Thursday, November 30, 2006

Article: "Suburban churchgoers rethink spiritual values"

Here are snippets from a recent article in the United Methodist Reporter that quoted me:

"I think there's a growing sense that the suburbs shape us in ways we don't always understand," said Mr. Hsu, author of The Suburban Christian.

"Suburbs were designed with cars in mind," he said. "You can't really get anywhere in suburbia by walking -- things are spread too far out." Living in one suburb, working in another and perhaps attending church in yet another, he says, "fragments our lives into different communities that don't overlap."

. . .
Attending one of the most affluent UMCs in the country, Mr. Lueder senses that "everybody would love to release the pressure valve, to be able to not feel all this pressure to perform and to achieve and to send your kids to Harvard.

"It makes me want to say, 'Can't we all just join hands and say we're not going to put this pressure on each other any more?"

Mr. Hsu envisions something like that -- a way for Christians to redeem the suburbs rather than to abandon them. More people live in suburbs than in central cities and small towns combined, he notes, making American suburbia equivalent in population to the seventh-largest nation in the world. That's a vast mission field, Mr. Hsu says, and one that Christians need to understand before they can have an impact.

"There's a difference between a self-centered suburbanism that gets sucked into all the materialism and consumerism, and an other-centered Christian suburbanism that's focused on how to herald the kingdom of God in the suburbs," he said.


L.L. Barkat said...

I like the idea of taking the pressure off... still..

...just try this at a kid's birthday party, somewhere between the pinata and the goodie bags. Someone will surely make an attempt on your life.

Al Hsu said...

Yep, it's hard not to compare or compete with fellow suburbanites. Last year our older son, Josiah, went to a neighbor's birthday party that was held at a game place that featured big inflatable things to play in. I think the stuff in the goodie bags was more expensive than the present we brought.

Josiah's birthday that year, on the other hand, was just a few friends over playing pin-the-picture-on-the-Care-Bear's-tummy (handmade) in our basement. Simpler, quieter, much more our speed. This year for his birthday we went to McDonald's after church with a bunch of church friends, and the kids ran around the PlayPlace and ate sundaes. This particular McDonald's had one of those videogame kiosks, and Josiah was mesmerized by a Lego Star Wars game. He ended up using some of his birthday money to buy the Star Wars game for himself and has been playing it constantly ever since. So even when we try to be intentional about practicing simplicity, something in our consumer culture sucks us in to purchasing something.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article that mentions the growing diversity in one NJ suburb and the efforts of some churches in the area to reach their neighbors:

Anonymous said...

It would be great for America and for Christians if someone could figure out how to make the suburbs a healthier place to live.