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Author Topic: The "American Dream", is it REALLY Christian?  (Read 6305 times) Average Rating: 0
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88Devin12
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« on: June 27, 2008, 07:08:19 PM »

Ok, I was wanting the opinions of the people on the forum about this subject, and is something I'm very interested in... Replacing suburbs and eliminating them in favor of more urban areas and rural communities/farms.

Does anyone think that the "American Dream" is actually a Christian idea, or is it simply a messed up interpretation of things?
I'm speaking of not only the American dream, but the "Protestant Work Ethic" and how people are supposed to prosper and the more money/stuff they have, the more Christian they are.

I'm also tlaking about the ecological issue caused by the American Dream... Sprawl destroys a lot of land and also lacks the feeling of community. Our country is more divided than ever before, and lacks any sense of multiculturalism. We think the segregation of decades ago is horrible, yet we segregate ourselves in our neighborhoods, and are appalled when someone of a different race/nationality moves in down the street.



Is that really a good way to live? Shouldn't we, not only as Christians, but also as Americans take measures to eliminate that and move towards better communities and more close-knit neighborhoods as seen in Europe?

Would this positively effect Orthodoxy and the spread of Orthodoxy in the United States?



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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2008, 07:32:50 PM »

I would love to see cities building up instead of sprawling out.  Mr. Y and I talk about how Springfield, which is about 10-12 miles across, shouldn't be more than 5 across.  We have a few multi-story buildings downtown but for the most part it's a city of strip malls and subdivisions.  It is a waste of land and as the city sprawls, it becomes a waste of time trying to cross town and a waste of our resources as we burn more gas to get there.  I live about 7 miles from my job and it takes me a minimum of 20 minutes to get there in light traffic.  During rush hour, it's at least 30 minutes.  Ugh. 

As far as is it Christian, it depends.  Wanting to be able to provide for your family, sure.  Wanting to accumulate stuff and put it in ever bigger houses and make the conveniences of the city come to you without the hassles of the city... not so much. 
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2008, 07:35:00 PM »

I would love to see cities building up instead of sprawling out.  Mr. Y and I talk about how Springfield, which is about 10-12 miles across, shouldn't be more than 5 across.  We have a few multi-story buildings downtown but for the most part it's a city of strip malls and subdivisions.  It is a waste of land and as the city sprawls, it becomes a waste of time trying to cross town and a waste of our resources as we burn more gas to get there.  I live about 7 miles from my job and it takes me a minimum of 20 minutes to get there in light traffic.  During rush hour, it's at least 30 minutes.  Ugh. 

Well, on the bright side, if it wasn't being used for suburban sprawl the land would just be owned by some farmer who would receive our tax dollars in the form of farm subsidies not to grow anything on it...all said and done, we've probably made better use of the land. Wink
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2008, 07:37:45 PM »

...all said and done, we've probably made better use of the land. Wink

Don't get me started.
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2008, 07:47:05 PM »

Quote
Would this positively effect Orthodoxy and the spread of Orthodoxy in the United States?

Probably not.
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2008, 07:51:10 PM »

The first photo looks like Lego-land!

I have two bothers. The older one lives in classic suburbia, the younger one lives in an old urban section of Sydney, and I live in a rural area, and the contrasts between our different ways of life is quite stark, and even stereotyped. The older brother's family are golfers, the younger one's are theatre-goers and part of the cafe-culture, and I'm in the horsey set and self-sufficiency set. It's amazing how our different environments have influenced us and pushed us into stereotypes! While I could see myself slipping into an urban lifestyle like my younger brother, we are both repulsed by our older brother's suburban existence. It just seems an artificial, phoney, "plastic-fantastic" world. The contrast is probably well symbolized by the backyard, chlorinated, filtered swimming pool of suburbia, which replaces the raging surf of Sydney's urban beaches and the waterfall and creek fed rock swimming holes of the Moutains where I live.
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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2008, 07:51:32 PM »

Ok, I was wanting the opinions of the people on the forum about this subject, and is something I'm very interested in... Replacing suburbs and eliminating them in favor of more urban areas and rural communities/farms.

Does anyone think that the "American Dream" is actually a Christian idea, or is it simply a messed up interpretation of things?
I'm speaking of not only the American dream, but the "Protestant Work Ethic" and how people are supposed to prosper and the more money/stuff they have, the more Christian they are.

I'm also tlaking about the ecological issue caused by the American Dream... Sprawl destroys a lot of land and also lacks the feeling of community. Our country is more divided than ever before, and lacks any sense of multiculturalism. We think the segregation of decades ago is horrible, yet we segregate ourselves in our neighborhoods, and are appalled when someone of a different race/nationality moves in down the street.


Is that really a good way to live? Shouldn't we, not only as Christians, but also as Americans take measures to eliminate that and move towards better communities and more close-knit neighborhoods as seen in Europe?

Would this positively effect Orthodoxy and the spread of Orthodoxy in the United States?

The American dream is most certainly not Christian.  Then again, I don't know if any society has really approached being 'Christian', even though many were/are sure that they were/are in their own eyes.

I definitely think that making our communities more 'communal'­, if you will, and environmentally conscious, can only serve to enhance the spritual health of people who live in them.  Certainly, communities brought closer together respecting people and the environment more would make better 'soil' for the Christian word to be sewn in.  Then again, Orthodoxy itself must struggle to bring about these conditions.  It's a difficult task.  Of course, Orthodox Christianity would not be the only faith that would do better under such conditions.
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2008, 07:52:51 PM »

Farming is a good thing sometimes... At least it isn't built on and nature can exist and wildlife can roam... (at least somewhat... with fences, not so much)

Better this:


Than this:


IMHO...


I love being at my college in Springfield because it's close to everything... However we can't walk to Downtown or ride bikes there because of the expressway.

Also, Asteriktos, I was thinking it would have a positive impact because the Orthodox churches would be in the urban areas, and would be as visible as the other Christian churches around the city. The same amount of people would see it, and there would be more interaction between Orthodox and non-Orthodox, especially in neighborhoods. Today, we barely leave our homes and barely visit our neighbors.

It's interesting for me, because I could live in either an urban area, or a rural area. But I could never live in suburban ones.
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2008, 07:56:26 PM »

The first photo looks like Lego-land!

I have two bothers. The older one lives in classic suburbia, the younger one lives in an old urban section of Sydney, and I live in a rural area, and the contrasts between our different ways of life is quite stark, and even stereotyped. The older brother's family are golfers, the younger one's are theatre-goers and part of the cafe-culture, and I'm in the horsey set and self-sufficiency set. It's amazing how our different environments have influenced us and pushed us into stereotypes! While I could see myself slipping into an urban lifestyle like my younger brother, we are both repulsed by our older brother's suburban existence. It just seems an artificial, phoney, "plastic-fantastic" world. The contrast is probably well symbolized by the backyard, chlorinated, filtered swimming pool of suburbia, which replaces the raging surf of Sydney's urban beaches and the waterfall and creek fed rock swimming holes of the Moutains where I live.


Very interesting.  I've seen this kind of contrast in Canada too, but I've also begun to see some instances of suburbanites picking up on some of the sustainable living stuff....though it seems to me to be mostly in fits and starts.
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2008, 07:59:34 PM »

IMHO regarding some of the issues raised:

Racism is one of the heaviest mortal sins.

American dream does not contradict Christianity and, in particular Orthodox can pursue it.

and how people are supposed to prosper and the more money/stuff they have, the more Christian they are.


Wealth cannot be used as an indicator of Christianity. It is not relevent. It does not contradict Christianity (unless sinfully / unethically obtained), simply it is not relevant.
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2008, 08:00:25 PM »

I definitely think that making our communities more 'communal'­, if you will, and environmentally conscious, can only serve to enhance the spritual health of people who live in them.  Certainly, communities brought closer together respecting people and the environment more would make better 'soil' for the Christian word to be sewn in.  Then again, Orthodoxy itself must struggle to bring about these conditions.  It's a difficult task.  Of course, Orthodox Christianity would not be the only faith that would do better under such conditions.

Absolutely agree.
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2008, 08:00:38 PM »

Also, Asteriktos, I was thinking it would have a positive impact because the Orthodox churches would be in the urban areas, and would be as visible as the other Christian churches around the city. The same amount of people would see it, and there would be more interaction between Orthodox and non-Orthodox, especially in neighborhoods. Today, we barely leave our homes and barely visit our neighbors.

Yes indeed.  Better for everyone, I would think.  It would help everyone come together more, but Orthodox and non-Orthodox.  It's definitely a better and healther environment in which to spread the Gospel.  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2008, 08:57:00 PM »

Quote
American dream does not contradict Christianity and, in particular Orthodox can pursue it.

How does it not contradict Orthodoxy when it's primary forces are greed, self centeredness, lack of care for god's creation, lack of community, suspicion and prejudice against other people (especially outside of your neighborhood/area), isolation (not the healthy kind like monasticism), etc...
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« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2008, 09:32:42 PM »

I'm not even sure what the "American Dream" is.  Grin
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« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2008, 10:10:12 PM »

If the American dream is to fight harder to get to where you can provide better, get out of debt and succeed at that provision-then no I don not think it goes against Christianity. It implies hard work, and dedication, two traits necessary in our faith journey.

If the American dream is to get 'stuff' and more 'stuff, pure materialism then no.  There is a lot of that in the evangelical church.

we live in an area that is rural enough so that we can still buy land and live on it sustaining ourselves, or we can live in our version of the 'projects', art flats, or condo's. It's not nearly what any of those areas in your pictures show, but it's heading there. I can't stand sprawl, and I can't stand metropolitan areas-to each his own on that matter. We all have different ideas of the ideal place to live and raise children after all.
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« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2008, 08:32:20 AM »

I'm also talking about the ecological issue caused by the American Dream... Sprawl destroys a lot of land and also lacks the feeling of community. Our country is more divided than ever before,
Very good point. Your first photograph showed a large development with a swimming pool for every other house. When I grew up, we had a neighbourhood swimming pool, owned by and paid for by about a hundred of us. It became a wonderful gathering place for the whole neighbourhood. We had a playground there, picnic tables, basketball, tether ball, and checkers tables. It was our own little private park, and anyone was welcome. We had a $1 lifeguard fee for guests, but everything else was free. It wasn't city land; it was neighbourhood land. It was ours.

When each person has their own pool, where's the community? How are we to gather with friends? The pool is no longer ours but mine alone. I set the rules. I decide who uses it. I can keep those kids out if I decide I don't like them.

Hmm. Selfishness, nothing more.

We live for the moment in suburbia, mostly out of necessity. Anymore, the cheapest places to rent are in the suburbs. When we buy a house, we're going out into the country. I work out there, anyway, and it'd be a short commute as well as a much healthier lifestyle. Until then, we'll settle for suburbs--but our house is unique on its block, and it's not a high-cost, low-quality mini-mansion like the ones down the street from us. It's at least a real house, a fifty-year-old farmhouse style, a relic of what was amid shacks cobbled together.

I'm not even sure what the "American Dream" is.  Grin
Neither do Americans. I'm not sure any such thing actually exists outside of political speeches.
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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2008, 01:41:30 PM »

Neither do Americans. I'm not sure any such thing actually exists outside of political speeches.

Oh, it most certainly exists, it just requires hard-work and ambition...so it's very rarely seen in this day and age.
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« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2008, 01:46:01 PM »

If the American dream is to fight harder to get to where you can provide better, get out of debt and succeed at that provision-then no I don not think it goes against Christianity. It implies hard work, and dedication, two traits necessary in our faith journey.

Well said. I agree 100%.

If the American dream is to get 'stuff' and more 'stuff, pure materialism then no.  There is a lot of that in the evangelical church.

Again agree. Also, I think that this notion of "keeping up with the Joneses," being at al cost not worse off than the neighbor, is very un-Christian. But I don't think it's so specifically American thing. In my home country, Ukraine, there is a lot of that, too.

we live in an area that is rural enough so that we can still buy land and live on it sustaining ourselves, or we can live in our version of the 'projects', art flats, or condo's. It's not nearly what any of those areas in your pictures show, but it's heading there. I can't stand sprawl, and I can't stand metropolitan areas-to each his own on that matter. We all have different ideas of the ideal place to live and raise children after all.

Yes, of course. In the countries of the former USSR, though, the dream of living in a big city, in a good, nicely furnished apartment, with an opera house nearby, etc., is a lot more prevalent among the educated middle class than it is in the USA. I think Americans on average are, indeed, a whole lot more "rural."
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« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2008, 03:45:10 PM »

Oh, it most certainly exists, it just requires hard-work and ambition...so it's very rarely seen in this day and age.

Unless one is an immigrant from India, Pakistan, or any other country with a tech-heavy educational system. These folks (as I see in Pittsburgh) come here and prove the 'Dream' all the time. ALL our ancestors did as well with their willingness to ...work (oh my!).
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« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2008, 04:28:05 PM »

Unless one is an immigrant from India, Pakistan, or any other country with a tech-heavy educational system. These folks (as I see in Pittsburgh) come here and prove the 'Dream' all the time. ALL our ancestors did as well with their willingness to ...work (oh my!).

It's amazing how we can be at each other's throats over nearly every topic that comes up then so whole-heartedly agree on something (generally economics) Wink
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« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2008, 05:04:50 PM »

It's amazing how we can be at each other's throats over nearly every topic that comes up then so whole-heartedly agree on something (generally economics) Wink

LOL! Probably Symbolic Logic is equally appreciated, but my cocktail hour has arrived and I'll shortly be too handicapped to debate.
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« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2008, 05:44:50 PM »

LOL! Probably Symbolic Logic is equally appreciated, but my cocktail hour has arrived and I'll shortly be too handicapped to debate.

I think we just found something else we agree on...except I don't let my inability to debate due to the cocktails stop me from trying. Wink
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« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2008, 06:04:56 PM »

One thing that really upsets me about America and the whole way it's promoted and the economy is set up, is that it subjugates people of different races and keeps the poor down.

I hate how they portray inner-city families and people as being lazy because they aren't rich like everyone else in suburbia. The people in the inner-city remain unsuccessful because of us.
IMO, it's our fault (white people that is) that our inner-cities and the people in them are in such bad condition. When the medium and upper income families (not just white, but all) left the inner cities, they took jobs with them, political and financial sway, etc... The poor people in the inner cities were left to fend for themselves and were left in a situation that keeps them in poverty.

Our selfishness and unwillingness to help our own brothers and sisters because we want to make sure we have the best and most stuff is simply horrible.

I did a presentation on Urban Crime, Poverty and how it relates to Development/Sprawl at college this last semester and had a classmate from one of the poor areas of Houston come up to me and told me how great my presentation was. In a way, how right on I was about the whole thing.

It just makes me angry how we keep on living in our lives/culture of excess while subjugating and keeping other Americans down just because they are of a different color and because of how poor and sometimes uneducated that they are.
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« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2008, 06:09:31 PM »

Clips from my powerpoint on the subject... This is why I think that the "American Dream" in the sense of keeping up with the Joneses and living in excess is un-Christian.

Quote
-Today, many urban areas are seen as violent and unsafe. This is true for a large portion of our urban areas. However studies have shown that crimes in urban areas are often linked to the poverty and unemployment that is prevalent in them. Rarely are the problems present because it is simply a city.
-Cities often portrayed as very violent, unsafe places. Suburbs as the safe haven.
-However suburbs in the sense of modern sprawl have contributed to the crime in the inner cities.
With white flight, those in poverty were left in inner cities, and the inner cities become centers for poverty and eventually crime.
-Suburbs thus became the centers for education, health, quality of living, etc…
-With the resurgence of many urban areas, there has been increasing competition between many urban and suburban areas.
-We now have an urban problem in place. With the removal of wealth and jobs from the city. Crime and poverty are even more of a problem in cities. The poor that cannot afford homes are put into subsidized public housing that is substandard and concentrates the poverty and crime.
-Crime rises, poverty increases, new generations enter into poverty and are still unable to escape. Many look for alternatives  and distractions, gangs become popular for the youth.
-Now that cities are more spread out, less money is available for individual neighborhoods. Money thus goes to neighborhoods with the most political push and monetary value. Poor neighborhoods continue to deteriorate.
-During the 20th century, cities met a steep decline in population as well as general quality.
-This helped to fuel the already existing image of the city as a dangerous and dirty place.
-Thus people continued to stay away from cities, packing the suburbs.
-Gradually, as the 21st century came into sight, people began seeing suburbs as a failure of their original goal to be the American Dream.
-With new technologies and industries, cities became cleaner and better places to live in.
-This has contributed to a recent rise in people moving back into the cities, which is expected to be the trend of the next century.
-Because we are at a crossroads in a transition between suburban and urban, we have an opportunity.
-With the re-entry of wealth into the cities, poor neighborhoods again have a chance to improve.
-No single solution to solving urban poverty
-However, moving back into the city, and supporting educational systems there and bringing jobs back into the city can help everyone.
-Stop blaming the victim, it’s not their fault. They have been kept in their situation through society, not by their own choices and faults.
-We need to eliminate housing projects, and instead spread out the poorer among the middle and upper class neighborhoods around the city.
--The poor will have the political and monetary leverage needed for improvements
--They will have more opportunity for advancement
--They will be provided better schooling than currently offered
-Not only should we help the poor because we try to be good people, but…
-We also benefit, through a stronger economy, stronger cities, and stronger neighborhoods. Community is built and crime is kept to a minimum.
-With crime lower, education and health up, and a more concentrated city, we save money on many levels, and very few people are left behind permanently.
-We can finally make strides towards ending income segregation, but also racial segregation. While individual racism has decreased, institutional racism is still prevalent, but with more immediately available jobs to a multi-racial group in a smaller area, this could be improved.

It also just upsets me how the educational system is designed to support people brought up in families living in suburbs, and against those in rural areas or urban areas... They promote simply just turning you into a person that is out to make the most money and live the wealthiest life... Yet they DO NOT do what ought to be done...
Our schools (that is, public and K-12) instead need to promote the idea of being the best you can and enjoying what you do. Who cares if what love only earns you $10 an hour? Who cares if what you love might be farming and all you want is a peaceful quiet life... Money shouldn't be an issue, instead they need to work with what you love to do and make you the best at what you love to do. Money isn't important, as long as you provide for your family, you are fine. Not everyone needs to be a Bill Gates or Donald Trump. If someone wants to be a plumber or roofer, then let them do that, but try to make them the best at it.
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« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2008, 10:21:12 PM »

Very good point. Your first photograph showed a large development with a swimming pool for every other house. When I grew up, we had a neighbourhood swimming pool, owned by and paid for by about a hundred of us. It became a wonderful gathering place for the whole neighbourhood. We had a playground there, picnic tables, basketball, tether ball, and checkers tables. It was our own little private park, and anyone was welcome. We had a $1 lifeguard fee for guests, but everything else was free. It wasn't city land; it was neighbourhood land. It was ours.

When each person has their own pool, where's the community? How are we to gather with friends? The pool is no longer ours but mine alone. I set the rules. I decide who uses it. I can keep those kids out if I decide I don't like them.

Hmm. Selfishness, nothing more.

Not sure I totally agree with this.  As an example, a community, through taxes, may pay for buses.  If I buy my own car, shouldn't I have the right to decide the "rules" of use?  Also, just because I live near someone doesn't make them my friend.  I will and do gather with my friends, but they are not necessarily my neighbors.

On a side note, I'd rather swim at home in the privacy of my own pool (if I had one) than parade around in a swimsuit for all to see!  In my case, I feel like I'm being more charitable hiding!   laugh

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« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2008, 11:50:23 AM »

Not sure I totally agree with this.  As an example, a community, through taxes, may pay for buses.  If I buy my own car, shouldn't I have the right to decide the "rules" of use?  Also, just because I live near someone doesn't make them my friend.  I will and do gather with my friends, but they are not necessarily my neighbors.

On a side note, I'd rather swim at home in the privacy of my own pool (if I had one) than parade around in a swimsuit for all to see!  In my case, I feel like I'm being more charitable hiding!   laugh
I think you're missing the point. I'm not saying that people don't have the right to buy whatever they want, and decide how it's used. I'm saying that when people choose to buy things for themselves rather than for the community, it diminishes the community. The pool in my childhood neighbourhood was more than a pool; it was a symbol of people living together. The pool in every back yard is a symbol of people living individually in close proximity. There's a world of difference.

No, not every person you live near will be a friend. That's ludicrous. But you can gather with friends in a community lot. My friends and I used the pool a lot when I was growing up, and it was a good opportunity for our parents to get to know each other as well. I also had friends with a pool in their back yard, and the pool was really more babysitter than community gathering spot.

Neighbours should be people you can count on. They may not be your best friends, but you might be able to borrow a wrench on occasion, or watch their dog for a weekend. Everyone benefits when we live together. Humans are social creatures; this isolation is unnatural and destructive.
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« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2008, 12:38:03 PM »

Guess I was responding more to your last 2 paragraphs.  There are other reasons besides selfishness that are behind someone's decision to, in this case, install his own pool.  I do agree that community pools/parks/whatever are wonderful for getting people together--we all need to learn how to live with others . . . and not just those we like.  However, I find people are more open and generous when they can decide what to spend their own hard-earned money on.  The community benefits then, too.

Things are different from when I grew up.  Children played sports without much adult involvement.  Now, organized sports events are where parents gather to visit and get to know each other.  There are more 2-income families, so free time is not so free anymore.  Maybe it's not as relaxing for them to run up the street to a crowded, noisy pool when they can be at their own pool.  Then there are the broken homes and people moving often for their jobs--it's hard to have community when there is no consistency in who lives around you.

I live around good people I like--we get along and do things (check mail, babysit, etc.) for each other.  I live in a small town, so the atmosphere is probably different from a large city.
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« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2008, 01:55:21 PM »

Guess I was responding more to your last 2 paragraphs.  There are other reasons besides selfishness that are behind someone's decision to, in this case, install his own pool.
I'm not talking about someone installing a pool. It could be that no one else wants a pool, and then yes, go ahead and build the thing. No, I'm talking about everyone in the development installing a pool instead of getting together as a community and putting in one that everyone can use.

Quote
I do agree that community pools/parks/whatever are wonderful for getting people together--we all need to learn how to live with others . . . and not just those we like.  However, I find people are more open and generous when they can decide what to spend their own hard-earned money on.  The community benefits then, too.
Of course people can decide what they want to spend their money on. Forced generosity is no generosity at all. I'm just saying that it's better for the community when people put the community's needs ahead of their own.

Quote
Then there are the broken homes and people moving often for their jobs--it's hard to have community when there is no consistency in who lives around you.
You've got a very good point here. I see this as another symptom of the same problem.

Quote
I live around good people I like--we get along and do things (check mail, babysit, etc.) for each other.  I live in a small town, so the atmosphere is probably different from a large city.
It is. I work in a small town of 500, and live in a big city of 200,000. I see daily the difference between them. I like the small town much, much better. People there are not residents, they're neighbours.
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« Reply #28 on: September 15, 2008, 02:10:41 PM »

American capitalism, like Bolshevism, operates by violence. The wars in Vietnam and Iraq are glaring examples. Our economy is propped up by our military interventionism. Without it, we wouldn't have the resources to be the world's dominant economy. Furthermore, one should also consider the violent suppression of labor unions, and slavery, which made our economy. Let's not forget the genocide of the American Indians. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

According to Elder Anthony, American capitalism is not Christian at all:
http://www.vor.ru/English/Christian_Message/program.phtml?act=60

I consider capitalism to be nothing more than the lesser evil compared to state socialism.
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« Reply #29 on: November 16, 2008, 07:30:20 PM »

"The Protestant Work Ethic" is about as nebulous as "The American Dream." 
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« Reply #30 on: November 16, 2008, 07:37:02 PM »

"The Protestant Work Ethic" is about as nebulous as "The American Dream." 
Which is about as nebulous as this post...  Could you please explain what you mean?
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« Reply #31 on: November 16, 2008, 08:22:40 PM »

Which is about as nebulous as this post...  Could you please explain what you mean?

Properly placed it could be a passable, though far from exceptionable, one line quip...but in response to a two month old thread, I'm as curious as you are.
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« Reply #32 on: November 16, 2008, 08:50:21 PM »

Ok, I was wanting the opinions of the people on the forum about this subject, and is something I'm very interested in... Replacing suburbs and eliminating them in favor of more urban areas and rural communities/farms.

Does anyone think that the "American Dream" is actually a Christian idea, or is it simply a messed up interpretation of things?
I'm speaking of not only the American dream, but the "Protestant Work Ethic" and how people are supposed to prosper and the more money/stuff they have, the more Christian they are.

I'm also tlaking about the ecological issue caused by the American Dream... Sprawl destroys a lot of land and also lacks the feeling of community. Our country is more divided than ever before, and lacks any sense of multiculturalism. We think the segregation of decades ago is horrible, yet we segregate ourselves in our neighborhoods, and are appalled when someone of a different race/nationality moves in down the street.



Is that really a good way to live? Shouldn't we, not only as Christians, but also as Americans take measures to eliminate that and move towards better communities and more close-knit neighborhoods as seen in Europe?

Would this positively effect Orthodoxy and the spread of Orthodoxy in the United States?





    Define "The American Dream".
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« Reply #33 on: November 16, 2008, 09:03:50 PM »

Quote
American dream does not contradict Christianity and, in particular Orthodox can pursue it.

How does it not contradict Orthodoxy when it's primary forces are greed, self centeredness, lack of care for god's creation, lack of community, suspicion and prejudice against other people (especially outside of your neighborhood/area), isolation (not the healthy kind like monasticism), etc...


Never mind .I found your definition. Your broad sweeping generalizations demonstrate a clear lack of historical perspective and and reek of self-loathing and a disdain for the sacrifices your parents and ancestors have made for you and all civilization.
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« Reply #34 on: November 17, 2008, 09:27:10 AM »

As defining terms, both "Protestant Work Ethic" and "The American Dream" lack certain and indisputable definitions.   Both terms are used positively and negatively to attack or defend any sociological position.
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« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2008, 10:45:07 AM »

I think I'm pretty aware of history and how our society has developed. I can't blame America for developing the way it has, while it may have seemed like the most logical response in most situations, that still didn't make it right.

The American Dream became that belief that everyone deserves a house, and should have one. (that is, a single-family dwelling detached from other units) Then as our society developed, to that dream was added the "right" to own a car, a tv, a computer, and all kinds of other stuff... I think eventually we reached a point where we believed our homes were soley (whether it was conscious or not) to fit all our stuff in. Whenever you had more stuff than your house could hold, logic said to buy a new and bigger house.

Of course, I think this discussion in this thread took place before the housing market crashed and the economy started dropping. Now we see that not everyone should be able to own a house. Not because they don't deserve it, but because it may indeed be harmful for them. (especially financially)

We also need to get away from the attitude of buying a new house once yours is full of stuff or too big for your family. We need to stay in our homes and if we have room, simply add onto them. It would be nice for architects if we could focus much more on renovations instead of new construction. (unless the new construction is infill)

Families used to occupy homes for generations, now we are lucky to occupy the same house for a full decade.

Homes are for living, not for filling with stuff.
We need to treat our homes well, build them to last, build them so they are as beautiful as they can be, and make sure that generations after us can live in them and even expand them.
But also, we need to build more than just homes, and we also need to keep from isolating the homes from the rest of the world.
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« Reply #36 on: November 17, 2008, 03:13:44 PM »

I'm not going into "deserve". On some theological level we deserve nothing, and on an economic level we deserve anything we can buy.

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« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2008, 03:17:57 PM »



We also need to get away from the attitude of buying a new house once yours is full of stuff or too big for your family. We need to stay in our homes and if we have room, simply add onto them. It would be nice for architects if we could focus much more on renovations instead of new construction. (unless the new construction is infill)

Tryin' to drum up a little bidness?  Wink
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« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2008, 03:27:30 PM »

The American dream is about personal responsibility and initiative.  It is not only Christian, it is Orthodox.

The irony is Orthodoxy touts free will, but usually allies itself with political autocracy.
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« Reply #39 on: November 17, 2008, 03:48:02 PM »

I think I'm pretty aware of history and how our society has developed. I can't blame America for developing the way it has, while it may have seemed like the most logical response in most situations, that still didn't make it right.

The American Dream became that belief that everyone deserves a house, and should have one. (that is, a single-family dwelling detached from other units) Then as our society developed, to that dream was added the "right" to own a car, a tv, a computer, and all kinds of other stuff... I think eventually we reached a point where we believed our homes were soley (whether it was conscious or not) to fit all our stuff in. Whenever you had more stuff than your house could hold, logic said to buy a new and bigger house.

Of course, I think this discussion in this thread took place before the housing market crashed and the economy started dropping. Now we see that not everyone should be able to own a house. Not because they don't deserve it, but because it may indeed be harmful for them. (especially financially)

We also need to get away from the attitude of buying a new house once yours is full of stuff or too big for your family. We need to stay in our homes and if we have room, simply add onto them. It would be nice for architects if we could focus much more on renovations instead of new construction. (unless the new construction is infill)

Families used to occupy homes for generations, now we are lucky to occupy the same house for a full decade.

Homes are for living, not for filling with stuff.
We need to treat our homes well, build them to last, build them so they are as beautiful as they can be, and make sure that generations after us can live in them and even expand them.
But also, we need to build more than just homes, and we also need to keep from isolating the homes from the rest of the world.

I agree with you on the need to stay in a home and not to fill it with stuff.  I try to practice a rule that if I have something stored away for more than a year, I obviously don't need it.  My downfall in having sentimental attachments to junk I'll never use. 

I also prefer houses that are built to last.  It's incredible how many subdivisions are thrown up overnight and within five years they look like they're ready to fall apart.  The housing crash is horrible and I'd rather we not suffer through it but in the least it's forcing people to reevaluate their ability to afford housing.  I don't like renting a house myself but I know I can't afford a mortgage right now so I'll just try to pay off debts, save money, and buy within my means.  It may take a really long time, but we'll get there.
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« Reply #40 on: November 17, 2008, 07:35:37 PM »

If there is any one doctrine which encapsulates the American Dream, it seems to me to be that which Thomas Jefferson penned into the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Others have followed him adding to this idea, each in their own context.  Such as Abraham Lincoln saying, "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."  Or Martin Luther King saying, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

Pres. Theodore Roosevelt thought completing the Panama Canel seemed to be a part of the American Dream when he said before Congress, ""No single great material work which remains to be undertaken on this continent is as of such consequence to the American people."

Some think National Healthcare qualifies as part of the American Dream.

You can insert about any idea and find it somehow qualifies as part or in whole the American Dream, IMO.
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« Reply #41 on: November 17, 2008, 08:43:28 PM »

If there is any one doctrine which encapsulates the American Dream, it seems to me to be that which Thomas Jefferson penned into the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Others have followed him adding to this idea, each in their own context.  Such as Abraham Lincoln saying, "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."  Or Martin Luther King saying, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

Pres. Theodore Roosevelt thought completing the Panama Canel seemed to be a part of the American Dream when he said before Congress, ""No single great material work which remains to be undertaken on this continent is as of such consequence to the American people."

Some think National Healthcare qualifies as part of the American Dream.

You can insert about any idea and find it somehow qualifies as part or in whole the American Dream, IMO.



  Careful.....Ozgeorge will have your head on a platter for mixing politics with.....er....politics.
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« Reply #42 on: November 17, 2008, 08:44:22 PM »

The American dream is about personal responsibility and initiative.  It is not only Christian, it is Orthodox.

The irony is Orthodoxy touts free will, but usually allies itself with political autocracy.


Never a truer word spoken.
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« Reply #43 on: November 17, 2008, 09:13:51 PM »

The American Dream is the only valid expression of the Orthodox Faith left in the Cosmos. Without it, the reign of Antichrist is sure to come and take over the world. Therefore, every effort must be made to protect it, and anyone who questions it must be cast out as a heretic.
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« Reply #44 on: November 17, 2008, 10:04:22 PM »

What about those of us with insomnia? Roll Eyes
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