intimately

If illicit sex is about experiencing the dark or shameful excitement of doing something “wrong” and erotic sexuality is about experiencing the joys of sex, then intimate sexuality is about experiencing  and knowing another person. 

In the intimate expression of sex, the purpose of the sex is the most-complete possible engagement with your lover.  Your desire is for them… not primarily for sex.

Think of it this way:  I ask a bud to go throw the football.  He says “nah, I’m not really interested in throwing the football.”  Then I have two choices… I can say “ok, then I will find someone else who might be interested in tossing the football”… this choice would indicate that football was the interest – what was irreplaceable to me was football.  Obviously, with something like football, even if someone was as insecure about not being chosen as I am, they would probably be fine with it….

… or, I could say “well, then, bro, what would you like to do?”  In this, I would be making it clear that the intent of the request was getting time with the person.  The person is a priority over the activity, get it?

Intimacy is about knowing another person.  The more intimately I know them, the more I know what is going on inside of them – their thinking, ideas, beliefs, etc.  I think it is a mistake when speakers, pastors, etc. use “intimacy” as a euphemism for “sex.”  I think it is confusing.  Certainly two people  can have intimacy without it having anything at all to do with sexuality.  This confusion is another reason I wanted to write this article.

It is easy to see why or at least how the two got confused.  As its creator intended, sex is meant to be experienced intimately, and it also encourages intimacy.  It is meant to be intertwined with sex, like baptism and salvation for the Christian… however, they are not interchangeable and you certainly can have one without the other.  This unavoidable intertwining, I assume, is why “intimacy” has become a nice way of saying “sex”, but it leads to confusion… and God knows we don’t need any MORE confusion in this area.

There are some very significant consequences of the expression of intimate sexuality.  First, unlike erotic or illicit sex, it is an investment that grows. 

One of the lies of modern psychology about marriage is that being good at sex (as a skill set, like skiing, or swimming) is important in marriage.  This MIGHT be true if every man or woman appreciated and enjoyed the same things sexually and in the same way.  However, they don’t.

I had some clients in the past who were both sex professionals… and they were married.  Why were they in counseling?  Because they were unable to enjoy the sex life that they wanted in their marriage.  Believe me, they had all the skills and experience they needed… and they looked like Greek gods.  Their eros meters must have been off of the chart.  However, as I said before, “generally, when someone has a dissatisfactory experience of their sexual life, it seems most often because they ONLY have illicit or even erotic expressions.”  Maybe this is part of why sexual experiences between future spouses before marriages often have to be healed as part of marriage counseling… maybe, but I don’t know.

The truth is that in marriage, the fulfillment is about intimacy, not sex… including in regards to sex. 

Make sense? 

Again, maybe… maybe this is why people who have something of an expertise in sex aren’t more (in the anecdotal experience of this therapist) likely to have a great or satisfactory sexual aspect to their marriage; but, people with a “PhD” in their spouse do!

Hope for us: 

All around us are examples of broken, shallow, empty, hopeless examples.  We have taken God’s great precious and valuable gift of sex, taken it out of its protective glass case of marriage and begun to treat it as common and cheap… a thrill of empty calories rather than a satiating meal of intimacy…

 but all we need is the hope of it having been done well… a different kind of example…  A path worn well enough to follow.

 I have one:  my grandparents were married 62 years before my grandfather died.  Few of us will ever know that kind of intimacy.  I don’t mean to be odd about this, but I assume that my 84 year old grandmother did not compete well in the erotic arena… but can you imagine how there would be no one on Earth capable of competing with her in the intimate arena?  And they didn’t have just time, but devotion, love, knowledge and passion.  My wife and I model our marriage after theirs.

As time passes and the “ravages” of age set in, our erotic power may fade… but our intimate investments can compound.  I am certain my grandfather would not have traded for any woman anywhere.

I have an example.

I intend to be another. 

You?

Keep looking for more articles describing the rest of the teaching about sexuality that I went over at the Seminar.  My goal is that all of us be able to communicate to our wives (and families) that they are treasure.  I don’t want to leave sexuality out of that discussion.  If this is your first article to read, let me encourage you to go back to the Phalanx page and start the materials to men to start getting the complete picture.

Brother to Brother

Chris

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