Collected anecdotes confront suburbia

Affluenza Interrupted
Doreen and Hugo Neufeld

Millrise Publishing, 2009
217 pages



Can something positive arise from the current economic crisis? Doreen and Hugo Neufeld believe so. In their new book, Affluenza Interrupted, they suggest the economic crisis is an ideal time for us to examine our financial priorities while increasing our efforts to save the environment.

“Affluenza,” a word coined by combining affluence and influenza, means a “painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more,” according to writer and filmmaker John de Graaf.

Affluenza Interrupted is a collection of anecdotes, personal experiences that have provided insight to Doreen and Hugo regarding the consumerism, busyness, and isolation they see as prevalent in the suburbs. Married for 45 years, the Neufelds spent 18 years ministering in Hamilton’s inner city, followed by 18 years of ministry in various Canadian cities, while residing in the suburbs.

This book is full of interesting stories in which the authors honestly share their struggles and successes to keep God in the centre of their lives while living in an affluent society. The overall message of the book is biblically sound but the emphasis they place on environmental issues is somewhat disappointing, as they echo what many in the secular world are already saying on this topic. Recycling is not what sets us apart as Christians, but rather the love we show each other.

Their best stories are the ones that focus on building relationships with others (both with neighbours and poor people) such as the blessing they received when they opened their home to a homeless man on their first Christmas Eve as a married couple. The heartfelt stories they share have value and I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in social and environmental issues.

Leanne Heinrichs is a member of Forest Grove Community Church in Saskatoon. She is married and has two children. Leanne has an English degree from the University of Saskatchewan and enjoys travelling, reading, hiking, and trying new foods.

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