League of bear-fighting men

By The Beacon | September 14, 2011 9:00pm

League of Extrodinary Gentlemen helps turn UP’s boys into men by building fellowship

By Josh Noem

I lived in Alaska for a year, and I've seen a fresh footprint from a grizzly bear that is as big as the backpack hanging on your tingling spine right now. I kid you not. It is only by the grace of God that I'm here to tell you about it today.

Coming that close to a killer grizzly bear woke me up to the curse of this beast upon our nation. Did you know that bears have been known to kill and eat humans?

Not only that, did you know that bears have adapted their olfactory senses to track humans, and can distinguish adults from children? And that they will track, kill. and eat children because they pose less of a threat than adults? This is all true, and has been proven by science.

Hypothetically-speaking, if bears were to collectivize and strategically drive humans from North American habitat and mating grounds they've traditionally ruled for millennia, where would they strike first? Portland is home to abundant berry harvests and is flush with salmon for much of the year, two important food sources for bears. What else exists in great numbers in Portland that bears also like to eat? People.

Now you see the urgency of this threat.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (LXG) prepares men on campus to fight bears. We teach a range of skills, from kung-fu hand-to-claw combat to targeted body blows with a Bowie-knife. Students on campus, and especially men, will want to learn these skills if they want to survive the growing threat of bears that is gathering over the Pacific Northwest like a cloud of doom.

I know what you are thinking: "Does LXG really teach men to fight bears?" The answer is no. We do not. Good question.

We do, however, challenge men to unite in brotherhood, search for truth, champion justice and become authentic men of integrity, peace and honor. Qualities you'll want to possess once bears further stifle the American economy and instigate a cultural and social cataclysm.

The basic idea in LXG is to get men together once every two or three weeks for simple storytelling that runs deeper than sports and video games.

Everyone answers the question "Who am I and what do I believe beyond the affirmation that bears are evil?"

Guys stay in the same small group throughout their time at UP. Gradually, the group builds trust and confidence, and guys come to support and encourage one another.

Junior Brock Vasconcellos, despite being from bear-free Hawaii, is a leader in the League. "My small group is a community of men that are genuinely interested in the stories, experiences, and thoughts I have to share," he said. "It's a place for me to let my guard down with gentlemen that are supportive and engaging.  LXG teaches me about fellowship among men, and in doing so it teaches me how to build lasting, meaningful relationships."

And we do encourage men to fight metaphorical bears: those monstrous realities that threaten our lives with fear. These are experiences of suffering or loss that can paralyze a man just as much as a swipe across the spine with a backpack-sized claw.

Here is senior Taylor Jones' account of how LXG helped him face such a monster:

"When I first found LXG I was struggling with my father's last few months fighting off cancer.  I had hidden my emotions and acted as a rock for my family and friends like most men in society today. It was nearing my time to be the man of the house, but I had no idea what that really meant," he said. "What I discovered in LXG was a group of young men struggling to answer that question.  LXG has supported me through the good times and the bad, helped me to grow into a better man, and given me mentors and brothers that will stay with me for a lifetime."

If that doesn't sound like bear-slaying, I don't know what does.

To learn more about LXG, join us for an information night with pizza and root beer tonight at 10 p.m. in St. Mary's Lounge. Or find me. I'll be the one in Howard Hall wrestling the punching bag with a grizzly bear's face taped on it.

Josh Noem is the Campus Ministry Assistant Director of Faith Formation, and can be reached at noemj@up.edu, or found in the Campus Ministry Extension Office in the Pilot House.