Cycling is growing in popularity across the United States, and not just for recreation but as a means of transportation for everyday needs. But if you live in one of those places where cycling has grown fastest, then you will know that it also brings along debates about the equitable share of road-space, as well as antagonism between drivers and cyclists that occasionally flares into violent confrontations.
For many people perhaps, the road network isn’t an obvious place to elicit theological reflection (some prayers and curses maybe) but blogger Eric Jacobsen thinks that it is and that we should be more aware of the spiritual costs and benefits of how we get around. Writing at Christ & Cascadia, he offers;
As a pastoral observer of these heated debates, I want to propose something that may, at first, seem rather odd. I want to propose that Christians view these driving vs. cycling debates through an alternative lens—a liturgical lens.
I want to argue that the daily acts of both driving and biking are daily rituals that have a massive impact on our hearts, lives, and culture
Jacobsen’s perspective is that driving reinforces a cultural paradigm of modernity (unlimited power over nature, individualism and mass uniformity) that work against the gospel imperatives of community, stewardship and compassion but that riding serves as a s kind of corrective.
When riding a bike, I am much more aware of the fact that I am living in a community of other people. I am much more inclined to smile and even wave to other pedestrians or cyclists when I am riding. This sense of connection to others works to some extent with people who are like me as well as people who are quite different from me culturally or socioeconomically.
As a Christian I interpret my experience of riding my bike through a theological lens. I see these activities of making me more aware of God’s creation and other humans that are made in His image. It also humbles me and reminds me that I am dependent upon God for more ways that I sometimes imagine.
In what ways do other lifestyle choices support or undermine our witness as Christians? Is the built environment a less than obvious, but still powerful influence on how modern America understands christianity?
posted by Jon White