Acknowledgments. Preface. Chapter 1 What's Christian About Housework? Chapter 2 A Place to Live. Chapter 3 Sheltering a Household. Chapter 4 Clothes to Wear. Chapter 5 Clothing a Household. Chapter 6 Food to Eat. Chapter 7 Feeding a Household. Chapter 8 The Well-Kept House. Notes. 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.
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)