Useless Ministries – Misguided Men’s Manuals

Many men’s ministries manage magnificently.  Minor men’s malapropisms may mistakenly mislight, mayhap. Moreover, misaligned masculinity might make more misogynists.  (Meh.)

(Apparently I can’t write an entire blog entry where each word starts with the same letter without it turning into nonsense.  I’m going to stop trying, now.  However, you are welcome to attempt to write a clever comment using some form of alliteration if you think you can.  I look forward to reading your efforts while I sip my coffee and watch the snow.  Moving on.)

Books directed at men have become very popular in the religious sections of bookstores.  It started with Wild at Heart, a book that tells men not to act like sissies and is oddly popular with women (I know ladies who read it over and over again and keep it by their bed like a smutty romance novel), and the movement grew large enough to justify its own section of Christian bookstores.

Of course, there are times when men and women need to be ministered to in different ways.  For example, according to TV, every man is a boorish and insensitive slob who can’t do anything as well as his graceful and clever wife; it’s good for men to be told that they are not limited to such an emasculated existence.  But often times I see books directed at men that have no reason to be limited to a male audience.

I first noticed this five years ago when a friend handed me a book and said, “This book is about how to live like a man.  You should read it.”

I stared at him.  Was he questioning my manhood?  Did he think I spent my time living like a woman?  (You see, these books don’t always make good gifts.)

There was only one way to settle it, really.

Anyway, I started reading.  According to the authors of the book, men should stand up for what’s right and always live by their convictions.  Boring.  Everyone knows that.  But I couldn’t figure out why this was a book for men.  Are women expected to be lukewarm toward their convictions?  Should the ladies just flounder about during moral crises until a man can show up to handle things?  And why did such an obvious and simple book require two writers?  Did they take turns with one man writing the book while the other man kept track of both of their wives’ spiritual agendas?

To be fair, I don’t think that the authors ever thought of that.  They probably just wondered what kind of literature might help men out, and a call to action and moral vigilance was their response.  It’s actually a good lesson.  But it’s a good lesson for everyone, and there’s no reason to limit encouragement to one group when it’s content is not exclusive to them.

Am I saying that people shouldn’t write books directed at specific demographic groups?  No.  I’m saying we should write better ones.

(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)
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