I thought this might connect well with the discussion Anna’s been having re: womanhood over at Deepsoil. Its from an essay in our class’s ethics text.
While [. . .] evasion of discipleship may be particular to class and locale, it is, within that class and locale, less and less particular to gender. While the generic mainline men’s group has been anemic for some time, with many chapters typically hosting a pathetically symbolic pancake breakfast once a year, up until fairly recently one could rely at least on the good old United Methodist Women, or a similar group of dedicated mainline ladies, to maintain the practices of incarnate discipleship. But no more. The stalwart ranks of such faithful are thinning (as are the ranks of sisterly orders in the Roman Catholic Church), because women have better things to do. Although upper-class women have long avoided the “women’s work” relegated to their gender, middle-class women are now increasingly expected to forgo, or they jettison by their own choosing, the work of feeding, clothing, nursing, and otherwise tending real bodies. As women have entered the workforce in earnest, the middle and upper-middle classes in the one-third world have hardly redistributed these tasks. Rather than men joining women in the servant ministry of mopping floors, washing dusty feet and touching broken bodies, women who are economically capable of doing so are joining men in the aviodance of this work. Men and women are all alike, disembodied and self-deceptively self-sufficient, in the new economy. [. . .]
[. . .]
Such self-sufficiency is a lie against which Christians must testify. The middle and upper classes are hardly self-sufficient; rather, they are dependant upon an underclass that cares for other people’s children, runs the chash registers, and serves the burgers. [. . .] In my own experience, many mainline churches are sorely tempted not only to accept these patterns and eschew discipleship, but to mimic our culture’s expectations–to hire inexpensive caterers to replace the covered-dish supper, foriegn nannies to soothe the babies in our creche, and low-wage orderlies to spoon food into the mouths of the Church’s patriarchs and matriarchs. Mumbling something about “gifts,” about who is best suited to such service, some Christians attempt to robe this parasitic economy in theological garments.
[. . .]
What would [discipleship] look like? To script changes generally is beyond my limited scope. But, from where I stand in the upper-middle class, there seem to be some basic necessities. At present, the average father in my social class spends twice as much time each evening watching television as listening to his children. The average professional mother is steadily catching up with him. While bussinesmen, lawyers, professors, and doctors may like looking at BabyGap babies, few of us want their messy needs to interrupt our real work. North American mainline Christians increasingly pay immigrant women from the two-thirds world to do that (and then find ourselves shocked when they lose patience with the child we can hardly take the time to tend). For the Atlantic Monthly–reading, Starbucks-sipping, J. Crew-wearing classes, an alignment with dependant life must involve a change in the pace of life, to clear real time (not “quality” time) to do the work that has become increasingly hired out.
Amy Laura Hall, “Naming the Risen Lord: Embodied Discipleship and Masculinity,” The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, ed. Stanley Hauerwas, Samuel Wells