Book Review: 12 Rules for Manliness Where Have all the Cowboys Gone?

12 Rules for Manliness

12 Rules for Manliness Where Have all the Cowboys Gone?

Author: Bear Woznick | Publisher: Sophia Institute Press

The new year is a month old now and perhaps all of us have made, or are refining, our resolutions. Maybe you are working your way through Exodus 90 with some of your brothers, maybe you have picked up a new spiritual practice or two to guide you in your quest for holiness, or maybe you are still searching for a way to make a new beginning. Wherever you find yourself right now, there is no better time to start than today. If you are looking for a guide that is easy to read, practical, and entertaining, then I recommend Bear Woznick’s new book 12 Rules for Manliness Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

In this work, Bear blends together his gifts of gritty and inspiring story telling with plenty of masculine motivation to encourage men to engage in and embrace our spiritual battles. He sends out a battle cry to help us wake up, draw close to God our Father, and become humble, confident servants of God. On the official Catholic Man Show technical read scale *** I rate this book at a level 5, as it is easy to read, but may require some extra time for note taking and contemplation so you can put Bear’s advice into practice. 

There are many aspects about this work that are appealing, and personally, I especially enjoyed the quotes from Louis L’Amour, one of Bear’s favorite writers of westerns, that were selected as a theme for each chapter. For some reason I have always felt a pull toward inspiring quotes as they are typically short points which produce thought and action. In chapter one, Bear wastes no time in challenging the reader with rule #1: “Know Your Creed, Live by Your Code.” He starts the chapter with a quote from John Wayne playing the character of Hondo Lane, in the movie Hondo, which was based on the novel Hondo by Louis L’Amour, and the quote is: “A man’s got to have a code-a creed he can live by, no matter the job.”

As you work your way through this book, the author gives many practical steps a reader can take to develop your code, set goals, and ultimately live the life God has called you to live. The steps are practical and functional and are not just a group of vague ideas; rather they are concrete, adaptable, and applicable to men in any phase of their life. The words and stories are not empty or without thought, but are focused, specific, and easy to understand. 

Some of my personal favorites are as follows:

  • Rule 3: Be a Man of Your Word-Seems pretty self-explanatory, but the author is able to make a whole chapter of this topic.

  • Rule 6: Don’t Be a Drifter: Seek God’s Purpose for You-In this chapter of the book Bear expands on “the most dangerous prayer of all” which is “Thy will be done.” I have been saying this during adoration to help me focus and listen to our Lord.

  • Rule 7: Ride the Proving Trail: Pursue Your Course of Action-If you have ever wondered about writing down your dreams in accordance with God’s will and then converting those dreams into goals, and then into a plan of action, then this chapter is for you.

  • Rule 8: Come Hell or High Water, Get the Job Done-Do you struggle with your work and the possible hum drum of your daily duties? Do you need a little motivation to get going or perhaps keep going? If you answered yes, then this section of the book might be a help to you. Bear goes so far as to provide the reader with some advice from the encyclical Laborem Exercens by Pope St. John Paul II and one little excerpt is, “The Christian finds in human work a small part of the Cross of Christ and accepts it in the same spirit of redemption in which Christ accepted His Cross for us.”

  • Rule 10: Build Brotherhood-The story of the lone wolf in this chapter really stood out to me. There is plenty of motivation in this portion of the book that emphasizes the importance of not going through life isolated and alone, especially in our daily spiritual warfare battle. Perhaps the author summarizes it best: “You must have the support of trusted brothers who will stand beside you in the fight and whom you, in turn, will support.”

If you are looking to make a new start or refine your life, especially your spiritual life, then I highly recommend this work. Maybe you feel content right now, maybe you feel a little restless, or maybe you are searching for something more – a code, a purpose, or a path. Whatever the case, give this book a try and hold on as the author takes you on a journey that brings you closer to God and His plan for your life. It seems one last quote would be prudent at this point, especially since I love quotes, so here goes: as stated by Steve Ray, “As Bear Woznick explains so well, we need to reclaim the cowboys among us-godly, masculine men who can inspire the next generation of manly young men.”

By: Kent Keithly, husband and father

***Regarding The Catholic Man Show technical read scale: A 3 out of 10 is a leisurely read that could be read in a couple of weeks, an 8 out of 10 is a more technical read which requires more time and often requires looking up definitions of words to clearly understand the author, and finally a 10/10 is an extremely technical read that requires a significant amount of time to complete the book, as well as, extra time to look up further 


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