Yesterday I posted about the story “Women Prefer Meat Eaters” in Australian Men’s Fitness, and finished with a reference to a 2008 article in Sydney Anglicans about Australian men’s ministries and their use of meat-eating and butchery to appeal to men. I recently wrote about this in a new research article I have under review called “That’s Not How We Do Things Here: American Men’s Ministries in an Australasian Context.”
Clearly the universe is sending me some kind of meaty message, as there is another story along these lines this very morning in the Sydney Morning Herald entitled “Parishioners in for their chop, chapter and verse,” with the following lovely picture:
The men watched as half a cow was cut up and were given the chance to put their barbecuing skills to the test and to sample some of the several different cuts of meat. After a hearty three courses, including steaks, pork ribs and lamb leg, Mr Taylor said the only thing left over was salad.
In the past year, Men and Meat evenings have become increasingly popular events at churches around Sydney. Mr Moore said he has held similar events at a number of venues and has another few in the pipeline. The turnout at All Saints in North Epping was 168, he said.
I originally started writing about Australian men’s ministries because theologians and clergy alike had been complaining about my representation of American ministries as if they were typical of those in Australia. Their argument is twofold: First, I present a caricature of evangelicalism that does not bear witness to its diversity; second, I do not acknowledge that evangelicalism (and therefore evangelical men’s ministries) looks different in Australia compared to America. Australian ministries, these critics claim, are more subtle: less prone to soft patriarchy, less prone to appealing to sport and military images to entice men, and consequently less prone to the problematic masculinities they promote.
My general argument is that Australian ministries do little but repeat the many problematic aspects of American ministries. However, I have never seen American ministries appeal to meat and butchery in quite this way, which suggests Australian ministries have their own unique way of asserting normative masculinity alongside the imports from America.