Over at Mere O, Keith Miller has been kind enough to respond to a piece the FF editors published about Anthony Bradley’s praise of ordinary Christianity. In his post, Bradley lamented that “radical” or “missional” Christianity was obscuring the need for basic, everyday Christianity. He linked this misplaced zeal of “radical Christianity” to the anti-suburbs movement. We responded by agreeing in part with Bradley, but noted that “there’s ordinary, and then there’s total capitulation to contemporary American norms.” Therefore, “some forms of cultural resistance should be universal, because some aspects of ‘normal’ life in America are deeply unChristian.” We urged, as a part of this effort, resistance to the cultural language of the suburbs.
In his response, Miller suggests that most of the arguments offered against the suburbs are transparently weak:
Here are a few of the most prominent Christian objections to living in the suburbs. How many of them hold up to even a slight bit of scrutiny?
- Suburbs are inauthentic: I confess to not quite understanding what this means. Yes, suburban things are often newer and feature less exposed brick, but how is that a moral argument?
- Suburbs are consumeristic: No more than large cities.
- Suburbs are morally repressive: Wait, overt exhibition of immorality is a good thing?
- Suburbs lack diversity: The most diverse places in the country are suburbs.
Because these arguments are so weak, Miller believes, there must be something else animating the rise of anti-suburban Christianity. He suggests, on the one hand, that it’s mere political prejudicie (“Suburbs are full of a lot of Evangelicals who vote Republican: Oh, wait, now we are getting somewhere…”) or some sort of uncritical adoption of a secular belief: “Do we have a biblically grounded objection rooted in our personal experiences, or have we merely baptized a secular prejudice and called it Christian ethics?” Earlier he writes, “Some of the modern rejection of suburbia now features argumentation about carbon footprints and climate change. But that is largely a retrofitting of the old aesthetic prejudice with scientific-sounding rhetoric.”
Read more at Patheos, the new home of the Fare Forward blog
[Image of San Jose suburbs from Wikipedia]