What’s He So Angry About (Book: Dr. David Stoop)

Photo of an Angry Man
Anger Controls Him
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I picked up a large number of books recently and among them was Dr. David Stoop’s book What’s He So Angry About. I don’t consider myself an angry person – nor does anyone I know. That said, I picked it up knowing that within me there is oftentimes a deep sorrow and anger which I maintain control over but occasionally bursts out – usually with those closest and dearest to me. No, no, I’m not talking about getting physically violent – I’m talking about snapping at someone I love for stupid things, feeling rage over little offenses, and so on…

In addition to my own struggles with anger I know so many who struggle with anger – either as I do – or oftentimes in much more visible and harmful manners. I don’t want to be angry like this, so why not give the book a try?

Ends up the book is an expansion and replacement for The Angry Man and comes from the well-respected Christian Minirth Meier New Life Clinics. Surprising to me was that it was written for the wives of angry men rather than for the angry man himself….still, I figured I’d wade through.

Thus far it has been fairly good. I’m not entirely sold on it – but I’ve liked it enough to read 39 pages on one afternoon and have made a decent number of underlines. Here is a brief overview and some interesting quotes from the journey thus far:

Foreword (by Stephen Arterburn of Every Man’s Battle fame)

  • “…healing can and does occur every day when men become willing to face who they are and fix the parts that are negative, angry, and destructive.” – pg. 8.
  • “I connected with the men who still believe it is ‘her problem not mine,’ who believe that the world must change so they can feel good about themselves.” – pg. 9.
  • “Often a man’s only link to reality is a woman who will help him identify his problems, and offer to help him while he seeks help. The enlightenment process begins when a man sees and accepts himself for what he is–a man who is afraid, full of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.” – pg. 10.
  • “We pointed out that he used forgiveness when referring to molesters and love when referring to a father who was little more than a sperm donor. Yet he had just beaten up the one person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Like many other people he was saying all the right words while the evidence of something very wrong was destroying every relationship he wanted and needed as an adult male.” – pg. 11.

Introduction

  • “The first step in resolving masculine anger is a man’s willingness and ability to talk about what’s bugging him…Most men in the real world are neither willing nor able to talk about what’s bothering them.” – pg. 19.

1. Growing Up Without Father

  • “…a primary source of the seething undercurrent of anger that pervades much of the male population is the diminishing influence of the father in a man’s life. A number of studies in recent years have shown that less than one percent of males have or have had a close relationship with their fathers.” – pg. 25.
  • “Men often are not very emotional, but if you want to see a man get emotional, just ask him about his father.” – pg. 25.
  • Stoop highlights the changes brought on by the industrial revolution. Whereas fathers had previously spent all day most days with their sons – working and playing together – with technological innovation fathers moved out of the homes and became a peripheral, if at all present, influence in their sons’ lives. Mom became the primary mentor and caregiver.
  • “Father-to-son influence was defaulted to mothers, teachers, coaches, pastors, and youth workers–all noble but inferior substitutes.” – pg. 31.
  • “Men aren’t just looking for someone to teach them a trade; they’re starving for masculine emotional input. They sense a deep need for affirmation and validation from a man who loves them and is committed to them.” – pg. 31.
  • “Another reason men in our culture grope angrily through manhood is the absence of an identifiable rite of passage. They are not confident in their masculinity because their fathers didn’t tell them when boyhood ended and manhood began, nor did their fathers celebrate the event.” – pg. 33.
  • “…the fathers of today’s men were probably so busy just trying to be men that they didn’t even think of preparing their sons for manhood.” – pg. 34.
  • Stoop concludes with several introductory tips on how men can cope without their fathers:
    • By being part of honest discussion with other men about what it means to be a man (references Robert Bly, Michael Meade, James Hillman, as leaders in this field).
    • By grieving over the real losses suffered from the lack of a father.
    • By having real friends who stick by them and encourage them.

I’d like to hear what you think. Was your father present for you growing up? Do you struggle with anger? Do you think Stoop’s hypothesis as to the cause and resolution is spot on or way off?…and, if the issue was largely caused by the Industrial Revolution…is there a resolution to the problem without being Luddites?

Group Magazine

Group Magazine is a well-done, bi-monthly magazine aimed at individuals who work with teenagers in a youth ministry context. Group is well-known for their various curriculums, books, and tools that cover not only youth ministry but also children, group, and adult ministry. Their magazine is filled with practical tips, hints, and articles that assist a youth leader in staying current and keeping the idea bin fresh.

Español: Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
Español: Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said, I really wanted to take just a moment to reply to the editorial in the latest edition (Sep./Oct. 2010) by Rick Lawrence entitled “the two prodigals.” In this article Lawrence tackles the question of whether youth ministry focused on those reaching the unchurched or the churched is more demanding and worthwhile – his end conclusion is that they are both valid and challenging fields.

I’d agree with Lawrence’s evaluation of the situation but would also share my philosophy of youth ministry. I’m not suggesting it as the only way, just as a way.

In my mind the church is primarily about educating and edifying believers for the purpose of outreach. That is, the church is not primarily someplace you bring individuals who don’t agree with you or believe in Christ, but rather a place where you go to learn about Christ, to be encouraged, challenged, and strengthened and then go back into your daily life where you reach out to those you interact with every day. This seems like something that could carry over to a youth group as well – at least its regular meetings.

In my mind, then, the idea is to equip teenagers to share their faith and remain consistent to their faith in their daily lives – rather to bring individuals who don’t agree into the group and change their beliefs. Why? The simplest reason is that those who claim to be “Christians” are at least marginally (supposed to be) interested in maturing in Christ and you can take them through a path of teaching/education, whereas when you attempt to bring in a group of people who do not believe – it is likely each one will be on a separate page that could perhaps be better addressed on an individual level.

So, my suggestion is – use the regular youth meetings to train up the teenagers, use special events to bring your teens together and as outreach opportunities, and be continuously encouraging your teens to be involved in evangelism in their context – e.g. school, work, home, sports.