In Search of Suburbatopia

This is the title of my sermon for next week at East Fremantle Baptist Church.

Its based around some thoughts that have been brewing for a while around the quest for the ‘good life’ that seems to dog both believers and non-believers alike.

It seems there is a belief that we can create heaven on earth, but that ‘heaven’ is the summation of marketing images that promise us contentment at the cash register as we fawn over our next purchase.

We really do live in frightening times.

Aussies work more hours than anyone else in the developed world – and ironically we do it so we can have the ‘lifestyle’ we desire. Crikey! Who has time for a ‘lifestyle’ when they spend most of their life at work?

A friend recently told me he earns $4300.00 / week… I was a tad envious of his amazing wage until I learnt that he works 12 hours a day, 6 days a week on night shift and that his workplace is 90 mins drive from home… This person spends 15 hours of his day away from home!

Yes, he makes a shitload of $$$ but at what cost?

The idea of course is to make some money and ‘get set’, but what happens in the mean time when your marriage suffers your kids don’t know you, you adjust your life to suit your income and you actually start to think it is normal to earn $200K p.a?

I remember the words of Jesus who asked ‘What good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul?’ and who also said ‘Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, ‘but whoever loses his life for me will find it.’

The way of Jesus is an absurdity in boomtown Perth, but given the fact that we haven’t been able to find contentment, peace and happiness in more $$ then maybe his ideas might just get a lookin…

Or not.

17 thoughts on “In Search of Suburbatopia

  1. Hamo

    It’s been really interesting reading your thoughts on this. I struggle because I really enjoy what I do (most of the time). I also appreciate having challenges, which seem to use up more time.

    However, I am aware that this means that I spend less time with other people and that can be an issue.

    I’m quite surprised by your statement about Australians working more hours than the rest of the developed world. My experience of work in Australia includes finishing early every Wednesday to go sailing and everyone drinking beer on the back porch on a Friday evening.

    I hope the teaching goes well.


  2. Hi mate

    Yeah – it sounds like you and I have been thinking on the same wavelength recently. And all the more so as we wing our way back home in a few weeks. I’m off to Dallas on Friday to spend some time with a friend, Mark Moore, who heads up Acts 29 Europe. Should be interesting to see a city even more committed to luxury goods than Perth!

  3. Hamo,

    I come from the father land of marketing, but far and away Perth is the most expensive city I’ve lived in. With peak oil, the resource boom, and greed, the situation will not get any better any time soon.

    I believe you’ve hit on the challenge for the church in Perth. It will take imaginative practices from the church in providing godly alternatives to the economic matrix (gaining the whole world yet losing our soul) we find ourselves in.

  4. Andrew your comments are so true and Im afriad it isnt going to change in Perth for a long time to come. At a recent Conference I attended for Private Education Providers in Perth we were told that the average wage for workers in the booming resource industries of the North West of WA is $93,400 per year with more jobs than people for them.

    Its not just young families that are seeking this income but older families were Dad’s leave to take up the “golden” opportunity leaving teenage children with one parent running the day to day lives of the whole family.

    I read an article recently where it stated that 60 hours a week rather than 40 ours seems to be the norm for the “wage earner” of the household.

    We are seriously consumed with consumerism…

    As our youngest son (we have 4) leaves Year 12 this year and steps out into the wild blue yonder, and as we have opted out of church as you knew it into a “what do we do now” expanse I look back at what we have done and realise that we havent enjoyed the life God gave us as we should because we were always too busy with “work” and “church”. The busyness of life consumed us, almost as though we werent actually “living life”.

    So, I guess as parents are we encourageing our kids to go up north and earn the big bucks while you can? No way Jose…. We have recaptured the simple things like “family” and enjoying one anothers company, a very good place to start…

  5. Agree with you Hamo, good call. But the flip side is those who are doing this stuff not by choice. The number of guys in my church who would rather not be pulling the hours they are. What do you do with that? Some, I guess, could downscale. But the load on teachers is obscene, and not all these guys are in management or the boom sector.

    It all seems to be spiraling out of control.

  6. It marks it hard to build a community when men, in particular, dont get home till 7pm, some of them never put their kids to bed, and they grab a drink and flop in front of the tv…..

    Maybe they could downscale, but then….they would feel they were not making the contribution they need to, to the family.

  7. “Maybe they could downscale, but then….they would feel they were not making the contribution they need to, to the family.”

    What contribution? Money?

  8. There was a nice report on “A Current Affair(?)” about two sisters’ families who bought a home together and an elderly mother, her husband, her sister, and her son who bought a home together. Wouldn’t it be neat if one of the consequences of the real estate price rise is the comeback of extended family?

  9. Alex, yes money, there is a lot of pressure on families to have what their neighbours have, I am not saying it is right or desirable, it just is, and this includes Christian families. Those of us with jobs that dont pay $2000 a week wonder sometimes if we are making the right choice for our families future, will our children have the same opportunities other kids have?

    My 6 year old son asked me if I could go to the mines to work like one of his friends dads, so we could have lots of money. When I explained to him this would mean I could not kick the footy with him, take him to auskick, go down the park for a walk with the dog on Thursdays….his response was, well send mum then!!!

  10. I am not so sure that people HAVE to work this hard.

    I believe it is almost exclusively a choice they make. Even those who are teachers etc could change jobs if they wanted to or work part time.

    I know very few people who couldn’t live at a lower standard and work fewer hours.

    Of course it might mean having a few less luxuries. I find the ‘we have to’ argument less than compelling and quite disturbing – because I think many people actually believe it.

    The only reason we ‘have to’ is because we feel inadequate next to the neighbours.

  11. we live pretty well….even with a 1994 Vitara with a second hand motor I found out of a Baleno at a wreckers.

    It is about not being jealous, not being covetous, and for us…sticking to a budget and being sensible.

    My wife aint going anywhere..but she does have to work to supplement our income…something I would prefer she did not have to do.

  12. Heard your sermon yesterday…thankyou for the reminder and the confirmation of what God has already been saying to me.

    But I must say that that message needs to be preached every week , if people would allow it to be. I was disappointed a bit. We went on to sing a song asking Jesus to give Himself to us! Umm, hello, He has already, but as your message showed, it is US, He does not have.

    We are supposed to tremble at His word…not decide whether we are going to obey it or not , because it might be a good idea, cos Jesus said it.. He IS God.

    Why are we afraid to let God break our hearts with His word during the meeting? Why do we let ourselves off the hook, to escape the uncomfortable feeling that His word has pinned me down and convicted me?

  13. Wow, Dennis, that is very cool. What we have been learning in our community is that we actually need to hear these things often, because the opposing view is getting broadcast into our lives all the time, in billboards, adds, and just being in this world. So once a week is probably not enough. This is why I believe in reading the bible everyday. Atleast for half an hour, just to counter the influences we get non stop.


  14. In our context ‘poverty’ refers to people who can’t participate fully in the life of their community – Hugh Mackay – Advance Australia Where? Hamilton & Dennis state (Affluenza), studies show that most people would rather be poorer, provide others are poorer still. As anon wisely said, in rich countries today, consumption consists of people spending money they don’t have to buy goods they don’t need ti impress people they don’t like. – anyway, I owe, I owe it’s off to work I go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *