Sunday, June 11, 2006

PC(USA) - News Service - For men in church, problems start with flowers and lace

PC(USA) - News Service - For men in church, problems start with flowers and lace:
by Kristin Campbell
Religion News Service

"MOBILE, AL — Men don’t need pirates in the pews. Then again, the presence of such swashbucklers might not be the worst thing to happen Sunday morning.

So goes the thinking of David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to

“We don't have to have hand-to-hand combat during the worship service to get men there,” Murrow said. “We just have to start speaking (their language), use the metaphors they understand and create an environment that feels masculine to them.”

Today’s churches, Murrow argued, just aren’t cutting it. ..."
This reminds me of many conversations I have heard regarding how our language drives certain people away, and how we must take extra pains to ensure that we include everybody.

This article raises an interesting question: Have we driven away the men?

This article makes the point that this is not a particularly American problem, nor is it a modern problem.

I have accepted women's full participation in church governance for pretty much my whole life. It is not an issue for me. I accept the use of inclusive language in conversation, but I don't much appreciate rewriting hymns to conform to some particular group's idea of correctness. And I have always questioned the need to purge our church language of metaphors relating to a struggle or battle. Even Paul used sports metaphors....

We spend a lot of time arguing about the words we use, and not enough time discussing the issues. Can we accept each others' experiences and permit each other to use the language and metaphors that arise from such experiences?

If men are made to feel uncomfortable when they speak out of their experiences, then perhaps we need to engage in a little introspection.

Why Men Hate Going to Church
David Murrow
Thomas Nelson
2005 price $10.77

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Todd M said...

This is very interesting. A few days ago, I had actually posted a blog with a little different perspective on the men and church issue:

I really appreciate your thoughts and am glad I stumbled acriss your blog!

Quotidian Grace said...

This doesn't seem to be good news for women pastors. Is that part of the discussion in the book?

Denis Hancock said...

Thanks, Todd, fr your comment.

I took a look around your site, and read the posting you pointed me to. Nice job of laying out the issues. I thought your point about blaming the institution being "convenient" was a good one.

Are we referring to the same book? I am relying on the interview at this time, but it is on my wishlist, and I'll get it next month. (I've already used up June's new book allocation, and besides which, my reading queue is getting rather lengthy...)

Denis Hancock said...

Hi QG --

As I indicated to Todd, I am relying on the interview, not the book (which I plan to read in July) for my information.

In the interview, though, Murrow indicated that he was writing to laywomen in particular. They carry much of the burden of carrying the church forward, and if they were to disappear, the institutional church would be crippled. He also cited data that suggest that women's attendance is dropping.

I'm not sure how much of this I actually believe -- it never really has been on my personal agenda. I do know, though, that many in the church tend to make people who use masculine pronouns uncomfortable. And those who use military imagery ("struggle between good and evil"; "spiritual warfare"; "victory over sin"; etc) don't fare much better.

People come from different backgrounds, and bring different experiences to the fellowship. How they express themselves should not be used as an excuse to ignore what they are saying.