My urban journey has gone from Kabul to Amsterdam to Cape Town and as I lived in these very different places, I became fascinated with the rise of cities. I was provoked to develop a theology of the city, which I have reflected in my book, 'Seeing the City With the Eyes of God'.
Here is what I learned about urban culture:
- Urban cultures are like mountain tops... everything flows down from there to smaller towns and rural areas regardless of national borders and language differences.
- Urban cultures are trend setters. What happens in cities today happens in the rest of the world 5 and 10 years from now.
- Urban cultures are multi-ethnic. When I moved to Amsterdam there were 114 languages spoken in the city. Today, there are more than 180 languages spoken there.
- Vast segments of worldwide urban culture identify with American youth culture via TV, music and movies.
- This identification is producing a hostility and backlash in certain parts of the world, namely the Middle East and the Muslim world.
- Urban young adults are vastly different from their rural counterparts.
- Urban sub-cultures are like villages stacked on top of each other, connecting via ethnic similarity and language, not urban geography.
- Cities have personalities... some are financial centers, some are fashion and cultural trend setters, and still others are the center of gravity for spiritual appetite and curiosity.