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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, July 17, 2006
    Leave the Capital
     
    I've tried to appreciate Faithful Cities, and today had another go at reading the whole report. Doubtless there are some good sections in there, and many valid observations about contemporary urban issues. Including a good quote from James Jones:

    We are in danger in some of our cities of suffering from urban diabetes where you get the blood pumping round prestigious projects which everybody shows off and says they are wonderful, but the blood does not get to the extremities of the body. So you have communities on the edge which atrophy. What we have to make sure is that the valves are open so that these prestigious projects, the blood, the wealth of them, is actually channelled to the whole of the community.

    But I cannot get over a deep disillusionment and sense of betrayal on reading the introduction, which seems to me wildly over-keen to promote a new phrase (a 'fresh expression'): faithful capital. Linked to the equally odious term social capital this could appear like clever new thinking for church people wised-up to engagement with regeneration industry realtors. But to me it seems like jettisoning the prophetic and critical (and everyday) language of our faith tradition for that of the marketeers.

    In the global machinations currently ripping our city centres apart, the church holds little power. Which is good. It might as well, then, keep its integrity intact, mightn't it?