• “Muscular Christianity, in its simple definition, is the belief developed in the industrial West that sought the strengthening of the Christian soul through the strengthening of the body.”

The quote highlighted above is what I felt best encapsulated the article, not only being the definition of muscular Christianity but also due to the fact that this belief is still prevalent to this day. This nineteenth century ideology, built on the pillars of Protest missionaries, civilizing efforts, and a “righteous” Christian empire, is much more than what these seemingly unorthodox set of beliefs appears to be. It would be through this ideology that the United States military gained a foothold with the people of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba allowing them to instill western religious and political beliefs on these post-war nations. Never once before reading this article did I think the YMCA of all things would have ties to the Spanish American War, I admit the great song and equally good music video might have altered my perception of them.

Diving into the article it is made readily apparent that the root of this imperialistic expansion was due primarily to the overwhelming sense of religious supremacy (protestant). It was truly believed that Americans were destined to bring civilization, which included sports, to these lesser adapted peoples. In all truthfulness, its quite impressive just how effective it was, so much so that Eugenio Maria de Hostos sited sports as a legitimate claim to the United States. Although the YMCA did succeed in bringing sports to these nations, it didn’t fair as well with the missionary work as Puerto Rico would stay primarily Catholic, and still speaking Spanish. Nonetheless, the monumental cultural impact it had can’t be ignored even though it’s original goals weren’t fully realized.

Overall, the roots of the YMCA and its broader historical effect both astonished me. However, the thing which still impresses me the most would have to be the sheer fact that the “muscular Christianity” ideology is still how things are here in the states, and in numerous other western nations. Though not growing up a protestant, rather a Catholic, these beliefs were also completely ingrained upon me from a very young age, and I never thought about how or why that was. I guess it just all kind of made sense, its why myself among my generation and those of the past generations never stopped to question it.