A friend of mine was recently lamenting his issues with the contemporary church. One of his main concerns was what he termed the overly feminine character of the church.
He felt that the church advocates more feminine characteristics than male ones and that therefore the men in the church have become feminine. He also said that it had become strange for him to, as he put it, "sing love songs to a man". He felt the ministries of the church required feminine type approaches like nurturing and motherly characteristics and that the strong, male had no place.
I was a bit taken back, I happen to really love "singing love songs to God (who I don't think I see as a man) and also to Jesus". I am not a manly man in the macho hollywood stereotype, I don't particularly like sport (though I don't dislike it), and I model my life on what he seemed to think were feminine characteristics, what he called the softer emotions.
I know that he has been influenced by authors like John Eldridge "Wild at Heart" and other books of the same nature.
What are your opinions on this, and your experiences. Am I simply a feminine man or is his view of what makes a man a man simply off?
He was of course not directing this lament against me, but I felt I fit (in part) the description of what he feels is wrong with the church and the men in it.
One comment that he made was that all religions seemed to try to make the males more feminine except Islam, though he in no way thought that Islam was the best model in other areas, but that it seemed to uphold men as men.
A subject near and dear to my heart. After spending most of my life wondering whether there was something wrong with me, I have decided upon entering middle life that there is something wrong with the culture.
There is a culture of death in the West. A culture of the shadow side of the "masculine," which seeks
through control and domination and an unhealthy competition to destroy all rivals, and will brook no interference with its self-serving agenda.
I'm not imagining this. It is very true, particularly in the U.S. A real man nurtures and supports life, and something larger than his narrow interests of personal gain. I've seen it over and over again in the men which I admire and respect, whether they play football or ride motorcycles or hunt or attend the shooting range.
Real men are spiritual. Jesus is the model. Ignore religious imagery which depicts Jesus as a sissy. He was most definitely not and is not today.
C.S. Lewis said that those in search of a manly religion must choose Christianity or Hinduism.
Ok, so the Buddhists are girly-men. I still like the philosophy. Kung Fu Taoists sissies too?
I don't think my friend meant to express a desire to be the kind of men that go against Christian principles. I just am not sure what he thinks men should be and what makes a man a man? I know there are many books on the subject, but I would prefer to hear what Shalomplacers think
Jacques, I'm sure there are many women who would disagree with your friend's characterization of the Church as overly feminine. In fact, one of the strongest criticisms of traditional expressions of Christianity by feminists is that it's overly patriarchical, from our images of God to who gets to be ordained as ministers. They certainly have a point. But it is nonetheless true that it's mostly women who show up for the classes, retreats, service endeavors, etc.
Husbands, fathers, uncles, sons,grandfathers, priests, soldiers,
breadwinners, citizens, politicians. Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. Then rejection and criticism.
I'm looking forward to an international men's movement, in and out of the churches.
Three cheers for men! For he's a jolly good fellow...
Do you know the work of Robert Bly, the American poet, in particular his book "Iron John:A Book About Men"? He is an excellent poet and leader of the mythopoetic men's movement that may be of some interest.
Indeed I do. Robert Bly is fascinating -- "even when he�s wrong", as one female critic put it. He has a lot of relevant things to say. And I have heard him read many a time, and corresponding with him he encouraged my own early efforts at poetry translation.
In fact, I think Robert Bly is even better as an essayist then a poet.
For instance, check out the essays in "News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness". A lot of heavy criticism against church-thinking-gone-wrong there.
Roberts Bly and Johnson too! And Promise Keepers...
Reminds me of this article. A new study shows that the fastest-growing churches boast more men, less reverence, and percussion during worship.
The article made me think of a particular point in my church life: a teen aged Brazilian boy invited me to play bongo drums along side him at a church talent show. I tried but simply couldn't keep up with his complicated rhythms and so didn't perform. Bummer.
I believe that the Salvation Army, for one, has iron-clad rules as to how musicians can play the guitar -- lest it become "too rhythmic".
Here is an irreverent take on this by a well-known comedian/commentator whose first name is Betty, voiced in connection with the Vatican�s objections to The Da Vinci Code:
�The man on the left, wearing a fabulous vintage chiffon lined Dior gold lame gown over a silk Vera Wang empire waist tulle cocktail dress, accessorized with a three foot tall peaked House of Whoville hat, and the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the movie, �Wizard of Oz� � and protected by his swish guard � is worried that The Da Vinci Code might make the Roman Catholic Church look foolish.�
There are those, including Robert Bly, who would argue priest attire, particularly that of higher-ranking members of the hierarchy, is about as un-masculine as you can get.
An argument that I have heard, which may not be popular here, is that feminine attire and accoutrements have been used by Patriarchal religions since time immemorial, to "win" the energy once ruled by Matriarchal religious leaders.
Mind you, I am hardly saying that is so, but the femininity of the attire is most striking.
An important tip I learned in my clinical training about listening:
People often speak in generalities, but they are thinking of something very *specific.*
When your friend says he's troubled by the feminine aspects of the church, I wonder what feminine characteristics he's thinking of in particular? There are emotionality, nurturance, passivity, ability to relate / communicate, and so on.
His objection to 'singing love songs to a man'... well...hmm... I woudn't be surprised if he had a few little homo-erotic fears running through his head that he is projecting onto that church. (don't quote me on that!)
much peace to you and your family,
I agree it is fem. It strikes me as a cross-dressing fetish, with various social rewards, and costs.
Per costs, I think of the church across the street where on some Sundays, there are more people playing dress up in the processional and choir than there are recipients. (the gay priest, when I invited me to visit my place for tea, arrived wearing a kilt. He is devoted to the Virgin. And his one comment about John Paul of Vatican II was, "he liked to dress up.") It is an expensive game: $900 per day is their budget according to their last fund raising letter. For my part, I chipped in for a half day because I participate in morning prayers which consists of one person playing dress up and me. When I don't go, it is just that one person.
Just got a new copy of Seven Years in Tibet and the innocence of the boy who plays the part of the Dalai
Lama is deeply moving.
I always feel a bit jealous
since I could have been a boy like that had the culture I came from demanded that he be whipped out of me.
I often see the nature-boy archetype in films. The Emerald Forest and bible stories come to mind.
Then I think of the Fight Club film where guys get together by gathering to knock the proverbial crap
out of each other. The main character destroys the face of a particularly handsome man.
"I just wanted to destroy something beautiful."
Perhaps someday fathers will stop beating that beautiful boy out of their sons. Utopian Dream?
You just gave me an immensely valuable lesson in communication.
Upon further reflection, I encounter this a lot, yet don�t necessarily have the sensitivity to respond appropriately. I love discussing things on an abstract level, trying to cast light on the underlying patterns and forces.
But the conversation may well prove fruitless. Because I won�t be aware of, and addressing, that which is unspoken and top-of-mind from the other person.
Not unless I can be sensitive enough to notice it, hear their indirect signals, or be intuitive enough to ask questions so that it be voiced.
I think I need to work on that!
I'm so busted! Yes, I am thinking of my father. We just had a conversation about his father. Fathers and Sons, Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!
Dad has been a born again Christian for about twenty years now. My mom and my stepdad, who are having their first fight after five years, are committed
Lutherans. My two younger brothers are up to their ears in family responsibilities, but still on the path.
I'm the scapegoat and the family priest at the same time. Dysfunctional holy man michael.
It's all so screwed up and wonderful!
shalom, mm <*))))><
There was a wonderful analyst who said there's a part of us that wants to be "found, but not found out!"
So being "so busted," as you put it...well...that can be good if it brings about healthy intimacy...
it's OK, we are among kind and compassionate people....God knows we need this from one another especially when we've been as wounded as myself and so many others here at SP.
Dear Heart Prayer,
Even after all my clinical training and practice as a human being, I still fall quite short of good listening and effective communicating many times!!
much peace to you and your loved ones,
MM - you and me both. Maybe we should start a whole thread on what it feels like to be the family priest (scapegoat being a pretty enormous topic, maybe beyond the scope of SP)
|Powered by Social Strata|