According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Importance of Fathers to Sons and Society

Some random thoughts on Father’s Day

by Roger Olson
June 17, 2012

So another Father’s Day has come and will go without much real change in American society’s attitudes toward fatherhood and men in general.

First, the requisite admission: many fathers are bad models and many men are abusive, oppressive and stupid.

Second, an obvious observation: our society doesn’t help when the mass media portray men as stupid, silly, sinister and violent. (Nor is the current spate of movies portraying women as violent help women or society, either.)

We all know how important the father role is to holistically healthy childhood development. And how devastating it can be to have a father who is abusive, neglectful and/or absent. Even adult children can be harmed psychologically by having a father who turns abusive verbally and emotionally.

I mentioned in my immediately preceding post (about movies and books) that the father-son relationship must be the most complicated relationship known to humanity. I’m almost glad I don’t have a son; it seems so hard to “get it right.” (By “it” I mean fathering a son.)

Sons especially look to their fathers for approval and blessing. So do daughters, of course, but I think daughters are more likely to forgive and not be damaged by a few fatherly mistakes. Sons internalize fatherly disapproval even when it is communicated only by a lack of verbal approval and blessing. I think it’s built into males to need that blessing from a father. And I think many men are conditioned to expect too much of their sons and withhold approval and blessing when they seemingly fall short of expectations.

Many of today’s social pathologies are rooted, I believe, in what some psychologists have called “father hunger”–especially boys and young men having no strong, loving, approving male to guide them and bless them.

Our society has literally millions of young men who have grown up with no father figures. Even most of their teachers have been women. Not that women can’t teach boys and young men, but studies have proven that boys learn better from men than from women. Girls also learn better from women than from men. Our public schools have too few male teachers.

What could society do to redress some of this? It’s a blatant lie that popular entertainment culture simply reflects reality. TV producers and movie makers clearly attempt to engineer society. So why do they not even attempt to help with this situation? In the past there were some TV shows and movies that portrayed fathers and men as good, but I suspect the widespread effect of the feminist movement, perhaps misinterpreted, has reduced that almost to nothing. It’s politically incorrect to portray fathers and men as good, competent, strong, honest, supportive and loving–unless there’s a “dark side” that eventually comes out that ruins everything positive portrayed.

Now, let me go back to the 1950s to illustrate. Some of you may remember the TV series “Father Knows Best.” The feminist movement has wrongly held it up to ridicule. I grew up watching it because my stepmother loved it. As I recall, the father, Jim Anderson, portrayed by Robert Young, was a good father in every way INCLUDING that he did not abuse or oppress his wife and kids. In fact, the very name of the series was clearly ironic. Jim Anderson DID NOT always know best. He frequently had to bow to his wife’s better knowledge and wisdom and he frequently apologize to her and to his kids for being wrong about something. Yes, he was a strong father, but not in any way an abusive one.

What I would like to know is why feminists vilified the show instead of promoting its portrayal of fatherhood?

In more recent years Bill Cosby was almost a perfect father in “The Cosby Show.” He was anything but patriarchal, but he was firm with his kids and portrayed wise, loving fatherhood.

Where are the good male role models in popular culture? I’m not talking about ones without flaws; I’m talking about ones that love their families and are neither silly (like “Phil” in “Modern Family”) or sour and emotionally withdrawn (like “Jay” in the same show). Sure, both of those characters do some good things and have positive characteristics, but they could hardly be said to be model fathers.

The other evening, after I had worked on my book all day, I sat down at the TV and flipped channels. I landed on a show I’ve never watched before where military fathers come home to their wives and kids–often surprising them. This was a welcome relief from the routine. At least for a few minutes we saw some really outstanding fathers–more than a few who cried about returning home to their children.

Would that a TV show would include just one really good father without having to bring out his “dark side.”

Maybe if society went out of its way to reward fathers who support their families, love them and bless them, and are competent and strong without any dark side, fathers would have more extrinsic motivation to be like that. Right now, what reward or acknowledgment does a good father get other than from his own family? All he sees and hears around him are negative images and messages about men and fatherhood.

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