Great article: ‘Urban Paradox’

January 9, 2008 at 4:37 pm

(Jon) Today I have the pleasure of pointing you to an excellent summation of what we’re hoping to accomplish here at The Good City.

This article, called “Urban Paradox: Reconnecting Church and the City,” was published in byFaith magazine and written to a more general Christian audience, so it starts with a bedrock Biblical foundation:

Biblical Christianity is about land, about subways, cars, and high rises. It affirms God as Creator, and as sovereign over every bit of creation. Therefore our responsibility as stewards, as those who have been given dominion, is to safeguard God’s work, and His pleasure in it. Our concern is that God be pleased when He looks to our cities.

The authors of the article, Michael Van Pelt and Rob Joustra of the Work Research Foundation, discuss New Urbanism and how it’s difficult to encapsulate what it actually is. But still, it’s principles aren’t really new at all:

The concern of New Urbanism for community, whole development, and human flourishing is not merely the concern of the institutional church; it forms the matrix of what we Christians call “good news.” In many ways what is striking is not why municipal leaders and New Urbanists should look at churches as allies, but rather, why church leaders have been conspicuously absent from this dialogue. Can community be built from within the physical form of traditional towns without under-girding social structures? What part can churches play in New Urbanism and the revitalization of urban spaces?

Van Pelt and Joustra give the church three ways to answer those questions:

  • Befriend the stranger in the city
  • Help create human comfort in the city
  • Create sacred spaces that relate to the city

And in conclusion:

Urban renewal requires the kind of vision and action that churches and people of faith possess. It is an urban vision firmly entrenched in the knowledge of the creator God, acted out faithfully in response to His Word, with contextual reflection. There is almost no limit to the imaginative manifestations that such a church can take. But churches and Christians must begin to take this kind of earthy Christianity, which bespeaks such pertinence to architecture, community, and transit more seriously if they are to realize a vision of urban centers built and sustained for human flourishing and the glory of God.

Be sure to read the whole article.

Photo by Christine (bpc) on Flickr

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Entry filed under: Jon Swerens, Philosophy, Theology, Urbanism. Tags: , , , .

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But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:7

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