Machismo, Men and Fathers in Hispanic Culture

Machismo, Men and Fathers in Hispanic Culture

I grew up without a father. I have expressed some thoughts about this in several of my posts.

Looking at my own experience, my concept of a father was at best neutral. In other words, I had no idea what a father was until I was a teen at church where I met and was mentored by several men.

Thinking through the concept that Hispanics have of fathers based on what I have experienced, what others have shared with me and what I have learned I can conclude confidently that it is linked to the idea of “machismo[1]” which continues to be a societal problem to this day.[2] For English speakers this word doesn’t mean anything. But for Spanish speakers we know the word comes from the noun “macho” which means male. In fact, old Spanish Bible versions use the word “macho y hembra” when it talks about God creating male and female. The idea of a “macho” is that he is the male even as it is in the animal world. In the animal world, the male is the one that reproduces. When we talk about machismo, it is the idea that a male is man one who reproduces.[3] This idea is beyond this as I will later explain, but it is not too far-fetched to think that it is most of what has been passed on in our culture. The figure of a “man” and “father” in our Hispanic culture goes back to this idea.

Where did this originate?

Some argue that this came about with the Spanish conquest of Latin America.[4] Many Spanish started to take indigenous women to reproduce themselves and of course, they left them. This created a culture of single women raising “mestizos” (half Spanish, half indigenous). I would argue that it goes back even farther. The indigenous people in Latin American, such as the Aztecs and the Mayas did not have exemplary male models either. They were mostly men of war and women were the care takers of the children and the home. But we can go back all the way to the origins of men and women. After both Adam and Even (macho y hembra) sinned against God, it affected their relationship and their roles [5]. Everything went haywire after this.

Whatever may be the origins of machismo, it cannot be denied that its effect has been profound in our Hispanic families. Machismo has been propagated and passed on through generations and with it, many of the ills that come with it affecting the family. What are some of the effects on men and the family in general? Here are a few broad effects:

Promiscuity

Men have been taught that as males, they are free to engage sexually from an early age without any responsibility. This reduces men to their most basic biological function. I remember that as I was growing up, my uncle would tell my mom and it was almost time for me to go see the ladies. This meant that it was almost time to go see a prostitute and have sex, a proof that I was a man. If I didn’t do that, he said, I would end up being gay. Promiscuity leads to a lifestyle as if follows below.

Womanizers

Even after a man married a woman (though marriage not required), he would continue to have sexual affairs and encounters with as many women as he wanted tricking and deceiving them with deceptive words. They would often lie by saying they weren’t married. In my case and my wife’s family, the men ended up having multiple families. My father abandoned us (my mom had had two previous men and had five children at this time) and eventually married but I have no idea how many children he left from other women. Similarly, in my wife’s family, her father proudly told her while in Mexico, that she had siblings in the United States from an adulterous relationship. These men, who in their own lives have followed what was passed on to them, show no remorse or sense of obligation to any of these women and children. After all, they were “machos” (males) following their biology.

Broken Families

Not only are these men responsible for the single mom epidemic and affecting in our Hispanic culture but also for the destruction of their children’s well-being. Machismo has left generations of single mothers raising their fatherless children on their own.[6] The moms have become the sole provider, protector and responsible for raising their children.  Many of them struggle to do so. Their children grow up without a healthy view of a father.[7] Some remarried but many decide it’s not worth it after all they have gone through.  There is a saying in Spanish that says, “padre no es el que engendra sino el que cría” (he that raises a child is more father that the one who conceives one) which means that a father is more than the one who conceives a child but one that provides and cares for them. There is not a week that goes by that I see the effects of machismo in the family, especially in single mothers.

Violence

The violence perpetrated by men toward women is a result of machismo.  As in their “antepasados” (ancestors), men used their strength to prove their manliness the wrong way. They have used their physical strength to subjugate women[8]. Many women have been trapped in this abuse cycle. A man sees no wrong in this because he is the “macho”, the one with power and deserves respect. He is the man of the house and as such the one who gives orders, and everyone should respect him regardless of what he is or does. The opposition of women (and children) has led to their physical, verbal, emotional, sexual[9] abuse and even death.[10]

Alcoholics[11]

These men were not only promiscuous, violent, irresponsible and adulterers, but many became alcoholics. Many of our early movies and music in our Hispanic culture glamorized getting drunk. Songs by popular men, like Pedro Infante glamorized getting drunk when a love affair[12] didn’t turn out. This was the way to cope for not getting your way. My father and other men in our family were alcoholics. Alcoholism has been a destructive epidemic in our Hispanic culture affecting families and society in general. Domestic violence, sexual assaults, driving under the influence leading to deaths, not being able to work, and deaths due to the effects of alcohol abuse in the body are some of the results.  Unfortunately, their children have followed the same path who start drinking as early as 14-15 years of age.[13] According to statistics this is a serious problem young people between ages 18-25 in the US.[14]

Devalue and Hate for Men (Feminism)

Machismo has led to the devalue and even hate toward men. Much of this has been earned. We can see this in our culture that elevates women to a divine rank[15] (Mary is the intermediary between God and Men). Not only this, but it has led to the rise of feminism. The basic tenet of feminism is that women and men are equal. Therefore, women should be treated equal and not be subjugated by men. Power is shared with men. This has caused women to avoid marriage. Those that do marry, enter it on with stipulations that it will be a 50-50 contract.

Much more could be said on what machismo has done in our Hispanic culture, but these are my own thoughts and ideas on what I have learned from my life and experience as a pastor. Though this post is mostly on the negative effects of machismo among Hispanics, my goal in writing this is to not only bring this to the front but also to see the alternative that we as Christians have been offered through our relationship with Christ. This will be my topic in a follow up post.


[1] https://journalonworldaffairs.org/2021/12/13/machismo-culture-and-gender-based-violence-in-latin-america-are-connected-phenomena%ef%bf%bc/

[2] A current survey of Mexican shows that 62% consider Mexico a “machista” country. https://www.parametria.com.mx/estudios/mexico-un-pais-machista/

[3] “The essential attribute of the Macho is strength, which always manifests itself as the ability to wound, crack, annihilate, humiliate.  Nothing could be more natural, therefore, than the male’s indifference to the offspring he engenders.” “Sexualidad en Mesoamérica: machismo y marianismo” by Alfonso Moisés https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/47265228.pdf.

[4] Ibid.

[5] I am aware that many think that roles are social construct, and that the origin of machismo is due to the patriarchal roles. My position is derived from my theological understanding of the Bible in relation to human nature, family, society and human ethics.

[6] According to some data, 11% of families are single parent in Latin America and the Caribbean, https://vox.lacea.org/?q=blog/madres_solteras_lac. This article points that in the last two decades, single parent homes have increased by 60% in Mexico, a total of four million. Recent statistics show that Colombia is the country with the most single parents. Only 20% of people get married, which might be a factor.  See https://www.unisabana.edu.co/menu-superior-1/saladeprensa/noticias/detalle-de-noticias/noticia/colombia-el-pais-con-mas-madres-solteras-del-mundo-y-donde-la-gente-menos-se-casa-dice-estudio. In the United States, there were 3.39 million Hispanic single mothers in 2022, an increase from 1.19% in 1990.

See: https://www.statista.com/statistics/205192/number-of-hispanic-families-with-a-female-householder-in-the-us/#:~:text=In%202022%2C%20about%203.39%20million%20Hispanic%20families%20with,families%20with%20a%20single%20mother%20in%20the%20U.S. In the US there is a total of 10.89 million single parent homes. See https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/

[7] For the effects that fathers have on children see https://www.fatherhood.gov/sites/default/files/resource_files/e000002312_0.pdf.

[8] This type of violence is perpetrated by men to women all over the world, especially those bound by a religion that puts women in a subhuman category.

[9] In the Mexican culture the word “chingar” according to Octavio Paz has the idea of penetration by force. See https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/47265228.pdf.

[10] Femicide (“feminicidios”) is prevalent in Latin America. Fourteen of the twenty-five countries where it happens, are found in Latin America. See: https://www.telesurtv.net/news/La-crudeza-del-machismo-en-America-Latina-20160705-0026.htmlorl.   Worldwide there were 81,100 killed in 2021 according to the UNODC report. See Femicide_brief_Nov2022.pdf (unodc.org). In the US, 34.4 percent of women experienced some sort of abuse by a man. See Latina Immigrants Vulnerable to Domestic Violence, ‘Trump Effect,’ Advocates Say (usnews.com)

[11] About 7.1% of Hispanics in the US have problems with alcohol consumption. See Substance Abuse Statistics for Hispanic Americans (americanaddictioncenters.org). In Latin América, the number is also increasing. See: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-45626675.

[12] Pedro infante was involved in several marriage affairs and had children from several women while remaining married. His Son Pedro Infante Jr. also lived a turbulent life which involved alcoholism and drug use. Pedro Infante – Wikipedia

[13] Get the Facts About Underage Drinking | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)

[14] Alcohol and Young Adults Ages 18 to 25 | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)

[15] This is different that the passive form called “Maryanism” (Marianismo) where women are almost divine in all aspects therefore endure everything that the man does.

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Encouraging myself

Encouraging myself

Some think that saying things good about ourselves especially to others is considered being proud, overconfident, narcissistic, or other. Similarly, expressing the good things other say about us, is also considered a sort of arrogance. But I think there is genuine value for us to encourage ourselves. Yes, there is a line between what we should say out loud before others to flatter ourselves. But I believe we also need to encourage ourselves. I did it this morning.

I was reminded of the dear older couple from Ukraine that come to our food bank. I have sat with them and with their older daughter translating for me. They have shared a bit about their story. They both offered sweet smiles as we have attempted to communicate. On one occasion, her daughter told me that her dad said, I’m always smiling. I took this in as a complement. Yesterday, I said hi to them as well. Her daughter told me he remembers me even at home. She didn’t specify what, but again I was honored for him to remember me. I told him I also remembered him. Today I took time to pray for them.

I am reminded of my friend Dave who greets people on Sundays. He always shakes my hand and last time told me that he enjoys talking to me every time. I took this in to encourage myself. This means there is something that I do or say that makes our conversation enjoyable.

Then there is also Jim who I met our food bank. He is a very kind man and loves praying with our clients. A little while back I saw him at church with his wife and came to say hi to me. As he was walking away, I heard him say to his wife, “He is a very neat guy, I always enjoy talking to him.” I took this in.  There is something that my life offers to him, it encourages me.

I remember not too long I also met an older mature lady that was serving greeting people. I had met her husband but not her. After this, we continued doing our job. I saw her observing me and I thought it was unusual. She went on and told me she had been watching and saw how I exuded a sense of calmness and peace as I interacted with people. I often just say thank you when someone gives me a compliment, so I did. I used to minimize it, but I soon learned that’s just about the best thing to say. I took this in. It encouraged me.

We often don’t realize how simple things, such as smiling, shaking hands, and just being who God has called us to be make a difference in people’s lives. When I do it, I do it with pleasure. Making others feel good brings me pleasure and pleases God of course. When I remember them, they encourage me, especially during times that I don’t feel great.  So, this is how I encourage myself. But it’s not just myself, God is in the conversation. I thank him for this.

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Thoughts

Thoughts

I search
but I can’t find
the ending I want,
so, I’m left with the thoughts
of why I should live with them
they’re not really mine
they follow me
but I didn’t ask them to
I shoo them away
they leave for a while
then come back again
I’m getting older
and so are they
they seem at first glance
to be my friends
but they’re not
they lie to me
with old lies
I entertain them for a moment
and pay attention
but then I realize
they have to go
their attempt to hurt me
or make me believe them
doesn’t last too long
but I know
they’ll come back again
till then
I’ll just keep going
one day I hope
they’ll never come back!

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Jeremiah’s Calling as a Prophet

God spoke to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1) when he was probably 16-18 yrs. of age. This was his formal “calling to be prophet. He would serve as prophet for over 40 yrs. His service would be marked as “unsuccessful” from the human point of view. He had no converts except his Scribe and a servant. No one wanted to hear his message of judgement. They wanted to hear a positive message like the false prophets were doing. Jeremiah would not do that. He would be faithful to the lord. He suffered a lot and possibly martyred (either stoned or cut in half according to Heb. 11:37).

His calling or setting apart for his ministry came before he was born. God Knew him before he was formed in the womb. He appointed him a prophet

Though we are not called to be prophets, believers in Jesus were also chosen before the foundation the world (Eph. 1:4-6) to be His to be his ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20). We tell others about Him, his message of salvation, his Good News. We are called for this regardless of what we think of ourselves, or others think.

It is noteworthy that it says God formed him in the womb. He also made each of us in our mother’s womb. Hard to believe? God is not limited by our thoughts of Him. He declares it and it is so. I’m grateful He formed me.

“Lord, help me be faithful to your calling. That I would never give up until I carry int what called me for.”

Jeremiah’s Excuses

Jeremiah responds to God’s calling with the fact that he is a youth, and he didn’t have experience speaking in public. God tells him to obey and say what He told Him to say. That simple! He would be with him and would put His words in his mouth. A proof is given by the touching of his mouth. His mouth was now set apart (consecrated) for God. Jeremiah’s words (coming from God) would be against nations and kingdoms, His words would not be popular. It would stir trouble for Jeremiah. But God would be watching all, carrying out his judgement over Judah. Judah had done great evil by forsaking God and worshipping other gods. Judgement would come through Babylon that would conquer Judah. It would be a brutal take over.

Jeremiah would tell them that, but they wouldn’t believe him. God tells Jeremiah to get going and not be discouraged. He would make him an “iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land, against the Kings of Judah, it’s officials, its priests, and the people of the land.”(v. 18). One man against nations. They will fight against him but would not prevail against him. Why? God says, “for I am with you” and He would save him.
Some applications for us:

  • God watches all that happens in our lives. Nothing escapes Him, we are under His care.
  • God has given us a calling, a task to do for Him. It may be life-long.
  • God will give us what we need (His words)
  • God will be with us regardless of what happens.
  • He will never leave is or forsake us. Matt. 28:20
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La Generación Sabelotodo

Crecí antes de la llegada de la Red (“ World Wide Web”) o Internet. Mi primera experiencia fue como un joven adulto casado usando el método de acceso telefónico. No era genial entonces. Las cosas han progresado mucho en cuanto a lo que podemos hacer hoy en día. Esto ha dado lugar a la generación Sabelodo (Doit It Yourself o DIY). La generación que sabe hacer todo con solo “googlear” o encontrarlo en YouTube. Esto tiene ventajas, por supuesto. Me ha ayudado mucho, sobre todo cuando tengo algo que arreglar en casa que no tengo ni idea de cómo hacer. Me ha ayudado a encontrar respuestas a las preguntas que tengo sobre numerosos temas, especialmente cuando estoy escribiendo o investigando un tema. Hay muchos beneficios. Pero, como todo, hay algunas cosas que no son tan buenas. Ha dado a luz a la generación del “hágalo usted mismo”. La generación que puede hacer todo sin ayuda, casi sin interacción humana. La generación a la que no se le puede enseñar porque no necesita que nadie le enseñe. Pueden encontrar las respuestas a sus preguntas sin tener que preguntar a nadie con unos simples clics. Nombra cualquier tema y puedes buscarlo en Google de inmediato. Es más rápido que hacer una llamada telefónica (¿quién todavía hace llamadas telefónicas?), enviar un mensaje de texto o preguntar a alguien en persona. Y para hacerlo todo más fácil, ahora tenemos IA, Inteligencia Artificial. Solo di unas pocas palabras y tu amigo IA estará allí para procesar tu peteción. ¿Cuáles  serán sus ramificaciones en el futuro? Dios lo sabe. Pero tal vez ni siquiera necesitamos a Dios. La IA también puede escribir sermones. No tenemos que ir a la iglesia ni ser parte de ninguna iglesia. Nuestro dios IA puede ser lo que queramos que sea y darnos lo que queremos.

Pero ¿qué es lo que realmente le falta a la generación Sabelotodo? Cuando pienso en lo que todos nos estamos perdiendo, creo que hay valor en aprender a hacer las cosas por nosotros mismos usando nuestra tecnología. Estoy totalmente a favor. Ahorra tiempo y dinero. Nos ayuda a aprender rápidamente. Nos da la oportunidad de evaluar las cosas desde diferentes perspectivas y aprender de los demás a larga distancia. De alguna manera, nos conecta con más personas y amplía nuestra perspectiva de nuestro mundo. Pero también perdemos mucho.

Con todo esto, todavía tenemos mucho que perder si no tenemos cuidado. En primer lugar, perdemos la oportunidad de interactuar con personas en entornos de la vida real, incluso si no es fácil. El mundo virtual nunca podrá reemplazar la interacción humana. Ya sabemos [1] que la falta de ella está causando muchos problemas psicológicos y sociales, especialmente en las generaciones más jóvenes. ¿Por qué? Porque el mundo virtual no es lo mismo que la vida real. Fuimos creados por Dios para tener relaciones tangibles de contacto físico. Nada puede reemplazar esto.

Perdemos un contacto valioso y significativo. Los padres ya no necesitan ni se toman el tiempo para enseñar a los niños cómo hacer las cosas y, por lo tanto, eliminan el tiempo para fomentar las relaciones familiares. Los padres jóvenes ya no necesitan hacer preguntas sobre la crianza de los hijos. Su experiencia en persona ya no es valiosa ni necesaria. Y, sin embargo, estas experiencias personales con otros miembros de nuestra familia son las que crean las conexiones históricas que hacen que nuestras vidas tengan sentido. Sin ellos, nuestra historia está perdida. También perdemos la oportunidad de aprender junto con otros, especialmente cosas difíciles que nos ayudan a crear el vínculo de amistades para toda la vida. Echamos de menos la alegría de aprender juntos.

¿Cómo evitamos esto? Al pensar en ello para mí, creo que comienza con darme cuenta de que Dios ha puesto personas en todas las áreas de mi vida que son valiosas para mí, y las necesito. Incluso si sé cómo obtener las respuestas, necesito hacerlas intencionalmente parte de mi proceso de aprendizaje, tanto en persona como a través de otros medios. Necesito pasar más tiempo con ellos. Cuando necesito ayuda, tengo que pedírsela. Necesito hacerles preguntas. Cuando comparten conmigo, necesito escuchar atentamente. Necesito ser humilde, darme cuenta de que no puedo vivir la vida por mi cuenta y reconocer su valor para mi vida. Su aporte es valioso. Dios lo quiso decir de esta manera.

Necesitamos ser intencionales creando momentos con nuestra familia, iglesia (hay una lista de “unos a otros” en la Biblia que se nos dice que hagamos y que no podemos hacer por nosotros mismos. No existe el cristianismo “Hazlo por ti mismo” (o DIY) y una comunidad donde podamos vivir y aprender juntos. El bricolaje debe ser reemplazado por “Hagámoslo juntos”.

You can find it in English here.


[1] Aquí hay otra publicación que explica mucho de lo que nuestra cultura de la “dopamina” nos está haciendo. https://www.honest-broker.com/p/the-state-of-the-culture-2024

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Entrevista: Siendo una Iglesia Multiétnica

En este último segmento el pastor Edgar comparte sobre la misión que tenemos de ser una iglesia multiétnica.

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The DIY Generation

I grew up before the advent of the world wide web or the internet. My first experience was as a young married adult using the dial-up method. It wasn’t great then. Things have progressed so much as far as what we can do nowadays. This has given rise to the DIY generation. The generation that knows how to do everything just by “googling” or finding it on YouTube. This has advantages of course. It has helped me a lot, especially when I have something to fix at home that I have no clue how to do. It has helped me to find answers to questions I have about numerous topics, especially when I am writing or researching a topic. There are so many benefits. But, just like everything there are some things not so good. It has given birth to the do-it-yourself generation. The generation that can do everything without help, almost without any human interaction. The generation that can’t be taught because they don’t need anyone to teach them. They can find out the answers to their questions without having to ask anyone with a few simple clicks. Name any topic, and you can “google” it right away. It is faster than making a phone call (who makes phone calls anymore?), sending a text or asking anyone in person. And to make it all easier, now we have AI, Artificial Intelligence. Just say a few words, and your AI friend is there to process your request. What will be the ramifications of it in the future? God knows. But maybe we don’t even need God. AI can write sermons too. We don’t have to go to church or be part of any church. Our AI god can be what we want it to be and give us what we want.

But what is the DIY generation really missing? When I think about what we are all missing, I do think there is value in learning how to do things for ourselves using our technology. I am all for it. It saves time, and money. It helps us learn quickly. It gives us an opportunity to evaluate things from different perspectives and to learn from others from long distance. In some ways, it connects us with more people and widens our perspective of our world. But we also lose a lot.

With all of this, we still have a lot to lose if we are not careful. First, we lose our opportunity to interact with people in real life settings even if it is not easy. The virtual world can never replace human interaction. We already know[1] that the lack of it is causing a lot of psychological and social problems, especially in the younger generation. Why? Because the virtual world is not the same as real life. We were created by God for tangible, physical contact relationships. Nothing can ever replace this.

We lose valuable and meaningful contact. Parents no longer need nor take the time to teach kids how to do things and thus eliminating the time to foster familial relationships. Young parents, no longer need to ask questions about parenting to parents. Their in-person experience is no longer valuable nor needed. And yet, these personal experiences with others in our family are the ones that create the historical connections that make our lives meaningful. Without these, our history is lost. We also lose the opportunity to learn together with others, especially difficult things that help us create the bond of life-long friendships. We miss the joy of learning together.

How do we avoid this? As I think about it for me, I think it begins with realizing that God has put people in all areas of my life that are valuable to me, and I need them. Even if I know how to get the answers, I need to intentionally make them part of my learning process both in person and through other means. I need to spend more time with them. When I need help, I need to ask them. I need to ask them questions. When they share with me, I need to listen intently. I need to be humble, realizing I can’t live life on my own and acknowledge their value for my life. Their input is valuable. God meant it this way.

We need to be intentional in creating moments with our family, church (there is a list of “one another” in the Bible that we are told to do and cannot be done by ourselves. There is no such as DIY Christianity) and community where we can live and learn together. DIY should be replaced with “Let’s do it together”.

[1] Here is another post that explains much of what our “dopamine” culture is doing to us.

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The Fatherhood of God

Lord, art thou in the room?
Come near my bed; oh, draw aside the curtain!
A child’s heart would say Father, were it certain
That it would not presume.

I was reading a poem from George MacDonald about God’s Fatherhood (quote above). It’s a very sweet poem that expresses the longing of a child to his Father. It made me think about my need of a father. Growing up as a child, I was basically on my own. I had sisters, the older ones that watched over me. My mom worked at the meat market all day and I saw her when she came home. But she was busy, making dinner and doing other chores. There were no conversations with her or with any of my sisters. I had a friend with a nickname ” Toño. He was older than me. We did things together, but I was very independent. I remember roaming in the canyons, exploring nature, climbing trees, herding neighbor’s animals.

But I had no father. I’ve never had the privilege of calling anyone “Dad,” or “Father”. I met my “father “when I was a teen, 13 or 14, not sure. He came to visit us when we were living in Santa Ana, California. I didn’t have any long conversation. I didn’t see him as my father. He looked like a stranger to me. It was when I was engaged to my wife that I went to talk to him. I discovered how much I resembled him in spite of the fact that I never lived with him. I went to see him a few more times and took my son to meet him. We had conversations. I don’t recall calling him “Dad” (Papi). I saw him one last time when they had his memorial in 2013(I wrote about it here). My then adopted 4-year-old daughter met her “abuelo.” That was it!

So back to fatherhood. This poem made me long for my Father as a father. MacDonald puts God as that father we all long here. The father near us, comforting us, protecting, making us feel completely secured. There isn’t of course a perfect father here, but we all need one. Those of us who never had one are left with a sense of loss. As much as we know God as our Father, we cannot help to feel the emptiness, the “open” place left in our lives. We long for his touch, his comfort, his example and his words of encouragement. Many times, I have met some good fathers and wish they had been mine. But for now, till then and forever God is my Father. He calls himself the father to the fatherless. I am one.

 

 
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Book review: Multilingual Church: Strategies for Making Disciples in All Languages

Multilingual Church: Strategies for Making Disciples in All Languages by Jonathan Downie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book offers a different side of what we call “multiethnic” churches. The idea is that churches where there is a diversity of ethnicities and by implication languages, need to adapt to be able to make disciples of all nations. I have read a few books of becoming a multiethnic church and all of them make English as the dominant language in church services. This book calls for a more balance approach. In other words, using other languages as part of the services and church life. In practice, it is a very difficult task. The churches that try to have a multilanguage service, do so in maximum of two languages and that can be difficult if not chaotic. Obviously, this isn’t easy. The author discusses various types of services, both pros and cons. His context is primarily the UK where there is diversity everywhere.
He also focuses on discipling all ethnicities in their language and not just being multilingual for the sake of being multilingual. He makes a strong case for this, and I agree with him. The focus is on making disciples of all people in the church regardless of ethnicity. How that is done is dependent on each church’s context. There aren’t many churches or studies to find good models.

I currently work in a church and attempting to do this (I have in a previous church as well with some limitations). I work with Hispanics but also coming along side of Ukrainians who are becoming part of our church. We have classes, bible studies, a small group, simultaneous translation and support for our Spanish speakers. We also do simultaneous translation in Russian and hoping to launch a small group in Russian/Ukranian soon. What the church will look like is not up to me, but God will guide us. But the vision in my mind is to have small groups in different languages that reflect our community, services to reach first generation ethnic language speakers, sprinkles of other languages in our services, support in multiple languages for global ministry events (membership, training, etc…), global encounters and diverse staff and involvement in our church life.

This book has helped me affirm our task as the Church of Christ and offered a different perspective from someone in another part of the world that is so diverse. The US is rapidly moving in that direction and as the church we are called to make disciples of all nations (ethnicities).

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Our Sense of Humor

My students used to love
putting my face in characters.
I encouraged it.

I was thinking about my sense of humor. Most people that don’t know me well enough, don’t know that I have a sense of humor. I was thinking about this today. Where did I get this sense of humor? I tried to go back and think who in my family had a sense of humor and I could only think of my mom when she was happy. She didn’t joke around but her expressions and even the few times I saw her dancing or singing was part of this good sense of humor. Sense of humor involves not only being silly, saying silly things or joking. Humor doesn’t have to be crass either. As I thought about it in my life, I couldn’t remember that I had it in my early childhood. As a young adult I liked saying funny things but in a serious way, especially when I taught in front of people. I think it “flourished” when I became a teacher in elementary. I found my audience. We had a lot of fun in the classroom and laughed a lot. My students often described me as funny or that my classroom was fun. I always had a good sense of when to stop and be serious. I was demanding as a teacher, but I believed in having a good sense of humor. This has prevailed in me, though mostly expresses with those close to me, especially my wife and my fourteen-year-old daughter who loves being silly and funny. At times we drive my wife crazy.  But this makes our time together fun. We can look at things and laugh about the silliness of it. We can say things that are funny. Having humor helps us be creative and see life differently. Humor has value.

Recently I heard a comedian say in a speech to recent graduates say “Do not lose your sense of humor…Not enough of life makes sense to survive without humor…you gotta laugh. That is the one thing at the end of your life you will not wish you did less of. Humor is the most powerful, most survival, essential quality you will ever have or need to navigate through the human experience.”

He goes on but asserts again that if they don’t remember anything of his speech, they should remember to not lose their humor. “And Humor”, he says, “Is not for the stress relief or just the simple fun of laughing but for the true perspective of the silliness of all humans and all existence. That’s why you don’t want to lose it.”[1]

This makes sense to me. There’s too much we experience that hurts, makes us sad, disappointed or that we don’t understand. Humor brings relief.

As God’s creatures, we were created in His image and as such we share some of his characteristics. Is humor part of it?  I believe so. I believe that in God’s Kingdom, in the New Heaven and Earth, humor will be part of it. We will laugh together and have a lot of fun. We will have myriads of ways to be funny. There will be times for good silliness. We will enjoy life to the fullest. I’m sure Jesus will join us too.

[1] Jerry Seinfeld commencement address at Duke University’s class of 2024, May 12, 2024.

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