On Jesus, Gingerbread and the Question of Alphas

On Jesus, Gingerbread and the Question of Alphas December 11, 2018

People are still up in arms about gingerbread.

Somehow, my calling out of Dr. Taylor Marshall for claiming gingerbread was effeminate went semi-viral, at least compared to my usual shares. I wish just once the things I write that are worth reading would go viral– my Way of the Cross or Sorrows and Joys of Mary. But it’s always politics or random posts about gingerbread. Next thing I knew, everyone was making jokes about gingerbread. Even Doctor Marshall himself apparently tweeted at one point how much he loved gingerbread, for many reasons including that it was invented by a monk– a fact I didn’t know. If a monk invented the treat, then I wonder why Taylor can’t imagine Saints Basil and Gregory decorating it, but that’s another story. Gingerbread and whether it’s masculine is a hot topic right now.

One of my readers was mentioning that two of her relatives, both Marines, and her husband who was a construction worker, all got together and made gingerbread cakes and trains for the holiday. I noted that building buildings and trains is stereotypically considered a “man thing,” as is liking to eat in some circles– thus making gingerbread pretty manly.

A brand new commentator named Beleriand, who had a picture of Boromir for his profile picture, chimed in. This was the man’s very first comment on Disqus and it will be his last on my blog. He said, “Marshall is an alpha, he is very strong and practices martial arts, he’d make short work of those people you mentioned. Doing it with young children is one thing but doing it amongst other men is a bit sad.”

This comment was so alarming I’m going to have to issue a general warning. To any of my readers who practice the various martial arts: good for you! Martial arts are great exercise; they’re wonderful for your mental health as well, and good discipline for building self-control. But no matter how proficient you get at martial arts, do not attempt as an individual to “make short work” of two members of the United States Marine Corps and a construction worker you’ve interrupted decorating Christmas cookies. You will die. Even if you’re a strapping paragon of a man like Taylor Marshall,  if you run up barehanded to two Marines yelling “Hi-YAH!” and trying to kill them, you will die. Don’t do it.

And to Beleriand, specifically: why do manly manhood protesting-too-much dudebros use The Lord of the Rings characters for their profile pictures all the time anyway? Have you ever read Tolkein or did you just think “Beleriand” was a cool name? Tolkein’s men, and male elves and dwarves and such, are not “alphas” as the term is usually applied. They kiss each other and call each other by endearments; they sing and dance and tell stories. They have courtly manners. They’re polite to women. They could still take down Taylor Marshall. I mean, maybe he could hold out for awhile against Boromir, who always struck me as an idiot. But not Aragorn. This is no reflection on Taylor Marshall.

To everyone who would like to know: Did you know that the designations “alpha male” and “beta male” actually come to us from studying the social behavior of domestic chickens? It’s true. The alpha rooster is first in the pecking order. Lower-ranking roosters, the “clucks” if you will,  do not crow or breed when the alpha’s around. Hens also have a pecking order, and in the absence of a cock you might find that a dominant female will crow like a rooster and boss all the other chickens around. If the social order is challenged, a fight will ensue with scratching and pecks. And, since crowing and pecking and scratching are annoying to the farmer, the alpha rooster often winds up in a pot with salt water, celery and onions for a nourishing stock– or gets a strategic knife the jewels and becomes a succulent plump capon. Because the real winner in any story about domestic chickens is the farmer. The farmer isn’t an alpha or a beta. The farmer is a human being.

You see, it’s actually not so great to be an alpha. It’s much better to be a human. Humans don’t have to sort themselves by zoological designations like who crows the loudest and who would win a martial arts death match with cookie-loving Marines. Humans can focus on living out the Gospel for the love of Christ. Sometimes that involves martial arts and other means of defending those weaker than you are with necessary force, and sometimes it involves enjoying festivities on a holy day like Christmas by having fun with cookies. Sometimes you cry out with a thousand tongues and sometimes you adopt monastic silence. Sometimes you feast and sometimes you fast. Sometimes you have to cleanse the temple with a whip and sometimes you have to meekly accept martyrdom, eschewing violence even as the enemy tortures you, and both of these things are imitations of Christ. Christ wasn’t an Alpha; he was Man, the Son of Man. He was and remains the model for what it is to be a man, a human and a Christian. Not a rooster but the Lamb of God. Not gingerbread but the Bread of Life. Anyone who eats this Bread will live forever, but he’ll do it at the expense of laying down his own life and taking up the life of Christ.

That’s much nicer than ending up a capon on some farmer’s table, isn’t it?

In Christ, we will all become real, living men and women, with no fear of whether a cookie could diminish what we are.

The Bread of Life will save us, and that’s enough.

(image via Pixabay) 

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