Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Being A Man In This Brave New World
Many things have either died or been stillborn as a result of the Episcopal Church's tragedy that has been unfolding since August 2003. For me one was a book I was in process of writing following a powerful gathering of men that took place in Florida in early 2002.
Convened by Bishop John Lipscomb and Jay Crouse, who worked in men's ministries in the Diocese of Southwest Florida, it was an attempt to assess what must happen if we were to give ministry among the male half of the population its rightful place in the church's life. I remember enjoying that gathering almost more than any I have ever participated in, and came away with quantities of material and research ideas that we hoped would result in a book that would have a profound impact on ministry amongst men in North American Anglicanism.
Alas, we were derailed. Our intentions were diverted by the slow motion train wreck that has been taking place ever since the Episcopal Church declared, in effect, that it was totally confused about what it means to be a man, to be a woman, and how we human beings of differing genders relate to one another. I sometimes wonder how many other magnificent Kingdom opportunities were lost as Gospel-inspired dreams have given way to the banality of keeping up with a crumbling culture?
But I am getting off topic. By that time I had written six chapters of a book on the challenge of reaching men in the topsy-turvy world of today. Although I have brought them out and dusted them off every now and again, occasionally using them as the basis for a talk or two, the book has never seen the light of day, and publication is probably now never likely to happen.
Just this week in our parish we are attempting to expand our early Tuesday morning men's bible study into something that reaches out in appropriate ways to the males living round here. With the encouragement of some of the guys I decided there may be a few useful thoughts in this manuscript that would be worth sharing with a wider audience because the book is unlikely to see the light of day.
So I have launched another blog Being A Man In This Brave New World, that is simply an attempt to make these thoughts that I had several years ago accessible. The chapters will be posted in installments as I rework the materials, sometimes needing to bring some up-to-date, and perhaps modifying ideas that might seem a little undeveloped as a result of mature thought.
If anything, I have an even deeper concern for the plight of males, seeking to work out what it is to live as a man in this strange culture that is emerging from the demise of centuries of a predominantly Christian culture.
While women have found themselves in all sorts of ways in the last forty years, men are floundering. Here is a huge challenge that many seem incapable of taking up, often because of shrill voices that seem quite happy to either abandon or relegate to insignificance a huge proportion of those of us who suffer from what might be called testosterone poisoning.
I doubt whether my words on this subject come up with much that is new, but they have been thought out within the context of a denomination that has been one of the least successful at holding onto its male membership, or addressing the deeply felt needs and yearnings of masculine hearts and minds.
I suspect that such a manuscript will be interpreted as anti-women, but that is certainly not its intention. The four human beings who I love more than any in the world are all female: my wife, my two daughters, and my one and only grandchild, a little girl called Hannah. Over the years I have been profoundly influenced by the elder three of these females, and I hope I am a better person because of it. I am sure that Hannah will join the others in shaping her Grandpa's thinking and behaving in due course.
In addition, I have been privileged to serve Christ in his church alongside some outstanding women, as well as gaining much from many of the females that I have known in the various congregations that I have served over the years.
All this leads me to assert that the life of the feminine half of the race might be so much richer if males can rediscover their masculine genius, complementary to the glorious richness that women bring to the mix of humanity. "Vive la diference" the French have been known to say about the genders, to which I would add that the difference means that we really do need each other if we are to be whole as God intends.
So, in coming weeks keep your eyes open for what gets posted on the new blog, http://beingamaninthisbravenewworld.blogspot.com.