Thursday, August 30

Book: Sidewalks in the Kingdom

When I first moved to Missoula a few years ago, my (now) wife suggested that I pick up a copy of this book. It served not only as a great introduction to the life and culture of this town, but also painted a broader picture of how the Christian faith and urban infrastructure relate. Eric Jacobsen was a pastor at First Presbyterian of Missoula, where I currently attend. He is now serving a church in Tacoma, Washington.

Summary: The ideal of individualism is deeply ingrained into the American psyche. While an affirmation of personal liberty is valuable, in many ways this commitment has not delivered on its promises. It often comes at the expense of true community.

The Bible presents the Christian life as citizenship, waiting for the ultimate New Jerusalem as the culmination of the kingdom of God. This means that Christians cannot continue to relegate their faith simply to their private lives, but must learn to engage in the public realm and seek its redemption. Redemption includes helping to facilitate relationships, promoting environmental stewardship, creating beauty, and nurturing a crucible for moral character and spiritual growth.

The principles drawn up by the Congress of New Urbanism dovetail well with this goal. Mixed use zoning, a pedestrian scale environment, and a robust public realm all help overcome the dehumanizing abstractions of modern life. Living together with other people may cause you to see them less as strangers and more as neighbors.

These values are starting to take hold in our society, and Christians should carefully consider what role we may play in building healthier communities.

Engagement: I won't write a personal reflection on Sidewalks in the Kingdom, because in a sense that is what this whole blog is.

No comments: