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Neighborhood Ethics: Christianity, Urbanism, and Homelessness

Willis Jenkins

Christian ethics has an ambivalent relationship to the city and to urban reform efforts. In its social commitments to those at the margin and with its nomadic moral tropes, Christian ethics seems to privilege a kind of homelessness that is complicit with the homeless, nomadic patterns of capitalist culture. Working within that ambivalence, this article moves toward a theological ethic of neighborhood by developing geographical reflection on Christian responses to persons without shelter. Considering creative responses to homelessness in New Haven, it argues that Christian communities produce distinctive icons of urban space in the practices of making place for those without it and of confronting the cultural and political dynamics that make people placeless.

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