Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 12

Ephesians 2 v 11 – 22

I would like to introduce you to a man called Ebenezer Howard. I first came across him some years ago while studying for a professional qualification, and came across him again in my roof space this week. I went up there with a view to clearing it out, having sorted the ottoman and the cupboard under the stairs, but I got no further than a brief case containing my old study notes. I deposited them up there just in case they may come in useful someday.

Ebenezer Howard was a man with a vision. He was born in London in 1850 and was well educated choosing a career in architecture, but later he found a niche in writing and town planning. He was concerned as to the quality of housing and living conditions in the late 19th century, not only in relation to dwellings but also to the design and layout of our towns and cities, including environmental impact, (see, it’s not a new issue). The common practice at that time was to build dwellings as close as possible to factories and of high density to house workers. His vision, as described in his book ‘To – morrow – a peaceful path to real reform’ 1898), was for a utopian city where people lived and worked in harmony with nature for the benefit of both human occupation and environmental protection. His vision radically changed the design of cities to allow green spaces surrounded by housing, radiating out into green belt land and industry on the perimeter, keeping industry and housing separated.

He was so dedicated and passionate in his vision that he founded the ‘Garden City Movement’ and in 1903 he developed the first garden city;- Letchworth Garden City. A second garden city, Welwyn Garden City was built in 1920, and other smaller suburbs were developed such as Forest Hills Gardens.

Ebenezer Howard died in 1928 but his concepts were adopted into Town Planning legislation even to today.

I am intrigued by people of visions  like Ebenezer Howard who can not only see where we are going wrong but can also identify where we should be moving to  and the changes necessary in society to achieve a better world. People like Martin Luther King who fought passionately for equality for black people in America. His famous speech when he shared his dream (vision) of children from black and white families sitting together in schools, on local transport, in cafes and in theatres, has gone down in history and recognised as one of the most passionate and important speeches in American history. Every day normality for us today but not for America in the 1955. He became the founder of the Civil Rights Movement and was the most visible activist working for equality in his time.

Martin Luther King was assonated in 1968, but his vision formed the basis for radical reform in America to this day.

Both Ebenezer Howard and Martin Luther King had visions of harmony, taking apposing elements and merging them together into one holistic unity, one striving to combine the environment and nature together with industry and social housing, and one striving to unite peoples of different ethnic origins to live in harmonious existence for the good of all.

The Bible is full of visionary people, all with the same common theme, – harmony – living together in peace under the Lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Eph 2 v 11-22) draws together two opposing race of people to live in harmony, the Jews on one side and the Gentiles on the other. He points out that through the death of Jesus on the cross both races are drawn together in unity to God.

Christ came to preach the Good News of peace and unity to all (Eph 2 v 17) and as one we come together in the one Spirit into the presence of the Father (Eph 2 v 18)

The success of Ebenezer Howard’s vision depends upon others building on his heritage, similarly the success of Martin Luther King’s vision of racial harmony depends on society adopting his principals.

The existence of the human race depends on all of us building on the foundation of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and adopting his teaching of love, peace and unity. If this achieved then all other visions will follow.

Derek T.