Review - The Suburban Christian
Blinded by suburbia
“The suburban life is a spiritual quest,” writes Al Hsu. And he’s absolutely right, yet the great majority of those living in the suburbs never grasp this reality. Instead, we keep reaching and grabbing for more and more, hoping that someday we’ll find ourselves back in
Hsu tackles this reality and how it shapes our Christian spirituality with forthright honesty in The Suburban Christian: Finding Spiritual Vitality in the Land of Plenty (InterVarsity Press, 2006, ISBN# 10-0-8308-3334-X). In this practical book that can’t help but rattle a suburb-dweller’s “peaceful” world (it did mine), Hsu offers an analysis of contemporary suburban culture that combines good historical, theological and sociological thought in a mix that shows how suburbia has become a place for those pursuing the American dream to seek redemption from their past and hope for their future. But the suburban “promise” can and never will deliver, as those living in this land of plenty spiral further and further down into the depths of spiritual impoverishment, unless of course their redemption is found fully in Christ.
With over half of the American population now living in suburbia, all Christians would do well to read this book, focusing particularly on Hsu’s suggestions for how to live authentic Christian lives in the suburbs while avoiding the pitfalls of the setting. Suburban parents and youth workers will be challenged to rethink how they are fulfilling their calling, and will find ample suggestions for personal, family and ministry adjustments that steer away from a consumerism that leaves us thinking we’re living with more, when we’re actually living with far less.
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