The Pace of Hen: Ways to Fulfullment for a Housewife by Josephine Moffett Benton is a book I expected and wanted to love but which I only moderately liked. Her main premise is that a housewife has so many opportunites open to her that there is no reason for her to languish in boredom and unfulfillment. I agree completely with that thesis. The author writes about many ways a woman at home can enliven her experience, and I think that is a message that needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Feminism has convinced many in my generation and those subsequent that there is nothing worthwhile to do at home. Feminism couldn't be more wrong. This book, written in 1962, one year before The Feminine Mystique was published, explains how a wife and mother caring for her family and community makes a vital contribution to the well-being of our society. Young women especially need to be told this. Mrs. Benton was a woman of wide experience and understanding who clearly has not been stifled in mind or spirit just because she makes home her base of operations. I was amused by how many of the problems women faced in 1962 before the feminist revolution are the same problems women lament about today: feeling isolated at home, being pressured by society to be something more than "just a housewife," and lacking child-rearing wisdom and know-how, to name a few. The subtitle points in that direction also. Some things never change.
What I didn't like was the book's thorough-going Quaker outlook, evident on almost every page. I have many bones to pick with Quaker theology and practice, so I was exasperated with this book at times. Mrs. Benton exhibits a non-traditional, non-historical understanding of what a sacrament is and because of that misrepresents what it means to live sacramentally. Her reliance on our mystical ability to discern God's voice within our own hearts can lead to spiritual and theological disaster and has done just that for many, including myself. I do agree with her insistence that a rich and fulfilling life can be made by just about anyone in just about anywhere, but it's not necessary to be a Quaker to achieve it. What is necessary is thought, prayer, and a very large mental adjustment.
All in all, The Pace of a Hen is not a book I'm likely to return to.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling is, I think, my favorite Harry Potter book, mainly because Man of the House and I have suffered at the hands of a Dolores Umbridge-like teacher and administrator in the past. The resemblance in some ways is striking, and I guess it's this firsthand understanding of what life at Hogwart's was like that makes me more empathetic toward Harry & Co. than usual. The Harry Potter books are great fun, and to me, this one is the most fun of all. I listened to this on CD. Jim Dale will forever be the voice of HP to me. He does an excellent job throughout all seven books.
Just three more books to go before the challenge is over. I think I'm going to make it! I will post a round-up sometime in January.