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Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

ca. 1990


In the not so distant future

In a not so distant place

A child finds a word

Which leaves a blank look on her face


It's a word she's heard not of

One unlike any other

She still cannot define it

Even after asking another


She grabs a dictionary from the shelf

And fumbles for that word

A word which she cannot pronounce

Of which her teacher has never heard


Then when she finds the entry

The definition seems so unclear

But she knows the word means something

Perhaps something sweet, something dear


The word she finds is "family"

A word unlike any other

One which refers to relatives

Especially father, mother, brother


But its meaning must be deeper

There must be something more

Was it happy, kind, and loving?

Was it fun and not a bore?


And so she craves to learn

Why it is not here today

Where is this thing called "family"

And why did it go away?


In the not so distant future

In a not so distant place

With questions left unanswered

The word vanishes from her face


Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of The Hausvater Project. He lives with his wife Marie and their homeschool children in Casper, Wyoming, where he serves as Academic Dean and Professor of History and Philosophy at Luther Classical College. He previously taught American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College, 2003–2023. For more information, visit

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