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Paul as intentional wuss and girly man.

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  • Paul as intentional wuss and girly man.

    I subscribe to the free version of Michael Bird's channel on Substack. Yesterday, he posted in favor of Brian J. Robinson's book Being Subordinate Men: Paul's Rhetoric of Gender and Power in 1 Corinthians (Lanham: Lexington/Fortress, 2019).

    He quoted the "blurb":

    Being Subordinate Men offers a gender critical examination of Paul's use of gender and power in the argument of 1 Corinthians. By elevating femininity and misperforming masculinity, Paul consistently undermines first century Roman norms of masculinity. Such norms of masculinity would have allowed some of the higher status men among the Corinthian believers to occupy positions of power that would give them control over lower status members of the community. Instead of supporting such a patriarchal model, Paul articulates a form of masculinity that would require these higher status men to abandon their positions of power and occupy positions that would put them on equal status with women and men whose bodies and identities forced them to the margins of society. Such a move subverts forms of toxic, or hegemonic, masculinity that give a select few men power over the bodies of others. Instead of a toxic masculinity, Paul commands the men in his audience to embody a failed, or subordinate, masculinity. This failed masculinity not only imitates Paul's own subordinate masculinity, seen in his embrace of feminine imagery and his failure to live up to first century Roman norms of masculinity, but also supports Paul's main reason for writing 1 Corinthians by confronting the factionalism that threatens to destroy the believing community. Paul's vision for the believing community is one of equality that centers itself in imitation of the crucified body of Jesus, a body that demonstrates that equality, not domination, is the path to the kingdom of God.


    and the conclusion:

    Paul's self-presentation throughout 1 Corinthians evidences the same concern as Paul constructs his authorial persona and repeatedly presents himself as a figure to be imitated. The surprising part of Paul's self-presentation is not that it engages discourses of masculinity but that it consistently fails to embody the ideal position in these discourses. He is a man who cannot speak well, a woman who nurses a child a father who brings shame on his children, and a celibate man. Such a man would necessarily take a subordinate position and, as a result, be excluded from institutions and positions that were reserved for men. Such a failure, I argue, is not a mistake by or shortcoming of Paul but a direct result of his understanding of the gospel and his own imitation of Christ. From Paul's perspective, institutions of patriarchy represent oppressive structures of the present age and not representative of the way the people of God are to live. … Paul directs the men in his audience to misperform discourses of masculinity. They are to be fools not dominant orators, not to take advantage of status in Roman courts but appoint lower-status men to arbitrate disputes, to submit their bodies to their wives, and to conform to the dining practices of the weak. The point of such practices is to prevent the factionalism that threatens to tear apart Paul's audience by ending practices that create and sustain the competition for power and status that were rampant in Roman Corinth. Paul crafts a specific masculine identity that he knows will subvert the type of status and power games that were the norm in urban Roman contexts. Paul's goal is the unity of the believing community. In order to achieve this unity, Paul directly challenges systems that value some members of the community over others by calling those members of the community that could benefit from such systems to intentionally embody identities that identify them with lower-status members of the community. Because of the pervasive linkage of power and masculinity, addressing such discrepancies in power requires Paul to address the masculinity to which the men in the community aspire (p. 214).


    My curiosity was piqued, and I gave a brief thought to purchasing the book, until I saw the $110 price. Nope! I'd *probably* be willing to spend 1/5 that amount, but that's about it.

    I then went to see if I could find anything online that might give me some samples of his reasoning, with exegesis of at least a few particular passages. Instead I found this (45 min. viewing time):



    It contains some interesting (undocumented) historical and cultural claims, but only allusions, no direct quotes that I recall, from the text, and absolutely no supportive exegesis. And listening to the framing comments by the interviewer and especially the author, I have to wonder if his outlook the whole time he was working on the project (which began around 2015) was filtered through his disgust with Bad Orange Man.

    I *do* happen to believe that the John Wayne manly man ideal has been too readily embraced by Christians, especially evangelicals (or Evangelicals -- I'm never sure which is correct), but I'm not convinced his *radically* opposite view is correct.
    Last edited by NorrinRadd; 10-30-2021, 02:10 AM.
    Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

    Beige Federalist.

    Nationalist Christian.

    "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

    Social Justice is usually the opposite of actual justice.

    Proud member of the LGBFJB community.

    Would-be Grand Vizier of the Padishah Maxi-Super-Ultra-Hyper-Mega-MAGA King Trumpius Rex.

    Justice for Ashli Babbitt!

    Justice for Matthew Perna!

    Arrest Ray Epps and his Fed bosses!

  • #2
    Personally, I'm "manly" more in the sense of "Stuart" from The Big Bang Theory, and "Comic Book Guy" from The Simpsons.
    Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

    Beige Federalist.

    Nationalist Christian.

    "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

    Social Justice is usually the opposite of actual justice.

    Proud member of the LGBFJB community.

    Would-be Grand Vizier of the Padishah Maxi-Super-Ultra-Hyper-Mega-MAGA King Trumpius Rex.

    Justice for Ashli Babbitt!

    Justice for Matthew Perna!

    Arrest Ray Epps and his Fed bosses!

    Comment


    • #3
      After reading the OP a couple times, I concluded that both models of men's behavior are wrong. Why men don't attend church is a topic that interests me. Interesting is the statistic that Christianity is the only major religion where the majority of followers are female. In the US the average church is 60% female and 40% male. I think books like Brian Robinson are just going to reinforce the image that Christianity is unfriendly to men.
      "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

      "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
        After reading the OP a couple times, I concluded that both models of men's behavior are wrong. Why men don't attend church is a topic that interests me. Interesting is the statistic that Christianity is the only major religion where the majority of followers are female. In the US the average church is 60% female and 40% male. I think books like Brian Robinson are just going to reinforce the image that Christianity is unfriendly to men.
        If you can tolerate sitting through the video, I think you'll see his overall viewpoint goes beyond men. He seems to be heading toward the idea that Christians in general should give up positions of worldly "power," and maybe even disengage from politics. At least that seemed to me where he was heading. "Men" are the focus of the book because in a highly patriarchal culture, it was by far males who had the most access to power.
        Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

        Beige Federalist.

        Nationalist Christian.

        "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

        Social Justice is usually the opposite of actual justice.

        Proud member of the LGBFJB community.

        Would-be Grand Vizier of the Padishah Maxi-Super-Ultra-Hyper-Mega-MAGA King Trumpius Rex.

        Justice for Ashli Babbitt!

        Justice for Matthew Perna!

        Arrest Ray Epps and his Fed bosses!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by NorrinRadd View Post

          If you can tolerate sitting through the video, I think you'll see his overall viewpoint goes beyond men. He seems to be heading toward the idea that Christians in general should give up positions of worldly "power," and maybe even disengage from politics. At least that seemed to me where he was heading. "Men" are the focus of the book because in a highly patriarchal culture, it was by far males who had the most access to power.
          Sounds like a page from the Devil's playbook.
          The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by NorrinRadd View Post

            If you can tolerate sitting through the video, I think you'll see his overall viewpoint goes beyond men. He seems to be heading toward the idea that Christians in general should give up positions of worldly "power," and maybe even disengage from politics. At least that seemed to me where he was heading. "Men" are the focus of the book because in a highly patriarchal culture, it was by far males who had the most access to power.
            I'll take your representation since I don't have the time to sit through a video.

            I'm not sure giving up positions of "power" is the correct answer. Since God ultimately has all power, we only have what power He grants us. One could be denying God's will for our lives if one gives up power. I think the bigger issue is we've had too many Christians who were not mature enough in positions of power. It's no wonder that they behaved like a worldly person. I think we're more dealing with a failure of teaching and discipleship.

            I do agree that Christians need to rethink how we engage with politics. I think the Moral Majority movement of the 80's lead Christianity down an incorrect road on how we engage with our democratic processes. I haven't come up with a good answer yet.
            "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

            "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

            Comment

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