Magazine article Insight on the News

Father Absence Key to Male Masculinity Crisis. (Fair Comment)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Father Absence Key to Male Masculinity Crisis. (Fair Comment)

Article excerpt

Luke Helder knows the first rule is "don't talk about Fight Club". While Helder has not acknowledged drawing any inspiration from the 1999 movie of that name, circumstantial evidence points in that direction.

Helder has confessed that the goal of his mailbox pipe bombings in the Midwest was to create the pattern of a "smiley face" on the map of the United States. The smiley face is the same pattern used in Fight Club when Brad Pitt's legion of anarchical terrorists commence Operation Mayhem, a series of terrorist attacks designed to topple modern American society. If Helder was copycatting to create his own version of Operation Mayhem, then what at first glance seemed to be a senseless spree of violence by an unlikely perpetrator slowly begins to make sense.

The story of Fight Club revolves around an unnamed narrator (portrayed by Edward Norton) and tracks his transformation from a Milquetoast, cubicle-bound, 98-pound weakling into a steel-willed Nietzschean ubermensch. This rebirth is brought about through his association with the Pitt character, Tyler Durden.

Durden reveals the secret frustration behind the nihilistic frenzy he has fomented when reminding the men, "We've all been raised on television to believe we'd all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact, and we're very, very [ticked] off."

Durden attributes the missing value system in the lives of these men to poor male role models: "Your father was your model for God. And if your father bails out, what does that tell you about God?" He further elaborates on the possibility that "God doesn't like you," but that "His hate is better than His indifference."

Aside from a missing father and a hostile God, Durden laments that the men are a "generation of men raised by women."

So all this means that Helder is a mixed-up kid in a movie-fueled fantasy world a la John Hinckley and his Taxi Driver fixation, right?

Maybe not. In 1999, author Leon J. Podles warned in his book, The Church Impotent, that the feminization of Western Christianity would have dire consequences. Podles astutely observes that the psychological composition of young males requires them to undergo certain rites of passage initiated by mature males in order to achieve a healthy maturity. …

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