Episode 322: Keep Christianity Weird with Michael Frost

Much of the Evangelical Industrial Complex has been created to make Christianity relevant, acceptable, and attractive to our consumer culture. Author and missional expert, Michael Frost, says this is a mistake. Instead, we should be emphasizing our faith’s weirdness and call more Christians to be eccentric—literally “off center.” Also this week: Phil and Skye take on “The Good Place,” a TV show about heaven without God or religion, the UK’s Supreme Court rules in favor of a Christian baker, and (fake) butt news from a Hawaiian seal hospital.

Why Can’t We Get Cities Right?

Harvey will leave a huge amount of wreckage behind, some of it invisible. In particular, we don’t yet know just how much poison has been released by flooding of chemical plants, waste dumps, and more. But it’s a good bet that more people will eventually die from the toxins Harvey leaves behind than were killed during the storm itself.

.. Many toxic waste sites are flooded, but the Environmental Protection Agency is conspicuously absent.

.. Greater Houston still has less than a third as many people as greater New York, but it covers roughly the same area, and probably has a smaller percentage of land that hasn’t been paved or built on.

..  The median monthly rent on a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is more than $3,000, the highest in the nation and roughly triple the rent in Houston; the median price of a single-family home is more than $800,000.

.. America’s big metropolitan areas are pretty sharply divided between Sunbelt cities where anything goes, like Houston or Atlanta, and those on the East or West Coast where nothing goes, like San Francisco or, to a lesser extent, New York

.. Chicago is a huge city with dense development but relatively low housing prices; maybe it has some lessons to teach the rest of us?

.. this is one policy area where “both sides get it wrong” — a claim I usually despise

.. In particular, we should encourage construction that takes advantage of the most effective mass transit technology yet devised: the elevator.

Why Millennials Are (Partly) to Blame for the Housing Shortage

As young people and builders have shifted their focus toward trendier urban markets, overall housing construction has declined

 For decades during the late-20th century, suburbs were the place to build, as urban cores suffered from high crime, poor schools and stagnant or shrinking populations.But preferences have changed among young people, many of whom want to live closer to transit, restaurants and their workplaces.

.. As builders have shifted focus toward trendier urban markets and away from cheaper suburbs, they have produced less housing overall than they otherwise might have. While starter-home construction has bounced back in recent months, it remains far from reversing this long-term trend.

.. The takeaway, Mr. Romem says, is that pricey cities need to loosen land-use restrictions in core areas where there is more demand. Allowing for more high-rise condo buildings would make it economical to produce starter homes in these areas as well.

“Do you care about preserving things the way they are, so that only wealthy people can continue buying in, or do you want to [encourage more density], so that housing is more affordable for everyone?” he asked.

Thoughts on Will Wilkinson’s post on cities

it’s not really cities that are doing well, but certain kinds of cities, suburbs, and towns. It’s really the places with high levels of human capital. To understand the real pattern, read Enrico Moretti’s The New Geography of Jobs. The engineer-heavy suburbs of Fremont or Milpitas are doing great, as are college towns like Ann Arbor and Gainesville. Meanwhile, big cities like Baltimore and St. Louis are still stagnating and crime-ridden, while others such as Detroit and Cleveland have only just now started climbing up out of their Rust Belt doldrums. It’s not city vs. country, it’s innovation hubs vs. old-economy legacy towns.

.. Many American cities remain extremely segregated, especially between black residents and others. Chicago is a thriving, diverse, fun, relatively safe metropolis – unless you go to the poor black areas, in which case you’re in “Chiraq“.

.. the most segregated cities in America include places like Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Cleveland. Those are precisely the places that are having the most difficulty adapting to the new, innovation-based economy. And those tend to be the places where crime rates have rebounded to their early 1990s highs, or never really fell in the first place.

.. Either America succeeds as a polyracial nation, or it doesn’t succeed at all.