As you might know, I occasionally post reviews of books I’ve recently read. Normally, these posts are easy for me to write because I like to recommend books worth reading. I’ve put off reviewing Troy Meeder’s Average Joe because I slogged through it.
Troy Meeder is a cowboy in the Pacific Northwest, where he runs a ranch for at-risk teenagers, a wonderful ministry. I’m not sure why he doesn’t share any stories from his many years working the ranch and, in particular, working the hearts of rough kids. Instead, he focuses on those men he calls “average Joes,” men who have in some way influenced his maturity.
Average Joe is an attempt—at least from what I can gather—to encourage regular guys to make the most of life in their station, a far cry from something like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, which I recommend to any man. Meeder’s content is inconsistent. At one time he seems to persuade guys to stay average and at another to fuel that “passion and desire to do something that will set us apart to face and survive an impossible circumstance.”
Perhaps I just don’t fit into the readership Meeder was addressing, for he tells a lot of stories about fishing and ranching. His affinity toward John Wayne certainly tells his age and also confuses his intended audience. Is he writing to younger men in the throes of building a career, a family, a marriage—not necessarily in that order—or to middle aged men discouraged concerning their averageness?
Meeder has a glorified image of military men, “This old cowboy tips his hat to honor them, the very best of us all—the soldiers, airmen, and sailors of the United States Armed Forces.” Indeed, they may be brave, but I’m not sure I’d call them the very best of us all. What makes a man the best? That he dons fatigues and carries an automatic weapon?
Further, Meeder virtually deifies cowboys, at times conveying, though likely unintentionally, that a man’s occupation defines the man. And he will not suffer anything less than his version of masculinity. For instance, in his chapter on friendship, he assures us that his idea of sitting down to chat with another guy doesn’t involve “the cost of a designer coffee at some metrosexual hangout.” Personally, I’ve had some amazing conversations with guys at such metrosexual hangouts.
If you’re a rough, Folgers-only kind of guy, and over 50, you might appreciate Troy Meeder’s take on being a man. My metrosexual friends and I would have a harder time gleaning the good beyond the macho. There is some there, but nothing that hasn’t been written better or less objectionable to guys who like “designer coffee.”
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”