A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Albert Mohler's Reading List For Men

Albert Mohler has compiled a list of books he recommends for reading during the summer. He says it is "intended especially for men, and it is written in the hope that men and older boys will find this list particularly helpful and interesting." So what is on the list? Except for one book, it's nothing but books about war. In other words, books that deal with killing and breaking things. Pretty dim view of masculinity, don't you think? Is that all men are about? Is that what they should primarily be about? Man as the aggressor? It's a caricature of manhood that feminists vilify and that conservatives idolize. Both groups really have no clue about what masculinity is about.

One more thing about war: You know, chemotherapy kills good cells as well as bad cells. It makes the body sick but it also saves lifes in the end. Nobody, however, recommends chemotherapy as a part of a daily health regimen. There is even less rationale for the wars we fight, and yet we embrace militarism as a culture. We celebrate state-sanctioned killing. We give the soldier high-fives instead of feeling sorry for putting him in a morally questionable position in the first place. We essentially equate war with manhood. War is not only the health of the state, it's the health of misandry. It's also the health of certain apostate expressions of religiosity that masquerade as "biblical Christianity."


Amir Larijani said...

Given that I know Al Mohler, this is my take on it:

(1) Mohler is a MAJOR history buff. If you snag him and the Barnes and Noble in L-ville, which he frequents from time to time, he can talk hours on end about this stuff.

(2) Mohler is a student of leadership. He is very interested in how important leaders make decisions under pressure, and how they grow into their roles. (Hence, his recommendation of a book about a West Point grad/Rhodes Scholar/Army Ranger/Platoon leader.)

(3) Mohler is interested in ways of developing those qualities in others who aspire to be leaders.

(4) He is doing this against the backdrop of what Southern Seminary used to be.

Points 3 and 4 are where he's getting off the beaten path. Those are matters addressed in Scripture, and there are not very many books written on the subject. Perhaps he should write some.

Why is point 4 a problem? Like many Southern Baptists, he is reactionary. He's stuck on the paradigm that he inherited when he became President, and he is still waging war with that.

SBTS--before Mohler--was very feminist and quote liberal. It was the exact opposite of Mohler's militarism in that few people believed anything--except confiscating the wealth of others, and killing children in utero, and protecting gay rights--was worth fighting for.

At SBTS--pre-Mohler--masculinity was a dirty word, and only feminists were allowed to address the issue, as men who did so were branded sexist.

Complicating matters, there are not a lot of good books out there that address Biblical manhood, none in the genre that often connect with men.

My experience: men are not into "how to" books. Few even read many books. Those who do, are more interested in kick-ass fiction (especially Clancy).

Most men I know, will enjoy a good history book, or a fascinating piece about a court case that changed the course of history, or a major technological breakthrough, or even how a major military victory was achieved.

I can sort of see Mohler's underlying point: it's ok to read books about war; it's ok to read books about leadership; it's ok to read books that present politically incorrect perspectives on major events, even those that feature the emergence of prominent attorneys (Clarence Darrow) who became huge proponents for a very Humanist agenda that we are battling today.

I would not classify any of that as misandry or even a glorification of war. He's a history buff and a student of leadership who has a reactionary bent.

The latter is a larger problem, which undermines something that he seeks to provide: leadership.

Gary said...

I'm somewhat disappointed with Mohler lately. I listen to his radio show occasionally and I am finding him to be disturbingly two-dimensional. "Reactionary" is also a good description. His recent show concerning teens and text messaging is a good example of this.

Adam T. said...

First one in a while where I really agree with you, Anakin. I decided to read the list before reading your post, and I was like - what? This is a pretty one-dimensional reading list.

I'm a history buff too; that's why I know that there's a lot more to history than the Second World War! Nice to see a book about WWI on the list, at least.

Adam T. said...

Though on reflection, I guess I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone who loves to read. I think Amir makes a good point, which is that many (most?) men don't read much. War books might be the only way to get some of them to.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Hmm. The books do seem kinda war-oriented. Personally, I'd like to see a more balanced perspective, like some economic and philosophy books in there to leaven the wartime-leadership ones.

To each their own, I guess.

Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech said...

I agree with EW. While I personally don't have a problem with books about war on this list, it should have books about other subjects such as economics, not to mention history before 1900. Some books about the history of and philosophy in Western Civilization would be a very good addition.

TMink said...

About texting, I have taken texting away from my 14 year old. In my work, I see a lot of problems created by texting, most of it sexual. Once I thought about what texting really was, totally private communication with no face to face interaction that is unsupervised and leaves little to no record, I cut it off. While I do not make that recommendation to every parent of teenagers I work with, I do make sure that they know just what texting is.


Will S. said...

I don't know much about Al Mohler; I hope Amir Larijani's generosity of spirit is on the mark here. But I'm inclined to view most prominent American Christian commentators today to be fully in the pocket of G.O.P., as they have been for some time; I suspect this may be as much of a reason as any, as why they are preoccupied with war; they're just neocons like any others, ready to glorify war, and always see every war as a grand moral struggle between right and wrong, the way that WWII, the Civil War, and the Revolutionary War are always seen. They know that Americans are suckers for this line of thinking, and can easily be brought in line by invoking, implicitly, appeals to a 'Just War theory'. Seems Christians are willing to put up with not having progress on cultural matters (e.g. abortion, homosexuality, widespread promiscuity, etc.) while the Republicans hold office, so long as they're whipped up into rabid war fever by Chuck Colson, and other evangelicals. As a Canadian, I thank God I'm immune from such transparent jingoistic ploys; I don't see my country as always just and right, and righteous, no matter what it's doing, something far too few American Christians are still capable of doing, ever since they misappropriated the 'shining city on a hill' idea of the Puritans, and transferred it to their government. Sorry if the truth hurts, but oh well. :)

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