Chaplaincy | What a young man should know

Chaplaincy | What a young man should know

My morning nearly always begins online, reading about what’s happened overnight in the rest of the world. Most mornings, it’s OK. So far, so good. This morning I noticed an opinion piece, entitled ‘Why I stopped going to the barbershop’. So, with a title like that, I’m interested. What followed was a reflection on barbershops as a ‘microcosm of consecrated masculinity’, where men were relaxed and uninhibited though not in a good way. Instead, they celebrated problematic male behaviour and nauseating things said about women as well as anyone who was different. It was often cloaked in secrecy and sometimes even a different language.

My distant memory of barbershops doesn’t evoke the same nausea, but I share similar sympathies. I’ve lived through some of those sorts of microcosms of masculinity, and I don’t enjoy them. It makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. As a player, the rugby tour, where what went on tour stayed on tour. Working in a blue-collar job on an engine line between Uni semesters. Even being a teenage student at a humble, all boys high school in the southwest of Sydney. I know what it sometimes can be like, with men – and sometimes it is not very nice.

The Trinity mission statement goes like this – ‘To provide boys with a thoroughly Christian education in mind, body and spirit’. The word boys is deliberate. You may have also seen in all sorts of places, including our Trinity buses, and billboards the phrase, ‘Growing Good Men’. Again, the word men is carefully chosen. The trajectory is clear. We want our boys to grow into good men. The scope of this endeavour is vast, and beyond the reach of these few words but it does provide a small segue to our series of Chapel talks this term, entitled, ‘What a Young Man Should Know’. It is based on a couple of letters in the New Testament from an older Christian leader called Paul and a younger man called Timothy, who is facing up to a new challenge. This week, for example, we are thinking about the help that might be available for the timid and how love and self-control trumps everything. The week before, it was the unfashionable pursuit of contentment and before that, the contrast between training for the body and training for the soul. These are but some of the things a young man should know, and the chapel ministry provides an important voice into this space.

If you would like to read the article, I have provided a link. It is provocative, so I offer it with a content warning, including sexualised and coarse language. You can find it here. Yet despite my finding the microcosms of masculinity illustrated here uncomfortable, I am thankful for another part of Trinity’s mission statement when it comes to our endeavour of growing boys to good men.

Trinity’s focus is thoroughly Christian. A Christian conviction that is foundational to our school is that every person is made in the image of God and therefore inherently and equally deserving of respect, dignity, and regard, regardless of their giftedness, their wealth, their potential, their appearance, their race, their sex, or their circumstances. This conviction compels us to have empathy for other people, because they are not ‘other’ to us. They are made in the image of God.

Christians believe that the fundamental obligations that sit on all of us are the call to love God and to love others. In fact, we show our love for God in the way that we love others – in considering them more highly than ourselves, in walking the extra mile to help them, in putting aside our own interests to act in their interests. Whether that is at the bus stop, on the basketball court, or in in the barbershop.

Greg Webster | Chaplain

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