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  • Reverend James Squire

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


I am currently reading David Brooks’ book, The Social Animal, which is a study of the hidden sources of love, character, and achievement in men and women. David is a gifted writer and observer of what makes human beings tick. He is usually seen as a columnist for The New York Times. I have indicated in other blogs that I look for authors where my response is, “I never knew that!” Brooks manages to elicit that response in me on almost every page of his writings. In one section of the book, he examines what men look for in a women mate (assuming heterosexuality) and what women look for in men. He starts all the way back to the dawn of time.


He points out that men are more interested in a women’s body than they are in her face. Women look for attractive faces first and consider the body to be second. Men will get into bed with any women at the drop of a hat, but women will not. Brooks devotes quite a bit of his research to the fact that “men are looking for cleavage and women are looking more for reliability and social intelligence down the road.” Again, this is research, and it is generalizations. You decide if they are accurate for you or not. He also makes a point that women can enter a room and leave and on average remember all the objects in the room at the rate of %60 to 70%. Men can’t do that.


His writings can make you uncomfortable because there is so much truth in what he writes. I first was introduced to him with a book that put him on the map, Bobos In Paradise, is a sociological description of Wayne, Pennsylvania, which is part of the mainline and how people behave there. They own assault vehicles. They have various outdoor wear that is appropriate for serious camping in the woods. Their Bible is the L.L. Bean catalogue Orvis and most dress like that so that you would think that they just jumped off the pages of there go to fashion ideal. Now I live 10 minutes from Wayne on the main line. I find his writings still accurate, but it isn’t easy knowing that I am the new breed of a Bobo.


No other primates have large breasts, but women do. Books’ point through evolution research that they are large to attract men.


All of this is background to understand how my life became very interesting regarding breast appeals with men, but not so much with women who see it as objectifying them. It seems it all comes down to cleavage.


EA is a well-connected community, so I have had the famous of the famous address chapel with important messages of faith, morals, or character. This includes famous athletes, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Morgan Freeman, John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, and a host of others.


So, when a parent suggested that they could get a famous national and international evangelical speaker address chapel, I ran it in by the Vestry and they agreed as well to invite him to speak. This person was a university professor and a person with a keen sense of social justice. He was my ideal of what my community should hear. He was the best of the best in the evangelical movement. What could go wrong?


I always try to have myself or a vestry member look over addresses that are given in chapel. It is not to censure as much as to see if there is anything that will shut the congregation down from really listening to their message. There had been a few occasions where the Vestry and I had to apply censorship.


There is a phenomenon in public speaking which you also see in nighttime program hosts. If they get a laugh, they keep going back to get more.


The evangelical speaker told a joke which included a reference to women’s breasts. There was lots of laughter. What would you expect from hormone driven guys? I let him go on because he really is a terrific guy who speaks the Gospel. I was looking for his experience to kick in and pull out of this constant breast image. It’s didn’t.


Chapel was over. He was on top of the world and so were the parents who invited him into our school. I was dying for I knew what was coming. As the chapel cleared and he left I had a line up outside my office of women faculty and women students to complain about the cleavage and breast images. Throughout the day I had additional visitors as well. They were right. Leader have to make sure that they welcome feedback (to a point).


This person was so prominent that I had to go through several handlers late in the day to reconnect to him. He was ecstatic to get my call, but not so much after I told him of his inappropriate remarks that angered women students and faculty. It took him a while to get the message for I don’t think that he receives much feedback that is negative.


I thanked him for the parts of his address that were helpful. I indicated that I needed an apology from him to give to the community in chapel. He said that he would be willing to come and do that if thought that would be helpful. I told him I would do that for him and thanked him for his various important ministries. (I was not certain that he could do that in such a way to address the issue to get to resolution.) He agreed that it would be best for me to do it.


The next chapel service, before the service even began, I addressed the community. I told them that I had talked with him. He did not know the harm he had done. He Apologized. I was deeply sorry and apologized again for him. I thanked the women students and faculty for their direct feedback and their trust in me to handle it. Some smelled blood in the water and wanted me to bring him back anyway to apologize directly. I made the point that even the best intended can make a mistake. Words matter and as well as how they are received. It doesn’t matter what you meant, in the “eye of the beholder,” it is how your words are received.


Regarding bringing him back to face the music, I didn’t tell them I believe the old axiom, “Fool me once. Shame on you. Fool me twice. Shame on me.” (See Below)


This is a shout out to my good friend, Dr. John Crosby, who oversaw Radnor High School become one of the best schools in the nation. David Brooks is a member of the class of 1979. Brooks went on to the University of Chicago.

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