The Popes have expressed concern over the inexorable trend to urbanization since the Industrial Revolution. I seem to remember one of them writing that cites above 50,000 people become dehumanizing.
now the California Oil Museum, Santa Paula
and droning barges on the East River. For the last thirty years I’ve lived in cities such as New York, Rome, and San Francisco, as well as smaller cities between 80,000 and 300,000 people. A month ago I moved to a “city” of 30,000 people: Santa Paula, California. It is as close to Mayberry as anything I've seen. Police cars rarely roam her quiet streets, and when seen the officers within seem to benignly survey the peaceful order of their community.
The other day I went to the hospital. The receptionist smiled at me—a genuine smile. The intake nurse took time to understand my problem and filled in part of my forms for me. The phlebotomist talked to me about her mother, just diagnosed with Alzheimers. She was afraid to face caring for her mother, but asked my prayers and blessing. “I know
that God does not give us anything we can’t handle,” she sighed. The cook at the cafeteria served up generous helpings of hash browns and bacon, calling me “honey.” A rib-sticking breakfast, enjoyed in the company of happily babbling nurses on mid-morning break, cost me the princely sum of $2.55.
I asked one of my new Santa Paula friends: Do you ever go into Los Angeles? “As little as possible,” he chuckled.
I think the Popes are right about the advantage of smaller human communities. To live in a city is exciting, of course, but cities simply can’t provide the full range of human needs. We were born in a garden, and redeemed in a garden. A city too big for individual gardens, for the time and space that human persons need to open up and blossom, is not very
good for humans. At least not for me.