Help Me Reach 12 on the Manly Scale of Absolute Gender

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Sunday, November 28, 2004

I worship in a manly church

Doug Giles' last column at stuck me as if the Lord, himself, had shot a lightening bolt deep into my man-parts. It was a revelation like I had not experienced since the day I learned that Liberace was more than just a man with a glitzy style. According to Giles, who pastors at Clash Church in Miami Florida, a church need not be like some kind of salon with fancy china tea cups and dainty little cookies. It can be a manly place where righteous masculine violence is exalted. A place where even someone like Dirty Harry would feel at home.

Pastor Giles writes:

Can you imagine Dirty Harry Callahan attending a highly effeminized church?

Dirty Harry is a rough, butt-kicking character portrayed on the movie screen by Clint Eastwood, an accomplished man and a noted actor and director. Envision Callahan pulling into the parking lot in a black Range Rover amidst a sea of minivans and station wagons.

Picture it.

Hesitantly, Harry gets out of his ride, straightens his Ray Bans, adjusts his jacket and begins the testosterone death march to the front door of the "sanctuary."

Ascending the steps toward the entrance of the church, fourteen women and one man greet Harry. The male greeter he's forced to interface with is the kind of guy you wouldn't want to have as your young son's babysitter. I'm talking a Mango meets Dom De Luise amalgam.

The excessively excited quasi-male greeter hands Harry a pastel-colored flyer detailing all the weddings, baby showers, birthdays, picnics and covered dish dinners for that month, and then he plasters Mr. Callahan's suit with an "I'm a Visitor" smiley face sticker.

Moving past the "greeter," Callahan is then hit with more contrived hugs than he would face at a Stuart Smalley-run support group. Attempting to avoid this barrage of groping, flabby, clutching arms belonging to people he doesn't know, but now is expected immediately to embrace, he tries to fade from view and take refuge against the wall. Unfortunately for him, he cannot hide because the floral arrangements in the narthex are so profuse that they make an FTD warehouse look like the Mojave Desert. With no other recourse, Harry frantically begins to move two big sprays and one gaudy wreath in a worried attempt to carve out a refuge from this molestation.

Finally, out of reach and trying hard to avoid eye contact with anyone, Harry starts whistling and locks his gaze on the artwork. On his right are six matching prints of fat baby angels in various Little Rascal poses; they look like they have a good buzz going from their mommy's milk, laced as it is with Diet Coke and Xanax. Book-ending the baby angel prints are two Precious Moments posters: one shows Christ holding a bunny rabbit, and the other one shows Christ skipping while carrying a lamb. On Dirty Harry's left are three pieces of art which depict Jesus, Peter and John the Baptist, all in aggravated states of angst, looking more like soft-focused and melancholic Victorian women than the men they were: masculine revolutionaries, heralds of truth, and rough pioneers of the greatest story ever told.

Finally it is go time. The service is begins.

Harry strides into the mauve and cream sanctuary, taking his seat amidst a crowd that is made up of 80% women, 1% masculine men and 19% quasi-males.

The music starts.

It is aphoristic, predictable and cliché-riddled. It is subjective, reflective, emotional and a bit erotic, with Jesus being sung to as "my lover." After two hours of three chords and four songs, the worship leader commands the congregation to turn around and ... yep -- here it goes again ... hug three people and tell them ?"you love them with the love of the Lord."

Harry can't take it anymore.

He makes a quick strategic exit before he hurls on the pews because of the over-the-top, saccharine-laced liturgy.

After decompressing for several minutes and firing up a Montecristo #2 in the parking lot, Harry begins to process this little experience. He does the math and comes to this conclusion: if I convert to this sort of Christianity, then I must sacrifice not only my sins but my God-given innate masculine traits with which Jehovah naturally and rightly equipped me.

No thanks.

I'm not buying this kind of Christianity.

There's got to be something different.

There has got to be a church where a man doesn't have to sacrifice his masculinity in order to be a believer.

Fortunately for Harry, in this dicey post-9/11 environment, in this incessant in-our-face coarsening of popular culture, he's actually in luck. In reaction to Islamic terrorists' attack on our nation, as well as sick secularists' continued cultural attack on traditional American values, a robust Christianity has appeared on the horizon. This renewed and vigorous faith is effectively eradicating the fu-fu funk of effeminized Christianity and has begun the process of re-establishing the much-needed masculine bent to the pulpit and the pew.

My ClashPoint is this: for all you Dirty Harry's out there who have been rightly turned off by the girlie man culture of the pre-9/11 Church, you might want to re-visit the house of God. There have been some changes. Sure, there are still churches which are run by and appeal to soft, pudgy indoor boys who want to sit out on life, but many -- many -- houses of worship are realizing that difficult times demand change, and one area where the Church needs a change more than a 1-year-old baby who accidentally got into the ExLax is in relation to its feckless effeminate culture. Sure, there still are moronic malleable ministers who will forever be products of public opinion and perpetuate spineless spirituality. However, many pastors have realized that the Church and the nation need strong men in times of crisis.

I like the idea of going to a manly church where it's Ok to recline back in the pew, scratch your balls, and have a beer while the pastor gives a blow-by-blow account of the ass-kicking Our Savior delivered to the money changers at the temple. In fact, I yearn for a church where Coors is drunk in remembrace of Our Lord's blood and beef jerky eaten in remembrance of his body. And just once, I'd like to begin a service by singing "Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life." Wouldn't you?

It's a church for our times, the red years, when diplomacy is pursued only when aggression fails, when politics is seen as nothing more than an extension of war. It's a hard church where compassion has an intolerable softness and retribution is exalted as a sacrament.

Pastor Giles is onto something here. I'm certain it's Chistianity's next evolution.

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We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.