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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Keith on 'Why Men Hate Church'

Men dislike church, I think, because it attempts to emasculate them and no red blooded man will put up with it. The church as a generalisation has for centuries been terrified of sexuality, because they can't control it. Augustine said Adam and Eve did it without benefit of an erection. The Catholics tried and keep trying to control it and even the women are leaving. As Dave has pointed out before, no-one who goes to church masturbates. So men feel left out.

To understand what I'm talkjing about, if you get a chance, go to a closing ceremony of the gaol ministry Kairos. There you will see tribal, masculine, Christian worship. At a closing ceremony everyone gets a chance to speak if they wish to. It is a revelation on how feminised worship is in churches to hear worship songs sung with enormous gusto and then to hear chants encouraging people to speak. "Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill Bill..." until Bill finally succumbs and gets up to make his comment. Very masculine.

I am convinced that women don't really understand and are slightly scared, of real male sexuality, probably because of the inherent violent undercurrent. There are more women than men in churches and so worship has become feminised. A classic example of this is all the what I call "Jesus as my boyfriend" schmalz that passes as worship music in so many churches. You can go to service after service and not sing one good rollicking drinking song.

Another problem is that the spirituality encouraged in so many churches is apophatic: praying with your eyes shut and keeping still. The other great tradition of the church, Kataphatic prayer, prayer while on the move, is unknown to the Protestant tradition but it's often what men need. If a male friend needs some counselling or Spiritual Direction, I ring them up and take them for a walk. Men, in my experience, talk best while moving. Churches want them to keep still. Eugene Peterson tells of a mentor of his who would run retreats for young men. On their arrival he would get them to open their suitcase so he could remove the whiskey and then he would send them off in pairs on what he called an "Emmaus Walk" to discuss their spiritual life. If worship was more physical and allowed more movement then men might like it better.


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