Today, in order to be in the good graces of the Vatican and its agents, and the church bodies that oversees the administration and collection of funds that is sucked from the pockets of the members, through the greedy hands of the middle men and into the coffers of these same governing bodies. In small cases- billions of dollars are taken from collection plates — much of it from the poor – too many of these are sent outside the African communities, not just into the knee-grow preachers pockets, but into the coffers of the larger church body, mostly Caucasians, that run the religious network like a “club” where membership dues are often paid lavishly. Many local denomination and their ignorant leaders, whittle, water down, alter, alliterate and show appalling lack discernment in the teachings of spirituality and the gospels according to their religious book.
Where are the homes for the elderly, where are the recreation centers, the church financed housing developments and church-operated businesses that might employ members of the communities? They build schools to indoctrinate the fertile minds on how to be submissive in Christianity
Many illiterate or ignorant people(s) have started their own church “business”, where the bourgeoning church didn’t own a single chair and was renting a building to hold worship services, or through their association granted an hour or two to administer to the lost in some school cafeteria. They were more concerned with uplifting suffering souls that seek spiritual balm from the mundane world, but also teach these seekers how to best LIVE…not survive in a cold, oppressive world. Later as fame and prestige is infused into this growing body, people become incensed by Mercedes-buying preachers who live in suburban meadows far from the inner-city ghettos they pastor, where they intimidate parishioners to sacrifice in the name of their God. Angry voices from disgruntled on lookers are raised against preachers who exacted their teeth while driving luxury vehicles, their modest salaries boosted by the offerings from economically strapped parishioners consisting of struggling families, a number of them headed by single women.
Despite all of this however, what ails the church and prevents scores of men from legitimately going there is the loss of the purpose of spirituality, which is to seek and to save lost souls through the power of the Gospels and the EXAMPLE of their icon and savior. The increasing rise in collective fratricide in our communities around the world seems to run parallel with the number of edifices of worship in self same communities. Many churches or pastors have seldom taken a stand or ventured into the heart of the community, sans media presence and holy ghost yelling to heal both the mind and bodies by stemming the tide of violence and drugs, or to help cure poverty and homelessness or correct the mis-education our treasures receive in the killing fields of the sin-a-gog of Satan.
Given the state of African communities in the North American Union, given the number of our men in prisons, the thousands who find our way to early graves and the gun wielders-or mirror images – who send us to early graves; the number of us who seek solace in a bottle or in hallucinating drugs; the number of us who so hate ourselves and our mothers and mother images, seeking to instead remedy that self hatred by copulating with ourselves, it seems that we would make for a plentiful harvest for a church really seeking souls. The church is content to welcome our wives, our children and our money flowing through the doors; as long as the church can claim relevance to the community; as long as African male -particularly youth-are on the outside looking in and feeling neglected and powerless, feeling put down and put upon in a society that relegates African males to second-class status, then very few are likely to go to the church looking for the same.
Christianity since co-opted by the Romans has been oppressive to women, both physically and spiritually and has trained them to be dependent and submissive to the dominant male icons it invokes. It is precisely this type of conditioning why the church has failed to provide much satisfaction to the men despite the bible’s entrenched patriarchy. However the absence of men in churches is not a new phenomenon, nor is it confined to a few English-speaking nations. It is not just African men, but men from different cultures and ethnic groups, in North America, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the Caribbean and even on the continent of Africa – the last fertile source of religious colonialism.
But why are men just less willing “church goers” than women? Jawanza Kunjufu relates that in his experience, African-American men see religion as being for women: too passive, and too soft and emotional. Drawing from his own surveys, Kunjufu offers additional reasons for the poor showing of men at church:
- not wanting to dress up;
- not wanting to give their household authority over to a pastor; and for many,
- the heavy influence of sports in their lives.
Kunjufu also offers the Euro-centricity of American churches as a major reason for the absence of the African male presence.
Leon Podles author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity (1999), theorizes that religion has lost some important traits that, if regained, would give men much more to identify with and would forge their return. Podles postulates that Christianity has lost this masculine sense of a struggle against the forces within oneself, having been watered down to passionate feelings and emotional ecstasies that men find difficult to identify with.
Podles states that, “since the laity are mostly women, the clergy—even though they have been men, in most cases, until very recently—have adapted their message to women. And men and women have different characteristics in our culture and have had for centuries. Women are more conciliatory; they try to maintain bonds; they try to avoid conflict—and all these feminine tendencies have affected both the way churches operate and what is taught in them.”
Podles continues…“But it’s not a contest between men and women, for the first millennium, the ideal of Christian life was a struggle, or warfare, and this was true for both women and men. Women developed independence and courage, and many female names were held up as models for their ‘masculine virtues’—that is, they were as courageous as men; they were independent of men.” Podles notes that women tend to “avoid conflict,” and have “greater awareness of and loquacity about emotions.” He says, “The religion of the heart flourished in both Protestantism and Catholicism, and the heart has been a feminine one.” Over time, “as the Church became more and more feminized, the predominance of feminine emotions encouraged a subtle change in Christianity to make it conform more to the desires of the feminine heart. A change of emphasis here, a neglect of inconvenient Scripture there, and soon a religion takes a shape that, though difficult to distinguish from the Christianity of the Gospels, somehow has a quite different effect.”
Keep in mind that those women who dare to be as courageous as men were certainly discourage from usurping manly virtues (Joan of Arc easily comes to mind). The masculine traits Podles asks the churches to restore would, in his view, make Christian belief more fulfilling for women and men of all races because they would apply to all people as followers of Christ.
SEPARATION AND SACRIFICE
Podles introduces the masculine experience of separation and sacrifice. At a certain point in a boy’s life, he goes through a separation period from his mother in which he turns to other models for imitation so he can learn to be a responsible male and support a family. Later, he reconnects with women by marrying and becoming a father. Podles compares this to the Bible’s “leave and cleave” message given to men in the Genesis account of the first marriage. He also points out that Christ provided the ultimate model of sacrifice in His death for humanity. The twist on that is Christ has become the masculine male in the church that all these African women desire and the preacher is representative. This desire often borders on erotic experiences, where women would through orgasmic episodes in worship to the “image” of god in HIS “son”.
No man, no masculine man, certainly no African man can compete with that or for that matter observe this carrying on and not feel embarrassed and turned off. On the surface these women are given in to more physical opening and release than they would ever give to their man.
Bernard of Clairvaux could be said to be responsible for a revival of Origen’s ideas, and his use of sexual allegory in referring to the believer’s relationship to Christ and to Mary, the mother of Jesus, could be considered a turning point in the decline of masculine themes in religious thinking. Bernard expressed the Christian experience as a love affair, with explicitly erotic allegories, and related his own religious fervor in terms of “kisses” and “burning desire.” Such language was very popular with his female followers, but it’s not hard to imagine that men might have had some difficulty picturing themselves in a romantic, erotic relationship with the male Christ.
In fact, Podles believes that men did choose alternative outlets for their masculinity, and that for some men, masculinity itself has become a sort of religion, with the side effect that, in some cultures, violence and sexual promiscuity have become synonymous with manhood or hyper masculinity. Kunjufu’s survey also revealed that men consider church too “emotional.” Podles is not surprised. “For a man to talk freely and at length about his emotions sounds feminine. . . . What seems to have happened is that women (in part) constructed an image of Jesus as they wished men were: sensitive, willing to reveal themselves in speech, always ready to talk about their relationship.”
Some man tend to wed these hyper masculine choices to the church environment and these unrealistic expectation of women in the church, so they go prospecting for lonely, sexually unfulfilled and hyped up women, who finding a man willing to give himself to Christ, would in turn give herself to him (A virtual pimpers paradise). Presumably, if Christianity’s message had been what it was meant to be, the transition to manhood would instead be marked by self-mastery and self-sacrifice.
Podles says that men do not object to a message of love, but they object to the revelation of that love through words rather than actions. This may not be something men could or should change. Surely the demonstration of one’s convictions carries more weight than a description of them. Podles insists that men are looking for a way to “escape the shallowness and realize the seriousness of life,” and that Christianity could be the means to channel the more destructive and violent energies of masculinity into a masculine model of self-mastery and self-control. But Christianity can’t reach men to do this in its current state, Podles believes. “Even if men are attracted,” he says, “they will not long stay in a feminized church. The Church must develop a right understanding of the meanings of masculinity and femininity, an understanding that is consistent with human realities and with the data of Scripture. . . . Only then will men return to the Church.”
Kunjufu’s surveys among the African-American community turn up some interesting data that seem to support Podles’s hypothesis. Noting that given a choice between church and sports, his male parishioners show a marked preference for the latter, Kunjufu considers this a problem of priorities. He suggests it might be remedied by scheduling church services around major games, and having fellowship rooms with large-screen TVs so men can watch their favorite sports together after the sermon.
If one is able to discern what Leon Podles is saying, then we will over stand that generally “men naturally crave the opportunity to face and overcome challenges, and to rise above their preconceived limitations,” he says. “This is why sports have replaced religion for a large number of men. Sports provide men with all these things, as well as the comradeship in deep personal struggle that is also a masculine need.”
THE NEED TO BE MASCULINE
Contrast the exodus of masculine males from the church to the influx of the same into the religion of Islam. Islam apparently over stands these masculine needs and is purportedly the fastest-growing religions in the world, especially among males, and African males in particular.
There is support in this notion, as it turned up in Kunjufu’s surveys that the African male considers church to be a place for passive wimps and other weak people who need help. He cites the following responses as common: “Men are conquerors and protectors and are supposed to protect their turf”; “I don’t turn the other cheek, and I don’t teach my sons to turn the other cheek. . . . Can you imagine, with all the violence going on in our community, me telling my son to ‘suck it up’?”
Again we turned to Podles, who suggested that “because they (African men) were for so long humiliated by (Caucasian males) perhaps it’s even more important for (African males) to be masculine.”
It is no secret that converts to Islam sees jihad –a personal goal of all Muslims- as both a spiritual battle against the evil within individuals, and a physical, literal battle against unbelievers, as having a stronger masculine messages than today’s Christianity. Many African males are taking strong looks at Judaism as well. Podles points out that “the majority of the practitioners of Judaism in America are men, and there is no sense that the study of Torah is effeminate.” Both religious practices have a solid male presence to show for it.