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Linn County Leader - Brookfield, MO
The Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Mass., looks for God amid domestic chaos
Lone Ranger Syndrome
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About this blog
Tim Schenck is an Episcopal priest, husband to Bryna, father to Benedict and Zachary, and \x34master\x34 to Delilah (about 50 in dog years). Since 2009 I've been the rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Mass. (on the ...
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Father Tim
Tim Schenck is an Episcopal priest, husband to Bryna, father to Benedict and Zachary, and \x34master\x34 to Delilah (about 50 in dog years). Since 2009 I've been the rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Mass. (on the South Shore of Boston). I've also served parishes in Maryland and New York. When I'm not tending to my parish, hanging out with my family, or writing, I can usually be found drinking good coffee -- not that drinking coffee and these other activities are mutually exclusive. I hope you'll visit my website at www.frtim.com to find out more about me, read some excerpts from my book \x34What Size are God's Shoes: Kids, Chaos & the Spiritual Life\x34 (Morehouse, 2008), and check out some recent sermons.
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By Father Tim
May 13, 2013 5:25 p.m.

662778_lonely_manSo, I forgot to post this article a couple of weeks ago. On the other hand the day after Mother’s Day is perfect for a column that talks about the plight of the suburban male. Okay “plight” might not be the right word but I have a theory that men are lousy at maintaing friendships and are the poorer and lonelier for it.

Theology on Tap

Men are lonely creatures. At least suburban men who work, commute, and have families. No self-respecting man would articulate this publicly since it sounds either whiny or weak but itís true. We used to pride ourselves on our close friendships be it the ďglory daysĒ of high school or the keg-stand fraternity days of yore.
But that was before the big ďRĒ of responsibility took over our lives. Work, marriage, children, pets, the yard. Theyíre all wonderful things — mostly. Over time, almost imperceptibly, however, they crowd out our male friendships and suddenly many of us find ourselves left with a bunch of acquaintances but little depth in our relationships.
From the male perspective, women just seem to be better at nurturing adult friendships. They meet friends for coffee, they volunteer together, they have work friends, they join book groups (or as I like to call them, wine drinking parties). My own wife certainly checks all these boxes and sheís happier for it.
Yes, this is a gross generalization but there does seem to be some truth here. A lot of men simply donít have close friendships. Sure, we have buddies from our college days with whom we share fond memories, some printable, some not. But they generally live all over the country and, while there might be an annual golf outing or fishing trip, thatís hardly sustainable for the other 362 days of the year.
We nod to people on the commuter train and weíre on a first name basis with Jeff from Accounting. But the guardís always up, the protective emotional armor is always donned. We work hard not to show weakness or vulnerability which is why we wear power suits and deflect intimacy with a quip or by sticking to safe topics like sports or carburetors.
But what about our humanity? Where do men go to talk about the things at the depths of our souls? Events like the bombing at the Boston Marathon bring our vulnerability to the fore and yet we have few outlets to process our emotions. So they get buried and fester until our hearts become fossilized or unhealthy behaviors emerge.
At my parish on the South Shore of Boston, weíre trying to remedy this by introducing a menís group. Now, this wonít be your typical church menís group where a bunch of guys get together in the nether regions of the church to gorge themselves on pancakes, give each other hugs, and tell themselves that Jesus was really a manís man — someone to shoot pool with or hang out in the bleachers at Fenway.
Weíre calling this venture Theology on Tap. We wonít meet at church but in the upstairs room at the Liberty Grille. Weíll grab a pint, listen to one anotherís stories, and talk about a topic of interest. Godís just as present when a bunch of people gather in his name at a bar as at church on a Sunday morning (just donít tell anyone).
This wonít solve all the problems of the world but hopefully it will chip away at the hardness of our hearts that has built up through the years. Hopefully, over time, it will provide an outlet for friendship and some conversations that get below the surface of everyday life. I encourage all of my fellow men to be intentional about seeking friendships that move beyond safe topics. You may feel vulnerable at first but it sure beats the usual hunting and gathering.
 

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