Sunday, May 27, 2007

Born & Bred Suburbanite

I've been reading Albert Hsu's The Suburban Christian (see it listed on my sidebar?) lately. It's an interesting read to me first and foremost because I'm a suburbanite. I have lived in the same suburban county for all by my first three or so years of life. My husband grew up in the same county, as did both his mother and father. We are raising third-generation suburbanites. And a desire to know the implications of this compels me to read Hsu's book.

Most recently I was reading his thoughts on the individualistic nature of the suburbs. That great American dream to have your own house that continues to feed the growth of the suburban landscape. He suggests that perhaps as Christians we should consider a communal model:multiple families residing in one home, sharing common areas, but having their own space as well. I see all his arguments in favor of this. Not having to each own large appliances, lawn equipment and even vehicles sounds like a worthwhile concept. And there are so many other economies of scale that could come into play. Plus having that built-in community where families could share life together - it's worth thinking about.

Two related thoughts: I wish Hsu knew about the group of believers that at one time began a looser version of this by all buying homes on the same block and near the same church in Westmont. I have not heard recently how this is going, but it seemed like such an incredible idea. It's in his backyard, so to speak, so maybe he does know about it.

Second: the whole thought of homes and land and what this ownership means makes me think of the Old Testament. Land was part of the blessing God promised in His covenant with Abraham. And all through the Old Testament getting or having land was greatly significant. Yes, that was a promise to a specific people and it applied to the nation of Israel as a whole. But was that promise made because it answered a desire that all people have for owning a piece of land? Is this desire for a place to call our own inherently wrong? I don't know one way or another. I'm just wondering (in case you didn't know, that's a lot of what I"m about).

Any thoughts?

1 musings:

Jenn said...

I don't know, either. I think there would be challenges to having multiple families all living together (particularly because in this culture, that's not "normal," and is sort of striven against).

Still:

My parents are overseas following a call to Ireland, so I currently reside in their house. It's definitely too big for just me. I feel that, at least while I'm in my current situation, it's good stewardship (apart from simple details like, um, rent) for me to have a roommate or two. There have been some opportunities for me to keep this to myself, but I think that that would be wrong for me.

Also, when I was in training for my own stint as an overseas missionary, all of us trainees lived in a total of two houses. One of the houses had three couples (and a few kids) in it, and it seemed to work really really well. So it's definitely possible if you want it to be.