Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality was published by Herald Press, 2009. The book can still be purchased from the publisher at http://store.mennomedia.org/search.aspx?k=under+construction, Amazon, or local Christian bookstores. I am available for speaking engagements related to the book. Please read the press release below and check out the reviews as well as a few dozen blog posts related to the subject of the book.
A Fresh Voice in Men’s Spirituality
WATERLOO, Ont. and SCOTTDALE, Pa. –When it comes to male spirituality, men seem to have only two choices for models.
“They are told to be strong, take-charge and independent, like warriors, or silent and alone, like meditating monks,” says Gareth Brandt, author of the new Herald Press book Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality. “Being aggressive or passive seem to be the only options out there.”
For Brandt, who teaches spirituality at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., those images—made popular by some Christian men’s movements—are too limiting.
“When I started examining the subject, I thought there must be other images we could use to help us define what a Christian man looks like,” he says. “I was sure that not every man wants to go into battle, or withdraw from others.”
He decided to test his idea by inviting male friends to participate in a discussion group exploring different images of male spirituality. “Within 24 hours, the group was full,” he says. “It showed me that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way.”
The result of those meetings is Under Construction, which uses the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis to explore other images of male spirituality. “I would send a chapter out in advance, and then we would meet and talk about it,” he says. “The discussion helped me refine the book, and made it a group project”
“Joseph was an ordinary man who experienced a lot in life—tragedy, shattered dreams, temptations and fulfillment in life and work,” he says. “Yet he was strong and gentle, showed a love for God, was able to forgive and be reconciled with those who had harmed him.”
The desire to be a peacebuilder and to promote God’s shalom in the world is a key element of male spirituality for Brandt.
For Brandt, male spirituality “reaches its height when it shows compassion to all people, beginning with those close to us. It’s about being part of building God’s commonwealth of love and justice, having the courage to face the wounds of our past and building a marriage, a family, and a career while empowering others to build with us.”
As for the book itself, Brandt acknowledges that it can be tough to get men interested in reading about why they need to talk about spirituality. “That’s why I call this a ‘men’s book for those who don’t read men’s books.’ I didn’t read men’s books either until I began to research for this project, but I have become convinced that we need to talk about our unique spirituality as men. I just don’t think the resources out there up to this point tell every man’s story.”
And why should men want to open up or read about this subject?
“We are half of the human race, and we’re responsible for a lot that has gone wrong in the world,” he says. “Plus, North American men are the most powerful group of people on the planet. A good place to start is a humble self-examination and an exploration of some healing and holistic metaphors of spirituality. That is what I hope to provide with this book.”