More Than “Vacuum Cleaner Commandos” -- By: William David Spencer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 12:1 (Winter 1998)
Article: More Than “Vacuum Cleaner Commandos”
Author: William David Spencer


More Than “Vacuum Cleaner Commandos”

William David Spencer

WILLIAM DAVID SPENCER has written several books, including the Prayer Life of Jesus: Shout of Agony, Revelation of Love (University Press of America), which is co-authored with his wife, Rev. Dr. Aida Besançon Spencer. He is pastor of encouragement at Pilgrim Church of Beverly/Salem, MA and teaches summer courses in theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He holds the ThD from Boston University School of Theology. Priscilla Papers 5:1, Winter 1991.

Affirming Egalitarian Males

Recently my neighbor Lord me about a widower living in double jeopardy. With no homemaking training in his past and no wife to clean up after him, his house was piled high with junk, dirty dishes, and soiled clothes. In addition, he had to share that house with a virtual stranger: his child.

“I know very little about my nineteen-year-old,” was the effect of his complaint. “We haven’t talked in years. We don’t know each other at all. I’m living with a total stranger.”

This man’s trouble struck me deeply because yesterday was my own son’s twelfth birthday. As my son hugged me and chatted happily about his day and his gifts and his plans for the future, I was thinking “Nineteen years old is not that very far away for us— only seven years”. Seven years ago our family already lived here in this house in Massachusetts and my son was already in school. That year I was working on my “Male Afterword” for my wife Dr. Aida Besancon Spencer’s book, Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry (to which this article is a kind of sequel).

No, seven years is a very brief time. How could a father who lived day in and day out with another person, his son, fall so far out of touch that his son had become a stranger to him?

Blasted By The Past

Kenneth Taylor, of Living Bible renown, wrote a poignant article entitled “The Father I’d Like To Have Been” (Sunday Digest 1/4/70). He began by listing regrets that plagued both his parenting of his ten children and his communication with his wife. Some regrets were letting career worries tall family fun, not bothering to play with his children when they asked him to do so. Fighting at the dinner table over “some trivial disagreement mat threatened my security as the head of the house,” and his difficulty in displaying affection.

Such regrets are the fallout of the old traditional model of fathering. Males in this model are cast out of the home into the market place and, though nominally “head of the house”, are forced to be strangers in their homes and to their children. (For instance...

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