Monday, January 25, 2010

The Other Four Cities

Last month I decided to read and blog through Doug Wilson's 5 Cities. I submitted a series of posts from the Introduction and one on the first chapter, Jerusalem. However, as I continued to read, the following chapters weren't as "blog-able." Yet there are a few things worth mentioning:
  • I like Doug Wilson. I've met him, heard him speak, and read many of his books. We even named our church after his (sort of). But this book is not a great representation of a great writer (which he is). Five Cities is salted with Wilson's characteristic humor, but it lacks his signature insight and provocation.
  • I would however happily recommend this book to armchair-historians and those fascinated with urban development and cultural evolution.
  • Though I felt the book dragged at times (Athens and London), the chapter on New York was worth the price of the book for me. Wilson's comments on baseball were especially engaging, as were his comments on the youth of our nation: "In virtually every town in our nation, there are a few people who are one hundred years old. At the time of this writing, they were born in 1909. When one of those individuals was a newborn, he or she could have been placed on the lap of another person, also one hundred years old. The second person would have been born in 1809, when James Madison was president.... Take it back one more lifetime. That person would have been born in 1709 when Queen Anne was our monarch" (Wilson, 172-173).
  • Wilson sums up the book nicely in the Epilogue, connecting the Incarnation and the Great Commission with the great cities of the world. Our prayer should be for God's kingdom to come, for His will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven. "The City of God is not something far removed from us [and the cities of man]. The prince of [the city of God] is named Immanuel, God with us. His name is not God-still-distant or God-removed-from us" (Wilson, 198-199). Wilson paints a picture of freedom as he presents the good news, and, indeed, interprets the story of his five cities through the lens of freedom. He calls his readers to see areas of redemption and future redemption in those cities as he offers a prophetic conclusion from Isaiah:
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up son this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him,
that he might save us.

This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Is. 25:6-9).

Glad I read it. Borrow it anytime.

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