Friday, December 2, 2011

Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith

Cities have gotten a bad rap. So says author Eric Jacobsen in his 2003 book Sidewalks in the Kingdom.  They got off to a bad start, reputation wise, at least as told in the Bible.  Enoch, Babel and Ramses are three discredited cities.  Some people today still hold to this view according to Jacobsen.  These city-haters view cities as corrupting.  The city-despisers seek instead an Eden-like existence in the suburbs.  Jacobsen points to Jerusalem as a city that is worth living in.  Most cities, like Jerusalem, are places that God is using for good.  In fact, he says, "to be a Christian means to be a city person."

I agree with Jacobsen.  Cities are places where diversity reigns.  Barriers are temporarily lowered as lawyers and bankers mingle on the sidewalks with beggars and buskers.  It is in cities that we interact more face to face, rather than grill to taillights.  Through this very human interaction we are daily reminded of God's image, reflected in speech and ambling and visage.  This country needs more pro-city policies that recognize that in a world of global competition countries will compete and be defined by the strength of their cities.  If you want to see a truly stupendous city visit Shangai.