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A Man’s Place is in the Home

Jeremy:
Had a great conversation erupt in our Facebook group for Five Minute Fatherhood. If you’re not in there, go check it out. But the conversation was around an article written by Trevin Wax, and it says, “A man’s place is in the home.” And he says, “Well, modern couples fight about who gets to spend more time at work. It’s worth considering where we came from and what we may have lost.” And so, as we dove into this article and we started to talk through a lot of the different nuances, this is one of the things that really sort of stood out to me.

He wrote, “We may never be able to return in mass to the farms or workshops, but there is value to be had merely in mourning for what has been lost. Which process reminds us of what we might yet be? A man working his own fields was his own master, the sweat of whose brows was poured out directly visibly in creating a home. His partner was not an impersonal investor, but flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone and the subordinates alongside whom he toiled were not querulous strangers, but his own children, fruit of his loins. This is what has been lost in the two-century long transformation of house and home into house as way station, that luxurious modern repository for food, a bed and distraction barely inhabited by a loosely-knit community of transience, for the sake of which we shoulder a lifetime’s servitude to debt. A man who has forgotten the hearth has forgotten his heart. He’s a man adrift at sea, and there is no telling upon what alien shore he may be washed up or to what mischief he may then direct his powers.”

Man, he’s a good writer. This is an intense essay. And it really is sort of a lament about what have we lost. And one of things I love about this conversation, like Trevin is pointing out, is that if we don’t really pause and take a minute to understand or grieve what we’ve lost, then oftentimes it’s very difficult to diagnose why we feel the way we feel or why certain things are broken the way they’re broken. Because a lot of us were born at a time where we don’t have any memory of what it was like for us to live this incredibly integrated life, where we’re working the land, we’re working with our spouse, we’re working with our kids. And so we just feel like, it’s weird. Life just feels sort of purposeless. Or we have these feelings, a lot of them come because we’re actually designed, and especially as families, designed to live a very different kind of life.

And so this is a big part, of course, you guys, what we’re talking about here is trying to understand what have we lost. And one of the things that’s powerful about being a believer is instead of just sort of lamenting these things and going down the stream of culture, we can sort of, like it says in Jeremiah, stop, stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient ways. We can actually take a minute and think about what we’ve lost and then consider whether or not as a family, we may want to try to restore or redeem some of those things. And that’s going to take a lot of creativity. And that’s a huge part what we’re doing here at Family Teams.

But I’d found Trevin’s lament to be really on point and something I think we need to really think about a lot more instead of just having this endless conversation about who has to be in the home. Maybe we’ve lost something as dads that needs to be recaptured, but yeah. Jeff, what are your thoughts on that?

Jeff:
Yeah, I mean the only thing I would say too, that’s really helpful for me is because at some level, yeah, not many of us can really go back to the old way of life in the functional way it looked like with fields and farming and agriculture. And that’s where I love Wendell Berry, where he talks about this over and over and over and over again, this is his wheelhouse, but he also is very specific sometimes to say that also let’s remind ourselves that agrarian and industrial, the two kind of paths, are also spirits at some level, meaning kind of ways of thinking, not just ways of working. And so he says like, you can have an agrarian spirit and an industrial job and you can industrialize in an agrarian job as well, just like industrialized farming. Right?

Jeremy:
Right.

Jeff:
And so I just think that’s just a good reminder for everyone that it’s less about saying like, “Oh, I need to go buy a farm.” Even though sometimes that might be true or might need to go to land. That might be true. But bringing that agrarian spirit to whatever your more industrialized job might be. And I think that just usually means, like Jeremy said, integration. Right? And it means making home and work a little bit more unified where they touch each other, where there’s partnership, where there’s team. And to me, that really makes a big difference. And so I would say, ask yourself that question today and chew on that for today.

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