Original Research - Special Collection: Urban Public Theology in South Africa

‘My city of ruins’: A city to come

Johann-Albrecht Meylahn
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 3 | a2723 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i3.2723 | © 2014 Johann-Albrecht Meylahn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 May 2014 | Published: 20 November 2014

About the author(s)

Johann-Albrecht Meylahn, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

‘My city of ruins’ is the title of a song by Bruce Springsteen and will accompany a public theological reflection of imagining alternative cities. A city of ruins is either a city of ruins in the sense that it is a city in ruins. Alternatively it is a city of ruins in the sense that it is a city that is built from ruins, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. The article will reflect on the second alternative namely the poiesis of a habitable, sustainable and political space (polis) in a time when all the meta-discourses of constructing and social engineering lie in ruins (have been deconstructed). The article will focus on Derrida’s ideas of deconstruction and the hope and prayer of perhaps. Springsteen’s song includes the prayer: ‘come on, come on, rise up!’ A city of ruins prayed into existence, rising up by the call (prayer) of those longing for a liveable, sustainable city to rise up from the ruins of too many empty promises of the various political agendas. Creating and imagining a city of prayer, which involves the prayers for justice incarnate in the broken language (ruined language) of revolutions, and transformations and political construction, thus calls a city of promise into existence.

Keywords

Deconstruction; Justice; Democracy; Hospitality; Cities of Refuge

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Crossref Citations

1. Reading Psalms, and other urban poems, in a fractured city
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doi: 10.4102/ve.v36i1.1472