e2c, on 29 July 2010 - 12:37 AM, said:
i'm extrapolating from your ongoing comments deriding the sharing of feelings, etc. Feelings = emotions, among other thing. And from your posts on this and other threads, you appear to be equating them with women and unmanly, "feminized" behavior. Is there a disconnect here that I'm not seeing, or is there - maybe - one for you? (Not meant in a snarky way at all.) Edited to add: I think Holy Moly! was making much the same point, albeit a bit more directly than I just did.
Ahhh - you're just extra-po-lating
. Back in high school debate, we called that sort of thing responding to Proposition A (which is being advocated) by arguing against Proposition B (which is not being advocated). Using this technique is tedious, whether in a discussion or debate, because it spends time discussing an idea that only you are assuming anyone cares anything about.
In this case, Proposition A would be the objection against repetitive, non-stop appeals to (an sole focus on) emotion in the church, which, while it has its legitimate uses, cannot be used to prove anyone is feeling the power of the Holy Spirit, to teach doctrine, to force anyone to worship God, or to keep very many men in your church (thus the statistics showing the 3-1 and often 5-1 women to men ratios in church attendance). Proposition B is that emotions have no place in the church, something I'd guess any reasonable person would acknowledge as different from Proposition A. The Church for Men crowd that you seem to ridicule is primarily concerned with the lack of men in the church, and then the fact (from many guys' perspectives) that your average Sunday church service is a touchy-feely, warm & fuzzy, feel-good, comfort zone service full of an often quite noticeable majority of women that is not intellectually stimulating or spiritually challenging.
It just seems playing-it-safe to me to take time pointing out that emotions are given us by God, that feelings have a place in church, that it's not morally forbidden to cry, etc. when it has literally crossed no one's mind to argue otherwise. Holy Moly’s comment, on the other hand, seemed to be an exercise in sarcasm - and it was funny. Speaking of which -
Holy Moly!, on 29 July 2010 - 02:11 AM, said:
bingo. (which is not to say i find the peculiar tenor of feeling-sharing happening in churches these days to be particularly productive, but that's a a function of suburban market capitalism manifesting itself as anti-intellectualism blended with lack of patience for ambiguity and mystery blended with an addiction to tv-style narrative arcs amounting to emotional pornography. It takes some real jujitsu to double back and blame "effeminized culture" when it seems especially rampant in churches where women remain excluded from the highest levels of leadership)
I have to say that first sentence of yours is something of a philosophical work of art. I'd just propose to explain my apparent skill at jujitsu by suggesting that the fact that there are far more male pastors than female pastors does not mean the church is not influenced by "effeminized culture." This is particularly true if the majority of church-going men are generally more effeminate than average. In other words, some might say the less masculine a man is, the more likely he is to attend a Christian church or even be a pastor. If teaching and exhortation in the church really is amounting to levels of "emotional pornography" as you pointed out, that would explain why we have created a generation of Christians in the church who spend millions of dollars consuming thousands of Christianized versions of the Harlequin romance novel you find in the average Christian bookstore. Maybe this is actually indicative of a cultural trend?
Greg P, on 29 July 2010 - 06:55 AM, said:
Persiflage, on 28 July 2010 - 12:05 PM, said:
If a particular church has a problem with losing men (because it's so focused on emotions, feelings, relationships, nurturing, etc.), that church probably tries to reach people by making them feel a particular way. So if we're reaching less men because we've created an environment that makes women feel good, then why not try and create an environment that makes men feel good? The assumption being that men choose whether to go to a particular church because of how that church makes them "feel." An assumption made by the Man Church advertisement.
That assumption is actually true. And that pretty much goes for anything in life. It's a reality of human nature. We gravitate towards things-- people, relationships, careers, art-- that make us feel a certain way. People who claim they would attend a certain church no matter how it made them feel-- the 'ol "i'm attending strictly out of obedience to God" schtick-- are most likely lying.
Sure. Everyone, male and female, prefers to feel good, I know I certainly do. And yet, at least outside our culture since the 60s, there remains the idea that your actions should not be determined by your feelings. Especially if we take basic Christian doctrine seriously, how we feel will often be closely related to our old sin nature. Basing your actions, let alone important life decisions, essentially on whether it feels good is actually an entire philosophy - Hedonism. I believe Christianity, while occasionally hedonistic, is against Hedonism. The reality of human nature is that we are all sinners. I currently attend church right now. Part of being a sinner, indeed, part of the Christian life, is choosing to do what you know you ought to do, even when you don't want to. Every single Sunday morning, I would much rather sleep in past the morning service, and then spend the entire day pursuing various little pleasures. I can get pleasure or feel good by going to church, but honestly, if that were my main reason for going to church, then I would go much less than I do.
Your example of Jesus commanding his disciples to harsh, matter-of-fact obedience is a slight distortion. He always appealed to the emotions of his followers. He tweaked their emotions to get at the conscience and prompt a response. The difference was, emotional appeals were a means to an end as opposed to much of the evangelical church where emotions are the end.
Yes, Christ used appeals to emotion rightly. There is a place for that. I don't think we could describe the "Follow me" command as harsh, but we can certainly describe it as a challenge to go against your fears, feelings, nature, and comfort zone - to go, basically, outside of your self. There is something narcissistic about basing your evangelical church experience on how it makes you feel. And yet, that is what (yes, even including the advertisement for "Man Church") Christians within western evangelicalism appeal to.
So what is the point of all this? Obviously the church has had problems throughout all of church history - we are all human after all. There is at least one problem in the modern Christian church that is behind why less men are attending church now than used to historically attend church percentage-wise 50 or more years ago. The male to female gender gap has consistently & demonstrably grown larger over the last 100 years; and it can't just be explained by population, ages of death, career differences, etc. Thus, this "Man Church" advertisement, and Church for Men, Wild at Heart, Douglas Wilson, Mark Driscoll, etc. are all making attempts (whether rightly or successfully or not) to address this problem. And their attempts to do so at least bring the problem's existence to our attention. It is up to every individual Christian to exert influence and leadership in order to address any church problem. This discussion can easily explore how that might happen.