A very interesting reflection on what constitutes a city–organism or structure? This approach from physicists is intriguing, and looks like a promising series from The Atlantic.
In the recent Mars Hill Audio Journal, Ken Myers interviews Philip Bess, architect and author, who has reflected theologically and architecturally on the implications modern urban planning. In Till We Have Built Jerusalem, he articulates the goodness of urban dwelling based on natural law. He points out that New Urbanists tend to avoid the idea that there is any metaphysical basis for urban communities.
If there is not metaphysical/theological basis for urban dwelling, why should we even care about cities? If there is a biblical theological rationale for urban life, what they is our responsiblity in an age of urban decline and sprawl? Without this urban ontology, city life and culture are rendered haphazzard and purposeless. However, Christian tradition and theology offers a purposeful, even doxological basis for urban life. See my article, “Hate the City, Love the City.”
Strikingly, Bess shows how modern urbanism has displaced former function of the city. Instead of being a moral center that fosters education, citizenry, creation it has become an entertainment center. Suburbia has followed suit, resulting in a massive decline in community, purpose and society. How should we respond? What is our responsibility to the cities we live in? How can we act locally to improve urban life?