While warming up on the treadmill before my workout, I was reading Healing the Masculine Soul by Gordon Dalbey when I paused to watch Common and John Legend deliver their Oscar acceptance speech. John Legend said, “We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.” It struck me because I was simultaneously reading from Gordon’s book:
Often less than half of a church’s members are men…There is, however, one major institution today in which those figures are reversed, which draws a far greater percentage of men than women: prisons.
Both these men delivered truth to me in the same moment on that treadmill.
According to the churchformen, 61% of church attendees are female, while 39% are male. It’s not even fair to say the statistics are reversed in the prison system because men make up more than 90% of incarcerations according to PRB. As stated by drugwarfacts, “On December 31, 2013, about 37% of imprisoned males were black, 32% were white, and 22% were Hispanic.”
Back to Gordon..Why are so many men in prison and so few in church?…the answer lies within the tear in the masculine soul, which the churches have largely ignored, which the prisons can house but not heal.
John Legend may have desired to touch on civil rights, but he delivered a speech on the state of manhood. There is a race issue, but clearly, there is a sex issue as well. Why are men more likely to end up in prison, be diagnosed with ADHD, and commit suicide? And what are we doing to address this issue?
With the growth of the feminism movement in the 1970’s, a men’s movement took shape. It split into two paths from the beginning: the pro-feminine path and the anti-feminine path. Today, those lines are somewhat blurred in online communities where men 18-29 spend much time, but you can find traces of pro-feminine men in blue pill communities, and traces of anti-feminine men in red pill communities.
These issues, however, will not be cleared up in online communities. Instead, we must find the root cause of the problem. Some of the founders of the men’s movement such as Robert Bly, point to the fact a “father-wound” began during the Industrial Revolution when fathers left their homes for work. Previously, fathers and sons worked side-by-side in the field, but today, many fathers are either emotionally and/or physically absent. In Sons of The Father, Gordon points out, “In 1960, 11% of American children lived in homes without a father. By 2009, that figure was 33%. Today, over 50% of children born to women over 30 are out-of-wedlock…The problem is most clearly defined among African Americans, where 64% of children live in father-absent homes.” Could this be why a disproportionate of men make up more than 90% of the prison system?
Gordon Dalbey proposes the disparity is a direct result of this father-wound, and the “ultimate saving action in this world focuses upon a reconciliation between fathers and their children.” It turns out, a father has greater influence on his children going to church than a mother. If mom goes to church and dad doesn’t, only “1 child in 50 will become a regular” according to a Swiss study. However, “if a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers.” We cannot discount the importance of fathers.
We all have a need to be loved. However, the earthly father is human and he’s flawed, and he’ll continue to hurt his children even with the best of intentions. Or perhaps he’s absent. But, there is “a father to the fatherless” and it’s “God in his holy dwelling.”
…let us love one another, because love comes from God
With recent events in Ferguson and New York City, society does need to look at institutional reform, and it’s critical steps are taken to protect boys in education. However, we must also consider incarcerations are the symptom of a larger problem caused by the division of fathers and sons.
Have you tried to connect or reconnect with your dad lately?