Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith
by Eric O. Jacobsen
Brazos Press
190 pp.; $16.99, paper

When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah 60 and the New Jerusalem
by Richard J. Mouw
Eerdmans, rev. ed.
131 pp.; $14, paper

Whatever happened to sidewalks? Like the roads of the Roman Empire, these seemingly unremarkable paths are in fact vital arteries of civilization. They foster fellowship and recreation; they serve as an extended public square where children riding bikes, people walking dogs, mail carriers toting letters, and couples holding hands share a common experience. But sidewalks are vanishing across the country, notably absent from sprouting subdivisions as sprawl swallows the land beyond our cities. Without these channels of commonality, we have no choice but to drive everywhere, confining ourselves to that holy of holies of privacy—the automobile.

It takes an innovative Christian thinker to convincingly frame these issues of city planning as fundamental to Christian discipleship, and Eric Jacobsen pulls it off in Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith. He delicately but firmly makes the case that the New Urbanism movement, with its advocacy of public spaces and variety in neighborhoods, is of urgent importance to the Church and needs its support.

Jacobsen anticipates the question of why Christians should care about sidewalks when we're supposed to worry about salvation. To begin with, the characteristics of our urban environments determine how we are able to spread the gospel; it's easier to reach out to pedestrians in public places than to car-bound citizens cruising from their gated community to a Costco.

The ministry of Christ thrived, Jacobsen says, on "incidental contact"—such ...

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