a new economic geography and the church 1

I got my March 2009 issue of The Atlantic the other day and just finished the cover feature, “How the Crash Will Reshape America” by Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class.

In the essay, Florida argues that major periods of economic stress, like the current recession, give rise to new economies, which is related to new geographies, or shifts in population concentration. Referring to the “Long Depression” of roughly 1873-1896, the shift in our “economic geography” is described thus: 

In 1870, New England mill towns like Lowell, Lawrence, Manchester, and Springfield were among the country’s most productive industrial cities, and America’s population overwhelminglylived in the countryside. By 1900, the economic geography had been transformed from a patchwork of farm plots and small mercantile towns to a landscape increasingly dominated by giant factory cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Buffalo. 

Over a century ago (and before the Great Depression), the context for the Church’s mission shifted along with the economic geography. 

I’ll take a few more posts to look at this article and think aloud about potential implications for the church’s mission in the new economic geography, no matter how closely it resembles the one forecasted by Mr. Florida. For now, I thought I’d share the link for anyone interested in checking it out. There are a couple of online pieces related that I’ve yet to check out–author interview, interactive map–but I’ll look at those and see if/how they might relate to this conversation.

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One thought on “a new economic geography and the church 1

  1. Listening to Kenneth Leech today at Elders’ Retreat as he spoke about the Dark Night of the Soul, I wondered about our situation. He quoted Alan Eccleston who said something about some things only being visible in the dark; thus while the Dark Night is often taken as a bad thing, it is instead a vital aspect of the life of faith.

    My perception is that our wealth here in America, along with our worship of success, puts us in a place where we engineer our lives where we don’t need God except – maybe – at the margins. And we try to cut out the margins, too.

    In the midst of our current downturn we might have an opportunity to rediscover a need for God. Of course, we have several candidates for the role stepping forward.

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