Thursday, June 24, 2010

Boys don't cry and other lies we tell men....

In an excellent article on the Sojourners site, Catholic priest, Richard Rohr, looks at the way the inner life of men is hugely neglected in modern culture - with disastrous results.
Here are some extracts - but please read the whole article, which is full of wisdom.

Take a typical woman, educated or uneducated, of most any race or ethnicity, and give her this agenda: “You are not to have any close friends or confidants; you are to avoid any show of need, weakness, or tender human intimacy; you may not touch other women without very good reason; you may not cry; you are not encouraged to trust your inner guidance, but only outer authorities and “big” people; and you are to judge yourself by your roles, titles, car, house, money, and successes. People are either in your tribe, or they are a competitive threat—or of no interest!” Then tell her, “This is what it feels like to be a male, most of the time.” Maleness can be a very lonely and self-defeating world.

I know I am walking on sacred ground here, but I am going to say it: The church often does not really encourage an inner life. It substitutes belief systems and belonging systems and moral systems for interior journeys toward God. As a result the outer behavior is pretty weak as well. I would be willing to argue this position at the highest levels of Catholic hierarchy, Protestant scripture interpretation, or fundamentalist mental gymnastics.
In fact, the reason that such external hierarchy, simplistic and dualistic readings of scripture, and heady fundamentalism exist at all is primarily because of the male unwillingness to feel, to suffer, to lose, and to stand in the place of the outsider with even basic empathy. Which, of course, is exactly where Jesus stood and suffered, “even to accepting death, yes death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). How do we dare to worship a “loser” and yet so idealize winning?

If our churches do not find ways to validate, encourage, structure, and teach men an inner life—as opposed to mere belief systems, belonging systems, and moral systems, which the Olympics do much better!—I am not sure what the church’s reason for continued existence might be. We are failing the test with one half of the species, which means we are failing for the other half too. Organized religion is not doing its inherent job of transforming people at any deep level.

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