Inviting men into a new conversation


"Bond of Brothers: Connecting With Other Men Beyond Work, Weather and Sports" by Wes Yoder
Zondervan, © 2010, 189 pages, $16.99

Let's admit it; the reputation of men in popular culture is pretty sad. TV, movies, radio and nearly all other forms of entertainment have settled upon an image of men that includes being clumsy, thoughtless, only interested in himself and not very good with demonstrating emotions and caring behavior.

While this caricature may be true for some small portion of the male population, most men would not fit this description. And hopefully men who have a deep faith in Christ would be even less likely to fit this popularly held image.

Nevertheless, being a man comes with its own unique challenges and possibilities. Becoming mature, faithful and caring doesn't always come easily for men. Yet, Wes Yoder in "Bond of Brothers: Connecting With Other Men Beyond Work, Weather and Sports" aims to help men understand who they are and how to connect with other men on their journeys to responsible manhood, fatherhood and living faithfully.

Yoder writes about the reason for the book: "I have decided to help create a conversation about what I see as the architecture of a man's heart and soul and to help men find a language that expresses who they are as men in order to restore their families and their dreams, even if, as James Taylor sang, their dreams lie like 'flying machines in pieces on the ground.'"

Chapter titles include "The Glory and Shame of Fathers and Sons"; "Sorrow—the Hand that Shapes Us"; "Sadness in the Church" and several others that touch on important and sometimes difficult areas in men's lives.

In the particularly strong chapter "The Glory and Shame of Fathers and Sons," Yoder's central premise is "that men aren't talking much about things that matter, and our silence is quite disturbing. But what you need to know about men is that they are more than willing to talk when they have the respect of those who are willing to listen, provided the topic isn't one more thing they really don't care about."

Those important topics, according to Yoder, are discussing the heartaches and failures many men face during their lives and learning from them and also learning how to walk through them together: father and son, friend and friend.

The idea of rugged individualism is a strong American trait but maybe not as strong a trait for a country as it is for many men. The failure of men to engage in meaningful community is most likely rooted in the idea of "doing it on my own" or "I don't need anyone else to help me" mentality.

In the penultimate chapter titled "Build Your Own Coffin," Yoder encourages men to embrace the idea of community and to experience the grace and strength it provides.

"Community as I know it and saw it lived in the simplicity of the Amish and Mennonites is best described as a 'common unity,' a communing unity held together as one by a shared desire for life to be complete, to be filled with love, heritage, faith and gentle goodness," Yoder writes.

The book is written in a conversational, engaging manner. Yoder sprinkles it with personal experiences and anecdotes that serve as important and pivotal episodes in not only his life, but in the lives of many men. It's a great read for men and for women who want to understand and delve deeper into the men they love.

"Bond of Brothers: Connecting With Other Men Beyond Work, Weather and Sports" can be purchased at LifeWay Christian Stores or online.