In contemporary American society the role and even the value of men seems to have deteriorated to its lowest level in history. Men are constantly being attacked in films, books, on TV and worst of all by millions of women. Modern technology has made men virtually irrelevant to procreation as countless women are forsaking relationships for artificial insemination.
I think that’s why so many young boys have become so confused about their sexuality. Many find the comfort of older men, not only more pleasurable but also more enlightening and less frightening.
As religion has become more feminized, the masculine strength so prevalent in churches during the early 20th century doesn’t appear as prevalent. I fault the movement within the Catholic Church for female priests–an oxymoron if there ever was one–as indicative of this trend. The culture tells us we need kinder, gentler men, almost to the exclusion of virile and dominant men. Churches, priests and hierarchies have to recapture their raw manhood again to revitalize the Church.
During a parish men’s bible study session, one our members tried to worm his liberal views on women priests into the discussion. I gave the standard answer as to why this was against Church teachings. One of my fellow conservatives, a pediatric eye surgeon carried the ball much farther.
He explained to the stunned liberal that the most frequent analogy Jesus used for his post-Resurrection relationship with his church was likened to a marriage in which Jesus was the husband and the Church was his bride. This fully explains why priests have to be men. For the Church to surrender to feminist pressure would transform Christ’s ordained relationship into a lesbian one.
As an aside I believe that my image of God the Father had to be partly founded on the male influences in my life…especially my father. He was the only real man I had to identify with, unless I can count Ward Cleaver, Beaver’s TV dad.
My father was a good man in a quiet way. Fortunately he had little of the feminine in his demeanor. Unfortunately his distance and hesitancy for affection led me to gravitate more to my mother’s wing. Much of his goodness came through my mother. I think she had a saintly influence on him that I would never have understood then.
To me he was reserved…somewhat cold–I can never remember him ever hugging or patting me on the shoulder. I won’t say that he never did–I just have no recollection. I know my mother did but evidently not as much as I needed. Both parents were restrained in those kinds of emotional demonstrations.
In his wonderful book, The Joyful Life, my friend and fellow Bible study cohort, Rick Herman, wrote about the five languages of love. Topping the list for me was the need of human touch.
I think that’s one reason I feel so at peace on my massage therapist’s table. My concept of God has continued to develop along these lines. Human touch has become part of my personal faith. I hug people all the time. It is my way of communicating the incessant feelings of pure joy that I often feel inside. God has become a God of touch for me.
Jesus was a man who touched…in more ways than one. The laying on of hands has great religious significance. Now when I am afraid or anxious I ask God to just hold me in the palm of his giant hand so I will feel safe and unafraid. That has become my new prayer. And it works!
I learned later in life that my father did not have much of a relationship with his dad. When he spoke of him it was more out of disgust than love or respect. After I was married, my mom told me of my paternal grandmother’s suicide when my dad was still a boy. Did he blame his father? Maybe. I keep thinking–what kind of father image did he have? I was fortunate to have gotten enough of a favorable image from him to want to be a better man than I was.
Did he carry that cross for the remaining 80 years of his life? Could I have helped him carry its heavy weight? My grandfather had been a Catholic until he was 12 years old. Something a priest said to him made him very angry and he left the Confessional and consequentially the Church in a huff. In doing so he took my two aunts and my dad out of the Church. Providentially, my dad married a faithful Catholic and both aunts converted–the one was the influence that changed my whole life by getting me into Xavier High School.
To be honest I can sympathize with my grandfather. I also had a problem with a priest one time in the Confessional. I was having some difficulty explaining to him something I had done and he raised his voice and said I had better get it out or I would burn in Hell forever. I was just 10 years old. It was more than a sobering thought and it frightened me of that box ever since.
For the last several years I mostly have gone face-face with priests that are far more compassionate. I remember vividly the hell and damnation sermons of the priest above. His God was a very BIG God and he was impressed with His Almighty Power. His sermons played like fiery orations from the 17th century and probably frightened more people than helped them. I think these impressions of God are all perverse distortions. It is hard to love a God that scares you to death.
On the other hand a God cannot be the weak milquetoast kind that excuses and enables everything and says go ahead…. do what you want! He expects me to be a faithful married man, true to my family and church.
He will remind me when I stray but he will not only welcome me back but like the GPS system…the God Positioning System that Rick Herman’s A Joyful Life talks about, he will show me the way back.
In effect all this is about male self-image. I believe all men have been made in the image of the first man…whose name Adam literally means man. For me that is doubly true since my father’s name was…Adam.