Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Power of an Image

The ladies man
A picture is worth a thousand words.

Companies believe this so much they invest in “neuromarketers” to develop ads that will capture our unconscious.[i]

Millions are spent to win your soul through your eyes.

If I can catch your eye, then I can get your attention…

If I get your attention perhaps I can capture your affection…

If I capture your affection I can possess your heart…
The macho man

Your money will quickly follow.

I believe that most images represent the content of the human heart.  Many people create images out of their own needs, dreams and fantasies.  These images can take on a life of their own as icons or idols of inspiration, guidance or worship.

They can serve us as icons like Michael Jordan, the consummate athlete, whose story of perseverance inspires business execs and street ballers.

Or they can become idols that control, manipulate and ultimately destroy the people in a mass murder/suicide like Jim Jones.

The nerd
How often do we discuss the images that shape the way we think and live?

And what images come to mind when we think about men?

I grew up watching Westerns with dad, Spanish Soap Operas with mom and Saturday afternoon Kung Fu flicks on channel 5.  Cowboys, Dons and Shaolin Monks were fighting it out in my elementary school mind.

Born, raised and still living in East Flatbush I see too many young men embodying the images of the “thug”, the “rude boy” or the “G.”

When I was in the corporate world the CEO’s were the ideal of “Mister-Self-Made-Man!”  The CEO was the Alpha Male, charismatic leader and the envy of the other men.

The Lone Ranger
I think many men tend to embody the Lone Ranger, whose only friend was “Tonto” (which in Spanish means stupid).  He is Mr. Loner who does “good” but really doesn’t need anyone.  You’ll find many of these Lone Rangers isolated, depressed or drowning in addictions.

And how does a Christian man filter all the different images of masculinity?

Why are some Christian men still comfortable portraying themselves as a “Mac” or “Ladies Man”?

Then there is the “macho man” with his antagonism against other men and often violence against women.

The gangster
I believe it is time for men of God to deconstruct and destroy our false images of masculinity.  In order to do this we are going to have to spend serious time studying how Christ Jesus is the express image of God and the blueprint for our masculinity.  What we believe about God and how we see ourselves is reflected in our choices, lifestyle and relationships.

Some of you are wondering “what’s up with the images on this page?”  These are some of the images that came to mind as I began this post.  I chose a few to help you consider the power of an image to embody our desires and to shape culture.

I would love to hear what you think.

Yours truly,

Minister Onorio

"One of the most powerful things you can do in life is to create an image. The next most powerful thing is to destroy it." Edwin Louis Cole

[i] NY Times article Making Ads that Whisper to the Brain,


  1. Another great post Min. O - Link to the NYT article was enlightening too...Thanks.

    I get it, 'Guard your heart...' as Solomon simply put it... I think I've done a good job of this. Keeping a close eye on my media intake...But my question now is, since we know that most programing coming across mainstream media is spiritually unhealthy with the covert objective of keeping men blinded to the truth...what practical advise would you give to young sons in the faith to help them / us decipher what to watch and what not to watch?


  2. @ Patrick (and I sent this to you via email):

    Thank you for sharing.

    I wouldn't say that "most" programming is spiritually unhealthy. I'm not a media expert. But as a young man spends time in Scripture, especially the study of the character of Jesus Christ, he will be able to see not only the false image on the TV but the false ideas and images that are still part of him.

    Here is an example: It took me a while before I could be comfortable walking through the hood without consciously looking "hard" or "tough." There was an image I felt I needed to portray walking through my neighborhood. An image that was a lie and part of the cycle of violence in my streets.
    So I had to reflect on Jesus who was confident, assertive, and who grew up in the hood (Nazareth) and had to face down gangs (Pharisees, Saduccees). I had to reflect on the difference between being aggressive and assertive. Not seeing the brothers on the corner starring me down as my enemy but men who needed to know the Gospel.

    This is a process of renewal that I am still on my brother. Thank God for the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and men of God who are my mentors and brothers

    Hope this helps a little.

  3. Richard BowdenDecember 03, 2010

    @ Mins. O,
    I think self image continues to be a personal struggle for myself and others. Usually the time of adolescence is when we are challenged with self image. Our families began to a lot more independence. This is when we started placing more importance on what social group we belonged to and I am not excluding that in our home life, masculinity was probably warped. If you can relate, my social group was into fashion, girls, and who could fight. I have less experience living as an intentional Christian than I do living recklessly in the world. So what I’m saying is that it takes time to peel the mask off that we’ve been wearing. So, to Patrick’s question: what practical advise would you give to young sons in the faith to help them / us decipher what to watch and what not to watch? First, I had to cast judgment on the old me to separate from the way I thought, spoke, and acted. This helped me to understand my strengths and weaknesses. When our image of manhood becomes Christ, we start to look at life with a new lens. For example, in High School I saw “More Better Blues” and also read Miles Davis autobiography, minus doing heroine, I thought the life portrayed in both of these characters was something I wanted to live up to. Ironically concerning the images displayed in the blog, I think each character has both positive and negative traits. We understand that media is also intentional. It is either used for entertainment, to inform, used to promote propaganda or to take you out of reality. In a nutshell, view media with the new lens God has given you so you can make informative choices for yourself and/or your family. If you have children, I recommend to either preview what they watch or sit with them to help discern the good in the material. Lastly, our maturation in Christ has much to do with how we view the world. Continue to challenge the world with your new lens and God will give you revelation. Proverbs 5-8

  4. Rich! Thank you my brother for sharing and being transparent. Have you ever read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison?

  5. @ Mins. O
    Hint... that would be a really nice Christmas gift. I remember the book being in my house as a child but, I didn't crack it. In High School I had a choice to either read that book or James Baldwin's "Native Son"

  6. Rich: Native Son by Richard Wright is a powerful book.

  7. Jay Mack
    I too like you grew up with the saturday afternoon kung fu flicks. My Mom watching soap operas. Here you ask what image is shaping manhood?Or who is a man in ones own eye? A lot of us still try to fit a image.We in church see our Pastor. men emulate him in the home and women want their future husbands to be such a man. We as men fall victim to this at times, to that pot of Gold.What will it take to get that? So there is the strength in the gangster we see or the CEO. No matter how much woman wants a Godly man. She doesn't want punk either. And it's a shame when even women don't see the strength and courage it takes to stand up and really be a man in these days.(not personally speaking of course)

  8. Wow Native son. It's been a while since I've read that. I have to pick it up again. Minister "O" to continue on my statement above. I had some more thoughts. What is it that men are constantly doing? Proving themselves.(Follow me here) Images are a part of every day life. Be the best. Whether it's an athlete or any peer group. It starts out from young. Parents pushing to excel so they can talk about"My BABY". Growing up as a young man without a father in the home. This young man has to fit in or find his place. Here the mask are put on. To portray another you. Try to fit in with the cool kids or try not to be bullied. Adolescence sets in,chips are on shoulders. Now it's more or less not being disrespected. Boys Ages 15-28 no guidance just want respect. It reminds me of the scene in the movie "Boys In The Hood" Dough Boy say' Nukkas are always trying to prove how hard they are and wind up shot" This is what we have now,or at least what I read about. I believe this is the age or even earlier to grab a hold to them and steer them. These young men become grown men. Still uncertain of what to do out of H.S. so he may have a dead end job or just making it. Along with other issues if he now has a family. So instead of saying how he really feels when he's around his boys. He may be asked by a friend. How are you doing? The macho response is I'm good. But no this brother needs a hug. But in todays society that's Gay. Again going back to the youth. He can't express his hurt, when he was a young boy who fell and scrapped his knee. He was told to stop crying. don't be a cry baby. So at a very young age this young man learns to be tough. But is unable to communicate. So who will he be like? T.V. heroes like the Fonz from Happy Days. Or a comic book hero. Or simply just say to himself I have to make it. Be someone not knowing who or what. This grown up man may become a good provider for his family. Yet still lack the skill to headship a family. Men by nature are not nurtures so he will straddle that line of dictator and instructor. So Minister "O"to relate on images compared to manhood. Or what images shape us men? I believe like rich said above. You must first be honest with yourself. Where are you weak? What type of person do you want to be? Father, Husband, Friend, Employee. Who do you know who you see that are great in those areas. Talk with that person. After all images are not only on TV or the movies. To quote the line from Berry Gordy's "The Last Dragon" "There is one place you have not looked. Only there will you find the answer"

  9. @Jay. Thank you for expounding my brother. I really appreciate you sharing. That said, I believe that there are a lot of images that point in the right direction. Just like "The Last Dragon" you can find something of grace even in that movie. Something that points to the "good" found in our Creator. Many of us are trying to live up to a positive image (father/husband, etc.) but we always need to lean not on our own strength but on the Source, our Father God through Christ Jesus who give His Holy Spirit.


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