Book Review: Sidewalks in the Kingdom

Over the past couple of weeks, I been reading slowly through a book called Sidewalks in the Kingdom by Eric O. Jacobsen. This book is essentially a primer on New Urbanism and would most definitely fall under the umbrella of urban theology. The idea of urban theology has intrigued me since I visited Belfast, Northern Ireland last spring and met somebody who was involved in an urban redevelopment project. New Urbanism will make just about anybody reflect on many things they never gave more than a second or two in their minds. First, Jacobsen examines the biblical view of cities. One point to note in this discussion is that in Revelation, it talks about a new Jerusalem descending upon the new heavens and the new earth. It does not say a new garden of Eden will take shape. Early in the bible, cities get a bad rap thanks to the people at Babel. But it seems if cities come to be viewed not as a nuisance, but as a place of community and a place for new creation to be birthed. The author goes on to discuss such topics as the importance of mom-and-pop shops, sidewalks, supporting the local economy, and he negative effects of zoning laws. For example, he spoke of new neighborhoods not including sidewalks in their developments. And sure enough, as I was running through a section of town that new houses are being put up in, sidewalks are nowhere to be found. Jacobsen also touches on topics such as architecture and the significant roles that the arts and public places play in turning a city in a community.

I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in living in a city or moving to a city and things to think about when choosing where to live. But it would also be an interesting read for those in real estate or just those who enjoy learning.

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