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Book review: “Why Men Hate Going to Church”

Well, not a full review.

I just finished this book and thought it was spot on in a number of areas.  For quite a long time I was a man more or less indifferent to ‘going to church.’  I didn’t have objections to it, but on the other hand I never detected many tangible benefits to it, either, though I believed that others must be getting something out of it.  In the last few years, my attitude has changed.  Now, not only do I pretty much detest ‘church,’ I find it to be destructive in the ways that matter.  I didn’t quite understand why I thought that.  In the last year or so I’ve understood it better, but no sooner have I figured it out, I have learned how many others had already put their finger on it.

David Murrow’s “Why Men Hate Going to Church” does not describe me personally in every respect, but it does in a great many ways.  The argument:  the church has been feminized.  I am inclined to agree.  As Mr. Murrow points out, women can do ‘man’ things comfortably, but it doesn’t work the other way around. A girl can be a ‘tomboy’ and be well thought of.  There is no comparable for boys.  This does not reflect culturalization, it reflects the real nature of men.  Thus, if ‘church’ is girly, most men aren’t going to willing to suck it up and ‘attend.’  They just won’t even go.

I consider myself unique.  Most of the men in Mr. Murrow’s book have no real interest in theology, and philosophy, doctrine, etc.  When confronted with things in ‘church’ that they don’t like they are at a loss to describe it, and since they lack the tools to do so, they are unable to see the distinction between ‘Christianity’ and ‘church.’  Thus, they reject Christianity on the basis of ‘church’ structures.  For my own part, I see that the two can and should be separated.  Thus, I am as disgusted by ‘church’ as many men are, but not with Christianity… and not with Christ.  Still, I think that if men understood their responsibilities under God, they’d see that theology and such really captivated them and moves them.

Mr. Murrow does not draw this distinction as neatly as I would like, but I can see the argument for it.  I agreed with most of what was in this book and found it to be insightful.  Now, if only the mainstream clergy and laity (mostly women in the latter case, and quickly becoming mostly women in the former) will consider it.

Murrow’s site:  www.churchformen.com

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5 Responses to Book review: “Why Men Hate Going to Church”

  1. Anthony,

    You know why a woman can be well thought of for being a “tomboy” but a boy can’t do “girl” things? Because of cultural misogyny. Femininity is equated with weakness and inferiority, as your essay on “manly love” does by using the words “sissy” and “feminine” as synonyms. And your discomfort with women gaining ground in the church reflect what may very well be an overall aversion to the idea of women in power. Think about the words you use because sexism is by no means dead. Thank you.

  2. Hi Tony,

    Sorry dude, but you’re just barking up the wrong tree. First of all, I could care less about ‘women gaining ground in the church.’ You have no idea what my positions are in relation to that subject. Your own terminology gives you away: the idea that women are ‘gaining ground’ implies that they have been improperly deprived somehow. However, that sort of thing can only be put forward after a conversation about Biblical roles has been had.

    I have no discomfort about women ‘gaining ground in the church’ and your belief that I do is another case in point of the sort of arrogance that presumes that you know my ‘real’ motives and beliefs, regardless of what I actually say. Thus, any criticism of feminism or discussion of positive masculinity is actually ‘sexism.’ Any criticism of the president no doubt mean that I am ‘racist.’ Don’t think you can read my mind. Take me at my word or don’t take me at all.

    By the way, in neither of my posts about ‘manly love’ does the word ‘sissy’ appear at all. Go ahead and check for yourself:

    http://sntjohnny.com/front/on-the-slaying-of-dragons-and-manly-love/815.html
    http://sntjohnny.com/front/the-feminization-of-love-and-romance-masculinity-girl-women/810.html

    So before you take it upon yourself to chastise the words that someone uses why don’t you just make sure that they actually use them, eh?

    And after you go back to check that I didn’t use the word ‘sissy’, you might want to look again at the context. Was I equivocating? Or was I describing what men tend to think? If men tend to think in the way I described, you may think that is ‘sexism’ to even present it accurately, but I happen to think that accuracy in presentation is more important than political correctness.

    Thanks for your comment, although I’m not really sure you read what I wrote. Your short comment makes a small sample, but it seems to me that you read what you thought I was really saying rather than what I actually said. And if you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I do not suffer that sort of behavior very well.

  3. You didn’t say sissy but you did use the words “wussy” and panzyish” as if they were synonymous with “girlie.” You also said “feminized” as if it were a bad thing. That’s what I meant when I brought up how misogyny affects us. Note how the term “girl” is used instead of “woman,” as if men grow up a lot more then women. In fact, women are not always praised for being “tomboys,” a term that equates power and capability with a Y chromosome. And women actually are deprived of leadership positions, not only in the church (especially the Catholic church) but in many fields. Are you aware that a lot of businesses, such as hair salons, actually charge women more than men for the same services? It just disgusts me when people imply that sexism is dead or that it’s men who get the short end, because that is not true at all.

    This article you wrote (http://sntjohnny.com/front/whatever-a-man-can-do-a-woman-can-do-better/831.html) makes it sound as though you don’t want women in power. Your make the generalization, “Sometimes when the children fall and scrape their knee they need to be told to walk it off. Sometimes they need that mother’s touch.” This approach is not true in all cases. All I ask is that you consider this before making assumptions. Thank you.

    Tony

  4. As I said, my reporting of something doesn’t mean that I myself believe it. You cite ‘wussy’ panzyish’ being equated with ‘girlie’ which comes from my first post, where I said: “I think it is really telling that even manly theologians, when they first hear the word ‘love,’ think of some panzy-ish, wussy, girlie notion of love. ”

    Who is it that I am saying equate them? The ‘manly theologians’ are. I’m not going to spend time defending myself from your baseless accusations because if you didn’t give me the courtesy of carefully reading my posts the first time you certainly won’t do it a second time.

    For the same reason, to the extent that I’d be willing to elaborate on what I meant by certain things, I refuse to do so with you as I am not confident that you will allow me to state what my own views are. You are convinced that ‘misogyny’ is affecting me and that I have made assumptions without considering them. This offends me. Not one person out of a thousand considers their views with the rigor that I consider mine. It is clear to me that you are among the 999, for instead of taking me at my word, you continue to insist that you know what I really think (Ie, ‘makes it sound as though…’).

    Then you have the audacity to say that my approach, which you characterize is a generalization “is not true in all cases.” Oh really. Please don’t take this wrong, Tony, but do you know what the word SOMETIMES means?

    The quote again:
    Sometimes when the children fall and scrape their knee they need to be told to walk it off. Sometimes they need that mother’s touch.”

    Gee, wouldn’t ‘sometimes’ means that it is not true in all cases? Don’t you think? Good grief.

    As you can tell, I don’t think you are in a good position to be lecturing anyone on anything. You judged me before you even began reading and you heard only what you expected to hear. In short, it is you who are guilty of what we accuse sexists, bigots, and racists do: judging hastily based only on prejudice.

    The only one making assumptions is you, and I find it very disrespectful. Given your penchant for not reading carefully the first time, I will not bother to clarify or set out my real position over against your perception of my position (although I am sure you’d call even my real positions as ‘sexist’ because that is the box you have decided to put me in). I am only bothering to say all this at all because I think it is helpful for people like yourself, who evidently have nothing but good and sincere motives, to be reminded that even they can be arrogant, presumptuous, and rude.

    You have been all these things. I don’t particularly care- I will go on living as though you had never stopped by- but you, perhaps, may wish to revise the way you approach other people and their views. My first suggestion would be to make sure that you avoid preconceptions and my second is to read and respond to what they actually say. Thirdly, of course, don’t accuse them of things that the very quotes you provide to support your case actually vindicate them from the charge you mean to make.

    Thanks for visiting.

  5. When I brought up the quote, I was under the impression that you thought a man would always tell the children to walk it off, while a woman would always provide “a mother’s touch.”

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