In my liturgical theology class yesterday we were talking about free church worship. In an aside, our professor, who likes taking pokes at John Calvin now and again, commented that the American "family value" of distinguishing male and female roles in the family (women do housework, men work in the marketplace) does not obtain in Europe. That continent has a long history of both parents sharing in the work of the family and the work in the world. Gender essentialism, he said, came to America via the Puritans and a misreading of John Chrysostom by John Calvin.
The whole class looked (well, more like glared) at me, the resident and usually unapologetic Calvinist. Whereupon I thought it worth mentioning that I was not personally responsible for this state of affairs. In fact, I pointed out, this week I am the full-time home-making (home-messing?) parent while my wife is on tour, attending a conference in Houston and giving a distinguished lecture series at Gordon College. The topic of one of her lectures: Work and Family and Gender roles: Charism Trumps Essentialism.
A particularly tasty irony.