My Brother's Keeper: What the Social Sciences Do (and Don't) Tell Us about Masculinity

My Brother's Keeper: What the Social Sciences Do (and Don't) Tell Us about Masculinity

by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen


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My Brother's Keeper: What the Social Sciences Do (and Don't) Tell Us about Masculinity by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen

"What is man, that you are mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him?"

Indeed, what is a man?

As our society sorts through what it means to be masculine or feminine and roles drift and shift, men as well as women feel the strain. Very recently, a small but growing field of theory called men's studies has appeared in reaction to the decades-long feminist movement in women's studies. Can the social sciences informing contemporary men's studies (psychology, cultural anthropology and others) provide helpful insight as to what helps or hinders men in becoming the sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers they ought to be?

Following her landmark gender-reconciliation text, Gender and Grace, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen turns her focus to men's studies in this new book. She incorporates the most recent and significant research in the social sciences with a biblically founded Christian worldview that sets the course for men and women being in right relationship. Surveying a vast amount of literature with balance and insight, Van Leeuwen probes the value and plumbs the limits of what the social sciences offer Christians.

For men and women, for students, teachers and general readers, Van Leeuwen offers an alternative to mindless conformity to—or dismissal of—cultural "norms." Rather she encourages pursuit of a faithful masculinity that honors the God who made men and women to be a blessing to each other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780830826902
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication date: 10/28/2002
Pages: 255
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen is professor of psychology and philosophy at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. She taught at Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan) for many years, and she has been a senior editor of Christianity Today. Currently she is a contributing editor for Books & Culture.

Van Leeuwen has written, cowritten, and contributed to several books, including The Psychology of Intergroup Relations (with L. Kidder, McGraw-Hill, 1975), The Person in Psychology (Eerdmans, 1985), After Eden (one of several contributors, Eerdmans, 1993), Religion, Feminism & the Family (co-editor, Westminster John Knox, 1996), The Family Handbook (co-editor, Westminster John Knox, 1998) and Women and the Future of the Family (with Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Mardi Keyes and Stanley Grenz, Baker, 2000).

Table of Contents

IntroductionPart 1: Background Issues
1. Masculinity Under Siege
2. The Biblical Drama and the Gendered Powers
3. Masculinity and Honor: A Mixed LegacyPart 2: Disciplinary Perspectives
4. What Can We Learn from Biology?
5. What Can We Learn from Developmental Psychology?
6. What Can We Learn from Other Cultures? Part 3: Continuing Challenges
7. The Challenge of Evolutionary Psychology
8. Men, Religion and the Distortion of the Cultural Mandate
9. Men, Religion and Contemporary FeminismPart 4: Contemporary Applications
10. Men, Marriage and Male Parenting
11. Men, Masculinity and Nonrelational Sexuality
12. An Agenda for Gender Reconciliation Names Index Subject Index

What People are Saying About This

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead

"In this well-wrought argument, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen combines scholarly insight with a practical agenda for a 'third way' approach to resolving the tired dichotomies of gender stereotypes. A challenging and illuminating contribution to the debate over men's and women's work and family roles."
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Ph.D., Co-director, The National Marriage Project, Rutgers University

Diane Marshall

"As a woman, a family therapist, and a supervisor and trainer of family therapists, I welcome My Brother's Keeper as an important contribution to understanding the dynamics of the development of boys and men. All too often, therapists see families where the absence of fathers seriously affects the lives of children. All too often, marriage relationships suffer or end because of gender differences and a failure to understand each other's needs. There have been many helpful books written for women in this search for gender reconciliation, but little for men. In My Brother's Keeper, Van Leeuwen's scholarly research and readable prose will help all of us--men and women alike--to better appreciate the unique challenges faced by our brothers in the communities of family, work and faith."
Diane Marshall, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Director, The Institute of Family Living

Christine Firer Hinze

"Readers familiar with Gender and Grace will recognize Van Leeuwen's seasoned, balanced and original voice as she brings her theological and interdisciplinary expertise to vexed questions surrounding men, masculinity and gender roles. At once informative and provocative, My Brother's Keeper is another substantial contribution to contemporary Christian scholarly discussions on these crucial topics."
Christine Firer Hinze, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Marquette University

Jack Balswick

"My Brother's Keeper is an excellent book on an important and timely topic. While it contains many scholarly citations supporting the arguments given, due to its conversational style and timely examples it is a delight to read. Although focused upon what the social sciences tell us about masculinity, the book is also biblically and theologically informed, resulting in an integrated understanding of Christian manhood. I look forward to using My Brother's Keeper in my course on men's ministry. This book is must reading for any pastor, church worker or Christian layperson struggling to understand the meaning of masculinity in contemporary society."
Jack Balswick, Professor of Sociology and Family Development, Fuller School of Psychology

Don Browning

"My Brother's Keeper is the best theological statement on masculinity presently available. It is also the most comprehensive review and critique of what the social sciences say about men. It is a beautifully written and wonderfully balanced work."
Don Browning, coauthor of From Culture Wars to Common Ground: Religion and the American Family Debate

William J. Doherty

"A readable and intelligent examination of masculinity and family life from a psychologist and Christian theologian. Few authors are as comfortable with the range of disciplines reflected in this wise and learned book."
William J. Doherty, Ph.D., Professor, Family Social Science Department, University of Minnesota

David G. Myers

"Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen is 'trying to understand men.' So are many of us men. In this work of sweeping scholarship and faith-fueled science writing, she offers an appealing vision for twenty-first-century men (and women). A fascinating, provocative and important contribution to our understanding of men and gender."
David G. Myers, Hope College, author of The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty

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