It is the beginning of strawberry season in Virginia, and growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles I did not have much occasion to pick fruit for myself. As a litigation attorney most of my job revolves around the misery people inflict upon one another. I find cooking a therapeutic outlet, especially when cooking for others. It’s refreshing to make other people happy. I got it into my head to pick local strawberries and make some jam.
After I got home with my haul, I offered to make whipped cream and strawberries to share with one of my room-mates who was lounging on the couch. He said that two men sharing strawberries and cream was ‘gay’ and that I was welcome to eat them on my own, but he would not participate. Now I should clarify that this friend is older than I am, from the South, and consistently sarcastic. I am quite literal, which impels me to continually clarify whether he is joking or not. I pressed whether he really meant what he said; he insisted it was very un-manly.
I confess I was quite hurt by what he said. I think this sort of thing happens because the modern mind does not have a good model of what is manly, so it goes to extremes to ensure it is never mistaken for its opposite. But is cooking inherently effeminate? Does my enjoyment of this, and desire to share it make me effeminate? I think not. I think men are like dragons.
Dragons share common characteristics; they are reptiles, they are large, strong, tough, and potentially dangerous. Generally they can breathe fire, have wings and can fly. But it’s important to note that not all dragons have these later abilities.
Glaurung for instance, the first dragon according to J.R.R. Tolkein, did not have wings. Haku the water-dragon from “Spirited Away” could fly without wings, and showed no ability to breathe fire. But those dragons are not lesser dragons because they were different; they were simply an uncommon type of dragon. So too it is with men. Some men are artists, some warriors, some a mixture of both; some are fast, some clever, some strong. Some men have none of these abilities,
yet they can move the soul with music. King David was blessed with both the arts of music and war.
I may lack “some of that quick spirit” which is in other men, but I am not a lesser son because of it. Did not Jacob cook the stew while Esau hunted? Yet God chose Jacob to be his instrument. It was Jacob who eventually wrestled with God from evening until morning, not Esau. Paul himself wrote:
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? . . . The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our un-presentable parts are treated with greater modesty……–1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (partial)
Unless something is inherently or explicitly sinful, I do not think we should so casually disdain it because it is different. It is un-christian. I am not a normal type of dragon, but I am no less for it.