SPEAKER: Jonathan Rogers
Jonathan Rogers is an author and storyteller. He teaches literature and writing at New College Franklin. He also teaches online creative writing to adults and is the creator of The Habit, a weekly letter about writing. He lives in Nashville with his wife Lou Alice and their children. www.Jonathan-Rogers.com
TOPIC: The City of Man, The City of God, and the City of Nashville
St Augustine spoke of the City of Man and the City of God. The City of Man is shaped by self-love, self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, self-gratification, self-glorification. The City of God is shaped by the understanding that to serve God and others is not a dethronement, but a liberation from slavery to self. To quote Augustine, “The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, ‘Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.’” Existing side by side, these two “cities” represent two competing narratives about the nature of human flourishing.
If we are being honest, most of us ended up in the city of Nashville for reasons that have more to do with the City of Man than the City of God. We came here to get our share of what the city has to offer—to build our resumes, to build our wealth, to build our little kingdoms. But what might this city look like if we were using our gifts and resources and influence not to build our own kingdoms but to serve others and build the Kingdom of God? How might we live as citizens of the City of God here in the latest It City? The stories the City of Man tells about itself are powerful and appealing. It takes imagination to see through those stories to a truer, more powerful and more appealing Story. And it takes considerable creativity—not just “artistic” creativity, but creativity in every area of life—to give voice to that better Story.