Photo Information

Chaplain's Corner

Photo by Courtesy

What Our Porches Tell Us About Ourselves

30 Apr 2021 | Lt. Grant Mayfield Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

In the mid-1800s, a well-known landscape gardener named Andrew Jackson Downing began writing about his vision of the American home — and how it could stand apart from English architecture. The porch was key. The porch functions as an important "transitional space between the private world of the family and the public realm of the street," notes David Schuyler, author of a biography of Dowling.

I attended seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. While living there, my wife and I owned a home that had been built in the early 1950s. It was a planned neighborhood that was part of the post-World War II suburban boom made possible by such things as VA Home Loans becoming available to millions of returning veterans. All the homes had the same layout. All the homes were roughly 1,200 original square feet. All the homes were brick. And, yes, all the homes had a front porch.

Today, if you examine the contemporary American home, there is a telling difference in the way we construct our homes today. It is a difference that silently screams out how we as Americans view our existence. It reinforces the reality that more and more Americans feel alone in life, even those with families. The percentage of adults who identify as “lonely” in the United States has doubled from 20% in the 1980s to 40% today. Loneliness kills more people than obesity due to its destructive nature on the human psyche, immune system and contribution to addictions. Social media (Facebook, Twitter) has not helped, and in fact, it has exacerbated the problem. The stark difference between my 1950s home and contemporary homes: we now build back porches/decks instead of front porches.

Today, neighbors can live next to each other for decades and never really know each other. The average American is now more unknown than at any time in our history. We were created to be known and loved by God and within his community.  Being alone is not how we were made to exist. Authentic community is important. Being known and accepted is important (warts and all!) 

My prayer is that you are known. If you aren’t a part of a community of faith, perhaps consider it. We want to look out for each other. We want to help each other. We ought to know each other. And being known happens on the front porch.

The Chaplain’s Corner covers everything faith related.  Facts not attributed are purely the opinion of the writer.