Men, and Patriarchy, In the Church

JTO and myself are publishing a series of articles on the topic of demonization of male sexuality, both how it’s done and why it’s wrong. Our first can be found here, here, and here

Below is the most recent instalment on how the Church is a conduit for a misandrous mythology that stigmatizes male sexuality as the vector of original sin from generation to generation.

Yeah, I know I said I was on sabbatical but I did promise JTO I would help him with this series. I’m now on Sabbatical. Honest.

____

Patriarchy is a word we’re all familiar with, often used in the context of cultural dogma of “The patriarchy”. This implies a hidden social structure threading through history, elevating men and suppressing women.

One institution, in particular, is singled out for feminist ire. The Christian Church. According to feminists; Christianity, like all Abrahamic faiths, elevates men above women.

But does it?

The existence of a male priesthood, and a male-headed nation state (the Vatican) both seem to support the feminist conception. But we are all aware of the frontman fallacy; because there is a man in the front, it does not follow that the frontman uses his power to benefit other men. Because Christianity has a male priesthood, is headed by a man and uses masculine language to refer to the God and humanity’s savior, does it necessarily follow that Christianity is male favoring?

In Christian tradition of the last two millennia, the books of the New Testament provide a foundation for the spiritual identities of men and women – based on the life of the son of the creator of the universe, born of a virgin mother, and redeemer of all human beings who accept him. Of course, the apparent son of God, who in some variations of the doctrine is the human incarnation of God, fathered by himself on a virgin mother – this is a male avatar of the God on earth.

The masculinity of the Christ is usually taken as evidence for male supremacy fostered through the church and it’s long influence on Western culture.

However, simply acknowledging the sex of God’s son, or his avatar doesn’t justify automatic assumption of male elevation. For men, spiritual identity is tied to service in the form of conformity to the doctrine of the Christ. While men may find a model for identity in the character of the son of the God, according to the books of the new testament, figure had no sexual life. This absence leaves no spiritual connection between the masculine body and the divine.

The Christ is sexless; presumptively masculine, but never actually engaging in any activity unique to his masculine body.

This stands in contrast with the story of the Virgin Mary. She, unlike the Christ, was a human woman who had a relationship with the divine mediated through her own feminine physicality. The Virgin conceived, gestated, gave birth and nursed the Infant Jesus. Absent a human father, Mary’s conception, pregnancy and birth of God’s avatar on Earth are all deeply and supernaturally rooted in the female body. As the mother of the Christ, Mary was the one human being who came closest to God.

The implicit stricture of making the female body the vessel of Holy Spirit while offering no corresponding connection between the divine and the male body creates a spiritual caste system with women on top and men on the bottom. But this is not the only or even the worst form of virulent misandry in Christianity.

The birth of Christ is without sin because, quite simply, it did not involve a penis. The entire mythology around the birth of Christ implicitly indicts male sexuality as the vector of original sin from generation to generation. This is not explicitly stated, but the conclusion is inescapable.

Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430 C.E.) was a principal theologian and philosopher of the early Christianity, and credited with responsibility for the merging of Greek philosophical tradition with Judeo-Christian religious and scriptural traditions[1]. A seminal member of the early church, Augustine denigrated male sexual desire and turned the Fascinus[2] into the demon rod.

“the organ was a lever of sin: “the demon rod.” Semen itself was a toxic glue, effectively damning both men and women to a state of sin, a neat one-two punch that rendered sex dirty by definition. Erections were less spiritual highs than demonic jolts, an interpretation that was to ripple through much of Western culture.”[3]

Augustine’s wrote City of God to discredit and undermine existing pagan traditions which did not denigrate male sexuality and were in direct competition with the Church for the hearts and minds of the citizens of Rome. In City of God he stated:

“when sexual intercourse is spoken of now, it suggests to men’s thoughts not such a placid obedience to the will as is conceivable in our first parents, but such violent acting of lust as they themselves have experienced.”[4]

Forget Eve. Forget the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the Serpent. If all human women, tomorrow, conceived and gestated and gave birth without ever coming into contact with a penis, our race would be purged of original sin.

Would anyone care to speculate where Radical Feminists got their ideas from?

Indeed even mainstream feminists cling to their insistence in blaming all the world’s ills on men. Not just patriarchal oppression, but domestic violence, rape, child abuse, war, financial crises; all original sin can be laid at the feet of men. Or their penises.

In Christianity a woman’s experience of her body’s uniquely feminine characteristics (sans male influence) brings her closer to God; a man’s experience of his body’s uniquely masculine characteristics drives him into damnation.

By contrast, the pagan traditions displaced by Abrahamic monotheism provided a path to spirituality for men and women through the experience of their own bodies. Women, quite obviously had then, and still retain a naturalistic spiritual identity as creators of life through the act of childbirth. This is preserved in the mythology of the Virgin Mary. But in most pagan traditions, men also have a connection to the divine through their own bodies, semen and the penis itself were both seen as symbols of divine generative power. It is this aspect of the spiritual masculine which is excised by the mythology of the Church.

“We speak of things which are now shameful, and although we try, as well as we are able, to conceive them as they were before they became shameful, […] For since that which I have been speaking of was not experienced even by those who might have experienced it—I mean our first parents (for sin and its merited banishment from Paradise anticipated this passionless generation on their part)—when sexual intercourse is spoken of now, it suggests to men’s thoughts not such a placid obedience to the will as is conceivable in our first parents, but such violent acting of lust as they themselves have experienced.”[4]

Christ, the asexual model of male virtue did have a female disciple, specifically Mary Magdelen. However, the gospel of Mary although it exists today in fragmentary form, was excluded from cannon. The gospel of Thomas, also excluded mentions that Mary was the favored and closest disciple of the figure we know as Jesus. Why then would the testament of both Mary and Thomas be omitted? If Christ had a scripturally acknowledged intimate relationship with a woman, this might represent a recognition of the acceptability of male sexuality.

Our culture’s war against masculine identity, male sexuality and fatherhood is an old one. That war arguably began as we adopted a faith which marginalizes the role of men in procreation, idolizing a story that removes them completely from the process. The exemplar of male virtue in this theology is a man who had no natural sexual expression, although his character is designated as male. And his primary purpose was to be flogged, literally tortured for the “crimes” of others, and then bound and nailed through his limbs, still alive to an erected cruciform scaffold, to die from shock and exposure on a hilltop. And we somehow manage to claim that this religion elevates men over women?

Rather than supremacy, Christianity provides to men the role of asexual stewards of women’s benefit, and sacrificial penitent, preaching the gospel of a female-deifying, male-demonizing faith. It is true that women have not historically been allowed to front this farce, but mostly because that would make the message too obvious.

But we continue to ignore all of this, and we entertain the farce that our religious institutions constitute a male-elevating, female oppressing patriarchy.

Yeah, tell us another one.

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/augustine/
[2] the phallus was seen as the bridge between man and the creative force of divinity.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascinus

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/22/books/think-tank-the-penis-as-text-for-serious-thinkers-be-careful-what-you-wish-for.html

[4] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120114.htm

Alison Tieman
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Alison Tieman

Artist/Writer at Xenospora
Alison has been researching men's issues since her mother gave her "Princess at the Window" by Donna Laframboise in 1994 when she was 16. She's taken part in men's rights communities since she started posting on soc.men in 2003. Since 2011 she's run the gender apostate blog Genderratic with her pal Gingko the wonder leaf and she founded Honey Badger Brigade in 2013 with Hannah Wallen and Karen Straughan. According to Vice the pony she most resembles is Fluttershy.
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  • Clarence

    I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to post a link to this over at Traditional Christianity and see what they have to say about it.

  • dungone

    Good Stuff, Typhon. Glad to see that you’ve left us with a gem to ponder.

    To support your idea of the frontman fallacy, church attendance has fallen off much more sharply among men than women. Atheism is, unfortunately, a heavily male phenomenon (and, ironically, atheist feminists seem to believe that this is all the sexist atheist men’s faults). Moreover, I vaguely remember studies from years ago which suggested that mothers are much more concerned that their children conform to their personal religious views than fathers and that men are more likely to switch religions in order to find a mate than women. I’ve come across surveys done in France on the burqa and hijab, and Muslim men were more likely to not care whether or not women wore them, while Muslim women were more I’ll still think of it as an important tradition. More or less, as stuff has come to my attention over the years, it painted a pretty clear picture in my mind that women play a critical role in maintaining religious institutions. But in general, I still really don’t get what the appeal of it is to women – it’s still a net negative.

    Once, in a discussion with a friend of mine, he pointed out that the Christian ideal of men as sexless servants of god is a pitch-perfect sell for conscripts. Especially if you’re trying to raise the kind of army that sends men on distant multi-year campaigns from which they’re very likely to never return.

  • Erenthia

    As an ex-Christian, I can say it goes deeper. Quite often among evangelicals and fundamentalists an analogy is made between Christ’s relationship to the “Church” and a man’s relationship to his wife. And what did Christ do?

    He left infinite power and privilege to come to earth for the express purpose of being tortured and brutally murdered. His acceptance of that treatment is rewarded of course (this is traditionalism we’re talking about after all, not feminism) but the message is clear. To have the privilege of being a “husband” (biggest misnomer EVER. women do all the husbandry) a man must be willing to suffer the greatest torments imaginable up to and including a grisly death.

    The life of Christ is ultimate expression of male disposability.

  • Vintermann

    Not for the first time, history is your weak point. The gospels of Mary and Thomas are gnostic texts, not Christian. (They are also not written by Mary or Thomas, and probably not by anyone connected to them, since they were written so much later).

    But maybe Gnosticism is the original Christianity, then, as some claim? This is undermined by the fact that gnosticism existed for hundreds of years before Christianity. Gnostic Christianity is very obviously just a light adaption of the Christian stories and messages into a Gnostic framework and world view.

    When you’re so wrong about this, I can’t trust your reading of Augustine or other contemporary texts, although I’m quite prepared to admit that they may have misandric elements.

  • dungone

    @Vintermann, by that logic, Christmas isn’t a Christian holiday, either. Every single part of Christianity is nothing more than a repackaging of older religions and mythologies. I don’t know where you’re getting off accusing TyphonBlue of getting it wrong – has she claimed that either Mary or Thomas wrote their Gospels? For your information, hardly any of the Gospels were written by their purported authors. TyphonBlue went on at length discussing the pagan roots of Christianity when she went over the traditions that were kept and which ones dropped. It sounds like you have a bone to pick with someone, but I think you’re barking up the wrong tree.

  • Ginkgo

    Vintermann, Typhon has quite a lot of the history right. And your comment
    “But maybe Gnosticism is the original Christianity, then, as some claim? This is undermined by the fact that gnosticism existed for hundreds of years before Christianity. ”

    rather proves her point – since Gnosticism preceded Christianity, why could it not have been the matrix Christianity grew out of, with Christinaihty simnply repackaged Gnosticism?

    In fact both Christinainty and rabbincal Judaism were heavily influenced in their development by the Hellenistic modes of thought of the Hellensitic world they take shape in. WRT Christinainty this says nothing about the actual christ and a lot about how his foolwers understod of misunderstood him, and the crucificxion and the resurrection, and original sin and all the rest.

    In fact Christ is much better and more easily explained in Mahayana than in Greek terminology, as Keenan proposes.
    http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ADM/keenan.htm
    he points out that many probelms and contradictions in christianity vanish when they are framed in Mahayan terminology, and that Greek terminology and the whole concept-vocabulary of Greek philosophy are simply unsuited and iadequate to the taks. In core doctrines and claims, Chrssitianity is much more a Dharmic religion than Abrahamic.

  • Clarence

    A bit simplistic, as it totally overlooks ACTS, St. Paul, and indeed, family law before the mid 19th century.
    Christianity could never be confused with an andrarchy, but it used to function , for the most part, like a real patriarchy. Fathers had real control in families and churches.
    It’s true that nowadays the Church tends to function as a soft form of matriarchy and this is commented on in unfavorable terms on quite a few Christian blogs such as Dalrock. They think it is mostly because most of the “butts in the pews” are women.

  • Ginkgo

    “A bit simplistic, as it totally overlooks ACTS, St. Paul, and indeed, family law before the mid 19th century.”

    Paul is a straight up misogynist of his period. that is quite true. But that doesn’t make him some kind of champion of men. His views on marriage for instance have come as a shock ot more than one Evangelical pest on my doorstep.

    Simplistic is to assume that family law or any basically any other aspect of pan-European culture proceed directly, or even indirectly, from Christianity. Most civil law in Europe comes out of Roman law, which of course predates Christianity. English common law comes out of Germanic tribal law. Chivalry comes out of pagan Celtic culture and the Christian trappings that mideval writers hang on Arthur are not a very good disguise. In fact quite often the Church struggled for centuries against the culture, far from informing it. It took the Church in Ireland hundreds of years to get the aristocrats to drop their practice of multiple marriages.

    A lot of times what looks like Christianinty working in European culture is in fact anti-Christian or exactly contrary to the plain meaning of scripture. One example is the use of the crucifixion as a bloody shirt to whip up rampaging mobs for anti-Jewish riots. Now it’s pretty clear that Jesus engineered the crucifixion, to the point of manipulating the Sanhedrin and backing them into a corner, and rebuking disciples who spoke against it. And even if you ignore or dispute that, the crucifixion is supposed to be good if you are Christian, and you would think if the Jews realy were repsonsible they would get credit for it instead of condemnation. None of that stopped the crucifixion frorm being a handy tool for anti-Jewish riots. That menas the rioters were that ignorant of their own religion.

  • Erenthia

    GirlWritesWhat did an excellent job debunking the idea that family law was ever patriarchal (in the classic feminist sense) even as far back as the 17th century. And yes, the book of Acts does limit the role of women in the church. Back in my Christian days I even knew a guy who was so indoctrinated with the ideas that he felt the need to walk out of a multi-denominational meeting when it was a woman’s turn to speak.

    The key point is NOT that Christianty lacks misogyny. There’s plenty of misogyny. The key point is that it is *also* a bastion of misandry. The purpose of Christianity is to objectify and control *both* genders for the sake of the community. Women may have been restricted from overt positions of authority, but this does not make them oppressed (see “the tyranny of female hypoagency” by GirlWritesWhat). Now, Typhon here doesn’t take the most direct path to uncovering Christian Misandry – but I’m just hoping that means she’s one of the lucky ones who never bought that shit in the first place.

    Consider, for instance, who has more masculine traits? Christ or the Devil?

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Announcement, from TyphonBlue: This is preserved in the mythology of the Virgin Mary

    Underline the word MYTHOLOGY… The price of admission to this thread is non-Christianity, then? People must believe that Christianity is a myth and not true?

    Already, you limit participation. Is this deliberate or just taken for granted– that the cool, smart people don’t really believe this stuff?

    I find that patronizing and offensive, and limits the thread to people who have not been given masculine strength from religion. As one once wakened up as a child by a buncha men praying fervent, loud novenas/litanies before going off to Vietnam, I must object. Lots of people still believe in Christianity and take their own lessons from it, even if you aren’t interested in those people (men). (As I have repeatedly said to Dungone, I am starting to understand that Men’s Rights is not about the rights of ALL men. And why am I not surprised?)

    I just have to say, I am also rather startled that this post makes no mention of the possibility of matriarchally-oriented religions (as Judaism is passed through the mother, not the father) and what the figure of Mary meant to indigenous European cultures that had their religions supplanted by Christianity. I hardly know where to start and what to say.

    Suffice to say: I disagree. With most everything.

    But I guess I can start at the (haha) beginning…

    The birth of Christ is without sin because, quite simply, it did not involve a penis.

    Excuse me? God IS the giant penis, the biggest penis in the Universe. The penis that was uncreated by a female, the “uncaused cause”–and you don’t get any bigger than that. Thus, Christ is more of a man than regular human men, since he comes from the biggest penis ever, the one without beginning and end. Mary was, in turn, fucked by God Almighty. This makes her more holy than regular women.

    St Teresa of Avila, in her description of the angel repeatedly thrusting (her words) the sword into her, even described this, what Mary’s experience was probably like… and this account was much fetishized by nuns. Just as St Augustine’s account of visiting whorehouses was fetishized by priests. Your post is all “religious theory”, as divorced from actual cultural practice and how these ideas were acted out in real life. (It reminds me of how so much political theory ignores real-life consequences, cultural patterns and human nature.)

    But then, as an ex-devout Catholic, I’ll just let other people tell me what I really believed. Happens all the time. No wonder atheism can’t get a foothold… Christians (and others under discussion, I would imagine) read what atheists write and you just shake your head and wonder what religion are they talking about? Certainly wasn’t the one I followed.
    College kids know more than actual believers, of course. So, I will be obedient and just listen to my life (as a radfem too) get described to me by my betters.

    Again, happens all the time.

    Meanwhile, I expect Leon Podles will be dropping by and demanding a co-byline.
    http://www.podles.org/church-impotent.htm

  • Clarence

    I wonder if any of you understand the Immaculate Conception?
    Many people, esp non-Catholics get it mixed up with the Virgin Birth.
    According to this Catholic/Anglican tradition Mary, though born of PIV intercourse was born without sin.
    Thus it is , strictly speaking, inaccurate to say that the mere act of sex between a man and a woman somehow taints the child, at least in certain Christian traditions.

    I’m glad that no-one in this thread so far has denied that Christianity has both misandrist and misogynist elements, but one would be hard pressed from the post itself to understand this. In short, it seems an attack on a religion that is only half-understood by outsiders to that religion. As such, Christians will find it all to easy to dismiss. I’d suggest the next time that JTO and/or Typhonblue (both of whom, have never been Christians that I’m aware of) talk to some practicing Christians before making posts that deal with theologies that only half understand.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Vintermann: Not for the first time, history is your weak point. The gospels of Mary and Thomas are gnostic texts, not Christian. (They are also not written by Mary or Thomas, and probably not by anyone connected to them, since they were written so much later).

    She may be confusing that with the apocryphal Gospel of Mary and Gospel of Peter.

    Erenthia: The life of Christ is ultimate expression of male disposability.

    Conquering death makes you DISPOSABLE? See, Christians believe he is therefore the guy with the key to immortality! i.e.: If you wanna live forever, you’d BETTER LISTEN.

    But hey, shows what *I* know!

    Erenthia: Consider, for instance, who has more masculine traits? Christ or the Devil?

    The Devil was Lucifer, an angel that got uppity. A bad son, in short. It started as a story about obedience. The story is “made right” in the Prodigal Son fable in the New Testament.

    Ohhh never mind… I could be here all day. As I said, I will let my betters explain it all to me. All those hours of studying with Jesuits means NOTHING, I tell you… not a damn thing…

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Do I agree with Clarence? Oh dear.

    I wonder if any of you understand the Immaculate Conception?
    Many people, esp non-Catholics get it mixed up with the Virgin Birth.
    According to this Catholic/Anglican tradition Mary, though born of PIV intercourse was born without sin.

    Right.

    I am always amazed people do not understand that Mary IS (as St Bernadette told us; didn’t they see SONG OF BERNADETTE in elementary school?) the Immaculate Conception.

    I guess you don’t believe St Bernadette talked to her either?

    I’d suggest the next time that JTO and/or Typhonblue (both of whom, have never been Christians that I’m aware of) talk to some practicing Christians before making posts that deal with theologies that only half understand.

    Half? Half? I am thinking the figure is closer to 10%.

  • Clarence

    This is actually a subject that DaisyDeadHead (along with certain feminist histories) can consider herself a bit of an expert on, even if she doesn’t have that Evil College Degree she sometimes seems to think we all look down on her for not possessing.

    I will also point out to her that except for STEM, skilled trade, and some of the traditional humanities I view many college degrees as saying nothing about one’s intellect. Many are quite worthless pieces of paper that require no real scholarship and merely serve to inflate one’s ego or ones bank account.

  • Clarence

    I keep looking at my posts and noticing so many errors that could be fixed with a simple edit function. :( In the last post, one thing that sticks out is inconsistent use of apostrophes.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Clarence, you are right, since I was briefly a bit of a fanatic. (as you all may have guessed, I tend to become a fanatic about ANYTHING I decide is True: Politics, religion, feminism, Philip K Dick, JG Ballard, Deadheads and so on. I think this is due to having an addictive personality and sometimes wish I was like normal people.)

    I now have some distance, but I remember how it all fit together. It all felt good. I often wish I could go back to the certainty of Catholicism, there is nothing like it. Unlike evangelical Christianity, it really does account for EVERYTHING, and really does attempt to explain how many angels dance on the head of a pin. :)

    But check out the link above, Leon Podles: he thinks the faith was once VERY masculine and has been feminized over time… he goes all the way back to St Bernard, forgodsake.

    Also, there is the evil influence of (and how did you guess?) Protestants and Vatican II.

    Note that Major Tough Guys like Pat Buchanan, Mel Gibson, Mark Wahlberg and Rick Santorum prefer old-school Catholicism, the Latin Mass coupled with Opus Dei-ish, no-nonsense, hard-core parishes. (Before evilll feminist nuns tarted up the faith with, you know… PSYCHOLOGY!)

    I am also wondering why no mention of the largest men’s movement to emerge from the recent evangelical Church, the Promise Keepers? What of the anti-feminist theology of the Promise Keepers?

    Any reason for such a serious omission?

  • Erenthia

    @Daisy,

    You know, you have some real points here. The article really is obviously written from the perspective of someone who never experienced Christianity from the inside. And having never been a Catholic myself, I won’t attempt to speak to Catholic-specific issues.

    As my (protestant) understanding goes, original sin is passed down through the line of Adam because of Adam’s authority. Eve ate the apple. Nothing happened. Adam ate the apple. Shit got real. There’s a fuck-ton of misandry and misogyny right there. Eve’s actions are irrelevant, essentially because she’s a woman and Adam’s biggest sin is letting a woman take the initiative. Of course that also means that Eve bears no responsibility for her actions and Adam is burdened with the guilt of both their actions. Misogyny? Yes. Misandry? Absolutely.

    But there’s a bigger point you bring up about the exclusivity of this thread, and I’m honestly not sure where I stand. For one thing I would never say that it’s impossible to draw masculine strength from Christianity. That’s the essence of traditionalism after all. The carrot is there, and it’s very real. But the stick is never far away. What’s more important is that – as you said – Men’s Rights be about ALL men. As an apostate, I’m more negatively inclined towards Christianity than someone like Richard Dawkins could ever hope to be, but my feelings here are irrelevant. I will not (like some in the manosphere) put other ideological values of mine ahead of the Men’s Movement.

    I had to stop and consider whether or not Christianity could be a positive force for Men’s Rights, given the misandry inherent in Scripture, but immediately I had to recognize that Scripture’s inherent misogyny didn’t stop it from at least adapting to the women’s movement. I had to conclude that using language that excludes those of religious belief is counter productive and that you are just plain right about that.

    On the flip side, I don’t think traditionalism is an option any more. Both men and women need to stand on our own two feet with our own power and our own consequences. I have a hard time seeing Christianity adapting to that as it is paternalistically gynocentric to the core, but hell – it’s also a meme that doesn’t want to die out, and it’s adapted before so I could be wrong.

  • Clarence

    Daisy:
    I used to be a pretty hardcore Protestant (except I was never a Trinitarian, I know, I know) and flirted with things such as Jehovah’s Witnesses before I lost my faith.
    But I’m no expert on the Promise Keepers. Still, everything I’ve read about them on men’s blogs over the years seems to paint them as having the idea that men should Man Up For Christ and go back to taking care of and charge of, their families, without worrying much about the actual economic, legal, and social environment these men actually live in. I guess my idea is that it is “Anti Feminist” to the extent that the merest WHIFF of patriarchy is considered anti-feminist, I really don’t know. I do know it seems the Male Head in the Promise Keepers is a legally and spiritually castrated one, wherein he gets all the responsibility and none of the power.

    I’m willing to be proved wrong – as I said, I know nothing of what these men were taught other than what the press and the MRA blogs (as you know quite a few MRA’s and MRA sympathizers are Christian) wrote about them.

  • Ginkgo

    “I’m glad that no-one in this thread so far has denied that Christianity has both misandrist and misogynist elements, but one would be hard pressed from the post itself to understand this.”

    That may be because the subject of misogyny in Christianinty has been exhaaaaaaaustively explored elsewhere.

    @erenthia
    “Erenthia: The life of Christ is ultimate expression of male disposability.

    Conquering death makes you DISPOSABLE? See, Christians believe he is therefore the guy with the key to immortality! i.e.: ”

    Daisy’s right on this, at least if oyu are going to look at the religion from the inside, which is the view you have to have for it to affect your self image.

    And here’s an example of what I said above – the crucifixion is the ultimate “emptiness” of the ego and ego extinction. It’s as Buddhist as it gets.

    “According to this Catholic/Anglican tradition Mary, though born of PIV intercourse was born without sin.”

    Anglican here – we always sneered at the Immaculate Conception as a bunch of Italian mamma’s boy sentimentality. Remember the joke about how we know Jesus was Italian?

    Daisy, I get your point about “mythology” but I am a Christian – STILL a Christian, ahem – and mythology is the technical term for what TB is talking about. Myths don’t have to be false. What makes a true story a myth is what psychological importance it has. in califormia we have the myth of the donner Party. the Donner party was real and all, but the myth part was the immigration story in it – the perils and hardships people faced to leave the old country and make it into California. Calling something a myth does not mean you are calling it false.

    On to the Virgin Birth. The core doctrine, the one that gets whole churches thrown out of communion as schismatic, is the humanity of Christ. To my mind the Virgin Birth odes violence to that because it reduces Jesus’ humanity – but not really, because the virginity or purity of a child of Eve is pretty much moot, isn’t it – a little barbarian, and untouchable really, just like we all are, so it’s neither here nor there. But even if it brushes up againist a core doctrine, it was, and still is , psychologically crucial for a lot of people, especially for Mediterranean cultures. Mary was looking at an honor killing for going along with the whole thing. So it was a very big deal for some people. Not for me – “the pure lotus rises form the mire..’ and all that.

  • Erenthia

    Hoo boy. Wow that post must have taken me a long time since several more showed up while I was typing.

    @Daisey,

    Yes I’m familiar with the story of Lucifer. Unlike others, I spent many years as an (evil) protestant. Lucifer’s sin was supposedly pride. He wanted a little attention to since he was *the greatest of all created beings*. God said, “NO. This all about ME” and threw him out of heaven. Most of the traits associated with the devil involve acting on ones own without waiting on God or giving a shit about oneself.

    Also, I’m going to have to ask you not to preempt any counter arguments by preemptively painting them as explanations from people who seem themselves as your betters. I can appreciate the frustration that comment must come from, but it makes it very difficult to have a good faith discussion (which is what I’m trying to do).

    And I have to contend that the life of Christ *is* a tale of male disposability. The conquering of death is the carrot. It’s the idea that after you die all this suffering will be worth it. Admittedly, it applies to both men and women in this respect, but it has a special message for me. Even the Son of God had to sacrifice for his “woman” (the human race in his case) so quit your bitching and get back on the front lines. You’ll go to heaven after all. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

    And let’s discuss promise keepers. Again, I’m not denying that there’s anything masculine in Christianity, just that the Christian message as it currently stands, is toxic to men. Promise Keepers is just a tent revival for traditionalism. Once again traditionalism is a transaction, whereby a man gives up his value as a human to become a valued as a useful object. The protector. The provider. This is all well and good, but it’s a transaction that no longer fits society and is predicated on objectification of men as “human doings”.

  • Erenthia

    Hoo boy. Wow that post must have taken me a long time since several more showed up while I was typing.

    @Daisey,

    Yes I’m familiar with the story of Lucifer. Unlike others, I spent many years as an (evil) protestant. Lucifer’s sin was supposedly pride. He wanted a little attention to since he was *the greatest of all created beings*. God said, “NO. This all about ME” and threw him out of heaven. Most of the traits associated with the devil involve acting on ones own without waiting on God or giving a shit about oneself.

    Also, I’m going to have to ask you not to preempt any counter arguments by preemptively painting them as explanations from people who seem themselves as your betters. I can appreciate the frustration that comment must come from, but it makes it very difficult to have a good faith discussion (which is what I’m trying to do).

    And I have to contend that the life of Christ *is* a tale of male disposability. The conquering of death is the carrot. It’s the idea that after you die all this suffering will be worth it. Admittedly, it applies to both men and women in this respect, but it has a special message for me. Even the Son of God had to sacrifice for his “woman” (the human race in his case) so quit your bitching and get back on the front lines. You’ll go to heaven after all. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

    And let’s discuss promise keepers. Again, I’m not denying that there’s anything masculine in Christianity, just that the Christian message as it currently stands, is toxic to men. Promise Keepers is just a tent revival for traditionalism. Once again traditionalism is a transaction, whereby a man gives up his value as a human to become a valued as a useful object. The protector. The provider. This is all well and good, but it’s a transaction that no longer fits society and is predicated on objectification of men as “human doings”.

  • Erenthia

    *special message for MEN*

    Also sorry about the double post. I’d delete it if I could.

  • Ginkgo

    “But check out the link above, Leon Podles: he thinks the faith was once VERY masculine and has been feminized over time… he goes all the way back to St Bernard, forgodsake. ”

    And it goes back a lot further than that. Bernard is pretty late, after all.

    Here’s one for you, Irish to Irish.

    In the Irish Church Christ’s royalty was emphasized over every other aspect. He was usually shown with blond hair, for instance, which was code for royalty. (NOT that he was some kind of white Jesus, whatever Afrocentrists ignorant of Celtic culture may say.)

    One way this comes out is the way He is always, always referred to as “Son of Mary” in poems and everywhere else in the culture, never as “Son of David”. descent for David meant nothing in that culture – and besides it was at odds with the doctrine of Christ’s divinity – in fact that was another litlte finessing of the facts to suit a Meditteranean culture.

    Okay. Why? Well in that culture royalty resided in the female line. Sons of queens but not necessarily kings were royal. (In fact a man became a king by marrying a queen, and thus the land she embodied. The term for coronation meant “wedding of kingship”.)

    All this emphasis on royalty and kingship was about Jesus’ power and virility. Oh, and by the way, that virility and manhood did have to include cherchez la femme, as it does in this one. In that literature women most often had to go after the men. Anyway.

    Now here’s a real masculine part. One way His royalty was referred to was by identifying Him as a roebuck stag, the animal that only royalty could hunt. and this links him to the god Cernunnos (not his irish name) who was the Lord of the Hunt, a man’s body with a stag’s head. Cernunnos was basically the god of testosterone.

    Elsewhere further east the military orders like the Teutonic Knights centered on a very macho vision of Christ as a battle captain.

    None of this made it into any form of Protestantism. But it is probably lying dormant in all those Bible-pounding Scotch-Irish.

  • Ginkgo

    @Clarence
    “I do know it seems the Male Head in the Promise Keepers is a legally and spiritually castrated one, wherein he gets all the responsibility and none of the power.”

    That is definitely there. I’m not sure – I think I saw Dalrock criticize that. Others have too.

  • Clarence

    Q: How do we know that Jesus was Italian?
    A:
    1. He lived at home until he was 30.
    2. He thought his mom was a Virgin.
    3. His mom thought her boy was the Son of God.

    Lol.

  • Erenthia

    @Ginko,

    Well if it never made its way into Protestantism that’s probably why I was never exposed to it. I hope I haven’t given the impression that I’m trying to paint a universal picture. Like everyone else I can only speak from my experiences. Maybe I would have been better off in the Irish Church, I don’t know.

    One of the things I always hated in Protestantism (even when I was in it) was this exclusivity bullshit. Half the people I knew used phrases like, “Is he a Catholic or a Christian?” which drove me up the wall. It’s possible there were more subtle aspects of that that wormed their way into my head. If so by all means call me on them, but do know they aren’t my intention.

  • Clarence

    Gingko:

    Very good post about the Iris Church.
    It does seem to me that Christ’s “masculinity” is changed a bit (different aspects emphasized) depending on the culture. I’ve seen Christ as Son of God emphasized, Christ the loving Savior, and Christ the Warrior of God, but never Christ the Royal. So that was new to me.

  • Erenthia

    Having thought about it, I think my phrasing was probably lazy. It’s not that Christ *himself* was disposable. (since his ascension would have been foreknown) Rather the story of Christ encourages men to accept their own disposability in “this life”.

  • typhonblue

    First of all, I may not be a believer but I have studied masculinities in antiquity and the effect of the Church on those masculinities. (And no, this doesn’t make me ‘smarter’ then you Daisy–stop trying to manipulate the discourse through victimhood posturing.)

    In fact I would argue that being a believer makes it difficult for an individual to see the context in which the Church arose. Christianity was a political tool; ideas were added and jettisoned based on political expediency. Look at the history of the religion without a need to see it as divinely inspired and it’s obvious. (It’d be like waking up 2000 years from now and finding a religion based around the 2012 democratic platform.)

    St Augustine wrote the City of God at a time when Roman citizens believed the adoption of Christianity as the state religion of Rome had lead to their sacking by the Visigoths. He was fighting for Christianity to remain in power within Rome.

    He was fighting against an older, pagan religion that was at its core phallocentric.
    According to the Roman Pagan tradition, the penis was both the instrument and a marker of Roman men’s divine right to rule over women and barbarians. The penis was a man’s direct link to divinity.

    Now look at it from the Roman’s point of view. They adopt this newfangled religion that is in direct opposition to their old phallocentric religion. Suddenly barbarians come in and kick their asses; which was exactly what that old timey phallus-cult was supposed to guard against. SHIT!

    St. Augustine had to spin, and spin hard. So he said(or heavily implied) it was phallus worship that got Romans into the mess. And, oh, look how Christianity is the exact opposite of phallus-worship! Why, phalluses, they’re vectors for original sin! Demon rods that lead us into damnation! The barbarians didn’t kick our asses because we went soft(heh), they did it because we had our hands down our pants!

    Now in order to reel these men back in(or get them in, in the first place), the Church had to offer something in exchange for removing their divine right to rule. So they created a layer of crypto-misogyny around the central mythology: that men dominate over women. But that layer always was just a delivery mechanism for the mythology which is deeply female-centric. (Hell, they couldn’t go one sentence into the crypto-misogyny without centering the whole thing back on women, ‘and sacrifice for her as Christ sacrificed for the Church.’)

    Roman men dominating women as an extension of men’s direct connection to god was replaced by Roman men dominating because the Church said they could(no invested interest for the Church in that, no siree)–and, oh, by the way, the mythology completely removes the direct connection between men and the divine and replaces it with a direct connection between a women(and by extension all women) and the divine.

    Remember how Zeus always changed into an animal to have sex with his human female conquests? That wasn’t a comment on Zeus, it was a comment on the women. In order to prevent some sort of connection between women and the divine, Zeus had to change into a form more suited to Greek and Roman attitudes to women. A rutting beast is right on a woman’s level as far as they were concerned! (And that’s not even talking about all the birth myths that completely remove women from the process entirely.)

    When we’re talking about mythologies that remove one gender from the reproductive equation, we are invariably talking about mythologies that are deeply misandric/misogynistic at their core. Then you add in the idea that it’s the other gender’s participation in the process that makes reproduction sinful, questionable, dirty, beastial… and you get sexism on steroids.

    In Christianity not only is the Virgin Birth without the benefit of a man, it heavily implies that its men’s influence on reproduction is what makes normal human reproduction sinful (Sorta says something about the common, everyday variety PIV if it takes an act of God to make it sinless—or Immaculate, if you prefer.)

    And St. Augustine, in fighting against that phallocentric pagan religion, added in a lot about how the phallus was, essentially, a tool of the devil. Because he was literally fighting phallus worship.

    Now is it any wonder that early Christianity was supported mostly by wealthy widows? Women get to go from ‘about the same moral level as a donkey’ to ‘Virgin Mary Mother of God.’ Yay!

    And men go from ‘penises are symbols of the divine’ to ‘penises are symbols of the devil.’ But they get to preside over their dethroning! Er… yay? (I’m sure Roman Matrons drilling Christianity into their son’s heads had a good deal to do with selling that stinker.)

    Oh, and the reason why Christianity adapted to feminism is because it’s easier to question ‘man as head’ then ‘Virgin Mary Mother of God.’

    After all is there really that far a stretch from ‘women are connected to the divine through their bodies as long as men aren’t involved’ to ‘men’s sexuality is damaging to women therefore lets remove due process from men accused of rape?’

    ‘If I hadn’t married you, Humphry, I coulda been the Virgin!’

    Finally, if you want to talk about Christian ‘masculinities’, do so in comparison to a pagan faith that made the penis the connection point between man and the divine.

    That relationship between mortal and god makes all Christian ‘masculinities’ look, well, sorta castrated. Eunuch for the kingdom of heaven indeed.

    (Also, please stop crediting me with the creation of the entire article, it was cowritten with JohnTheOther.)

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Clarence, I say PK is “anti-feminist” just as a descriptor, its nothing personal. If that makes sense. Like calling someone a Republican, I doubt they would argue.

    The PK concept is that the REASON one’s life is shit is that you are not going according to the Word. All humans desire the Word, as we desire our own parents when we are children. (We are GOD’s CHILDREN) And the Word is clear: A man is the head of the house as Christ was head of the church. All familial unhappiness is seen as symptomatic of disobedience. The man has not been doing his job and truly leading, so of course, the wife has not followed… duh. She can’t follow someone who isn’t leading. She is not to blame, he is, for not leading her like he should. The kids are a mess for this same reason. In this time of family-breakdown, this has a ferocious appeal. Women are promised protection… they will be taken care of in exchange for obedience. The men will lead the family, again, as Christ lead the Church. This is considered the Natural Order, as Aquinas described Natural Law. (“the law written upon the heart”–I think from the book of Jeremiah) This is why it “feels right” since it goes back to the time we were all living in caves and women needed protection. On some level, as we have discussed honestly here, women want protection and men want to protect… start with this little fact and it just seems… RIGHT on a biological level.

    Keep in mind there are women who want a PK husband and promise to obey, if they find a worthy mate. It isn’t only a men’s thing, but the men certainly started it with a big bang. The concept for an unmarried man is–if you issue your Executive Order (“I will lead you! I am a PK!”) then a woman to lead will materialize for you, the right kind of woman, not some uppity Christian woman who works. (or works without your permission, in an occupation you do not approve of, or for too many hours, etc etc etc) That is one of the subcategories on all these Christian dating sites.

    But the major idea is that disobedience is why relationships do not work. NATURAL LAW and all like that. As long as men and women GO AGAINST NATURE and try to have equal decision-making roles in the relationship, it will fail. We were not “designed” that way, is what they say. Same thing about gay marriage, it is against nature. I was arguing (nice word for it: brawling is what we were doing) with this guy on a Christian forum, who says two men marrying is “not a marriage”–a MAN and WOMAN are… I answered that the modern MAN AND WOMAN are not who they (the writers of the Gospels, Thomas Aquinas, everybody else) were talking about, they would scarcely recognize ANY of us as men or women… clean shaven men wearing fragrances (PS: according to kosher law, men are not supposed to shave, wear short sleeves or shorts and head should be covered properly.) Women wearing pants and driving horses, not to mention cars and airplanes? WE are not the MAN AND WOMAN of Biblical times, yet he wants to adhere to a standard he and his (working) wife do not even adhere to. This is the overall problem with trying to go back to the old days: you can’t. A literate woman, you will find, will not obey like an illiterate one would. She may know about a few options. The women of Biblical times were KEPT STUPID so of course, obedience made sense, what else was she going to do?

    The great power of Christianity, ironically, is that all souls are equal before God… Elaine Pagels says it was the first time anybody had posited such a thing. It was intoxicatingly powerful and the message spread like wildfire… the idea that even a master and slave were equal in the afterlife, is a helluva concept. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” WOW, nobody was talking like that back then, that is some radical stuff. Early Christian meetings were like modern-day AA meetings, with doctors and politicians and rich people sitting next to the homeless bums and prostitutes. (Imagine the rush they got from breaking those kinds of rules?) It was incredible and people converted like crazy, mostly (Pagels thought) due to this huge desire for oneness and equality… this is the emotional feeling that became the word COMMUNION.

    I believe Christianity can be very radical for men, since I have seen so many men change. I have seen men go from violence to peace, thus saving their own lives. They may no longer be “tough guy”–but I’ll bet they live longer than when they were threatening to kick everyone’s ass. I have recently been treated to the spectacle of an AMAZING conversion that I never thought would happen… in fact, Facebook has let me know of several… men I expected to be dead from drugs or violence or both, who are now firmly in The Fold. I don’t think anything else would have worked.

    Therefore I have to take it seriously.

    PS: Andrea Dworkin found a bang-up quote in the Gnostic Gospels, wherein Christ said “I have come to destroy the work of the female”… and you could have a field day trying to figure out what he meant by that. She thought he meant everyone would share in work of the home, cook and pick up their own dishes (LOL), but I’ve always wondered if he was referring to childbirth, and this meaning possibly got mangled. (?) Any takers?

    Joke for Clarence (okay, I stole it from Sam Kinison, who was a distant cousin):

    How do we know Jesus wasn’t married?

    Because he disappeared for three days and then reappeared with 12 other guys.

    Angry woman’s voice: “Where’ve you been???”

    Man: “Excuse me, but I WAS DEAD! DO YOU CARE THAT I WAS DEAD?”

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    TB: stop trying to manipulate the discourse through victimhood posturing

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes, people really are tired of others speaking for us. Maybe you don’t realize how categorical you sound (or you and JTO sound).

    Erenthia: Having thought about it, I think my phrasing was probably lazy. It’s not that Christ *himself* was disposable. (since his ascension would have been foreknown) Rather the story of Christ encourages men to accept their own disposability in “this life”.

    I certainly agree…. then again, the example of one who did not fight and turned the other cheek can also STOP disposability in this life, as in the examples of my biker/Yippie friends who converted.

    I would never dream of trying to talk them out of it, seriously.

    Jim, that is fascinating, the Christmas Carol line “the babe, the son of Mary” comes to mind, which was set to the old ballad “Greensleeves” (became “What Child is This”) … the idea that the Three Wise Men were astrologers in August (rather than December) who saw the sign of Leo the Lion in the west (“king of the forest”) would go along with that too. Lots of Lion’s heads and lions in early Christian imagery, long before the born-again crowd discredited astrology as pagan.

  • Clarence

    I always liked Sam Kinison. Of course I also liked Married With Children, so take that for what it is worth.

    Anyway, thanks for confirming my prior information about the Promise Keepers.. As nominal Head of the House the man can’t enforce crap, but he’s held to account for everything, where his wife can’t sin at all, and certainly is never lectured to actually OBEY her husband. Indeed, no matter what happens, the moral failure is HIS. Add easy legal divorce and a bunch of churches that no longer try to enforce the old Christian ideas about divorce, and you get “conservative” Christian churches that have divorce rates almost exactly equal to secular ones.

    What toxic crap. No wonder so few men are in the Church these days.
    Now , normally I wouldn’t care, since I don’t belong to any religion or church. But many people get their identities from the communal and moral functions the Churches serve, and the lack of male friendly spaces of that type is a problem.

  • Ginkgo

    “In fact I would argue that being a believer makes it difficult for an individual to see the context in which the Church arose. ”

    No shit. it has been a long time. it goes even deeper. I once heard a reeally good sermon that said that growing up in a christian setting, people cannot hear what Jesus said in the way his disciples did, because to them it was revolutionary to the point of bizarre, not a lot of familiar piety.

    “Finally, if you want to talk about Christian ’masculinities’, do so in comparison to a pagan faith that made the penis the connection point between man and the divine.
    That relationship between mortal and god makes all Christian ’masculinities’ look, well, sorta castrated. Eunuch for the kingdom of heaven indeed.”

    It will not be many generations before Indian Christians draw the obvious parallels between Jesus and Shiva – redemptive and creative destruction , and asceticism; in a trinity with Father/Brahman and Spirit/Vishnu.

    One of the main symbols in Shiva worship is the lingam. That’s those dick-shaped stones you see people pouring offerings over. Masculinity for days.

    And yet shiva was a eunuch because he was an asceitc, just like Jesus. Of course that is open to an interpretation of castration, but that’s inaccurate.

    I told oyu it was a Dharmic rather than an Abrahamic religion. As my priest told me, the only value to anything in the Old testament is what points to Jesus. the rest is all afterbirth.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    TB: the mythology completely removes the direct connection between men and the divine and replaces it with a direct connection between a women(and by extension all women) and the divine.

    Gonzo arguments. Topsy turvy. Bizarro World.

    I’d say its the opposite… REMOVES the connection between men and the divine??? Um, MEN are the ONLY ONES allowed to consecrate (and in the old church, TOUCH) the Eucharist! Are you serious? Men are priests, women are not. That continues to this day. Men administer all sacraments and hold the key to the holy mysteries and thus in the original church, to salvation itself. It was Protestants who finally said, a human being (man) should not be the person standing between a human and God.

    In Christianity not only is the Virgin Birth without the benefit of a man,

    Because SUPER PENIS, God, is the creation-instrument being used. Step aside, humans, and watch the magic work! The greatest MAN of them all, God, which surpasseth human understanding. He is called HE for a REASON, TB. When liturgists have tried to say Father/Mother/God, in various Christian denominations, everyone has a seizure. You don’t think that’s because the gender of God doesn’t matter, do you?

    our FATHER who art in heaven… the giant dick that impregnated Mary. MALE, HE. God is a HE.

    Finally, if you want to talk about Christian ‘masculinities’, do so in comparison to a pagan faith that made the penis the connection point between man and the divine.

    Huh?

    No, I won’t. I am not learned enough to make such comparisons. In light of your comment that I should not do “victim posturing” — let me simply say that I think people should be able to participate in this thread whether we know about that stuff or not. I know Christianity backwards and forwards and think I should be permitted to post on this topic even if I don’t know about “masculinities” (never heard that as a plural, is this a new thing or what?) and man’s penile connection to God. I think the modern day role of Christianity in men’s lives is more important than all of that, although it is very interesting. As Gingko’s comment makes clear, the way Christianity is acted out in culture is ALSO important to understand, and I live Ground Zero of the most Christian area of the USA.

    Clarence, love your remarks about Genesis… I had never really noticed that about Eve, that it was only a sin after Adam followed her example. (Well of course God didn’t care what SHE did, she was only trying to stir up some shit after all.) I am embarrassed that as a feminist I never did, so thank you for that.

    The stories of Lilith are somewhat different, as you probably know. She and Adam were supposedly created at the same time, and she refused subservience: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilith

    I see Eve as prototype of the virgin (Mary was called “the new Eve”–the perfected one) and Lilith as whore, the disobedient one who left.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    But Clarence, men flocked to PK stuff in stadiums… if it was toxic, why?

    Really, curious to know people’s thoughts about the draw of PK, which was briefly VERY big, around here particularly… why were men so attracted to this movement?

    My two cents: Interestingly, I think it was the progressive and male-bonding elements that drew them too… PK talks about having male prayer partners and friends, men supporting each other. They assign you a prayer group and everything. Lots of men I know started going to early morning prayer groups… actually getting up at the crack of dawn to pray with other men, just like the old Orthodox Jewish way! (I’ve seen this in the Opus Dei-ish Catholic men also.)

    Unfortunately, for women, having lots of babies translates into “obedience” and not having any kids (or only one or two) means you are not “obeying nature”. This would be the major obedience issue for women. Having an abortion would therefore be the worse sin imaginable, and that is one reason its their political hot button.

  • Typhonblue

    @ Daisy

    “Um, MEN are the ONLY ONES allowed to consecrate (and in the old church, TOUCH) the Eucharist! ”

    In the old church only men could touch the eucharist; in the roman pagan tradition that proceeded the Church, the penis _was_ the eucharist.

    Do you see the fundamental difference? Christianity took away the connection between the divine and the penis and replaced it with a connection mediated through the Church.

    No matter how many special roles the Church gave men it was a massive step down for men as a whole to stop being the living embodiment of divinity–the gender directly connected to God–to being stewards of a faith in which the masculine parts of their bodies drove them away from the divine.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Are you trying to convince me to go back to the Church?

    LOL

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    No matter how many special roles the Church gave men it was a massive step down for men as a whole to stop being the living embodiment of divinity–the gender directly connected to God–to being stewards of a faith in which the masculine parts of their bodies drove them away from the divine.

    It depends whether you think penis-as-monolith (as in Arthur C Clarke/2001) is a step down or up. Grabbing one’s dick and believing oneself to be divine is a bit Cro-Magnon for my taste. Assigning God status outside of one’s individual self was an important intellectual step for humans.

    Also, since Christianity came from Judaism, I am thinking that is not what preceded it. (?) Judaism preceded Christianity, and I didn’t know Judaism thought their penises were the Eucharist. How does this go along with them cutting the foreskin?

    Our disagreement is here: I do not think Roman Pagans are where Christianity came from. I think it came from the specific religion, traditions, laws, histories and prophecies of its founder.

  • Typhonblue

    @ Daisy

    Where did I say that Christianity came from Roman paganism? That makes about as much sense as saying Obama’s administration _came from_ Bush’s. No. But Bush’s _preceeded_ it.

  • Clarence

    Daisy:

    Why?
    That’s simple. Bait&Switch and ignorance about Family Law.

    PK promised fellowship , and they did get some of that.
    Being a Patriarch sounds good to some, I suppose.
    They didn’t know that this “Patriarch” they were supposed to become would have no real power, but total responsibility, and that they were signing up to years and years of shaming lectures.
    That is if they didn’t get divorced by a wife who was not inclined to be a “doormat” (or, indeed, submissive at all). Of course the divorce, no matter how unfair or devastating would be their fault as well, and they’d find none of that “fellowship” they signed up for in their moment of need.

    At least that’s how I see it in my minds eye.

  • Clarence

    I think Typhonblue is trying to tie Christianity into the larger history of religion and theology. Of course I doubt all ancient myths were patriarchal or had the Penis as the source of all power and good. Indeed, “Goddess” feminists believe that originally patriarchal religions split away from and largely destroyed a hypothetical “Mother Goddess” ur-religion.

    Of course all this is very difficult to prove, and almost certainly very much simplified.
    But fascinating in its own way.

  • typhonblue

    @ Clarence and Daisy

    The trappings of a religion’s priesthood does not necessarily indicate anything about its mythology.

    For example, the Vestal Virgins(all women) tended the sacred image of the phallus. This was a duty only a Vestal Virgin could preform, yet you could hardly consider attributing divine protection to phallic imagery to be female-centric mythology.

    It doesn’t matter who fronts the mythology unless they have control over it. If the priests or priestesses don’t have control over the mythology then they are simply in service to it.

    Vestal Virgins are an all-female priesthood fronting a male-centric theology; the Church is an all-male priesthood fronting a female-centric theology.

  • dungone

    @TyphonBlue, first of all, you and John The Other did a terrific job, but I am really impressed with your ability to connect the dots and point out such obvious things that everyone else seems to miss. One of the reasons I just about abandoned the online atheist community is because in the past couple of years they’ve taken such a sharp turn towards feminism and White Knighting. My mind was starting to get numb.

    One thing I’ve long pondered is the intimate ties between early feminism and religious extremism and why that ever was. I mean, to a great extent the Temperance movement was matriarchal both in membership and intent and had at it’s heart the notion that a man’s proper role in life is to sacrifice himself for his wife. The same overall mindset that eventually led to female suffrage also drove America into Prohibition and started up the practice of circumcising American boys.

    So I’d like to think that I abandoned religion because I was really smart and saw right through it, but to some extent I have to ask myself if it wasn’t because I was disenfranchised by it on account of being male – and maybe that’s actually why there has been such gendered drive away from mainstream religion in the first place. I think that’s a really interesting thought because the vast majority of nonreligious people think of themselves as skeptics first, but I also see that many of them are disenfranchised, low status men. Yet so far the movement has chosen not to make it about that, and many of them flat out refuse to even think about it seriously. In fact, the final straw for me was one day when I went to my favorite atheist blog and the latest blog title was, “Why atheists should embrace feminism.” Well I wasn’t anti-feminist at that point, but it was then that something just clicked. That space had been the only place where I had felt some relief from the pressure to self-sacrifice as a male, but suddenly it was back.

  • Clarence

    Erenthia:
    Sorry , I missed your comment.
    Patriarchy, in the classic feminist sense is basically “andrarchy”.
    That’s not what I mean when I use the term. I use it as it is supposed to be used, to mean “rule of the fathers” meaning a society, wherein a man has some sort of legal headship of his family. This doesn’t necessarily do anything for him as a man qua man, let alone does it necessarily give any benefits to childless men of any persuasion. Nor does it necessarily mean that to Rule, a man has to have kids, but most patriarchies do, indeed, pass down legitimacy to rule via blood lines, usually on the male side. And of course, most patriarchies have at least some legal responsibilities to go along with his headship. Which is why, in the past in America and parts of Europe, men could be jailed for their wives debts.

    I don’t think any of us here are unaware of the issues with how mainstream feminists misuse patriarchy.

  • Clarence

    dungone:
    Powerful post.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    Ginko:
    Have you ever read “Zen and the Birds of Appetite”? Your comments remind me of it quite strongly. It’s a series of essays exchanged between a Trappist monk and a Japanese Zen master.

    I’m in too good a mood (I painted my nails for the first time yesterday and I’m very happy with the results) and too aware of my own ignorance on matters of Christian doctrine to throw my hat into this ring, so could I ask the more knowledgeable people here for some recommended reading on the subject (I know, I always do that. I’m kind of a hopeless bibliophile)? My preference is for anthropological work with an emphasis on the practical workings of Christianity and its interactions with different cultures, but I’m interested in significant theological and philosophical pieces as well (I prefer seeing how people have interpreted Christian doctrines, rather than in trying to analyze the originals myself).

    I’d like to add something of substance to this discussion, so here’s something in reference to earlier mentions of ancient goddess-worship:

    The Japanese imperial line claims descent from the deity Amaterasu, goddess of the sun (and also the universe) in Japanese Shinto folklore. Shinto is not an organized religion in the sense that we are used to, but rather a loose collection of folk-beliefs and local deities grouped together and identified as Shinto (“Way of the Gods”) in response to the introduction of organized and fundamentally different faiths from mainland Asia (primarily Buddhism, although Japanese Buddhism has taken on many Shinto qualities and traditions). No serious attempt to organize it into a real hierarchy was made until Japan needed to scrape together a strong national identity in its quest to emulate European nation-states. Amaterasu is the sister of the storm god Susanoo (there exists a rivalry between them in some stories) and the enigmatic moon god Tsukuyomi (who she declared her enemy and an evil god in a myth explaining the separation of day from night). The major shrines in her honor are maintained to this day and are now significant cultural and tourist sites, although active religious worship still takes place. Its hard to talk about “faith” in this context because the Japanese are generally fairly lackadaisical about religion, although their animist roots continue to exercise a powerful cultural influence.

    Some have theorized Amaterasu as representing a remainder from a period of Japanese history predating written records in which tribal communities, or possibly small city-states, were presided over by matriarchal priestess-queens. I do not believe there is anything conclusive either way, but the position is hardly controversial and, in my mind, worthy of more serious consideration than the school of thought that gave us things like “When God was a Woman”.

  • Hackberry

    Excellent article!

    The birth of Christ is without sin because, quite simply, it did not involve a penis.

    LOL! Great stuff and so true. Christianity, like all successful cultures, has found ways to protect women and see men as disposable pawns who’s worth is measured in their ability to take care of women.

  • Hackberry

    This makes me think of the late 19th century habit of protecting women. I have been reading some letters and newspapers from that time period and the theme is often that women are pure and therefore should be protected from the evils of the world like work, money, and politics. Now, after reading this article, it makes more since why the largely Christian population would make those assumptions. Of course the feminists have transformed that protective mode and claimed it to be oppression. What a bizarre jump to make such a claim and even more bizarre that people bought it….and still buy it.

    BTW, I have yet to see even one instance of someone badmouthing women, saying anything negative or thinking they need to be treated in any way other than with reverence. All of the references are positive and glowing. Some oppression eh?

  • Ginkgo

    “This makes me think of the late 19th century habit of protecting women. I have been reading some letters and newspapers from that time period and the theme is often that women are pure and therefore should be protected from the evils of the world like work, money, and politics. Now, after reading this article, it makes more since why the largely Christian population would make those assumptions.”

    Be careful of jumping to conclusions and atributing alll that to Christinanity. Too many variables for one thing. And too many counter-examples – all those impulses are found in solidly non-Christian societies. Christianity may or may not be a factor, but it is clearly not a necessary factor.

  • Hackberry

    Where was I jumping to conclusions?

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    Oh, speaking of Christianity and weird, backwards views on gender, has anyone else here read the Space Trilogy by C.S.Lewis? In particular, the third book, “That Hideous Strength”, is centered around a message on husband/wife relations which requires the wife to submit (no real indication as to what that actually means) and for the husband to do the whole “oh, I am so unworthy of your love” Prince Charming down on one knee begging for his lady’s favor thing. Lewis goes even more crazy and overt (but especially crazy) with his moralizing and religious ideas than he did in the Narnia books (anyone ever read the Neil Gaiman sequel short story that’s about Susan? It’s pretty messed up).

    The Space Trilogy is redeemed partly by the quality of the writing, but mostly by how mind-bendingly bizarre the whole thing is. I can get some people laughing just by giving a synopsis of the plot.

    Also, because people seem to be giving their religious histories now, I was born and baptized Catholic, but my parents don’t actually practice (they’re not atheists, they just can’t be bothered to go to church), so I never had any kind of religious education. I was an atheist for a while because the loud Christians were mostly assholes, but then I quit atheism because the loud atheists were assholes too. Is there a word for “just generally pretty okay with everything” in this context? I suppose I find basically every other faith in the world more attractive than the modern Abrahamic religions as I have experienced them, but it’s more that I find them kind of boring, as opposed to actively disliking them.

  • http://valeriekeefe.livejournal.com Valerie Keefe

    Clarence: I will also point out to her that except for STEM, skilled trade, and some of the traditional humanities I view many college degrees as saying nothing about one’s intellect. Many are quite worthless pieces of paper that require no real scholarship and merely serve to inflate one’s ego or ones bank account.

    Which humanities? And dependent on your answer, quite simply: Fuck you against the walls of books and the seminar tables I spent years poring over and the public policy tracts I still voraciously read. Understanding diminishing marginal utility, the propensity of reform movements in crisis to revolutionary acceleration, and the nature of class privilege in informing ecofeminist rhetoric, and the list goes on, took a lot of fucking work. As we have found when nuclear engineers try to run the country, it’s an important set of tools to have in the box.

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    I’m not an expert on Roman religion, but iirc, some have speculated that the Vestal Virgins began with the wives of the Roman kings.

    The wives of the king were expected to perform, on behalf of the whole city, the rituals honoring the hearth-goddess Vesta. Once the last king was overthrown, they were expected to continue to do so. The later development then gets written into earlier history.

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    Erenthia,

    “Lucifer’s sin was supposedly pride. He wanted a little attention to since he was *the greatest of all created beings*.”

    That’s one I’d not heard. The earliest Christians believed that the Logos or Sophia was the first and greatest of all created beings. And Jesus, not Lucifer, was the Logos in human form. Of course, both Jesus and the Adversary were compared with the Serpent [in mainstream texts, not just Gnostic ones]. That changed and by Nicaea many were insisting that the Logos [or Sophia] was uncreated.

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    Regarding the original post:

    I wouldn’t consider Augustine an early Christian theologian.

    In the fourth century, Christianity went from being a marginal religion, critical of the empire, and sometimes facing persecutions from the empire, to being a dominant religion, often supporting the empire, and with some sects being supported by the empire.

    Criticisms of war, slavery, and inequality got sidelined. Purity codes, which the powerful could follow and the powerless often had no way of following, became more important, although this began earlier. Moral teachings, which called the powerful to free their slaves, give away their wealth, etc. became much less important.

    And Christian theology changed. Athanasian theology was a sharp break with the past, his same-substance theology was new in the early 4th century. Hermas got stripped from the canon and Revelation added. Augustine’s view of original sin was new in the 5th century. Anselm’s view of atonement through penal substitution was new in the 11th century, and reflects the feudal mindset.

    I’ve recently been reading Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology. It has severe flaws, such as the transphobia, but in it Daly compares the annunciation to the rape of the Goddess and the crucifixion to the symbolic erasure of the Tree of Life.

    [Of course, if we return to the Genesis narrative, it is an attempt to defame Lilith without naming her. The Serpent and the Tree of Knowledge represent Lilith; Eve and the Tree of Life represent Asherah; Adam represents El.]

    It’s hard to trace the development of the story of the virgin birth. It’s possible that very early Christians invented the story of the virgin birth to mock Augustus’ claims of divine ancestry, but later early Christians believed it. It’s easier to trace the development of the theology of the atonement because the early doctrines laster longer and inspired more commentaries. Early Christians, and most later Christians until Anselm, emphasize Jesus’ moral influence, Jesus’ resurrection/victory over death/victory over sin, and often some type of ransom or even some type of ‘trick.’ Now the promise of resurrection already encouraged self-sacrifice, and not just among men. But the sado-theology was a much later development. I sometimes wonder if it was influenced by the blatantly androcentric cult of Woden/Wotan/Odin.

    Anyway, I don’t see how Christianity is anti-male here. Certainly Christianity moved from openness-to-asexuality to normative asexuality, with every other orientation viewed as less than asexuality. And the openness-to-asexuality was more of a benefit to Müllerian individuals than Wolffian ones, because it allowed them to escape early marriages, it allowed them to avoid the risks of pregnancy, etc. According to Matthew and Acts, very early Christianity was inclusive of eunuchs, but later early Christianity was increasingly hostile towards eunuchs, such as Origen and Leontius of Antioch, and especially towards eunuchs who subsequently married. If Christianity were anti-male, then wouldn’t more Christians have seen self-castration as a step up?

  • Aych

    Marja: I’ve recently been reading Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology. It has severe flaws, such as the transphobia,

    Yeah, that’s the biggest problem I saw in the writings of Daly as well: her transphobia. Not how she viewed the male half of humanity as an evil cancer upon the earth. That bit was okay.

  • typhonblue

    “Anyway, I don’t see how Christianity is anti-male here.”

    The myth removes men from the process of procreation initially; later Christian philosophers theorize that it’s men’s involvement that vectors original sin from generation to generation (requiring an act of God to make average PIV sinless).

    Men defile women with their sexuality, in other words. A special man came down from heaven and died because men defile women with their sexuality and he needed to purify the world from men’s defiling natures.

    A good man sacrifices himself to rid the world of the evil’s transmitted by the sexuality of all other men.

    How much more misandrous does it get? Everything feminism has said and done that’s misandrous either is a rehash of that or pales in comparison.

    “If Christianity were anti-male, then wouldn’t more Christians have seen self-castration as a step up?”

    Are there degrees of being anti-male in your world view? We don’t castrate bulls, probably for exactly the same reason the Church became anti-castration: steers can’t breed more christians.

    @ Aych

    “Yeah, that’s the biggest problem I saw in the writings of Daly as well: her transphobia. Not how she viewed the male half of humanity as an evil cancer upon the earth. That bit was okay.”

    You just made me realize something. If you don’t notice the misandry of Mary Daly… it’s going to be pretty damn hard to pick it up in Christian mythology.

  • Aych

    TB: If I had any cartooning skill, I would draw the following:

    A person with a telescope is scanning the horizon. They are standing on a mountain of male corpses.

    “Oh no! Is that a woman being victimized over there in the distance?”

    A pic like that would come in handy. A lot.

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    Okay, I agree that Augustine’s take on Christianity is anti-male. And also anti-female if, from what I’ve read, it meant abandoning his pregnant partner. But Augustine’s take on it is only one possible take on it. Augustine’s theory of original sin was a new innovation, and was never generally accepted in the east. His theory of predestination was never generally accepted even in the west.

  • typhonblue

    “Okay, I agree that Augustine’s take on Christianity is anti-male.”

    The entire mythos is predicated on a Virgin Birth that excludes men. That alone makes it misandrous. And really, really creepy.

    Whenever a religion starts off by excluding the opposite sex from the reproductive equation and calling the result more ‘holy’…

    You have to ask why? What’s motivating this?

    “And also anti-female if, from what I’ve read, it meant abandoning his pregnant partner.”

    That makes what he said anti-female? If it caused a woman to abandon her husband and child for celibacy, would that make it anti-male as well?

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    About that castration thing:

    If I remember correctly, some early Christians (roundabouts the third century, if I remember correctly) did, in fact, practice self-castration for religious purposes.

    Additionally, the later practice of castrating boys for use in church music is well known.

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    “If it caused a woman to abandon her husband and child for celibacy, would that make it anti-male as well?”

    It depends on the circumstances, and the opportunities available to each of them, but her interpretation could be anti-male, depending what burdens she places on her partner. I think Augustine is more responsible for his own actions than for anyone else’s. He faced family pressure to leave his first partner for a more socially-suitable marriage, which collapsed beforehand, so he’s not the only one responsible for that. But he didn’t face family pressure to leave his third partner.

    “Whenever a religion starts off by excluding the opposite sex from the reproductive equation and calling the result more ‘holy’…”

    Or destroying the other sex, as with Metis, mother of Athena, or Semele, mother of Dionyses?

    Again, I think early Christians invented the virgin birth myth to mock Augustus’ claims to divine birth, with Apollo, in the guise of a snake, impregnating Atia.

    Jesus uses the phrase ‘son of Adam’ more often than ‘son of God,’ but both were taken inclusively.

    Of course, later early Christians took the story at face value, and also started to use the term ‘son of God’ restrictively. But it’s the combination: Jesus as the only good man, Jesus as the only person born parthenogenetically, etc. that turns toxic. And it’s unpredictable how that combination could have developed: some groups, such as the Mormons, have used it to argue that God the Father is literally male, others have used it to argue as in the original post, and I’m sure others have used it to argue that Jesus was a trans man.

  • Aych

    Related: The Skoptsy were a sect of the Russian Orthodox church whose male members were required to be castrated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skoptsy The Skoptsy may have had 100,000 members at one point.

    They also cut-off parts of women’s bodies from time to time, so I guess their beliefs were primarily misogynistic. But surely nothing other than that.

  • typhonblue

    “Or destroying the other sex, as with Metis, mother of Athena, or Semele, mother of Dionyses?”

    Myths about gods of one sex destroying, trying to destroy, subjugating or dominating the other sex does not mean the societies’ in question found their actions anything other then deplorable.

    And maybe an excuse why that particular sex needed to be controlled by the other.

    “And it’s unpredictable how that combination could have developed: some groups, such as the Mormons, have used it to argue that God the Father is literally male, others have used it to argue as in the original post, and I’m sure others have used it to argue that Jesus was a trans man.”

    And here’s where we get the relative numbers.

    How many Christians have used it to argue that men’s sexuality is innately more degrading to women then vice versa versus how many have argued that Jesus was a trans man?

    Look at the word virtue… it originally meant the manliness of a man, in Christian society it came to mean the chastity of a woman. The fact a woman is _pure_ and _unspoiled_. How did that come about if men weren’t somehow seen to despoil women and that despoiling was what removed virtue(virtue being the most important moral value) from society?

    The Holy Mother was graced by God because she was _pure_ and _unspoiled_.

    Who does the spoiling?

    Men.

  • http://paddybrown.co.uk Patrick Brown

    Marja Erwin:

    Of course, if we return to the Genesis narrative, it is an attempt to defame Lilith without naming her.

    No, the story of Lilith is a retcon. It appears first in the Talmud, and was invented to smooth the bump between the first creation story in Genesis, where God created humans male and female, and the second, where Adam is alone until the creation of Eve.

    It’s possible that very early Christians invented the story of the virgin birth to mock Augustus’ claims of divine ancestry, but later early Christians believed it.

    It’s more likely they got it from the mistranslation of ”almah” as ”parthenos” in Isaiah in the Septuagint.

    I read somewhere recently, can’t remember where but probably somewhere in the manosphere, a discussion of how the extremely patriarchal Athenians had as their patron deity a goddess, Athena, who was born from the head of Zeus – no female involvement in her conception, gestation or birth. She was associated with traditionally masculine things like wisdom and war, and was also a virgin. The place I read it didn’t make the comparison (their point was to show that having a deity of one gender didn’t necessarily mean a society that honoured that gender), but Athena seems an interesting gender-role parallel to Christ, who was born of a woman with no male involvement, and remained single all his life – and as a parallel to Athena’s traditionally male sphere, the modern Jesus is “meek and mild”, associated with compassion and submission, and in modern western iconography is drawn to look very feminine, with big sad eyes and long, smooth hair (example 1, example 2). Early Christian iconography isn’t like that, though (example).

    Regarding Aych’s comments about Mary Daly’s transphobia. It’s blatantly obvious that Daly, and the radfems that still follow her in hating and dehumanising transwomen, do so because they consider them men, for whom hatred and dehumanisation is only to be expected. Feminists who object to radfems’ transphobia but not to their misandry are only quibbling about who gets to be considered part of their female master-race and who doesn’t.

  • Aych

    Paddy: Feminists who object to radfems’ transphobia but not to their misandry are only quibbling about who gets to be considered part of their female master-race and who doesn’t.

    HAH!

    You know what bothers me the most about the KKK? They also object to people who are Armenian, in whole or in part. Don’t they realize that Armenians are Caucasians also?

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    Talmudic Lilith is a retcon derived from the order-of-creation inconsistencies. But there’s an older figure implicit in the narrative. Talmudic Lilith may get her name from Babylon, or from this older figure.

    The Tree of Life definitely represents Asherah. The Tree of Knowledge, then, presumably represents another goddess, and the narrative implies that the priests are encouraging their followers to continue to worship Asherah and to cease to worship this other goddess. [Of course, later the priests also suppressed the worship of Asherah, even as consort of El.]

  • http://valeriekeefe.livejournal.com Valerie Keefe

    @Patrick Brown

    1. Feminists who object to radfems’ transphobia but not to their misandry are only quibbling about who gets to be considered part of their female master-race and who doesn’t.

    There is a reason I make it a point to distinguish between third-wavers and second-wavers-minus (minus the misogynistic cissexism and the failure to include other marginalized women)

    2. Trans women. Two words. One word serves to muddle both adjective and noun and to essentialize cisness to the female experience. Know how I know that for sure? Go to the Michfest boards and you’ll see how they treat trans women: cis women/womyn = womyn ; trans women/womyn = transwomen.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    Valerie Keefe:

    Wait, don’t you usually say CAMAB women instead? I thought that was supposed to make it more balanced and everything. Plus, it sounds all science-y. I’ve been using that instead of “trans” in imitation of you (in an effort to be more inclusive in my language), so this is all very confusing. Also, how do you [i]pronounce[/i] “CAMAB”?

    Also, “adjective”? As far as I know, “trans” is a prefix, and listed as such in every dictionary I can find. I understand you have to modify and create terminology, but you can’t reasonably assume bad faith on the part of every person who leaves out the space given that kind of precedent. That said, “transwomen” should really mean something completely different, given all the other words with the “trans-” prefix (e.g. transatlantic).

  • typhonblue

    @ Marja

    “Again, I think early Christians invented the virgin birth myth to mock Augustus’ claims to divine birth, with Apollo, in the guise of a snake, impregnating Atia.”

    Also, I mentioned up above how Christianity evolved in the face of political expediency.

    Which really begs the question… What is the real Christianity?

    If all this Virgin Mary Mother of God was an overlay, then all we’re left with was a man and his words.

    But that isn’t what Christianity has become.

  • Ginkgo

    “If all this Virgin Mary Mother of God was an overlay, then all we’re left with was a man and his words.
    But that isn’t what Christianity has become.”

    No. Just no. This is wrong on several counts.

    First was so peripheral, from the very beginning, that there is more mention of her in the Qur’an than in the entire New Testament. The Virgin Birth was so peripheral that the Gospel of matthew opens and goes on for a full page listing jesus’ ancestors all the way back to, hell I can’t remember if it’s Abraham or Adam, but it surely establishes him as the son of David, the Messiah, very often referred to in all the gospels – through Joseph! No Virgin Birth there.

    Second – “what Christianity has become” is not anything that has ever “becoem”; it has always been about the Cricifixion and Resurrection. That starts with Paul and never stops or changes.

    Third – the invention on the Virgin Birth, or extra emphasis, cannot be explained as some kind oneupmanship on one or an emperor. It was part of a much more extnesive process of presenting Jesus in terms that the Indo-european Greeks and roamns could resonate with. There was precious little in the Jewish tradition that would do that. the Greeks and the romans thoguht of Levantines like Jews as exotic and not truly civilized. Their religions were not considered suitable for educated, respectable people. Basically Judaism, the cult of Diana of ephesus or whatever all had the status of New Age stuff these days. And all across the whoel range of Indo-European cultures, double paertnity/double birth is a recurring theme. In Ireland there is the double paerntiy of Cuchulainn, and in hinduism there is just straight up double birth. The interpretation of Jesus’ and the Fathers relationship as the trinity is also totally IE. And so it goes.

    And this was not some kind of “syncretism” or dilution of the faith. When Jesus comes out and says “Before Abrahan was, I AM” he was pretty much setting himself outside the Jewish tradition on at least a couple of levels. He was saying he was not dependent on it. He was also committing blasphemy, and that was brought up as a charge later. it has been fashionable to fetishize Jesus’ Jewishness for the last generation, as a counter-balance to the way it was erased for so long, but it’s just as excessive and inacurrate.

    Marianism has to be seen in this light. Just because Marianism is acceptable, and it is such a big deal to to a lot of people for psycholigical and cultural reasons. And fo course there is probably no branch of Christianinty where denying the virgin Birth doesn’t put you on the margins. But the point of the Virgin Birth has very little to do with Mary and a lot to do with presenting the divinity of Jesus. You just have to look at the way He talks to her – very seldom and not for long – to see where she fits into the whole picture.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    Aych:
    Really? Fuck. I’m mostly Armenian (I’ve actually spoken to a relative who fled the genocide as a child). I am also totally unprepared to deal with the KKK. If only Blaster Knuckle were around…

    Also, this discussion has now reached the point where it is effectively indistinguishable from “Snow Crash” to the outside observer. I don’t know what that means, or if it means anything, but I find it interesting.

  • Ginkgo

    Hiding, I think the White Power people don’t pay Armenians much attention anymore, if they ever did.

    Snow crash does describe the state of the discussion. Big subject, lots of tangents.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    Ginko:

    I know. They don’t live around me, anyway (even when I’m in the US). I just hadn’t heard that before. I also hate to miss an opportunity to mention Blaster Knuckle (the story of a black man with a gauntlet that is also a shotgun killing the KKK, who are actually man-eating demons, as told by a Japanese comic artist).

    So, who represents the giant Aleut with the glass knives and the harpoons and the extremely graphic underage sex scene and the digital motorcycle?

    More on topic, when I was reading up on Roman history in my spare time, I remember reading that the Romans often identified Christ and Christianity with the monotheistic sun worship spread by Elgabalus and the patronized by (I think) Aurelian, and that this was a major reason why people accepted the transformation of the feast of Sol Invictus into a Christian holiday. It’s always interesting to me to think of all the different bits of other cultures and religions which have been tacked on to Christianity over the years. People like to think of it as a gigantic marble monolith, but it’s really much more of a patchwork quilt.

  • Ginkgo

    “Patchwork quilt’ is the “charge” that Christiniaty is syncretic. (All religions arelike that. I prefer to say that it is not a patchqork quilt but a disguise. Judaism incorporates a lot of features and mythemes from earlier religions – circumcision, the samson story; the dietary restrictions and even monotheism itsefl may have come in from Indo-Iranian sources – but there is no questioning that it is radically different from most of them.

    I think the process you describe with Sol Invictus really happened, just that it’s not the whole story. This stuff can happen by weird conicidence. For instance Ephesus was the center of the cult of Diana, a major mother figure ultimately connected to Cybele. Well supposedly the Virgin Mary retired to Ephesus wth some of the disiciples in later years. That connects her with Diana – sort of, but not really.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Nobody except Clarence and Gingko answered my question… it was intended for the authors of the OP and whoever agrees with them.

    In light of what you have written, do you believe the Men’s Rights Movement is therefore intended mostly for non-Christians, as this thread is understood to be for non-Christians?

    Do you understand that exclusion is *not* the way to go about it? This is an organizational and thematic error. And believe me, I know what *I* am talking about. Please don’t start making the same theoretical errors that 2nd Wave feminism made, i.e.: OUT, DAMNED CHRISTIANS! NOW!

    Speaking of Mary Daly, she also oversaw the Christian purge within the Second Wave, ironically. (The only time Ignatius Press ever linked me is when I trashed Daly!) Ironic because she was working for a Jesuit university at the time (and demanding tenure!!!), and that was still regarded as acceptable. Daly uber alles!

    Please do not repeat this mistake.

    Aych on Daly, LOL.

  • http://www.avoiceformen.com Johntheother

    “, do you believe the Men’s Rights Movement is therefore intended mostly for non-Christians”
    No.
    who says we’re drumming christians out?
    If DaisyDeadhead means religion is an area which must never be critically examined, otherwise – any analysis of it equates to just a witch-hunt against christians, then she’s at best confused.

    Nobody’s ideas are so special they are held apart and free from criticism or examination. And nowhere in the original post does the text “OUT, DAMNED CHRISTIANS! NOW!” appear.

  • Ginkgo

    “Do you understand that exclusion is *not* the way to go about it? This is an organizational and thematic error. And believe me, I know what *I* am talking about. Please don’t start making the same theoretical errors that 2nd Wave feminism made, i.e.: OUT, DAMNED CHRISTIANS! NOW!”

    No shit. That’s a logical and apposite question in light of this conversation, but it is funny at the same time, given the often paleo bent of some in the MRM.

    OTOH as a Christian I know Christ is worth more than all of Christianity together, and there is no aspect of the religion or doctrine that should be allowed between to me and Jesus. Every apsect of the religion devised by humans to accomodate the experience of God to humans is expendable if it blocks that experience. This is not anti-Christian, it is anti-idolatarian.

    What question did you ask that I answered, in this snow crash of a discussion?

    And by the way,

    “Do you understand that exclusion is *not* the way to go about it? This is an organizational and thematic error. And believe me, I know what *I* am talking about. Please don’t start making the same theoretical errors that 2nd Wave feminism made, i.e.: OUT, DAMNED CHRISTIANS! NOW!”

    That’s a reasonable question, Daisy, but it’s funny too, given the paleo leanings of so many in the MRM.

    This thread is not intended only for non-Christians – that’s why I am commenting here -there is nothing in this thread to affront any Christian. Remember that Christ is worth more than the entirety of Christianity, whcih is after just our human attempt to deal with the experience of Jesus. And every aspect of Christianity and every doctrine is expendable if it blocks a person’s experience of Jesus.

    I am a little more contemptuous of people’s cherished beliefs if they get in the way of the truth, or if they enable evil. My father was raped by one or more priests back in the 40s when there was no chance for him even to tell anyone, least of all the family, let alone get any kind of proetection, let alone justice – and it was the loyalty and belief system of people just like my family that enabled and supported that coverup of that kind of crime. I really do understand how much comfort peopel derive from those beliefs, but in the end I don’t give much of a shit about their comfort.

    Scepticism is the real path of faith. It is the sword that cuts through delusion and superstition. Belief on the other hand is very often a crutch that slows you down to the point of paralysis.

  • http://www.postmasculine.com Randy

    You missed a whole bunch of misogyny when you wrote this post. Sure, you do make a valid case with the small parts of the Bible you used to make this argument, still though it doesn’t hold up when you read the other few thousand pages, at least IMO.

  • http://paddybrown.co.uk Patrick Brown

    Daisy:

    Do you understand that exclusion is *not* the way to go about it?

    What in this post or discussion do you think excludes Christians? I am aware there are certain Christians who, like certain feminists, will assume that everyone else should defer to their ideology without question as a pre-condition for their participation, but if they storm off in a huff because people are allowed to disagree with them, they’re not being excluded, they’re excluding themselves out of a sense of entitlement. I would hope most Christians would be better behaved than that.

  • Vintermann

    Gnosticism is certainly interesting in its own right. (Among other things, it is explicily and strongly sex-negative – they make Paul sound like a hedonist by comparison). But it is at best a very, very indirect influence on the ideas of early Christianity. Thomas (and later noncanonical books) paint Jesus as a gnostic, but this is simply not consistent with what we can tell from closer historical documents.

    I hate online discussions on the history of Christianity, because so many seem to think: “The Christians obviously haven’t a clue, so anything we can come up with through speculation is obviously equally good!”. Fact is, few people have better understanding of religious thought in the time period than mainstream critical protestant and catholic theologians.

    Signing off before someone links to Margaret Atwood or Freke & Gandy or something.

  • Ginkgo

    “But it is at best a very, very indirect influence on the ideas of early Christianity.”

    Yes. It was in the air, that’s all. The early church obviously contested it pretty vigorously, but war has a way of making the combartants come to resemble each other more and more.

    @Randy
    “You missed a whole bunch of misogyny when you wrote this post.”

    Whe it comes ot misogyny in the Bible, you are going to miss a whole lot of it if you write an encyclopedia, much less a blog post.

    But I don’t think the misogyny in the Bible comes out of the Eden story. The notion that sin came into the world through Eve is nowhere in the OT that I can remember, and I don’t recall Paul once mentioning the idea. That would be reckoning humanity’s descent from Eve, and reckoning descent througuh the mother was an admission of illegitimacy. So no.

    All the “sin came into the word through Eve” comes later. It’s like Pope Gregory mistakenly identifying the prostiute on one page with Mary Magdalen a page later.

  • Ginkgo

    @Patrick
    “I would hope most Christians would be better behaved than that”

    We confident ones can afford to. The cowards on the other hand get vicious and reactive.

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    “Fact is, few people have better understanding of religious thought in the time period than mainstream critical protestant and catholic theologians.”

    Which religious thought? Which time period? Which theologians? I’ve seen some frustrating mistakes in writings about the fourth-century controversies. All of us tend to write our present views into the past. It’s important to guard against that. But some authors write the conception of three divine persons [sic] into the debate, into both sides of the debate, when some of the participants wrote about two divine presences.

  • Typhonblue

    @ Randy

    There is a hierarchy in terms of which parts of the bible are integral to the faith.

    A lot more Christians believe the Virgin was pure because she was untouched by any man–and that only a Virgin could bear the son of God–then believe a tabernacle cloth _must_ be purple.

    Besides, no one is obligated to always talk about misogyny. I can guess why you feel the need to bring it up and my guess is that you think it’s a competition between misandry/misogyny in the Church and its mythology.

    And that your side is losing, somehow.

    Which sorta compels me to ask, why do you think your side is losing?

  • Ginkgo

    @Marja

    ““Fact is, few people have better understanding of religious thought in the time period than mainstream critical protestant and catholic theologians.”
    Which religious thought? Which time period? Which theologians?”

    Yes, all of that. God catch, Marja; thank you. The actual fact is that partisan theologians, which whoever made that comment you are responding to identifies them as, are bound to have their understanding colored by their partisan views. I imagine an Ethiopian or a Coptic theologian would have a rather different understanding.

  • http://Titfortat6.blogspot.com Titfortat

    The entire mythos is predicated on a Virgin Birth that excludes men. That alone makes it misandrous. And really, really creepy.(TB)

    My 15yr old daughter just pointed something out to me when I commented on this idea. She said, \”Dad, isnt God supposed to be a man\”?, Good point., lol. :)

  • Typhonblue

    @ Titfortat

    Then why didn’t He use His Penis?

    And if God never uses His Penis, why have it? If He’s a masculine energy without a masculine sexuality… how does that improve the mythos and make it less misandrous?

    Can you remove masculine sexuality from masculine energy and have some sort of coherent… something?

  • http://Titfortat6.blogspot.com Titfortat

    My daughter(Cheyenne) just made an interesting point. If a person is born into the body of a woman but knows to their core that they are a man does that make them any less masculine because they dont have a penis?
    I personally dont see it as misandry. Though I could be wrong on this one(wouldnt be the first time)

  • Typhonblue

    @ TitforTat

    Then I guess that’s the argument for God being a trans man. Although, to be quite honest, God isn’t a man. I think that’s pretty explicitly stated somewhere.

    And if Jesus’s birth was without original sin because he was not conceived via PIV and Mary was pure because she was untouched by a man… you don’t see the misandry in that?

    However what I was getting at with my original statement is that the misandry isn’t necessarily inherent in the myth, it’s inherent in the desire _to remove the other sex from the equation_.

  • dungone

    In light of what you have written, do you believe the Men’s Rights Movement is therefore intended mostly for non-Christians, as this thread is understood to be for non-Christians?

    @Daisy, first of all you’re not even a Men’s Right Activist so I don’t even know, either way, what that would have to do with you personally even if that were the case. You shouldn’t feel excluded by things you don’t want to be a part of – that would just be weird.

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of the writings within the greater men’s rights movement, there is a very broad range of points of view. You’ve got liberals and conservatives, atheists and theists, and they all seem to tolerate one another. So I really don’t think that it poses much of a problem.

    Coincidentally, the vast majority of atheists are men, so I feel that they should definitely have a voice within men’s issues. That wouldn’t make it an atheistic movement, though. In fact, a lot of atheist men and women have chosen to support feminism, instead, so what does that say?

  • dungone

    Can you remove masculine sexuality from masculine energy and have some sort of coherent… something?

    Not without begging the question. People who don’t see why this is problematic might have already accepted masculinity as problematic, so a male god who doesn’t do any of the male bits could seem perfectly reasonable to them – in fact desirable. Which brings up a rhetorical question – if Christianity were to posit that god is a woman but without the breasts or a vagina and the only way for her to create a divine offspring was to use something else other than her own womb – perhaps a holy mist into which a virtuous man should ejaculate – then what?

  • typhonblue

    “People who don’t see why this is problematic might have already accepted masculinity as problematic”

    Well yeah. Taking masculine sexuality out of masculinity and saying that isn’t misandrous because… trans men don’t have penises.

    Is like saying FGM isn’t misogynist because trans women don’t have clitorises.

    And the other thing is… Trans men have a male sexuality, do they not? They sexually desire men or women as men would, and this desire itself is what, at the very least, St. Augustine found extremely problematic. And I’m sure the bible said something about committing adultery with the mind.

    Regarding your imaginary female God. It would be as if She turned a man’s ejaculate into a full term baby, people called that child ‘born without sin’ and then declared that this miraculous thing happened to that man because he had never been touched by a woman, thus was pure and virtuous.

    The baby then grew up into a woman, who never engaged in any sexual aspect of femininity, and died on the cross for the sins of other women.

    And one of their seminal thinkers then went on to say that it’s the involvement of vaginas in procreation that makes the whole reproductive thing a vector of sin between generations.

    But women _are_ afforded a spiritual identity. They are the ‘head of the husband as Christina is the head of the Church and sacrifice for him as Christina sacrificed for the Church.’

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Patrick: What in this post or discussion do you think excludes Christians?

    What DOESN\’T? The fact anybody could ask me this is amazing. The origins presented here are not the Biblical origins, you realize? When I reminded people that Jesus was a Jew, it was regarded of no consequence… and as I wrote HERE (linking only because it is too long to write the whole damn thing again) http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2009/01/more-on-israel-gaza-antisemitism-and.html
    that is a central tenet and theological factor for southern Christians… their view of Christianity is not an academic one, and an academic background and attitude is necessary to interact with this post.

  • Ginkgo

    “that is a central tenet and theological factor for southern Christians… their view of Christianity is not an academic one,…”

    …nor is it any way a mainstream one.

    “When I reminded people that Jesus was a Jew, it was regarded of no consequence…”

    That is true. That has also almost always been the attitude in the Western, Eastern and Oriental Churches – because it is basically incidental to the crucifixion and the resurrection – Jesus’ redeeming death – the core of the faith.

    It is American Protestants, and a specific slice of Protestants, who make such a big deal out of ancient Israel. First it was the Puritans, and that ended up as Manifest Destiny, Mormonism and the Christian Identity phase of the White Power movement. It’s not something I choose to celebrate, or even respect very much. And it has come under a lot of scrutiny from Jews, who have a lot of experience with what happens when this or another group of Gentiles gets too fascinated with the Jews.

    “that is a central tenet and theological factor for southern Christians… their view of Christianity is not an academic one, and an academic background and attitude is necessary to interact with this post.”

    That, and the basic honesty to look at ideas are necessary to interact with the post. But I bet there are lots of other Southern Christians who are to quite so wound up about this. The black churches do not seem to anything like the same level of Israelolatry as these Christians you are talking about, in fact they often have a rather different view of Israel.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Dungone: @Daisy, first of all you’re not even a Men’s Right Activist so I don’t even know, either way, what that would have to do with you personally even if that were the case.

    Um, as I wrote the last time(s) you asked me some variation of this question (and did you read my answers at that time? How many more times will you ask the same questions and pointedly neglect my response?): I am a lifelong activist and historian of political movements. I speak in that vein. I know what mistakes young movements can easily (and unintentionally) make. Like the gay poet wrote, I was the man, I suffered, I was there.

    It was advice. If you think I am talking out of my ass, disregard.

    Dungone: You shouldn’t feel excluded by things you don’t want to be a part of – that would just be weird.

    (((reads back))). When did I complain about being excluded? Hello? Quote please?

    Exasperated aside: MOST of my responses to Dungone consist of some version of “Quote please?”–since he (deliberately?) reads all kinds of stuff into my words that simply isn’t there. This is an excellent example, so pay attention: I complain that certain men might be excluded, and he wonders why *I* am complaining about MYSELF. (?)

    Where on earth could somebody get that out of what I said, I have no idea. But he does that to my comments ALL. THE. TIME. No reading comprehension or deliberately misreading? You be the judge.

    Dungone, I am talking about the exclusion of groups of people. Not myself personally.

    There is NO social movement (right, left, all races, all genders, all religions, all countries on planet earth) that has NOT been guilty of exclusion. If you want to get it right, you have to deal with this, because the strongest opposition (and the best arguments) will come from those who have been excluded. As of course, Trotsky is the best and most famous example in history. The Gang of Four are a close second.

    Dungone: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of the writings within the greater men’s rights movement, there is a very broad range of points of view. You’ve got liberals and conservatives, atheists and theists, and they all seem to tolerate one another. So I really don’t think that it poses much of a problem.

    I see the exact opposite, so that is interesting. Perhaps I am attuned to future-splintering and factionalism, since I have witnessed it so much, but I see the whole Men’s movement as very divided and not unified AT ALL.

    There are several fault-lines, and religion is a major one. LGBT/straight is another. I find it interesting that so many of these fault-lines also divided early feminism.

    Dungone: Coincidentally, the vast majority of atheists are men, so I feel that they should definitely have a voice within men’s issues. That wouldn’t make it an atheistic movement, though. In fact, a lot of atheist men and women have chosen to support feminism, instead, so what does that say?

    “Instead”? There is no either/or. One can be feminist (or anti-feminist) and hold any theological or non-theological position simultaneously. Madalyn Murray O’Hair told me HERSELF (when I interviewed her in, I think, 1978) that she was a radical feminist. Most people probably didn’t know that about her, since that was not the focus she preferred.

    But see, already, you delineate a position that has the innate potential to cause a HUGE split within the men’s movement. The fact that you hold so tightly to that position, means others do also; this is highly-combustible, as it was in the Second Wave.

    Certainly, you are free to disregard the old lady advice, of course, as you usually make a point of disregarding my posts, at least when you are not deliberately misreading them to turn me into Queen Bitch (apologies to Bowie).

  • Ginkgo

    “Dungone, I am talking about the exclusion of groups of people. Not myself personally. ”

    Daisy, I took this as your main point, and I absolutley agree. When it comes to the South and gender equality and gender issues in general, the main dragon to slay is chivalry. That battle will be so bloody and protracted that people’s religious feelings will be forgotten off to the side. Religion goes to their sense of social order but chivalry is fundamental to their gender identity.

  • Ginkgo

    “…. turn me into Queen Bitch (apologies to Bowie).”

    And don’t worry about that happening, Daisy – I’m the only queen I allow around here.

  • dungone

    @Daisy, what you don’t see, but I do, is that your objection to this post is deeply rooted in your own personal biases.:

    Underline the word MYTHOLOGY… The price of admission to this thread is non-Christianity, then?

    Simply put, the post does not exclude anyone in any way except from one particular perspective – and that perspective is that Christianity must not be discussed from any angle other than the one which has been accepted by Christians themselves. Simply put, the Christian word for mythology is Truth, and what you’re saying is that anyone who approaches the subject from a humanistic perspective is offending you. Do people have to accept Christianity as the Truth in order to discuss it openly? If not, then mythology is the most precise, correct term to use.

    Furthermore, I just want to add that I’ve encountered this sort of pushback from Christians from the day that I deconverted. Your objections – your very advice – is actually exclusionary to non-believers. And to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think it’s tenable for any successful social movement to ignore secularists going forward. Already, 26% of Americans born after 1980 are non-believers. So my take on all of this is that I actually agree with you in principle – a good social movement has to be inclusive. But I disagree with you in terms of who is being excluded, at least right at this moment.

  • Schala

    “Already, 26% of Americans born after 1980 are non-believers. So my take on all of this is that I actually agree with you in principle – a good social movement has to be inclusive. But I disagree with you in terms of who is being excluded, at least right at this moment.”

    In Quebec province and other secular non-fundamentalism space, the trend is majorly towards non-religiosity.

    In the 1950s, Maurice Duplessis, Premier of the province, has majorly abused of the power of the Church to demonize his opponents. The power of Communism to say his opponents were evil, and so on.

    After over 15 years of his reign (he died in 1959 while Premier, of natural causes AFAIK), the province took a MAJOR turn leftwards. Almost making socialism mandatory with universal healthcare and welfare for all (not just single parents). It took a major turn to the left of politics.

    To us Even Obama is right-wing, because we are very left of center compared to others. The governing party calls itself right-center and we call it right. Because it benefits the rich more than the poor.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    Daisy:

    I’m fairly sympathetic to you in this case. I think a lot of what you’re saying is getting fairly well ignored and I don’t think there’s a very good reason for that. I also agree with you on the fault lines and disunity within the men’s movement and the fallout that is likely to result from them. I think more people within the movement need to be recognizing and talking about these things (real self-criticism may also do something to cut some external attacks off at the pass and render a few of their major opponents obsolete). I think that most MRAs are completely unwilling to acknowledge their own resemblance to feminism and are failing to learn some very important lessons as a result. I am generally disappointed with them on this point, as well as on the regularity with which they fail to properly control, conceal and modulate their anger. I feel like the entire social justice scene has become so convinced they deserve to be listened to that they’ve forgotten actual communication and presentation strategy.

    On the other hand, part of your objection seems to just be “don’t do anthropology, it might offend people”. I kind of like anthropology. If you try to stop me from talking about it, I will go underground and establish an urban crime-empire dealing illegal copies of Victor Turner essays. Then I will start a rap career and white suburbanites will start feeling afraid of quiet, unassuming men with thick glasses and tweed suits (this takes place in an era where academics look like people thought they did decades before I was born). It will all be very avant garde.

    I think a lot of the arguing in this thread would be averted or cleared up if you were all more careful to identify the specific branches of Christianity you’re talking about, especially in relation to the contemporary church. They aren’t any more likely to be replaced by a hole in the film adaptation (more convenient for squid-rape) than anyone else.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Dungone, I am not Christian, you know that, right?

    Or again, have you not been reading?

    Dungone: Your objections – your very advice – is actually exclusionary to non-believers.

    Again, your comment proves that religion (as a potentially-divisive faction) is highly-combustible.

    Deal with it now, or deal with a movement-schism of (haha) Biblical proportions.

    What you don’t understand: Arguing with me is merely shooting the messenger.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Hiding, you nailed it here: I think that most MRAs are completely unwilling to acknowledge their own resemblance to feminism and are failing to learn some very important lessons as a result. I am generally disappointed with them on this point, as well as on the regularity with which they fail to properly control, conceal and modulate their anger.

    Yes, you said it better than I could.

    The two movements are far more alike than I ever knew, and it is this great similarity that makes me want to sound the alarms! Thank you for getting my points.

  • Ginkgo

    Daisy, Hiding, may i have permission to post your comments as an article? You are both saying something very important.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Gingko, I would be honored.

    I recently had an experience I am not eager to share, but it made me much more sympathetic to the MRA position. I do think it is likely a “corrective” to the feminist ‘pendulum swinging’, so to speak.

    I now believe we need both movements (to keep each other honest!), and I didn’t used to think so.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    Ginko:
    Sure, any time.

    Daisy:
    I’m inclined to agree with you. Two wrongs may work out to at least a neutral in this case, and I hope that having the crazies at each other’s throats will make it easier for people who actually know what they’re doing to take charge. At the very least, it should shake up some people who have gotten very lazy in recent years.

  • typhonblue

    @ Daisy

    To be honest I don’t think the MRM _needs_ the Church. After all it’s doing what Christian congregations have been failing to do for a very long time. Attract the interest and investment of young men.

    Without young men, eventually young women will disappear as well.

    As for the MRM looking like feminism… well now, feminism was actually successful. Further I have yet to see a consistent belief in the MRM about blaming women for society and its problems in the same way that feminists blame society on men. Or embracing victimhood as an identity rather then a transitory state.

    As for the anger. IMHO it is justified.

    Another thing to consider is that there is a group of men who believe something similar to what radical feminists believe, and that’s Manhood101. They aren’t even given space at the table in any MRA forum I’ve been apart of. They’re treated like spam.

  • Ginkgo

    “I now believe we need both movements (to keep each other honest!), and I didn’t used to think so.”

    Daisy, I don’t think feminism’s work is done and I don’t think we can do without it. that’s why it is so vitally importnat for feminsts like oyu to reform the movement, and fortunatley you are getting more and more of a hearing.

    I also don’t think it is the job of feminists to address men’s rights issues. They have a place at the table, but it’s not their fight. They do offer a successful model for action, as Typhon points out.

    On the issue of anger, I am very uncomfortable with the idea of modulating that to suit feminists or other women. Women silencing men’s emotional expression is as big an isue in the MRM as men repressing women’s sexual expression was in feminism. You don’t dismantle sexism by re-inforcing it. Where men’s anger bothers women, the right answer is empathy, not defensiveness.

    And I am going to work this up into a post. This question doesn’t get much attention.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Gingko,

    Historically, though, women have been taught to fear men’s anger. There is the unpleasant fact that some of us have been physically brutalized by angry fathers or husbands.

    Whether “justified” or not, this is why I think most women tune men’s anger out and will not engage. It is seen as having a different and more serious result than women’s anger (which is regarded by men as mostly just noise/hysteria) than men’s does. Whether true or not, these are the emotions that must be dealt with.

    TB: To be honest I don’t think the MRM _needs_ the Church. After all it’s doing what Christian congregations have been failing to do for a very long time.

    And is that for you to say? Or for the Christian men to say?

    (shakes head) TB, I think we live in really different worlds. I live among working class southerners; black, white, and Latino. If you question the importance of their religion, they will simply stop paying attention. Christianity is in their bones. To them, you would be asking them to give up their identity as southerners/Latinos also. I don’t think you have any idea how fierce they are about it, how deeply this runs in their souls. After all, you have never attended church with them, have you? You have never been in their Sunday School classes. You have probably never had any passionate, ongoing discussions (like, for years) with any of them.

    To them, you are describing cutting their hearts out.

    Your post is like reading a dispatch from Scandinavia. Yes, I’m sure it’s very nice and enlightened where you are… but it simply has no relationship to where *I* am.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    TB: To be honest I don’t think the MRM _needs_ the Church.

    I just read this phrase out loud to the three men currently in the room with me. Asked them what they thought. (Only one is Christian.)

    They unanimously think this means: Christians not welcome. If the MRM doesn’t need the Church, it doesn’t need the men closely-associated with it. Right?

    And that is a huge number you are writing off, at least in these parts.

    That’s what I said about this thread being exclusionary. At least you are admitting that is your agenda.

  • Ginkgo

    “Historically, though, women have been taught to fear men’s anger. There is the unpleasant fact that some of us have been physically brutalized by angry fathers or husbands.”

    You don’t think men grow up in fear of women’s anger? I know you know better than that. Little boys get knocked around by women all the time, physically and emotionally, both at home and at school, with no break that a girl might get from going to school. (Of course she may be getting the same beating from women too.)But we are also taught that:

    1. We are pussies if we quail before it.
    2. We are brutes if we move to protect ouselves from it, and face severe legal and criminal repercussions from state actors if we do.
    3. That women are justified in their anger and we have no right to second-guess them on that.

    Now that sounds all negative but you can see how the basis is reasonable. All I am asking for is a little equality in the matter, especially point #1. When it comes to trembling before men’s anger, women need ot woman up and deal with ti the way have to deal with women’s anger.

    As for the felt fear – we always have to look for cultural programming. When you have sick feminine roles in this society that emphaize victiomhood and frailty – see also The Beauty Myth (I know, I know, Naomi Wolfe….) – you see how this business of felt fear is problematic, may be a form of sexism in itself.

    “TB: To be honest I don’t think the MRM _needs_ the Church.
    I just read this phrase out loud to the three men currently in the room with me. Asked them what they thought. (Only one is Christian.)
    They unanimously think this means: Christians not welcome. If the MRM doesn’t need the Church, it doesn’t need the men closely-associated with it. Right? ”

    I quite understand that interpreation. i just don’t buy it. You might ask them how welcoming of Catholics a movement going after the hierarchy for covering up child rape would be. I don’t thin you’d have to ask Catholics by the way.

    Christians may well feel the church is not welcome. Screw the church, they are supposed to be followers of Christ, not his corrupt, human, selfish Bride of Christ that seriously needs to get a TPO served on her abusive ass. Actually the MRM may not need the church, but the church definitely needs the MRM, or it is going to turn into a cluster of PK types and knots of old women mumbling novenas, or the Protestant equivalent, and mommy-hubbies going just for the social connection.

  • typhonblue

    @ Daisy

    Male membership in the Church is declining. There is no other way I can say this.

    It may not be declining where you are, for whatever reason, but it is declining.

    In fact it’s in free-fall.

    The Church can shove it’s head in the sand over this issue, or it can look at why.

    No skin off my nose either way because I have seen how, time and time again, a passionate minority of people can change the opinions of the majority.

    Christianity itself started as a passionate minority.

    Consider that.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    TB: It may not be declining where you are, for whatever reason, but it is declining.

    It isn’t declining here at all. It is changing radically, though, and that may be read as a decline in academic circles.

    The change is actually a mutation, and the mutation will preserve the church, as all the past-mutations have. (That’s why there are periodic reforms/mutations.)

    What is happening is that mainstream denominations are losing members (with the exception of the the Catholic Church in the USA, which has been growing steadily due to Latino immigration). Younger people seem to prefer free-wheeling, non-denominational churches and Pentecostal/Assemblies of God type churches that do not “count” them so closely. (some of these non-denoms are so off-the-radar that they do not even submit membership information) Or they go to non-denominational mega-churches that do not get directly in their business. Either way, the major difference is that people are looking for an “experience” of worship, a spiritual immersion, an emotional connection with God and other Christians, not the old school. Even more than that, they want a social life to go with it, and these new churches have lots of prayer groups (as I said about the Promise Keepers), dating services and social activities to get involved in. People move around a lot these days, and these churches have enviable networks of support for new-arrivals, single parents, widows/widowers, stressed care-givers and so on. Some of the social services in the mega-churches can rival anything from the government.

    Lots of outreach to prisons, guarantees a lot of men will be involved. This has been made a priority, as it is in the Nation of Islam.

    Along these lines, Pentecostalism is GAINING members at a breakneck pace, especially Latino males. This marks a radically-different approach to worship, the advent of ‘praise music’ and men who stand up and wave their arms in church and emote openly; that stuff. Its very emotional, and that is one reason I think it is attracting males. This is a place emotionalism in men is acceptable. (I often hear women approvingly describe men who are emotional in church, as they wouldn’t if he were emotional anyplace else.)

    Pentecostalism went from 12 million in 1970, to 600 million now. That is astounding.

    I also have a whole theory about Pentecostalism appealing specifically to Latinos, who have a “sacramental” approach they learned in the Catholic Church… the whole 2nd Chapter of Acts thing, the talking in tongues, this becomes the new sacrament, the “baptism by fire”… as a result, these churches inspire an amazing loyalty in their adherents. It is a whole new type of Christianity. It is not necessarily right or left wing and is stylistic and deals with the whole person: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/august/newkindpentecostal.html

    It is a MUTATION of mainstream Christianity.

    I notice that Pentecostalism is not very big in Canada. Perhaps it goes against the rather “reserved” national character, or maybe it just hasn’t reached there yet. But with 600 million worldwide, there are less than 300,000 are in Canada. This tells me that Canadians are probably not too aware of this sea-change in working-class Christianity, and how it is being adapted for modern needs.

    But lots of working class men find THIS new type of Christianity crucial to their lives. It isn’t the old school, it is a new thing. MRAs write them off at their peril.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Gingko: Screw the church, they are supposed to be followers of Christ, not his corrupt, human, selfish Bride of Christ that seriously needs to get a TPO served on her abusive ass.

    What they want is to go to a place and be transported elsewhere, out of ordinary reality. They want psychedelics without taking the drugs.

    I think liturgy once did that for people, but now, folks want to participate themselves, not be sung to by chorales and liturgists and priests. They want to be *part* of it.

    These new “praise” churches can sing and “worship” for long periods, no preaching. The emphasis is on the ecstasy and the communion.

    I expect more and more men, not fewer, as TB does. But only this “new” kind of worship, not the mainstream churches.

    It’s what I see all around me.

  • typhonblue

    @ Daisy

    “I expect more and more men, not fewer, as TB does. But only this “new” kind of worship, not the mainstream churches.”

    Well, let’s find out. :)

    I predict that once the men’s rights gnosis finds a stirring mythology… we might see some very interesting times.

  • Paul

    Gingko: On the issue of anger, I am very uncomfortable with the idea of modulating that to suit feminists or other women. Women silencing men’s emotional expression is as big an isue in the MRM as men repressing women’s sexual expression was in feminism. You don’t dismantle sexism by re-inforcing it. Where men’s anger bothers women, the right answer is empathy, not defensiveness.”

    Oh you are so right. Perfect esample is the comment thread on this post at GMP http://goodmenproject.com/men-and-feminism/mens-stories-in-context-why-feminism-belongs-at-the-gmp/

    It’s about halfway down, Joannna let’s loose with a comment detailling all the ways men have been assholes to her… and the entire thread basically stops while they all hasten to apologize to her for upsetting her.

  • dungone

    @Daisy
    – 2nd Wave feminism didn’t fail because of atheism or religion – it failed because of itself. Also keep in mind, atheists are no longer the scapegoats of the Cold War.
    – If you knew O’Hair personally, then you should know that her views have been vindicated over the years. She saw the way to make her movement a successful one and her approach started paying dividends when enough people embraced it.
    – FYI, back in the 90’s when I had become self-aware as an atheist and she was still alive, her message resonated with me and through her I viewed radical feminism in a positive light.
    – It was the feminist theists and their apologists who first alerted me to the intellectual weakness within feminism. After all, they were against the patriarchy but actively propped up religions that they felt were patriarchal. At best, they would invent ridiculous goddess-worship cults as an alternative but I did not see the difference.
    – Feminists, I feel, are on the brink of tearing the atheist community apart. The movement was really fine without them and many women had started to join up. Many women who didn’t hate men and enjoyed being free of dogma. But then groups like Skepchicks sprang up and the White Knights came out of the woodwork, started a whole bunch of ridiculous arguments and generally did everything humanly possible to sour any sense of purpose or unity that had been growing up until then. I feel that a similar dynamic of intellectual dishonesty must have bogged down the second wave.
    – MRM is not ideologically bound the way feminism is. Disagreements do not push activists away, they draw them in. Most of the MRM doesn’t even identify with the MRM per se and they don’t feel the need to. There are surprisingly few tenets, there isn’t a particular worldview. It’s really just about recognizing men’s vulnerability in our society and pointing out that feminists have gotten their theories wrong.
    – The only thing that MRM needs to agree upon is that White Knighting and female entitlement is bad. Nobody generally cares why someone supports things such as shared parenting and men’s reproductive rights, so long as they do. This is in stark contrast with feminism, where the reason for supporting something is the only thing that matters.
    – Example of exclusion: men only support birth control so they can get in your pants.
    – Counter Example from the MRM: a commenter on another blog said that he would vote for anyone, regardless of political party, so long as they supported fathers’ rights.
    – Introspection for men does not seem to be a problem the way it is for feminism – they recognize the caustic nature of men they term “White Knights” and generally don’t blame everything on women the way feminsits blame everything on men or maleness.
    – There are no central tenets and frameworks such as “The Patriarchy” that anyone is asked to buy into. It’s a reform oriented movement, not an ideological movement. It mostly wants some practical changes in the way men are treated and to correct some misconceptions.
    – MRM won’t need to invent “Kyriarchy” 50 years into their movement in order to shore up their ideology against the rising tide of evidence against it.
    – MRM generally doesn’t have the inter-generational rift that feminism has long suffered from. Lack of self-criticism has caused such a rift between mothers and daughters who are both incapable of putting their finger on women’s own culpability even as they screw each other over.
    – Men may have ideological differences, but men’s issues are largely bringing them together in a fairly successful manner, rather than the ideological differences tearing them apart.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    TB:
    Whether the MRM “needs” Christianity or not, it is bad policy to alienate people unnecessarily. There are a lot of little tricks you can use to make your arguments appear less confrontational and threatening to people and I think it would be a good idea not to underestimate the difference that can make in the way people listen to you. I would suggest framing criticism exclusively in terms of specific figures or doctrines, rather than in terms of the religion as a whole, and relying as heavily as possible on direct statements from Christians when it comes to interpretation (it will significantly strengthen your argument in addition to making it less off-putting). People are much more willing to listen and consider your points when you make it clear that they are not under direct attack. In a similar vein, you could be more hospitable in your phrasing when you talk about the MRM not needing the church. Little things like that can go a long way, and it’s very bad policy to dismiss potential allies out of hand.

    Ginko:
    When I refer to controlling and modulating anger, I do not mean simply repressing it all. Activism is, at its heart, a kind of performance, and anger can be a valuable tool on that stage. However, any tool can be misused and I think a lot of people in the MRM are following in the footsteps of feminism and employing their anger unwisely and in a manner which is ultimately counterproductive. The major voices in the MRM need to seriously crack down on insults, ad hominem attacks and sarcasm, and they need to urge the community around them to do the same.

    The social norms you mention combined with doctrines common among third wave feminists have made the biggest voices of the feminist movement unskilled and unaware when it comes to this type of control, and that is a weakness which can be easily exploited.

    Modern activists of all stripes have convinced themselves that it is sufficient to hurl angry speeches. I was told only yesterday that people talking about social justice issues don’t need to do anything to make their arguments more appealing, that feeling offended and threatened by their rhetoric is always the fault of the listener (the hypocrisy here is astounding), and that any attempt to employ an oblique approach or get people involved without spewing fire and brimstone is “cowardly”. These people are bad at their jobs and they’ve forfeited advantages that will allow anyone who puts more thought into their presentation and less into their god-given right to be loud and angry to outflank and eclipse them with ease.

    It isn’t enough to be angry, justified or not. It isn’t even enough to be right. Anyone who can accurately be described as a major figure in the MRM needs to eat, sleep and breath strategy.

    Daisy:
    Personally, I react to angry, shouting women in the exact same way you describe women reacting to angry, shouting men, and I think a small but growing number of younger men are doing the same. When I hear the kind of angry diatribe that has become so commonplace, I completely disengage and distance myself from the person making it. I think that a failure to account for this explains some of the difficulties feminism is having right now, and I think it will cause them far greater problems in the future.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    Dungone:
    Your problem is that you’re comparing the nascent MRM to a feminism which has been around for much, much longer (two centuries, if you reckon back to Wollstonecraft). You won’t find all of the same problems there now, but I definitely see the seeds that will become those problems if MRAs don’t recognize them and take precautions.

  • dungone

    (Sorry guys – I wrote all those disparate points this morning but I don’t have access to this website at work – the bullet points ended up looking awful but I didn’t know until after it posted.)

    @Daisy, I’m really intrigued by some of your more recent observations so I’ll try to give you the atheist explanations of what’s really going on.

    The change is actually a mutation, and the mutation will preserve the church, as all the past-mutations have. (That’s why there are periodic reforms/mutations.)

    In reality, religion has been slowly losing ground for a long time and religious revivals haven’t reversed the overall trend. Mutations or not, religion has been on the “give” side of the give and take for a long time. Some people explain religious revivals as a radicalization of remaining members after moderates leave. I suppose that if religion is prominent enough, it could cause a boomerang effect that brings people back into the fold, but not if the religion is already too weak. There are a couple different avenues of secularization besides just church attendance. For instance there’s been a process of laicization of social and community services to government and private enterprise whereby the church becomes just one institution of many. There’s very little that a revival can do to reverse that.

    Younger people seem to prefer free-wheeling, non-denominational churches and Pentecostal/Assemblies of God type churches that do not “count” them so closely. (some of these non-denoms are so off-the-radar that they do not even submit membership information) Or they go to non-denominational mega-churches that do not get directly in their business.

    That’s already been happening for a long time outside of the Bible Belt and it’s just a symptom of decline. If you really want to understand it, start following the money. The megachurches are a response to failed local churches who can’t keep up their attendance and fall into disrepair. The megachurches are transient in nature – they have very high turnover rates. There’s a reason why they seem like they’re so “free wheeling” Eventually there won’t be enough smaller churches for the megachurches to feed off of and they will fail, too. In some parts of the country that’s already started to happen. What young theists really want are to be around other young people – women leave the smaller churches because they get desperate for marriageable men (I have lots of bemusing stories of my college “dating experiments” with megachurch girls. Yes, they will even try to convert an atheist to find a husband!). They want a place to marry, to bring their babies, etc., that doesn’t look like the roof is going to fall in on their heads. For a lot of them it’s just a pit stop for a couple of years before they abandon religion, for others it’s a place where they go until the find a more permanent church.

    But lots of working class men find THIS new type of Christianity crucial to their lives. It isn’t the old school, it is a new thing. MRAs write them off at their peril.

    I seriously doubt it’s any sort of a peril. Even if you include immigrants, the overall religiousness is dropping. If you look at 2nd or 3rd generation Americans, it’s dropping. If you look around the world where they’re coming from, it’s dropping there, too. Honestly, I doubt most guys even care enough to go to church just to get laid, even when they know they could.

  • Schala

    “I notice that Pentecostalism is not very big in Canada. Perhaps it goes against the rather “reserved” national character, or maybe it just hasn’t reached there yet. But with 600 million worldwide, there are less than 300,000 are in Canada. This tells me that Canadians are probably not too aware of this sea-change in working-class Christianity, and how it is being adapted for modern needs. ”

    Quebec province is a big 25% of Canada. As I said above, French-Canadians (pretty much all of them) have been majorly turned off of religion. Those who were Catholics by tradition for hundreds of years (my ancesters included), have shunned it in favor of no other religion. The generation of my parents have been brought up in a screw religion mindset, and my generation (the next one) have been brought up in a mindset where religion doesn’t even have a place. Where Christmas isn’t about Jesus, it’s about gifts and cards and eating turkey, meat pies and the likes, while getting drunk with family you only see once a year – nothing more. Christmas is just a paid day off, if you’re lucky, part of a paid holiday off.

    On the positive side, right-wing positions as espoused in the US regarding abortion and contraception are considered moronic clearly outdated and morally bankrupt positions to adopt (Harper knows its political suicide, even with his majority, to even bring it up seriously). On the negative side, while feminism is even stronger here than in the US, there is no movement that has traction for men’s rights, thus their issues get no representation, they get tarred with the same brush as those MRAs in the US: reactionaries who whine for no reason except maybe a loss of privilege, no actual grievances, like wanting DV shelters for their group or a re-sorting of who has children post-divorce to a more neutral stance.

  • Ginkgo

    “who whine for no reason except maybe a loss of privilege, no actual grievances, like wanting DV shelters for their group or a re-sorting of who has children post-divorce to a more neutral stance’

    that what you really menat to say? Do you really think equal parenting rights and equa; access to services for DV are privielges, and complaining about being denied them is whining? Those are basic human and civil rights.

  • Schala

    “that what you really menat to say? Do you really think equal parenting rights and equa; access to services for DV are privielges, and complaining about being denied them is whining? Those are basic human and civil rights.”

    Those are seen by Quebec feminists as mere excuses. The same as US online feminists, who happen to think it seldom happens to men, that men are rich enough, men do not fear for their safety unlike women, men can go away, etc, so they do not need shelters or funding. It’s all false really.

  • Ginkgo

    Oh, I see. I don’t doubt it one minute. It’s the old “rights for me but none for thee” bullshit. Fuck them, with a chainsaw. What human dreck they are. Dehumanizing, objectifying dreck.

  • Typhonblue

    @hiding

    The MRM will grow regardless of the actions of it’s ‘leaders’. If they started speaking in tongues I doubt it would do a thing to slow the growth.

    This is because the growth has nothing to do with the leadership and everything to do with the fact that only the MRM offers men an identity free of shame.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Schala, um, what did anything in your comment have to do with Pentecostals (what you quoted from me)? You do realize there are both right and left wing Pentecostals? African American Pentecostals churches can be very liberal. (You probably don’t have a single one of those in Canada, right?) Was your comment really addressed to someone else or what?

    Dungone, you responded to the megachurch thing (and I largely agree with many of your points), but not my comments about the new popularity of Pentecostalism since the 70s. This is because (as an atheist) you are on the outside looking in and do not understand the draw on any personal level. I personally think its because of the 60s-70s popularity of psychedelics (includes reefer), ever since I saw the movie about hippie evangelist Lonnie Frisbee. (“Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher”) Young people wanted to replicate psychedelic ecstasy in their real lives.

    I seem to remember that you are VERY anti-drug (and rather nasty about it, if memory serves), so I guess you have never taken LSD or anything like that, but it can set up a very powerful pull towards the transcendent. (Keep in mind, not making the argument “for or against”, just an observation.) Lots of kids went to ashrams in the 70s after taking acid.. but those who did not, often became “Jesus freeks” like Frisbee. No coincidence that the rise of Pentecostalism started at this time. Just IMHO.

    Hiding, thanks for understanding my points. You always do, and I am in your debt. :)

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    BTW Gingko, you might enjoy the movie! Frisbee was crucial to the beginnings of Calvary Chapel and then was “written out” of official histories after his death from AIDS.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonnie_Frisbee

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonnie_Frisbee#Frisbee:_The_Life_and_Death_of_a_Hippie_Preacher

    I personally believe that evangelism is an art like any other… whatever it is I do when I read the Tarot, that’s it too. Its the same thing. (Executed correctly, it means people are happy and more assured when they leave you than when they arrive.) Frisbee had the magic touch. I think it is fascinating so many priests and preachers are gay; I think that is because a certain winsome charisma is necessary to connect with people. (Its living up to the insane moral demands of the gig, that they can’t handle).

    Its the same reason I compulsively watch Joel Osteen! http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2011/06/joel-osteen-faster-horses.html

    Warning, the Lonnie Frisbee movie-music sucks BAD. I really, really dislike Christian “rock” music, or whatever that crap is. I really wanted to mute it, but the narration is woven in with the music.

    And they sold a whole soundtrack of that shit!

  • Ginkgo

    “Its the same reason I compulsively watch Joel Osteen! ”

    Me too. Cute as hell.

    Daisy, you brought up a good poitn re: “prasie” type worship, as attracting male worshippers. That is true and it is very, very interesting, because praise music has a very female vibe to it. It is very emotional adoration music, and it really reminds me of the bhakti stuff in Hinduism, Krishna.

    I saw something form someone complaining about the frankly sensual character of a woman singing praise music. Now there’s someone who doesn’t understand the Bridegroom imagery in the Gospels. It reminds me of something an Indian mystic named Tula said, that God is the only man and the rest of creation is a woman. I doubt that particualr formulation would go over very well with those male prasie worshippers, but I would like to ask them if Jesus their Bridegroom.

    I don’t agree that Pentacostalism is spreading among Mexicans at the wildifre rate I see it happening – all you have to do is look at personal names and it if it is OT, that’s a Pentacostal – becaue of some kind of emotionalism inherited form Catholicism. Pentacostalism is not emotionalist as bottom, it is shamanistic. That is a very good place to start anyone’s spirtual practice – direct experience. no wonder it’s popular. Peopp do it ofr awhile and then move on to other things, and Evnagelicalism is one, and that too is just a stage. It’s pretty much based in the Sun belt and is as much a repsonse to the experience of dislocation as anything else.

    Your point on gay ministers is very well taken. Probably gays are over-represented in that. I haven’t figured out what that menas.

    Evangelsim is a form of salesmanship, but I don’t know why gays would be so particularly effective or drawn to that, or any other kind of ministry. But there is still that pattern. The conventional wisdom is there is no such thing as straight Baptist music director.

  • http://paddybrown.co.uk Patrick Brown

    This discussion sparks a memory from my misspent youth as a “charismatic” Christian (like Pentecostal, but more middle-class). The church I went to had a worship band, guitars and synthesizers and drums and singers, who led the congregation in singing contemporary worship songs – objectively, fairly bland MOR, but much more exciting that the usual Victorian hymns accompanied by a church organ – but they occasionally used to do this thing they called “singing in tongues”, where the band would go into a sort of a loop of two or three chords, and the singers and members of the congregation would improvise melodies over the top of it, dozens of independent vocal lines snaking around each other. It completely transported me. I mistook that feeling for God for a long time.

    I think Daisy has a point – a lot of the high-intensity worship of the Pentecostal and charismatic sort is about achieving an altered state of consciousness (as are older forms of worship like fasting and self-mortification). It’s not necessarily about replicating drug experiences, because a lot of them are sincerely straight-laced sorts who wouldn’t dream of taking drugs, but overwhelming the senses and emotions can induce a similar state, and having a consciousness-altering experience in a religious context feels like experiencing the presence of God.

    A lot of the songs had a distinctly sexual undertone, as well – some with words inspired by the Song of Solomon. One I remember included the line “Your name is like honey on my lips”, and I can still see people singing it, head tilted back, eyes half shut. I’m sure I did the same myself. When I started going there they talked a lot of having a “personal relationship with God”. By the time I left it was an “intimate relationship with Jesus”. The congregation was mostly young, teens and early twenties, they preached regularly and insistently that sex before marriage was sinful, but they played on those adolescent/young adult hormones mercilessly.

  • dungone

    @Daisy, that’s a fair point, but in fact I see Pentecostalism as being an alternative that prays on some of the very same people that the megachurches do, for similar reasons – the implosion of other religions. It’s also got a very transient vibe to it but what the pastors don’t make up for in numbers, they make up by taking the gullible for all they’re worth. I’ve gone to a few of their events – they had this one where they bused several thousand people into a week long retreat of something like 5-7 sermons a day, and these sleazy car salesmen looking men would be there promising little old black ladies that their cancers would get cured if they made thousand+ dollar donations. One and only time in my life I’ve ever seen such brazen, unhinged sociopathy. Every preacher that would come out would have a 5-10 minute intro to sell himself – how many famous celebrities he converted, how many cancers he’s cured, how many big churches he’d preached at. The faith healing and speaking in tongues just added to the whole vibe. All I kept thinking of was what I’ve read about it from Mark Mathabane’s autobiography and the way these same kind of charlatans would travel through the shanty towns of South Africa and pray on the broken and mentally ill, like his mother. It looked exactly like that, and I never thought I’d see it happening in a developed nation. Anyway, the people I went there with would be at a megachurch one weekend, there the next. Their own churches had imploded, but they remembered that their parents had gone to these things in the 70’s and they wanted to check them out. They were also very, very confused about Christianity because they had never actually read their Bibles or spent much time participating in church communities until their early 20’s… these were latchkey kids who had no idea of their own cultural backgrounds and they felt desperate to develop some sort of an identity. It was very kitsch, in a way. So that’s my experience with that… the charismatics seem to be like the dirty little secret of protestant religions. I also discussed this with the pastor of one of the megachurches I had gone to at the time (he wanted to discuss my atheism so I met him for lunch) and after I had told him about my experiences there, he was appalled and actually did a sermon to warn people about it… he obviously recognized that he was competing against the charismatics for some of the same adherents.

    The drugs… well, I’m not anti drugs Daisy, I’m mostly just against drug culture. You know, the hippies & hipsters that had been around since at least as far back as the Parisian Absinthe bars. I have a bottle of absinthe right here, not that it’s a “drug,” but if you look at the culture that surrounded it, it was similar to what happened every generation since. You had the impressionists and various writers all claiming that it gave them their “creativity” and “enlightenment” when it’s really nothing more than a minty licorice flavored alcohol. You might say I look more favorably at the Roger Sterling kind of guy dropping acid and going back to his 9-5 than the people who abandon society and build their lives around it, go off to join some commune or something, and then preach to others that they’ve somehow found enlightenment in their supreme immaturity. All you have to do is listen to these people to realize that they’re learning things about life in their 20’s that most children learned when they were 12. Nothing against that, it’s just that I don’t think there’s anything glorious about it and I’m always sick of people trying to sell me their enlightened bullshit. Trust me, I’ve got no problems with the drugs. Just people who throw their lives away and call it something.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Patrick, loved your comment! Thank you so much for your input.

    Dungone: You might say I look more favorably at the Roger Sterling kind of guy dropping acid and going back to his 9-5 than the people who abandon society and build their lives around it, go off to join some commune or something, and then preach to others that they’ve somehow found enlightenment in their supreme immaturity.

    Give Roger time. 😉 After all, he went back for seconds.

    BTW, here was my blog post about Roger: http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2012/04/roger-gets-his-space-ticket.html

    Atheists should find LSD interesting… it would seem to prove that the “feeling” of God (that is, God’s presence), is all a chemical reaction in the brain. Or like Patrick was saying, it could be the result of a recipe of certain kinds of music/lyrics/social forces, combined into a powerful cocktail.

    You might also enjoy the novel “Lying Awake”–which posits that spiritual experiences may actually be due to lesions in the brain, like Dostoevsky’s. The novel is about a Carmelite nun who is diagnosed with that, and she has to come to terms with the fact that her intense spiritual experiences have explainable, physiological reasons. GREAT book!