Obsessive Cleanliness

Well, I will now cross Switzerland off the list of lands that I would happily consider moving to. I am actually relatively tidy for a student and keep my things more organized than most (I have catalogued the entirety of my 1600 book library using the Dewey decimal system, with stickers on the spines). I vacuum my room relatively regularly, make my bed every morning, file my documents, generally keep kitchen surfaces clean and free of dishes to be washed up. The orderliness or disorderliness of my surroundings has a considerable effect on my state of mind and in my case keeping my room tidy is part of the task of keeping my mind tidy. However, there are levels of cleanliness that seem to be more obsessive than commonsensical.

Update: In support of clutter [HT: BHT]. Not quite my philosophy. However, as my library expands past its current size — I already have books piled up in my wardrobe, double-banked at the bottom of my tallboy, in piles on top of free surfaces and in boxes in the attic and under my bed — I may need to make my peace with mess (the alternative, getting rid of some of my library, being utterly unthinkable).

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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7 Responses to Obsessive Cleanliness

  1. Christopher Witmer says:

    Re: cleanliness, I couldn’t agree more. I much prefer the Yorkshire style — living in an old water tank on a rubbish tip, and getting woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over you, or living in a paper bag in a septic tank, getting up at six in the morning, cleaning the paper bag, eating a crust of stale bread, going to work down at the mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when returning home Dad thrashes you to sleep with his belt . . . that sort of thing. (http://www.phespirit.info/montypython/four_yorkshiremen.htm)

  2. Jim says:

    Oh no. As we say here in the South, “you ain’t right!”. You’ve just pointed me to another story confirming my love of the Land; my theological Heimat! I’d move there in a moment.

  3. Al says:


    I suspected that you would comment on this post! I have very fond memories of visiting Switzerland about ten years back and would love to visit it again. It is a beautiful country, with particular historical interest to all of us who love the Reformation tradition. However, moving there would really be something that I couldn’t do. I’m all for hygeine, but I would find it very hard to live in a place where there is an inordinate concern for it.

  4. Jim says:

    Oh no my good Alastair! There can no more be an inordinate concern for hygiene than there can be for godliness!

  5. garver says:

    My own library (around 5000 books, I think) is organized by Library of Congress system, with stickers on the spine. Whether Dewey, LoC, or otherwise, it seems a very sensible way of doing things to my mind.

  6. Baggas says:

    May I suggest a great online tool that’s a brilliant way of keeping track of your books – http://www.librarything.com/ – I believe it will keep track of Dewey and LoC codes as part of the database although I’m personally not quite that well organised.

  7. Pingback: Confessing Evangelical » Blog Archive » Embracing clutter

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