We truly live in a world where discussions are held with bludgeons and steamrollers rather than with finesse and subtlety. The way things have gone when discussing “muscular Christianity” with Deacon Little has brought me to say that I am through with it all, not because he has “‘won” and I have “lost”, but because we seem to be talking past each other. He has not modified any of his sayings in the light to new elements I have introduced into the conversation. The ball is in his court.
My observations also go for the troll(s) (“Martin Pryor” aka “Prior Martin”, “Countess Olivia” and “Countess O”) who try to abuse my blog for purposes known only to him (them). I will add that trolls have personality and other psychiatric issues, and no discussion is possible with them. It is simply best not to feed them or react emotionally.
Fr Jonathan, my brother priest, has written Called to have muscles, to which I commented:
I need to study this question further. Like you, I thought “muscular Christianity” was about the question of chivalry and the fighting of just wars against clearly evil enemies like Hitler or present-day terrorist organizations. Who would not kill or incapacitate a man whose intention is to kill your child – or you? Actually, it is about the cult of ultra-masculinity that is prevalent in America. This is why I wrote an article describing the “cult” of masculinity in the English public school of 50 years ago. Manliness is measured by keen commitment to competitive team sports and a suspicious attitude in regard to art and beauty, the rugby-player philistine.
I suppose that experience in my life gave me a certain frugal lifestyle, more tolerant of cooler temperatures than many others. I am something of a “hard bastard” who gets great pleasure out of a few days in my boat on the sea or a river and camping aboard, the boat being an open dinghy with a boom tent. I take pride in saving money by bivouacking in my van rather than paying inflated hotel bills when travelling. But, my physical condition is average. I am not interested in the “muscular” image that seems to give its name to “muscular Christianity” rather than the question of willingness to do one’s duty for one’s country in time of war or “pro aris et focis” as the old Romans used to say.
I am disappointed that Deacon Little twists the meaning of just about everything I say, and takes my “caricatures” personally. He does refer to the Wikipedia article on “muscular Christian” that refers to the kind of man who is committed to competitive team sports and builds up a “Charles Atlas” body, a hard chiselled face – something not unlike the Aryan soldier “Ubermensch” portrayed in old Nazi propaganda. When I mention that, I am accused of “Godwin’s Law”: assimilating anyone I don’t like to the Nazis. That accusation is unjust. I don’t concern myself with Nazism except as a subject of historical study, but the underlying philosophy in Europe at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th that Hitler exploited to get into power. I have already written such qualifications to my assertions, but the subtleties have been ignored.
For Deacon Little and some of his friends who write comments on his blog, I am an effeminate pansy because I refuse the image of the rugby-player philistine. If he is not prepared to be subtle and nuanced in his ideas, I will not be prepared to continue the conversation – which seems at this stage to be futile.
I think we are all agreed about the moral rectitude of self-defence (even if it means killing) in an imperfect world when we are faced with evil persons, groups or nations. Normally, priests should not bear arms but rather help the victims of war. Perhaps a day might come when we all need to carry a gun to defend ourselves and innocent people against terrorists and criminals. We can only do what the law allows us to do. If being armed becomes necessary, I’m sure we can do so discreetly in our English fashion, since we are culturally different from the Americans. But that is much less a problem of “muscular Christianity” or the caricatures thereof.
That’s my input…
In short, Fr Jonathan is concerned for the question of the just war, defending what we believe to be right. Deacon Little seems to be concerned for the self image of the strong and masculine man – self-consciously * so – and confusing the issue with the question of self defence by means of arms. It is my belief that the two issues should be separated. Many servicemen who gave their lives for King and Country in the first and second world wars were average men from cities and farms alike. They did their duty and we will remember them. But they were not all super-machos!
* In his article and another in his blog, Deacon Little perverts my meaning. I mean by “self-conscious” the same mentality as those who are “come-out” homosexuals or believe that they are persons of the opposite sex trapped in the wrong body. The “self-consciousness” I mean is the element of the “ideology”, meaning the world view of the person who is unable to think critically for him or her self.
Fr Jonathan is a priest as I am, Deacon Little perhaps aspires to the priesthood. As willing as we are to do our duty if we are called to do so, we should be more concerned for the pastoral dimension of our calling, helping the victims of man’s inhumanity to man depending on the situations in which we live.
You don’t need to be the Incredible Hulk to be a good priest! I hope the nonsense will be dissipated so that we can discuss things as balanced adults.