City of the future

Sometime soon, in a desert near the Red Sea, a shiny vision of the future is set to appear. According to an announcement by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia intends to build The Line, a shimmering “skyscraper” which doesn’t go up, but rather runs for miles across the sand. The announcement of such an ambitious project has prompted mixed reactions – the “green” credentials are alluring for the climate crowd, but why should bin Salman, who is responsible for so many human rights violations, get to be the one who builds it? Besides, didn’t he make his money from fossil fuel? Closer to home, NBA-owning billionaire, Marc Lore has released a few details of a “sustainable and ultra-modern” city he hopes to build from scratch in the desert of Nevada, Arizona or Utah. It’s very hush-hush. 

Humans have a long history of shooting for the moon. The Babylonians, Phoenicians, Romans and Greeks – all thought they had the blueprint for the perfect city, one which would be the envy of everyone who heard of it until the end of time. In our modern era, a slew of visionaries have put their spin on Utopia, with a long list of failed attempts. There was the plan to build a city of octagonal buildings in Kansas, for vegetarian citizens. It didn’t amount to much, but they can try. Or how about Henry Ford’s worker’s paradise in Brazil? Underground, bomb-proof or filled with gardens, the quest for the perfect city, where everything is just so has been part of the dream of humanitarianism.

Cities seem to showcase the best and worst in humanity. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright associated cities with “diseased values” and wanted to see everyone with an allotment of land, spread out across the USA. For the new crop of dreamers, high-density living represents a shot at perpetual sustainability, all on a small footprint. There is nothing inherently bad about folks living stacked together, but like President Business finds in the dystopia of Lego City, it’s the people that mess up the best laid plans. 

Or course, all these wild ideas about cities made us think of that perfect City, yet to be revealed but awaiting us in Paradise. Human greatness will only ever be a dim reflection of God’s brilliance. Our cities, even the ultra-modern marvels of this high-tech age, will crumble. But the celestial city to which we are journeying, will last forever because its is not built with human hands – its builder is God himself. Let not your heart be troubled! “I go to prepare a place for you..that where I am, there you may be also.”

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