Friday, November 03, 2006

Rambo liturgy: reactionary masculinity blowing a fuse

Some of you will remember Leon Podles' book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity. Whatever it's merits and defects, it touched a nerve and spoke to a problem: men dropping out of church and parishes overrun with women -- women directors of faith formation, women extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, women directors of parish ministry (whatever that means), women choirs singing songs that men couldn't possibly sing because they were pitched too high and wouldn't want to sing if they could because they were too sissified, etc., etc., etc. Okay, okay. Of course there's another side to all that, but that's not my point here. My point is that there was this side, which has and is creating a sizeable reaction. Just as the women's movement and feminism gave birth to Robert Bly's Iron John: A Book About Men and the American Men's Movement, so the feminization of Christianity referenced by Leon Podles has given rise to its own reaction. Not only have men been staying away from Holy Days of Obligation in droves to play golf and watch football. They have, especially on the Protstant side of the fence, begun creating alternative movements. And some of these are, shall we say, over-the-top.

On October 30, 2006, Newsweek ran an article entitled "Real Men Talk About God," with the banner headline: "A new Christian movement lets guys be guys." The article begins:
This wasn’t your Daddy’s religious revival. Last Saturday morning, 200 Christian men gathered in a downtown warehouse in Nashville for a daylong spiritual extravaganza. Inside, strobe lights flashed, and tracks by the Killers thumped from speakers stacked on either side of a stage. Four large video screens showed clips of karate fights, car chases and "Jackass"-style stunts. Then the music lowered and Christian comedian Brad Stine appeared. With his rat-a-tat delivery and aggressive style, Stine quickly whipped the crowd into a chorus of “Amens!” “A lot of guys out there wouldn’t have the balls to be here,” he shouted. “Are you ready to be a man? Are you ready to kick ass? Are you ready to grab your sword and say, ‘OK family, I’m going to lead you?’ Buckle up. This is GodMen!”
This is where it only begins to get crazy. Behold what a little fire from a few popped masculine fuses kindleth! Marty Haugen, David Haas, eat your hearts out! Perhaps this is just the beginning! Eeeeeek!

[Hat tip to Michael Forrest]

No comments: