Gratitude for Third Places

I would recommend reading the following two articles before continuing

Having spent a good portion of my last fifteen years studying the Biblical Manhood movement it is rare that I find writing on the subject that moves beyond the usual pablum. They articulate very well not only a part of the problem but also beginning to point toward a solution.

I can remember joining the mens group at my church and the general unease and sending out of feelers as to everyone’s position on stogies and alcohol. I still can not imagine the day when a pastor announces the mens group will be meeting this Thursday and the church will be purchasing a couple of kegs for the event and there will be no devotional just pints, fire and “smoke if ya got em.” However, I would suggest that those are the springboards that launch men toward the kinds of fellowship that you can build a tight knit group of future church elders out of. 

Third spaces were done away with as an early move of the feminist movement.* Men congregating without women to supervise… Many grasped for their pearl necklaces, Carrie Nation snatched up a hatchet. “A bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn’t like.” Delightful woman, I love how she thought Jesus needed her input. The result being that now women have the men constantly and it would appear they want to give him back. 

So now men are friendless and a little displaced in their own homes.** The above articles bear this out. Yet as I read them I was struck by how, unlike the writers, this has not been my experience. I have been blessed with not only a third place, my beloved Hammer and Ale, but also the friends to go with it. I had not realized how abnormal my situation is. As I write I am sitting waiting for them to join me, like most days. Later we have a Laphroig tasting to accomplish, we have some controversial statements from John MacArthur to parse, and then once we have gotten H. through his, “a bit fighty” phase of drinking we will get into marriage and other issues of life. 

And here is my point, I am grateful. I have been blessed to not be friendless or displaced. And this is not to boast, simply to say I am rather taken aback, I never realized how fortunate I was to be living in that “clubbableness” Lewis described what was so vital to men.

*I know this is a very reductionist history in this paragraph, I might revisit with nuance later but these are supposed to be short pieces.

**Lets revisit later the infantilizing “man cave” concept.

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