Blackberry Reading
Travel Guides 2.0

Death by Suburb, by David L. Goetz

Death_by_suburbMy church recently featured a series of very effective service messages based on the book Death by Suburb.  I figured if the church services were this insightful, well, the book itself must be fantastic.  My assumption was right.

The subtitle of the book is "How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul."  While Goetz's message is important to hear it's most effective when you project his observations on your own life.  Some of this stuff was pretty darned painful to read but 100% accurate.

For example, chapter 6 is called "Shirker Service" and he defines Shirkers as people who "are always on the move for the next spiritual plane."  A Shirker tends to say things like:

I want to make a difference with my life.  I want to make my life count.  I want more from my life than investment banking.  I'm weary of making money; I want to help poor people become suburbanites just like I am.

He goes on to say that "the Shirker Life is full of service activities, mostly to and with other Shirkers."  Ouch.

Here are two other nuggets of wisdom that resonated with me:

If you want to be a sweet grandfather and not a bitter old man, then you must learn how to embrace suffering.

Frustration and conflict are the fabric of spiritual development.

Those are the kind of statements I have to read several times to truly appreciate them.  Putting them in practice and living them are a completely different challenge.  This book is full of pearls like this and well worth the reading investment.


Interesting the concept of 'Shirker'... sounds like this will be a very good read as we here in suburbia have no concept of suffering. As our pastor said (paraphrase): our concept of hunger is: I eat at 12 and it's now 12:15, I'm STARVING.


There's plenty of suffering in the suburbs as there is in all parts of the world. There's sadness, divorce, depression, regret, job pressures, self-doubt, self-loathing, illness and more. A quality life is defined by more than whether one has the basic necessities to survive, although these are of course critical.

My experiences of the church were that there was not enough attention paid to addressing these sorts of issues that have direct impact on the lives of the congregants. I wonder whether it is good practice for a pastor to make comparisons between and to make judgments about experiences of suffering. My sense is that it is not.

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