Rites of Passage and our blessed patriarchy

Been having a conversation with a friend lately in regards to men’s rites of passage and patriarchy and what I am doing through bridgeWORKS. The conversation goes as follows…


Help me understand more about the male rites of passage as you understand them. i looked on Richard Rohr’s website… is that what you are working with?

I like what he has to say. how will this change some of the patriarchy that is so much part of evangelical christianity?

My response:

Thanks for the note. Hmmm… rites of passage… the historic traditions of local communities that help men make the transition from boyhood to manhood. i suppose it varies based on the tradition… but much of it involves the release of the son from the care of the father and mother to the care of the male elders of the “village.” There is a recognition of place in the society. Fathers cannot do all the raising of a man. there is too much unrealistic expectation. In our western world, the majority of fathers are not all that present. It has to do with the sons not seeing their fathers working or working alongside them… in this situation rites of passage are even more important.

Women traditionally did not have rites of passage… at least there is not as much of a need for them. They have more physical transitions into womanhood.

I am not sure how this will affect the patriarchy problem. I am a believer in men and women coming to a more firm grasp on their masculinity and femininity (all of us experiencing both… sometimes men preferring the feminine and women preferring the masculine… either is ok), but not finding some equal balance in the middle. The most dynamic relationship is when there is a polarity between the two. Patriarchy is a problem when men become stubborn and don’t listen to the women voices. There needs to be room to hear the masculine AND feminine voice. Problems arise, however, when the women who fight for a voice simply express the masculine voice. The grasping or pursuit of power and control is really a masculine thing. Not something that is restricted to men, but definitely a masculine thing. So I am not necessarily trying to find a different way to look at the patriarchy as I am trying to help men be better men… more willing to pay very close attention to the feminine voices. If this happens, patriarchy will be changed. Check out David Deida’s stuff. Read Way of the Superior man or Blue Truth. This is what i’m talking about.

Thanks for the questions.

4 thoughts on “Rites of Passage and our blessed patriarchy

  1. Thank god, I’m too old to care about whether I had, or should have had, a rite of passage. If anything, I need a rite of passage into old age, but such rites always seem to focus on adolescents.


  2. Some questions that I think is worth asking:

    Why is it so important to have rites of passage other than that is what we have always done?

    Isn’t that sticking to tradition?

    What about circumcision both male and female?

    What about “first” communion?

    Do you mean rites, like the Order of the Arrow in Boy Scouts, killing your first deer and eating the heart? Smoking a cigar, drinking a beer? Could you give an example of a rite of passage you think is necessary?

    How much influence does your community have on who you become?

    Is “our” patriarchy really blessed?

    Feel free to respond to some, all, or none of these.



  3. Most rites of passage are about assuming responsibility. “When I was a child I acted like a child, but when I became a man I put away these childish things.” More men (and women) do need to understand their true power better, but more importantly they need to understand their responsibilities even more. Rites of Passage might include secret messages about reality, after death expectations, where the good hunting grounds are, bonding with the adult community, how to treat your spouse, how to fight, how to be brave in tough times, how to have hope in the future, what their new name will be as an adule and how to pass all this on to the next generation. Mostly it is about the rest of the adult community accepting you as an adult and leader. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Judaism is mostly about leading the community in worship thus becoming a leader of others.

    Most of these traits/rituals/values are not exclusive to males anymore!!

    Perhaps we need a “persons right of passage” event??

    I am curious to know Nate, what things you see as exclusively masculine and as exclusively feminine? You state “Women traditionally did not have rites of passage… at least there is not as much of a need for them. They have more physical transitions into womanhood.”
    I would challenge this view as being patriarchal and outdated. Reformed Judaism added the Bat Mitzvah, but Orthodox Jews still do not do it since girls/women do not lead in worship in these Synagogs.


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