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An Annotated Bibliography of Menís Movement Literature

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Iron John by Robert BlyRobert Bly. Iron John : A Book About Men. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1990. This was the book many were waiting for after Blyís PBS special with Bill Moyers. Both the PBS television special and this 260 page book are reputed to have launched dozens of new UU menís groups. Bly examines the Grimmís fairy tale of Iron Hans and explicates some of his thinking and philosophy of the menís movement. In the book, he tells part of the tale and then provides commentary. He pays particular attention to initiation, mentoring, and points to what constitutes the true masculine. Blyís way of explicating a myth or fairy tale has been successfully adapted for use in many menís group workshops. A classic.

coverRobert Bly, James Hillman, Michael Meade, eds. The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. The quintessential book of poetry for the menís movement. Each editor introduces one of the sixteen sections: Bly is a poet, Hillman a Jungian psychologist, and Mead a mensí movement leader. The books is about 500 pages with an index of authors and another of first lines: from Rumi to Thoreau to Stevens to Kinnell to, well the list just goes on and on. There are some women poets represented here also. I use this book for Fatherís Day and menís issues sermons and services, and for menís group work. Highly recommended. Ellis Cose. A Manís World. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.

Ellis Cose. A Manís World. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. Cose, an assistant editor at Time magazine, wants to ask and answer in his 260 page book, the question: ďHow real is male privilege and how high is its price?Ē He presents a large number of statistics and poll results in a relatively engaging, sometimes dramatic fashion. He makes excellent use of interviews he did or researched for some of the ďman in the streetĒ perspectives and he makes good use of a variety of collateral material. Good quotes as well.

FatherLoss by Neil Chethik Neil Chethik. FatherLoss: How sons of all ages come to terms with the deaths of their dads. New York: Hyperion Books, 2001. 266 pages. $23.95. A first-of-its-kind exploration of how sons prepare for, and cope with, the deaths of their fathers. Based on a landmark national survey of more than 300 men, and in-depth interviews with 70 others. Written for the lay and professional audience by a UU journalist.  Won't be available until September, 2001.

Myth of Male Power by Warren FarrellWarren Farrell. Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex. New York: Berkeley Books, 1993. An instant hit and a bombshell on the media scene, you can turn to almost any of the 400+ pages in this book and find statistics and new insights into how patriarchy damages men. Itís probably the book most quoted by other authors. If you read this book, you may never think the same way about masculinity and patriarchy again. A must for the church library.

Christopher Harding, ed. Wingspan: Inside the Menís Movement. New York: St. Martinís Press, 1992. Out of print. Chris Harding, editor of ďWingspan: Journal of the Male Spirit,Ē has selected essays, interviews and lists from the 16-page tabloidís first six years. I like this 250 page book a lot because it is the only book I know of that really gives a broad overview of the mythopoetic menís movement. This book covers a lot of ground: from the prophetic: Mentoring for Masculine Leadership, to the reflective: Dancing in the Cracks Between Worlds, to the taboo: Hung Like a Hamster: The Heavy Weight of a Small Penis, It also gives editorial space to critics of the mythopoetic menís movement, including pieces by Harry Brod and Sam Keen.

Joseph Jastrab. Sacred Manhood, Sacred Earth: A Vision Quest into the Wilderness of a Manís Heart. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Out of print. This book moves through a series of vignettes collected over a 10 year period while the author led ďMenís QuestsĒ in New York State. Jastrab gives convincing examples of how masculine spirituality can heal loss and lead to renewal among men on retreat. Mostly his book is filled with illustrations and anecdotes about how men consider and enact movement beyond the border of ďculturally defined manhood.Ē While some of the ritual Jastrab has developed may be useful for your local menís group, the bookís primary value is in providing the individual stories of a decade of menís retreats.

Allan G. Johnson. The Gender Knot: Unraveling our Patriarchal Legacy. Temple University Press, 1997. Recommended by Tom Owen-Towle. A balanced approach to gender inequality that empowers both men and women to be part of the solution.

A Circle of Men, The Original Manual for Men's Support GroupsBill Kauth. A Circle of Men: The Original Manual for Menís Support Groups. New York: St. Martinís Press, 1992. A very structured and organized approach to starting and running a menís support group. It is a good introductory book if you have no idea where to begin, and it is good for the broad set of considerations on keeping a local group going. 127 pages with bibliography.

coverSam Keen. Fire in the Belly : On Being a Man. New York: Bantam, 1991. I find Keenís 268 page book a bit simplistic. He tends to talk in broad sweeps about men and sprinkles his discussion with some developmental psychology, opinion poll results, and slightly clichťd platitudes. I think Moore and Kipnis do a better job at this kind of thing, but a lot of men have liked this book.

coverAaron R. Kipnis. Knights Without Armor: A Practical Guide for Men in Quest of Masculine Soul. New York: Tarcher, 1991. Highly recommended. Covers all areas of the men's movement: mythopoetic, men's rights, dad's rights, gender studies, starting and nurturing men's groups. A great theorist with thought-provoking examples. Excellent breadth.

Wayne Liebman. Tending the Fire: The Ritual Menís Group. St. Paul, MN: Ally Press, 1991. This slim (57 pages) tome is a jewel because it gets right to the heart of what constitutes a ritual menís group and how it is different from say, a menís support group. I believe Liebmanís got some good ideas on how to move from the personal dramas of our lives to the more universal mythical patterns common to all men and how we can use that in a religious way.

coverMichael Meade. Men and the Water of Life: Initiation and the Tempering of Men. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. Michael Meadeís book, now in paperback, is a wonderful, multifaceted look at how one becomes a man by way of several perspectives. He examines 8 fairy tales in terms of initiation and the tempering of men. He reflects on eventful happenings in the 12 years of menís weekends he has co-led. And he provides insights by way of personal reflections on his own road to manhood, including his story of changing his mind about Vietnam after being drafted. It is that story Robert Bly says is worth the price of the book, and I have to agree. This is a book to keep by the nightstand and one where the book mark moves slowly.

coverRobert Moore and Douglas Gillette. King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine. New York: HarperCollins, 1990. A foundational text. Moore is a seminary professor at Chicago Theological Seminary and expert in Adlerian and Jungian psychology. I studied with Moore and found a lot in this book and the four sequels (one for each archetype). Particularly useful for thinking about the mature and immature masculine, male psychology, and spiritual development.

Tom Owen-Towle. New Men, Deeper Hungers. Revised edition with Study Guide, 2000. This book has clear essays and questions showing the way, for individuals and groups, toward mature masculinity marked by flexibility, firmness, pain and depth. Available from the UU Men's Network, 4190 Front Street, San Diego, CA 92103 for $15.00.

Tom Owen-Towle. Brother-Spirit: Men Joining Together in the Quest for Intimacy and Ultimacy. 1991. This book is both practical and philosophical and makes a compelling case for the intertwining needs for friendship and meaning, relational bonds and divine connection in men's lives. Available from author, 3303 Second Ave. San Diego, CA 92103 for $11.95.

Tom Owen-Towle and Chris Hassett. Friendship Chronicles: Letters Between a Gay and a Straight Man, 1994. The only extant volume dealing directly with the joys and struggles of bridging the gap between sexual orientations. Available from Rev. Owen-Towle, 3303 Second Ave. San Diego, CA 92103 for $12.95.

Tom Owen-Towle and January Riddle. The Bridge Called Respect: Women and Men Joining As Allies. Skinner House Books, Boston, 2000, $16.00. readily available at the UUA Bookstore. A book on how to assist women and men in forging enlivening bonds, what Buddhism calls "right relations", with the other gender. Full of exercises relevant for individual readers as well as inter-gender support groups.

E. Anthony Rotundo. American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era. New York: BasicBooks, 1993. The author, a history teacher at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, writes of three phases of manhood from about the mid-eighteenth century until about the 1950s. His main subjects are New England men, several of whom were Unitarians. He provides an important history of the social construction of masculinity in the U.S. in some detail and even looks at how some professions were seen as less manly than others (medicine and ministry compared to law). It also allows us to ask what our place will be in that history: it allows us to consciously examine how the construction of manhood affects us as religious liberals. Fascinating, good history, fine anecdotes.

coverMalidoma Patrice Somť. Ritual : Power, Healing, and Community. Portland, OR: Swan/Raven & Company, 1993. Somť was raised in Burkina Faso, Africa and holds 3 masters and 2 Ph.D. degrees from the Sorbonne and Brandeis. After his education and feeling slightly discontented, he returned to his home village to become ďan initiated manĒ of the Dagara tribe he grew up in. Since then he has taken on the task of being a bridge between his people and westerners. He pays particular attention to economy, power, purpose, and eldership as it applies to ritual. This 127 page book is a unique glimpse into the meeting of the renewal of ritual traditions in Africa and the U.S. Over the last several years, he has worked with Bly, Moore, Hillman, and Meade, et al, at various menís movement retreats, including the more recent multicultural ones. They all praise his work highly.

coverBernard Weiner . Boy into Man: A Fathers' Guide to Initiation of Teenage Sons. San Francisco, CA: Transformation Press, 1992. Coming-of-age rituals for teenagers in America are few and far-between; most of the ones that do exist -- bar mitzvah, confirmation, Scout induction, etc. -- are carried out by institutions. As Robert Bly and others have noted, there is a desperate need for community ceremonies in which elders initiate young adults in the secrets of manhood, womanhood, adulthood.
In this book, Bernard Weiner and other fathers and uncles recount the rite-of- passage ceremony they created for their 13- and 14-year-old boys: a weekend series of activities, theatricalized rituals and heart-to-heart discussions between men and boys (which could be adapted for girls as well), carried out in the woods and around a fire pit next to a river in Northern California. Their ceremony offers innumerable hints for how you want want to stage something similar for your coming-of-age adolescents as they approach adulthood.
Complete with photos, full script, helpful hints, ceremonial stories, the boys' reactions, the mothers' ritual and more.


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