Sunday, November 24, 2013

A reading by Pastor Coston

David Simon’s “The Wire” is regarded as one of the best TV dramas ever produced. The series, which ran for five seasons on HBO from 2002 through 2008, realistically depicted urban life in Baltimore.  Its examination of government, the drug trade, broken education systems and the media had universal application to post-industrial cities along the eastern seaboard and beyond.

During and since its run, many people have drawn comparisons between Simon’s Baltimore and contemporary Trenton.  This matchup was brought to mind again in a recent note received from former City Councilman and Baptist Minister Jim Coston.

Coston had dropped a quick line to inform us of a recently published book: Corners in the City of God: Theology, Philosophy and the Wire. This collection of essays edited by Jonathan Tran and Myles Wentz compares and contrasts real life experiences of the various writers with the storylines and settings depicted in the TV series. Coston contributed the opening chapter of the book. {And per the good Reverend, he is not receiving anything more than a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for his submission} 

In “The Church in the Wire”, the writer reveals that he was a late convert to the show who became hooked after repeated urgings from friends to watch it.  His essay talks about the absence of the Church in Simon’s Baltimore and by extension, the absence of the Church as a positive force in America’s cities. Coston’s own experiences as an activist and pastor of a local church contrast sharply with the norm in Trenton and the norm as depicted in the show.
Coston references the political presence of the urban churches and their spiritual absence. In a footnote he explains the Leewood Village debacle that would have displaced hundreds of South Ward families for the benefit of a private developer and the politically connected pastors and their economic development corporation.
It’s a good piece. Good enough to have us reading more essays in the collection. And good enough to give us more to think about as the city faces its next silly season as the municipal election cycle comes around next spring.

Too bad Jim Coston isn't in Trenton anymore. This would have been a great book for his Urban Studies group to work through.

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