Beyond Homelessness (15th Anniversary Edition) – Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian J. Walsh

Beyond Homelessness, 15th Anniversary Edition: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement by Steven Bouma-Prediger, Brian J. Walsh, Ruth Padilla DeBorst
Published by Eerdmans on September 12, 2023
Genres: Academic, Non-Fiction, Social Justice
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What would the world look like if everyone had a home?  

The rise in homeless encampments. The destruction of our planet. The disconnection from place caused by capitalism and technology. Beyond the unavailability of housing, our culture is experiencing a devastating loss of home. 

In Beyond Homelessness, Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh explore the relationship between socioeconomic, ecological, and cultural homelessness. Bouma-Prediger and Walsh blend groundbreaking scholarship with stirring biblical meditations, while enriching their discussion with literature, music, and art. Offering practical solutions and a hope-filled vision of home, they show how to heal the deep dislocations in our society.

In this fifteenth-anniversary edition, the authors return to their work with a new postscript, in which they discuss the evolution of their ideas and share true stories of home and community built anew. This revitalized classic is a must-read for any Christian committed to social justice—and anyone longing for home.

Fifteen years ago, the Scottish Journal of Theology called Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement a “remarkable, important, and timely book.” This fifteenth anniversary edition remains remarkable, important, and—perhaps to our shame—even more timely. In the preface, the authors write that “The socioeconomic, ecological, and cultural homelessness that we described in 2008 has intensified to extremely dangerous levels.” In 2008, they sounded the warning bells. In 2023, they are shouting over the air raid sirens. But yet Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian J. Walsh still see hope.

The fifteenth anniversary edition of Beyond Homelessness contains the original first edition text with a new opening preface and a thirty-page postscript. Bouma-Prediger and Walsh move beyond the superficial meaning of homelessness and explore the socioeconomic, ecological, and psycho-spiritual factors of homelessness—how one can feel out of place in a house and how housing does not solve homelessness. In doing this, they focus on both humanity’s inner and outer lives, the very personal and the very public. For them, the solution is not housing—for a house does not make a home—but a change in very fabric of society to heal these profound dislocations.

For example, Beyond Homelessness spends a good deal of time talking about man-made climate change and ecological crises that have resulted. Getting very granular and specific, they can talk about how ecological crises have destroyed homes and put people on the street. Widening their perspective, they can talk about the climate crises will make some geographical locations unlivable and force migration to other places. Widening their perspective even more, they can talk about the earth as a whole as humanity’s home and the need to care for it—to treat it as a home and becoming homeful, lest we become homeless. This ranging between the practical and philosophical changes the conversation in how we generally perceive homelessness.

The book is structured into chapters that explore the meaning of home, the various facets of homelessness, and the possibilities of redemptive homecoming. It ends each chapter with a moving biblical meditation and interacts with characters and themes from contemporary culture. The authors argue for a comprehensive vision that unites society in addressing the common problem of displacement and finding a shared solution. The fifteenth anniversary edition of Beyond Homelessness revitalizes a seminal classic. This new edition will make more people—like myself—aware of Bouma-Prediger and Walsh’s work and begin a new generation thinking outside the box when it comes to imagining solutions to these complex and nuanced problems.

This book goes way beyond what I thought it would be. It was eye-opening, informative, and hopeful. Near the end of the postscript, the authors remind readers that humanity—the Adam—was created out of the earth. The stereotypical Christian message is about believing to go to heaven, but Bouma-Prediger and Walsh remind us that we came from the earth. We were created of the earth, for the earth, it has been placed in our care, and it is a new earth that God will one day restore for us. If you’re searching for a book about dealing with physical homelessness, there are plenty but this isn’t it. Instead, it’s so much more.