Be A Trad Wife, Teach Sunday School

Be A Trad Wife, Teach Sunday School February 26, 2024

I missed blogging yesterday because of a long training weekend for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. My church is hosting a Level One Formation, for which people drive upwards of 3 hours one way to attend. We’ve been meeting Friday evenings and all day Saturday roughly once a month for about nine months (with a long break for the Summer and some snow cancelations) and have about two months left. Being able to host this Formation is a dream and a delight for me. I’ve been slogging it out quietly in my local parish for about twenty years, dragging people along to try to understand what the program is, how it works, and we we should bother. My first child started in the atrium at age 3 and so, to round things out for my own satisfaction, I’ve cajoled her into being trained as a catechist. As I keep saying, it’s fine if I kick off now, for the last two decades of my life will not have been lived in vain. Not only have we done CGS in my church all these years, but now other people know how to do it, know why we should do it, and are vested with both desire and knowledge to continue the work. We have physical places filled with all the materials necessary to direct the mind and heart and soul of the tiniest people in our community beyond themselves and toward the Lord. A tiny institution has been built in one small place. This has been my spiritual act of worship, my own quiet way of trampling down Satan under my feet.

Meanwhile, the internet world melted down on two points. The first was that Google Gemini turned out to be institutionally racist to a degree no one had been able to predict. Sure, we all basically knew that the largest search engine, upon which we have relied even against our wills, hated us and yet needed us to keep clicking. But we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes–the absurd, grotesque AI-generated images of historical figures in blackface, the “diverse” Nazi officials, and, in some cases worse, the “that’s a complicated subject, I can’t give you an answer” to questions like “who is more wicked, Elon Musk or Stalin.”

The second meltdown was the quieter argument amongst Christians about the “trad wife” trend. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is Allie Beth Stuckey today:

And these secular subsets of “trad life” can needlessly tempt Christian women into discontentment. Maybe they live in the suburbs. Maybe their kids attend in-person school. Maybe they don’t raise chickens. Maybe they buy bread from the store. So, in an effort to help Christian women who are tempted to conflate making sourdough and living on a farm with Biblical womanhood, I encourage women to remember that these things are not the same. They can be wonderful practices! But it is absolutely possible for you to be a Godly wife and mom without your life looking like a modernized version of a 19th-century homestead and all that comes with it. If you think that’s not a message some need to hear, because “that’s not a problem women have,” then I’ll say to you what I say to them: stop making every post about you. If that doesn’t apply to you, then it’s not for you. There are, in fact, many Godly women who are caught in this comparison trap, and the reminder that the Bible — not social media — sets the standard is freeing. At the same time, I have also defended the likes of Ballerina Farms from critics who are angry at her for doing “too much” or making motherhood/homemaking look easy while obscuring her massive wealth. As I’ve said, if someone else’s content makes you feel less than, that is ultimately a *you* problem.

What strikes me as interesting about both of these internet trials–especially since I was busy doing something else most of the time they were going on–is how desperate we all are for the integration of the spiritual and the material. The physical, material world we’ve been forced to privilege, as if it will satisfy all the needs of the human heart, is finally showing its grotesque emptiness. What are you supposed to do, really, if you work for Google and have believed that the only thing that matters is more people buying more things? After a while, because that’s not true, you will find some deeper spiritual meaning somewhere. But instead of it being something useful and true it will be bizarre and unhinged. You’ll end up siding with the worst kinds of totalitarians in the world–Stalin, Hitler, every person who tried to eradicate a whole group of people–and all in the name of being a good person. What was Google’s original motto? “Don’t be evil.” I think that’s what they said was their aim. Oh, how the mighty have fallen into the worst kind of stupidity.

Meanwhile, Christians have been hanging on to whatever bits of spiritual detritus they can grab off the sinking hulk of our cultural ship, snapping pictures and trying to make anything to eat from scratch before being subsumed under the deluge. They have scraps of spiritual knowledge that are shabbily protecting them from profound ugliness and despair. At least lots and lots of Christian women are searching out pictures of some vestigial form of feminity that still speaks about true things, however fake it might be behind the camera. Instagram accounts about how to have a happy, “traditional” family may be lying in the particulars, but the deeper reality isn’t a lie. Isn’t that how this goes? It’s the brand of “alternative” news Google wanted us to accept–the facts are wrong but the narrative is right. Ironically, in this case, it works. If you desire to be happy, as a woman, you must find ways to integrate your material and spiritual realities in a way that honors and protects the people you most love–your children, for example, or even your husband. Making sourdough bread has the possibility of relating you to the sacramental and spiritual realities of the cosmos, more than writing an AI. Or rather, writing AI programs is a spiritual exercise, but it’s on the side of evil, whereas making bread is something much less likely to damn you.

Even better, though, go to church. And create spaces in the church where your children’s souls can be related to their bodies in a truly spiritual and essential way, all while naming the name of Jesus and tracing the sign of the cross over their heads and hands and hearts. It’s a lot of work, and you’ll be way too tired to keep your Instagram game at a fever pitch, but also, you might rescue the souls of those you love from the power of hell.

Have a nice day! And check out my substack for more depressing tips.

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