Friday, June 18, 2004


...over at Laura`s Mind: The Fotolog

more on THE CHURCH IMPOTENT by Leon Podles

The past two blogs on this book have been rants without giving Podles an opportunity to speak for himself. For that I apologize. Here he is in his own words. Judge for yourself:

The following questions summarize Podles’ inquiry.
Page 28: “If men are by nature non-religious, why do Islam and Judaism have predominantly male memberships and why have they for centuries evoked intense commitment from men? If Christianity in itself is obnoxious to men in some peculiar way, why was there little comment on the lack of men during its first millennium, and why do Orthodox churches seem to differ from Western ones in the proportion of male membership? What is it about the nature of men and of Western Christianity that has created such tension in their relationship in the last millennium?”

Now on to some quotes:

Page 26: “In contrast to the feminized congregations among all major Christian denominations documented by the census taken earlier this century, the ratio of men to women in synagogues was over three to one. There is something about Christianity, especially Western Christianity, that drives a wedge between the church and men who want to be masculine.”

Page 45: “The masculine is a pattern of initial union, separation, and reunion, while the feminine is a maintenance of unity. This pattern is found on the biological level, and even more on the psychological, anthropological, and cultural levels. Femininity is mot merely receptivity or passivity as some have thought. Activity and receptivity are both proper to the masculine and the feminine in distinctive ways. The maintenance of unity typical of the feminine may not be as obviously a state of activity as the pattern of separation and reunification typical of the masculine, but the integration of personality, social unity, and love requires effort. // Nevertheless, the most striking feature of masculinity is its separation from the feminine, and it is this part of the developmental pattern that is usually thought of as uniquely masculine.”

Page 46: “Masculinity is not a state or quality, but a pattern of union and separation. It is never fully possessed, but always to be lived. It has its biological basis in the differentiation of maleness from the basic female pattern of the body.”

Page 58: “Despite all its problems and tendencies to self-destruction, masculinity is essential to the survival of any society that faces challenges. Men must be warned against the dangerous attractions of the safe, feminine world, so that they will accept the task of being masculine. Males must be trained to struggle, suffer, and die so that the life of the community can go on.”

Well, there are some quotes from chapters 1-3. I have tried to choose quotes that communicate Podles’ overall argument. I see problems in underpinnings of his understanding of masculinity and femininity, though I have not yet formulated cogent responses. I am curious to see his assessment of the church and his proposed solutions to the alleged problem of feminization. On the other hand, despite disagreements, I find that Podles is raising questions that need to be raised, for the church does indeed lack men.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


I've read some blogs and stuff lately (sorry, brain fade, can't remember where) about concern over the infiltration of postmodernism into Christianity. Now, I am very concerned abut sloppy thinking and bad theology and misbelief, but isn't this rather like saying you're concerned about salt water getting into fish?

Anyhow, I'm not up on this stuff, but was there any concern about the infiltration of modernism into Christianity? If so, what were the primary concerns and what was the outcome of that concern?


Well, I a bit further along in the book (page 54 of 208 pages of text). This morning's reading went through most of chapter 3 (What is masculinity?).

While I agree with most of his conclusions about masculinity (different from femininity--duh--and needful of some sort of initiation ritual--women sort of have one in the menarche), I disagree with the underpinnings of his conclusions. Podles' understanding of femininity as the basic human form is misguided. Biologically speaking, the basic human form--as found in children--is not feminine but rather pseudo-androgynous. "Pseudo" because there are primary sex characteristics apparent in most humans. "Androgynous" because the secondary sex characteristics have not yet developed. Both males and females undergo development that distances them from the biological pseudo-androgyny of childhood.

It also seems that both males and females undergo development that distances them from the psychological pseudo-androgyny of childhood. Part of this psychological development occurs in distancing oneself from one's mother. Podles assumes that only boys do this, but anyone who has been around a teenage girl in the midst of the mother-daughter wars knows that daughters also distance themselves. In addition, both sons and daughters need to develop a close relationship with the father after distancing from their mother. Fatherless daughters have problems just as fatherless sons do.

Figuring this all out will take more pondering than I have done, but Podles is certainly bringing up many questions.

More later.

Emergent Convention Planning Blog

Just added this to the blogroll. EC--as many probably know--has added an open source planning blog (they explain open source on the blog if you're unclear). This is a great idea, one in keeping with the nature of EC. It'll be interesting to see.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

THE CHURCH IMPOTENT: the feminization of Christianity

by Leon J. Podles
pub. Spence Publishing, (C) 1999, 288 pages

Comments: This one I’m reading because upon reading of an article by Podles I found myself muttering, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Given that I have read 26 pages of the 208 pages of text, my opinion is very preliminary. While I do not dispute Podles’ statement that church-goers are predominantly female (though some churches may differ), I do dispute his apparent conclusion. A reading of chapter one and a skimming of the book (completed prior), it seems he applies certain cultural understandings of femininity and masculinity—understanding upon which he has yet to elaborate—equating the current culture of the church with femininity and a more proper church culture with masculinity. During the skim I came across his notion that holiness is masculine because Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are masculine (I do not recall where this is located). I do not have answers, but I do have some questions: What are the biblical notions of femininity and masculinity? If humanity is made in God’s image, and that image is masculine, are women supposed to be masculine? What is feminine holiness? What is masculine holiness? What is the essential nature of holiness? How are femininity and masculinity expressions of this essential holiness? Is it possible that all the “religious” women of whom Podles speaks are actually practicing a Christianity far removed from biblical Christianity?

Mind you, I have only read to page 26, so these comments are very preliminary and subject to correction. Given that caveat, though, Podles’ perspective seems to gravitate towards Catholic and liberal mainline positions, and his conclusions (so far) seem to be based on cultural understandings of femininity and masculinity. In fact, this first chapter gave no definitions, leaving one to assume his definitions. Maybe the definitions will show up later?

See What I'm Reading for more books.

More mission pictures...

Uploaded some closeups of artifacts from the San Juan Capistrano mission over at Laura`s Mind: The Fotolog.

Monday, June 14, 2004

More on that pesky microscopic cross...

Los Angeles Takes Out the Cross - Christianity Today Magazine

"The Thomas More Law Center says that by removing a cross from the Los Angeles County seal, the government is 'conveying a message that is anti-Christian' and violating the Constitution."

Agreed! And, frankly, way funny. The article wisely notes the large, central figure of the goddess Pomona on the crest. Here's hoping they take it to the mat and stop the ACLU from denying the important role Christianity played in the history of California.

[One has to wonder if the ACLU folks have heard of the California missions...]