Goodwill to men?

I need some of the collective blog wisdom please. The question broadly is, am I being a curmudgeon?
The statutory Youth Centre (I am on the team at) is hired by a Church on Sunday mornings. This means that the main room is often be-decked with Church and Christian posters (and all the posters about sexual health are covered over by the church). The presence of Church posters and the lack of sexual health ones continues into the week.
Anyway yesterday was the Christmas lunch for all the statutory youth team who work at the centre! On the wall the Church had put a large poster that proclaimed,
“Peace on Earth
Goodwill to all men”

peace.jpg Am I being a curmudgeon for finding this sexist and non inclusive? (I know that MEN in this sense is meant to be in the mankind sense). What do you think? Is it alienating for a Church to be putting posters up that imply (especially to the young people) that women are off less value (Is this my interpretation?). Is ‘professional’ youth work messing with my objectivity?
So question 1. am I being a curmudgeon? “Need Input?”
oh ….. and question 2. which I guess flows on was I wrong to cross out the word “men” and change it to “people?”

12 Replies to “Goodwill to men?”

  1. This is a cracking situation – sounds like an essay waiting to happen. But sorry to bowl you a yorker but there is a third consideration –
    If the youth centre were hiring their centre to lets say a muslim womens group – whose job/role would it be to change and or cover the offensive posters on the wall?
    Now yes I think you were right to feel the poster was offensive and to cross it out and replace it with a more inclusive (and more correct translation from the greek) word. But the whole situation goes back to the management committee of the centre and their policy on room hire and how it aims to be inclusive but yet culturally sensitive

  2. NO – you are not at all being curmudgeonly!!! It is something I find offensive. Referring to ‘mankind,’ or even ‘humankind,’ as ‘man,’ is a linguistic convention that has not been current since well before the seventies, and with good reason.
    Sadly, I could name many women who have left the church and the faith because they have found it patriarchal, and just plain old sexist. In the world we live in, if the Church is to reach out to ALL people there is no room for outdated, patronising stuff like this – Sorry for the rant, this is one of my buttons!!! Thanks for sticking up for the other half of the population!

  3. I personally don’t find it a problem at all – saying “men” or “mankind” as I know what it really means. BUT for young people who don’t know I can see that it would be confusing and non-inclusive. But then come to that would young people have half a clue what “Goodwill” meant?? When will the church give up on twee tacky posters with twirly writing and soft focus pastel coloured 70’s pictures! It’s outdated and just plain rubbish!

  4. How could someone who took a marker pen to a poster be a curmudgeon? Sounds MUCH more like a yobbish teen!!!! (tongue firmly in cheek!)
    Picking up Tim’s point, if it had been the other way round (as is often the case) that the CHURCH hall was hired by someone else I can understand that we might want to be sensitive to people using our facilities BUT it would be within our rights to put up what we wanted. As it is NOT a church hall and not owned by the church who put them up I think I would say that they have a right to put up some posters though not to obscure the posters put up by others.
    As to the Goodwill to men – well as you all say it doesn’t have that meaning any more for most of the population and therefore, to be an inky swot about it, it is not an accurate translation anymore, even if it had once been (translations, to be accurate, should be in a language of the current generation). I think it’s not only excluding to women but victimising of men in other contexts where it says things like “the sins of all men” – I mean I know we womena re fairly fab but we’re not perfect either!

  5. Not Curmudgeonly. What did you change it to? Did you also correct the capitalisation? Frankly the church could be a little more careful about the impression they leave on others (cf. Corinthians) What do they have against sexual health? Has anyone ever demonstrated the efficacy of posters in altering sexual behaviour or evangelism. I have similar thoughts about those awful driving related puns that churches put in front of the church e.g “going roundabout? come in and meet the Saviour of teh Universe.” Useless.

  6. Sorry I had to look up “curmudgeon”. Not a word I would use – but “goodwill to all men” is also not something I would use either!
    The joys of multi-user buildings!

  7. we are united in our distaste for this poster… it also asks a couple of hermaneutic questions for me… is “Goodwill to all ‘men'” a divine action or a human imperative? it is often read as a commandment… but is it really a declaration of Gods intent in the incarnation? similarly ‘peace on earth’… if you take seriously/’literally’ the apocayliptic poetry, there will be no universal ‘peace on earth’ in the time of man… so does it really mean “Here now, on earth is God’s peace (the Christ) given in good will (grace) to all creation”? if so, what impact does it have on a poster?

  8. Good…glad to see all my “That side of the pond” friends agree that the ’70’s scripty writing/artwork is just as offensive as the language…I was getting worried.
    I think Lev’s ?’s are on target – what did God mean by peace on earth? Good will = grace..awesome..
    and not just all men (gender) but all people (arabs, americans, and even the French…if you can believe that.)

  9. An inspiration to us all. I now feel empowered to go into my local chuches and delete “Mothers and” from the mothers and toddlers club posters 🙂
    And yes, I am with you a hundred percent on the non-inclusiveness of ‘man’, but other examples of non-inclusiveness also push my buttons.

  10. Definitely a naff poster. As adults, we know what it means by “men”, although might still be offended by it. YPs, on the other hand, might not…
    Is there not another question here which is yet to be answered – that of “why did the church leave the posters up?”. If you hired a hall, would you not remove your posters at the end of the evening? Alternatively, assign a board/area of wall to each group and tell them “do what you want with this board, but leave the others alone” (as my former church did).

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