The annual time has come to recognize fathers — but it's typically a non-event. Father's Day stands opposite of Christmas and the two days are only separated by six months — but they are miles apart. Every other holiday gets more emphasis ... Valentines Day, Halloween, and National Pickle Day.
Does anyone really celebrate Dad anymore?
For a while stadiums were filled with men who called themselves Promise Keepers — men who openly celebrated their Christian manhood. But alas, it seems their masculine roar has been muffled.
In its place once again we hear the roar of the radical feminists calling men to get out of the way for the advancing host of "designing women" who are once again calling men names and insisting that they need to duck their heads and slink back into the shame of their gender. In light of recent advances in cloning, some radical feminists even suggest men are no longer needed to propagate the race!
Helen Reddy once sang, "I am woman, hear me roar / in numbers too big to ignore / But I know too much to go back and pretend. / I am just an embryo with a long, long way to go before I make my brother understand / I am strong, I am invincible / I am woman."
And just how do we fellows deal with our non-status?
Typically by ignoring it.
Shakespeare, four centuries ago, has the cast of Much Ado About Nothing lament:
"Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing, constant never.
Then sigh not so but let them go,
And be ye blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe,
To Hey nonny, nonny."
And if it doesn't seem too ridiculous, let us reinforce what the Bard has to say with Dave Barry.
According to Barry, the Roper organization some years ago asked 3,000 women, "Do you agree that the average man is a lazy, selfish, opinionated, egotistical, sex-crazed bit of crud who never thinks about anybody but himself and refuses to help with childrearing or housework ..." Eighty-seven percent of women agreed with this. The other thirteen percent also noted that men tended to pick their noses at stoplights (Barry Column, 7/8/90).
Between the Bard and Barry, it has been hard to find a single anthropologist who has come out in support of men. In fact, in spite of all the talk of political correctness and tolerance, two groups live unprotected from attacks by anyone who wants to say anything about them at any time. Those two groups are Christian fundamentalists and men.
Well, I for one am tired of it! I'm sixty-four years old and have a desire to see men regain some status as real human beings before I die.
So I offer my own anthem which may be sung — more or less — to Helen Reddy's tune:
We are men, well-follicled and six-foot-four,
And we'd like Helen to hear us roar,
We're lovers and dads, Helen, you had one too.
We were the reason you ever got to be an embryo.
With a long, long way to go.
We're the winners of bread, the priests made wise
With a wisdom gained through the faith and the pain.
We are strong,
We are invincible,
We are men!
We don't need a lot of accolades — just drop the criticism! And don't paint us too narrowly. We are tired of being called one-dimensional by those who insist that, "Man hunts, woman fries!" We're tired of being painted like Gaston in the Beauty and the Beast, who insisted that he was a man's man who used "antlers in all of his decorating." We're more than Conan's great hairy proverb, "Dis is de meaning of life: to crush your enemies, to see dem driven before you, to hear de lamentation of de women." The best men are never like either of these caricatures.
The best men are godly men who recognize their place in the kingdom of God and in the family. They are men who have a desire to serve and protect their families. Sure, they need golf and season tickets to football games. Yes, they can channel-surf a healthy woman into the grave. They are not good at ESP, but they're good at ESPN. And they're not bad at serving the church. All in all, they deserve to live — and maybe own their own golf clubs.
So guys, live life to the fullest! Never run out of corn curls on game nights and don't worry yourself sick because you never heard "J'adore." Be sure "the fam" has all they need to keep warm. Make sure there are groceries in the house, and keep your walk with Christ in high gear. Keep your devotion simple. Let's pick our causes from the altars of our churches. We belong to the Lord! While the lobbyists lobby and the pride people grow more proud, it's okay to play softball on the church league. We are men who love God and keep an everyday creed.
So lets greet each other with our own benediction:
"Hi, Bro! It's Father's Day!
It's a beautiful day!
It's our day! Let's celebrate it!
After all, we're keeping the faith, and passing it on,
We're living life as best we can,
We're finding our identity in the life and teachings of Jesus
Who, although He never became a father,
Picked an especially hard Friday in spring,
To show us how to be a real man,
For the sake of both genders."
Calvin Miller is professor of preaching and pastoral ministry at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala.