- Published on Tuesday, 03 June 1997 20:05
- Written by Ruth Polata
Masculine spirituality was the theme of a recent weekend retreat at the Jesuit Retreat House in Los Altos. The Rev. Philip Blake, the leader, kindly found me someone to interview on that topic. Surprisingly, the person he contacted turned out to be my fellow church member, John Lathrop.
I asked John what he sees as men's spiritual needs. One thought-provoking thing he cited was a lack of the initiation rites prevalent in some less sophisticated cultures.
"Through those rites, a boy moves from adolescence to becoming an adult - a responsible person within his community. Lack of those rites leaves us with extended adolescence, marked by consumerism and hedonistic, self-oriented behavior."
Also, John sees a need for men to develop more dimensions to their self image and career choices. "We need a new male model to replace the tough guy, 'John Wayne' image. We need to find a way of living that balances strength with sensitivity."
John deplores the dysfunctional behavior in some Silicon Valley companies where "slash and tear techniques, needlessly harsh criticism and disparagement of others is the norm."
Changing course a little, I asked John about his own career. He is a decision analyst: a consultant to people facing technically challenging strategic decisions. John helps groups discern the many aspects of their situation beyond the technical ones. He elicits the participants' values around each factor, helps them make what he calls "value trade-offs," then uses the results to help the group develop a strategy to achieve their goals.
Asking John how his spirituality enhances his work, he said, "It gives me a grounding in values coming from a larger framework than the mechanics people usually focus on."
"Trying to comprehend it all forces a sense of humility, a continuing question: How do I discern those values - the 'will of God' - and use them to guide my life?"
It seems to me that, in searching for a new male role model, John is becoming one himself.
Polata, a member of Foothills Congregational Church, writes a monthly
column for the Town Crier.