One of my favourite topics is the subject of ‘identity.’ This semester I have taken a sociology subject. It’s the first time I have formally studied sociology and though I felt I was out of my depth and struggled at first to grasp the foundations being taught; I have truly enjoyed it.
Sociology has helped me gain a deeper insight into the social processes, social markers and rites of passage in the formation of identity on a global, national, community and individual basis. And within this framework the study of sociology has a lot to offer the church as to how it can effectively and fruitfully minister to, as well as understand its current position in society.
I recently came across a paper by David Crawford, from the University of Western Sydney on the subject of ‘Becoming a man.’ He writes:
Whilst facilitating men’s experiential workshops over a three-year period in Canberra and California the researcher asked many men aged from 20 up to 60 years, when did they become a man? What was striking was that invariably, each man struggled to answer. Not one could immediately recall a momentous process or circumstance, which marked a personal transformation to perceiving himself and being acknowledged as a man, an adult male.
Initially I thought my transition from high school into full time work would be the rite of passage to manhood. However a conflagration of rules and laws proved in many ways that this was not a societal rite of passage into man hood. I was 17 and was sitting in the pub having a quiet beer, when the local police sergeant came in and kicked me out. My reply to him was; “If I”m old enough to work and pay taxes, I should be old enough to have a beer! in a pub!”
Though I was in my mid thirties when I stopped turning around to look for my father every time someone younger called me Mr Bennett. I cannot remember any defining moment of transition into adulthood, nor the exact moment when I actually thought of myself as a man. Though now I have a quiet confidence that I am a man.
I’m interested in your own experiences and responses towards your own formation of identity into manhood / woman hood.