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Family Matters

I talk about my children at work. And I talk about my work at church. The context in which I work and worship is quite the opposite of Susan Wise Bauer's grim experience [May/June].

The difficulties Bauer encounters hark back to industrialization in the midnineteenth century and the emergence of a doctrine of separate spheres, in which men were narrowly defined as breadwinners and women narrowly defined as homemakers. Society has expected men to work unimpeded by family matters. And, more recently, to the extent that women have gained professional employment, the expectations have been similar.

But not all workplaces and church settings demand that women lead bifurcated lives. Workplaces like mine, where family concerns are positively regarded, represent no mere accommodation to women's responsibilities as mothers. Rather, they are affirming places because male colleagues are both academics and fathers who are actively involved in their children's lives. Recognizing that provider and child-rearing roles are not gender-specific creates a context in which both women and men can acknowledge the whole of their lives, both at work and at church.

Barbara Wells

Hope College

Holland, Mich.

"Fundamentalism" As Code Word

I am an enthusiastic B&C reader. It is simply a delight to read. I've usually found the commentary and critique incisive and enlightening, and imbibing it has become a major part of my intellectual regimen.

In light of this enthusiasm, I was disappointed by your editorial decision to allow Andrew Chignell [May/June] to make the simplistic and pejorative connection between "inerrantists" and "fundamentalists." The term "fundamentalist" is today no more than a code word that has little descriptive content. It does have, however, a very clear and widely understood illocutionary force: In good Hofstadterian fashion, it gives the writer a convenient way to assure the reader that he is really quite unlike those embarrassingly anti-intellectual country cousins. ...

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