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Thread: Conservative Christianity and cities

  1. #1
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Conservative Christianity and cities

    I'm not sure if this belongs in the FAC or Make No Small Plans...

    World Magazine, a conservative Christian equivalent to USNews & World Report I have read for over a decade, tackles a plethora of topics about cities in their latest edition, going so far as advocating New Urbanism, and alluding to how, in the Christian tradition, the world's story started in a garden, but will conclude (according to Revelation 21) in a well-planned city.

    This is the second time this magazine has tackled urban issues, and both have pro-city, which I'm sure would strike most urbanists (who I'd say usually adhere to some variety of secular humanism) and most conservative Christians as odd because of their stereotypes of each other and themselves based on potentially false pretenses both have of urban vs. rural environments.

    Present edition: http://www.worldmag.com/articles/16501

    Please note that it is a conservative Christian publication, so I'm sure the exact language used might turn some of you off, but try to look beyond the minute details and to the broader points and ideas being advocated.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Cities are bastions of diversity and tolerance. City blocks welcome many traditions and practices, and the news stands offer a variety of good reads. Magazines that discuss cities and urbanism are certainly a plus.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Theology and the City - Babylon and Zion

    Great topic. I've not yet read the magazine article originally mentioned, but I will take the time to point to a couple other resources. Peter Newman's study entitled "Theology and the City - Babylon and Zion" has formed some of my thinking on sustainable cities. Here's the link

    http://www.istp.murdoch.edu.au/ISTP/...o/eththeo.html

    Of note are Jacques Ellul's "The Technological Society" and his theological correlate to this work, which he entitled "The Meaning of the City." This is in contrast to another theological work entitled "The Secular City." It can be argued that radically-conservative and radically-biblical Christian theologies do indeed support the concept of sustainable cities.

    Indeed, I hope to form a coalition of model sustainable cities among historically Dutch Reformed Cities in the Midwestern USA by asking them to collaborate on the construction of a "Renewable Ammonia Corridor Value Cycling Engine." See my "Model Sustainable Cities" website at

    http://modelsustainablecities.weebly.com

    This ammonia corridor grew out of my previous ideas, some of which I've shared here at Cyburbia over the past couple years.

    Cheers.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmm.....

    As soon as I saw the title of this post I immediately thought:

    COLORADO SPRINGS.......

    Carry on......
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    It seems Savanah was saved by god fearing communists, to poor to privatize the care of their communal squares to commercial gardeners.

    In addition to having to do gods work on their own, they decided to level layers of burdensome regulation on homeowners and businessmen alike. In order to preserve the historical nature on 22 of the 24 surviving original squares, they created a restrictive "Development Panel" to determine if changes to structures were historical and appropriate and to enforce their draconian aesthetic views.

    I feel Oglethorpe's design was never copied because rugged American individualists correctly rebelled against the over reach of a totalitarian control of the Nanny State.

    1 down, 4 more articles to go!
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus Scout's avatar
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    I was thinking Colorado Springs as well!

    The emphasis of place in the NOLA article sounds a lot like Kunstler to a degree...I never imagined I would read an article from a Christian magazine with Kunstler ideology!

    "The challenge for America's cities that are somewhere: Don't lose what is distinctive or emphasize chain hotels and restaurants and other buildings that, no matter how elegant, could just as well be anywhere. "

    Thanks for the link!
    In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and watch how the pattern improves - Rumi

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    It would seem that New Orleans is a special somewhere based upon a retention of outdated grade C commercial space that is not designed to attract the urban elites or cater to today's soccer moms. The unique diversity of its people allows a multicultural exchange of ideas. These ideas include buying booze for people in need, partying in flamboyant and often revealing clothing to outdo anything seen in Sodom OR Gammora, unique musical ceremonies at funerals, and an unchristian acceptance of pagan ritual celebration.

    The article on Detroit is a stub that is for paying subscribers so no review of the future Garden City of Detroit.

    3 down, 2 to go!
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  8. #8
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    West Michigan, which has a decidedly Christian/conservative political slant, has some very urban-oriented, Christian nonprofits and universities. It seems they place a heavy emphasis on social justice issues, and this often leads into urban planning-type concepts.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Re: Western Michigan

    The observation about Western Michigan is spot-on. I went to Hope College in Holland, Michigan and thereby gained my perspectives that enabled me to write the content of my earlier post in this thread. Ellul's "The Meaning of the City" was published by Eerdman's which is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The cities of Orange City and Pella, Iowa that I mention being along that renewable ammonia corridor share similar Dutch Reformed, Reformed Church of America and Christian Reformed Church history. John Calvin also tried to focus Christian social principles with a locus in the city, particularly in Geneva, Switzerland, I believe it was, back during the Protestant Reformation.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    More from World Magazine on Planning-Related Issues

    World talks about the successes of PIDs/BIDs in its most recent (24 April 2010) edition.

    http://www.worldmag.com/articles/16627

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    The book Sidewalks in the Kingdom does a good job of connecting mainline Christian theology to urban design. The author is on the moderate to conservative side of the spectrum of a liberal denomination - the Presbyterian Church (USA).

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    One should point out that utopian urban planning has been closely associated with faith.

    For Christians, SIr Thomas More's Utopia (De optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia) is a case in point, not to mention the various early American religious communities with their very own philosophies for urban design (the Shakers are only one example).

    Of course, Jews, Hindus and Daoists have their own religious dictats for the celestial city. Biblical dimensioning of the Temple Mount is about as specific as any contemporary planning process, and ancient Hindu and Daoist societies projected their philosophical and religious outlooks into city form in a very literal way.

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    Quote: "Sixteen centuries ago Augustine, in his book De Civitate Dei, laid out the conflict between The City of God and The City of Man. The battle remains most intense in cities. Because they are strategic centers, usually determining the cultural direction of entire countries, forces of darkness push hard there."

    A city cannot stand without God, at least successfully for the long haul in terms of the quality of life metrics planners aspire to, anymore than a country or an individual can. "All things came into being by Him [i.e., Jesus, the Son of God], and apart form Him nothing came into being that has come into being," John 1:3.

    The media has popularized ranking American cities as the "best place to live/work/play." The cities mentioned in the article are well-known for their struggles and problems, but is is really the people of a city that make it what it is or isn't. Hence, the eternal conflict between God and man has nothing to do with how man plans cities, but how man lives his life.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Its about values ...

    I would add that an appeal to broad "values" is one of the best ways of overcoming the narrow-mindedness that leads NIMBY's to try to exclude others from their community. After all, so much of comprehensive planning is about identifying a community's values. It becomes harder to argue against mother-in-law apartments or mix of housing types when you realize these may strengthen family or provide needed market-based housing for people of modest means. It becomes hard to argue against trails or walkable neighborhoods when you realize that these may prevent someone's elderly parents (or young children) from getting diabetes.

    There is certainly a diversity of thought - from young Evangelicals who embrace environmental stewardship and those who support immigration reform, to political conservativies, such as Paul Weyrich, who made the case for public transprotation. While some religious conservatives no doubt see community as centerred on an auto-oriented church to which they drive from an auto-oriented suburban home, I think many others see value in traditional American nieghborhoods and communities, enjoy trails and parks, and want different types of housing to be available to many. Religious participation has also positively correlated with participation in community, including voting, so religious communities ("conservative" or otherwise) should certainly be included in discussions on urban issues.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by yosemite_daniel
    Quote: "Sixteen centuries ago Augustine, in his book De Civitate Dei, laid out the conflict between The City of God and The City of Man. The battle remains most intense in cities. Because they are strategic centers, usually determining the cultural direction of entire countries, forces of darkness push hard there."
    Yes, the forces of darkness push hard in cities, but it seems that most solid citizens seem to reject the most hard line christian values as overly drastica and destructive.

    Quote Originally posted by yosemite_daniel
    A city cannot stand without God, at least successfully for the long haul in terms of the quality of life metrics planners aspire to, anymore than a country or an individual can. "All things came into being by Him [i.e., Jesus, the Son of God], and apart form Him nothing came into being that has come into being," John 1:3.
    Funny, Carthage (Tripoli), Tokyo, and many cities world wide are not christian in any sense of the word and seem to have survived fine for cenutries if not thousands of years. Its even more entertaining when you throw in places like Athens, Rome, and other major locations that exist no matter what religion effectively holds sway.

    As for your bible quote, lots of things came into being without your god. Like BEER. Deal with it.

    Maybe success of urban areas have nothing to do with the prevailing religion? WOW mind blowing concept.

    Quote Originally posted by yosemite_daniel
    The media has popularized ranking American cities as the "best place to live/work/play." The cities mentioned in the article are well-known for their struggles and problems, but is is really the people of a city that make it what it is or isn't. Hence, the eternal conflict between God and man has nothing to do with how man plans cities, but how man lives his life.
    You answer your own question, religion is not really an issue.

    Quote Originally posted by Doc Watson
    There is certainly a diversity of thought - from young Evangelicals who embrace environmental stewardship and those who support immigration reform, to political conservativies, such as Paul Weyrich, who made the case for public transprotation. While some religious conservatives no doubt see community as centerred on an auto-oriented church to which they drive from an auto-oriented suburban home, I think many others see value in traditional American nieghborhoods and communities, enjoy trails and parks, and want different types of housing to be available to many. Religious participation has also positively correlated with participation in community, including voting, so religious communities ("conservative" or otherwise) should certainly be included in discussions on urban issues.
    Why would these amenities make life less or more enjoyable or even livable if they were heathens or any other religion. Its not about religion, but understanding that urban areas bring benefits based upon density of opportunity. Religion has nothing to do with it.

    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane
    One should point out that utopian urban planning has been closely associated with faith.
    Other than the fact that learned people throughout time have had Utopian visions of the "perfect" city. Way before the existence of christianity. Many of those visions contemporary with christianity outside of their influence.

    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane
    Of course, Jews, Hindus and Daoists have their own religious dictats for the celestial city. Biblical dimensioning of the Temple Mount is about as specific as any contemporary planning process, and ancient Hindu and Daoist societies projected their philosophical and religious outlooks into city form in a very literal way.
    Proof in point.
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  16. #16
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    I would say 9%.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Does Harvey Cox's book The Secular City apply to this discussion ?
    http://www.religion-online.org/showa....asp?title=206

    One of my main purposes in writing The Secular City was to challenge the antiurban bias that infects American religion (at least white church life). How many times did I hear, as a child, that "God made the country, but man made the city"? This is a gravely deficient doctrine of God. We need a spirituality that can discern the presence of God not just "In the Garden" as the old Protestant hymn puts it, but also, as a better hymn says, "Where cross the crowded ways of life, / Where sound the cries of race and clan. . ."

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    There has been an anti-urban bias in American thought going back to colonial times, and that has continued to the present. It's based on good vs evil: the city represents sin while the country represents righteousness. It's most notably articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his vision of a country of "yeoman farmers", but it's also reflected in much of the literature of the late 19th and first half of the 20th century when many small towns turned into industrial metropolises. Suburbs, especially the post WW II vintage, were the perfect combination of country morality and urban convenience, which helps explain their popularity.

    Having been raised in a rural area, and now living in a small city in a predominantly rural area, I just laugh at many locals' anguish over the goings-on in the nearby "sin city" while they ignore the local village ginmill/rural roadhouse bar where booze, drugs, and prostitution thrive.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    There has been an anti-urban bias in American thought going back to colonial times, and that has continued to the present. It's based on good vs evil: the city represents sin while the country represents righteousness. It's most notably articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his vision of a country of "yeoman farmers", but it's also reflected in much of the literature of the late 19th and first half of the 20th century when many small towns turned into industrial metropolises. Suburbs, especially the post WW II vintage, were the perfect combination of country morality and urban convenience, which helps explain their popularity.
    I recently had a paper I submitted to a journal rejected because two reviewers said there was no such anti urban bias in this country.

    Shows you what academics know.

    Could I put you down as a reference?

  20. #20
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Duke Of Dystopia View post
    It seems Savanah was saved by god fearing communists, to poor to privatize the care of their communal squares to commercial gardeners.

    In addition to having to do gods work on their own, they decided to level layers of burdensome regulation on homeowners and businessmen alike. In order to preserve the historical nature on 22 of the 24 surviving original squares, they created a restrictive "Development Panel" to determine if changes to structures were historical and appropriate and to enforce their draconian aesthetic views.

    I feel Oglethorpe's design was never copied because rugged American individualists correctly rebelled against the over reach of a totalitarian control of the Nanny State.

    1 down, 4 more articles to go!
    I took a guided walking tour of the old city led by an ex-Marine who was obviously gay and who could say "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" in about two syllables. He said the layout of squares was to facilitate quick mustering of militia as the port city was often assaulted by various attackers in its earliest days.
    Last edited by fringe; 14 Sep 2010 at 2:58 PM. Reason: sp

  21. #21
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I recently had a paper I submitted to a journal rejected because two reviewers said there was no such anti urban bias in this country.

    Shows you what academics know.
    I have a much better story that is a bigger head-slapper, but would give a lot away on all sides. Suffice it to say that my respect for the journal - already flagging - plummeted.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    There was a book out recently by Eric Jacobsen called Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith, which ties urban living with Christian ministry and lay principles and provides a key-in for modern new urbanist proposals, arguing that Christians should favor them.

    The book was reviewed by Steven Banks in the Grand Rapids Examiner last week.

    Today, an "architect who specializes in church and church-related projects," one Mr. Randy W. Bright, of - you guessed it, Dan - Tulsa wrote in the Tulsa Beacon what I'm sure he considers a scathing review of new urbanism, and just urbanism as a whole. He decries planners/urbanists and brings out the standard repertoire that we want to force everyone to live in dense urban environments (I have yet to meet any actual planners who hold such a view in earnest), that it's too costly (which he relies on one specific aspects of cost - infrastructure - to make), etc.

    To top it off, Mr. Bright offers a terrible description of Christianity that focuses on "go[ing] to the kind of church they want to attend and associat[ing] with the kind of people they like to be with." Because everyone knows Jesus always talked about looking after your own interests and comfort.

  23. #23
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    In general, LA is more conservative than San Francisco.

    San Diego, Bakersfield, Irvine, and Fresno are among the large cities in California that are conservative and Christian. Central Valley and Orange County are the only larger counties in California with a larger conservative percentage.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    In general, LA is more conservative than San Francisco.

    San Diego, Bakersfield, Irvine, and Fresno are among the large cities in California that are conservative and Christian. Central Valley and Orange County are the only larger counties in California with a larger conservative percentage.
    I didn't know that about San Diego. Is the large military presence a factor there?

  25. #25
    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    In general, LA is more conservative than San Francisco.

    .
    Is there any big city in the US less conservative than San Francisco? I think it has Portland and Seattle way beat.

    How bout the world? Maybe just Amsterdam.

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