John points to an article by Dave Murrow on why "men" don't get into contemporary worship, and I found myself for the most part agreeing with John's criticisms. And yet....
It struck me that I'd have a lot less trouble with what Murrow is saying if it wasn't couched in terms that seemed to make the kind of men he's arguing on behalf of normative, and those who differed something less. Tell me there's a group of men whose spiritual needs aren't met by modern praise and worship styles and we can discuss how to meet those needs(which may be exactly what Murrow's aiming at). Tell me, implicitly, that those men should be regarded as normative and, like it or not, whether we're aware of it or not, the underlying argument is going to shift to who can claim to be a normal, "real" man.
We can attribute this somewhat to the fragile male ego. But another aspect of this, I think, is the framework we use in dealing with masculinity and femininity. We tend to regard masculinity and femininity as if they were each a single, monolithic thing. To some degree, this is understandable, as we live in a worldly culture which tends to blur the distinctions, and in asserting that there is a distinction, it's easier to do if if we regard each of them as a single monolithic characteristic. But this tends to lead to a strict conformity-based identity, with not much room for individuality.
At this point, I'm going take C. S. Lewis's tack, and say that if what follows helps you, good, but if not, ignore it. The framework I work with on masculinity and femininity is that they're distinct, but not monolithic. Each is a melange of ingredients, with each ingredient capable of existing in a stronger or weaker state in an individual. Part of what makes up a man's individual personality is the individual strength or weakness of each of the ingredients that make up masculinity. Strength of a particular ingredient doesn't mean he's 'more masculine', nor does weakness mean he's less, but the various strengths produce the particular 'flavor' of a man's masculinity.
Complicating this whole mess (and it is complex, because a person's personality is much more than that person's masculinity or femininity - there are plenty of ingredients which are separate from either, and it's possible to have a personality 'ingredient' that's typical of the opposite sex, but is part of one's personality, but not part of one's sexuality) is that we're fallen. And to me that means not only that we tend to sin, but that our humanity has been twisted. As G. K. Chesterton put it, the answer to the question 'what, then, is the meaning of the fall' is "whatever I am, I am not myself". The fall tends to twist and pervert the good things God has created in us, making them more selfish and self-centered. This means that our pursuit of holiness is going to involve not getting rid of ingredients, but finding out how they've been twisted, and untwisting them. This is partly why I tend to see restoring a Biblical sense of servant authority and leadership (something that seems to be generally lacking) as more important than dealing with gender issues, as our approach to dealing with gender issues seems to be that of removing ingredients that would actually end up 'untwisted' if the servant leadership issue was dealt with.
With that in mind, I have to wonder if the problem with the particular ingredients Murrow is emphasizing is that we normally deal with or think of them in their twisted form. If so, then in responding, we need to both seek to understand where the twist comes in, which will give us a clearer picture of what the untwisted ingredient would look like, and seek to make sure that the need represented by the untwisted ingredient is given a place to be met.
Sigh. Is that coming across as as mixed a metaphor as I think it is?