What’s in a Village?

Here’s something interesting that I hadn’t thought about: the importance of villages, not just cities, to a culture.

This comes up because China, apparently, is losing its villages at an exponential rate, as people move from farm to city – a loss of about 300 villages a day between 2000 and 2010:

Why are villages so important? What makes them distinct and culturally significant compared to cities? Villages support subsidiarity and diversity, whereas cities usually promote mass movement and centralization. Of course, the village’s specificity has downsides: it can foster clannishness and biases toward “outsiders.” Nonetheless, without the village, we would lack the kaleidoscopic culture that makes art and life so rich.

Without the village, we’d likely forget valuable traditions. Villages tend to have a longer memory than cities, due to their permanency. Landowners and families are generally more stayed, often remaining in the same area for generations. In contrast, cities often inspire new enterprise and “the next big thing.” They foster pop culture, not folk culture. In the small community, neighbors, family, and friends are almost inescapable. Whether gathering at the city hall, church, or merely visiting the grocery store, familiar faces abound. One must learn to live in communion with others. In cities, it is easier to live alone—and easier to be lost in the clamor and crowd.

Read the whole thing here. The article goes on to talk about the United States and its move toward urbanization. I also wonder what this means for churches.


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