Thursday, July 7, 2011

From My Library - The Way Home by Mary Pride

Do you ever read books that have a few chapters that really inspire you, but then at other points the author states things in a way that you find overly harsh? This 1985 book is one which I have in my library because parts of it really have inspired me as I transition from work to home. However, it's one about which I also have very mixed feelings because there are some ideas stated in here which: (a) I think should have been phrased in a way that leaves a little more room for grace and (b) could cause those who struggle with an overly legalistic approach to faith to stumble.

First, the good part - and it's really good. The book starts off talking about why married woman should be home and why married couples should have children. More about those chapters later. However, it is what comes next that really stays in my mind most vividly for it is at this point that Pride discusses home life.

She starts with the idea that home life is boring and that keepers at home are not necessary, and refutes the idea of the idle housewife who need not use her brain. Instead she paints a vision of what home can be, showing how it is the center of family life as well as showing how women in the home put their families first but still pursue home industry(the word "homeworking" is used fairly often). Her keepers at home are vibrant women who keep their minds alive with study and teaching their children as well as helping to bring income into the home. Her vision of the home as a center of culture and learning is one that I have found inspiring, and she explains it in terms that make it seem achievable. That part of her writing can be very empowering and inspirational as she explains that God's plan for wives is not mindless drudgery. For those of us who grew up with little idea of what the Titus 2 "keeper at home" could look like, she gives us plenty of ideas and it's not exactly the life of a downtrodden doormat either.

The parts I took issue with came primarily in the early chapters of the book. At times, the author makes clear that she believes no married woman has any business working outside the home. Given that I have known women with disabled husbands or women who had to return to work because their husbands had been laid off or had had a business fail, I felt that the failure to make allowances for individual circumstances was unfair. Also the strident tone in which some of these declarations are delivered seemed a harsh to me. I might want to share the chapters on homeworking with acquaintances, but I'm not sure that this earlier part of the book would do much to lift them up or encourage them.

And then there were the author's view on intimacy. The debate over whether or not Christians should use birth control is one that has been going on for some time. I'm not going to rehash all the points in this post, except to point out that this author does not believe that married women should be using birth control. However, it wasn't so much what the author said at this point(she actually makes some good points) but how she said it. The tone in these chapters was blunt and almost sarcastic, and it really didn't need to be so. An explanation of Pride's viewpoint accompanied by Scripture supporting it would have been much more helpful, particularly for those readers who may have been looking for information because they had not already made up their minds on this issue. Even where my opinions line up with those of the author, I found myself cringing a little because her tone seemed almost to mock those who did not agree with her and I find that a very unloving and unhelpful way to speak to others.

Because of the sometimes harsh nature of the author's tone in this book, particularly in the earlier chapters, I would hestitate to recommend it without reservation. However, while I may have wished that some ideas with regard to marriage, children and pro-life issues could have been expressed a little more lovingly, I do think that Pride excels in painting an inspirational picture of all the many things that home life can be. For that reason, I've held on to this book simply because that inspiration has been meaningful to me. I may not return to the early chapters of this book very often but her vision of homeworking has been quite a help to me in shaping what I want to see my own household become.

6 comments:

  1. Sometimes books can make sweeping statements such as all women should never work or women should never take birth control but forget that couples can vary depending on circumstances and life, even for christains is not black and white. I sometimes think that these books can paint such a black and white world that it is removed from reality but also misleads women a little.

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  2. Thanks for posting this book review! Have you ever read "The Feminine Mistake?" It's a great book about the feminist movement and how it conflicts with Biblical teaching! :)

    http://modernchristianbride.blogspot.com

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  3. Kirsten - I have not read The Feminine Mistake but I've seen it mentioned before. I'll have to check it out.

    Jo - And yes, I agree. There are some things about the Christian life about which it's possible to make big, sweeping statements (i.e. You can't be a Christian and an athiest at the same time.), but there are other areas for which we need to allow for grace.

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  4. Great review Amy! Very balanced. I would like to read this book

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  5. Thanks for the review! My name is Sarah, and I just came across your blog. I'm a stay-at-home wife and love finding other women like me, with no children. I'm looking forward to reading your posts as you transition!

    I read "Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God" and I think it was like this book - some really good parts, and some really unhelpful parts. I think there is a lot more freedom in Christ than we know, and though God gives us guidelines, I don't think He hates people if they make different decisions. What do you think? (This is after pursuing this topic a lot and not wanting to be legalistic about it.)

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  6. Hi Sarah! It's nice to see you here.

    While there are some very clear commands in Scripture, I do agree with you that there is more freedom in Christ than we sometimes realize. However, I can also see where legalism is a tempting error to fall into. I've not read Passionate Housewives, but I have a copy of it on my little stack of "To Be Reads". I am curious to check it out, though. And since you're also an at-home wife, I'll be curious to see what you have to say. I've been learning so much from other ladies who blog!

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