What is the background to this project?
A New Aspiration for Marriage
A new aspiration for intimate relationship now shapes people's view of marriage. The social and cultural conditions under which most people lived in former times gave much less scope for this. A generally more pragmatic approach to marriage has given way to a more romantic one. Now it is simply taken for granted that marriage should be a more satisfying emotional and sexual experience. And yet these aspirations are still elusive for many.
A Less Supportive Path to Marriage
Young people now are mostly left to their own devices in trying to find a spouse. In former times most marriages were arranged by parents and according to often quite clear and even rigid cultural norms. As that era passed away there still remained a supportive structure in which the pattern and expectations of courtship were clear. But now most of that too has dissolved and young people have to make their own way, and in a youth culture that is often unhelpful in such matters.
A Confused Cultural Situation
For a long time now Western culture has been shaped by a strongly individualist ideal. The counter-balancing communal element has been weak by comparison, and values have changed significantly, even radically. Positions that were taken for granted since time immemorial are now questioned and often rejected. This greatly affects relations between men and women.
A Weakening and Loss of Community
The ties that bind people closely together and encourage strong identity have markedly diminished. Young people now grow up in a world with far less cohesion and unity. Many struggle quite literally even to meet suitable potential marriage partners. Local community provides far fewer structured means to assist those seeking marriage and to support those already married. Large numbers remain single by default.
Christian Disorientation and Revival
The successive waves of change have caused great disorientation among Christians. Churches have struggled to know how to respond and in the process a great many people have drifted away. Yet Christian communities are also the most likely places to give birth to positive movements for building society and culture anew.
A More Detailed Look ...
Who is this magazine for?
Those concerned with what is happening in our society and culture and looking for a body of thought to help them think through the nature of masculinity and femininity and its implications.
Those looking for ideas and resources to help them to foster a more beautiful culture of relations between men and women.
Married couples wanting to understand each other better and deepen the intimacy between them.
Young adults looking for love and wanting to understand what makes the other sex tick.
Marriage educators looking for resources to throw new light on the complementarity of men and women.
Community leaders such as pastors and lay leaders of churches looking for a better understanding of how to support youth, young adults and adults in their emotional and relationship growth.
Those with Christian faith seeking a better understanding of how the complementarity and attraction between the sexes is integral to spirituality.
Any man or woman wanting to understand the other sex better.
What is it about?
There are two key ideas that will be explored.
The first is the notion of emotional complementarity. As we go along, a basic model of emotional complementarity will be proposed which will provide the integrating idea that ties everything together.
It is essential in this to give equal weight to the distinctive emotional lives of men and women, since it is a field where confusion and mystification are not uncommon.
This focus on emotion does not mean a focus only on the interpersonal. It shapes the cultural reality as well, and a major aim of this project is to draw out more clearly the dynamic interplay between the personal-relational and the communal-cultural dimensions of life.
This leads to the second key idea - attractive complementarity. This is the attraction between the sexes, not just the attraction between particular individuals, but the attraction between the masculine and feminine.
It seems like a simple and obvious enough thing, but it is central to the goal of fostering a beautiful culture of relations between men and women.
What problems does it address?
This project aims to clarify the nature of the good of the emotional and cultural dimension of human sexuality.
So it does not focus on the problems, distortions and dysfunction that so often beset relations between men and women. Its aim is not essentially remedial or therapeutic. It is not about what happens when people have bad intentions, or addictions, or live in dire situations.
Rather, the aim here is broadly educational. It assumes the good. It assumes ordinary good intentions, more or less ordinary circumstances, and people of at least enough basic maturity to be ready to consider some further steps in personal growth.
Insofar as it addresses problems they are problems stemming from lack of understanding and often the lack of a supportive social and cultural context.
Who is the publisher of this magazine?
My name is Jim Mackinnon and as the years have passed I've begun to reflect more on the kinds of issues explored in this project. I am a single man, and so it might surprise some that I am devoting myself to this project. It might seem at first to be about the kinds of things mainly relevant to married couples. However, this project is not only about married life, but just as much about single life, and broader issues of community and culture. When it comes to the topic of sexuality I won't be venturing into matters of physical intimacy but on those things that shape the emotional context of relationships.
I have spent many years working in a church context in youth and parish ministry, and in organisations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society. At the same time I have a strong personal interest in furthering my understanding of the nature of the human person and community, and their philosophical and theological foundations. Out of this background I see the need for a new synthesis of ideas, mission and methods. This is why "Man + Woman" Magazine will take a broad approach that doesn't fit into any of the usual fields of study. It draws on many sources both theoretical and practical to propose ideas and approaches that I believe are necessary in our times.
A key part of my motivation for this project comes from my Christian faith, lived in the Catholic church, even though most of the matters addressed here have no specific link to matters of faith. However, since this project is oriented ultimately towards action for change, predominantly at local community level, I will often give examples and make proposals that assume some kind of communal base for action, and realistically, local churches are probably the most likely protagonists for such action. Nevertheless, one of the important aspects of this project is the spirituality of sexuality, which I will treat from a specifically Christian perspective. I encourage readers from other traditions to draw from it what they can.
It is not uncommon for people to think that the only way religion relates to sexuality is via morality. However, this project has an essentially aesthetic-emotional-cultural focus. When moral issues are addressed it will usually be indirectly. I will address such issues from time to time as necessary, and when I do so it can be assumed that my reference point is the teachings of the Catholic Church.