Hard to find a more encouraging sign of Christian media/community engaging productively with culture than the new "This is Our City" website and project. Under the leadership of Andy Crouch, this work represents Christianity Today's strongest step yet into the wonderful, wacky, dynamic, multicultural, ecumenical world of urban culture. I see it as a perfect compliment to CT's Books & Culture and hope that it does for the profile of urban ministry what Books & Culture has done for Christian academic engagement. Together these two projects show the culture-shaping/engaging/loving vision of CT's editor-in-chief David Neff.
The vision of this new project is summarized at the website like this:
A new generation of Christians believes God calls them to seek shalom in their cities. These Christians are using their gifts and energies in all sectors of public life—commerce, government, technology, the arts, media, and education—to bring systemic renewal to the cultural "upstream" and to bless their neighbors in the process. No longer on the sidelines of influence, emboldened by the belief that Jesus loves cities, they model a distinctly evangelical civic engagement for the 21st century.
This Is Our City, a multiyear project of Christianity Today, seeks to spotlight in reporting, essays, and documentary video how these Christians are responding to their cities' particular challenges with excellence, biblical faith, and hope. The six cities we are profiling differ dramatically from one another in size, economic climate, ethnic and racial composition, and in their history of Christian presence, leadership or abdication, at crucial moments. But they all have stories worth telling. Wherever we live, we can learn something from these cities about faithfulness to our own place.
This is precisely the kind of evangelical engagement with urban life that all of us, whether evangelical or not, should hope to see and stands in sharp contrast to the disturbing vision outlined in the Call Detroit. Where NAR-style dominionism seeks to carry for a vision for urban life explicitly modeled after the Renaissance hating style of the infamous Girolamo Savonarola, ring-leader of the infamous Florentine “Bonfire of the Vanities”, This is Our City explicitly endorses the "common good" and profiles people engaging respectuflly and faithfully in the pluralistic world that defines modern cities like Portland, Oregon. I hope you will check out this great new project and follow it as their coverage expands from Portland and Richmond to Detroit, New York City and more.