Canaans Rest

Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Month: February 2017

The Fowler’s Snare

“We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.  Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps 124:7-8).  This blog site is committed to helping men escape the fowler’s snare of the constant laments of radical feminism. While equality between male and female is assumed, I am  concerned about the effects of what Christian Hoff Sommers calls ‘fainting couch feminism,” which views women as, “fragile flowers who require safe spaces, trigger warnings, and special protection from micr0-invalidations.”  There is the belief among these feminists that the most destructive words a boy can hear growing up are “be a man.”

My concern is that men are lagging behind in our society when it comes to male liberation.  Women have done a lot of their homework on this issue.  The challenge is  for men to respond in kind.  It is a new day for both male and female. We can’t go back to the old patterns of relating.  Instead of being reactive, defensive or passive, men need to do their homework.  Otherwise they will allow themselves to be caught in the “fowler’s snare.”

Many men don’t even know they are caught in the snare since they have not been intentional about coming home to their God given masculine soul.  It is out of fear and insecurity that feminists expect men to be more like them.  Listen to what one feminist observer wrote after the election, “Many who care about the place of women in American society are gripped by fears that men will now feel they have a free pass to demean women at home or in the workplace, that women’s heath, economic security and reproductive rights will be dealt sever blows.”

What can this snare feel like? Notice I use the word feeling- a kind of inner foreboding that is felt in the soul.  Listen to what is deep in your soul, not how you feel obligated or conditioned to act in  the gender wars..  First, the shame of being a man.  While guilt for wrong behavior and attitudes is appropriate, even remorse for how men have wronged women, shame is crippling.  It is demeaning to a man.  Men today desperately need to know the affirmation of their  masculine soul in the presence of a loving heavenly Father.  You are loved for who you are, not for how you might perform.

Secondly, feelings of be the victim.  Some man could be reading this blog today, having to admit that he feels victimized, that is, wrongly faulted, simply for being a man at his place of employment.  He shares space with others that has been feminized by the assumption that men are to blame.  He has become passive, playing the victim, thus violating  his masculine soul.

Thirdly, a kind of floating anger and bitterness.  If a man has not done his work of being liberated, their will be a defensive response that goes underground.  His anger is like trying to keep an inflated ball under water.  It takes a lot of work not to let his true feeling known.  He comes home exhausted for just surviving another day.

One more feeling to consider; that of grief and sadness. As I have said before, grief can be mistaken for anger.  The unhealed soul of a man can often dwell in a deep well of grieving.  I know!  I watch my father in his last years live in this silent suffering of grief.  It caused me to become aware of my own need to grieve as a man.

Being a “nice” Guy

Men, if there was one word that would have defined my early self image it would have been “nice.”  I prided myself in being nice.  As an ENFJ, who is a two on the enneagram, I was compulsive about my being nice.  Some of you who have a different core compulsion can’t relate.  Part of the motivation for becoming an ordained Lutheran Pastor, was to be nice to people in a spiritual manner.  It was a lot of work. I finally came to see that I was not such a nice guy, rather I had to need to be nice. So I know about being nice as a man.  Mark this – being nice can be a trap for men when dealing with the feminist accusation of “sexism.”

Therefore, I read with  interest an article by Kyle Smith over at the Acculturated web site.  He asked, “What if nice is not just vague but destructive?  What if niceness is just an excuse for selfishness?”  He quotes a professor Peter Augustine Lawler, who maintains that niceness is not a virtue but more of a moral shrug or cop-out, implying “I let you do – and even affirm – whatever you do, because I don’t care what you do.” “A nice person won’t fight for you,” Lawler points out. “A nice person isn’t animated by love or honor or God.  Niceness….is the most selfish of virtues….rooted in a deep indifference to the well-being of others.” It’s a quality that seen more like a  “flatness of soul” (Allan Bloom).  Wow!  That nails my compulsion.

I write wondering about all the younger men, working in corporate life in cities around our country.  I have a burden to “call them forth” from a kind of  emotional and spiritual foxhole they have been hiding in because of the gender wars.  Some are confused about their masculinity, others are angry for being labeled as sexist, while others simply grieve in silence because they feel they have to deny their basics instincts as a man.  Like myself they have made peace with the disappear of patriarchy and they are committed to working with women on “gender equality.”  They realize that women have done their inner work, while men have not come to grips with how to live out maleness in post-Christian America..

The answer is not to feel forced into being nice.  Men, don’t fall for such movements as the #AllMenCan movement, in which men are trying to show how sensitive they are to women’s rights.   Denise C. McAllister give this warning to men. “When you try to prove you’re not a misogynist, you will become enslaved to women’s will and whims….You will never be able to do enough to prove that in the deep recesses of your heart you’re not what these women think you are – a sexist pig.”  There you have it from a female observer.  I agree.  Her advice to men, “respect themselves as men and show women love and respect in their personal lives.”

From my perch in the northwoods, I cry out to men, “don’t become angry, passive or let yourself be intimidated.  Resist the temptation to resign yourself to flatness of soul, while wasting  energy on being “nice.”  You are violating your masculine soul.  My continuing advice is to come to Jesus, allowing him to bring you to your heavenly Father so you can hear to words, “I am well pleased with you.”  Your hidden masculine soul is good.  It needs healing.  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18).   Through brokenness God is raising up men who are both “strong and tender,” not “soft and sensitive.”

Super Bowl Ads

I watched the Super Bowl Ads at my son Kurt’s home.  The next day we left, driving to South Padre in Texas for two weeks, so I can only share some impressions. I kept coming back to Ecclesiastes 1:10-11 (The Message).  “There’s nothing new on this earth.  Year after year it’s the same old thing.  Does someone call out, ‘Hey, this is new’?  Don’t get excited – it’s the same old story.  Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.  And the things that will happen tomorrow?  Nobody’ll  remembers them either.  Don’t count on being remembered.” All those ads that attract so much attention are intended to manipulate our basic desires with a total focus on self.  This is not a new business.  Men, this has being going on since the serpent  offered the apple to Eve.

It is amazing  how the ads have taken on a life of their own.  In the years that I have been writing this blog, I watch the ads for insight on how the culture views the masculine.  I have watched with a critical eye, knowing the ads industry is  aware of how the masculine in viewed in society.   In the recent past men have been portrayed in a rather condescending manner.  Men live with the curse of Adam. “The very ground is cursed because of you; getting food from the ground will be as painful as having babies is for your wife; you’ll be working in pain all your life long” ( Genesis 3:18 – Message).  The ad business  makes this apparent by suggesting  ways to relieve some of  the pain.

Compared to other years, I was disappointed.  They seemed to be more political in nature. The best one liner was from Mr. Clean,. “You gotta love a man who cleans.” I have been asking myself, “Why the change?”  The advertising industry, which keeps its finger to the cultural wind, giving it a good read out on the  mood of the nation, might  be detecting a change.  Could it be that the “anti-male” emphasis of the feminist movement has gone too far?  I wonder.  After all, for a culture to function as God intended, there has to be both the healthy male and female.  As one observer noted, “The movement (feminist) has morphed into something that is less about equality and more about the oppression of the group who have historically oppressed women.  Namely men.”

Could it be that we might be coming to a  stalemate in the gender wars?  Our culture desperately needs a healthy masculine presence. If this is to become a reality, I want to repeat what I have said often in this blog.  Men are going to have do their “soul work” enabling them to become secure in their masculinity, so they can be both “strong and tender.”  I say this in the light of the recent remarks of Hillary Clinton.  “Despite all the challenges we face, I remain convinced that, yes, the future is female“.  That phrase first appeared on a t-shirt back in 1975.  It reappeared again in 2015.  “The shirt,” noted a feminist, “is about a reaction to a misogynist and patriarchal culture that affects a lot of people.  People are re-contextualizing it – trans-women, men and moms with sons.”

Men if we are ever going to break the stalemate we will need to have a servant heart expressed in love and humility.  Paul reminds us of Jesus’ attitude. “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.  He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what” ( Phil 2:5-6 – Message). What matter is not our status as men, but our servanthood, especially toward women.

Fond Affection

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, was s tough, demanding coach, who brought the best out of  his players.  But he also cared for each of them.  He pushed them to reach their potential as men and football players .  He also saw the need for pro football players to care for each other as a team. He talked about “love.”  “You’ve got to care for one another.  You have to love another.  Each player has to be thinking about the next guy.  The difference between mediocrity and greatness is the feeling these players have for one another.  Most people call it team spirit.  When the players are imbued with that special feeling you know you have yourself a winning team.”

Often you hear players use terms like  “the brotherhood” or even “the family” when they talk about their teammates.  This is evidence of genuine affection for each other. This kind of a culture is  cultivated over a period of time by a relationally aware coach.  Real “team chemistry” happens  when the players stop being simply individuals and begin to care for each other as a teammates.  These “bonds of a brotherhood” can take a team to victory in the midst of adversity.  The bonds can be the difference between victory or defeat. College sports can make a man out of a boy, through the bonds of brotherhood.

Paul spoke of having “a fond affection” for those with whom he shared the gospel. “We proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.  Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleasing to impart to you not only the Gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” ( I Thess. 2:7-8).  The Phillips translation says, “Our attitude among you was one of tenderness….because we loved you.”   “Fond affection” describes the tenderness between a  mother and her nursing child.  Paul, the strong, courageous apostle uses the language of the nursery and child care to express his fond affections for  the believers in Thessalonica. Paul was not afraid to show his heart-felt affection.  The Message tells us Paul was not “patronizing, never condescending.”  It was genuine and heart felt.  His attitude communicated affection.

This is the language of tenderness, rather then being seen as soft.  There is a difference.  Strong men can have a tender heart. Men, we can  connect from our heart, and not be seen as a feminized, wimpy man.  I remember reading Robert Bly’s description of a “soft male.”  “The sensitive man of the 90’s is fine tuned, ecologically superior to his father, sympathetic to the whole harmony of the universe, unwilling to start wars or hurt anyone; yet himself has little energy to offer.  Too often he is life preserving but not exactly life-giving.” I knew then, that I wanted to be tender, but not soft.  I wanted to project masculine energy that was life-preserving, not a  timid, apologetic, a so called “sensitivity” presence.

In the  past, I have felt the disapprove of women, who have interpreted my firmness as being harsh and condescending, in my role as pastor.  I felt judge for speaking as a man. But I knew, even though I had to be firm, that I was speaking from a heart of love and concern for my sisters in the Lord. I refused to be a soft male.

Men, I want to encourage you to check your own heart for any negative attitude you might have toward  women, especially in your family and church.  Then speak from your masculine heart.  Ask the Lord to give you the affection that Paul talked about.

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