Friday, February 22, 2008

‘Christianity’ magazine has run two articles (see February and March) on the disparity in the ratio of males to females in churches. Here are my comments, as promised. As I have been aware of this issue for some years (and have written about it) I’m rather disturbed that only now have I found an article airing the matter. Anyway that’s an important start – my own church remains utterly unaware of it.

The two articles cover an interview with Carl Beech Chief executive of Christian Vision for men. I’ve got to hand it to him, Beech does seem to know how to connect to men, although his take on masculinising the church is to give occasion to the issue driven laddish sporting bravado that many men enjoy and engage in. If Beech’s succeeds here then he would have done the church a service.

In my case the way of being a male is slightly different. I have never been one for the laddish culture, as I approximate closer to that male preserve of the quasi-autistic loner who focuses relentlessly on single goals - stereotypically represented in the media by the likes of ‘The hit man’, ‘the terminator’, the lone hobbyist or geek etc.

But in common with the lads it isn’t just a case of me feeling that church just isn’t getting through; in actual fact it’s more a case of that church being proactively against the masculine model and its various manifestations. In modern evangelicalism conversion is all about a personality change that seeks denial of one’s masculine traits in favor of an intuitive reverie so aptly summed up by the phrase ‘The Heart Knowledge Christian’. What church wants, as Beech puts it so well, is chatty friendly ‘small talkers’, effeminacy, wimpishness, a passive submissive imbibing of homiletic monologues on Sunday, indifference to technical gadgetary, and drivers of cutsie feminine cars instead of real manly cars. As far as masculine pursuits are concerned, Beech says that the signal from the church is ‘Stop it because it’s all really sinful’.

As for the state of worship in church with its male alienating ‘Swoon for Jesus love ins’ Beech seems to understand this as well: “Our terminology is that Jesus is our lover – press yourselves into his arms and let him embrace you”. Beech goes onto to say: “I’m very grateful for the charismatic movement, but I think we need to recast the terminology. Some of the songs which emerged in the 90s were very cathartic.” It was a lot worse than that Carl: the mid nineties was the heyday of the Toronto Blessing when, if you didn't want to be accused of resisting the Spirit, you emulated those 'in the Spirit' and got down on all fours and barked!

Not news really, but having identified the problem what do we do next? In some ways the loner like myself is much better placed than the lads; I can simply ignore all these soppy goings on and pursue my own projects. But what does jack the lad do when he can find no social outlet for his laddishness? He says: "Fuhgeddaaboutit!"

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