Manspeak


What kind of crush? by Travis Evans
December 19, 2006, 12:07 am
Filed under: Humor

It’s been two weeks since I have posted anything, and I have a serious topic I want to cover. But, before we dive headlong into deep theological matters, I need to do some “clean-up”, if you will, from my last post on Man Dates. After several suggestions, intense prayer and fasting, and significant theological consultation, I have a final name for this phenomenon/practice. It’s a name that I think gets to the heart of what we as men should be after when we spend intentional time together and also avoids any kind of homosexual connotations: Fella-ship. Now, let’s move on.

Another phenomenon has risen in the church that needs to be addressed, defined, and have any confusion removed. Again, every man has had one before. It’s obvious when some guy has one. I’m talking about a Man Crush. (Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to be “Lightheartedly gay” or make light of homosexuality. I am not talking about crushes in a romantic or sexual sense.) Be honest. You know what I’m talking about. A buddy of yours starts talking about some other guy a little more than anybody else. It goes kinda like this; You and the guys are sitting around and one of the guys says something like, “I was talking to Bill the other day and he said …” The conversation turns toward a new topic, and, again, your buddy says, “Oh man, one time I was talking to Bill, and we both agreed that…” Then, while the conversation is still taking place, your buddy’s phone buzzes. Guess who it is. Yup, it’s Bill. Over the course of a few weeks, occurrences start to multiply.

We need to bring definition to this phenomenon and decide what is a good man crush and what is a dangerous man crush.

Man Crush:
An inordinate fascination with or admiration of another guy; usually a guy that has just recently become an acquaintance.

Symptoms:
-Your buddy repeatedly recounts the initial interaction he had with his man crush
-Your buddy talks about the guy all the time: What they say, do, believe, etc.
-Your buddy spends an unreasonable amount of time hanging out with the guy (If they are alive. I will explain later.)
-Your buddy’s reading list becomes dominated, or even monopolized by a single guy/author. (This is the form that man crushes usually take when the dude is dead.)

Healthy Man Crush

If the man crush is on a guy that is just very godly and you desire to learn from him and emulate his example (i.e., 1 Corinthians 11:1) then that is healthy. Or if you observe major works of God’s Spirit in the life of someone, and you are excited about the transforming effects of the Gospel in their lives; conforming them more into the image of Christ, that is fine too. Even dead men are “Man Crush” worthy. It may be a dead preacher or theologian that really serves your soul and leads you to love God and His word more. In short, if the dude causes you to love God more, crush away! (Personally, I have huge man crushes on Herman Bavinck, Geerhardus Vos, and J. Gresham Machen. Laugh all you want, these dudes were the bomb.)

Unhealthy Man Crush
If your man crush is on a man who is not commendable or is not a man as biblically defined; unhealthy. If your love and passion for some dude is greater and, in essence, “trumps” your love and zeal for the Savior, then that is a super unhealthy man crush, too. Or, if your talking about or hanging out with that dude just gets annoying to your other brothers, then it is unhealthy.

Conclusion
Man crush away, as long as you do so responsibly and in a way that is beneficial. NOTE: any kind of man crush, whether healthy or unhealthy, provides a jackpot of material for jokes with one another. So, realize this: If you choose to have man crushes, you choose to open yourself up to jokes. Man crushes are so much fun to use in our “making fun” with other guys, and will inevitably lead to more man crushes.

Your thoughts?

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14 Comments so far
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For some biblical precedent, one might say that Paul had a man-crush on Timothy, and I bet vice versa. Read 1 and 2 Timothy, especially the intro to 2 Timothy: “my beloved child”, “remember you constantly”, “remember your tears”, “I long to see you”. These guys were partners in the gospel and loved each other.

Comment by bigplew

Joanna has accused me of having a man crush on Bob Kauflin, since he and I enjoy conversing about film scores. If that’s the case, so be it.

However, I think “man crush” (just like “man dates”) is still too ambiguous. Come one, Manspeak bloggers! Let’s pursue MATURE masculinity and avoid confusion in our communication.

Comment by Cap Stewart

Hate to be “that guy,” but “Man-Crush” creeps me out just as much as “Man-Date” did. I affirm the need and validity of admiring/commending those in the faith we look up to…I’m just not going to call it a crush. A crush is what little girls have on Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean.

Comment by Jonathan Oldacre

Walt also has a man-crush on Bob Kauflin. FYI.

Comment by bigplew

Kevin, I think the names are great. They are hilarious, actually, which is why I like them.

Comment by bigplew

Kevin definitely has a man crush on Herman Bavinck.

Comment by Jonathan Oldacre

I don’t know… Kev, Bavinck might get jealous of how you talk about Machen…

Comment by psteele

Paul,
Dead people don’t get jealous. Sicko. Here is my short list of dead people who are great to have man crushes on, just for your benefit
Herman Bavinck
J. Gresham Machen
Geerhardus Vos
Charles Spurgeon
John Murray
Thomas Watson
John Owen
Jonathan Edwards
John Calvin

Comment by Kevin Shipp

Plew has a fat man crush on Brent Detwiler and Bill Piper. Bill and Plew ride bikes together. Alone. that is a man crush.

Comment by Kevin Shipp

Noting that this entry is filed under “humor” makes me sad, as do several of the comments — not because the entry itself is unfunny, or because the comments take the blog at face value. My sadness stems from how the topic of the blog skirts very near the truth of issues and concepts that are vital for anything like authentic Biblical masculinity to recover itself in this era of history, and yet the blog and the comments following it show how and why that recovery is still very far from us.

In some ways, the difference between a mancrush on John Calvin, a mancrush on a living celebrity (of any variety) that you do not know personally, and someone you do know personally are differences in degree, not in kind. Masculinity, in contrast to the notions we’ve inherited from the last century, is an exercise in resonance. And resonance (think of tuning forks resolving themselves into a mutually constructed harmony) is a helpful way to conceive of males relating to other males.

The problem modern men face in relating to other living men boils down to this fact: living relationships obtain between men who are alive together. In this sense, none of us has a living relationship with John Calvin or any other dead man. If we resonate with him, it is a resonance with the echo of his life. And, that echo may be considerable and considerably effective in how our own lives resonate with the dead man’s music. There’s nothing wrong with this, and (here’s the Big Point) there’s nothing dangerous about this as far as our own identity as masculine persons is concerned.

But, when we’re talking about relating to another living man things, the gears have considerable sand in them. The best exposition of this is, as I’ve indicated elsewhere, Anthony Esolen’s essay on friendship between males, picked up and summarized by Al Mohler. Esolen was frankly pessimistic about the prospects for recovery. I’m not so sure there isn’t a way out of the swamp. But, jesting about this is rather like whistling softly while lost in the cemetery past midnight.

Comment by Fr. Bill

The term “man-crush” has got to go.

Read this recently & thought it offers a wise warning when studying the works of others:

“I should not take it at all amiss, to be called a Calvinist, for distinction’s sake: though I utterly disclaim a dependence on Calvin, or believing the doctrines which I hold, because he believed and taught them; and cannot justly be charged with believing in every thing just as he taught” J. Edwards Preface to Freedom of the Will

With our enjoyment of certain authors, we must be wary of idolatry. May we never depend on an author nor believe something to be true simply because they have said it. Any claim to truth is to be examined under the light of Scripture. Let’s fight to remember we are disciples of Christ and not Edwards, Owen, or anyone else. WE are only to agree with these authors as far as what they write agrees with scripture.

Fr. Bill, I don’t understand what you are trying to say when you say “Masculinity….is an exercise in resonance”. Could you explain?

Comment by jmoore

Fr. Bill, I don’t understand what you are trying to say when you say “Masculinity….is an exercise in resonance”. Could you explain?

Relationships between men are dynamic. In a relationship between two men, both men will contribute to and be affected by the other, (with an obvious exception noted below). The extent of each one’s effect on one another will vary depending on the capacity either has for affecting the other, and the way each affects the other will vary as well.

Here’s a very simple example which illustrates the basic idea: the way in which very young boys relate to much older or more overtly masculine males. Young boys transparently display a common masculine characteristic oftentimes masked in older men, though it is still present: the esteem or admiration one male feels for another male’s “version” of masculinity. This esteem is usually expressed in two ways — by overt exclamations of praise (e.g. “Wowee! Look at that! Isn’t he the coolest?!”) and by attempts to mimic the male who is admired. Thus, the young boy will want to dress like, act like, speak like the iconic male he admires.

In this example, the “effect” runs almost exclusively in one direction only: from the iconic male to the boy, who endeavors to incorporate the masculine identity of the iconic male into his own masculinity via mimicry. If there is no actual space-time encounter between the iconic male and the boy, the effect is purely
monodirectional. And, this also obtains in the case where the iconic male is dead, when he is a figure from history, or when he is a fictional character (e.g. Daniel Boone, or Herman Bavink, or G. K. Chesterton).

I trust you can see that the difference between a boy’s fascination with and mimicry of Hans Solo and my own fascination with and desire to mimic G. K. Chesterton is a difference of degree. The boy’s mimicry tends to focus on things easily reproduced (dress, habits of speech or behavior). In my case, I do not know Chesterton’s habits of behavior, nor his habits of speech. What I’ve seen of his
dress, I don’t particularly admire. But, the ease of his wit, his luminescent analysis of ideas, his rollicking humor … these things I very much admire and very much wish were mine. They are obvious displays of a kind of intellectual prowess, finesse, and beauty. They are admirable in their own right, and it is no
shame in any male to apprehend this and to aspire to possess and deploy these powers.

In neither case, however, is a boy’s relationship with Hans Solo or my relationship with G. K. Chesterton going to alter the essential nature of Hans Solo or Chesterton. You may change because of your encounter with John Calvin, but John Calvin isn’t going to change because of your encounter with him.

It’s another matter when the encounter is between males who are peers and whose encounters are living ones, each with the other. The “balance” may still be very much one-sided (as, for example, between a young boy and his father). Or, it may be almost “equal” in terms of the potential for either to affect the other (as, for
example, between brothers or class-mates). In this case, the notion of “resonance” may be a better way to conceive of the interaction of one male with another one (or with several others simultaneously). The notion of resonance incorporates the idea that “vibrations” in one male can set up and sustain “vibrations” in a different male, and vice-versa. The way that tuning forks may affect one another is a helpful way to conceive how males affect one another in sustained social contact.

Proverbs 27:17 speaks to the same phenomenon through a different metaphor: As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. This proverb is routinely misunderstood,primarily because the occasion to sharpen a piece of iron rarely arises today. Even so, a moment’s reflection shows us that no one would not ordinarily sharpen a piece of iron with another piece of iron. One would, instead, sharpen a piece of iron with something that is harder, less resistant to change, than the iron which is to be sharpened. We sharpen iron with flint, or some other stone that is harder than iron.

When iron is used to sharpen iron, both pieces of iron change in the process. Proverb 27:17 employs the concepts and vocabulary of the tool shop instead of the concepts and language of the acoustics shop. Whether we conceive of interactions between males in terms of iron sharpening iron, or tuning forks generating harmonies among themselves, the point is the same.

Esolen’s essay expounds how thoroughly social an individual man’s sexual identity actually is, how dependent it is upon interactions of many sorts with other males. Only in his relationship with other males does a boy becomes a man. Women cannot shepherd the boy across the threshold of manhood. Only men make other men. Only men can mature, develop, perfect, and hone other men. And this is true for adult men as much as for boys.

A man never loses his need for close, engaged, resonant relationships with other men. The “rugged individualist” notion of manhood we inherit from the last century is a myth that distorts, blunts, and diminishes a man’s manhood.

Esolen’s essay also expounds how the rise of homosexuality in the last 50 years or so has injected an ever stronger toxin into the culture of relationships between men. It is here that Esolen seems to express little more than despair about the future. I find in his essay no “way out” of the current social sexual smog. If this is his judgment, I disagree with it. Perhaps his essay has as its only purpose to describe the problem, not to prescribe a solution. As far as he has expounded the problem facing men today, his analysis is lucid and accurate.

Comment by Fr. Bill

wow, i tried reading the post above me and my head began to hurt…

Comment by Nathan Simmons

I concur Nathan… I concur!

Comment by Chris Melander




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