Manly VS. Manful

Manliness is an aesthetic.
Manfulness is the beauty and truth behind that aesthetic.

Manliness, as an aesthetic, can be used for good or bad. It could be a true aesthetic or a false aesthetic.
Manfulness, however, is always a form for men to aspire towards.

Manliness seeks to robe men in the garb, accents, and presentation of manhood.
Manfulness infuses such fashions and adornments with meaning.

Manly men may concern themselves with physical strength. This may end well, as in the fireman who lifts burning rubble off of a victim, or poorly, as in domestic violence.
Manful men know that strength must be tempered with meekness–that power without self-control is tyranny, that the only true power is self-control.

Manly men kiss girls.
Manful men know that a kiss represents affection, and so where there is strong affection, kisses follow. The two men I respect most in my life often kiss me on the cheek or forehead when they greet me. Judas’ kiss, as contrast, haunts us. “You betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” asks Jesus, and when he asks we squirm. Why? Because kisses represent the affection of friendship, a friendship that was betrayed in the most pure of actions. 

Manly men wear argyle.
Manful men realize that argyle is left over from an age where men “dressed to impress,” where grown men refused to let bad first impressions or assumptions get in the way of real human interaction. If your appearance gets in the way of relationship, then your appearance is selfish. Men dressed well because men took business seriously. Artists wore tweed. Businessmen wore pinstripe. All men wore some sort of overcoat. It’s not a fashion statement for the manful man, but a statement of purpose: I’m here to work, to influence the world by the productivity of my presence. This may apply as argyle these days or it may look like taking up your every professional endeavor with tact and intentionality, always considering the other person before yourself. It may also mean dressing as a homeless man in order to learn from the homeless because bad first impressions — including pretension, arrogance, and high society — should never get in the way of real human interaction.

A Manly man uses a straight razor.
A Manful man recognizes that a straight razor conceptually helps him in practicing meekness (see “physical strength” above). In addition, a straight razor functionally (1) helps cut down on razor burn, and thus helps dress to impress (2) reduces waste created by disposable razors, and thus helps care for life (3) represents assertiveness without destruction. The number one failure of man involves his role as a destroyer or a passive observer. He must be neither — sharp, but never lacerating; straight, never crooked. A straight razor is nothing without self-control, meekness, gentleness. In fact, it’s worse than nothing. It’s Sweeney Todd.

Manly men eat meat.
Manful men recognize that death is a temporal state of being–that one day death will be no more. In that day, the wolf will lie down with the lamp, the asp will lay with the ox, and the little child will lead the lion by hand. Like the Cherokee and other Natives before them, a manful man realizes that if he eats meat in this season, then something had to die in order for him to live. Death in any form grieves the Spirit of Life, and so death must grieve the manful man as well. This includes war, but also vegetarianism. Death of plant life is another grievance and the tree in your back yard is not “your” tree, but rather “a” tree. As one sustained by the Spirit of Life, a tree is a living being like you, lesser though it may be. Manful men, if they eat meat, eat meat with a sorrowful gratitude: they may live where another died. So too for vegans that kill entire plants to live.

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Manly men make it rain [hundred-dollar bills].
Manful men recognize that their assertiveness and ordering of finances into a budget is part of the creative act–that to do so means to give life. Therefore greed has no place. If you are frugal, if you aspire to great wealth, those things belong to the poor. If you do not know the poor, then you have no reason to make that much money. First know the poor, teach them frugality, then when you accumulate riches, share. After all, we teach our kids that sharing makes for a happier play room. The same is true of the world.

Manly men stop at the outward appearance.
Manful men apply themselves toward cultivating first a healthy soul and heart.


I could go on and on, but take the idea and run with it in the comments. What other distinctions can you find between manliness and manfulness?

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PS > I forgot to add a key distinction.

Manliness, as an aesthetic, has two pitfalls on either side of the manful form it intends. One is avoidance/withdrawal. The other is overcompensation. Here’s how it works: men who default to avoidance and withdrawal used “manly” aesthetics to cover up those faults. Men who default to overcompensation use “manly” aesthetics to assert a false sense of manfulness in their life.

Avoiding/Withdrawing men use manliness to cover up these traits: Passive, wimp, unassertive, overly nice, silent, quiet, eats his words, fearful, avoids conflict, can’t find/hold job, passive aggressive, pouts, apologetic, inoffensive, unobtrusive, irresponsible, procrastinator.

Overcompensating men use manliness to assert a false sense of manfulness through these traits: Angry, in your face, threatening, competitive, abrasive, antagonistic, over the top, jerk, demanding, over-driven, violent, bully, blame shifting, argumentative, provoker, taker, user.

Manful  men express masculinity through traits of strength and tenderness: Leader, servant, firm, risk taker, adventurer, confident, courageous, relational, lover, caring, compassionate, brokenness, hero, brings order out of chad, honest, admits failures.

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