For some cosmic reason things sometimes pop up on life’s radar in coincident groupings and reinvigorate an opinion from the past. This happened over the past few days. Something that occurred in Memphis last Thursday. The release of the movie Mom’s Night Out. Cane’s review of it and the attendant comments. FL’s review of the movie. And finally their most recent “Moments with You”.
I was in Memphis Thursday night for the Memphis in May BBQ festival. Some vendor companies I know sponsor teams so it is a venue for some low key entertainment. My wife and I were with such a group. We have done this for a few years now.
The evening starts with walking around sampling BBQ. There are hundreds of teams from around the world. Each year there is a featured visiting country. This year it was Panama. The crowds are interesting in a Bourbon-Street-esque sort of way. After a couple of hours and too much meat we repair to BB Kings club on Beale Street to watch the always excellent house band perform. It’s a tourist place.
Within moments I spotted the Mom’s-Night crowd. There were five or six women, late 30’s to 40 I’m guessing, all dancing together looking like escapees from that max security prison nearby called suburbia. The people who work at BB Kings, mostly multi-talented African American men and women who can equally do the mundane and then jump behind the mic and sing amazing blues verse, are tirelessly good at making new visitors feel like everything is fresh. The door men will occasionally move into the middle of groups who are dancing and rile them up with goofy moves and chants. Good fun. But when our favorite guy, a fresh faced smiling young man who is regularly at the door and looks uncannily like one of our nephews who is white (just sayin’) blond and blue eyed, when he danced his way amongst these women they closed ranks and brushed him off. It bugged my wife and I. We have gotten to know that guy and he us, by face, and have an easy rapport with him. Im sure he is real. His nature is the same as his wprk persona .He is that type of guy you just know you’d be blessed to have in your group of friends. He just has joy pouring off him and is simply not someone that angry moms need to be disrespecting.
That is why I concluded the women were divorced. Married women would be more inclined to have embraced the moment. But this was mom’s night out for divorced suburban moms and nothing but the USDA choicest cuts of alpha steak need deign darken their corner of the grill and a joy filled fun and funny dancing doorman offers zero benefit to the moms. No status boost, no tingles, just self effacing fun.
Last night I read around the sphere for the first time in awhile and saw the review Cane has up for the movie Mom’s Night Out. I’d been seeing it promoted in emails from the main two or three family ministries but hadn’t read anything about it. So I read what my cohorts had to say on their blogs and in comments following, and I read what the ministries had to say and I started thinking.
Family Life used to have a forum. It’s where I started commenting on church divorce issues. My screen name was DIC….Divorce In Church. I was a sort of bull-in- the-Waterford-outlet about it.
There was one woman there who would argue that no matter what legal forces were brought to bear on a man, no matter if he’d been jailed for violation of a restraining order, no matter if said order was issued ex parte like so many are and he was stripped of his right to see his children, her position was that there was no excuse for a man not being involved with his children. She saw no circumstance that could block a man from being an involved father, hence she would lay blame at men’s feet for all the kids whose biological fathers are not an integral part of their lives.
Today I opened the “Moments With You” that came in my email.
The hook in the FL article is in the last sentence.
Oh, how today’s children of all races desperately need the hearts of their fathers to return to their calling!
I didn’t connect the dots back in ’07 and ’08 when the FL forum existed, but the woman I mentioned above, I now realize, was parroting the stock position of the ministry that was hosting our debates on their forum.
The writer, i assume Dennis Rainey, parsed some statistics from the 2000 census and laments the following points:
Living in families with a father and mother–75.2 percent of white children and 33.3 percent of African-American children
Living in single-parent families–17.7 percent of white children and 46.2 percent of African-American children
Living with no parent at all–3.7 percent of white children and 12 percent of African-American children
The date this data was collected explains some of what seemed off about the numbers. But that alone was not sufficient. I’ll leave it to Dalrock to correct me, but I think I figured out, qualitatively, what my problem is with them.
That 75.2% of kids live with a mother and a father would include step parents. Further breaking that down into how many kids have a step mom and how many a step dad in their primary residence (the existence of that term should be an affront) would risk revealing what most people know on some level, that being the skew in custody to moms and her then remarrying.
The measure of single parent families is just subtraction, so it is inversely a reflection of the problem I pointed out above. Living with no parent at all is plain tragedy that is not part of what I’m getting at here.
Men’s outreach at church, any church, is synonymous with the need for, as rainey puts it, “fathers to return to their calling!“. What is the calling? Simple. Watch the movies that are recommended. In particular watch Mom’s Night Out. As if See Dad Run, on Disney, and other ostensibly family friendly programming isn’t enough. Recall that’s the show where Scott Baio holds a book awkwardly, letting it sort of droop from his misplaced grip, and pleads with his teen daughter, “Can you just show me how to use this thing?”.
There are indeed negligent fathers. You bet. That these dads are underserved by ministry is an idea so ridiculous it cannot be born of reason.
What if a group could present a set of numbers that showed a potential marked reduction in the number of kids growing up without a bio dad at home? What if there was a prospectus that opened with a pitch for a new focus on families and it included a numerical reflection of never having had good dads jettisoned in the first place? What if, however, it kept that aspect hidden and just asked, “If I had a program that has the potential, modestly speaking, to half the percentage of kids not living with their real fathers, would that sort of program be of interest?”
“Sure!” They’d say.” Praise the Lord!” The emails would advertise it, the presses would warm to create the printed materials and the burners would start cutting the DVD’s. Christian men, ministry leaders would line up to volunteer to push the program. The breathless enthusiasm ubiquitous in efforts to reform men and fix us as fathers would bleed over into this as the leaders quietly wondered, “what juicy way has this group come up with that, dadgummit, gets men to man up and be husbands and dads?”. They would begin foreshadowing the new mens ministry they were about to offer, a secret one…one that had the most audacious goals and a confident expectation that finally they would move the men they reach. Heck they may have the seeds of a movie idea!
The ministries would choose a grand rolling out day. Mega churches would be tapped in by satellite. The group making these optimistic claims would take the stage. No one would notice but the attendance at church that day would spike with women dragging their soon to be rebuilt men to see the tool that would be their evil doppelgangers undoing. Other women would go alone wanting a piece of this new action.
The groups representatives would click the slide advancing button for what promised to be revelatory. I like the “2001 A Space Odyssey” theme here. The first slide says ”
“Let me show you the data behind the bold claims we make”
Starting with nonthreatening divorce and parenting statistics that would lather up the ladies and get men salivating at the thought of another lead plate to add to the stack of weight on their backs, they would define the problem.
Then something weird happens.
The next slides are all about women blowing up families. There are statistics galore. The lights in the buildings would glow brighter and bulbs would burst because of the power generated as hamsters made blurs of wheels. hamster casualties would be in the order of magnitude of a hamster world war. The dead and dying hamsters would pile up in the aisles and women green with sadness at the loss of life would stagger to wash rooms.
The most hearty among them would be there when the last slide came up. It would say something like this:
The cure for fatherless children (and the name of this program) that has the biggest and fastest impact potential is ……..
DON’T DIVORCE YOUR HUSBANDS
The program is for Women. We are going to ruffle some feathers here and dare to go where few go (the rich irony). If you are easily offended or if you are defensive in general, if you are unable to take stock of yourself and own your own sin, this program is not for you.
We hope to see a large turnout as we begin this eight week women’s study on staying married.
Huh? What? I must have dosed off for a few minutes….