Sidewalks In The Kingdom

A review also posted at of Eric Jacobsen’s Sidewalks In The Kingdom:

The urban sprawl that blights the USian landscape has had more impact than merely the growth of ugly landscapes. It has broken apart communities, led to less healthy lifestyles, and increased ghettoization. Jacobsen’s book sets out to introduce Christian groups into the new urbanist agenda, calling for walkable neighborhoods, more community-focussed building practices, and support of local business where real relationships can be borne. While this may well be a good primer, anyone who has read any other new urbanist material or who is looking for a thorough theological account may be disappointed.

Jacobsen sets up false dichotomies (community-building is apparently not a part of evangelism for him) and doesn’t dig into the environmental arguments which should be so central for Christians (and indeed, for anyone who cares about the future of the planet and its people). He also talks of how he believes he’s the only Christian member of the Congress for New Urbanism, but without recognising that perhaps he’s the only one who goes out of his way to advertise himself as such. It’s good to see Christians publicly engaging with the vital issues of urban planning, but it would be good to see more serious engagement with urban theology.

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