Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian)

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Instead of sending her to seek such freedom as notoriously prevails in banks and factories, I would design specially a house in which she can be free.

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It consists of very dignified sorrow and very undignified fun. Its sad tales are of broken hearts; its happy tales are of broken heads. The aim of good poetical words is to mean what they do not say. The phrase reminds one of the slightly intoxicated gentleman who gets up in his own dining room and declares firmly that he must be getting home. I would make capital punishment impossible except by act of attainder. Then there would be some chance of a few of our real oppressors getting hanged.

The consequence is that the modern State has educated its citizens in a series of ephemeral fads. Everything is ultimately brought into the Law Courts. We are trying to stop the leak at the other end. They are generally concerned with proving that people are irresponsible; and they certainly succeed in proving that some people are. Then let us drown those we do not like. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it. A drunkard, when lifted laboriously out of the gutter, might well be heard huskily to plead that he had fallen there through excessive devotion to a vegetable diet.

I do not take the Koran to bed with me every night. But, if I did on some one particular night, there is one sense at least in which I know what I should not find there. I apprehend that I should not find the work abounding in strong encouragements to the worship of idols; that the praises of polytheism would not be loudly sung; that the character of Mohammed would not be subjected to anything resembling hatred and derision; and that the great modern doctrine of the unimportance of religion would not be needlessly emphasised.

So long as he does both he can create; for he is making an outline and a shape. Mohamet created, when he forbade wine but allowed five wives: he created a very big thing, which we have still to deal with. Only he thought, just as the Arians did and just as the Unitarians do, that he could attack them better with a greater approximation to plain theism. What distinguishes his heresy from anything like an Arian or Albigensian heresy is that, as it sprang up on the borders of Christendom, it could spread outwards to a barbaric world.

I do not say it in mere hostility to the religion of Mahomet; I am fully conscious of many values and virtues in it; but certainly it was Islam that was the invasion and Christendom that was the thing invaded. A few centuries after, the Moslem attacked once more, with modern weapons and in a more indifferent age; and, amid the disputes of diplomatists and the dying debates of the Reformation, he succeeded in sailing up the Danube and nearly becoming a central European Power like Poland or Austria.

From this position, after prodigious efforts, he was slowly and painfully dislodged. But Austria, though rescued, was exhausted and reluctant to pursue, and the Turk was left in possession of the countries he had devoured in his advance.

The early heresies had been full of mad reversals and evasions of the Incarnation, rescuing their Jesus from the reality of his body even at the expense of the sincerity of his soul. For it is not well for God to be alone. But now it is equally bad taste to be an avowed Christian.

That is, it is a theory that everything has always perpetually gone right by accident. It is a sort of atheistic optimism, based on an everlasting coincidence far more miraculous than a miracle.

1. The Scope of Medieval Political Philosophy

They are arguable enough, as far as they go, upon a general survey of life; only it happens to be a superficial survey of life. The first peacemaker is the man who goes about saying that he agrees with everybody.

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He confuses everybody. The second peacemaker is the man who goes about saying that everybody agrees with him. He enrages everybody. Between the two of them they produce a hundred times more disputes and distractions than we poor pugnacious people would ever have thought of in our lives. The latter is the longer. The bad revolutionists destroy conventions by appealing to fads — fashions that are newer than conventions. The good do it by appealing to facts that are older than conventions. If my anarchic friends will not have rules — they will have rulers.

Preferring personal government, with its tact and flexibility, is called Royalism. Preferring impersonal government, with its dogmas and definitions, is called Republicanism.

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Objecting broadmindedly both to kings and creeds is called Bosh. They are not so much the good and the bad, nor even the true and the false. Rather they are the fruitful and the barren; the paradoxes which produce life and the paradoxes that merely announce death. Nearly all modern paradoxes merely announce death. And the paradox is that the Good Fire is made of bad things, of things that we do not want; but the Bad Fire is made of good things, of things that we do want.

The first is one in which the slave demands something that the tyrant has got. The second is one in which he demands something that the tyrant has not got. There are sad ballads about broken hearts and cheerful ballads about broken heads.

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One is by doing very good work, the other is by cheating. One way is to put nonsense in the right place; as when people put nonsense into nursery rhymes. The other is to put nonsense in the wrong place; as when they put it into educational addresses, psychological criticisms, and complaints against nursery rhymes. One of them is to see in their tragedy only a stark simplicity, like the outline of a rock; the other is to see in it an unfathomable though a savage complexity, like the labyrinthine complexity of a living forest. One is to have a horror of him because he is so far off; and the other to have it because he is so near.

There are hybrids of all these, and street blocks of different lengths, and networks that have 45 intersections per square mile like Salt Lake City and others that have as many as Portland, Ore. The historical trend, through, has generally moved in one direction — toward ever more creative works of geometric art. In their California study, Garrick and Marshall eventually realized the safest cities had an element in common: They were all incorporated before Something about the way they were designed made them safer.

These cities were built the old way: along those monotonous grids. Marshall and Garrick figured that cars and cars with bikes must be colliding at lower speeds on these types of street networks. At first glance such tightly interconnected communities might appear more dangerous, with cars traveling from all directions and constantly intersecting with each other. But what if such patterns actually force people to drive slower and pay more attention?

But if you actually move around town like a normal person, your town as a whole is much more dangerous. This is the opposite of what traffic engineers and home buyers have thought for decades. Marshall and Garrick took the same group of California cities and also examined all their minutely classified street networks for the amount of driving associated with them. On average, they found, people who live in more sparse, tree-like communities drive about 18 percent more than people who live in dense grids.

This undoubtedly has to do with the fact that the grocery store, your house and your office are probably farther apart — and with less direct connections between them — if you live in a subdivision. But the difference may also have to do with the fact that people who live in gridded urban networks get in their cars less in the first place. His next study will examine that question. What is harder to measure is the value of simply being connected — to where we want to go, but also to each other.

In other words, at the underlying patterns: the way streets and people connect with each other.

Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian) Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian)
Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian) Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian)
Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian) Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian)
Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian) Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian)
Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian) Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian)
Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian) Living Right on Wrong Street (Urban Christian)

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