Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I love it when people stumble across Catholic theology is my favourite 'home and design' website, and not just because of the many beautiful and practical and fun design ideas I've seen here. They delve into lifestyle themes, which makes perfect sense, because most normal people want to LIVE in their homes. Too many magazines and sites seem geared to fantasy folk who have more money than brains, and who want make their houses look fantastic just for show. I mean, really--a $4000 cushion? (Saw that in a mag at the dentist's office.) I'll take happy kids and a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies--and crumbs on the floor--any day over "Wow factor."

I therefore liked this article on Houzz, in which the author Mitchell Parker asks then states:
Could it be that we’re in a renaissance of working with our hands? I mean really working with our hands? You know, with heavy tools that leave calluses, on projects that at the end of the day, week or month give you something that can't be emailed or uploaded, but that can be used for a physical purpose? As we become more plugged in — working at desk jobs where our hands touch only a keyboard, mouse and iPhone all day — many are feeling a new desire to unplug and do something more tangible.

That's what author Matthew Crawford has discovered and shared in his book, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. With a PhD in political philosophy, he ditched a job as the executive director of a think tank after only 10 months to start his own one-man motorcycle repair shop, where he’s never been happier.
Well, not exactly discovered, Mr. Parker. A few millennia's worth of crafstmen, guildsmen, artisans, and artists (to say nothing of ordinary moms and dads) with nary a PhD in sight already knew this, not least of whom is this carpenter fellow named St. Joseph. And Jesus, who spent 30 years working with his hands before he left home to redeem all of creation. JPII's Laborem exercens (On Human Work) also touches on this.

Ironically (considering the word "soulcraft" in Crawford's title), Mitchell Parker tries to make the creative urge evolutionary in source, but let's face it: we are not made in the image of the Primal Ooze. We come, as Dorothy L. Sayers so eloquently explains, from the Mind of the Maker.

But no matter. Good on Houzz for stating eternal verities, no matter how inadvertently. Oh, and the workshops featured in the article all belong to guys. No lady woodworkers here (though of course they do exist), but it's refreshing that Houzz saw no need to pander to political correctness.

(Gorgeous table found here.)

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