Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Dream of Suburbia: Is our home our god?

Hope you guys had a good Memorial day. We went to a neighborhood block party and met some new neighbors, and in the evening we went to a Royals game--courtesy of Marc Vasquez, who gave us free tickets. Thanks, Marc! The girls loved it. Gina is a big baseball fan. She asked, can we do this every night? :)

I wanted to share with you some of the research I'm doing on suburbia. Suburbia, in turns out, has always been promoted as a sort of fantasy way of living--closer to nature than the inner city, with technology that makes life easier, and close to, guess what--shopping. Materialistic dreams and suburbia go hand in hand.

Note the following from Dolores Hayden's book, Building Suburbia:

  • In 1869, Catharine Beecher urgered women to take charge of the suburban house and family, which she called the "church of Jesus Christ." (p.34)

  • In 1921, an editorial writer in the National Real Estate Journal actually told readers that the Garden of Eden was the first subdivision!

  • In the 1940s, ad writers for GE promoted purchasing a home as "an adventure in happiness."

This shows that materialism really has been an idol for Americans, with spiritual and biblical imagery being used explicitly at times to promote it. Why do we "buy" into these liese that homes and things can bring us happiness?