Book Review: Sacred Mundane

Sacred Mundane:  How To Find Freedom, Purpose, And Joy, by Kari Patterson

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

To a large degree, I am not part of the intended audience of this book.  This short volume of about two hundred pages falls under the type of books written by women, about women, and for women.  At best, I am only a generally sympathetic outsider to such concerns myself.  It can be said that this book is written by a Christian feminist, and a large amount of its point is that the author wishes to give a certain dignity to the ordinary and secular activities many women are involved in because when these activities are not given dignity, then we outsource these tasks to domestic workers who are not generally treated with a great deal of dignity [1].  The point of the book, therefore, comes with some pretty strong political and cultural implications, ones which I view with at least some concern and suspicion.  To be sure, the author is awfully vague and relies on repeating catchphrases like the “sacred mundane” in the absence of more substantive discussions to clear up her muddled train of thought, but there is a worthwhile point even if this book is a bit of a drudge to read.

Overall, the structure of this book is very simple, with eight chapters that encourage readers to let God in, see the world through the word of God, discern God’s voice in daily life, enter in, embrace, and trust what God is doing in our lives, find fulfillment through gratitude for what God has given and let our life be poured out through seemingly ordinary tasks.  This is not a book that deals with heroic virtue, but rather the blessings that come from involvement in what seems like a mundane ordinary and even boring life, letting God work through us to transform our ordinary experience into extraordinary character.  The author begins, moreover, by asking readers to summarize their life into one sentence and to wrestle with the disappointments of our existence, and also includes a small group study for those readers (almost certainly women) who want to read this book with others.  Within the pages of this book the chapters are divided into easy-to-read sections that are clearly marked.  This is the sort of book that is likely to provide at least some encouragement to women through its repeated mantras to embrace the sacred mundane of our existences.

If this book, therefore, is not always clear on where it is going on the large scale, it is at least coherent on the smaller level of sentences and paragraphs.  Likewise, it must be acknowledged that the author has a sound point to make–most of us do live lives of quiet desperation or at least considerable monotony and disappointment, and if our lives are to be redeemed and more than merely endured we must see a larger point in them.  Redeeming secular and mundane tasks and seeing what is godly and of lasting and even eternal value in them gives meaning to our lives.  Rather than holding the common and ordinary experience of life in contempt and seeking to escape such tasks, appreciating them gives such matters a sense of dignity and honor that elevates everyone.  If there is a sort of feminism I can in general endorse and celebrate, it is the sort that does not seek to exploit others, or to rant about the behavior of men, but rather the sort that seeks to elevate women and women’s work through giving it a genuine respect and dignity.  When we dignify the mundane but vital tasks of life, we give dignity to ourselves and to all others who do what is necessary but not often glorious, and that is a dignity we can all share in.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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One Response to Book Review: Sacred Mundane

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Secret History Of The Mongol Queens | Edge Induced Cohesion

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