Location, location, location – a slogan meaning what?
This phrase has been around for a long time. It tells us that what’s around a home remains as important as what’s in the home…
Let us make another slogan to help us realise something even more fundamental.
If we want to change the world, to change our society and our culture, to evangelise and re-Christianize it we might think that our politics is where we should begin, or even our Church.
No, it is not – and this is where our new slogan comes in
Family, family, family.
We must think family, we must do family, we must – and this is what falls to all of us and is possible for all of us – help families wherever we can.
Something flagged for me in In First Things this week fleshes out this priority even more.
John Cuddeback argues that a flourishing society starts with flourishing households:
“One can be part of a family without being part of its household. This distinction is important if we are to understand and renew family life…Not long ago, the household was a context of daily life. The arts that provided for the material needs of human life were largely home arts, practiced, developed, and passed on within the four walls, or at least in the immediate ambit of the home. Food, clothing, shelter, as well as nonessential items that gave some embellishment to life, were commonly the fruit of the work of household members, often produced with an eye for beauty as well as utility. This carried into the industrial era. For decades, Singer sold sewing machines to housewives, who bought patterns and made their own clothes. Men built backyard toolsheds. Grandparents put up raspberry jams in Mason jars.
“The household involves more than just work. Porch times, lawn times, and by-the-fire times punctuated the more serious endeavors, and were often occasions of leisurely work, too, such as carving, fine needlework, and other hobbies. Meals called for setting aside work, as of course did prayer. These habits were times of mutual presence. To a great extent, family life meant being with at least some other members of the household for most of the day.
“Recounting these things, once taken for granted, highlights how remote a household is from the home life of today. Even those who intentionally seek to have a “traditional” family life, in fact, often lack the ability to comprehend the reality of a household that is not simply ‘traditional,’ but ancient and profoundly human. They set out to start a family in a virtual vacuum. The husband and father usually sallies forth to a remote job, and the wife and mother attempts to manage the day-to-day work of child-rearing—a project the real nature of which is elusive—while wondering what place she too might have ‘out there.’ Intangible pressures on parents and children seem inexorably to draw their attention and their time to activities outside of the home. Junior gets taken to soccer practice. Mom goes to a spin class.
“A renewal of family life will require a renewal of the household, especially as a place of shared work and a center of shared experience and belonging. We are missing out on truly human living because we fail to live together.”