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Ordinary Saints: Women, Work, and Faith in Newfoundland

Ordinary Saints: Women, Work, and Faith in Newfoundland

by Bonnie Morgan


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From their everyday work in kitchens and gardens to the solemn work of laying out the dead, the Anglican women of mid-twentieth-century Conception Bay, Newfoundland, understood and expressed Christianity through their experience as labourers within the family economy. Women's work in the region included outdoor agricultural labour, housekeeping, childbirth, mortuary services, food preparation, caring for the sick, and textile production. Ordinary Saints explores how religious belief shaped the meaning of this work, and how women lived their Christian faith through the work they did. In lived religious practices at home, in church-based voluntary associations, and in the wider community, the Anglican women of Conception Bay constructed a female theological culture characterized by mutuality, negotiation of gender roles, and resistance to male authority, combining feminist consciousness with Christian commitment. Bonnie Morgan brings together evidence from oral interviews, denominational publications, census data, minute books of the Church of England Women's Association, headstone epitaphs, and household art and objects to demonstrate the profound ties between labour and faithfulness: for these rural women, work not only expressed but also shaped belief. Ordinary Saints, with its focus on gender, labour, and lived faithfulness, breaks new ground in the history of religion in Canada.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780773558915
Publisher: McGill-Queens University Press
Publication date: 12/19/2019
Series: McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Religion Series , #2
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Bonnie Morgan holds a PhD in history from the University of New Brunswick and is the Newfoundland and Labrador Collections librarian with Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries.

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Preface xv

1 "They Worked Harder Than the Men": The Context of Anglican Women's Lives in Mid-1900s Conception Bay 3

2 Families That Work Together, Worship Together: The Practice of Everyday Religion in Anglican Households 25

3 "Everything Was for Sunday": Living the Holy Days 49

4 "We Had Lots of Trouble": Mixed Marriages, Women's Conversion, and Religious Experimentation 78

5 "Aunt Dorcas and the Babies Was a Revered Thing": Midwifery, Childbirth, and Embodied Religious Practices 105

6 "Our Sisters … Placed Bows of Ribbon in Her Grave": Exploring Women-Led Funeral Rituals 129

7 "We Must Not Weep for a Sister Deceased": Women, Christian Consolation, and Imagining Eternity 150

8 "Something Good Had Been Accomplished": Women, Cultures of Suffering, and Acts of Christian Mercy 175

9 Apron Christianity: Textile Production, Devotional Practice, and the Expression of Benevolent Mutuality 198

10 "Do You Mean Catering?": Food, Fellowship, and the Domestication of Anglican Church Women 219

Conclusion: "Christianity Conceived": Women's Theological Cultures of Anglican Conception Bay 242

Appendix 253

Notes 255

Index 323

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