In this thought-provoking book, through analysis of images of the family in the mainstream media in the twentieth century, Amy Laura Hall considers the possibility that, by downplaying the gratuity of grace, middle-class Protestants have implicitly endorsed a precept of justification through responsibly planned procreation.
Conceiving Parenthood challenges the form of medical ethics in the West, prompting readers to ask probing questions about old patterns. While Hall critically considers particular changes in Western reproductive and pediatric practices, her aim is less to judge specific technologies as licit or illicit than to encourage congregations to contend with the shape of the family in mainline Protestant culture.
The range of sources introduced in the book is considerable. Hall suggests that the default way of conceiving parenthood in the last century was shaped by advertised products promising a scientifically clean home, the "Century of Progress" Fair in Chicago (held during the Great Depression), social hygiene posters, and National Geographic (bringing families "the world and all that is in it"). In contrast, Hall seeks to prompt hope in one holy child, and she suggests that participation in this hope may clash with the responsibility to plan, conceive, and cultivate children who will participate in national progress.
The research in Conceiving Parenthood is new, the illustrations exceptional, and the theory provocative. Hall's goal is to encourage new conversations within communities of faith, conversations that will enable individuals, couples, congregations, even entire neighborhoods to conceive of parenthood in ways that make room (temporal and geographic) for families and children who are deemed to be outside the proper purview of the right sorts of families.
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