29 August 2008

Real Men...The Series?

For some reason lately, anything written about gender roles has caught my attention.

Ever since I blasted through Wild at Heart, I have been pondering what it means to be a "Man of God".

A recent article in USA Today, for me at least, confirms what Eldredge was saying in Wild. Another article in the same paper, just a few days ago, again demonstrates the basic premise, and an article in this months Esquire again demonstrates a great problem facing all men today:

We don't know what the hell we're supposed to be. We don't know how to be men.

The world will tell us that a man is violent, aggressive, and needs taming.

The Church tells us much the same thing. We are called to be men of God, but not very many of us are sure what exactly that means.

These articles weren't much help either. It seems that collectively, we are aware of this problem, but we don't have anything remotely resembling an answer.

The USA Today article basically asked the question, "Do we be nice, or do we be men?" As if there were no possibility of being a Nice Man. As if all Nice Men are emasculated wussies incapable of generating any spine whatsoever, and any Real Man has not the remotest possibility of every being "nice".

The article in Esquire was more just a sarcastic look at the rising trend of violence in society today, and a discussion on how it's only bad because it's pointless violence. It touched, ever so slightly, on the fact that men are perceived as the violent perpetrators responsible for this decline in sensitivity. This argument is well known, and though the article doesn't say as much, one can read into it the belief that violence is in the masculine character and therefore, men must be restrained, tamed, civilized if our civilization is to continue. Blame the men was implied, but in a way that almost dared someone to blame the men for societal violence: Bring it on, we don't need to explain it. That's how men are.

It got me to thinking about Wild at Heart again. In it, Eldgredge argues that aggression is built into the masculine soul. Not in order to to harm or oppress, but because in order to survive, humans need to be forceful. We were created that way in order to fully experience and appreciate the Creation and Life that God has given us.

Sometimes, that does mean that we must physically stop oppression. We sometimes must stand in between innocents and those who wish to do them harm. In today's world, that often means deploying the army, or at least the threat of military action. And we need the strength of humanity's masculine heart in order to do it.

But when that God-given fierceness, that aggression is misguided and misused, it results in horribly violent videogames, television shows, movies, and other media. We then seem to revel in it, to worship the violence. We then accept that the violence is inside men. But it's not. Violence is not part of our nature. Aggression, forcefulness, those qualities are. And yes, those qualities do perhaps lend themselves to a more violent nature.

But what we must understand is that God gave us this forcefulness, this aggression, as a tool for us to live and thrive with.

We are the ones who have perverted it into creating video games and movies and television shows that glorify and worship blood and guts and killing.

So I'm thinking that there is a bunch of stuff I could write about Wild at Heart, so perhaps a series? I don't know.


1 comment:

Amy said...

I just got done reading "The proper care and feeding of husbands" by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I think that every woman ought to read this.

One thing that sticks in my mind is a quote. "A woman would do well to understand that an honest, faithful husband who goes on a three-week hunting trip is not telling her he doesn't love her. He just wants to kill something. Nothing more complicated than that."