Bill Bishop: Housing and the Echo Chamber

In moments of hubris, I like to think that HX.net is a new way of looking at things, of breaking through the echo chamber that we live our lives in.

Then, as always, something comes along and destroys that ego. Last night The Daily Show had Bill Bishop, author of “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart.” Check it out:

Read on for thoughts on Christian missions and narrative-building…

Here’s a quote from his website:

We’ve built a country where we can all choose the neighborhood and church and news show — most compatible with our lifestyle and beliefs. And we are living with the consequences of this way-of-life segregation.

Supporting his research is a year-old report that talks about housing (How much will you pay to live near people like you?) and how people pay more to live by people that look like them (hat tip Andrew Sullivan):

Specifically, while all households prefer to live in higher-income neighborhoods, college-educated households are willing to pay $58 more per month than those without a college degree to live in a neighborhood that has 10 percent more college-educated households. In fact, the researchers find that households without a college degree would actually need compensating to live in a neighborhood with 10 percent more college-educated neighbors.

Similarly, blacks are willing to pay $98 more per month to live in a neighborhood that has 10 percent more black households, compared to a negative willingness to pay on the part of white households to live in a similar neighborhood. Perhaps unsurprisingly, increases in household income and education also lead to a greater willingness to pay for better schools.

The way how we self-segregate ourselves in housing and lifestyles is reinforced by the echo chamber that we choose in the virtual world of media.

So here’s the challenge: if people live and get their news from the echo chamber, does Christian missions have to replicate those lifestyles to break through? If the narrative is mono and structured to always be mono, then how can we bring other voices into those lifestyles? Do we need SUV-driving materialistic suburban whites to get into the grooves of “those” people, or do we do the “wait until they get the itch to come to us” approach?

I once heard a pastor say that he was gifted with suburban churches.  I thought up until now that that was a ploy to not have to serve rural churches, but now I wonder if he was up to something…

What do you think?

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