A surge of new books have hit store shelves about the challenges facing followers of Christ who live in the suburbs. Many voices are beginning to say that the lifestyle of the affluent suburbanite, while heralded for 50 years as the fulfillment of the American dream, may actually be detrimental to the Christian life and mission. In this post David Fitch, a pastor and professor in suburban Chicago, and a regular contributor to Out of Ur, addresses the difficulty of practicing the biblical discipline of hospitality in the isolation of the 'burbs.
My church is very much in the suburbs. Specifically, the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Strangely as these suburbs have become more diverse (conspicuously more Hispanic, Asian, as well as other ethnicities) they have become more starkly spatialized. Each family unit is isolated in its own house with fenced in yard and automatically-opening garage that can be driven into permitting all contact with the outside world to be avoided.
David Matzko McCarthy in his wonderful book, Sex and Love in the Home, describes the myth of this suburbia:
The dream of the suburbs is a self-sufficient home, inhabited by affable kin and grace with plenty of yard to provide a buffer between neighbors. The aim of suburban life is to choose a home and neighborhood where we can be happy, where people work hard and respect the ways of others, and where families get along on their own and come together for recreation and leisure?.The great pleasure of home ownership is freedom and autonomy.
McCarthy proceeds to describe how the suburbs are built for the idolization of the affectionate family as the end and purpose of all life. The problem? When the family becomes another form of life separated from God and the ...