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A post-homiletical discourse delivered by the Rev. Dr. James R. Beebe

Rector, St. Patrick’s Church, Incline Village, Nevada, June 5, 2011

Psalm 68:5 – “Father of orphans and protector of widows….”


“Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel

and whose power is in the skies.”  (Psalm 68)


“Who’s your daddy?”


“Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel;

he gives power and strength to his people.”  (Psalm 68)


“Who’s your daddy?”


“What's your name? Who's your daddy? Is he rich like me?"  (The Zombies, 1968)


“Who’s your daddy?”


"They beat me. They're that good right now. They're that hot. I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."  (Pedro Martinez, Boston Red Sox, 2004)


“Who’s your daddy?”


     Denzel Washington, playing Coach Boone in Remember the Titans (2000), uses the line to initiate his dominance over two student athletes.  Even Angelina Jolie gets into the act.  After taking down her adversary, Brad Pitt, she says, “Who’s your daddy?”  It’s an expression of dominance, a crowing over who’s in charge.  Here are some of the lyrics of Rich Mullins’ tune, “Awesome God,” found in “Spirit and Song” in your pews:


“When he rolls up his sleeves, he ain’t just puttin’ on the ritz.  Our God is an awesome God!  There is thunder in his footsteps and lightning in his fist.  Our God is an awesome God!  And the Lord wasn’t jokin’ when he kicked ‘em out of Eden; it wasn’t for no reason that he shed his blood.  His return is very close and so you better be believin’ that our God is an awesome God.”


“Who’s your daddy?”



     It’s called “muscular Christianity.”  As early as 1857 Englishman Thomas Hughes wrote this in Tom Brown at Oxford"The least of the muscular Christians has hold of the old chivalrous and Christian belief, that a man's body is given him to be trained and brought into subjection, and then used for the protection of the weak, the advancement of all righteous causes, and the subduing of the earth which God has given to the children of men.”


     It didn’t start in England, of course.  The concept of muscular Christianity has been with us for a long time.  [Austin Cline]  War and the warrior life were central to the Germanic tribes which assumed control of the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries.  For Christianity to survive, Christian leaders had to adapt their religion to the Germanic warrior ethos.  The Germans were Christianized, but Christianity was militarized in the process.  Jesus became a young warrior, Heaven became Valhalla, and the disciples became a war band.  This was the earliest effort to transform Christianity from something soft or feminine into something manly.


     [Cline]  Muscular Christianity was founded upon a radical, as well as theological, distinction between supposedly masculine and feminine values.  Because of this, it was possible for fundamentalists opposed to modernity to transfer what they disliked about modernity to the “feminine” category:  liberalism, feminism, women, and modernity.

     Muscular Christianity pushes masculinity in part by pushing traditional hierarchies and traditional structures of authority — structures which, naturally, are run and controlled by men.  Fighting against the “feminization” of church or society is, thus, a fight against the loss of traditional privileges and power.   Like ordaining women is tantamount to pedophilia.

     For the past, say, 2,000 plus years, we’ve equated God with power and authority.  With majesty and control.  With the great and powerful Oz.  Pity.  There are lots of other images for God, the best ones being pantomimed by Jesus himself.  Paul writes of Jesus:  “though he was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave….”

     It is God, the self-emptying, selfless person who lays down all power and authority and majesty and control…to love you.  God, who goes to the mat for you.  That is the God we worship.


     Methodist minister Fred Craddock tells the story of a seminary professor who was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.   One morning they were eating breakfast in a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal.  While waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests.


     The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope he doesn't come over here."   But sure enough, the man came over to their table.


"Where are you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice.


"Oklahoma," they answered.


"Great to have you here in Tennessee," the stranger said.  "What do you do for a living?"


"I teach at a seminary," he replied.


"Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you?  Well, I've got a really good story for you."   And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down. 


The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great. Just what I need -- another preacher story!"


The man started, "See that mountain over there?"   He pointed out the restaurant window.  "Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother.  He had a hard time growing up because every place he went, he was always asked the same question:  'Hey, boy, who's your daddy?'  


Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question: 'Who's your daddy?' He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students. He would avoid going into stores because that question hurt him so bad.


When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. So the boy would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's your daddy?' But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast, he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.  Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, 'Son, who's your daddy?'


The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, 'Who's your daddy?'


The new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him.  Then he had an inspiration:  “Wait a minute!   I know who you are.  I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.”  


With that, he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, “Boy, you've got a great inheritance -- go and claim it.” 


With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person.  He was never the same again.


Whenever anybody asked him, “Who's your daddy?”  he'd just tell them, “I'm a child of God.” 


The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn't that a great story?"  The professor allowed how that it really was a great story. 


As the man turned to leave, he said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn't told me that I was one of God's children, I probably would never have amounted to anything!"


“Who’s your daddy?”