Saturday, June 9, 2007

EMB: Steve Arterburn's "White Sneaker Diaries"

Every Man's Battle: pt 1, ch 1, pg 9-11

At the beginning of the first chapter, Steve Arterburn tells a story of a car-trip he made in 1983 to the town of Oxnard (insert Beavis and Butthead reference here):


I never intentionally set out to be girl-watching that day, but I spotted her about two hundred yards ahead and to the left. She was jogging toward me along the coastal sidewalk. From my sheepskin-covered leather seat, I found the view outstanding, even by California's high standards.

My eyes locked onto this goddesslike blonde, rivulets of sweat cascading down her tanned body as she ran at a purposeful pace. Her jogging outfit, if it could be called that in the days before sports bras and spandex, was actually a skimpy bikini. As she approached on my left, two tiny triangles of tie-dyed fabric struggled to contain her ample bosom.
Man, that is one hell of a way to start off a book that tries to help "good Christian men" avoid "impure thoughts". Giggity giggity aw-riiiiight. B-)

He then goes on to tell how when he turned his head to follow her "lithe figure" in order to record "this banquet of glistening flesh" on his "mental video camera" only to end up rear-ending someone on the Pacific Coast Highway and how he lied to his wife about the accident in order to hide his shame.

I know there are some of you out there that were probably thinking that I was being overly cynical (need I remind you the title of the blog you are reading) when in my earlier "Pimping Purity" blog-entries, I expressed my opinion that the purpose of the "Every Man" franchise was not to help men with in their relationships with women but instead to capitalize on the shame, guilt, and fear surrounding the subject of sex (and especially the male sex-drive) in modern evangelical culture, but I don't think that's the case. Here's why:

After reading this book for the first time, I google-searched for reviews of the EMB. I stumbled across this article in Rolling Stone by Jeff Sharlet:

Every Man operates a hot line, 800-NEW-LIFE [sic], for men who've "threatened" their relationships through their use of pornography. When I called to confess that reading about tight nylon shorts in Every Young Man's Battle had aroused me, a professional masturbation counselor named Jason told me that pornography is "probably the number-one cause of divorce." Then he suggested I sign up for a five-day, $1,800 Every Man's Battle workshop (held monthly in hotels around the country) in which I would take classes on shame, "false intimacy" and "temptation cycles" and work with other men in small groups toward "recovery."

And another interesting snippet on Every Young Man's Battle from a book review site:

The badly done interpretation is only part of the failings of this book, however. While preaching total purity in regards to pornography of all kinds, the authors present some unconscious raciness of their own: when describing his "decadent past" one of the authors lovingly relates in graphic detail the Playboy centerfolds he once sinfully perused ("I can still see the nude Playboy model cloaked in a clear plastic raincoat as the shower cascaded over her...every detail, right down to the curvature of her spreading thighs are imprinted on my brain"). Imprinted indeed- perhaps a little too much. It's almost as if the author's intent is to titillate their young audience.

Now, I'm gonna give you the heads-up. Later in EMB the authors tell the reader that any thoughts about sex (unless they about your wife) are "sinful" and that said thoughts must be "taken captive" right away for one to "fully function as a Christian".

This causes me to ask the question: "How the hell did they write their own books?" Now, I know it's not the most erotic passage in the history of western literature, but keep in mind these "tasty tasty yummy poision cookie" moments appear occasionally throughout this book and others in the "Every Man" series (although mostly when it is Fred Stoeker doing the "talking").

Seriously, it's like what if one of those fad weight-loss books opened with a description of a freshly baked double-layer chocolate-fudge marble cake and later told you that even thinking about food would cause you to gain weight. It only makes sense in two contexts: The authors want you to "fail", or their formula for "freedom from bondage" is a failure in and of itself are they are simply as deluding themselves in believing that it works.

What's really sad is that is that I'm beginning to believe that one of the victims of the "Every Man" movement may happen to be one of it's founders, co-author Fred Stoeker (more on that next time).

I'd like to share more of it here, but I lent my copy of Every Man's Battle to a friend a week ago and when I got it back some of the pages were stuck together. B-) He he!

EDIT: Arterburn's changed his workshop prices to $1,175 for a weekend seminar some time after the Rolling Stone article was published. Just thought you'd like to know.


Lord DoomRater said...

Read the book... in fact I think it's around here somewhere, as I need to return it. I recall the markings in it by my friend who uh, kept seeing a lack of advice for SINGLE men.

Didn't he also mention Rick Joyner in the book as well? If you know of him, any thoughts?

The Cynic Sage said...

I can't recall at the moment. But he does "cite" a lot of pastors and even a "secular" book that labels homosexuality as an addiction (even though he doesn't provide us with the title or the name of author), so the probably mentioned something by that guy.

Yeah, "Every Man's Battle" doesn't have much advice for single people beyond "have more wet-dreams" and "try not to think about tiny triangles of tye-dyed fabric struggling to contain an amble bosom".

Although they did later release an "Every Single Man's Battle"; because, hey, it's not like "Every Man's Battle" was meant for every man.

Search Your Bible said...


Divorce + Remarriage = Adultery

Steph said...

I know a lot of people that have been helped thru the EMB series. Few Christians are honest enough to put their true thoughts out there in an earnest attempt to reach out to others.

Ryan Abanathy said...

If you want a book about a real way to overcome sexual sin and struggle, maybe you should pick up the game plan, by Joe Dallas. It is a practical 30 day guide to sexual integrity, and after thirty days, you can pick it up, start over, and learn to walk in the life God has called us to. Purity, not striving for it. It is totally possible. May God bless.

Generic Viagra said...

So car accident for checking some random girl out, and described her in the most explicit way as he saw her... and he wants to help impure thoughts away from men... good job.

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SaurioP said...

I listen to Arterburn's show every day just to laugh (not about people's issues, but the pure humanistic solutions they give). In the name of "christian counseling" this man just give panacea to his audience without addressing the real problem of man. Obviously this man makes huge profit out of his seminars, probably so much, that the menace of going out of the air worries him greatly. He is begging like crazy for money to keep his show on the air. Another thing is that the he rationalizes grounds after divorce for re-marriage. This man is leading people to adultery. He is accountable to God for mis-leading thousands of people.


Great stuff, you got me as a reader now. I certainly love this website, keep on it. Thank you for the great info.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has been married three times relieves himself of the right to counsel people on life's issues.

Anonymous said...

Is is sad that this show mostly focuses on men's desires and how to overcome them.

That's almost all you hear when you turn on the show.

People do have other problems too, not just that.

And frankly, lately it's been women who have been in the news eyeing and seducing men. How about counseling those women?

It's tiring to hear the same thing again and again.