Thursday, April 14, 2011

Male Spirituality?

A discussion of Male Spirituality on "Beyond Belief" on Radio 4 took place recently. Unfortunately the discussion devolved into why men don't go to church. Tear Fund reckons that 35% of believing men have stopped going to church. 

Discussants in the programme include: the Reverend Andy Drake, director of evangelism at Christian Vision for Men; Dr Janet Eccles, a sociologist of religion attached to the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at the University of Lancaster; and Rabbi Dr Dan Cohn Sherbok, Emeritus Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, Lampeter.

There are mostly women in churches and when women are ordained they often take marginal and small churches. There are not many female leaders. Why is this? Discussants proposed role models: biblical characters are mostly male. The history of Biblical Judaism is a history of men. Synagogues, otoh, include men and women together while in orthodox synagogues men are leaders. Do Christian men miss experiences of male bonding in the pub and the soccer field? 

Could stories of Jesus' disciples be good examples of male bonding? Discipleship is an ongoing journey. Christian life involves taking risks and being courageous which is not very evident in church services. Is the message itself not appealing to men? 

The old model of men in charge is gone. Men can function successfully in a world where they are not in charge although the adjustment is not easy for many. 

For those who are interested in the broader topic see, for example, Bjorn Krondorfer's book. See also this link to a booklist. 


TonyTheProf said...

Neopaganism (Wicca; Druidry) has more female leaders than Christianity and it probably also has more of an even mix in numbers of men and women.

That's probably because it doesn't have a tradition of patriarchy, and is less dominated by narratives which put men as leaders and which really mirrors the secular world of the "glass ceiling" rather than critiquing it.

Mark N said...

The essence of Male Spirituality in the postmodern context --at least for those who I think are trying to get it right -- is about humility and interior integration. It's about finding and expressing one's "deep masculine" and "deep feminine", as Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM has often put it. Issues of church structure, history, social "gender" discussions and present religious leadership are relevant... yet, in my view, still more about power and politics than about true spirituality. It's the rare radio show, media outlet, or even seminary that can stick to the tougher topics of mystery, "Spirit", and/or what aspects of God's self are authentically masculine or feminine (authentic= beyond our limited human definitions of those terms) .

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