Sunday on an NPR show about religion I heard an interview with David Murrow,
the author of Why Men Hate Going to Church. His basic thesis is simple.
Everything about churches, he says, from the hymns to the religious metaphors
to the flowers on the altar and quilts on the wall is aimed at women. Church is
too feminine. Christianity, he might have said, has been feminized, and there’s
not much room in churches for men to feel comfortable.
objected several times in the interview to lace and quilts. Not manly. I’ve
seen churches that featured, along with women’s handcrafted quilts, beautiful
pieces of woodwork by men. In the interview, Murrow did not suggest bringing in
men’s work, only throwing out women’s.
rid of the flowers, too, he says. Flowers are “feminine”? Flowers, I would
remind Mr. Murrow, possess not only pistils but also stamens. Flowers are part of
nature, i.e., creation. This is a problem?
it comes to the hymns, I’m afraid Murrow has cherry-picked his facts. He cites
“Onward, Christian Soldiers” as the old kind of hymn a man could sing but
ignores a 1913 hymn often sung, in the old midcentury (20th) days,
on the very same Sundays,“In the Garden," by Charles A. Miles. Sappy, romantic, elevator-type hymns are nothing
new. Actually, “In the Garden” was one of my father’s favorites. How many hymns
over the centuries have been of the martial variety, anyway? And should
churches really be in the business of reviving the Crusades?
own problem with most modern “praise music” isn’t that it’s “feminine” but that
it’s sappy. That is, it sounds sappy to me. When I go to church, I don’t want to hear elevator music. For a lot
of younger people, though, it’s what they’ve grown up with, and to them it
asking why women outnumber men in churches, here are a few demographic facts
the author might have consulted. More boy babies than girl babies are born, but
beginning with the 25-54 age group, females outnumber males in the U.S., and
the difference grows greater with age. For the 65+ age group in 2010, there
were 132 for every hundred men.
for the metaphors, I’m afraid Murrow is asking that Scripture be thrown out
with the bathwater. He objects to the term “lost,” for instance, saying that
men don’t like thinking of themselves as lost, which is why they hate asking for
directions. So that parable of the lost sheep? Get rid of it!
you’re curious about other parables, here’s a list. But be
forewarned: You’ll find flowers! If you find admonitions to be a brave soldier
or a captain of industry, let me know.)
Murrow is also down on all “relationship”
talk in the church. “Love thy neighbor”? “God is love”? Feminine talk! That
won’t bring in “the guys,” as he calls them. Guys don't like to hear about relationships!
long-time woman in local politics used to say she had learned years before from
her mentor, “You gotta take care of your base!” Remember the Aesop fable of the dog who saw his reflection in the water and thought he was looking at another
dog who had a bone? Those tempted to follow Mr. Morrow’s advice should think
carefully about the ambitious reach they are contemplating. If someone who has not read and does not plan to read a certain book can write a review of it, then this is a book review. Otherwise, I don't know what to call it. You be the judge. One final word:
At the annual St. Wenceslaus chicken dinner, the men of the church cook the chicken, and they do a fantastic job of it. Real men are not scared away by the presence of quilts.
Quilts at St. Wenceslaus Church, Gills Pier, Michigan