The Desert in the Suburbs?

Albert Y. Hsu “The Suburban Christian: Finding Spiritual Vitality in the Land of Plenty” [IVP Books, 2006]
suburban christrian
“Suburbia: Paradise or Wasteland? Suburbia is a place of spiritual yearnings. People come to suburbia looking for a fresh start, the second chance, a new life. It embodies the hopes and longings of its residents, dreams for the future, safety and security for their children, and the search for meaningful community and relationships. Yet much in our suburban world militates against such aspirations, and people find themselves isolated and alienated, trapped by consumerism and materialism. Is there hope for a Christian vision for the suburbs? Al Hsu unpacks the spiritual significance of suburbia and explores how suburban culture shapes how we live and practice our faith. With broad historical background and sociological analysis, Hsu offers practical insights for living Christianly in a suburban context. Probing such dynamics as commuting and consuming, he offers Christian alternatives for authentic spirituality, genuine community and relevant ministry. And he challenges suburban Christians to look beyond suburbia and marshal their resources toward urban and global justice. Suburbia may be one of the most significant mission fields of the twenty-first century. Here is guidance and hope for all who would seek the welfare of the suburbs.”
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“Hsu (Grieving a Suicide), an associate editor at InterVarsity Press, provides a unique book examining the social and economic forces that created the suburbs, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses and providing a thoughtful critique of what living Christianly in the suburbs should look like. Hsu is writing to a divided Christian culture: one segment would call the suburbs evil and equate them with unhealthy selfishness and excess (which he acknowledges they may promote), while another unquestioningly accepts the suburban ethos without reflecting on how faith should influence suburban life. He reminds readers that the burbs do not inherently prevent a thriving and genuine Christian faith, and stresses that since over half the population now resides there, Christians must figure out how to do suburban living well. They can integrate faith into a suburban life by, say, going out of their way to remember the needs of those around them, giving generously, doing more business in their immediate local area, questioning the urge to buy what advertisers are pitching, getting out of their cars and getting to know their neighbors. Hsu avoids heavy-handed directives, but provides a number of thoughtful alternatives for the way different Christians may work their faith out in suburbia.” From Publishers Weekly
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Albert Y. Hsu (pronounced “shee”) is senior editor for IVP Books at InterVarsity Press, where he acquires and develops books in such areas as culture, discipleship, church, ministry and mission. He is also a PhD student in educational studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Al is the author of Singles at the Crossroads, Grieving a Suicide and The Suburban Christian. He has been a writer and columnist for Christianity Today and served as senior warden on the vestry of Church of the Savior in Wheaton, Illinois.
Read more:

For an interview with the author, see
The author’s blog on the book is at


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