Someone personally recommended to me the book Passionate Housewives Desperate For God, so I picked it up. I'd heard of it before, but to be honest I make every effort to avoid contemporary "Christian Living" books so I hadn't pursued this one either. The genre is nearly always facile, too long on annoying words (such as--sorry--"passionate"), and too Protestant for my hostile tastes (Reb. Mary patiently keeps me from dissipating into the Concordian ether).
The whole Christian anti-feminist movement in particular is also something I've generally filed under Um . . . not my style. I am not above rubies. I'm barely above the stuff in the S trap. My personal opinion is that if Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 were ever tragically lost, Proverbs 31 would make a fine substitute for half of us. Wow, I so cannot remember the last time I delivered a sash to the merchant. This lady is like my mother-in-law (whom I love and admire and whose company I enjoy): so far out of my league that we're not even in competition.
The reason the anti-feminists generally don't resonate with me--besides the weird womb obsession--is that I agree with them too much. There is no chance that I'm going to get a job and sign the kids up for daycare. I don't even want to, secretly or otherwise. I completely agree that feminism is philosophically void (as demonstrated by its numerous contradictory incarnations) and personally and societally toxic. So I don't need someone to convince me of this. And since I agree with the major premise, I get snotty about the minor ones. For example, am I supposed to touch up my lipstick before my husband gets home, or never succumb to such damning vanities? What can I say, I'm a jerk.
But the value of the anti-feminist genre is that a lot of people really have not heard what it has to say. And for people like that, Passionate Housewives is a good book. It is not at all heavy handed on more peripheral and touchy issues like homeschooling or quiverfilling, which to us are a big deal but to those outside the vortex are insane, entry-prohibitive dealbreakers. The authors gracefully demonstrate the practical implications of their theology in their bios and as a result don't need to browbeat about such things to make the urgent, foundational argument: know who you are and the work God has given you to do. It is blessed work. The world's dummy is as vain and deceptive as anything the world has ever had to offer.
So if your personal library is lacking a foundation book for both your own reference and as a loaner for confused members of normal society who show up on your doorstep, this is a good one to have (although I might mention to borrowers that I am of the pious opinion that interior decorating is not central to wifely/maternal vocation). Theologically speaking, this book won't direct your basic street Lutheran to the Blessed Sacrament, but it also doesn't ask her to write in the margin how God is speaking to her personally today. Blech, that felt like a hairball coming out.
The most useful thing to me in PHes was the chapter on personal piety. If you can't find a big chunk in your day for prayer and devotion, take little chunks as you can. The competition between sleep and hygiene is bad enough; throw piety into the mix and you're bound for rage or despair depending on your personality. Don't decide to pray two Psalms in 20 minutes, because too often you will not be able to. Decide to pray two Psalms all day long--which is probably better anyway.
The book I'm still looking for is, I'm here, at home, kids in with and under me, marinating in my convictions: now what? But actually, that Book is already written too, and the more time I spend in it, the better off we all are.