Friday, March 26, 2010

again, Domesticated Theology

I'm finding Jeremy Kidwell's Domesticated Theology discussion of Christian carpentry and Paul's tent making to be very interesting. I think that certain core human values become lacking when we fail to be engaged in creative manual labor. To make something is an essentially moral act. It is done with care and attention to beauty and utility, or it is not. It is done with care for its ultimate user or it is not. There was a long history of Christian monks offering up their work to God... another fruitful area for theological review in that from a more selfless perspective, many believed that all being God deserved nothing less than one's best work, most prudent and honorable use of the materials at hand and that work and worship were a single expression of enlightened humanity.

Finnish brain researcher, Matti Bergström, working from a non-theological perspective describes a condition he calls finger blindness. In essence, while the physically blind cannot see the outlines of the object, the finger blind, those who have not learned in childhood to create with their own hands, cannot perceive the object's intrinsic values. He says they are "values damaged". Instead of perceiving the broad range of values that a reasonable and soulful society projects, their range of perceived values becomes severely retarded. Instead of seeing an object of art and marveling at the miracle expressed by its maker, they see it only in terms of market value and price.

Bergström's concept goes a long way in describing the true sources of our current economic crisis. But a review of early Christian practices, and giving credence to our children's capacities and inherent needs to create, would go a long ways toward restoring greater meaning to many lives. Cook, clean, make, create, sew, fix, make dinner, make lunch from scratch, stir, saw, hammer, shape, mold, plant, repair, design and make, make music, nurture, nurse, care. These are the words that reflect a whole world of values that we are neglecting in modern education.


  1. I am a Montessori guide and your thoughts on work resonate within the context of my training. Meaningful work is the basis of a fulfilling life. Contributing our best work can only elevate the whole of humanity. The hands are the instruments of our intelligence and our spirit, and give us a portal to express our interior invention. Thank you for your beautiful blog.

  2. Great blog!...I am a born again Christian woodworking and art teacher near retirement who loved your comments ...I needed to hear something like that today...I even shared your site with my school principal. This looks like a blog worth following...