Saturday, March 4, 2017

Christian men and their memories of Dad

So here's a phenomenon I've noticed over the years. The tendency of Christian men, when they talk about their fathers, to talk about how they were stern taskmasters and rules-enforcers. The father-figure as household authoritarian. These memories are usually recounted in a loving way, and with some degree of amusement as well as gratitude.

If the subject of fathers comes up, you get recollections about some disciplinary measure, some stern warning, the regulation of daily chores, or even his flashes of fearful anger, but all recalled with a degree of admiration. We are not talking bitter memories here.

Two things: among Christian men at least, those who have bitter memories simply do not share their stories, and if you do share such a story (this from personal experience), there is a kind of uncomfortable silence. That is just not what this kind of conversation is about. We are Christians (it's as if to say), and the word "father" is supposed to connote warm memories of gratitude for discipline. You're spoiling the vibe, man!

Second, not only do people not share their bitter memories, they also don't share stories about how, for example, my father was a kind man, or my father had a soft heart, or my father was a man full of grace. No stories of gentleness, of forgiveness, of Jesus-like attitudes. Now, I know there are kind fathers out there, soft-hearted men whose first inclination is not discipline but grace. I know there are fathers who model Jesus to their children. But middle-aged Christian men either never had such fathers or somehow the unwritten rule is not to talk about them.

This is just something I've noticed over the years, and it makes me wonder, that's all.

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