Bear Woznick is a World Champion tandem surfer, a ninja black belt, a licensed pilot, a scuba diver, a skydiver, and a member of the Catholic Sports Faith International Hall of Fame. He has ridden a bicycle from San Diego to Jacksonville, Florida. He has run with the bulls in Pamplona and dealt with another type of bull in Hollywood, appearing on Hawaii 5-0 and Clean Break. He is, in other words, not exactly the type of man that is in vogue today in our deeply confused and wrongheaded culture. That’s why his new book, Deep Adventure: The Way of Heroic Virtue, is so valuable for a people that has lost an understanding of the value and meaning of both masculinity and femininity, and in many ways has lost its very self. In it, he details what American men and women need to get back on track.
Woznick is a deeply committed Catholic, and Deep Adventure is a profoundly Catholic book, but with an import that anyone who is worried about the state of American culture today can appreciate. In it, Woznick offers an antidote to our current cultural morass that is both strikingly new and as ancient as the hills: he goes through each of the cardinal virtues (justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude) and the theological virtues (faith, hope, and love), discussing them in the context of athletic feats, and detailing how the same kind of challenges faces us both physically and spiritually: we can shrink back from the challenge and retreat into the illusory comforts of a life of ease, or take up the challenge, as difficult as it may be, and grow stronger in the effort to master it.
“One of my main concerns,” Woznick explained to me, “is men getting traction in their lives. I remember praying and having this idea of a man in a black pickup truck driving through gravel and spinning his wheels because there was no weight in the back of that truck. So I thought, that’s what I had to do. I have to put the right tool set and the weightiness of purpose in the back of that truck for men, so they can get traction. And there’s no better way to get traction than to focus on the four cardinal virtues of Aristotle and Plato and Socrates, and the three theological virtues of St. Paul.”
Woznick explained why these virtues were so crucial and all-encompassing: “The cardinal virtues are virtues of restraint: bringing things in and drawing the line, whereas the virtues of faith, hope, and love, you can have an immeasurable amount of those. That’s letting good things run wild. Because when you’re in love with an infinite God, you can love Him in an infinitely awesome, expressive way.”
In offering a path to the genuine good life for men, Woznick did not intend to exclude women; quite the contrary. “I wanted to give men traction and women, too,” he said. “I know if I write something that’s gritty enough for the men that women would love it. Women are cheering for men to be virtuous again. When I go out and speak to the men, it’s the women who say, “We need men to be men again. We need manly virtues.” Woznick points out that “the root word for the word virtue is man,” the Latin vir. “So to be manly is to be virtuous, and to be a Christian is to be fully virtuous, including the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.”
Woznick had a striking take on the contemporary notion of “toxic masculinity”: “There are two sides to that coin. I’ve heard men say, ‘We’ve been relegated, people make fun of us, we no longer have our roles.’ It sounds like a bunch of whiners, like a bunch of victims! It happened, because you let it happen.” Men let it happen, he said, in large part by separating sex from commitment and fleeing from responsibility. Woznick invokes Thomas Aquinas and Pope John Paul II to support his contention that love is self-giving, and “that’s what manly men do. They lay down their lives, in servant leadership.”
Discipline, physical and spiritual, is the path to freedom, he says, and those who seek their own pleasure as their primary goal and focus become weak. That is how wimps are born, and of course, America is overrun with them today. “We should be seeking challenge, not running from it,” he maintains, “and the effeminate culture that has taken over so much of our leadership runs from challenges.” Here’s where Bear Woznick and Sam Brinton might not see eye to eye.
In connection with his view of challenges and their role in everyone’s life, Woznick has a unique take on COVID hysteria: This whole idea of wokeness shows that, as does the way the pandemic has been handled. It has been run the way a woman would run it: that’s her job, to protect her family, protect her children. Don’t let any harm come their way. But a man says, ‘We need to go out and face challenges.’ He tells a child: ‘You need to face danger, you need to grow.’ Instead, people in the government are saying, ‘We don’t want anybody to get hurt,’ but the extent to which the government protects you is to the extent to which you’ve lost your freedom, your ability to really experience the life that God has giving you. We need a challenge. We don’t need things to be nice. We don’t need a safe place.”
Deep Adventure is the observations of a man who has always eschewed safe spaces and is a stronger and better human being for doing so. He has given us a book for anyone who is disgusted with the prevailing gender confusion and anti-masculine sentiment, and a path back to sanity.