Friday, April 23, 2010

bad, bad Leroy Brown

He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun,
He got a razor in his shoe.
- the incomparable Jim Croce

Normally, I review books on my other blog, but this one has a place in Ponder Anew.

Let me introduce myself to you. My name is jaigner. I am a man. Okay, check. I'm a Christian. An evangelical. I'm a teacher. A music teacher. An elementary music teacher. I have a wife. My wife and I own an apricot miniature poodle named Ellie. I don't call her my wife's dog. I call her my dog.

I like music, poetry, reading books. I enjoy strawberry margaritas. I have gotten a professional massage at a place where they give you a robe (which came to mid-thigh on me) and have water for you to drink in a big bowl with sliced cucumbers floating around in it.

I love the sport of baseball, but football annoys me a lot.

I'm an egalitarian and don't think it's necessary for men to dominate or have an uneasy dignity they have to defend.

And John Eldredge doesn't like me. I'm not the perfect man by a long shot. Not even normal, according to his point of view. Here's the thing: when Eldredge talks about how every man deep inside wants to be a Mel Gibson in "Braveheart" kind of guy, he's not talking about me.

I guess I resent the fact that he thinks all of us men are alike at our core, and, in the same way, women are the same at their core. It's just not true. Besides that, in his quest for the perfect proof text to prove his thesis, he virtually ignores everything in Scripture that talks about how men should be able to be something other than tough and rugged. In fact, he seems to greatly prefer Hollywood's vision of men over the Bible's.

There are other things wrong with this book. His theology lacks substance. His exegesis is bad and his hermeneutic is lazy. His writing style is flowery and romantic - now that you mention it, it's really way to flowery than a book about an "Eldredgeman" should be. But what really bothers me is what do you do with the rest of us, both men and women, who at their very core do not see themselves in his idea of gender.

Besides the fact a lot of us don't see ourselves in this uberdude, there's got to be some balance. I need to be tough sometimes, that's true. I may need to kill snakes or ride a horse or something. But I am not being a fully developed, fully alive man if everything I do looks like John Wayne or something. Can you imagine John Wayne teaching music to a room full of 5-year-old children? No, but Mr. Aigner can do it. I might be lost in the saddle, but I can do things a lot of those guys can't do.

I do, however, refuse to use body wash. I don't care what color it is or what the label says about it being for guys. It's not happening. I'll stick with my bar soap.


jaigner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Martin said...

Ha, Jonathan! You have all the proof of your manhood you need in a wife who's crazy about you...and I've seen your love and hers even thru the distant lens of this blog!

But you only go for strawberry maragitas because you haven't been introduced to a truly good Cadillac margarita...if I served you one you wouldn't go back!

jaigner said...

I would welcome the opportunity. Let me know if you have business down in the land of six flags and we'll make it happen.

To clarify, I like all kinds of margaritas...including some of the fruit variety.

Chuck King said...

Jon, where do you find this reading material? Man, I am so glad for my self-induced bubble from "Christian books."

Appreciating your manifold manliness, friend.

jaigner said...

All around me, Chuck. It's all around me.

The really disturbing thing is that the reviews on this kind of stuff are overwhelmingly positive, with the exception of a few dissenters like me.

I guess our longing for reconnection and restoration is so great that we jump all over anything that claims to hold the key for happiness, even some "Christian" idea that is so warped.

But that's just my opinion.

Dan Martin said...

I guess our longing for reconnection and restoration is so great that we jump all over anything that claims to hold the key for happiness

Either that, or our unredeemed desire for power and dominance still manages to trump the work of the Spirit in our lives and churches. That plus a healthy dose of independent American whup-ass explain a lot I think...

Paul said in Romans 1 that once people give themselves to the wrong god, all their priorities get skewed or even reversed from what they ought to be. As then, so now!

Dusten said...

Even though I agree with you to a large extent. You rightly accuse Eldridge of not basing his philosophies on scripture. But where is your scripture to back thy his theology is lacking? I am by no means the theologian you are, but unless you are just wanting to rant put some substance behind this. Especially I'd you are going to tear someone apart!

jaigner said...

Thanks for the good question, Dusten.

It is dangerous to fight Scripture with Scripture. Doing so only engages people in a defensive argument in which the underlying premise says, "My interpretation is the right one."

People can make Scripture say whatever they want to in cases like this. I don't want to approach it that way. I feel that's what Eldredge is doing.

I also didn't tear him apart. I just mentioned that his book was bad scholarship.

If I were going to assess his thesis from a purely textual perspective, I'd probably begin with the words of David in the Psalter.