Suburban Radical Discipleship?

JPerkFrom Dr. James Perkinson, Professor of Ethics and ​Systematic Theology at Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit, MI:

I am very close to arguing — as a kind of hermeneutic strategy of trying to occasion conversion by way of “shock” — that I don’t think it is possible to live in the suburbs (or their commuter-friendly equivalent of gentrified and gated “enclosures” inside the city itself) and be Christian. At least, not to live “peacefully” in the suburbs and try to make sense of being a disciple only on its own terms. If one lives there and regularly raises issue with who is being excluded from there, that is a different story. If one advocates for low-income housing, or homeless shelters, or HIV-treatment centers, and tries to make apparent the way a “suburb” constitutes a kind of simultaneous realization of economic appropriation (of resources from elsewhere) and social exclusion (of people whose class position and racial affiliation make them “suspect”), then that is a serious form of witness. But simply to live in a suburb “neutrally” is merely to participate in — and perpetuate — a quintessential American fiction of innocence. The suburb is not, and has not ever been, a neutral entity. Neither is it innocent.

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