Last month, Wendy Alsup blogged about a new wave of complementarians and so ensued a great deal of discussion on the internet. (Catch up here.) People asked, who are the ‘old’ complementarians?; is it divisive to call this wave ‘new’, as if you’re setting yourself against others (maybe Mark Driscoll?); is there anything that’s actually new about this new wave? Read more
Posts from the ‘Culture’ Category
The contention of the ‘Why men hate going to church’ movement is that church has become feminised. From David Murrow’s website:
With the dawning of the industrial revolution, large numbers of men sought work in mines, mills and factories, far from home and familiar parish. Women stayed behind, and began remaking the church in their image. The Victorian era saw the rise of church nurseries, Sunday schools, lay choirs, quilting circles, ladies’ teas, soup kitchens, girls’ societies, potluck dinners, etc.
Modern day church activities are ‘an emotional hothouse’ and focus on being ‘verbal, studious or sensitive’, none of which are ‘natural for men‘. You’d hardly call this science – even social science is a stretch – but much of it seems to resonate with men and so Murrow gives some suggestions for manly church. Laying on hands during prayer is a no-go: men need their space. And you need songs which are about ‘doing’ rather than about intimacy.
Here’s the thing though: neither physical contact nor intimacy are ‘feminine’ in all cultures. For example, Tanzanian men LOVE physical contact, including with other men. (Actually, so did western men not too long ago!) Also, they spontaneously sing, including love songs to Jesus, not just in church but even walking along the street!
Are Tanzanian men just less riddled with testosterone? Or are these propositions about men in church more cultural than innate? Read more
Red Twin and I have been talking about contextualisation: the necessity and complication of putting off your own culture to live in another. It’s always a compromise. Everyone draws the line somewhere different. But it’s more complex than simply working out what you’re comfortable with. What do those in your current country think? For me, it’s Tanzania. For Red Twin, it’s a country in Central Asia.
Take Red Twin’s veiling as an example. Most westerners wear a headscarf rather than the body length veil. This is the recommendation of some Central Asians. They say they don’t want westerners to pretend to be Central Asian. Wear enough veils to be respectful, but that’s all. And yet, Red Twin has discovered that people keep her at arm’s length when she wears a headscarf. When she started wearing the full veils, she was welcomed into friendships.
We’ve felt something of this too. Tanzanians wonder why I don’t use a western baby sling. It’s strange to see a mzungu carrying a baby in a kitenge on her back. There’s even a shop that sells prams for Tanzanians who want to seem more progressive (though how they negotiate them over the Dodoman roads is beyond me!) And yet, many are delighted to see that I am making an attempt to do things like them. They ask, who taught you how to do this? They tell me it looks good. Conversation flows from there. Read more
Let me paint two pictures of Tanzanian church services.
The first is a Good Friday service. It’s long and the ministers are dressed up in their robes. It’s an Anglican service. And there’s something familiar about the way the congregation responds: the mumbled words after the Bible reading, the faces buried in hymn books. No one moves, even while the choir sing a lively song, complete with dance moves. There’s no prayer book, but there’s some sort of liturgy which the congregation murmurs after the leader.
The second is an ordinary Sunday service. It’s much shorter and less formal. There’s no minister but there’s a worship leader and a preacher. A congregation member prays after the offering. It’s a Baptist service. The songs are one-liner call-and-response and they’re more lively. The band and the congregation sway in time and clap.