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Displaying 1–34 of 34 comments

Carlene Byron

January 30, 2014  6:16pm

I didn't know I grew up in a dusty house until I'd lived with roommates, then came back home on vacation. Just to say: kids adapt to whatever is around them. Although then kids like me have to buy books about housecleaning! I think the issue that the NYT commentator and others aren't considering is the impact of an orderly environment on people's tendency to choose good behavior. While there are multiple studies on this, what we all know is the "Disneyland effect" -- by cleaning trash and graffiti *immediately,* the Disney parks prevent more litter and graffiti from happening. They create an environment that shows good behavior is assumed and good behavior happens. This is what a clean and orderly home can do. I've learned to appreciate this now that we care for a relative with mental illness. The more orderly the house and our schedule, the less disorderly his mind. On the flip side, studies show that order limits creativity, so an orderly crafts room may be self defeating!

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audrey ruth

January 16, 2014  6:28pm

I can't see what this could have to do with income, period. I've known very poor people who kept their homes as neat as the proverbial pin, and I've known people who had more money and, well, didn't. The original meaning of "bourgeois" (a French word) is "relating to the social class that owns the means of producing wealth and is regarded as exploiting the working class."

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Jamie Calloway-Hanauer

January 16, 2014  3:43pm

You nailed it with this paragraph: "With this in mind, I can't in good conscience say that I should just leave it a mess. I am called to a life of hospitality, and part of that call is to keep it presentable, welcoming, and warm. Not perfect, but not a wreck." Also, I think it sets a good example for our kids to keep a tidy (though not perfect!) home.

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Patrick Hogan

January 15, 2014  10:54am

More thoughts -- Doesn't the rise of the bourg... I mean, the middle class (especially lower) have something to do with there being a large segment of the population having an expectation of a highly presentable home, but neither personal time (given work and other demands -- including children, whom I'm not sure were mentioned -- and interests) nor funds to hire someone else to do it ? Not that lower-income people don't clean (and have time challenges), but somehow a more modest home often seems cleaner with less effort (smaller ?). I do think we help create our own dilemmas of this kind, including wrongly-motivated expectations, as has been mentioned. I see many trying to have their cake and eat it too in regards to personal priorities and expectations. (Including wanting to spend time and money and still have it.) These decisions are hard, and harder in a mini-society (family, workplace, church) where people differ in these things. So it's not just a purely personal issue.

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Patrick Hogan

January 15, 2014  10:44am

Some observations that I'm pondering, with no clear conclusion yet: When do such daily accumulations as dust reach the point at which they are promoting unsanitary conditions ? Immediately, since any airborne pathogens would tend to settle on the newest dust ? If known, this could affect eagerness to dust, or lack thereof. Many attempts at cleaning aren't very time-and-labor effective. Many sources of 'tips' from cooking and nutrition to what chemicals to avoid, etc., being by their nature public forums, mainly promote a proliferation of overlapping information (aggravated by people's tendency to repost what they've just seen, and I suspect, at times barely glanced at themselves) that often just makes it harder to decide how one is going to proceed with a given household task. So either the appearance of expertise, or the presentation of the information, probably affect how much attention is paid to it. A tip from a practical-minded personal friend is much more compelling.

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audrey ruth

January 14, 2014  6:14pm

As a woman who's been cleaning house for umpteen years, this is my view: We can own our homes, or they can own us. I grew up in a house which owned my family. We were its subjects (I wasn't always loyal, though.) My mother was rabid about nothing ever being out of place, everything being spotless -- I mean spotless. I did learn a lot about how to clean, but, as H B commented, it seems to me now that the attitude was indeed all about pride and "keeping up with the Joneses." On the flip side, of course, no one enjoys a dirty home (I can't even comprehend filthy.) I consider it a ministry to my family (and guests) to keep the home clean and inviting. As one who often works from home, clutter in the home literally clutters my thinking, makes it hard for me to concentrate. As in all things, 'balance' is a key word. One more point: It does seem that lots of younger people today simply don't want to clean house. They don't see it as ministry. I think Mary did clean house. :)

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Rick Dalbey

January 14, 2014  4:52pm

I finally took the time to read the NY Times article. Hilarious. As a man, I agree. Here's how the author concludes; "Housework is perhaps the only political problem in which doing less and not caring are the solution, where apathy is the most progressive and sensible attitude. Fifty years ago, it was perfectly normal to iron sheets and to vacuum drapes. They were “necessary” tasks. The solution to the inequality of dusting wasn’t dividing the dusting; it was not doing the dusting at all. The solution to the gender divide in housework generally is just that simple: don’t bother." Funny.

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Martha Spano

January 14, 2014  3:35pm

Remember Brother Lawrence's Practice of the Presence of God.

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David Stafford

January 13, 2014  2:23pm

Psalms 113:9 "He maketh the barren woman to keep house...Praise ye the LORD."

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Rick Dalbey

January 13, 2014  12:50pm

I'm sure Mary kept a clean, tidy house. But her clean and tidy would be a lot different different from our standards. How could they fail to be? Most of the disease of Jesus day was due to the lack of plumbing. Public latrines and men using any convenient wall, meant that local water sources were polluted. The very water they were using for cleaning was often the culprit. Archeological studies reveal that the people of the mediterranean were riddled with parasites, tapeworms, hook worms. People commonly died of cholera or dysentery, all related to polluted water supplies and polluted soil. No wonder they washed their feet when they came in the house and drank wine with meals. It was the only sterile liquid available. No wonder they didn't eat pigs or unclean animals.

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Rick Dalbey

January 13, 2014  12:31pm

Thanks Liz. I just re-read Rev. 21. John is just astonished at the New Jerusalem. It is virtually a glass building, much like our skyscrapers. He cannot get over the fact that the walls are transparent. Of course buildings of his day were dark and lit by lamps or fires. John also can't get over the fact that the city was so airy and bright. It was illuminated without the sun as our building interiors are. He could see no source of illumination, no lamps or fires. Anytime a prophet sees a vision of God (such as Moses) they remark that the floors are like glass or emerald green sheets. I'm glad that when Jesus says, "I go to prepare a place for you" that he is familiar with Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe! And He understands masterful wood working and natural materials. His house in Exodus (the tabernacle) was full of sculpture, carvings, wall hangings, paintings of palm trees, angels, colors and texture.

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Liz T

January 13, 2014  11:49am

Rick, don't worry about offending me :) But may I say again that people in Jesus' time also died and suffered from far more diseases caused by bacteria than we do now. A lot of things were different back then. People didn't go on the computer, read magazines, use cell phones, shop at malls, or watch movies. It doesn't mean things are worse now than they were back then; it just means that times have changed. We should yearn for a simpler lifestyle where we are not obsessed with constantly cleaning, but we should also keep in mind basic cleanliness to avoid infections. I think you are right-we just need to have a healthy balance. Mary probably did not have enough money to be an artist. She probably spent a good amount of her time providing for her family. She probably was just as busy as Martha. The difference between Mary and Martha is that Martha fretted a lot about things, whereas Mary took the time to appreciate what really mattered.

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Rick Dalbey

January 13, 2014  10:50am

Houses in in Jesus time were small, 6-7 ft. ceilings, thatched roof with one or two rooms and one wood door. Walls were stone plastered with mud and chalk. Floors were tamped earth, sometimes covered with lime to harden the surface. Wealthier home-owners had flagstones for the floor. Windows were few, very narrow and set high in the walls. Of course they had no glass. Some had shutters to block out bad weather. Windows provided outlets for the smoke from small fires lit indoors for cooking or heating. On warm days the cooking was done outside. Homes were usually dark, confining, and smelly, and people spent much of their time outdoors. There were no sinks, running water, bathrooms or plumbing. There were no individual dishes or silverwear. Food was served from common bowls by fingers. Dishes were rinsed off with water from a large pot kept in the house for drinking and washing. There were no showers, bathrooms or bath tubs. Families slept on grass mats in the same clothes they wore.

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H B

January 13, 2014  8:59am

Often it seems that keeping a tidy house is more about pride and "keeping up with the Jones'" than it is about spiritual discipline. If cleaning is an act of worship for you, then clean. But if it takes you away from other callings in your life--time with family and kids, volunteering, or even an opportunity to rest--then do not fear a little "mess." "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

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H B

January 13, 2014  8:59am

Often it seems that keeping a tidy house is more about pride and "keeping up with the Jones'" than it is about spiritual discipline. If cleaning is an act of worship for you, then clean. But if it takes you away from other callings in your life--time with family and kids, volunteering, or even an opportunity to rest--then do not fear a little "mess." "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

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Rick Dalbey

January 12, 2014  8:27pm

Gena, can I hire you to represent me better! You read my thoughts. I love my parents, they are awesome, I have been so blessed. Yes, my mother kept a clean house and I appreciate her deeply. But I see them in their retirement with no house to clean, no meals to prepare and they are at a loss as to how to live, how to fill up their days. I'm not saying I have a better way or have figured it all out, but I do know that life is meant to be filled with richness for the soul and Spirit. We can let busyness rob our lives of some of the riches that are available. Thanks Gena.

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Gena Cox

January 12, 2014  8:08pm

Yes, it would seem to rouse a good natured chuckle to read such a tombstone epitaph and keeping a spotless, sterile home doesn't guarantee an intimate relationship with God. What I think maybe Rick was attempting to say is he wished his mother who he loved and appreciated dearly, would have taken the time to pursue activities that she might enjoy. Perhaps he would have loved to sit with her to discuss christian literature or share an appreciation for art. Most of us are "Martha's" and wished we could be more like "Mary" sitting at the feet of Jesus. Finally, as I mentioned earlier one wouldn't travel half way around the world on a mission trip to critique a lady's humble home. So yes, keep a clean home but make time to appreciate yor neighbor and take time to enjoy whatever causes you to to thank God for life.

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David Stafford

January 12, 2014  6:35pm

I'm really out of the loop here; I think, "She kept a clean house." would been a great thing to have on one's tombstone; perhaps even better than, "She was never at a loss to amuse herself." Whatever happened to, "Cleanliness is next to godliness."?

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Rick Dalbey

January 12, 2014  4:25pm

Dorothy and Liz, I have the feeling I have offended you. I didn't mean to demean what you do, or your person. There are times and seasons for everything and when our kids were at home, of course we were constantly trying to keep up, maintain a home and nurture the kids. But having artificially high standards for cleanliness and home maintenance can rob you of quality of life. My industry, Advertising, spends billions of dollars convincing women that their homes are never clean enough, never good enough. I am just making a plea for balance. Life goes quick. You don't want on your tombstone, "she kept a clean house." We need time for ministry, time for learning, reading, creating things, cultivating the mind and spirit. It's tragic when you get to the end of your life and you have never taken that time. And sadly I see that with my parents. In our house as I was growing up, reading or art is what lazy people did. Gena expresses better what I was trying to say.

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Gena Cox

January 12, 2014  4:01pm

I agree with Melanie and Katheryn Magill. As a full time working wife and mother who often doesn't get home until around 7pm workdays and works PT on Sundays, I do not spend a lot of time cleaning house. And while my husband and I earn a decent income, we struggle like most people - we have a lot of interior and exterior work that needs to be done. Katheryn's comment particularly struck a chord with me in that once when recuperating from surgery, we sought the help of some female Sunday school classmates who then discussed the state of our messy home with those who did not assist. Some of these ladies have been privileged to go on mission trips to third world countries where people have very little income or nothing at all. It is my hope and prayer that American church members who desire to go on missionary trips, first practice being good neighbors at home and learn to put aside their prejudice towards the state of other people's housework practices or the lack thereof.

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Katherine Reay

January 12, 2014  3:32pm

Very interesting article and I can believe it is true -- much of our world and how we think about things has dramatically changed in the past fifty years and will continue to change. I will say this -- I like a clean house. I am messy by nature and a fully inadequate housecleaner, but I do work at it. I am a full-time writer and a full-time mom and the days are busy. Housework and laundry fall into the moments when I can't write another word, am helping a kid with homework or within the few minutes I move between one thing and another. But it does give me peace -- the world feels a more orderly and stable, and the work seems important to me even when no one else notices.

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Dorothy L

January 12, 2014  1:45pm

Rick, I really think that it can be a distressing thing for anyone if they get to a point where they have to live in a rest home and lose their ability to do the work that was meaningful to them in life. It's the attitude that homemaking is somehow the work of mindless women that's the problem. And no, homemakers don't have to pollute the environment with tons of Comet, Pledge, etc.--a wise homemaker (if I may use that adjective in relation to homemaker) nowadays might consider using vinegar and baking soda--no not tons of it, but discretionary amounts relating to the task at hand. And the Bible verse about Martha doesn't apply to me because I wasn't complaining about other people not helping me, in fact , I like doing my work myself--nor was I complaining about other women who choose to be teachers, consecrated religious, etc., so I don't know why you brought up this verse.

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Liz T

January 12, 2014  1:00am

Rick, Correct me if I'm wrong--but you are only taking care of yourself and your parents. Your mother was taking care of children and a whole family. Many mothers don't have a lot of time to spend with art because they are caring for their children and ensuring their health. It's easy to say that her life did not have meaning, and maybe it didn't. But a lot of wives and homemakers find meaning in taking care of their children and loving them. While people in Biblical times lived in dirtier houses than ours, they also suffered from a lot more diseases than we do due to bacteria and infections. A certain amount of cleanliness is necessary to raise a healthy family, and that includes washing the dishes daily and doing laundry more than once a month. Fretting about how your house looks to visitors is a completely different thing.

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Rick Dalbey

January 11, 2014  11:38pm

Dorothy, "But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

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Rick Dalbey

January 11, 2014  11:34pm

Dorothy, my mother kept me clean, fed, my linens done once a week my clothes ironed, the house dusted. I love her. I am now taking care of her and it is sad because she developed no life of the mind and was completely focused on maintenance. She either took care of her children or took care of Dad. I haven't dusted in 14 years, I wash the dishes once a week, I manage to change my linens a few times a year, I take my shirts to the laundry once a month. I also am a very productive fine artist, a writer etc. I think we have a false standard for what is necessary to keep a home. How much Pledge, how much Comet Cleanser, How much Mr. Clean, How much Shout do we need to pump into our homes? We have bought into the fantasy of 1950s, 1960s and 1970s Housewife advertising. The "perfect wife" in Proverbs 31 is an artisan, crafts woman and investor. Not a housewife, (and by that I mean married to the drudgery of maintaining a house to unreasonable standards.)

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Dorothy L

January 11, 2014  10:56pm

As a homemaker, I find this article to be extremely sad. The comments by Rick Dalbey that his parents wasted much of their lives simply because his Mother was a housewife and that Jesus was raised in a dirty house were terribly insulting. Now I don't know his Mother, but she did raise him, kept him fed, etc., would think that's worth something. And Jesus raised in a dirty house, like Mary didn't do any homemaking chores? If they had a dirt floor, it wouldn't have made the house dirty in the sense of piled up dishes or filth. The insult to Mary is especially distressing. Suppose this unfortunate attitude is the result of the so called women's liberation movement.

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Katheryn Magill

January 11, 2014  10:17pm

I love the spirit of this post and find it personally convicting. One thing I would add though is the importance of being sensitive to different standards of cleanliness in the various social strata in our country. I grew up in a lower income home where the term "clean" cast a different vision than it does for some of the upper class families I have interacted with since. If we want our churches to overflow with hospitality and a beautiful intermingling of social classes, people need to feel comfortable in each other's homes without a fear of being judged or judging too quickly in this area.

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Liz T

January 11, 2014  2:26pm

As Mary Poppins says, "In every task that must be done, there is an element of fun!" When I clean, I try to make it have meaning or purpose. I share a room with someone else, so I'm obligated to clean up after myself for her sake. I think that if your life is completely centered around cleaning, then you need to find some other hobbies. However, don't ignore your dishes, laundry, and dusting. A lot of those things need to be done for health reasons.

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Rick Dalbey

January 10, 2014  6:30pm

David Stafford, click on "see all comments" at the top. Then click on the page numbers below or use the back and forward arrows. You are not obliterating anyone's comments, you are only displaying 5 at a time. It is not Jeroboam's pen, though I think that is a fine contrivance. It is Wesley Crusher's warp bubble that is causing the problem.

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David Stafford

January 10, 2014  6:01pm

I really hate obliterating your lovely comment Lydia Richey, but here are two comments one can use in a pinch: from a sign in a gift shop, "It was clean this morning, I'm sorry you missed it." And from the movies, "I can't do it all and look like this too." (It's even funnier if you don't look all that good) Ms. Richey's comment was WAY better than mine, but I had to assume you had gotten to see hers. CT's Jeroboam pen knife cuts again.

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bennett willis

January 10, 2014  4:26pm

If not finding things takes more time time than cleaning, then more cleaning is needed. Or if the clutter has become dangerous to life, limb or health then more cleaning is needed. I have never gone home from a visit with someone and commented unfavorably about the condition of their house--no matter what that condition was. Hospitality is much more than cleanliness. But you do have to be able to get around the place.

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Rick Dalbey

January 10, 2014  3:36pm

I believe my parents wasted a good portion of their lives. They are both in their 80s and have no hobbies, life of the mind or intellectual pursuits. For most of Mom's life she was a housewife in the worst sense of the word. She was married to the house. I moved back in with my parents temporarily last summer to help them transition to a care facility. Their primary occupation was making the house look as if no one had lived there. Preparing food, immediately washing the dishes, Ironing all the clothes, changing all the linens on the beds weekly, vacuuming daily, mopping floors, trimming the bushes so they all looked like popsicles occupied most of their time. Now that everything is done for them, they are deeply bored and lack a purpose in living. Jesus was raised in a dirty house. I say that because the floors were dirt. If we dared look idle or "play" as children, Dad would put us to work cleaning the garage, mowing lawns or if all else failed "police the area". "Martha, Martha!"

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Karen Deikun

January 10, 2014  1:21pm

To me the home is a place of both hospitality and retreat. It is a place of welcome and respite for friends and family. Therefore the dishes I wash, the clothes I clean, the spills I wipe up and the floors that I vacuum are being done as a part of - not instead of - my love for others. I admit that time is limited and we often have to choose. But for myself the choice is often twenty minutes wasted in front of a computer playing a game, or looking at a TV program I'm only half interested in over the clean up. Besides, when I'm done and I can find the things I need, it saves time in doing other things I like: Going places, cooking for friends and family. So it's doubly helpful.

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lydia richey

January 10, 2014  12:18pm

I don't mind housework that much anymore. Doing things that don't require much thinking leaves me free to meditate on psalms that I have memorized. I often pray during these times.

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