Week 6 in the year of our Lord 2022

Orbiters, gravitas, and dialectic kung-fu

15 minutes to read

The defining characteristic of many weak men is that they are “orbiters.”

They are desperate for direction and validation—frequently due to poor father relationships.

In their search for direction and validation, they tend to get stuck in the orbit around two types of people:

  1. Entitled women
  2. Narcissistic men

In their minds…

  • Helping a woman overcome some obstacle validates that they are a man (as does securing a wife);
  • Having the approval of a father-figure validates that they are a man.

Hence, they are on a desperate quest to get both. And they think that if they show devotion to these types of people, it will result in reciprocal feelings.

Not so.

This is why so many white knights end as bitter men. They told women that they are “brave, stunning, and beautiful.” They helped them defeat the dragons, and rescued them from castles, and defended them from villains (all generally imaginary). (See our article on the psychology of white knights for more.)

Similarly, they showed undying loyalty to their alpha-guru-type male leader, and defended him against nasty detractors who said he was a callous manipulator.

Now, they’ll get the approval they desire, right?

Not at all.

Because the relationship isn’t reciprocal.

Women don’t respect weak men—and neither do alpha-gurus.

At best, both will use them. Especially the latter.

Many orbiters turn into bitter men when they crash into the hard ground of this reality.

Better to pursue your own gravitas through devotion to God.

What is gravitas and how do you “get it?”

Gravitas was a Roman virtue, referring to a man’s seriousness, his dignity, his weight.

It is a useful term because Scripture also speaks of glory in a similar way.

We devote two chapters to this topic in our book—explaining what it is and how it works, and also practical steps you can take to grow in gravitas yourself.

Btw, if you were waiting to get the book on Audible, you now can:

Listen to the book on Audible

We also recently got a review in from Owen Strachan, the Provost at Grace Bible Theological Seminary, and author of Christianity and Wokeness and Reenchanting Humanity (a book on Bnonn’s personal to-read list). Here’s what he said:

Hard times make real men. In an age when masculinity is attacked from every angle, leading to a generation at equal turns passive and belligerent, Michael Foster and Bnonn Tennant have given us a manifesto for manhood. This is a clarion call. It stands out all the more for the lack of such clear speech and precise biblical teaching in evangelical circles today. It’s Good to Be a Man anchors men in the Word, in the grace of God, in the truth. This is one of the best books on manhood ever written, period.

Consider boxing as a grid for engaging in debates.

Michael got into martial arts, wrestling, and boxing as a teen. To say he is a fan of boxing is an understatement. It’s been a love since he was 13. He has been privileged to know, spar, and train with a few pros and Olympians. These men were next level.

He learned a lot by getting his butt kicked.

Particularly, he learned when he can and can’t win a fight.

So, boxing taught him a lot about engaging in debates.

Similarly, Bnonn has had an eclectic involvement in martial arts from his late teens—including in European swordsmanship.

The patterns and principles of fighting are something we’re familiar with, and which we see application to in spiritual warfare as well as physical.

For instance, in boxing you use jabs to measure the distance, find a rhythm, and set up power shots. Everything works off the jab. Same goes for your opponent. Generally, whoever gets their jab going wins the fight.

Movement and distance is the best defense against jabs. In and out. Left and right. Use your feet to control your distance, and head movement to further frustrate their jab. It’ll allow you to slip the blows.

Beware of setting a predictable rhythm. Never get caught flatfooted unless you are delivering a power shot. Also, rope-a-dope rarely works. Even when it does, you end up with brain damage years down the road. Stay off the ropes.

Fans and power-punchers will call this sort of movement running. This is because fans don’t understand fighting and are just there for the show. And power punchers need you stay still so they can hit you. Let the fans boo. Let the slugger complain. You choose your spot. The game is hit and don’t get hit.

You can’t always use leg and head movement to avoid the punches. Sometimes you have to block. Blocking momentarily immobilizes your hands. You cover your stomach and sides with arms and elbows. You do the same with your head, which obscures your vision. In essence, blocking allows you absorb blows in non-critical areas, but pauses your offense.

The clinch has a similar purpose to the block. If you took a big hit, or are getting beat up on the inside, you grab and squeeze your opponent as if you’re hugging them. Clinches don’t win fights. But they give you a moment to recover or avoid a critical blow.

Parrying is often superior to blocking. This is where you deflect a punch away in another direction. This allows your hands to stay free and your vision to stay clear. It takes the momentum of your opponent and uses it to your advantage. It’s an effective way to set-up powerful counterpunches, and it doesn’t pause your offense.

In sword work, every defense is a counterattack. For instance, against an overhead strike you might throw a similar strike of your own—but the purpose is to extend the point to the face, rather than to intercept the blade per se. The binding of swords happens if both strikes are true, and then it turns into a delicate dance for leverage. If one strike is biomechanically weak, or ill-timed, there’s no need for the swords to meet, because you don’t need that anymore once you’re having your teeth poked through the back of your head.

One of the more effective things Michael was taught in boxing was to parry the jab and come back with the cross. The jab is usually a quick but weaker punch. The cross is a power-punch. If someone throws a weak punch and immediately gets hit by a power-punch, they’ll become gun shy. They’ll throw less and less, or become desperate and throw wild power shots that are easy to avoid and counter. Either way, you get them out their rhythm—and that’s half the battle.

Another tool is the feint. This is a deceptive or pretended blow, thrust, or other movement. You feint to get them to punch so you can counterpunch. Or you feint to get them to move into a punch you are throwing. Jumpy and eager fighters are easy to control with feints. In swordwork, a feint is a seemingly slow but perfectly-timed strike that an eager opponent responds to too quickly. A common one is the overhead strike that turns into a high thrust to the belly by a simple turning over of the hands, once your man’s sword is overcommitted.

There is much more that could be said about the sweet science, but this is enough for to make a few applications.

A lot of conservatives, especially of the reformed variety, get their butts handed to them in public debate because they are inexperienced in any form of real world combat. They don’t know how to vary their attack, use movement, or avoid traps.

They tend to lock up in a defensive shell, or come out throwing wild bombs. Both are losing strategies. You only throw bombs if the guy is totally overmatched—but in a public debate this can also be a trap. You end up looking like a bully with no sense of proportional offense.

It’s important to learn how to identify jabs and feints in written ecclesiastical fights. Get proficient at detecting when someone is trying to provoke a particular action, and circle away, parry, or block if necessary.

Your opponent will say this is proof you’re afraid to engage. No, it’s proof you’re not a sucker. Their taunt is a tool they are using to set you up. The fans will boo…but they aren’t in the ring. They’re just there for a show. If they got in the ring, they’d get KO’d. So their opinion matters little.

Learn to fight.

Learn how to get your jab going and set up your punches. Don’t let your initial foray be a 10-page essay that gives everything away. Make a simple statement and see how they respond. Ask a question. Draw them out. Don’t confuse jabs with crosses—know where your real power is, but figure out your distance and their defensive capability before you try to deploy.

Learn how to control the ring and mess with their rhythm. Don’t react as they expect you to, and don’t take obvious bait. Get into the habit of reframing ideas in unexpected ways. This is perhaps the principal thing that has led others to see our ministry as so unique. We’re always looking for a new angle. We don’t let our opponents fight us on their terms. We change it up. Bnonn is a southpaw. In many ways we’re a left-handed ministry.

Learn how to parry, feint, and put them where you want them. Think ahead—how will they respond if you do X, and how can you use that to set up Y? Figure out how to redirect, and if you get bound up, how you can use that situation to find the point of leverage. A huge amount of medieval martial arts involves going weak when they’re strong, and strong when they’re weak. Often through a turning of some kind; a turning over of the hands, going low when they expect high, forward when they expect back…

One reader also had an interesting analogy to add:

I learned something similar to this as an inexperienced, smaller heavyweight wrestler in high school. Big, strong, lazy heavyweights can’t resist a headlock but what they ignore is that if one guy has it, so does the other. So I would sag my arm to set them up to take the headlock and make it irresistible. Then when they swung their arm to throw me, I would duck under and grab a waist lock and drag them to the mat and score 2 points. I would do this over and over again scoring 2 to 1 all match long. The application in verbal combat being that a lot of people are looking for the “mic drop.” If you can throw them some red meat, it can set up a “takedown” of sorts. Answering the fool as it were.

Learn how to ignore taunts and the boos. Don’t let your ego make you forget your distance. Fighting can be motivated by anger, but an angry man is an uncontrolled man. That energy needs to get filtered through a dispassionate strategic calculator. Don’t lose your equilibrium.

Learn how to win.

From Tyrannus Hall: #

Chapter 9: “No Gravitas, No Manhood” of IGTBAM has definitely revealed some things I need to work on regarding demeanor and speech…Are there any book recommendations/videos for learning how to speak with more gravitas? I really need to make improvements on being more direct and letting my words carry more weight. Very appreciative that IGTBAM has pointed this out.

We don’t have any recommendations for other sources, but here are three small, practical ways you can start:

  1. Cut back on adverbs. They have their place, but we overuse them. E.g.:
    • Change “I’m mostly done,” to, “I’m not done,” or, “I will be finished by end of day.”
    • Change “I’m really not sure,” to, “I’m not sure,” or, “I don’t know.”
  2. Cut back on apologies for non-sins. E.g.:
    • Change, “I’m sorry I couldn’t come to your play,” to, “How did your play go?” or “I wanted to come but wasn’t able. How did it go?”
    • Change, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” to, “I understand why you’d feel that way,” or, “Why do you feel that way?”
  3. Give short, concise answers to questions whenever possible. E.g.:
    • If someone asks, “Can you help me move in on Saturday?” change, “I really wish I could, but I’m getting over scheduled at work right now. Sorry, man,” to something like, “I can’t. I’m scheduled to work Saturday.”

Taxes are like solving a proof of work hash except when you solve it right you pay money and if you don’t solve it you go to jail. #showerthoughts

New content this week: #

  • New podcast episode: Q&A with the Tennants. Bnonn and Smokey answer reader questions on what it’s like to live in middle earth, whether embryo adoption is biblical, and what to make of red pill advice about single mothers.
  • It’s Good to Be a Man now has a group discussion study guide, available from Canon Press (free PDF or cheap paperback)
  • Michael’s sermon, The Diaconate, part 1, contains advice applicable to all men seeking to exercise dominion well. “People like offices because they comes with status. That status is often reflected in being given an official title. But titles, in of themselves, don’t create a reality. Titles, rightly assigned, do confirm a reality. Elders ought to be doing pastoral work long before they ever are ordained to the office and given the title elder or pastor. Deacons ought to be doing diaconal work long before they ever are ordained to the office and given the title deacon. I’ve seen a lot of men who want the honor and privileges of office but simply lack the character because they won’t do the work, especially the little things.”
  • Michael will be at Scott’s Crypto Mining Conference next week.

Notable: #

The cross is the danger signal to you. It warns you that if God spared not his only Son, He will not spare you. It is the lighthouse set on the rocks of sin to warn you that swift and sure destruction awaits sinners if you continue to rebel against the Lord. —C.H. Spurgeon

Read and share this email on the web: #


Talk again next week,

Bnonn & Michael

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