What're you afraid of, tough guy? Bad Christian gets real on "daddy issues"
Over the last 6 months or so, I've had a lot of fun helping the dudes at the Bad Christian Podcast get some book publishing up and running. And that means--in part--that I get to help folks put together their book outlines. This process stokes me out! I love helping people communicate what they're excited about. I'm all about good ideas. Ideas matter. And helping people solve problems with ideas is even better. Over the last month or so, Toby Morrell (co-host of the BC Podcast) and I have been talking about his new book idea regarding masculinity and men losing their way in the church.
I have to admit at first I was wary that maybe I'd have to navigate the nausea brought on by a hyper masculinity, Bro-Christianity conversation. But I was glad Toby brought depth to the conversation beyond "bros will be bros".
As we've hashed out his chapter ideas together over a couple phone calls, I recommend that he watch a PBS documentary that had inspired me recently. It's about a men's workshop lead by American Poet Robert Bly from 1990 titled "A Gathering of Men". (Credit is due to the folks at the 1517 Legacy Project for the tip).
Commentator Bill Moyers says this about his interviews with Robert Bly":
…What we are exploring is the confusion many men feel today about their role in society and their inner lives as well...what summons these men is not a desire to separate again from women, or a move back to that destructive and dominating and masculine personality of more chauvinistic days. On the contrary, men are drawn to these retreats by a sense of loss. A loss of familiar myths and roadmaps. But also a sense of hope. There's something optimistic about the willingness of men to learn from one another through sharing their confusion over the problems of life.
Read the full program transcript here.
First off, a bit of a disclaimer about this program: this was shot in 1990, so the production is bad and everyone's wearing ugly sweaters. Not only that, but the intro includes an old guy (Robert Bly) reciting weird poetry and plunking on a bongo. Oh, please. But don't be dissuaded. Once you get past the first 5 minutes or so, it's pure gold.
In the most recent Bad Christian Podcast (episode #223), Toby talks about a disappointing interaction with his dad. He was having a phone conversation with his dad and shared that a good friend's mother had recently died. But his dad basically...didn't respond. Toby then goes off on a rant about how fathers and sons can't seem to connect emotionally over things that matter and how this has disappointed him as he's grown into adulthood. (Props to Toby for his willingness to share all of this publicly).
Some may be quick to dismiss this all as crybaby daddy issues. But those who dismiss the importance of these kinds of conversations are probably too afraid to face their own hurts and hangups in life. "A Gathering of Men" addresses the issue of masculinity with clarity in a warm, genuine, empathetic and yet masculine way.
The issues are complex, but simply put, men in America are largely ill-equipped to face many challenges in life because there have been so few caring male connections in our lives. For some, a positive, older male figure is absent altogether. For those of us with dads who were around, even the most well-intentioned dads were gone much of the time at work, and in many cases, they were checked out emotionally. That left young sons to find their sense of masculinity through their peers. This has been a cultural disaster.
I for one am excited to see what Toby comes up with in his up coming book and hope some of the ideas expressed in "A Gathering of Men" fit their way in somehow.
Dudes would do well to listen in to this conversation and take some time to check out "A Gathering of Men". What are you afraid of, tough guy?