The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Monday, July 30, 2007
Cities of God Conference
sponsored by the John Jay Institute in Colorado Springs. Looks really promising. Here is a desription:

At one time Western religious belief and city building coincided. Informed by the Bible’s grand story from Genesis to Revelation, the idea of human culture as a development from seminal life in the Garden of Eden to full human flourishing in the City of God inspired the Christians to take city building seriously. Traditional western urbanism is a fruit of Christian civilization. Europe and North America’s most beautiful and early cities – places like Paris, London, Philadelphia, Annapolis, Charleston, Savannah, and Santa Barbara -- were in origin and consequence products of the Christian worldview, resulting in neighborhood designs in the form of street and block networks, plazas and squares, and monuments and civic buildings of stone and brick. Building upon and developing the received wisdom and insight from the ancients, Christian city builders endeavored to successfully integrate ecological, economic, moral, and formal orders to produce beautiful cities that we continue to enjoy today. What of tomorrow? Is the good city still possible? Have secularism, modernity, the automobile, therapeutic individualism, racial and class antagonism, and suburban sprawl made the restoration of the good city elusive, if not impossible? What about contemporary development and building culture? Can public officials, legislators, planners, traffic engineers, bankers, developers, and the homebuilding industry be persuaded to re-integrate traditional principles of city building into their professional work? And what role might Christians have to play in such a reintegration? This lecture series will explore biblical and theological themes specifically related to the building of neighborhoods, towns, and cities. Additionally, two historical case studies of American Christian city building – 17th Century Philadelphia and 19th Century Colorado Springs – will be examined for their practical lessons for today. Lastly, the series will present on an array of topics relevant to the ideas and strategies of the neo-traditionalist movement known as New Urbanism.

The first lecture will be by Ken Meyers: "Between the Garden and the New Jerusalem: a Trinitarian Vision for Urban Blessedness"

Modern societies are increasingly imperiled by diminished levels of civic commitment. As cultural and legal trends encourage more pervasive patterns of individualism and privatization, many citizens have a sense of being independent consumers of social goods and services rather than members of a body politic. Sacrificial commitment to the common good becomes more problematic when there is no notion of "the good" held in common by an increasingly diverse population. The lack of civic commitment is especially felt in America's heartland towns and cities. Once the local laboratories of political participation and incubators of republican virtues, today they increasingly call into question the sustainability of the American experiment. The precipitating crisis of the town soul presents an opportunity for Christians to re-examine their understanding of the nature and norms of civic life, as the love of neighbors requires caring for our neighborhoods. Since Christians believe that human beings are created in the image of a triune God, and thereby created for relationships, the Church must resist the temptations toward individualism and offer to its neighbors and neighborhoods an example of the meanings of membership and the contours of community. In this lecture Mr. Myers offers a survey of the biblical themes integral to a theology of urban blessedness, from the earliest experience of human community in the Garden of Eden to the full flourishing of eschatological urban dynamism in the New Jerusalem, providing practical implications for contemporary Christians living in America's cities and towns.