Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life

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"Keeping house can be a very mundane activity. It is certainly repetitive, and the kinds of work that it involves are varied enough that few people enjoy all of them equally. But at the very same time, housekeeping is about practicing sacred disciplines and creating sacred space, for the sake of Christ as we encounter him in our fellow household members and in neighbors, strangers, and guests."
—From the Preface

Keeping House is a wide-ranging and witty exploration of the spiritual gifts that are gained when we ...

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Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life

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Overview

"Keeping house can be a very mundane activity. It is certainly repetitive, and the kinds of work that it involves are varied enough that few people enjoy all of them equally. But at the very same time, housekeeping is about practicing sacred disciplines and creating sacred space, for the sake of Christ as we encounter him in our fellow household members and in neighbors, strangers, and guests."
—From the Preface

Keeping House is a wide-ranging and witty exploration of the spiritual gifts that are gained when we take the time to care for hearth and home. With a fresh perspective, mother, wife, and teacher Margaret Kim Peterson examines the activities and attitudes of keeping house and making a home. Debunking the commonly held notion that keeping house is a waste of time or at best a hobby, Peterson uncovers the broader cultural and theological factors that make housekeeping an interesting and worthwhile discipline. She reveals how the seemingly ordinary tasks of folding laundry, buying groceries, cooking, making beds, and offering hospitality can be seen as spiritual practices that embody and express concrete and positive ways of living out Christian faith in relationship to others at home, in the church, and in the world.

Filled with thoughtful reflection and lively anecdotes, Keeping House clearly shows that housekeeping is neither a trivial matter nor simply drudgery. People need to eat, to sleep, to have clothes to wear; they need a place to play, a place into which to welcome guests and from which to go forth into the world. When we are keeping house, we are truly keeping faith.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In this deeply theological, welcome book, Peterson (Sing Me to Heaven) argues in favor of the idea—no longer fashionable—that Christian service and spiritual growth are inherent in the acts of keeping people fed, clean, housed and comfortable. Housekeeping, she says, is akin to a litany, a long public prayer to announce needs and requests. A litany is repetitive and focused on the basics: food, health, shelter. Similarly, housework is ongoing and incarnational, teaching us about Jesus' earthiness and decision to live among us; it requires perpetual tending, much like God's active sustaining of the world. "All the more is this so when our homes are not all we might wish them to be," Peterson points out. "God's world is not as he wishes it to be, either." Addressing such topics as laundry, cleaning, shopping and cooking, Peterson offers persuasive biblical interpretations and incisive theological and cultural commentary. The two chapters on food and its preparation are especially groundbreaking, with Peterson enumerating helpful criteria for how Christians in a food-obsessed culture might determine whether a particular food is worthy of eating. At times, her domestic opinions have the whiff of superiority, as when she speaks disapprovingly about microwaves and dishwashers, but these moments are far outweighed by the book's well-researched and generous approach to domesticity. (Apr.) (Publishers Weekly, February 12, 2007)
Publishers Weekly

In this deeply theological, welcome book, Peterson (Sing Me to Heaven) argues in favor of the idea—no longer fashionable—that Christian service and spiritual growth are inherent in the acts of keeping people fed, clean, housed and comfortable. Housekeeping, she says, is akin to a litany, a long public prayer to announce needs and requests. A litany is repetitive and focused on the basics: food, health, shelter. Similarly, housework is ongoing and incarnational, teaching us about Jesus' earthiness and decision to live among us; it requires perpetual tending, much like God's active sustaining of the world. "All the more is this so when our homes are not all we might wish them to be," Peterson points out. "God's world is not as he wishes it to be, either." Addressing such topics as laundry, cleaning, shopping and cooking, Peterson offers persuasive biblical interpretations and incisive theological and cultural commentary. The two chapters on food and its preparation are especially groundbreaking, with Peterson enumerating helpful criteria for how Christians in a food-obsessed culture might determine whether a particular food is worthy of eating. At times, her domestic opinions have the whiff of superiority, as when she speaks disapprovingly about microwaves and dishwashers, but these moments are far outweighed by the book's well-researched and generous approach to domesticity. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787976910
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/13/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Kim Peterson is theologian in residence at First Presbyterian Church, Norristown, Pennsylvania. She grew up in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and though now a long-time resident of the East Coast, she returns to the Midwest whenever possible. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Duke University, she now teaches theology at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. She is married to Dwight N. Peterson, who also teaches at Eastern University. Together they are the parents of a son, Mark.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Preface ix

Chapter 1 What's Christian About Housework? 1

Chapter 2 A Place to Live 22

Chapter 3 Sheltering a Household 42

Chapter 4 Clothes to Wear 62

Chapter 5 Clothing a Household 82

Chapter 6 Food to Eat 103

Chapter 7 Feeding a Household 125

Chapter 8 The Well-Kept House 146

Notes 167

The Author 175

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