Pick of the Clicks 7/17/2015

This is the last Pick of the Clicks for a month – so savor these and read a couple a week : all great reads!! Enjoy 😉

PICK OF THE CLICKS JOY rainbow

I have a post up at SheLoves today: Take Time to Train.

Dorcas Cheng Tozun’s reflection on how her grief over her Father’s death nearly led her to suicide herself, and what happened after that, is a give-me-goosebumps read: Substance and Empty Space.

This was a fascinating story: The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogota (by Susan Dominus): a tale of two sets of identical twins, switched at birth and raised as two sets of fraternal twins, and how they found each other…

Oh wow: I wish I’d read this before I had my kids… Many Moms May Have Been Taught to Breastfeed Incorrectly: Surprising New Research (by Sarah Sites). One of the first things I realized when I started breastfeeding was that I’d never seen it done before, which surely put me and other first time moms at a huge disadvantage. But then, reading about breast crawl (and of course, I watched half a dozen youtube videos to confirm it all), and I was a believer….

Christine Organ’s article Mommy, the martyr: How the over glorification of motherhood hurts us all is an excellent and worthwhile read for all moms, and all those in relationship with new moms.

Carolyn Custis James has just released a new book—Malestrom—and this essay on The Rise of Women and the Manhood Crisis gives an excellent glimpse into why she’s a voice to be listened to on these topics.

I can’t help but nod and agree with Celeste Brinson’s essay A Plea for Boyhood and Rough Play. My boys are now 3 and 5, and more and more I’m realizing they just need to wrestle, sometimes. 

I’m always alert to this issue, so of course I couldn’t help noticing Jane Brody’s Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children. sigh.

A conversation with a friend who is considering buying her first home reminded me of this excellent resource: the New York Times calculator on whether it is better to rent or buy. You plug in the numbers of how much you’re paying in rent, how much an equivalent house costs, what the various lending percentages and costs are, and it spits out a calculation on how long it will take you to take to buy, and whether it’s better to buy/rent in your situation. When we bought our home, this was the #1 tool we used to try and figure out what the various costs and factors were to consider, and which were the more savvy options. THIS IS ONE TO BOOKMARK FOREVER.

I’ve linked to Tyler Vigen’s excellent website before: my favorite, hilarious, and SO BRILLIANT sit in which he maps out genius spurious correlations. For example, this one:

chart

Causation is NOT THE SAME as correlation, folks. Check out his site for more awesomeness.

 

This article—Who Has the Right to a Dignified Death—on euthanasia laws in Belgium, is a fascinating read. An excerpt:

The laws seem to have created a new conception of suicide as a medical treatment, stripped of its tragic dimensions. Patrick Wyffels, a Belgian family doctor, told me that the process of performing euthanasia, which he does eight to ten times a year, is “very magical.” But he sometimes worries about how his own values might influence a patient’s decision to die or to live.

On the blog this week: A review of Natalie Eastman’s book Women, Leadership and the Bible, a link to a video in which I talk about interpreting the bible and a GIVEAWAY of the book. Don’t miss this one.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

 

 

7 thoughts on “Pick of the Clicks 7/17/2015

  1. I think that the articles on boyhood and rough play and the article on the rise of women and the manhood crisis (I’m currently reading James’ Malestrom book) make points that are potentially at odds with each other. I strongly share James’ belief that the sexes are not in a zero sum game and that the rise of women need not be at the expense of men. However, as the other article points out, boys aren’t girls and, for that matter, men aren’t women. The flourishing of women is bad news for men’s flourishing if this flourishing occurs by ‘feminizing’ the norms of society that shape them too.

    For instance, boys’ love of rough, unrestricted, and unsupervised play develops into adult men’s love for rougher, oppositional, thick-skinned interactions, for contexts that privilege and value independence and confidence, for competition, for authority structures and hierarchies, etc. These modes of interaction are frequently pathologized or restricted in our society, often precisely in order to advance women (and because, like girls feeling threatening by the boys’ games, the interactions that many men thrive in are perceived as threatening to many women, and are often mislabelled as ‘violent’ as a result). As our society insists upon equal outcomes, modes of interaction and behaviour that play to men’s strengths and consistently lead to them outperforming women in certain areas of society are stigmatized. The insistence that men’s greater immediate power in virtually every developed human society results almost entirely from a dysfunction of masculinity (‘patriarchy’), rather than perhaps largely from a peculiar set of potential masculine strengths is one of the problems here (I’ve discussed this at great length here and here—in the first post and in the comments of both). Yes, there are dysfunctions, but the advance of women has often involved trying to tear down or obstruct the strengths, to create a situation which advances women by holding back men.

    The ‘feminization’ of the Church is easily dismissed (it is worth remembering, however, that it isn’t a theory that is exclusive to Christian men bemoaning their supposed plight in the Church, but is a theory that has been advanced by serious historians without such an axe to grind, Callum Brown being one such example), but it identifies something that many of us have noticed. This something is that the Church hasn’t been very effective at addressing itself to men’s lebenswelt and to more masculine forms of life. Rather, like parents that expect all of their children to behave like good little girls, they have pushed all into a unisex mould, but a unisex mould that is more feminine than masculine. Like many other men, I read the Bible and I find something that profoundly resonates with me as a man, but all too often the Church presents me with a form of faith and spirituality that does not address my way of being in the world as an adult male, a set of values that seem more calculated to domesticate men than to equip them to use their strengths in a distinctive good, kind, honourable, and God-glorifying manner. Men should use their strengths to serve and empower women, but churches get it wrong when they reduce men to mere tame and ‘safe’ participants in a women’s world, rather than providing them with contexts and ways in which to flourish as men.

    • Yes, those two articles *could* be at odds with each other. But as you know, I’m not one to be championing equality of outcomes for men and women in the church 🙂 Just full (and appropriate) participation of both men and women according to their gifting and godliness, as God may grant.

      I find it interesting that you say “all too often the Church presents (me) with a form of faith and spirituality that does not address my way of being in the world as an adult male…” I have so often thought that with Scripture being written by men, and at least in the churches I attend, almost exclusively exposited by men, that it is RARE to find a form of faith and spirituality which addresses my way of being in the world as an adult female!

      Can you think of biblical expositors who do this well from the pulpit: address men and women as men and women (rather than unisex Christians), and do so with appropriate exegesis and application? It is all too easy to say that people preach to men and women specifically on the “gender” passages of the bible, but what would it look like to preach to you as an adult male, and me as an adult female, on – for example – the sermon on the mount? Curious. How can this be done well?

      • The problem as I see it is that the article on the rise of women and the manhood crisis puts our difficulties down to zero-sum game thinking. However, if we just perceived the situation differently, would our problems go away? Is the rise of girls in education, for instance, a benefit for boys when they are being left behind, marginalized, and medicated in environments that are increasingly tailored for girls’ tendencies? Is all that is required in such a situation a change of perceptions on the part of the boys? The other article on boys suggests some very clear ways in which a ‘rise of women’ could represent a very clear threat to men. Obviously, we need to explore whether such a threat does exist and what shape it takes. However, it punctures any argument that would equate all forms of ‘rise of women’ as equal benign or beneficial to men. If we turned the argument around and suggested that women should regard each and every ‘rise of men’ as beneficial to them, I think people would far more readily appreciate the weakness of the argument. That the rise of one sex can be of great benefit to the other in principle is a very important and underappreciated point: it definitely isn’t the same thing as a demonstration that each such rise is to be seen in such a manner, though. I don’t think that the light dismissal of concerns in these areas helps us.

        To explain my statement about feeling that the Church typically fails to address my way of being as an adult male, I think that the feminization of the Church is an important one. Putting aside the discussions of the subject by people in the Church, the ‘feminization’ described by Callum Brown and other historians refers chiefly to the way that the evangelical church retreated from strong presence in wider public life, where male interactions were most located, and started to align itself closely with the domestic sphere of close communal and family life, especially as industrialization took men away from that realm (Charles Taylor speaks of a ‘close symbiosis’ between Christian faith and ‘family values’). Faith focused on the private conversion and ‘revival’ and paid much less attention to public reformation of institutions and polities and established churches. It democraticized faith and transformed the church from a discipline-exercising polity with public authority to a voluntary association of saved individuals. The social space occupied by the Church became similar to that of women’s sphere.

        With this association of the church with the domestic sphere, piety, Brown argues, became feminized. The woman was seen as having peculiar moral authority in the central realm of the domestic and piety for men came to be associated with a sort of domestication. Women were regarded as possessing a sort of natural piety that men lacked. The woman’s piety was placed at the moral heart of the domestic realm and the greatest threat to that sphere was the natural tendencies to impiety of men—drinking, gambling, sports, etc. Femininity and piety were closely aligned in the popular imagination. Men were the religious problem to which pious women were the solution. Women’s religiosity and conversion were largely treated as matters of course, without little sense of struggle with serious sin or temptation. As Ann Douglas and others have observed of the American context, ministers and women joined together in moral crusades in the light print press to push for religiosity, but their literature was distinctively non-theological, anti-intellectual, and highly emotional and sentimental.

        The male realm was largely associated with impiety and stories of male conversion generally involved some sort of feminization. Men needed to become more emotionally demonstrative and sensitive, to commit themselves more fully to the domestic values of the faith, to operate in a more sensitive manner, to problematize the wider sphere of male activity, to abstain from key forms of male socialization, to recognize their peculiar moral and spiritual weakness compared to women, etc. They continued to function in the male realm—the ideal convert was someone like a soldier, for instance, whose masculinity was assured—but as one now connected to the domesticated piety of the church and women’s spaces. The conversion involved the taming of the naturally impious man by feminizing him according to the piety that came more naturally to women—the pious influence of mothers and wives being especially emphasized—and that particularly belonged in the context of the home.

        It is this sort of thing that can feel alienating for many of us as men. The Church continues to be peculiarly associated with the often sentimentalized domestic sphere and its values and fails clearly to address those of us who have little if any personal part in such a sphere. Its implicit model of piety seems to be skewed in the direction of women and lacks appreciation of virtues that are more typically weighted male. Its culture seeks to make us more domestic figures and gives little attention to the more combative and public modes of life, or to male sociability, which may be more immediate to us. Obviously, this is not universally the case, but it is the reality that many of us face.

        My tendency in response to all of this would not be that of tidily gendering each biblical passage, or consistently speaking to men and women as distinct groups within the Church. Rather, I would just focus on becoming more attentive to the Scripture itself, recognizing the ways in which it doesn’t fit tidily into our constraining conceptions about what sort of shape Christianity will take.

        Let’s take the Sermon on the Mount, since you ask about that. A first step would be to recognize how sharply Matthew’s vision of the Christian faith contrasts with popular evangelical alignments of faith with family values and polite and respectable society. Jesus’ disciples left the domestic sphere—their parents, jobs, homes, and wives—behind to follow him. The Church decentres the family, becoming the new site of our primary bonds. Nor is this a privatized spirituality: Jesus is constantly relating his teaching to the political tensions and social realities of public life. Jesus’ disciples stand in line with the prophetic communities like those surrounding Elijah and Elisha (cf. Matthew 5:12), communities that were public and political movements, not just movements about renewing people’s private spirituality.

        Christian discipleship for Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount is not focused on sentimental and emotional factors, but is a faith that chiefly calls upon the virtues of the ‘chest’—loyalty, commitment, fortitude, self-mastery, obedience to authority, etc. It is a ‘martial’ faith, in tensions and conflict with the world and its values, but never merely in a way that removes us from the world or leaves the world unshaken by a different way of doing things. Combative and oppositional themes occur throughout.

        Much more could be said here and I’ve already said way too much already. However, I believe that addressing more male and more female ways of being in the world is important chiefly because Scripture itself does this. The more that we restrict the scriptural message to one realm the more that we reduce it for all of us (women need to hear much of this no less than men do: this isn’t a gender specific message, although it does have particular gendered resonances). There is a truth to the association of Christian faith with the domestic sphere and ‘family values’, because it does address that realm and teach certain of those values. It just isn’t the only realm and form of life that it addresses.

  2. Quick comment. I saw the article about the effects of screen time on children and have to add one: eyesight. Our optometrist said that there was a major study that tracked young people and their potential for serious eye problems (cataracts, macular degeneration, as well as run-of-the-mill issues like near-sightedness) for several decades. From the 70s to the 90s, there was a 40-ish (can’t remember exact figure) increase in these issues. From the 90s to today, there has been a 70 percent increase in major eye problems. The culprit? Screens: phones, tablets, laptops, etc. They apparently emit a particular light that damages eyes. Can you imagine being in your teens or 20s and having cataracts?! The doctor’s advice? Make the kids go outside and play!

    • YES!!!! Oh my word. This is a continual upward battle in our house, but this puts another arrow in my quiver of “reasons why you should play outside today” when negotiating with my 5-year old 🙂

  3. LOVED the article about the twins. I grew up in Colobia and have fraternal brothers who are twins so I found it interesting on multiple levels!

    Btw…the link for “mommy the martyr….” is not correct. It goes to the breastfeeding link again! Happy Sunday!

    • Wasn’t it fascinating!?? And, how fascinating that you had both the Colombian and fraternal twin connection to the story!

      As always, thanks for saying so when you find a link that isn’t right. I so appreciate the editorial assistance. I fixed it 🙂

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