Observations on Theology, Culture and the Hosier family

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

MANLINESS, PART 1

As promised, I am starting to blog my seminar from last weeks conference that wasn't recorded. I am taking a couple of weeks holiday at the end of July so will try to get it all written up and scheduled to post while I am away. Here we go...

Joel Virgo relates a story about visiting a church with his dad when he was a boy. During the worship Terry leaned over to Joel and said, “This is a weak church.” By which he meant that the men in the church were weak.

In a strong church there are strong men who take a lead and carry responsibility, but too many churches lack these kind of men. And in our society at large there are too many men who lack real strength.

The recent death of Michael Jackson was worldwide news. An icon had fallen. But what most interested me about Jackson was the way he functioned as an extreme example of masculinity. In his case, so much of what makes a man a man had gone wrong.

Think about some of the things that characterised Michael Jackson:

An abusive father. Jackson’s father used and manipulated his children for financial gain. Michael was exposed to a level of pressure and to a degree of control that no child should suffer.
A search for identity. Jacko became parodied as ‘Wacko’ as he went through ever more bizarre changes in appearance in what looked a fruitless search to discover who he really was. The smiling black boy, dazzling audiences with his dance moves, became androgynous, white, and a laughing stock.
Over-sexualised performance. The cod-piece; the groin grabbing…
Questionable sexual behaviour. Nothing was ever proved, but there are few who consider the charges of Jackson engaging in inappropriate sexual behaviour with children to be all smoke with no fire.
Financial irresponsibility. Jackson sold more than 750 million records, but frittered most of his money away, eventually having to sell his Neverland ranch to pay the bills.
An inability to build and maintain lasting relationships. Jackson was married twice, but couldn’t make either marriage last.
Perpetual childishness. Jackson was the boy who never wanted to grow up. Perhaps because of his lost childhood, he spent all of what should have been his manhood trying to live like a boy.

Michael Jackson illustrates on a grand scale the challenges to men in our society. Few people are as extreme as he was, but these seven characteristics of weak men appear again and again in the men around us. I see them every day – and that’s just in the church!

For men to be men we need to overcome these characteristics, and develop ones that make us strong, not weak.

4 comments:

proxburgh said...

Very interesting point re MJ. And yet he is still idolised.

Looking forward to reading the rest of your blogs on this!

Steve Smith said...

Thanks Matthew for this. As someone with a past interest in the sociology of gender, it might be useful at the outset for us readers to know where you plan to go with this. I think the concept of 'masculinity' has been widely misunderstood both from within and without the church, and am wondering if it might be interesting to play the two off against each other, using a Biblical understanding of masculinity (perhaps complicated by any cultural and social nuances therein) as a 'standard'? (Perhaps more easily said than done!)

Matthew Hosier said...

Hi Steve - now I just feel intimidated!

However, I will be getting into my issues with the word 'masculinity' in the next post.

Steve Smith said...

Sorry - that wasn't my intention (although my heart can be very deceiving!).