Thursday, October 05, 2006

Book Review: Why Men Hate Going To Church

I raced through David Murrow's book Why Men Hate Going to Church on Sunday night, chortling and hooting all the way.

I am guessing that a lot of my colleagues of all denominations are going to HATE this book. They're going to hate its critique of the feminization of the Church, they're going to hate the conservative theological analysis of the problem, they're going to hate the gender stereotypes that are rampant throughout.

I say to them, and to you, it's okay if you hate this book. Just read it and take it seriously. There's a lot of hard news in there, but I think Murrow is right on about a lot of things.

I have to say that I particularly love the cover of this book, which features a handsome white guy in a sports jacket and tie fast asleep in a pew. His mouth is even hanging open. It's a hilarious image and should strike at least some amount of fear into liberals who think this isn't a problem in our churches.

I feel very fortunate to have inherited a very gender-balanced congregation from my predecessor. I am reading this book for my dudes, who DO teach Sunday School and help in the kitchen and totally support their female minister (the first chick in over 360 years of church history).


Blogger Jaume said...

That's OK, PB: In Spain 99.9% of the clergy is male, and men also hate to go to church on sundays.

It must be something embedded in the Y cromosome, I guess.

Blogger LT said...

I don't think that it is about the gender of the pastor. I think it goes back to the Victorian days when the liberal trends of the church adopted the persona of Jesus (Christ as exemplar) as the heart of the Christian message. This coincided with the rise of the Victorian ideal of gentle masculinity as the model for the emerging middle class family. Christ was, essentially, feminized in the 19th century in the Anglo-American world. Meek and Mild, gentle, empathetic and soulful, forgiving.
Somewhere I have an article which lists the most important values cited by non-church men, and compared them to the values expressed in most sermons in evangelical churches. Complete mismatch. Important values to non-churched men: duty, self-discipline, responsiblity to others, self-sacrifice, protection of the weak, competence, courage.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

I should have made clear that neither Morrow nor I attribute the feminization of the church to female clergy. As LT points out, the feminization of the church started long before women got into the pulpit. And as Murrow points out, Christian values are essentially those that contemporary gender studies attribute to women (relationality, nurturing, communicating, etc.).

Blogger Doug Muder said...

Read the book a year or so ago and loved it. Maybe this is a good moment to pimp a post I did in January: "Is Feminine the New Normal?"

It features a few Murrow quotes that might flesh the book out a little.

Blogger Sun Warrior said...

Its ironic that the caricature of Christianity is now the fundamentalist Religious Right, full of warrior savagery to subjugate the world!

The Church has grown in opposition to the testosterone of capitalism, with the trade unions and Great Depression, the anti-fascism of the 1940's, and distancing God from the Holocaust.

It plays in well with our pain-allergic society. Mother's want their kids healthy, of course, and they buy all of corporate advertisers wares. And men feel domesticated enough in their jobs. Their only outlet is TV football for acceptable aggression. Business cannot sell pain, and neither can God use pain to challenge us. Love does not hurt... on purpose.

Isn't it also ironic that women feel the masculine heat in the workplace while men feel the feminine in church? That is hilarious. Especially since men created the mountain of intellectualism that IS modern Christianity.

Men domesticated the Church, just like they domesticated the average worker. It is a problem of domination. Keep men quiet or they will get in a huff and get competitive.


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