Friday, December 08, 2006

Muscular Christianity on 'roids



(image ganked from Jesus' General)


Via feministe:

"Godmen"

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.


A moment later he adds a fervent: "Thank you, Lord, for our testosterone!"

...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.

"We know men are uncomfortable in church," says the Rev. Kraig Wall, 52, who pastors a small church in Franklin, Tenn. — and is at GodMen to research ways to reach the husbands of his congregation. His conclusion: "The syrup and the sticky stuff is holding us down."



While there may be something new under the sun, this ain't it. We've seen this shit before. No, I don't just mean the Promise Keepers. I mean go back a hundred years or more: "muscular christianity."


The phrase "muscular Christianity" probably first appeared in an 1857 English review of Charles Kingsley's novel Two Years Ago (1857). One year later, the same phrase was used to describe Tom Brown's School Days, an 1856 novel about life at Rugby by Kingsley's friend, fellow Englishman Thomas Hughes. Soon the press in general was calling both writers muscular Christians and also applying that label to the genre they inspired: adventure novels replete with high principles and manly Christian heroes.

Hughes and Kingsley were not only novelists; they were also social critics. In their view, asceticism and effeminacy had gravely weakened the Anglican Church. To make that church a suitable handmaiden for British imperialism, Hughes and Kingsley sought to equip it with rugged and manly qualities. They also exported their campaign for more health and manliness in religion to antebellum America, where their ideas failed to catch on immediately due to factors such as Protestant opposition to sports and the popularity of feminine iconography within the mainline Protestant churches.

Opposition to muscular Christianity in America never completely disappeared. But it did weaken in the aftermath of the Civil War, when changes in American society placed health and manliness uppermost in the minds of many male white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. These men, who included Social Gospel leaders such as Josiah Strong and politicians such as Theodore Roosevelt, viewed factors such as urbanization, sedentary office jobs, and non-Protestant immigration as threats not only to their health and manhood but also to their privileged social standing. To maintain that standing, they urged "old stock" Americans to revitalize themselves by embracing a "strenuous life" replete with athleticism and aggressive male behavior. They also called loudly upon their churches to abandon the supposedly enervating tenets of "feminized" Protestantism.

As evidence that there existed a "woman peril" in American Protestant churches, critics such as the pioneer psychologist G. Stanley Hall pointed to the imbalance of women to men in the pews. They also contended that women's influence in church had led to an overabundance of sentimental hymns, effeminate clergymen and sickly-sweet images of Jesus. These things were repellant to "real men" and boys, averred critics, who argued that males would avoid church until "feminized" Protestantism gave way to muscular Christianity, a strenuous religion for the strenuous life.


An interesting take on the phenomenon here:

Muscular Christianity was founded upon a radical, as well as theological, distinction between supposedly masculine and feminine values. Becaue of this, it was possible for fundamentalists opposed to modernity to transfer what they disliked about modernity to the “feminine” category. Thus women became bearers of all that was hated about the modern world while men were invested with everything good and positive.

A significant impetus behind the assault on women and modernity was the feeling that women had encroached upon traditional male spheres like the workplace and colleges. Furthermore, women’s leadership in the churches had harmed Christianity by creating an effeminate clergy and a weak sense of self. All of this was associated with liberalism, feminism, women, and modernity.

Although examples of something like muscular Christianity can be found in ancient Christianity and in Europe, it is primarily an American phenomenon and an American fundamentalist reaction against the modern era of equality and liberty. Muscular Christianity pushes masculinity in part by pushing traditional hierarchies and traditional structures of authority — structures which, naturally, are run and controlled by men. Fighting against the “feminization” of church or society is, thus, a fight against the loss of traditional privileges and power.


Hugo Schwyzer
notes the heavy overlap of the neo-testosteristians with the MRA dudes:

For one thing, both Godmen and MRAs engage in the nifty trick of framing themselves as "oppressed victims". Since at least the 1970s, both MRAs and white conservative Christians -- traditionally the greatest agents of injustice -- have tried to steal the mantle of "victimhood" from the genuinely oppressed. In this perverse reframing, gays and lesbians who want marriage equality become the powerful forces of evil, imposing their will on a simple, God-fearing, and ultimately powerless majority.


and also observes:

I've never been to a "Godmen" service. But I've been to a few Promisekeepers events, and I've also got a strong grounding in secular feminism.... I've heard lots of talk about pornography in both camps. And while the hostility to porn is often nearly identical in intensity, what undergirds that dislike of commercial sex is fundamentally different.

While the feminist anti-porn movement is concerned with the impact porn has on both women and men, groups like the Godmen only pay lip service to concepts like "exploitation" and "dehumanization." What conservative Christian men's groups find so troubling is that an addiction to porn and masturbation leaves men feeling weak, powerless, and vulnerable. ...Godmen don't like porn because it is a visceral, shameful reminder of male weakness, one that stands at odds with their self-flattering vision of strong, bold, Christian warriors.


Also, it, along with women, depletes their precious bodily fluids, their...essence.

61 comments:

Renegade Evolution said...

heheheheheeh HAHAHAHAH, oh shit, man, people...

damn.

Sly Civilian said...

sap and impurify...

my dad grew up a few houses down from Sterling Hayden. One of those random coincidences of blue blood New England.

spot on with the historical setting. the connection between "Dudely Xtny" and imperium is just undeniable, and the anxiety over modernity and the quest for authenticity is right there.

Not to toot my own horn, but i discuss the latter in my post on the ontology of occupation here...

Rootietoot said...

I don't really see anything wrong with menfolk having their own sort of religious movement. I think the general attitude of women today will prevent it from becoming a source of oppression. I mean, really, if SD came thundering in and said "Woman! I am the Head Of The Household! Submit to me!" he'd be picking his boxers out of his teeth. But then, he really doesn't need yet another men's support group to affirm his faith and his position in the household.

A story: Several years ago he was approached by one of the prominent members of our church, and invited to make the 6 hour trip to Altanta for a Promise Keepers rally. When he declined, saying he had plans for the weekend, he was told that he "couldn't call himself a real Christian husband and father if he didn't join Promise Keepers." His response was that he'd rather spend his weekends bonding with his children than with 45,000 strange men.

These movements come and go. Like gas.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems you got is you keep claiming the Bible is wrong. How do you know that? What anti-christian literature written by one fallable author with bad reaserch did you get your ideas from? You're basing your beliefs based on those things you read in some anti-christian literature by one fallable author with bad reaserch. You put faith in things that give you a very weak foundation. The Bible is written over 1600+ years by 40 authors in different geographic locations and this was done before a printing press. The other issue is your ideas of Biblical morality. The Bible teaches that you're not a good person. The Bible shows that you do a lot of evil deeds. Such as lying, covetousness, stealing...even your thoughts are abominable. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law, psalms and prophets(1600+ years of literature). The Bible teaches Jesus Christ made all things and all things are made for him. Jesus Christ is king of heaven and earth right now as we speak. Jesus Christ is head over all principalities and powers. There is no authority that exsist accept for those Jesus Christ has allowed to be established. You are guilty of doing evil deeds. You do as the Bible says you will do. Such as mocking at amends for sins. Read some proverbs, you do as the Bible says you will do. On Judgement day you will be found guilty because of your evil deeds. That means you do deserve to go to hell forever. Even in our society if a person is convicted of a felony or as a sexual preadator those crimes will follow them as long as they live. do you know Jesus Christ has the power to forgive sins? Jesus Christ says if you humble yourself and turn from your evil deeds that he forgives your evil deeds committed past, present and future. No longer does your conscience have to weighed down by the heavy burdens of all your evil deeds. If you turn from evil and trust Jesus Christ then Jesus will accept you. Jesus Chris won't turn you away and you will have eternal life and righteousness. Please repent, we do care about you and you should flee from the wrath of God that is to come. God's wrath is coming because of all the evil deeds done by man.

belledame222 said...

o my.

who's "we," who do care about me? btw? your name wouldn't be Legion, by any chance?

Veronica said...

Ya know, I can actually picture someone out there, just surfing blogs with a collection of Evangelic Pat Responses ready to cut and paste form a Word document at a moments notice.

belledame222 said...

EvangeloBot (TM)

Veronica said...

Oh! And, even Jesus Christ had that one Uber No-No unforgivable Evil Deed that he won't forgive.

(Hint: It's not Teh Gay Sex.)

Anonymous said...

belledame why would my name be legion? Why would you think that could be possible? If satan is against evil then satan's come to an end. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Veronica said...

WHOA! It's ALIVE!

Anonymous said...

veronica the only unforgivable sin is rejecting Jesus Christ. The blasphemy of the holy spirit isn't done by someone who doesen't understand spiritual things. You're not spiritual and you can't blasphem what you don't know.

Anonymous said...

The Bible says that you were never a Christian if you stopped being a Christian. The Bible tells us that you went out from us to prove you were never of us to begin with. That is probably due to false converts lying to you about the gospel. Decievers decieving you because they themself are decieved.

Anonymous said...

Pat Robertson woulden't agree with what I showed you here. That is becuase Pat Robertson is a dominionist. Pat has a lot of theological issues that are problems. Calling for the assination of Hugo Chavez isn't a Christian obejective.

Veronica said...

Remarkably convenient theology you got there.

belledame222 said...

>Calling for the assination of Hugo Chavez isn't a Christian obejective.

well, I should think not.

belledame222 said...

say, anonymous? do you take requests? you wouldn't play "Melancholy Baby," by any chance?

Anonymous said...

veronica hope it helps:P

Anonymous said...

You know Feminism isn't progressive? Ancient Assyrian and Babylonian religion has feminism as an essential part of the religions. Gnosticism has many feminist beliefs. The early church countered Gnostic claims. That's why the epistle of Paul was written to the Colossians. I recommend you read it. Feminism was foretold in Genesis. God said that man would rule over woman but woman would desire to rule over man. The battle of the sexs are apart of the curse of the fall of man. The only way for men and women to get the proper relationship is to know Christ and live a Christ like life. Feminism is regressive and age old.

Veronica said...

Maybe it's "Martha?"

belledame222 said...

ah yes. well, whoever it is, it's getting tiresome.

anon: can you, or can't you?

Anonymous said...

If you want to read a bible - www.biblegateway.com

JackGoff said...

Oh, please, anonymous. One scientific study can disprove many claims that the Bible makes. And plus, why are you more skeptical about a piece of writing for which you know the origins, and dismiss one you admit could be written by as many as 40 different people and altered by thousands more in translation? Meh.

And, BD, I have a new blog up, though I won't be blogging at it very much, and comments, for now, are going to be moderated.

Sly Civilian said...

good lord, this one is actually kind of entertaining?

feminism is regressive? 'scuse me while i laugh my eyeballs out.

belledame222 said...

I've always been rather fond of Inanna, myself...

belledame222 said...

thanks, JG

Anonymous said...

JackGoff if you have so much proof against the Bible why diden't you bother posting one? Then you go onto make some comments about textual criticism but that doesen't disprove anything either. So you read some anti-christian literature written by one fallable author with bad reaserch and that's what you put faith in. I know you diden't somehow think up these claims yourself. Nope you read them in some anti-christian literature based on bad reaserch with a fallable author, that's sad.

Anonymous said...

Sly Civilian why would you laugh about that? It's true that feminism isn't new or progressive. Feminism was a important part of Assyrian, Babylonian religions and gnosticism. Feminism is age old and regressive when put into historical context.

belledame222 said...

I don't -think- that's "Melancholy Baby."

JackGoff said...

Nope you read them in some anti-christian literature based on bad reaserch with a fallable author, that's sad.

And you put your faith in Christian literature written by many fallible authors who may have had ulterior motives for the religion, like, oh, I don't know...subjugation of women, perhaps?

Ever hear of the "firmament"? How about Galileo? Need I point you in the direction of Siderius Nuncius? How about the Dialogo? There are quite a few authors who have written on the inaccuracy of the Bible, but, really, all you need to know is that your religion was decided by ecumenical council. So, if you want to argue special circumstances for the dudes at Nicea over Galileo and many physicists who came after him, then I guess you'd have a point. It would be ignorance, though, and not based on any data I'm aware of.

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
belledame222 said...

while you're attempting that dialogue, I'll be over here explaining quantum physics to my cat.

JackGoff said...

Just don't tell him/her about Schrodinger... ;-)

belledame222 said...

well, i started by trying to affix a slice of buttered toast to him, but it doesn't seem to be working out so well.

Anonymous said...

JackGoff the government was responsible for Galileo's imprisonment. You also seem to think Catholicism is the same as reformed Christianity. That isn't true. I recommend you study Christianity a lot more before dismissing it based on those claims you've given for your reason to not believe. The Bible says you're not a good person. You do commit evil deeds such as lying and stealing. On judgment day you do deserve eternal punishment in hell for your evil deeds. Even in our society sex offenders and other felons have their crimes follow their life as long as they live. God is just and righteous and you fall far short of God's glory. Yet the key is that God has provided a way of forgiveness and redemption. Jesus Christ came born of a virgine, died on the cross and is bodily ressurected. Jesus Christ made all things and is king of heaven and earth right now as we speak. Everything you do and think is what you will be accountable for on Judgement day when you stand before God to pay for your deeds. Jesus Christ has the power to forgive sins. If you turn from evil deeds and trust in Jesus Christ then you are forgiven and you do have eternal life. Jesus Christ will accept you and he won't turn you away if you humble yourself and ask forgiveness. It's ok we all messed up. I myself was once in your shoes as a sinner alienated from the glory and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Unsane said...

Maybe we can put them and their essence into a nice bubble like GW's bubble? That way they should be safe.

belledame222 said...

who, my cat and the toast? i think they're safe. just a bit cranky and dusty, respectively.

Anonymous said...

George Bush doesen't represent Christianity. He represents moralism. Moral and immoral people go to hell all the time. What counts is a new creation. Just read the Bible and stop trusting in everything a person tells you. I diden't immagine up these things I'm showing you.

JackGoff said...

Actually you did. You imagined their veracity. I argue from data, you argue Christians don't believe as 17th century Christians did. I'd submit the Young Earth morons, of whom Catholics represent but a portion, but, needless to say, it's obvious you haven't read your Bible, as it has quite a bit about reserving judgment and about what happens to them who proclaim loudest their own righteousness. I, of course, make no such claims, other than the fact that the Bible was written by and for misogynists wanting to make their misogyny "valid" by having an authority to appeal to.

Also, look up "firmament" please, and tell me what you think the person who wrote "firmament" thought it meant. I thought your source was infallible...hmm...

JackGoff said...

the government was responsible for Galileo's imprisonment

And, uhh, no. In this case, the government was the Church, and they imprisoned him because they went against the idea that the heavens and their motions are fixed and the stars we see are the only stars. It took time for them to back off, because, umm, well, the Bible agreed with doctrine. Sorry, bud.

belledame222 said...

well, SOMEONE had better play "Melancholy Baby" pretty soon. or I'm going to start getting testy.

JackGoff said...

Do you go Ella, or Sinatra? Or are we talking different songs? 8^D

belledame222 said...

o, as you like it...

Hanna said...

I don't sing so well anymore and I'm having a terrible time with life right now and want it to end so badly. But they say that doing for others is helpful, so I sang Melancholy Baby for you. I know it's terrible, but I hope it brings you some joy, even if only ridicule at my horrible voice.

Love,

Hanna

Melancholy Baby for BellDame222

belledame222 said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

omigod, you are SO AWESOME. seriously, that rocks. ha! THANK YOU.

..now i have to come up with a new bit for people like nonny mouse; but it's well worth it.

xox

word verification: broadrer

belledame222 said...

...more seriously, i am sorry to hear things are going badly for you, h. wishing you well...

Hanna said...

You're more than welcome. You do so much for us all. An insignificant downpayment on the thanks you truly deserve.

Love,

Hanna

Renegade Evolution said...

Oi vey...

Anon...

You know, of course, that the bible was also written by man, right? Even if it is "god's words", people wrote them down, and people tend to bias stuff in the translation.

And sorry, some of us are Jews...the whole jesus thing? yeah, not so much.

Rootietoot said...

BD, aren't you Convinced? Didn't anonymous's statements make you want to reject everything you've believed and jump right on that Wagon O'Faith? I mean...I know if I were the sort to blindly accept whatever someone says as long as it has "Bible" and "Jesus" in it, then I would. But I'm not...because...oh...oral tradition has a way of bending the truth, and anytime a human bean writes something down they're gonna pass on a touch of agenda, and eh...If I weren't such a Gentile I'd probably be a Jew.

Rootietoot said...

You gotta love folk like anonymous...such genuine (I think) sincerity.

belledame222 said...

yes indeedy, bless its little cotton gauntlets.

Rootietoot said...

Dear Anonymous,
First, I recognize your courage in coming to a potentially hostile venue to state your case for Christ. Please understand that.

Please, be aware that the people you are dealing with are generally very intelligent and highly educated. Using the Bible to prove the veracity of the Bible won't wash. Basic critical thinking will tell you (and anyone else) that using something to prove itself doesn't work. You're going to have to do better than "One of the problems you got is you keep claiming the Bible is wrong. How do you know that? "

Well, if a person is an unbeliever, then saying "The Bible tells me so" is like saying "Mutants are taking over the world" because Marvel COmics says so.

Smacking folks such as these upside the head with your KJV isn't going to convince them.

And just because they may not be Believers, doesn't automatically mean everything they say is straight from Satan.

I've learned alot more about love and acceptance from them, than I ever have from my local congregation.

It would also serve you to remember who Christ hung out with during his short ministry.

Try getting to know these people before you start in with the Party Line, I think you'd be surprised at the calibre of folk you're dealing with.

Rosie said...

I think my co-cola went up my nose at, "Thank you, Lord, for our testosterone!"

This just seems like yet another attempt at justification for the utter and complete lack of emphasis on Christ-like behavior in the evangelical movement.

And bless his heart...anonymous doesn't even have the courage of his convictions to sign his own name.

What's that about.

Rootietoot said...

"And bless his heart...anonymous doesn't even have the courage of his convictions to sign his own name.

What's that about."

Coming into a venue that you know is going to be hostile, no matter how strong your conviction, can be scary. It's easy to forget that the internets is anonymous anyway. I give anonymous credit for making the step, even if I don't agree with the method employed.

belledame222 said...

yeah, unlike some people (*coughBartowcough*) i don't think much either way of using one's Real Name, much less yer chosen PSEUDONYM.

that said, i do generally prefer that nonny mouses at least use the "other" button when logging in, even if they don't want to take the trouble to create a blogger profile or link to their own site, on account of when a bunch of mouses start posting it gets really confusing.

that also said, this particular mouse...well, points for trying, all 'round, i guess is what i'd say.

on the whole though, there's them's that can hear you and them's that can't.

given nonny's propensity to pretty much repeat the same boilerplate cutnpaste several times now and the overall blahblahblahGINGER response to the individuals here, i am thinking sie probably would be the latter. but again: some folks are more patient than others...

belledame222 said...

>I've learned alot more about love and acceptance from them, than I ever have from my local congregation.


That made my day, rt.

belledame222 said...

btw, welcome, rosie. love the writing at your blog thus far.

Unsane said...

The battle of the sexs are apart of the curse of the fall of man.

If this is the case, then anonymous needs to lie down and give it up like a good boy. Heh. No point bringing the wrath of Deity upon one.

antiprincess said...

rosie, your blog is beautiful.

rootie - what's that verse: neither slave nor free, neither male nor female in christ something something?

how does that square with the whole testosterone-fortified communion wine thing?

belledame222 said...

that would be communion Red Bull

JackGoff said...

"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Though it all references back to the original patriarch, Paul at least tried to add in a little equality. Needless to say, the entirety of Christian misogyny rests on the rest of what Paul has to say and the Old Testament.

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