Not long ago I reread The Pilgrim’s Progress in order to write commentary on it for my book blog. Reading slowly for notes and questions made me wonder if John Bunyan might have eavesdropped on the 21st century somehow, particularly in his description of Vanity Fair.

The thing that struck me most on this reading is that everything at Vanity Fair is for sale: not just property and goods, but intangibles such as honor, pleasure, delight, even religion. People too: husbands, wives, and children. Respectable items are on the market as well as disreputable, but the prices are set by men, not God. And there’s little correlation between price and value.

At the beginning of the “women’s liberation” movement, women claimed that the work of homemaking and child rearing should be paid in order to be considered valuable. But the reason there’s no salary for homemaking is because it’s invaluable—as we see now from decades of trying to get by with broken homes and outsourced child care. When a young woman at our church walked out on her family a few years ago, it took at least 10 of us, pitching in as we could, to make up (inadequately) for one wife and mother whose worth was far above rubies.

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