Restoration of the Manly Arts

I’ve been interceding today for the restoration of the Manly Arts to the Church in America. I realize that seems out of the blue and, perhaps, a little trivial, but I hope you will bear with me in reading this post.

When I refer to the “Manly Arts” I am referencing the creative expressions men have used throughout history to communicate their feelings and bear their souls. The Manly Arts could be a great number of things, but I am specifically thinking of poetry, painting, dance, drama, singing and music. As I mentioned,a number of other things could be added, but I feel that the above list is a well-rounded one and a good list to start working on.

Dualistic thinking can be amazingly helpful, but only if the correct terms are juxtaposed. We think of left-right, black-white and wrong-right. Unfortunately, we also include man-woman in our list of dualistic opposites. The problem is, man isn’t the opposite of woman, man is the opposite of child.

When we think that men and women are opposites we begin ascribing traits to one side and the opposing trait to another. For instance, men are level-headed and women emotional. Women are relational and expressive, men are stoic and reserved, girls take dance class and boys play sports, etc. etc. But that isn’t how its supposed to be. Paul gives us a glimpse of this when he says, “When I was a child, I thought and reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I put behind me childish ways of thinking.” Thus, manhood is the opposite of childhood, not womanhood.

Why is this important? It is important because men, especially men in the Church, need more varied and nuanced ways of expressing their feelings than facts, figures or fists. If we believe that men are unemotional or inexpressive it is only because we have robbed them of proper creative outlets and ways of expressions.

The men I am acquainted with are deep thinkers and feelers. They love God and love people, but are sometimes unsure of how to express it. They feel embarrassed or isolated whenever they try to express themselves in a new way and so they back away from free and true expression, building walls of sarcasm, indifference and detachment. If we as the Church are going to reverse the trend of fatherless children and sports widows we are going to have to help our men get in touch with the things that have long laid dormant inside of them.

Men made in the image of God are creative wonders – drawing upon deep pools of emotion, intelligence, wisdom, compassion and strength. Men are natural nurturers, builders, dreamers and artists. They are terrific with children and have a unique ability to call forth identity, individuality and destiny.

It is my hope as a pastor to create an environment where men are able to express themselves and be who God created them to be. The church can no longer support or embrace one-dimensional manhood. We need a creative wave of refreshing in the Spirit so that men can put away childish ways and step into a rich, vibrant, creative and expressive manhood.

Thanks for reading and I would love to hear any comments and opinions you may have. Have a great day!

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6 thoughts on “Restoration of the Manly Arts”

  1. Interesting thoughts. I see exactly what you’re talking about. As one who enjoys singing, I had to fight the idea that choral music was for homosexual men only. I can only imagine a what a man who can dance endures.

    The problem we’ve run in to is two-fold. You’ve hit the first one on the head: men are ignoring their creative side. The second is that some of the arts have become hyperfemanized and therefore aren’t receptive of men. Meaning the community of men who do participate in these arts have embraced the idea of hyperfemanization. Men need to realize their is a manly way to do these activities. Poems that echo the heart of a man can be written; men don’t need to always or even mostly write a poem from a woman’s perspective.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that the arts community needs to embrace men as much as men need to embrace the artful spirit God has implanted in them.

    1. Well said, Matt.

      As someone who was a dancer in high school, I frequently brushed up against the expectation that I was homosexual or otherwise effeminate. That expectation came from both sides, those within the dancer/drama sector that didn’t know me personally, and those from the outside who saw that I quit football to take up ballet, who also didn’t know me personally.

      To further complicate things, several of the men I was in dance with embraced, or at least dabbled with, homosexual behaviors. It was certainly a bizarre thing to navigate at times, but I can’t deny the freedom, joy and life that came from my dance practice. Though I no longer have the time for it, I look forward to exposing my children to it should they have any inclination.

      I think your observations are spot on, we have come to a point in our culture where creativity is a “feminine” virtue, thus, those who engage in it come from a feminine worldview, much to the detriment of the arts. I don’t know what it looks like for men to gain equal footing in the arts again, but I know that within the Church we need to value the creative/expressive side of men and help them to realize that it is part of being made in the image of the Creator God.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. This is awesome and I totally agree. Now that I think about what you said about who you associate with made me think of who hang around and Im the same way. Although I do have some friends that dont know what to believe. I find myself trying to reach out to them and spread how i feel about God to them with out trying to suffocate them because I find that is why a lot of people that I’ve known dont believe. Most of the time its just a matter of faith because we have a lot of questions and not all the answers. But anyway I really enjoy your blogs!

    1. Good to hear Wes.

      I think the most effective way of reaching out to others is being content and at peace with who God made you to be. When others are tossed about by opinions, feelings and trying to fit in, you can be steady in your identity, consistently offering grace, mercy and acceptance. People will see that and be drawn to it. Those are fantastic times to share to Good News of Jesus and the security that we have because of what He has done for us.

      Good to hear from you my friend.

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