Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Idolatry of the suburbs

Drawing on the writing of David Matzko McCarthy, David Fitch blogs about the idolatry of the suburbs:
By idolizing the family, suburbanites may become focused on consuming more stuff to create the perfect home and family. There is nothing but contrived affection left to keep the home together. And children who learn they are the center of this universe from parents actually develop characters that believe they really are the center of the universe.

After decades of this suburban lifestyle America is left with families split by divorce, kids leaving in rebellion, and millions on various drugs to relieve the emptiness as the idolized family turns out to be a myth. Apart from the personal destruction the suburbs can bring, suburban isolation also poses a real problem for the spreading of the gospel.

How can Christians in the suburbs rise above that kind of idolatry? By practicing hospitality as "a central way of life for the spreading of the gospel."


Blogger Unknown said...

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12:27 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

I will be thinking more about this more but on first glance I have to wonder if the problem is truly the idolization of the family. I think what is being idolized is the "stuff" and lifestyle we see presented to us as the American Dream. This dream is presented in techicolor on our TV's, through multichannel audio systems and by those who want to make a buck by selling more and more stuff. Not to mention the government and big business who want to see higher and higher profits each quarter with Dow Jones always on the rise and economy always growing.
I think this is an example of the worries and cares of this life and the money involved that choke out the seeds of Good News that were planted and growing in us.

12:30 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Pilgrim feet said...

Maybe idolization of the "western" family, but I think we should use caution here. I think it's more about "stuff" than people. Pride and the like.

You know, God can take that all away too! Be careful when you pray for faith.......you might just get your prayers answered.

I can personally attest! I trust Him more now and me less.

A little like John 3:27-30

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.

6:41 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

I think you're right, IoH, that the stuff is the real idolatry. In the grand scheme of The Economy, the family is merely the means to the end of Consumption. On another blog I posted an essay several months ago, only slightly tongue-in-cheek, that broken families are in fact good for the economy.

5:44 AM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Amen, PF. By the way, you can find the essay I wrote about broken families at this address:



5:46 AM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Rev. Mike said...

Initially, I was put off by David's post, at least the portion you quoted, Milton. As a suburbanite living in a community where choice of residence and socio-economic status have become proxies for race in education issues, and the "smart growth" crowd is out in full force, I'm sick up to my gills of folks blaming me for the ills of society just because I choose to live where my neighbor doesn't sit in my lap or pass cookies through the kitchen windows. As a former urban apartment dweller, I can attest to the fact that where we live has nothing to do with whether we are close to our neighbors or not. The other readers have rightly refocused the discussion on materialism endemic to the culture regardless of location rather than blanket generalizations.

2:39 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mike. I appreciate your interaction with the post.

7:52 AM, April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living and pastoring in the suburbs, I beg to differ with the conclusion that it is all about "stuff". I exerience people who have made their family (specifically their children) the centre of the universe. Hockey practise at ridiculous hours, stressful jobs to pay for that hockey player's equipment, and a lifestyle that works to meet the child's needs at almost any cost.

Many parents here are older and have waited a long time to have children. They are more economically stable and very focused on living out their 'dream' of having children. They want them to have the best of everything, to avoid the pain of reality, and to grow up with every possible advantage they can give them. In many cases friendship, extended family, parents' enjoyment, parents' health, the environment, and the long term health of society are sacrificed on the alter of "my child's happiness".

One of the problems for sharing the gospel in this environment is that 'family' seems such a noble priority. To call it idolatry or to suggest that anything else (even God!) come before it is horrific to many.

2:04 PM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Amen, Anon. You make some good points. The idolatry could be for the stuff itself or for the family itself. A large part of the suburban parent-as-chauffer paradigm seems to be both: an idolatry of the nuclear family accompanied by a greed for experience. In other words, the greed is not for items as much as for experiences--sports leagues, music lessons, academic enrichment--all in the name of "the best for my child."

7:19 AM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Anon:

Tell me a sin older than pride. It's about "stuff" and it's fueled by pride.

4:04 PM, April 21, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

All these anonymi are confusing. Thanks for your comment, Anon II. You're right that pride (the deadly variety) is behind all forms of sin and idolatry.

4:05 PM, April 23, 2006  

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