I recently finished reading Richard Florida’s important book THE NEW URBAN CRISIS. While I didn’t have a chance to write my review this week (watch for it on our website in the next couple of weeks), I thought that this would be a good time to recommend books in a similar vein that should be essential reading for Christians trying to understand the urban places in which they live and/or worship.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it will set readers on an excellent trajectory for understanding urban places.
Basic Books, 2017
A keen assessment of the state of global cities in 2017, and a vision for how they need to move forward…
In recent years, the young, educated, and affluent have surged back into cities, reversing decades of suburban flight and urban decline. And yet all is not well, Richard Florida argues in The New Urban Crisis. Florida, one of the first scholars to anticipate this back-to-the-city movement in his groundbreaking The Rise of the Creative Class, demonstrates how the same forces that power the growth of the world’s superstar cities also generate their vexing challenges: gentrification, unaffordability, segregation, and inequality. Meanwhile, many more cities still stagnate, and middle-class neighborhoods everywhere are disappearing. Our winner-take-all cities are just one manifestation of a profound crisis in today’s urbanized knowledge economy.
A bracingly original work of research and analysis, The New Urban Crisis offers a compelling diagnosis of our economic ills and a bold prescription for more inclusive cities capable of ensuring growth and prosperity for all.
Broadway Books, 2016
Matthew Desmond’s core argument in Evicted is that eviction is a cause, not just a condition, of poverty and that is a barrier to a person’s right to flourish, which he believes is an aspect of the right to liberty. Desmond advocates for public policy initiatives to provide low income families with affordable housing and claims that existing programs are the most meaningful anti-poverty programs in the country. He acknowledges that we have made mistakes with our policies in the past but claims we can do better. We should want to do better because “without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.”
Evicted describes how evictions destabilize neighborhoods by breaking up relationships and forcing people into “temporary” housing that they don’t have a connection to. If neighborhoods are destabilized then, by extension, cities, states and, ultimately, the country will suffer from the same destabilization. But maybe what is most broken is our ability to love our brothers.