John Howard Yoder: On Withdrawing to the Artificial Suburbs

While discussing the various Jewish sects during the time of Jesus, John Howard Yoder, zones in on the communities that produced the Dead Sea scrolls, most often referred to by Biblical scholars as the Essenes. However, he turns its application to what he sees as artificial and synthetic suburban life. He says the following:

The days of real rural withdrawal are fast passing, but the synthetic countryside we call the suburb, with its artificial old swimming holes, artificial expanses of meadow, and artificial campfire sites, set up to maintain artificial distance from the city’s problems, still represents some people’s vision of what to life for… But Jesus, although his home was a village, found no hearing there, and left village life behind him. He forsook his own handicraft and called his disciples away from their nets and their plows. He set out quite openly and consciously for the city and the conflict which was sure to encounter him there.[i]

What do you think about this statement from Yoder?  Are the ‘burbs’ a synthetic and artificial attempt at escaping the ugly systemic realities of the city? What was the relationship between White Flight and Evangelical Church flight to the suburbs while the great migration of poor, suffering African Americans from the rural south and to cities was taking place?


[i] John Howard Yoder, For the Nations: Essays Evangelical and Public (Eugene  Or.: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2002), 173.

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The Cat and the Toaster

This is a great book I’m reading… this is the second book in a row that I have posted without finishing it.  Nonetheless it is a great read.  I do plan to finish, but I also have school stuff I’m working on now that class has started back that will “distract” me from the real important stuff 🙂   Definitely check it out and let me know what you think.  It is a christian writer talking about the complexity of living and social organisms, and how we can apply Christian principles to address solutions within our society.  Sounds dull when I describe it but he is a great writer and has great insight into Kingdom work.

PhD???

Been considering getting my PhD after I finish up my MDiv. I am still not sure if that is what I really want to do. I am looking at both the Urban Studies as well as the Religion programs at Temple University. My concern is that I do not want to get lost in the world of academia. I want everything that I do to have practical and real world implications. I want everything that I do to align with how I understand God is working and moving.

I still have some time to decide…  I’ve got some praying and reflection to do in the upcoming days.

Waiting for Superman

I just saw a free screening of the documentary “Waiting for Superman”. It tackles the tough subject of Education in America.  The film succesfully points out that it is time to reform the broken educational system, and does it in a powerful and moving manner. It is without a doubt a “MUST SEE” film, which should be out in October, 2010.

Until then, enjoy the trailer

Urban Retreat Center…

Why is it that when we go on retreats it is always to rural areas? We always go out into the country to meet and hear from God, but why don’t we ever retreat in urban contexts? Can’t we also take time to intentionally dwell in the city to hear God? Does God only speak to us when we go to less populated and less developed spaces? Or is it just a Christian bias that we all have bought into…

Maybe instead of retreating from the city we could actually retreat to the city. There might actually be some advantages to retreating in the urban context! What can God teach us in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of life? How might we see Jesus anew surrounded by poor and systemically oppressed people? How might God shape and transform His people in the urban setting? What could an individual or communities time look like as they seek God submerged in the hood? I would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on this. Freestyle with me…

Common’s Freestyle – 16 bars

Check out Common as he flows 16 bars… one of the finest emcees and Hip Hop prophets out there today.

Now how can we begin to break away from classical theology and do freestyle theology? What I mean is how can we break from merely memorizing and studying other people’s theology from Europe in the 1500’s and do some theology and studying of our own for our time and our context. Join the cypha…

Nas – I Can

It’s time for us to invest in our young people! Too many young folk dropping out of school, too many young folk that don’t believe in their own gifts and talents, too many young folk with demoralized and beat down psyches. While I think we must continue to address the wealth disparities that exist, we need to do much work in the psychological and spiritual realm.

How do we begin to restore what was stripped from the black community in America through 400 years of inhumane slavery, jim crow laws, lynching, segregation, brutality, stereotypes, and hatred?