This is a fascinating and highly stimulating paper for anyone interested in urban ministry, in cities generally, in health and wellbeing, urban politics or applied theology. There are other good pieces in this volume of Kenarchy
Volume 3.4 Healthy Cities Mike Love
Mike Love is a doctoral researcher at the University of Leeds developing a kenarchic political theology of cities. For twenty years he has worked with Leeds charity ‘Together for Peace’, bringing people together to seek the welfare of the city.
In this article I ask if and how a city can be a healthy city by providing the conditions for wellbeing. The linkages between poverty, power, and health are well established and increasingly recognised in national and local policy rhetoric, but wellbeing still tends to be thought of as personal and as an aspect of healthcare rather than the primary determinant. Because wellbeing is so linked to relative power and socio-economic status, improving wellbeing – and therefore health – is a profoundly political issue. Over 55% of the world’s population now live in cities, power is being devolved from nation-states to cities globally, and cities are the major cause of ecological depredation, so it is to cities that we must look for solutions. Jewish and Christian scriptures offer a rich theopolitical imaginary for cities of wellbeing, given the all-embracing nature of shalom and all that Jerusalem (meaning ‘founded on peace’) signifies eschatologically. With North American feminist theologian Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, I argue that ekklesia should be given its political import as the radically democratic body politic of cities now seen through an eschatological hermeneutic of space and not just time. The spatial complexity of cities means that they are a pluriverse of potential ekklesiae in which the poor discover their agentic personhood and are healed.