Steve Moses reviews 'Boys will be Boys and other myths' by Will Moore
Our Book Club choice last term was Boys will be Boys and other myths: Unravelling Biblical Masculinities by Will Moore. Here Steve Moses reflects on how he found the book...
The blurb to this book begins: 'Throughout history, we have exalted and theologised about men like Adam or David to the point where we have become oblivious to the fact that they are far from perfect role models for Christian Manhood. Failing to read scripture properly, we have used it to shape a distorted understanding of masculinity.'
This timely book examines a variety of male characters found in the Bible, including Moses, Paul and Jesus, as well as Adam and David as previously mentioned. It is timely on a number of fronts, namely in calling out current male toxicity and violence toward women which is embodied by individuals like Andrew Tate; it is timely also given the current trans, gender and sexuality debates which question what we might understand as masculine behaviours.
For me, personally, I found it very helpful in challenging stereotypical attitudes toward the way men express emotion (or rather don't express emotion!). The chapter which explores the 'weeping prophet' Jeremiah was particularly insightful in exposing the damage done by the unhelpful adage 'boys don't cry'. As a primary school teacher and someone whose authoritativeness as a male church leader has sometimes been doubted because of my emotional sensitivity, I affirm the importance of encouraging boys and men (and girls and women) to express their emotion freely rather than repressing it.
At times, in exploring scripture, Will Moore makes much of what may seem very little or not even there, but in it all, he is making a case for his overarching argument. To give an example, he makes much of how little attention is paid to Job's wife in the chapter on Job. However, in so doing, he exposes the elephant in the room: the silencing of women, their perspective, their experience. He gives fresh eyes to see what you may not have seen before.
In conclusion, I recommend this book as a helpful resource in exploring a more biblical masculinity and a timely reminder that - in Will's own words - 'we cannot use the Bible as an instruction manual on gender.' I enter the caveat that you will not agree with him on everything - you may even be offended at times! But it's well worth a read, even if you only read the final summarising chapter!!
All Saints Book Club will return again after Easter when we shall be reading At the Gates: Disability, Justice and the Churches by Naomi Lawson Jacobs and Emily Richardson