Follower of The Way


Wednesday Web

Posted in Books,Christ and Culture by sosipater on October 10, 2007
  • Walking Together Blog reviews Carl F. Henry’s “The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism”.
  •  Steve McCoy links to Will Sampson’s post on living in the Suburbs intentionally.  Here is the run down: 
    • 1) Live with others from your church community. 
    • Whether you share your home with another person or family, or whether you have several families that have homes in close proximity or both, sharing life together is perhaps the most powerful (i.e., going against the grain of suburban culture) way to be the body of Christ in suburbia. If you can’t live together, at least find a way to share resources (power tools, lawn mowers, children’s clothes/toys, etc).
    •  2) Work Less!
    •  One of the major powers that enslaves suburbia is the idolization of the career. There are many ways to pay the bills that do not involve a 9-5 job, and even within a 9-5 job, there are ways to work less (turning down promotions, taking unpaid leave, etc.) Working less will free you to serve your church community, your family, your neighbors, etc. It will also spur creativity: finding a solution for working less, finding a way to “make ends meet” financially, etc.
    • 3) Throw out the television.
    • Another (and perhaps larger power) that enslaves suburbia is consumerism. You’ll be amazed at how your desire for things ebbs as you take the TV out of the picture. If you can’t bring yourself to kill the television, at least take steps to lessen its influence (get rid of cable, only use it for movies, put it on a cart that can be wheeled in and out of a closet, etc.) Throwing out the television will also stimulate your creativity.
    • 4) Drive less.
    •   Suburban culture is also enslaved to the automobile. Find ways to loosen those bonds (much more difficult in suburbia than in urban areas). Share a vehicle with others in your church community (much easier if you are doing #1 above). Invest in a good bicycle. Walk. There was a segment on “60 minutes” a few weeks ago about how much we miss when we zip around in automobiles. Walking and/or biking will help you be more attentive to your surroundings
    • 5) Have a garden / grow food. 
    •  Suburban life is often very shut off from the food cycle (Food comes from the grocery store, of course!). Homegrown food is more healthy, it gives you a good excuse to be outside (see #7 below), and it provides you with a resource to share generously with your church community and your neighbors. Phil Kenneson outlines a number of horticultural lessons for the people of God in his intro to LIFE ON THE VINE that are additional benefits of this practice.
    • 6) Get to know your neighbors / listen for their needs. 
    •  To be human is to be poor. Or in other words, everyone has needs. The challenge of suburbia is that there are many more ways to conceal that poverty, and similarly that it will take more effort to get into a position where a neighbor can reveal their needs. Be intentional about building relationships. Share meals, play poker, have block parties, whatever it takes.
    • 7) Be outside as much as possible. 
    •  Another temptation of suburbia – fueled by individualism – is that of the house as an impenetrable fortress. Dissolve this temptation by eating, playing, relaxing outside. This practice is also one avenue to interact with your neighbors.
    • 8) Do not fence in your yard. 
    • All apologies to Robert Frost, but fences do not make good neighbors, and in fact they often keep us from making good human neighbors. This is a corollary to #7, the fence is a major component of the impenetrable fortress syndrome; it protects our privacy and keeps out our “evil” neighbors. It often is a statement of distrust. If you must have a fence (to corral a dog for instance) make it as low and as permeable (i.e., not blocking off the view) as you can get away with.
    • 9) Take a stand against the greed of mega-corporations. 
    • Whenever possible, resist buying from domineering mega-corporations (e.g., Wal-mart, McDonalds, Starbucks, and others). These corporations destroy local economies and have little or no concern for the environment. Buy as much as you can from businesses that are as local as possible (family-owned businesses are preferable to local chains, local chains are preferable to regional chains, and regional chains are preferable to global corporations.)
    • 10) Utilize and support non-commercial public spaces (parks, libraries, colleges, etc.). 
    •  This point is another corollary of #7 above. We must utilize and show our support for these public spaces, lest they be conquered by the powers of individualism (by becoming private property) or by consumerism (by becoming commercial or industrial property). This is also a wonderful way to foster relationships with our neighbors.

Interesting stuff.  I would take some disagreement with number 9, but I understand his point and do think we should support the enterprises of our neighbors, not forgetting a lot of our neighbors work at Wal-Mart and Lowe’s.  And as far as the environment goes, I doubt many companies want to destroy their own property through pollution.  Anyway, I’m degressing big time.  Thoughts?

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4 Responses to 'Wednesday Web'

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  1. daxw said,

    Russ,
    I’ve seen privacy fences in the front yards of homes before. Terry Johnson hits on this in his book on Family Worship. He talks of how we insulate ourselves from society and really we lessen our accountability by doing that. We’ve lost our sense of community by our lifestyles and it has carried over to how we interact with our brethren at church. He talks of how when you ride through low income urban areas you see people sitting on their porches and standing outside. Everybody knows everbody and is looking out for one another. They have a great sense of community. I never really noticed it before I read the book. Now I see it all the time. When I have appointments in these areas a part of me likes the idea of it, but then I get in my Suburban and drive to my house out in the country. Oh, well.
    I could be wrong,but I bet if you polled most people who choose to live in the Suburbs it’s to get away from crime.

  2. metaljaybird said,

    I also disagree with number 9. In a free market society (of which we claim to be), if you can’t compete, you die. Though, as much as possible, family and I try to hang at the ma and pops shops around my area.

    “Do not fence in your yard”

    That’s pushing it. I have a 1 year old daughter living on a busy street. We’re putting up a picket fence as soon as we can afford it.

  3. sosipater said,

    Dax,

    Thanks for the insightful comment. I think you are right about the crime issue, and probably because it is cheaper too.

    The question for those of us in the burbs is, since we’re here and probably not going anywhere for a while, how do we go about being intentional about community and loving our neighbor when we never see or talk to them? I hope my post gave us some ideas.

  4. sosipater said,

    metaljaybird,

    Thanks for stopping by. I think he is talking about fences that you can’t see through. I think a short, white, picket fence is somewhat inviting. After all, that is the American dream. 🙂


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