Sacred work, sacred home

A couple of things I’ve read have just sparked some connections about the location of the sacred in the current world. One is Callum Brown, The Death of Christian Britain (very interesting and I will have more to say about it later). He is stressing how there was definite move towards the feminisation of Christianity in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century and how this stressed the key role of women in Christianising the home. Women as domestic angels played a key role in Christian society up till the 1950s in Britain. [The family as the key sacred space may still have this dominant role in the US: there have been recent reports about how some megachurches are not having services on Christmas Day itself this year, but encouraging domestic worship. (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/09/national/09church.html].

In contrast was an article in the Guardian (http://money.guardian.co.uk/work/story/0,,1663770,00.html) about how some workers were becoming ever more devoted to their jobs. Meanwhile, some companies are trying to exploit the concept of ‘spiritual intelligence’ to make work more meaningful and employees more motivated. What is interesting is that work as religion has traditionally been gendered in the opposite way to home/family as religion. The real devotees have traditionally been male. The recent article by Linda Hirshman that I was so critical of (see previous entry) can be read in one sense as an attempt to encourage women into the worship of work. (The true believer in this scheme is the ‘devoted lawyer’ who comes in for such praise in the article).

It’s not clear yet which way the battle will go between worship of work and family. However I’d say that neither should be worshipped or made the focus of a life in the way that their proponents intend. Where does the worship of work leave the devotee who’s made redundant or retires? Where does the idolisation of the family leave the single or those whose families are unhappy places? Better to stick to the worship of God: it’s a lot more inclusive.

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2 thoughts on “Sacred work, sacred home

  1. ..is work taking over our hearts as well as our minds?

    Seems many people rely on work for a sense of achievment and – increasingly – personal salvation. In contrast, in other cultures – Japan and China spring to mind – there’s a corporate dimension. Japanese employees engaging in group warming up and bonding exercises is quite a cliche and recently I saw something similar in a film about China. The Chinese have extended the tradition to women who all work in a brassiere factory – their output had fueled the bra wars that broke out earlier this year.

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  2. An antidote to the ills and perversions of a dying church and its parochial, modernist view is put forward in Philip Sherard’s books – also Rene Guenon, to a lesser extent.

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