Thursday, 4 September 2008

Real Men

I really would like to write more often. Ideas pass through my brain and I think, “I should put that on my blog”, but I get busy and then I forget what I was going to say. However, part of it is my incompetence as a blogger, because I keep writing at such length. Most people’s blogs contain really short articles, just quick paragraphs. I guess having grown up in the age of the book, I’m used to going into detail so even the length I write at here seems over-compressed sometimes.

One blog cum chat site I recently joined in my local church’s new mychurch.com site (http://www.mychurch.org/churches/world/AU/Queensland/Brisbane/257600/St-Andrews-Anglican-Church). It’s interesting because in the discussion you see a side of people that you don’t see on Sunday mornings. One of the guys started a men’s group off with a discussion about a book called “Why Men Hate Going to Church” by David Murrow. I haven’t read the book but I have visited his website www.churchformen.com.

In a nutshell, he says the church has become “feminised” – it’s become a place which reflects feminine ways of thinking and doing things, and as a consequence most men hate it. Over 60% of church attendees are women, while the men who do attend often don’t get much out of it. Then they suggest various things which can help to make church more “masculine” – like getting rid of the flowers, making a more masculine church language by avoiding words like “precious” and “personal relationship”, being more “outdoors” and so on.

Of course this was all news to me. I go to church regularly although I’m not always very enthusiastic about it – so I can relate to that part at least. But I never though that was because I was a man – I thought lots of women felt the same, and in fact I know plenty who do. Furthermore, every church I’ve been to has been run by men. St Andrews is the first church I’ve been to with a woman minister – and even there she’s the assistant, the bloke is the one in charge! And his bosses, the bishops and archdeacons and so on, are all men. In our previous churches all the elders and deacons were men. So how has the church become feminised? Perhaps the d├ęcor ends up being feminine because that’s the only place women have any control.

Secondly the prescriptions were new to me. Would I feel more at home in church if it had a “tool time”? Or if we talked more about fishing? The picture of men drawn in this material was so stereotyped as to be almost funny – a bit like the Spooky Men’s Chorale or the Sensitive New Age Cowpersons. Nothing would be surer to drive me away. So here’s my entirely personal take on what would make church more useful and interesting for this particular man. Other men and women are free to differ.

1. We should be able to think for ourselves. Thinking differently from others and asking awkward questions should be encouraged, not frowned on.
2. There should be less sitting and listening and more interacting and discussing.
3. We should be able to go into something in depth, not just skim the surface then move on.
4. We should be able to play and sing music that wasn’t written and published by certified “christian” artists and labels. Why should the Devil have all the good music?
5. There should be a lot more laughing and mucking around.

I’ve always been one of those blokes that liked to hang around with the girls and so I ended up in community development not engineering. That means I’m not really qualified to talk on this subject. However my dad did give me a Y chromosome, so I assume there are other men who see things the same way – and probably quite a few women too although I know some who would come to church for tool time.

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