Sunday, May 27, 2007

my box

i don't know why i remember this song from eighth grade. it's weird i know. my eighth grade english teacher, mrs. allard, was a little eccentric (isn't that a prereq for being an english teacher :). but we got to read some really good books. she must have taught us this song by Malvina Reynolds sometime:

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
Little boxes, little boxes,Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tack
And they all look just the same.

since then, i find myself singing this song in my head, sometimes out loud. my kids and wife know it by heart. the song's about houses in suburbia, and more about the values that suburbia represents.

recently, i read a book called technopoly by neil postman. one of postman's main themes is that any new technology brings about a culture change...and western culture is far too naive about how it accepts new technologies without thinking through it's implications.

for example, the monks of medieval times invented a clock (can you imagine a world without a clock?!), to tell them when to stop and pray. the clock, though, later turned out to be the foundation of production (we can now measure the amount of work done / hour) and industrialism.

crazy, eh?

this is what i'm wondering lately: has anyone questioned the implications of the "technology" of a house?
...of each house containing all that is needed in itself for a "good life?"
...of each house being a little haven for a nuclear family, and only a nuclear family?
...of each room being a little haven for each member of that family?
...of the luxury of having enough rooms for kids to sleep in different rooms, when one family used to all sleep together?

i know that there's a move from the suburbs back into the city. the suburbs are looked down on by those city folks. but really, is it any different? so you have a flat or a house that's right next to another house for a box. i have a whole house on a little land for a box. a box is a box, right?

i'm starting to feel that our version of boxes in america is stopping the fulfillment of our deep longing for authentic relationships. i know that others are feeling the same way. is anyone doing anything that is out-of-the-box? :)


Paul D said...

I think often forget WHY we got our little independent boxes in the first place. Read stories written in eras that had much more confined living. Neighbors in all of our gossips and rivalries born of years of close but antagonistic interaction. Beyond the status symbol that a large house represents, houses allow us to escape close relationships that are painful. Some are painful because we suck at relationships...some because others are abusive.

I think the major problem this represents for Christians is, not only a lack of community, but more the ability to hide undesirable qualities. In fact, there are three taboos in church that are hidden behind large walls who's consequences effect every level of our lives: how we're handling our marriage, money, and our kids. We hide and defend our autonomy in these areas of our lives. Yet, these are three of the highest qualification for leadership in the church (1 Tim 3, titus 1). They are hidden behind large walls, held outside peer review.

As for out of the box...well, let us bring our lives out of the box and let EVERY area of our lives be open for review. We won't always get good feedback, but amongst the unfair criticism, I've always gotten bits of invaluable help. Then, when we invite people into our little boxes for a meal and the gospel, they'll know we are open to genuine, humble relationship with a desire to be more like Jesus. Then our little boxes can be a ministering home and not a hiding place.

luke said...

good point. i hate to admit it, but you're right. i've done my fair share of escaping too.

that also makes me think about poor, urban communities in cities. people don't have as much in their box and send most of their time out of it. gangs seem like an attempt to get out of the box and have community.

a thought from a book i just read, ascent of a leader, said that vulnerability is the way out of isolation. i just mentioned to a bunch of guys that i bet secret sexual sin would be far less prevalent if the doors of our houses were always unlocked and people regularly stopped in uninvited ;)