I started thinking about the need for such a thing years ago, as I began to notice that a lot of my favorite Catholics (like, say, on EWTN and elsewhere) were becoming more, shall we say, follically assertive. A significant number of Catholic men I most admired, I noticed, were sporting beards. I won't begin dropping names, yet, but they are many. I remember taking note of this (again), one day and thinking to myself, "There should be some kind of club... a brotherhood of hairy-faced Catholic dudes.".
I see this new enthusiasm for facial growth to be a very hopeful sign, an indication that, not only are Catholic men again embracing the God-given grace of manhood, but the whole Church in the West (or at least in America) may be re-discovering the testosterone that had been mysteriously drained over the last several decades. This transcends matters of mere sex, though. You see signs of a new boldness and intellectual vigor among prominent orthodox Catholic women just as you do in men. Catholic women bloggers are some of my favorite reads.
I'll be putting together a core group here in the Ozarks (those I can tempt with beer and cheese) that can serve as a sort of ad hoc national hub, but please don't think of this as another Catholic men's organization. Anyone can tell you, I'm far too disorganized to start an organization. My hope and my aim is that we will be something like the opposite of an organization. Organizations are too stuffy and are the enemy of fun. And budgets make my head hurt.
The idea is not even to be affiliated in any official capacity with the Catholic Church, or with any local parish. We of TLBC are Catholic primarily in character and sympathy and flavor, not in structure. Our local parish priests will certainly be invited, though. Our structure might be described as "amoebic" (as in "amoebic dysentery").
Nor is it strictly necessary that all in attendance have beards (though that will be encouraged), or that they even be men. A beard, however, will be necessary to gain admittance to all League meetings, without exception. This is one of the few hard and fast Rules of the League. That means that, for those without beards, one will be provided.
Naturally, the Lost Art of Catholic Drinking will be pursued (very important for warding off amoebic dysentery), so you could think of it as Promoting the Arts.
Finally, the name of the League was the subject of some research (okay, not a lot) as well as spirited debate. It happens that the letters TLBC may also stand for Tolkien, Lewis, Belloc and Chesterton, and the writings of these brilliant Brits will form a cornerstone of all League meetings, with members bringing favorite passages to read aloud, book recommendations, reviews and discussion, in a manner that can be instantly recognized as the opposite of a study group. The idea is not to study, the idea is to enjoy the writing of these men, and any others tangentially related to them, who influenced them, or who were influenced by them.
Look for a new TLBC Blog next week, with a pretty much arbitrary list of League Rules and By-Laws, articles, t-shirts, stickers, mugs and similar folderol.