American Pilgrim

I’ll say up front that this is one of the best books I’ve read in the last year. It’s the story of a man coming to redemption and discerning who he is and what God wants him to do with his life. I’m glad I bought the paper version for reasons you’ll see below.

I first encountered Roosh on the Return of King’s site, now in unsuspended hibernation as well as his own site. I came on those sites because their linkage from other blogs and bloggers that I like to read. And I enjoyed the sites for quite some time from the perspective of a happily married man about to go middle-age crazy. Not only was a kind of fun to live vicariously, it was also fun to see some of the writers heading towards the same disasters that either I or my friends have gone through.

Everything written or said about Roosh in the press is mostly wrong. These sites were simply vehicles where men could communicate and learn how to get over themselves, get out of their own way, and learn how to meet women. It’s telling that none of these people seem to bother to take the time to actually read some of the articles. It’s a sad testament that a woman can go off to a foreign country backpack around, sleep with a few guys, and she’s considered brave, empowered, and awesome. But for a guy to do the same thing, he’s somehow a degenerate. I read a blog from one of these women who thought she met the exotic love of her life who turned out to be nothing more than a janitor cleaning himself up to go hit on naïve backpacker chicks. But I digress. 

As another aside I’ve read a few more of his books such as Dead Bat in Paraguay and Game. They’re good reads but really sort of pop the bubble on the whole pickup artist thing, which from what can I can gather is simply sales. You’re selling yourself and the more women you encounter the more likely you are to make a sale. Very similar advice that I gave to my son when I told him a woman wasn’t going to pop out of his game console like in the movie Weird Science. He’d have to go where women are and actually talk to them.

A few years back Roosh’s sister, whom he was very close to , passed away very young, putting his life into a tailspin. In this book the way he worded it was he put on a brave face and continued on with his work. But I could tell you from reading that something was really wrong. So much so that by pretty much stopped reading the site.

In the end he rediscovered his Armenian Orthodox faith, and began a path towards repentance and discernment. To do this he went on a nationwide road trip stopping in some 23 cities to give talks. That’s when I picked the story back up. It got to the point where I was looking forward to the next video blog. They were quite good. Rather than a pretentious narration that you see over a lot of this type of thing he would talk a bit in the beginning, show a ton of scenes, what he saw you saw, and wrapped it up with a few words about what was coming. I enjoyed every one of them so much so that I was thinking of going to his talk when he came to Dallas.

Through a number of unforeseen happenstances I missed that. To be honest speech day came and I was feet up in front of my TV with a snoot full of hydrocodone. Don’t ask. 

I think one of my favorite parts was when he was complaining about the hotel toilet paper, having bought his own to solve the problem. As a veteran of staying in hotels I can say for the most part that a lot of them buy toilet paper with the consistency of corrugated cardboard. And by the end of the week you’re going to have a really bad case of monkey butt. So I got a belly laugh out of that scene.

This book, American Pilgrim, fleshes out that trip with what he was thinking, when he was thinking it, his impressions of where he was and the people he met. He had some really interesting talks with Orthodox priests along the way. Enough that I have a new reading list to consider. Although my Roman Catholic orthodoxy is different, but part of the same tree that Orthodoxy grew, I enjoy the different perspective. As far as core beliefs go Catholicism and Orthodoxy are not that far apart. My impression is it’s more of an operational thing than doctrinal. There were tons of insights in this book based on the Orthodox faith. They are invaluable to any Christian man.

“You are in great danger. ” Father David said.

“Why?” I was expecting a compliment or maybe a “Good Job”.

“You were doing the will of the evil one for a long time. He’s not going to let you go so easy. Many people, when they return to God, are given a moment’s rest. Things appear easy because they are full of God’s grace, but there will be a moment when it appears God has left you. Then you could exceed the sins that you committed in the past. I knew a man that experienced one and a half years of incredible grace. He thought the fight was over and his salvation assured. Then the grace was removed. God never left him, but went silent to let him walk on his own. Unfortunately, he went back to his old ways.”

Roosh with Fr. David, in “American Pilgrim”

So much so that my book is dogeared from all the pages that I need to revisit and highlight because God forbid a highlighter be within my reach in my house. These quotes are so good I’ll spend the next few months re-reading them, quoting them to my son, and putting them on my site. Anyone that has an interest in God, in marriage, or has a son that might need advice, these things are pearls.

“But how about if I stay here and don’t find a girl?” he asked.

“Don’t worry about it! Have faith in God and he’ll give you what you need. You don’t know what you need. You think you know, but you don’t know. Everything I thought I needed took me away from God and put me on the path to ruin. You’re a fool, just like I am, and without a spiritual foundation to guide you, you’ll flounder from one bad decision to the next. If it’s God’s will for you to be married, you will be married…It’s about serving Him as faithfully as you can. He’ll send you a woman when you are ready if He believes a wife is important for your salvation. And all you have to do at that point is to be a man and ask her out to begin a courtship.”

Roosh, talking to a dude that wanted to go abroad to find a wife.

I already know how the book ended, having kept up with his site. But it was interesting to get the background on what exactly happened. I won’t spoil the ending because the book really didn’t have a plot. But he did learn some things during and after his trip. It was nice that the more radical and intolerant, militant side of the left pretty much left him be on the tour. God was with him and that probably scared them off. He was surely doing the Lord’s work.

You owe it to yourself to buy this book and take your time reading it. I enjoyed every minute of it.