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The Religious Lives of Older LaywomenThe Last Active Anglican Generation$
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Abby Day

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739586

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739586.001.0001

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Powers of Purification

Powers of Purification

Chapter:
(p.71) 4 Powers of Purification
Source:
The Religious Lives of Older Laywomen
Author(s):

Abby Day

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739586.003.0004

The hard work of maintaining a clean church is largely carried out by Generation A. This includes the practice of regular church cleaning; the often physically challenging work of dusting, polishing, and sweeping. At once spiritual and embodied, the labour is typical of women’s work: tough, mundane, routine, and exhausting. What is hidden, until experienced through direct involvement, is the communal, meditative, pleasurable, absorbing nature of the tasks that embed the women in the church fabric. This is not just selfless, sacrificial labour: Generation A treats the church building as their extended home. Through such physical and spiritual labour, they gain and impose a sense of ownership of the building and congregation. Another labour-intensive practice involves public ritual. While the public performance of religious ritual has been the preserve of men, behind the scenes it is the work of a woman. The role of the sacristan is considered in depth.

Keywords:   pollution, ritual, commitment, communal, meditative

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