Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Broken Promises, Sprawl and The American Experience

Eric Jacobsen has written a wonderful book entitled Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith.  Chapter one, of this 2003 book, notes that Americans, that is us, are worshiping three false idols: independence, freedom and individualism.  Individualism without restraint results in monotonous suburbs.  Freedom to travel for some becomes isolation for others (think of youth and the elderly).  True self, says Jacobsen, emerges not in individual endeavor but by immersing oneself in community.  Government policy has encouraged sprawl by subsidizing roads, starving mass transit, and encouraging new home construction (FHA) rather than renovating existing homes.

What can church people do?  We can support MASS transit. Transit for the masses, rather than so much transit for individuals.  We can seek to change government policies that overvalue sprawl and undervalue density.  We can consider the needs of all citizens for mobility, rather than those who make the most noise.