in which i address concerns of the church

December 19, 2005

One of the most tender moments of the holiday season for me is when Linus shoves that blue blanket aside for a moment, asks for the spotlight, rattles off the entirety of Luke 2:8-14 in a seamless fashion, then turns and says, in the most matter-of-fact fashion possible, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” then walks away.

I’ve said more than once, and meant it every time, that this is the one moment each year when I’m most tempted to become a churchie again. Not that it’s a strong enough temptation to actually make me do it, but it’s the closest I come on a somewhat regular basis. It tugs at my memories of a youth spent in Catholic schools, not getting my knuckles rapped because most of the nuns were retired, or at least away from Wilkinsburg, by the early ’90s. Having it broken down for me, but in a caring way, by a boy who is sure in his faith but so clearly unsure of most everything else, is massively appealing to me.

Someone else who perhaps needs to have it broken down for him is David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church. Ann Rodgers wrote a piece about him and his book that ran in today’s Post-Gazette, piquing my interest.

He of course demonizes feminism and inclusive languaging as being misandrist and scaring men away from church (the argument, of course, being that that is a bad thing).

To quote Rodgers:

The typical church, he says, has soft, pretty decor and teaches comfort and compliance rather than guy stuff like boldness and mission. While he doesn’t take a stand against women’s ordination, he argues that female pastors can add to the perception that church isn’t masculine.

Now, we could talk gender roles and all that for days, but I’m not even going to take that into account for now, because we ARE talking about Christian churches here, and we don’t really expect people arguing within that paradigm to be beacons of progressive thought. Also, we could point out that only one in eight clergy members is female, which really makes that a pretty unimportant factor, all things considered, but let’s not. Let’s move on to the real meat of this argument:

One of his success stories concerns a church that changed the decor of its prayer room. It replaced lavender paint and lace curtains with a spiritual warfare theme, using swords, shields and tomahawks as art.

. . .

“We like to talk about nurturing things, about giving something care, and tending it, and making it grow as a flower would,” he says. Outside the church, he says, no one would approach a man and say, “Would you come over here and help me nurture something?”

Enter Linus.

Your church (group of churches) is based on the philosophy of an individual(/deity if you will) whose ideology was basically diametrically opposed to all the mythology of warrior cultures worldwide. He essentially refuted everything in Hebrew tradition that would have engendered swords, shields and tomahawks as imagery (excepting the line about bringing not peace but a sword, but I’m not sure how literally that’s to be interpreted . . .)

That’s what it’s all about, David! If men really just like swords and missions and crusades and tomahawks, perhaps they should find a new mythology to believe in! Otherwise, can’t you do a little better than meeting your savior halfway?

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