A Powerful Historical Response to the Crisis among American Men.

"The homes of our land have become battlefields for domestic power struggles."

Comments to those who have just received a copy of the book, MISSING FROM ACTION


Dear Friends:

We would like to share a word or two with you regarding the content of this book.  Authors Hardenbrook and Somerville have gone to the heart of a very serious problem, and in so doing, touch several nerves deep within both the male and female psyche [1].  Their motive in writing and our motive for sharing are not to cause pain, but rather to bring healing and hope.  As you read what they’ve written, you may experience some emotional distress or indigestion.  Please keep in mind that your condition will serve as a catalyst in your quest to find answers to this grave crisis facing our families and society.

After scanning the Table of Contents and reading the Acknowledgments, Preface, and Chapter 1, I immediately suggested to my wife that we read the book together, on our living room sofa and aloud.  We would strongly recommend this approach to couples, as you will frequently feel the need to stop and discuss the subject matter with your marriage partner.  If you’re not married, you’ll do well to read it alone.  If you would like someone to talk with, my wife and I are available via the email link next to our names below.  Given the nature of the material, we would discourage using the book in any group setting or Bible study fellowship.

Comments to those who are reading PART I of MISSING FROM ACTION The first three chapters, Part I, focus heavily on the plight of fathers, husbands, and men in general.  The authors have, except for Chapter 6, either intentionally or unintentionally omitted much direct discussion regarding mothers, wives, and women.  We mention this not so much as criticism, but to make readers aware of the authors' dominant perspective on a very complex problem.  The general premise of their book is that a majority of men have become "feminized" [2] and thus shamefully irresponsible.   The authors are given to only an occasional remark on how women have contributed to or exacerbated the problems. [3]

The problems of men are our own fault! We have lost our way to true manhood and thrown responsibility to the wind.  Now we’re reaping a whirlwind.  If we men continue to refuse to be men, women will continue to move into the roles of service and responsibility men have traditionally filled in the past. p. 17

...the increasing failure of the American male to exercise this responsibility is a primary reason why men are confused about what it means to be a man in modern America. p. 18

In response, my wife states, "The problems of women are our own fault, as well.  Rather than humbly refusing to take a place on the Victorian pedestal [p. 121], women gladly accepted the position and subsequently became puffed up in their minds and hearts.  While men may have become guilty of sins of laziness or abandonment, women became guilty of pride and insubordination.  Men and women have both been guilty of violating the spirit of Matthew 7:3-5, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the wood plank in your own eye?""

Further, Hardenbrook and Somerville appear unaware of the rise and trickle-down influence of New Age gnosticism, with its feminist agenda and matriarchal emphasis on goddess worship.  See NEW AGE, NEW ABSOLUTES.  What would seem distant and removed is becoming the driving force behind radical feminism and its sibling, Christian feminism.  The average Christian woman is woefully naive how these worldly and ungodly ideas and attitudes have infected literature sitting on her devotional shelf at home.  Can we honestly blame men for everything?

Consequently, in contrast to the theme found in this book as well as today's Christian men's movements [most notably Promise Keepers], an effective solution will require men and women to admit their culpability, and for both to take responsibility for: 1) becoming established in the truth of Scripture, in particular the Gospel given by the Lord Jesus Christ via the Apostle Paul, and then 2) re-establishing biblical marriages and families.  Without this, "the homes of our land" will continue to be the "battlefields for domestic power struggles." p. 213

The task will be neither simple nor easy as the issues of gender, sexuality, marriage and family are complex. Dozens of book reside in our home library. Write us for recommendations.

Comments to those who are reading PART II of MISSING FROM ACTION In Part II, the authors begin laying the groundwork regarding their "cure" for the problem of gender inversion in American society.  In Part III, they will unfold their solution.  Before you begin reading Part III, we will describe right up front their answer and also explain where they’ve gone wrong.  In spite of their errors, the authors have much of value to say to all Christians, no matter what your denominational preference may be.

If you peeked at the Appendix at the back of the book, it may not come as a surprise that Weldon Hardenbrook is "Father" (Archpriest) John Weldon Hardenbrook.  Fr. John oversees Saints Peter and Paul Church, Ben Lomond, California.  His church is affiliated with the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, one of many denominational expressions of Eastern Orthodoxy in the United States.  Weldon Hardenbrook was ordained in the Orthodox church back in the early 1970s.

In short, his "cure" for the feminized American male as well as the curse of matriarchy is the re-establishment of patriarchy in both family and church.

Patriarchy is the biblical and traditional blueprint for family life. The American home has no chance for survival without it. p. 216

While both forms of patriarchy and matriarchy were cultural norms found among of the ancient earthly people of God (Israel) and the Near East, it would seem the authors are either unable or unwilling to differentiate between different forms of patriarchy; nor do they seem to acknowledge the negative side-effects of some historical and contemporary expressions of male authority. For Frs. Hardenbrook and Somerville, a biblical patriarchy will only be found in a revival of sacramental, ascetic, ecclesiastical religion -- namely the extension of Eastern Orthodoxy. Much of the last part of the book is an apologetic, an evangelistic introduction into the tenets of his "evangelical" brand of Eastern Orthodoxy.  We believe this approach falls far short of the need of the hour – in fact, any hour.  [Update 12/6/98.   Hardenbrook, Somerville, and 18 other men were deposed, defrocked, and excommunicated by their Antiochian Orthodox denominational machinery during the summer of 1998 for being a "schismatic group."]

Shown below are our brief comments on Chapters 4, 5 & 6: 

CHAPTER 4 - In an effort to explain how the process of feminization began, the authors begin with colonial America.  They notably point out that theology historically has been "a manly topic," that colonial men reveled in theology, and that early America enjoyed a "patriarchal model of family structure."  While husbands and wives were considered equals, each had a role which contributed to the overall well-being of the family and each other.  This view is confirmed in the fine work, Never Before in History.  The authors further assess the condition of 17th century women, the relationship between fathers and sons, and early colonial courtship. Not until we arrive at their discussion of "Extended Families" did we detect a proverbial 'fly in the ointment'. The authors finish this chapter with a eulogy to the old-world clan system of family. In a typical clan, absolute authority is vested in a senior family member. While one may be able to identify the existence of clans in ancient Jewish culture, this 'umbrella-type' organizational structure is contrary to Christian teaching. Pastor Ray R. Sutton makes these observations in this book That You May Prosper:

When Christianity began its trek across this barbaric part of the world [medieval Europe], there was a constant "Hatfield vs. McCoy" type of feuding.  The family had absolute power to convict and even execute its own members.  The [Protestant] Church broke down the clans through its court system.  It argued that the father does not have absolute authority.  The 'check and balance' on his power is the court of the Church.

Clans... simply transfer to the father [patriarch] the kind of authority which the Roman Catholic Church officially invests in the Pope.  A father [patriarch] becomes a final court of earthly appeal, one who can veto a marriage.   This is radically anti-Biblical.

For a biblical understanding of marriage anchored in Genesis, pre and post Fall, we point readers to Dr. Richard M. Davidson's magnum opus FLAME OF YAHWEH: Sexuality in the Old Testament, Hendrickson, 2007. Specifically see Chapters 1 & 2.

CHAPTER 5 -  The authors continue their diagnosis with a look into America's "spirit of independence."  However, their understanding of American history will strike most well-read American Christians as rather strange.  They erroneously assert that America's break with England and "political liberty in the colonies" spawned a "distinctly novel American anomaly, the independent church."  Have the authors' affiliation with Eastern Orthodoxy blinded them to the centuries-old abuse and corruption of religious bureaucracies -- the State Church?  Are they unaware or have they forgotten the histories of the European independents such as the original Protestants, Puritan/Congregational Independency, Anabaptists, Waldensians, Baptists, and Brethren?  Do they accord no cause/effect to the widespread secular influence of the Renaissance and the 18th century Enlightenment which affirmed, in the words of historian Thomas Langford, "the radical independence and competent rationality of human beings"? Since it appears to be these authors' goal to establish themselves within the "true" Church, readers should be forewarned of their subtle and not-so-subtle efforts to discredit the entire Western tradition of Christianity. Beware!

While the authors do have several valid points in this chapter, they simply have the 'cart before the horse'.  The roots of radical independency and unaccountability are traced to the Enlightenment and those denominations which drink at this well.  See our article THE UNHOLY ALLIANCE. European and American Christian separatists have fought, many times at the expense of their blood, to free the Church from dead ritualism and to restore the lost "connection with the Head." [Colossians 2:19].

CHAPTER 6 -  Our authors have provided solid evidence that the 17th and 18th centuries marked the widespread demise of genuine masculinity. For Messrs. Hardenbrook and Somerville, the 19th century is characterized as the beginning of feminism, the "reign of the Victorian woman" -- a reversal of role -- gender inversion.  Consistent with their fundamental axiom, men are again solely to blame.

Hear me out: it was not the fault of the women.   American men were the chief architects of this fantasy of Victorian feminism.   p.123

Men saddled women almost exclusively with the burden of being the collective moral conscience of America.  p.120

Their choice of words paints a picture of a largely passive female -- always a questionable image.  However, if their portrait is accurate, yesterday's women are certainly a far cry from today's manipulative dominionist.

The authors then chronicle a 5 step process by which men "systematically divorced themselves from virtually every meaningful area of moral responsibility."

  • The Erection of the [Victorian] Pedestal
  • The Moral Surrender of Men
  • Women Take Over Home, School, and Church
  • The Elevation of Motherhood over Fatherhood
  • Women Take Responsibility for Public Mercy and Moral Reform

Strong medicine!  The average condition of today's male is tragic.  To support our contention that American men are not alone is this crisis, we call the reader's attention to the recent Oscar nominee, THE FULL MONTYIn this movie, a group of unemployed British steelworkers struggle with loss of male identity and purpose. The motley crew addresses their angst by becoming male exotic dancers -- a role once reserved for the opposite sex. The movie is a comedy only for those who've never been touched by the plight of "down and out".

BACKGROUND Why Eastern Orthodoxy?

Similar to Messrs. Peter Gillquist, Jon Braun, Dick Ballew, and Jack Sparks, Weldon Hardenbrook was a 1960’s refugee out of the ecumenical/Arminian para-church organization, Campus Crusade for Christ, International (CCCI).  See his comments on page 221.  Due to the serious theological errors of CCCI, particularly in the realm of the Christian life and spiritual maturity, these men suffered a "great deal of frustration and disillusionment."  Campus Crusade, under the leadership of the late Dr. William ("Bill") Bright, erroneously promotes a form of "instant spirituality" which is said to result from their mechanical/rote "by faith filling with the Spirit."  This concept is built on a misinterpretation of Ephesians 5:18.  See http://withchrist.org/filling.htm.

It was the bitter experience of repetitive failure (sin syndrome) that drove these men to abandon CCCI and then even turn their backs on the evangelical Protestant realm.  All of the leaders mentioned above, including Franky Schaeffer – son of the well-known Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, became clerics (for a time) in a version of Eastern Orthodoxy.  In the early 1970s shortly before their departure, Miles Stanford wrote:

…there are those whose disillusionment has driven them into error.  For example, we think of several leaders who are no longer with Campus Crusade, namely, John Braun, Peter Gillquist and Hal Lindsey.  True to CCCI principles, these highly talented young men were dependent upon confession of sins for the filling with the Spirit and the expected spirituality.  Lack of results resulted in total disillusionment.

Their understandable reaction caused them to go to the opposite extreme, to do away with confession of sins.  They reasoned that since their sins were already forgiven, why confess them?  Instead, just thank God and continue on.  Mainly due to this [erroneous] teaching as set forth in Gillquist’s book LOVE IS NOW, many have been turned aside from the privilege and responsibility of confessing their sins, thus seriously damaging their fellowship with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).

From the website Pokrov.org we read this account:

Orthodox Christian Brotherhood (OCB)

     formerly known as:  Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC) and the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission (AEOM)

In 1973 a group of former staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ joined together in forming the "New Covenant Apostolic Order" (NCAO), which was made up of house churches established throughout the United States. A new denomination emerged from NCAO in 1979 with the official announcement of the formation of the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC). The group's stated goal was "the restoration of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." In 1987 most members of the EOC joined the Antiochian Orthodox Church (AOC) and became known as the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission (AEOM).

In a decision in 1995, the leaders of AEOM and the AOC agreed that the AEOM would no longer be a separate group within the AOC. A February, 1998 schism within a formerly AEOM parish in Ben Lomond, CA led to the creation of the Orthodox Christian Brotherhood (OCB) led by Weldon (John) Hardenbrook who was de-frocked by the AOC. Two-thirds of the parish left the AOC to join the OCB. Most recently the group has become affiliated with the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

February 14, 1998 Letter by the AOC laicizing and suspending the AEOM clergy.  Hardenbrook's account.

Further, information available on the Internet suggests that many in these groups were distinctively charismatic (no surprise) as well as devastated by the heresies of so-called healings and demonism.

Weldon Hardenbrook and the exiled parishioners founded a church in Felton, CA.


Dan and Diane

FOOTNOTES [1] psyche – the soul or spirit; the mind functioning as the center of thought, feeling, and behavior, and consciously or unconsciously adjusting and relating us to our social and physical environment. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

[2] By "feminized" the authors mean:

…a conditioning process in modern American culture in which men have been trained to respond to people and situations in ways that are more akin to historical female behavior patterns than they are to historical male behavior patterns. p. 19

[3] For example, the authors only touch lightly upon and express "surprise" at female behavior.

I cannot begin to relate how many women I have heard over the years talking about the need for their husbands to be the spiritual leaders of the home. Then, to my surprise, when their husbands began to take that responsibility, many of these same women resented it. Why? Because when men begin to establish spiritual leadership, they threaten women’s [Victorian] role of moral supremacy. p. 130

This resentment may be the "tip of an iceberg."  Her opposition and irresponsible behavior, engendered by this resentment, low self-esteem, and lust for power, has left a tragic trail of wreckage throughout Western society.  Also see Feminist Legacy.

  • responds to people and situations in ways that are more akin to historical female behavior patterns than they are to historical male behavior patterns  [p.19]
  • has thrown responsibility to the wind   [p.17]
  • is not committed to his wife, kids, regular job, or aging parents  [p.27]
  • has forfeited ultimate responsibility for moral and spiritual leadership in human affairs  [p.18]
  • has lost the traditional understanding of what it means to be a man and a father  [p.20]
  • is in turmoil  [p.13]
  • is confused  [p.23]
  • suffers from an identity crisis  [p.19]
  • may be the 'Wimp' who continually surrenders and avoids conflict at any cost -- the coward  [p.39]
  • is infused with feminine [typically his mother's] fears
  • stands for personal comfort over principal   [p.24]
  • lacks the virtues of pluck and levelheadedness   [p.31]
  • Examples:  Woody Allen, Frasier and brother Niles
  • may be the 'Archie Bunker' who masks fearful ignorance with a facade of macho verbiage -- the living lie  [p.39]
  • at time exercises a tyrannical leadership style as a cover-up for lack of genuine masculinity  [p.30]
  • has a repressed sense of personal impotence   [p.28]
  • Examples: Al Bundy
  • may be the 'Tough Guy' who strives for unobtainable heights of strength and courage, void of human sensitivity -- a warrior without a soul [p.39]  (e.g., those driven by obession to climb Mt. Everest at the expense of life itself)
  • Examples: Steven Segal, Bruce Willis, Arnold S.
  • may idolizes the Athlete Almighy and thus live vicariously through others -- the fantasy  [p.39]
  • can't quote Scripture or remember his own anniversary, but gains stature with his peers by quoting the most obscure sports statistics  [p.39]

  • ignores or usurps her husbands leadership [p.80]
  • falsely believes her husband's authoritative manliness is a detriment to her personal well-being [p.82]
  • may suffers from low self-esteem [p.82]
  • may experience extreme fatigue and time pressures [p.83]
  • may wrestle with severe loneliness and depression [p.84]
  • is typically starved for genuine romance in her marriage [p.85]
  • considers herself the superior moral director of society [p.119]

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