|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 24 Aug 2018 : 12:04:06
just found this....
Missing in Actions: Vanishing Manhood in America
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One of the main trouble spots plaguing the modern family is the absent father, identified by Weldon M. Hardenbrook as Missing From Action: Vanishing Manhood in America (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c. 1987). In his judgment, "the American male is in a fundamental struggle for his identity" in part because of "the touch of feminizing forces that have taken over the land" (p. 7).
Despite the widespread media attention to the plight of women in America, Hardenbrook contends the nation's men are, in areas which really matter, even more benighted. "In almost every way measurable, the stresses of modern life now seem more damaging to men than to women" (p. 9). They die sooner, suffer more diseases, commit suicide more frequently, are more addicted to various substances, kill each other more frequently, get imprisoned more often. Other than making more money for a few years, men have little in their favor!
Complicating this, Hardenbrook believes, men have retreated, abandoned the challenge to be truly masculine. "The single most devastating factor contributing to the feminizing of American males is the desertion of families by their fathers. Writer Edwin Cole insightfully notes that 'the absentee father is the curse of our day.' It is a national plague that is reshaping the very foundations of U.S. society" (p. 80).
Modern men evade their rightful roles by asserting their "masculinity" in false ways, strutting about in a macho style, pretending to be clones of "the Duke, Dirty Harry, and Rambo"--movie models all! Or they play the bumbling Archie Bunker. Or the "world-class wimp: Dagwood Bumstead." Even worse, some assume the ambiguous stance of "gender blenders" such as Michael Jackson and Boy George.
We need real men, not media models. We need males who recover a vision of what it means to be husbands and fathers. "Real masculinity involves a willingness to remain committed to loved ones no matter what circumstances arise," Hardenbrook says. For too many men in America, however, it's been reduced to playing roles on stages, to "starring" in athletic contests, rather than learning how to live at their fathers' sides.
In traditional, patriarchal cultures before the Industrial Revolution, a boy spent the first few years at his mother's side, enjoying her nurturing love. But when he was seven or eight, he moved to his father's side and began to do the work necessary on farm or shop. Such a young man in a patriarchal culture easily established a healthy sense of identity. The past 200 years, however, have witnessed the emergence of an socio-economic system which dissolved patriarchal bonds. Traditional rites of passage, important for young men in all cultures, slipped away, only to be replaced by such activities as "getting into fistfights, drinking booze, and having sex outside a marital relationship" (p. 52).
Along with the Industrial Revolution, Hardenbrook points to the wave of revivals in America's Second Great Awakening as a source of men's discomfort. Charles G. Finney and the revivalists appealed to "feelings and emotions" rather than "manly characteristics, such as courage, aggressiveness, and a desire for justice" (p. 58). Thus there appeared a "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" sizably at variance with the New Testament portrait.
Consequently, many men in the Victorian Age, a century ago, abandoned their calling to spiritual leadership. They left it up to women to support the church (largely running the Sunday school, for example), to rear the children, to teach school children. Young boys, constantly taught by women in school and Sunday school, often turned rebellious, causing discipline problems in class, dropping out of church rather than attend Sunday school.
So men went AWOL. They detached themselves, emotionally if not physically, from their main responsibility, the family. In time, many refused to marry. In Hardenbrook's opinion, single men in America are "the epitome of irresponsible self-indulgence. These spoiled, self-serving, self-seeking brats live in singles apartments and frequent singles bars; a primary goal is to try to find a mate for the night" (p. 109).
The answer for us, as for cultures in the past, he says, is a resolute return to patriarchy. Here Hardenbrook holds up Job as a model for emulation. Job's sense of continuity with the past, his concern for his children, his commitment to justice, his concern for permanent things, his wisdom and pursuit of God, all make him a model to follow. Like Job, today's men face challenges: "A moral and a spiritual war is raging in our land that can be won only by men who know who they are and who are willing to confront the enemies of authentic manhood" (p. 136). That means restoring patriarchy as the only legitimate familial structure. In a patriarchy the father's given a charge to keep: taking responsibility for wife and children.
After listing some of the "marks of manly love," Hardenbrook challenges America's men to return to their calling, to be real men. Men need to move back into school classrooms, teaching children. They need to accept responsibilities in the church, assuming positions of spiritual leadership there as well as in the home. They need, desperately, to embrace and live according to a standard of sexual purity. They need to be "gentlemen," recovering some of the chivalry, the courtly courage and civility of earlier eras.
Hardenbrook's treatise sets forth an Orthodox view on the family, speaking from traditions rooted in antiquity, giving guidance to Christians concerned with the continuity of viable communities of faith.