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August 19, 2005

Christian View of the City

Noting that I am both a Christian and a City Planner, professor Philip Bess of the Notre Dame School of Architecture pointed me to an article he wrote a couple years ago for the Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty entitled, "Civic Art and the City of God: Traditional Urban Design and Christian Evangelism." His thesis?

...good cities are an essential component of the good life for human beings and that urbanism is therefore not surprisingly a privileged symbol of the historic Christian imagination. Post-World War II suburban sprawl is the antithesis of good urbanism; and, to the extent that Christian churches simply accept the premises of suburban culture, we compromise both the substance and the effectiveness of our evangelical efforts. Christian churches can better contribute both to the good of the City of Man and our witness to the City of God by more conscientiously seeking within our means to promote the physical forms of good traditional urbanism.
No one should ever underestimate the power of active, disciplined love, which is (of course) of God. We make all of our cities to achieve the good life, but our greatest cities are products of love: artifacts made in imitation not only of nature (as Aristotle would have it) but even more fundamentally in imitation of the divine. In that imitative process we create a shared world, a common world that is—quite precisely—lovely; and this should be a common vocation of all of us who call ourselves Christians.
I haven't yet formed a complete opinion on the article, other than it is definitely worth a read as it's not a typical Christian pespective. I hope to develop that thought a bit more some time. Check out the Congress for the New Urbanism for more on the concept and if you are really interested in my thoughts on the subject, check out Calthorpe and Fulton's "The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl."

Posted by Rick at August 19, 2005 02:09 AM

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