Oddly enough, at the same time that I listened to Shelley Lubben's testimony in which she mentioned the TV series Little House on the Prairie, I also saw the Hallmark Channel presentation of Janette Oke's Love Finds a Home. The film was the final installment of the “Loves Comes Softly” series that bore many similarities to the 1970s Michael Landon show: both take place in the frontier West, include morally centered characters, strong family units, dramatic interpersonal problems, Faith-based resolutions, and strong female role-models. In Love Finds a Home, although most of the storyline centered around new town doctor Belinda Owens, I found the side narrative about her husband, Lee, the local blacksmith, and his new apprentice, Joshua, the more interesting. The adopted daughter, Lillian, of Lee and Belinda, takes an immediate liking to Joshua, and vice-versa. At first, although he is apprehensive, Lee allows the two to “court.” When Joshua brings her home late, Lee forbids the two to see each other for awhile. Joshua acquiesces to his demands, and despite Lillian's protestations, he refuses to go behind her father's back; he follows his orders.
The plot between the father and the young man is further evidence supporting my continued contention that boys can only become men through another man. Joshua's father figure, Lee, must instruct his younger ward, not only in the art of metallurgy, but also in the moral doctrines of masculinity. He first does this by setting a good example: in his marriage to Belinda. But, also by setting very clear ground rules, and then enforcing them, when Joshua takes an interest in his daughter. Lee is not tyrannical, but solidly indomitable. He is an instructor, but also a protector. Sadly, in today's society, especially in the decadent Western cultures, this type of masculine direction is all but abandoned. I first began to study this phenomena when I did some research, during my college studies, into the early Medieval artistic guilds: in which young men would be admitted to the service of a master craftsman. This went on through the Renaissance and into the pre-Industrial era. In fact, it was not usual, even in 19th century France, for young men to live with and shadow Catholic priests as part of their training. Today, fathers are often absent or distracted with the overwhelming burdens of modern economic demands. Boys flounder. They get sucked into other diversions and substitute families, such as: pornography, substance abuse, and street gangs. For this reason, I am a great supporter of a return to trade-schools. Perhaps, there, boys could find a male mentor and a manual vocation. If we do nothing, boys will continue to become just bigger boys: living at home, unwilling to commit, and stuck in a perpetual adolescence.