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Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  149 ratings  ·  36 reviews
To be human is to long for home. Home is our most fundamental human longing. And for many of us homesickness is a nagging place of grief. This book connects that desire and disappointment with the story of the Bible, helping us to see that there is a homemaking God with wide arms of welcome―and a church commissioned with this same work.

"Many of us seem to be recovering th
Paperback, 220 pages
Published May 7th 2017 by IVP Books (first published May 2017)
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  149 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Inklings were, one and all, guilty of the heresy of the Happy Ending. They rejected the modernist aesthetic of dissonance and estrangement, and instead longed to reclaim a world of beauty and goodness-a world of enchantment. In their stories of hobbits and orcs, fauns and beavers and Father Christmas, Tolkien and Lewis told the story of home as the Scriptures tell it: the world has fallen from its original perfection, but it will one day be restored. The enduring legacy of these stories test ...more
Amanda Hunsberger
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a gem! I thought this book would be about the dignity and love that is inherent in the less-than-glamorous work of making a home, but it is about so much more. It is about the gospel -- God as our homemaker, home-bringer, and homecoming. The broken home that God rescues us from and the final restoration of home we look forward to. Michel's exegesis blew me away!
Cara Meredith
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I may not agree with everything Jen writes (or believes) theologically, but she's an outstanding writer. This story of home is well researched, well told and well worth any (Christian) reader's time.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith
One of the best Christian books I've read in a long time. Michel follows the themes of home, homesickness, exile, rest, and keeping house through the Bible. It's profound, but immediate and familiar. She interweaves illustrations from her childhood and current life that help the reader understand where the ideas matter. Readable, practical, thoughtful. I'll refer to it over and over.

It also has discussion questions in the back and would make a wonderful book for discussion.
I found this book on The Englewood Review's "Advent Calendar 2017--Best Books of 2017!" Since the book seemed to be about the theology of home and the family and I am a new parent, I thought I should read it. I was delighted to find an audiobook on my library's Hoopla app. I ended up listening to much of the book while feeding my daughter her bottle!

Keeping Place is a bit of spiritual memoir, cultural critique, biblical studies, theology, and spirituality. Michel explains how Scripture begins wi
Sharla Fritz
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Keeping Place is an important book on the topic of home. Author Jen Pollock Michel writes about our longing for a place to belong. She weaves a history of home and the meaning of place through the stories of Scripture.
The second half of the book covers the work of home. Pollock bemoans the fact that "housework' and 'homemaking' are not always valued. She writes, "Housekeeping, as worship and work, rightly relates us to God as well as to our fellow humans." Keeping place is an important way to le
Dorothy Greco
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
All of us carry a deep longing for home. Michel writes, "Home represents humanity's most visceral ache—and our oldest desire." In Keeping Place, the author explores this longing and traces it directly back to our never-quite-satisfied hunger for God. Michel is one of the smartest writers of today and has an uncanny ability to tie seemingly disparate threads together in a way that brings readers to many AHA! moments. The book is thoughtful, rich, and incredibly hopeful. (And as usual, Michel is a ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
One of the best non-fiction "Christian living" books I've read in a while. I very much enjoyed the blend of memoir and Scripture analysis/reflection. I found this book refreshing in its examination of God as homemaker, the One who makes a home for his people. I listened to the audiobook, which is read very well by the author herself. Highly recommended.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful reflection on our homesickness...

Jen Michel is a superb writer. Her word pictures make her stories come alive. The realities of homesickness and homelessness are heart truths. And the beauty of our true and lasting home beckons.
Aimee Fritz
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jen Pollock Michel's beautiful, thoughtful, new book is rich with profound but accessible ideas about the physical, relational, and spiritual homes we make.

In Keeping Place we begin to understand why we long for home so deeply. Not just the houses we grew up in, the people with grew up with, but far deeper and wider, into nostalgia, grief, women's rights, church, marriage, sabbath rest, and heaven.

I have many ideas scribbled in the margins of my copy of Keeping Place. I need to spend much more t
Peter Kerry Powers
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I sometimes think that Goodreads ought to give me two ways to rate a book: what the book wants to be on its own terms, and whether I think the book is really something someone should spend time reading. On its own terms, and trying to apply John Updike's dictum that we shouldn't blame a book for not achieving what it didn't set out to achieve, I think Michel's book is OK; probably even good. Thinking of it as a series of meditations on the nature of home, the book embodies a vision of the dignit ...more
Amanda Rogozinski
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you like a book that is relatable but also meaty, one that will challenge as well as encourage you, I highly recommend this read. Michel brings together so many different voices into this dialogue and together they come to an understanding both our longing for home and how to be instruments in creating it. She includes psychological, theological, and literary perspectives and her own well-thought-through exegesis of the theme of "home" throughout scripture. I wish I could have a dialogue with ...more
Michele Morin
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Theology of Home

Rootedness was always the thing that both repelled and intrigued me. I left my parents’ home at the age of seventeen and pictured a life unleashed — no commitments. I copied all my record albums onto small and portable cassette tapes (dinosaur alert!) and prepared for the unencumbered life. With that resolve in my rear view mirror, no one is more surprised than I am to have lived (happily) at the same address for 23 years, making a home and being re-made by the challenges and j
I didn't love this book, but it has some solid material. I appreciated that it wasn't a Wendell Berry-esque adulation of place and rootedness--it comes, rather, from an author who's mostly lacked those things in her life, which gives some weight and texture to her reflections. It *is*, as the title suggests, more of a set of meditations on home and housekeeping than an argument or sustained exploration of a concept. Michel looks at some of our contemporary ambivalences about "home," at God as "h ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars LOVED this book! For me, this was definitely a case of the right book at the right time, it was so timely that in several places it cause me to catch my breath.

Finally, a book about "home" from a Christian perspective that delves into the topic using the bible as a whole and not just isolated, taken out of context "women in the home" verses. Such a breath of fresh air and so deeply thoughtful and challenging. I finished the last page and immediately opened the first page of another bo
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith-and-life
Jen Pollock Michel’s ponderings on home provide the perfect setting to reflect on the Kingdom of God. She creates beautiful word pictures to bring intangibles into focus. Weaving personal stories of loss as well as joy with biblical illustrations, she eased me into the deep waters of the theological pool.

Jen Pollock Michel’s writing caused me to pause after each chapter. The truths needed time to soak into my brain and then into my soul. While we wait for our true home in heaven, we have homes
Catherine L.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As one who is demonstrably preoccupied with Home and homesickness, I loved this book. Michel's depth of historical study and the fascinating connections she makes between ideas and moments in time are so impressive. She writes like a scholar but not necessarily for scholars--she teases out universal themes and relates them to all of us. I listened to the audio version, so there is much I did not catch (a hazard of audio books), but I enjoyed it enough to covet a paper copy for my shelf, one to d ...more
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Helpful- expounds on the ideas that our longings show that we are made for another world, our homes and families here are just "inns along the way" (Keller) and cannot bear the weight of satisfying us, we are
made in the image of a "housekeeping/homemaking" God and set here and commissioned to His work. I liked the second half of the book the best, where she outlined the shape of this work. My favorite chapter was on sabbath rest. A few of my favorite thoughts: Rest apprentices us to let God love
Paul Sparks
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why don't you people tell me about these things? Adding this to my top 20 parish reads:

I've been waiting for a book like this ever since Tim Soerens and I interviewed Brian Walsh on the theme of homemaking. Jen Pollock Michel already won book of the year at Christianity Today with her first book Teach Us To Want. Keeping Place is meaningful storytelling and a deep theology of place. The writing is exceptional "skilled and hypnotic prose" and the research is expansive. I w
Jessica Wilkins
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You know when you finish reading a book and then immediately realize you should read it again? This is that kind of book!
As a person who lived abroad for a decade and still struggles with finding a sense of "home", Jen Michel's book really hit a nerve. In a good way.
Beautifully written with solid theological references, and inspiring thoughts-- this book did a great job of showing how home is a place we all long for and how we can create such spaces.
I am not a homemaker, or a wife or a mother,
Katherine Pershey
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jen Pollock Michel is an incredibly gifted writer. Her theology continues to be somewhat right of my own mainline tradition, but her work inspires, instructs, and challenges me in so many ways. Lots to treasure in this book. She's particularly skilled at weaving her own reflections in with varied voices from literature and theology. Best chapter was on the "unyielding obligations of love's housekeeping." "It is a logical impossibility to love my children and refuse to provide them lunch. To love ...more
Kristy Berends
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit more of an intellectual read than I usually run toward, but I loved it! It was a fascinating journey of homemaking through the centuries and helped me understand the world that helped shape the modern era of feminism. As a "complimentarian" rather than a feminist, it was helpful to understand the rise of feminism and also to affirm the importance of HOME in a society that has rejected the concept on many levels. Her illustrations were real without being too revealing, and so affirming of t ...more
Carole Duff
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book rich in memory and theology, a cohesive reflection about the welcome of home: the longing we have for homes we’ve left, the ones our parents made and those we established for ourselves and our families. Whether we stay put or move, we realize that homes on earth are perishable. Keeping Place is also about work: routines and rhythms, burdens and benefits of home in our families, churches, and neighborhoods. A delightful read, which includes a wide range of references.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
With our recent cross country move, I thought this book seemed appropriate. What is the meaning of home? This book had some beautiful language and some great theological ideas. Nothing earth shattering, but good reminders. However, it lacked any kind of practical application. A pleasant read, but not much more.
Janna Lynas
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I waited for this story… the one where I’m reminded yet again of all the homes that are part of my story, my true homeplace and the one I heard about the glory of housekeeping, of making home and belonging to it, most of all the One who keeps a home for me. Read this one slowly, really slowly, and savor the beauty of all home can and will be.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Very intriguing. Michel has such a beautiful way with words -- and I fell in love with her writing and speaking style when I read/studied Teach Us to Want. Bonus! I love that we share Columbus, Ohio as a home and I felt both nostalgia and connection when she shared stories from there. I did get a little distracted listening, though, as there is a lot on my mind these days.
David A.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jen Michel is a great writer and thinker. Too much quoting from other sources, and she seems to lose her way a little in the middle, but those are minor quibbles about a heartfelt and insightful sophomore offering.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I started this one in 2017, but finished it in 2018. It is a slow read in that, at least for me, I needed to stop and reflect on the content pretty frequently. There was much to think about.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book helped me better understand my role as “housekeeper” in my home, my church, and God’s kingdom. I wish it had been available when I was much younger, but I am grateful for its impact now.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book about home, life, love, travel, and The Bible. Awesome storytelling, kind advice. One I will re-visit often!
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Hi, I'm Jen, an American expat living in Toronto. (We've been here 8 years now, so it's probably about time to admit that I'm a permanent resident of Canada!)

I've written three books: Surprised by Paradox, Keeping Place, and Teach Us to Want. I've also contributed chapters to essay collections like Our Secular Age, Identity Theft, The Wonder Years, and Everbloom.

Besides books, I write widely for
“Stability, as commitment to place, and enclosure, as commitment to people, aim to prove that demons are not easily left behind. Home, on this earth, is no perfect place, and one of our greatest acts of faithful courage might be abiding the weariness of imperfect company, both that of ourselves and others.” 1 likes
“They recognize the temptation that we individually and churches corporately face to live “above” our places, remaining essentially disconnected from the desires and disappointments of our closest neighbors. They write, “We think there is a deep connection between Adam and Eve’s calling to care for a specific place, and God’s instruction not to eat from the tree of knowledge. After all, grasping Godlike knowledge at the expense of relationship is a way of attempting to transcend your boundaries. It is a way of avoiding both your limitations and your responsibilities.”15” 1 likes
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