Vocation at Home

It gives me joy to read Fr. Gassalasca Jape, S. J. at The New Pantagruel. In the current issue, he discourses on, among other things, bathrooms in a megachurch and “worldviews.” But I am most intrigued by “A Mighty Blast of the Trump Against the Monstrous Rule of Evangelical Women.” To wit:

To this Barnhill adds the conclusion that Christian “stay-at-home” moms lead lives of loneliness, boredom, and depression because they have “been taught that this is the life God wants for us, that to want something more is selfish and worldly.” Drawing Barnhill’s ire in particular is Debra Bendis whose article, “Stressed-Out Mothers,” in Christian Century Barnhill quotes:

While [young professionals] have been able to achieve much in a professional world, which supplies a social life as well as a career, they seem not to have developed the capacities for family life. They seem never to have learned about sewing, gardening, cooking or puttering—the soft activities that can make a home a comfortable and welcome place instead of a prison of isolation. … Without a habit of being at home, the mayhem of a toddler lunchtime or the tedium of a rainy day makes a day at work look like rescue—while home is only a punishment.

What Bendis is talking about here is what has been referred to in this journal as “practicing the discipline of place.” It is the idea that to suffer one’s place and one’s people in the particularity of its and their needs is the only true basis for finding love, friendship, and an authentic, meaningful life. This is nothing less than the key to the pursuit of Christian holiness, which is the whole of the Christian adventure: live in love with the frailty and limits of one’s existence, suffering the places, customs, rites, joys, and sorrows of the people who are in close relation to you by family, friendship, and community–all in service of the truth, goodness, and beauty that is best experienced directly. The discipline of place teaches that it is more than enough to care skillfully and lovingly for one’s own little circle, and this is the model for the good life, not the limitless jurisdiction of the ego, granted by a doctrine of choice, that is ever seeking its own fulfillment, pleasure, and satiation. The Puritan heritage of America has long chafed against this discipline as it necessarily limits one to a small field of action in a world with seemingly little hope for eschatological fulfillment. Thus have American Evangelicals historically pined after their great mission of “giftedness” and “calling,” forsaking that foolishness of the Gospel of our Lord which has ever lain at their doorstep, in need of nurturing care.

Apart from the Catholic nuances, is this not what Lutherans mean when they speak of vocation?

Timotheos