270: Why Cities Matter by Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard

by Gerard


270.091732: Um, Stephen T. & Justin Buzzard. Why Cities Matter to God, the Culture, and the Church. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013. 148 pp. ISBN 978-1-4335-3289-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 270: Historical, geographical, or persons treatment of Christianity and the Christian Church
  • 270.09: Areas, regions, places in general, persons
  • +1732: Urban regions

This book is precisely the reason I wanted to do this project. Prior to starting, there would have been no way I would have a missive on how to (a) learn to love large cities, (b) understand their narratives, and then (c) use that knowledge to began to share your faith with other in hopes that the entire city will become a part of the Christian faith. Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard, in Why Cities Matter, help those with faith or fledgling churches to leverage an understanding of urban environments into a flourishing of religiosity, where the faithful listen actively to both their city’s and their neighbor’s narrative in order to find a common connection  from which to spread the message of Christianity.

Um and Buzzard start with an analysis of how cities represent the future of humanity. Their argument is that the combination of a density of peoples and a diversity of interests are the driving forces behind the growth of cities. Without either one, you either have a low population village or a monolithic mass of citizens. Both are necessary. When a city is indeed propelled into fruition, the next step that Um and Buzzard deem necessary is the mass-multiplication of Christian faith in order to encourage the city to attain its full potential. While a decade ago I would have been visibly angry at such a text, now I’m rather Zen about the whole thing. Those who seek to convert will hardly be talked out of it and those that convert need to do so, so who am I to argue with the arrangement?

There’s a great deal of sociological references in the book, and those may be fodder for future reading. They balance this with a deep reading of the Bible, showing how the figures of Jesus and God both understand that people are at their most prolific when in an urban environment. Truthfully, I hadn’t really paid that much attention, but the Bible does have quite a few passage about cities and how population centers figure in the growth of the Christian church. Granted, this book will absolutely not be for everybody, but it was an interesting convergence of social science and religion.