So I’m sitting at my desk, riffling through yet another book written to convince atheists like me that there’s no god. The phone rings, but I’m deep into the author’s argument: his brilliant refutation of a Christian’s sharp repudiation of a Skeptic’s thoughtful negation of the asinine ontological argument. We’re talking thousands of words about nothing. As any reader of this blog can appreciate, that kind of thing is right up my eternally damned alley.
My caller ID shows that the communication originates from a toll-free number with an 888 area code. I’m sure that the person trying to reach me is not from a freethinkers’ organization because, as everyone knows, those groups all use area code 666. I let the answering machine respond.
But I can’t resist phone solicitations for long, so a few minutes later, I check my message. What I expect is a cheery voice telling me how I can claim my four-day vacation in lovely Lake Tahoe by simply agreeing to sit through a three-and-a-half-day sales spiel. Instead, this is what I hear, which I’ve transcribed verbatim:
Hello. I’m calling to invite all of the men in your home 17 years of age or older to Church for Men. Church for Men happens Saturday night, 6:00, at the Salvation Army gym [address]. Men, you’re going to hear fun, upbeat music, a powerful, real message for men, and we’ll wrap it up in one hour or less. Church for Men happens Saturday night, 6:00, at the Salvation Army gym [address]. For more information call [phone number]. That’s [phone number].Of course, I dial the number. And then I get this recorded message, again transcribed verbatim:
Thanks for calling the Church for Men information line. After this greeting, you’ll be able to leave your name and a phone number. You’re invited to join us Saturday night, March 24, 6:00, in the gym at the Salvation Army. The address is [address]. We promise that church for men will be different. We’re attempting to create a place for men that looks nothing like church. Church for men is in a gym, and you’ll hear upbeat, fun music, a message no longer than 15 minutes, and after the message you’ll get to discuss what was said. No pews: we’ll sit around tables. No need to dress up: come as you are. Flip-flops and T-shirts and shorts or jeans are A-OK. We guarantee that the whole event will be wrapped up in one hour or less. You’re invited to join us, Saturday night, March 24, 6:00, in the gym at the Salvation Army. The address is [address]. And hey, don’t forget about the free food from Chick-Fil-A in [local city]. Leave your name and phone number and we’ll get back to you soon.Church for Men? Are they addressing themselves to gorillas who can’t be expected to behave themselves in a normal non-gender-segregated environment? What distinguishes Church for Men from just plain ol’ church?
Fortunately, there’s a Web site to tell me. It seems that Christians, more than any other collection of morons, thrive on the communicative ether. So how come it took Jesus nearly 2,000 years to reveal the Internet?
In case you don’t have a chance to check it out for yourself, the Church for Men homepage looks like an ad in a gay journal. Under the headline “IT’S TIME TO GO FOR THE GUYS,” the author writes:
We're only a few weeks away from Mother's Day, and a few more away from Father's Day. These are the perfect weekends to make your worship services man-friendly. Why? Mother's Day is one of the "big 3" weekends that unchurched men come to church. (They come in large numbers to please their wives and mothers). And Father's Day is the perfect excuse to "man-up" the worship service at any church.Now, I’ve been a man all my life, but I’ve never once felt the need to “man-up.” It seems to me that if you’ve got a penis dangling down there, you’ve already covered just about all the man-upping bases you need. Oh, maybe you feel the urge to let out a good Tarzan yell once in a while, or have your chest tattooed with the picture of a scantily clad woman who magically becomes naked when you stand on your head. But you probably never think, "Gosh, if I don't man-up today, I might find myself barefoot and pregnant tomorrow."
It turns out that the targeted Christian Men all have ADHD. They need, Church for Men claims, “adventure, challenge and risk — but these things are discouraged in church.” That’s why, in most churches, you’ll find the men and boys swinging from the rafters, lobbing spitballs down on the docile females in the pews below.
So what’s a poor preacher to do? Well, he can appeal to that special man-brain. According to an e-report at Crosswalk.com, god-loving macho guys love to be surrounded by “camping equipment, pine trees, and target deer.” They long to hear the sounds of bongos and harmonicas rather than choirs and pianos. At the end of a church service, they like to get a gift, like, say, a knife, to help them remember really important god stuff.
I don’t know about you, but it cracks me up to picture J.C. and his disciples clothed in camouflage robes, wearing black grease under their eyes, sitting in a Palestinian pine forest waiting patiently for Bambi while listening to Aramaic country music on bongos and harmonicas, cleaning their fingernails with their shiny new knives, and noshing on fried chicken.
But then, I’m just a regular non-believing guy — not a manned-up Christian Man.