Pinch-hitting for your dad, Catholic writer shares what your father wanted you to know about living

May 8, 2009

Bobz Book Reviews

“A Guy’s Guide to the Good Life: Virtues for Men,”
by Robert P. Lockwood

You could read “A Guy’s Guide to the Good Life” just for the volume and variety of quotations worth remembering, but Bob Lockwood’s sometimes hilarious, always thought-provoking guys tour through prudence, fortitude, temperance, justice, faith, hope and charity digs so much deeper than that.

Lockwood’s brief, 140-page Servant Books paperback might accurately be described as something your father would have written if your father had written down all the things he wanted to you to know and remember.

It’s a genuine service Lockwood performs, given that many fathers aren’t/weren’t the gifted writer this long-time columnist for Catholic publications is, and given that so many men tell anecdotally about how little their father ever verbally communicated — with them or anyone else.

Lockwood pinch hits for dad, passing on soothing-yet-challenging drops of wisdom through stories, most with a Catholic angle, many with a sports angle, often accompanied by a cold beer.

And Lockwood is anything if not a truly gifted storyteller.

A Catholic writer who quotes Meatloaf?

Along the way he quotes men whose words are worth recalling, mixing Charles Dickens, St. Paul, John Lennon, Benedict XVI, Dante (perhaps more than one might care) and John Paul II, among the names you’d recognize. Pop music plays in the background, with lyrics by the Beatles, Skeeter Davis, and Meatloaf helping make his point. Lockwood even manages to channel Cat Stevens.

It all works, though, to base his — well, it’s teaching, when you come right down to it — in a real world, a world in which Lockwood has lived some 60 years and thinks what he’s learned in that time is worth sharing for our benefit.

If there’s a goal, it is to make guys ask that crucial question: “What the hell am I doing with my life?”

Lockwood is a creative phrase maker who has penned quotes of his own worth pondering, including a definition of his topic that seems to stick: “The virtues are how we are meant to live. They are what we admire in others and hope to find in ourselves.”

Throughout he pesters guys with the thought we can be more — that a virtuous life isn’t too difficult to achieve.

Have an appetizer

Here are just a few tasters of Lockwood on the seven virtues:

“Prudence means living in the truth, not as a self-righteous jerk but as a guy who wants to look at himself in the mirror every morning without fearing that he’s sold out.”

“Fortitude borders on obstinacy, a willingness to hold steadfast to our principles when life is telling us not to bother.”

“Sometimes our priorities can get a little out of whack. There’s where temperance comes in.”

“Justice doesn’t always come searching for us in the way we like.”

“Faith is a pilgrimage, never an endpoint.”

“Hope is not mere wishing but the serene and full confidence that God will never abandon us.”

“We think of charity as giving out a little spare change.”

Now for full disclosure: I’ve known Bob Lockwood for better than 30 years now, watched him fight the personal and professional battles guys fight, and consider the wisdom he shares as valuable — and as fun to read and as thought provoking — as listening to his gravelly voice tell a story, with a cold beer, of course, and with a ball game on the tube. — bz
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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

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