Let me ask you a question. Do you think cities are fostering community, or are they actually pushing people away from each other? Wait, but isn’t that the whole point of a city, to bring people together?

Of course it is. That’s exactly what Professor Philip Sheldrake expressed to graduate students in his lecture “The Spiritual City: Theology, Spirituality, and the Urban.” The Baylor Formation presented this discussion in the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.

Professor Sheldrake shed light on the issue of cities and how they are becoming less well-made. They are fragmented because the “world is rapidly becoming urbanized.” This is due to the 21st century global movement from rural to urban. Since so many people are moving into cities, 1 person out of every 6 is a “slum-dweller”. This statistic will only continue to rise as more and more pile into the city atmosphere.

According to Professor Sheldrake, true cities engage with three things:

  1. Identity
  2. Relationships
  3. Stories

Cities need to “re-discover their own voice” and focus on these ideas. Currently, city priorities include recovery of memory, sustainability and living/neighborhoods. Unfortunately, spiritual dimensions of cities are rarely discussed.

What are cities for? That is the big question for the future. Leaning on scripture, Sheldrake points out what cities looked like in both the Old and New Testament and then goes on to elaborate on social virtues. Sheldrake adds that it is key for cities to be composed of different people. Virtues that he considers important are faithfulness, living in harmony and honoring individual needs. Closing this part of the lecture saying, “community is vital to flourishing.”

By Caroline Jerome