Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 221–236 | Cite as

Called home: The creation of family life

  • Richard A. Hutch


Engendering family life is a spiritual process (theosis) based on human ethological constants of gender difference and generational turnover. Recent studies on ethnicity suggest that such a process retrieves a primordial sense of the human species as a whole, “humankind.” Families, especially in this broad sense, link together the living and the dead and, at their best, morally empower individuals who link their destinies to such a vision of creation and human health. Reference is made to work on human strengths and speciation by Erik Erikson and to that on maternal thinking by Sara Ruddick. A political program by which an ideology of “familism” can be made is offered.


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  1. 1.
    Popenoe, D.,Disturbing the Nest: Family Change and Decline in Modern Societies. New York, Aldine de Gruyter, 1988, pp. 305, 340–341. Also see Lasch,C., Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged. New York, Basic Books, 1977.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Some of the reflection of Erik Erikson of well over twenty years ago presages the importance of gender difference for family life. Although his work was originally attacked by feminists of the 1960s and 1970s as adhering to the principle that “anatomy is destiny,” the ethological significance of what he said is now being embraced by feminists of the so-called “second generation.” These feminists seek not to collapse gender difference into genderless sameness in the workplace as the “first generation” feminists advocated. Rather, they seek to highlight the distinctiveness of women, and advocate that women (and men) be valued and paid for their gender-specific services. See Erikson, E., “Womanhood and the Inner Space.” InIdentity, Youth and Crisis. New York, W.W. Norton, 1968, pp. 261–294; and “Once More the Inner Space.” InLife History and the Historical Moment. New York, W.W. Norton, 1975, pp. 225–247. Erikson relates gender differences to the process of raising children in his littleknown article “Pseudospeciation in the Nuclear Age,”Political Psychology, 1985,4, pp. 213–217.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    A general context for the study of generations and how the concept of “generation” has undergone change during the past century is the issue called “Generations,”Daedalus, 1978, 4. Criticism of Erikson's work and other work like his can be found in the essay in this collection called “Aging, Social Change, and the Power of Ideas” by Matilda White Riley, pp. 39–52.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Much good work on the ethological basis of religious belief and practice, or the “functional efficacy” of religion, has been initiated not only in the sociobiological research of Harvard University's famous E.O. Wilson, but also in the lesser known work of John Bowker,The Religious Imagination and the Sense of God. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1978; and 0Rappaport, R.A.,Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual and Ecology of a New Guinea People. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Geertz, C.,The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York, Basic Books, 1973, pp. 259–260.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Smith, A.D.,The Ethnic Revival in the Modern World. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 25. See also Stack, J.F., Jr.,The Primordial Challenge: Ethnicity in the Contemporary World. New York and London, Greenwood Press, 1986.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Erikson, E., “Human Strength and the Cycle of Generations.”In Insight and Responsibility. New York, W.W. Norton, 1964, pp. 109–157. Subsequent quotations that describe each of the virtues of Erikson's schedule are taken from this article.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    All quotations are from Erikson, “Human Strength and the Cycle of Generations,” pp.118–133.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Capps, D.,Life Cycle Theory and Pastoral Care. Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1983. A summary chart that links Capps' list of vices with Erikson's list of virtues is found on p. 38.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid., p. 48.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Erikson, E., “The Golden Rule in the Light of New Insight.” InInsight and Responsibility, op. cit., p. 233.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., p. 242.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    For the story of Korczak, based largely on his diary and on interviews of children who had once been in his care and of other people who knew him see Lifton, B.J.,The King of Children. London, Chatto & Windus, Ltd., 1988; Pan Books, Ltd., 1989. While many people are familiar with Anne Frank and her diary, Janusz Korczak and his diary are not as well known, but actually have equal stature among European Jews and Jewish emigrants insofar as the Nazi holocaust continues to be reckoned with as a religious event.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ibid., p. 345.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ruddick, S.,Maternal Thinking: Toward A Politics of Peace. Boston, Beacon, 1989.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ibid., p. 82.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ibid., p. 83.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    quoted in, p. 207; see also Huston, N., “The Matrix of War: Mothers and Heroes.” In Suleiman, S., ed.,The Female Body in Western Culture. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    The list is from Popenoe,op. cit., pp. 340–341.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Institutes of Religion and Health 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. Hutch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Queensland in BrisbaneAustralia

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