Musings – The Manly Virtues, Reading Material, and Direction Update


A hat tip goes out to reader, Jim M. for directing me to this marvelous article from the Archdiocese of Washington. It is written by Msgr. Charles Pope and is a clarion call for the recovering – and the renewed valuing of the manly virtues. Everything in the world has been softened and feminized – meantime the world is collapsing around our ears. We need men to lead and protect their families, to band together to defend their communities, to be spiritual leaders. I love this piece.


Alas, on the matter of spiritual direction, I have taken a new turn. The resources aren’t small; they are meagre. Liberally spread among the good and truly orthodox are a host of New Age nonsense entries trying to lead people astray – and trying to represent themselves as orthodox. I have spoken with my friend who works with the USCCB. The time is short, the need is great, and the resources are not there, while many of those that are are tainted. One of the best programs out there is run by the Archdiocese of Kansas City, developing Spiritual Mentors to help fill the gap. I encourage you to check it out But it is a two-year program and that will not cover the many needs right now.

So I am putting emphasis on the new Prayer Groups I have been working on. We had called it the Ezekiel 37 Group, but have changed the name to the Go Forth Group.I have treated the first group in Denver as a sort of focus group, working to get it to grow organically and find the problems as they occurred, then correct them I first wrote of the basic principles behind it here. The hallmarks are simplicity, docility to the spirit, and reaching out to others in ordinary ways. It really is very much like this website.

The intention has always been to get it up and running well, then do a simple booklet explaining basic principles and practices, then make that available. I will try to see if I can get a downloadable pdf that I can attach here to this website, along with a paper copy available through the Full of Grace Supply House and a virtual copy through Amazon’s Kindle Store. I will definitely have the booklet done right after the first of the year, but I am shooting for the first few weeks of next month. The Denver group has taken root, and some very prayerful people here have taken the reins and run with it. On that basis, I am ready to finish up the booklet.

We will be having a meeting in the next few weeks. If anyone is going to be in the Denver area and would like to come, email me at the address I give under the “Contact” button at the top and I will give you details.

Part of what I incorporate into the formal booklet will be a spiritual companionship program, so you don’t have to walk alone, but also don’t have to add some massive new program into your life. It is a way to incorporate a solid foundation into your daily life.


As you know, young Brittany Maynard did, indeed, commit suicide over the weekend. I am sick over the Culture of Death that rises throughout the world – and is celebrated as enlightenment by a culture that is more and more functionally pagan. I wanted to share this piece and video from the Rev. Billy Graham. It speaks truth with compassion and fidelity in hard times. A hat tip to John McConnell – the Peppy Prepper – for directing me to it.


After noting yesterday that I rarely read any sort of prophecy or speculative material, a few readers here wanted to know what I DO read. Especially when I am writing, it is very important to me to read hard material. It is far too easy when you are immersed in a subject to become narrow and insular. My reading helps prevent that. I have categories. In normal times, when things are more leisurely, I work from seven categories I read from each day. In tight times, like now, I narrow it to five – and two of them are simply novels. The other three categories include: Religion, with an emphasis on theology, religious history, and solid biography. History, pure and simple here, with a lot of biography involved. Finally one selection concerning Russia or China. The reasons for that are obvious to regular readers. I alternate choosing a selection in each category and using a random generator for the category. Currently up are:

Novels: The Streets of Laredo, by Larry McMurtry

The Given Day, by Dennis LeHane

Religion: Pagans and Christians, a history of religious life from the 2nd to the 4th Century, as Paganism gave way to Christianity in the Mediterranean World, by Robin Lane Fox.

History: American Lion, a biography of Andrew Jackson by Jon Meacham.

Russia/China: The Chan’s Great Continent, an amalgam of western perspectives on China since Marco Polo, by Jonathan D. Spence.

This, along with maybe a detective show and a video baseball game, is how I pull the weeds up to clear my mind. Oh, and I am studying a third language. I like my hard study to be hard and my soft clearing of the cobwebs to be nearly mindless. I don’t like splitting the difference.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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27 Responses to Musings – The Manly Virtues, Reading Material, and Direction Update

  1. Paul Peter says:

    Re “Virtue”.

    I am old enough to have taken Latin in high school – not that I remember most of it. One fragment that I do seem to recall is the word “virtue”. The root of this word is “vir” and is Latin for “man”. The word is a Roman word not a Catholic one and to the Romans “virtue” meant “the way a man is supposed to act” i.e. with courage, determination, strength. These are the qualities that St. Paul calls for in one of his epistles.

    The article by Msgr. Pope was a heartening article.



  2. Pinecone Jill says:

    Hi Charlie,
    I love reading Msgr Pope and that was an excellent post. I remember watching “Jesus of Nazareth” when I was young and thinking that John the Baptist was way cooler because John was kind of loud and hairy while Jesus seemed sickly and….effeminate. Even at 12 I knew it was not right. The Jesus they were depicting wouldn’t have inspired my neighbors dog to follow him let alone a group of Galilee fishermen. Maybe the storm will set that right too.
    When I need something fluffy” to read, I like James Doss’ Charlie Moon or Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon mysteries.
    When I’m feeling serious I read Augustine and anything by my beloved Papa Emeritus Benedict.
    Pinecone Jill


    • charliej373 says:

      Now you just know a gal named Pinecone Jill will appreciate the manly virtues!

      I hated the old Jesus movies, too. I mean, here He was in the Bible, filled with passion and intensity, inspiring unshakeable devotion, kids loved Him…and in those movies they had Him speaking in a constant deadly boring breathy monotone. Really?! Whatever Jesus was while He walked among us, He was not a bore! I don’t why some people equate piety with bloodlessness, monotony and boredom. Now Moses…in his movies he got to act like a man worth knowing.


      • Pinecone Jill says:

        Heck Yah! I mean seriously, do people really think a bunch of hairy galilee fishermen are going to drop everything to follow some milktoast? No way! I come from a long line of loggers and construction workers and they would have laughed him right out of camp if he’d showed up like that. Real Jesus makes you feel like nothing else in the world matters except to be with him. He burns in your chest. He is love created. Definitely not a wimp.
        I think Mary gets the same unfortunate treatment, I bet she’s smart and funny and all the best of humanity, not vapid, spacey and boring.
        At least I hope so otherwise I’m gonna have a looooong purgatory (oh no, dont let her in yet, she is such a hick, she’ll ruin everything. Lets just float around and stare into space for a few more millennia and then think about letting her in…)
        Happy Election Day!
        Pinecone Jill


        • charliej373 says:

          Well said, Jill. Occasionally I like to shake people up by pointing out that the real Jesus mainly trolled the ancient equivalent of biker bars and redlight districts to recruit His followers. It ought to make us think a little more about just how pleasing we are to Him with some of the airs we put on, yet somehow it doesn’t. It seems to me that the Lord valued few things as much as candor and plain speaking.


      • LJD says:

        Now Jim Caviezel’s portrayal was the best I have ever seen! The intensity in his eyes really was inspiring!


      • D Shea says:

        Glen Beck has been echoing similar themes of the upcoming “Troubles” on his Blaze TV-Network and radio shows and I’m here to tell you that the Prophecy Folks, be they Catholic/Protestant/Agnostic, are all singin’ off the same sheet of music …. so Wise Up and as those awful-n-hated by The Leftys Boy Scouts say “Be Prepared”


  3. MM Bev says:

    Charlie: Honestly, do you ever sleep? If the answer is yes, would you please say when.


  4. Kati says:

    THREE Things:

    1.Thank you for the update, Charlie! I LOVED the piece by Msgr. Pope. I sent it to my husband and to my sons. The video at the end of the article was fantastic. I think I will send it to all the men in our parish who teach CCD.

    2. I will pray for the prayer group project you are working on. We can’t wait to get our hands on that material!

    3. Am curious as to what language you are working on learning now. Is is Chinese?


    • charliej373 says:

      Nah, it is Russian. I should brush up a little on my French, too, but there is only so much time. I can still read it just fine, but I am so out of practice speaking and hearing it.


  5. Bob says:

    And as for mentoring my wife got a master’s in pastoral theology from Ave Maria when they had monthly trainings in St Louis and she wonders what God wants her to do with it and has written several books but I keep thinking that we all should learn some basic spiritual first aid as Pope Francis spoke of. Because if we have storms coming we will need to help people in crisis and distress who are being forced to think of God after a long avoidance of His reality. As my dad a WW2 vet used to say he didn’t know of any atheists in foxholes! They all started praying when there was incoming shells!


    • charliej373 says:

      Sound advice, Bob. First aid may be more important than surgical training in the days ahead.


      • Bob says:

        But for those who feel led I wouldn’t discount more long term training either. JP2 didn’t wait for things to calm down in Poland before training for the priesthood and we don’t know what training God will need to develop for longer term needs, including priests, of course.


        • charliej373 says:

          Funny thing, Bob, every once in a while people ask me about continuing training in college or other professional or vocational areas in light of what is coming. I always tell them, shoot, we’re going to need doctors and engineers, and plumbers and all after the Storm is over. If your training gets interrupted, so what? Everyone’s will. Why waste the time we have before the fullness of the Storm overwhelms us? Every good thing is good of itself, and God will reward those who pursue it with a good will and fidelity.


  6. Mack says:

    Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom is a good history of China’s civil war. I also just finished reading Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos. It opened my eyes to how China is changing right now. Christianity there is still small but a spiritual hunger is growing among the people.


    • charliej373 says:

      I should note, too, that Christian conversions have been quietly and steadily growing there for several decades. The system is corrupt and evil to its core, but there are many people there for whom the rescue will be eagerly rejoiced in. Ha! If I keep faith I will live to see a Christian China!


  7. DD says:

    Please be careful with the Lets Be Manly Men and Jesus Was a Manly Man line. I agree there are manly virtues and that they are good and important, but when emphasized without proportion and caution, I’ve seen good Christian men be led very far astray following this line, completely bamboozled by the real enemy, which is not the feminine, but the devil. Popular examples, Fr. Corapi, Fr. Francis Mary Stone of EWTN and the current example from the Protestant world, Mark Driscoll.


    • charliej373 says:

      One of the things emphasized here is balance. The faith has become so feminized that many virtues are marginalized and treated as disreputable. Those virtues are not. But bullying, womanizing, all those sorts of things are not VIRTUES. Oddly, though, the most disreputable masculine characteristics are the one that get the least reproach in modern times. I appreciate your concern, DD, that manly virtues do not morph into manly disorders. But the plain truth is that if there is not a real resurrection of masculine virtue and value for the same, we cannot survive the Storm.


      • Elizabeth K. says:

        Check out C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength for a really fun and thought-provoking treatment of the issue of balance and gender complementarity Actually, the whole series, including Perelandra, is a really interesting treatment of masculinity and femininity). There is great strength in both femininity and masculinity, properly understood, and especially when combined.

        On a related note, about a year ago a study came out that proved that men and women’s brains are not only different but–wait for it–“complement” one another. Areas where there’s less of something in one are matched by more of that quality in the another. Not at all surprising, but very interesting nonetheless.


  8. Phillip says:

    A bit off topic, and perhaps someone has already posted this link on another thread (so many comments to read!), but lifesitenews has a great story about Cardinal Burke: “How Cardinal Burke welcomed home a gay activist”

    To me this is a wonderful example of fidelity to the truth and real sensitivity and concern for the individual.

    “While some malign Archbishop Burke for his fidelity to God, Church and all souls, I say that he is a true shepherd of the faithful and a present day Athanasius,” Hess wrote. “I tell you that he remains a mentor and an inspiration to me. Although my own biological father rejected me, Archbishop Burke became my spiritual father by lovingly representing our Father in heaven.”


  9. Observer says:

    Something from “The Kingdom of the Divine Fiat In the Midst of Creatures”…..and this was back in 1906!!

    “Jesus’ Affliction that the Majority of the Clergy Has Lost Their Masculine Character”

    Allegedly from Jesus to Luisa Piccarreta:

    ……..In these times, all is effeminate. Even the clergy have lost the masculine character, and have acquired feminine manners. It has become more difficult to find masculine Priests, since there is an abundance of the effeminate ones around. Oh, in what a deplorable state humanity is found in!


  10. Josephine says:

    You choose the most beautiful artwork and photos for your postings. Its like a gorgeous bow on the outside of a wonderful present inside. Both are making me so much stronger. Great sherpa work! Thank you Charlie.


  11. Jim M. says:

    Another battle we face from yet another movement taking root in the 1960’s, feminism. Maleness has been declared politically incorrect. It has been publicly emasculated to the point where the characteristics of masculinity are viewed as a disorder. Fathers are no longer viewed as heads of households. The traditional family has been slowly destroyed over the last 50 years.

    The Bible provides us with direction in many places, starting with 3 Genesis 16:

    “To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. ”

    An incredible illumination is provided in Haydock’s commentary to that verse:

    “Moses here shows the original and natural subjugations of wives to their husbands,  in opposition to the Egyptians, who, to honor Isis, gave women the superiority by the marriage contract. ”

    The Egyptian goddess Isis was the diety of darkness worshipped by the Egyptians. No doubt a demon behind the form.

    It is beyond coincidence that a new terror strikes fear in the hearts of the world is fomented by a group called ISIS.


  12. LJD says:

    So Charlie, I have to confess something. My inner child/nerd hopes that you are wrong for a very simple and selfish reason. I have been anxiously awaiting the new Superman sequel (with Batman in it) and its not slated to come out until 2016! It sounds funny and I laugh as I type this…but its true none the less.


    • charliej373 says:

      Ha! I am a HUGE Superman fan since childhood, too. My son and I were hoping things would hold out for the Superman movie of last year. We got that one, which was a reasonable hope.


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