Apparently god, li’l rascal that he is, is starting up a He-Man Woman-Haters’ Club (actually it’s called GodMen), since there isn’t enough phallocentricity or misogyny in modern Christianity.
It seems to be a cross* between PromiseKeepers and “youth ministries” — a way to get men into churches by allowing them to relive the Glory Days of fraternity parties and other, analogous pointlessness.
Brad Stine runs onstage in ripped blue jeans, his shirt untucked, his long hair shaggy. He’s a stand-up comic by trade, but he’s here today as an evangelist, on a mission to build up a new Christian man — one profanity at a time. “It’s the wuss-ification of America that’s getting us!” screeches Stine, 46.
The attitude seems to be that church has become “emasculating”, something Real Men are naturally terrified of. Here’s one description, for instance, from David Murrow, who wrote Why Men Hate Going to Church:
Murrow, 45, blames men’s lackluster attitude on the feminization of mainline churches: “Lace curtains. Quilted banners on the wall. Pink carpet. Fresh flowers at the podium.”
How dreadful that must be. A sanctuary set aside specifically to bring one closer to a universal cause, or to a universal sense of understanding; a place for contemplation of profound questions such as the nature and meaning of humanity; a place where one goes to feel, however tenuously, a sense of connection with something far greater than oneself … that is peaceful, and comfortable, and has flowers in it.
Fuck that!, say the GodMen. We want naked concrete, half-naked women, fart-lighting contests and grease all over our hands! That’s the way to get in touch with Jesus, right?
Right! Looky here:
“[Jesus has] been domesticated,” says Roland Martinson, a professor of ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. “He’s portrayed now as gentle, loving, kind, rather than as a full-bodied person who kicked over tables in the temple, spent 40 days in the wilderness wrestling with his identity and with God, hung out with the guys in the street. The rough-hewn edges and courage … got lopped off.”
…Okay, maybe they do have one point here. (“Full-bodied person”? So Jesus is a beer, and the domesticated version is the Lite variety?) The packaged, Pope-approved Jesus is so obvously not the real deal that it’s really kind of shocking we have to explain it to anyone.
Given his ancestry and place of birth, the man named Jesus would probably be on an FBI terrorism watch list were he alive today. He certainly would have had the complexion and clothing for it. Jesus blond-haired, blue-eyed and quintessentially Aryan? Not on your fuckin’ life.
But contrast that, which is sensible, to the following, which is not:
Hold hands with strangers? Sing love songs to Jesus? No wonder pews across America hold far more women than men, Stine says. Factor in the pressure to be a “Christian nice guy” — no cussing, no confrontation, in tune with the wife’s emotions — and it’s amazing men keep the faith at all.
Do you see the misogyny here? I’ll admit that it’s buried in a litany of whining about problems with stereotypical Christian doings, but when you look for it, it jumps right out. It’s in the phrase “in tune with the wife’s emotions”, which dismissively brushes past one of the few things that men must be to sustain a long-term relationship with anyone but their football buddies.
How much of a woman-hating bastard do you have to be to think caring about your wife’s needs is somehow unmanly? Well, consider this comment from Stine.
He also distributes a list of a real man’s rules for his woman. No. 1: “Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.”
One could argue that Stine should behave in the same fashion with a certain part of his own anatomy, particularly the “put it down” part. And this from his wife, which contains a phrase that I find a little too much like a disturbing sexual metaphor:
Stine’s wife, Desiree, says she supports manly leadership; it seems to her the natural and God-ordained order of things. As she puts it: “When the rubber hits the bat, I want to know my husband will protect me.”
What … rubber, precisely, is hitting which “bat”? What is this “bat”, and what does the act of striking it symbolize?
Perhaps there are some things we simply were not meant to know. Absolutely there are some things we probably do not want to know.
The idea of a rough-and-tumble Jesus is interesting; but just like the Catholic lily-white version, it’s facile. We’re talking about a man who had some pretty damn deep insights, a man who was therefore arguably complex. The gospels hint at it; the Jesus portrayed in them was not a linear, sketchily-drawn character possessed of little depth. He got pissed; he got drunk; he got horny.
He wasn’t just about whipping commercialism away from the sanctuary; he wasn’t just about social revolution. He was also interested in bringing a new understanding to the people around him; he was ultimately trying to relieve a little of the suffering he saw happening in the world around him.**
The GodMen seem to be a little conflicted as well, discovering quickly that spiritual or deep ethical exploration can lead to what they might deem decidely unmanly sensitivity. What to do about it? Ease off on the hard-edged rhetoric, Stine believes, including the occasional profanity he uses while delivering a sermon.
[John] Eldredge runs “soul-searching” wilderness retreats in Colorado that prompt men to bare their innermost needs.
Hmm, I wonder if they bring bats along on these retreats of theirs.
* Not that cross.
** It’s possible to be an atheist, reject the divinity of Jesus, deny the possibility of miracles, and still respect what the man was trying to accomplish.
Amanda posted a hell of a fine takedown on these clowns too.
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