33, week 1

Today was the first session in my 33 rpm journey. Try as I might (and am driven to, by cynicism) I didn’t encounter any direct affronts except those of omission. This is not to say none are forthcoming, but topically this session is not prone to direct assaults on Christian manosphere themes.

The point of this segment is to examine each man’s back story. The video moderators have a roundtable. Some guy (also on the video) offers some testimony about how he had failed to examine his past deeply enough to deal with it. Closure. Choose your pop psych term. And in eventually doing so, he claimed he became a better husband and father. He confessed to having been distant and disengaged with his kids and so forth. No harm no foul.

The main narrator was describing what we would be discussing. He laid out things from men’s past that can be a part of the ugliness of his story. He mentioned that some men may have grown up with both parents, some with one, some with none, and as he said it, some with two, then one left. He then defined “would” as any issue where lack of closure impacts the dynamics of a man’s life.

Two guests came in, (still talking about the video portion), and spoke to their personal experiences with examining their past lives and how it had shaped them. They spoke of parenting and of being husbands. And here I found one of the omissions.

Chip Dodd and Jeff Schulte (I’ve not had a chance to research these guys but can tell what I will find is something akin to “the coach” who started Promise Keepers) were the guests. I forget who said what, but one of them described how, when his wife was exerting some control over him, he would blow up disproportionately. He added, “I wasn’t blowing up at my wife and any fault of hers, I was blowing up at my mom”. He went on to mention his dad wasn’t there which may or may not be significant. Cynicism took my mind to the thought, “well, if the shoe fits”, not to endorse an explosion, but so as to not excuse a wife’s controlling behavior.

The program has this definition of manhood:

-reject passivity

-accept responsibility

-lead courageously

-invest eternally

I suspect the devil is literally in the details, if after the program, I expand on those bullets based on content and context.

Based on what was presented by video, I suspect but cannot assert, yet, that being frivorced will not come up as a negative event that can shape a man’s life. Rather, that will fall under the “accept responsibility” part of defining manhood. The narrator foreshadowed that when he said something like, “we are going to find these things and help you man up and deal with it”

The use of that subtle shaming terminology didn’t escape me (nor did one of the guest’s remarks where he mentioned religion verses relationship). It made me wonder how they get un-conflicted, when at once presenting a program for which the stated purpose is reconciliation of past negative experiences and healing, and then even the mention of man up. The answer to that is simple. To man up is to take on the language of feminine framed emotional processes. Time will tell if that is correct.

The group around my table was surprisingly easy to be with under the circumstances. I think we were six, maybe seven. Unsure what we were really supposed to do, strangers all (I asked), I made a mistake, but an unavoidable one. First, I took the lead, which I tend to do, but secondly as someone asked the open ended question “anyone here had to already deal with stuff like this”, I plowed in and told, briefly, my story. I can never be sure, but it is reasonable to expect that mine will suck the air out of the group. And it did, and I regretted it. No matter how I attempt to almost apologize for its magnitude being atypical, it is what it is. And, the other men were less comfortable then, as they ALL, to a man, told how they grew up idyllically… but dad was distant…or mom was mean… or dad argued with sisters….like that.  I have no problem with these men or these issues; that is the point. I temporarily spoiled the talk and created awkwardness, on the one hand, but someone had to open. Some of you know very well how this works.

Finally, as we were discussing the parents of us men, especially the fathers, I was adding comments trying to participate when I said that the generation of our fathers had a different normal than we do, and on down the line to our sons. Specifically I was mentioning work ethic. But I added, “they tended to stay married”.

Crickets. I may as well have said, they tended to eat meat and mashed potato meals. It meant NOTHING. No resonance.

The veil of obliviousness is strong with these.

The program is dubious to someone like me, in general, in that I cannot find biblical precedent for all of this. If healing is perfect and permanent, what IS this? Don’t get me wrong, I also find dubious those claims that some Christians make that instantly any and all turmoil was removed from them when they went to the alter. But is this not an endorsement of the modern therapy and counseling culture we are steeped in? hence an endorsement of the overt ongoing feminisation of churchian men?

Of course it is.

It would be nice if this did not get more interesting, because you know what more interesting means. Stay tuned.

[ETA: I led with boring here. Looking forward in the material….it is going to get interesting. For. Sure. The next section is called “Dad”, and the one after that is, of course, “Mom”. Each chapter starts with an anecdote, a story about a real person. So, the story about the dad is that he was a drug dealer and ended up in prison. The story about the mom says the guys mom was a nurse….so she wasn’t home much, and that his grandmother was his caregiver, and she was……drug dealer? hooker? abusive? slut?……uh, no….she was strong willed.

Dad=thug/never there. Mom=well she had to work but granny was mean. There is a banner at the beginning of the Mom section that reads, “Real Men Love Mom”, on a ribbon scroll.  At the beginning of the Dad section there are two headlines, one says “As a boy I shared a game with my father” (sad, dark presentation) and the word “Unremarkable”. I’m gettin’ lathered up thinking about it.

I will be traveling next week and will miss the fun about dads, but will resume the following week as they gush on moms. I spoke too soon about this being innocuous. Never underestimate the churchian ability to bend light]


3 thoughts on “33, week 1

  1. I’ve been going to a little men’s center in my home town which offers the only men’s shelter service in town (a protection shelter for battered men ) and counseling just for men. It’s a free service but the grant funding is threatened with not being renewed. One thing that won me over was a sign on the door that said “All Civilizations Have Been Founded on the Principle that Men are Disposable.” I was almost shocked, and found that it was very good indeed. The group was essentially on men and dealing with emotional issues, was very empowering and very good.

    I know the kind of ‘taking responsibility’ language that you spoke of, have used it and been blinded by it, and yet at this group it was different. It was less about blaming anyone, more about having a greater understanding of how your mind works, how your emotions work, how to be clear minded.

    I can even imagine going to the group you brought up, and coming out of it feeling as you did. I was wary in this one as well, though the sign on the door was a positive sign. In fact the facilitator even used language similar to in your closing paragraph, that it is hard to present the values of the center because it is not simply “man bad, woman victim” as he put it. This is why, he claims, it is challenging to get funding.

    The objectives of the 33 thing, when I watched the ads for it, I thought “Yeah, catchy ad, but…” what I was sure of was that this was not about healing men, but about fixing them.

  2. Fixing them…..bingo

    An aside, the guy Tierce, on the videos, he was an associate pastor at our long time church home in Texas. I knew the guy.

  3. Pingback: 33, week 4 | Feminism is Empathological

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