Interestingly enough, near the end of Jacobs\’s life she formed a friendship with a Christian theologian from the Orthodox tradition who saw strong liturgical elements in her work. In his monograph, The City as Liturgy, Dr. Timothy Patitsas makes the following observation:
‘For Jacobs, cities were, on many grounds, best conceived as vast liturgical celebrations, cycling through death and life in a wondrous openness to the future and to the unknown, gradually generating the differentiation-through-interdependence of the human person as they do.’
While this is an interesting and provocative observation in its own right, what is even more astounding is Jacobs\’s response to Dr. Patitsas\’s remarks. After a brief acknowledgement of her lack of religious commitment, Jacobs responds:
‘By this time you must be aware that my answer to your question about whether I think cities can usefully be understood as manifestations of liturgy is Yes. I think that\’s a splendid idea and as you say, \”really\” so, not merely as an analogy.’
And then the patron saint of the very much secular New Urbanist movement, makes the shocking statement:
‘I might add that you are so much the best interpreter of my work that I\’m aware of that you are actually showing me what my own books mean in a way I hadn\’t grasped!’
Dr. Patitsas\’s analysis of Jacobs\’s work as liturgical, coupled with her enthusiastic response, underscores the significance of \”common grace liturgy\” as a framework for understanding \”secular\” patterns and practices in a more positive light. The idea of common grace liturgies allows us to affirm some of the good things that are happening in our communities even if they cannot be linked back to a particular community of faith. And common grace liturgies provide potential entry points for the Gospel among people who may not be interested in \”churchy\” things.