18 Mar

Housekeeping as Liturgy

Category: What We're Reading
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 03/18/07

One of the paradoxes of contemporary life is that homes are equipped with labor-saving appliances and yet people do not have time to cook and care for the home and its members as did past generations. Work that should be (with appliances) easy to complete is often pushed aside for either the sake of time or because it does not seem important. In a lecture given recently at the Center for Christian Study in Charlottesville, Virginia, professor Margaret Kim Peterson examines this paradox and establishes a theological framework explaining the importance and practice of keeping a home economy.

Peterson's lecture is the last in a four-part series titled "Focusing on the Family: Biblical, Sociological, and Ethical Views of Parental Authority." In her talk she discusses practicing hospitality in the home and what it means to think about the home as a sanctuary. She states that the work of the household is the most important work people could do. She also explains how to think about housekeeping in terms of litany and liturgy. Her talk—along with the others from the series—is available here. Her book on the topic is forthcoming in April 2007 from Jossey-Bass and is titled Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life.

Other MARS HILL AUDIO guests who have discussed hospitality, the economy of the home, the effects of the Industrial Revolution, and theology as a guide for living include: Christine Pohl, Miroslav Volf, Lendol Calder, Allan C. Carlson, and Dorothy Bass. Another guest who has written about the type and quality of kitchen appliances in homes is Christine Rosen; her article, "Are We Worthy of Our Kitchens?" is available online. Many thanks to Amy Gilbert, Lynne Heetderks, and Elizabeth Straight (all residents of Charlottesville) for bringing the lecture to our attention. [Posted March 2007, ALG]