I read a recent post by Al Hsu, the author of The Suburban Christian which confirms much of the data I have been mentioning on the new suburban poverty. This poverty is even more insidious because of the way the suburban context hides the poverty, isolates people in their poverty and leaves people in despair in ways somewhat different than in urban contexts. I would even argue that new forms of poverty are taking over the suburbs as thousands have been talked into sub-prime mortgages and various other enslavements which leave them with little or no money for other necessities despite having a suburban home to live in.
This new context of poverty draws attention to the impotence of many church structures in the suburbs where poverty cannot be dealt with through another program. People won’t know or come to such a program in the suburbs. And the programs will not address anything but short term needs (which is necessary but not sufficient to be called God’s justice). We need to find ways of becoming communities of justice in the suburbs just as the neo monastic folks have been pioneering inthe cities. It will look much different in the suburbs for the cost and structure of the burbs is completely different. Yet intentional communities are just as important: communities that seek and teach the ways of simple living, loving people, sharing peace and restorative justice to those caught up in the cycles of suburban impoverishment.
There are other people writing on this stuff . My good friends at Allelon just posted my article (a condensed version of what I presented at the Evolving Church Conference last March) as a first stab at what it is a very complex and important discussion for our times.
What do you all think about suburban poverty? In what ways is it different than urban poverty? And in what ways can intentional community in the burbs take up some of the same principles as neo monastic community in the urban contexts?