History of Muscular Christianity
It Is built on the concept that It builds strong character and well being In males. Its origins can be traced back to the New Testament relating to manly exertion and physical health but the term Muscular Christianity did not arise until the Victorian era In the sass (1). Muscular Charlatanry first started In the Anglican Church when It was thought to be weakened by asceticism and effeminacy and the leaders decided to outfit It with more masculine qualities. This concept was first termed “Muscular Christianity’ in a novel review by Charles Kinsley.
It was then used shortly after by Thomas Hughes in another novel review. Both of these reviews were published in 1 857 in England. Thomas Arnold, who was the headmaster of a rugby school, started putting athletics into the broader school system and from there it flowed into the culture. Charles Kinsley was the first person to classify this concept as Muscular Christianity and is considered to be the one who coined the phrase. Paragraph two: Muscular Christianity is based on the beliefs that men not only need to be faithful to God but also need to be healthy and manly as well.
Another belief is that participation in sports would contribute to the development of Christian morality and manly character. People believed that it was a good thing to have well exercised and strong bodies. Muscular Christians also thought the man’s body was given to him so that he could train and be brought into servitude. Then he would be used for protection for the weak, the progression of honorable causes and the control of the earth that God gave to men (4). The early church only sometimes commended this manliness but they were much more concerned about men accomplishing salvation.
They often preached that even without being husky and healthy you could still achieve salvation. Later on in the early twentieth century, criticism arose and It was decided that men were not truly Christians unless they were muscular Christians. This concept became significant because It was thought that by putting physical activity together with a Christian faith, It would build character and help a man not only become the best person and Christian he could be, but also be as healthy as he could be.
This concept spread throughout the world, creating many programs for schools and communities, and It only kept growing from there. England was worried about Industrialization, growing slums, poverty, colonization and urban decay right fore Muscular Christianity can into the picture. At this time, society was getting threatened some traditional male roles, endeavors, self esteem and their identities. Kinsley argued that “life is a battle and Christians should be at the centre, actively employing their ‘maneuvers’ and ‘usefulness’ against the evils of industrialization”(2).
He also doubted that traditional morality would be able to cope with the effects of industrialization unless the church was to reform itself and adapt to everything that was going on at the time. One of Muscular Christianity first programs started at a cubby school in England. Before Thomas Arnold, the headmaster of the school, physical education was not involved in schools at all. He included it at his school and encouraged other schools to do the same and they Joined Arnold very willingly.
The reason other schools were so willing is because of what team sports do for students. Team sports create a sense of community and belonging among athletes that boosts their morale. They also taught sportsmanship and the Anglican ordination that Arnold used to reform the students spiritually, very easily making the students not only better athletes but also much better and more mature people. Another early program that used the philosophy of Muscular Christianity was the YMCA, also known as the Young Men’s Christian Association.
The YMCA was a place for men to come and play sports and to get physically active with the aspect of Christianity still involved. In time, after the YMCA spread around America, volleyball and basketball were invented at the YMCA to add more organization and more of a team aspect (3). Paragraph 3: Muscular Christianity and its philosophy came to North America between the sass and the sass. When it got to the Unites States, the YMCA was first founded in Boston. New York then founded a YMCA and it became the leader in promoting and spreading the organization and the idea of Muscular Christianity around.
It came to North America to keep young men off the streets and give them the sense of community through physical activity and faith. The whole idea of Muscular Christianity spread like wild fire across the world because of all the positive effects it has on men, the community, religion and physical health in general. Ralph Connors efforts brought the philosophy of Muscular Christianity into Canada. The YMCA was he biggest influence of Muscular Christianity in sports and physical education. It really pushed to get physical education into the school systems.
For the most part, Muscular Christianity started in the private schools and then moved out into the public schools. Most of the private schools are faith based so they really Jumped on this idea as soon as they heard about it from the YMCA. The philosophy of Muscular Christianity is still significant in the twenty-first century but by no means as significant as it was one hundred years ago. Religion used to control pretty much everything whereas that is not the case anymore. The Christian aspect has seemed to have been reduced a drastic amount but in some cases it is still prevalent.
Schools like Notre Dame still use and believe in the philosophy of Muscular Christianity. Here, at Canadian Mennonite University, we seem to fall in as one of the schools that still uses this philosophy. For example, our basketball team will pray after every game with the other team, giving the game a Christian feel and adding community aspect to the game we Just played. There are some professional athletes, including Jeremy in their lives and how it has helped them get to where they are now (6).
Conclusion: Muscular Christianity is the philosophy that a man is to incorporate a commitment to his faith and to his body into his life so he can be manlier with still having strong Christian beliefs. This idea was first used in England by Charles Kinsley in the nineteenth century and spread around the world fairly quickly. From this philosophy, the YMCA was created in North America which greatly influenced putting physical education into schools. Now-a-days, Muscular Christianity is not as big as it used to be but can still be found and practiced in some places around the world.