FloridaRichard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class (New York: Basic Books, 2002).  Paperback, 434 pages.  Grades 10-12.

Richard Florida, The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent (New York: HarperCollins, 2005).  Grades 10-12.

Richard Florida gained national attention last year due to the publication of a sequel to The Rise of the Creative Class.  I read the sequel The Flight… and did not find it nearly as compelling and provocative as the 2002 work, The Rise of the Creative Class.

The Rise of the Creative Class presents several challenges to the Christian Church.  Most notorious is Florida’s claim that communities that welcome homosexuality are the most likely to flourish in the new creative class economy.  In addition he contrasts two Americas: 1) church based, mostly rural, civic minded and 2) cosmopolitan, diverse, upwardly mobile (p. 281).  He characterizes church based societies as close minded, less receptive to innovation, and consequently less able to participate in the development of wealth, innovation, and forces of change in America.

Florida bolsters his claim with statistics from indexes.  Those areas in America which are seeing the greatest economic growth (mostly large cities) show the greatest acceptance of bohemians and gays.  This social openness he contents attracts the largest pool of creative talent and encourages the generation of wealth.  I find, however, that Florida is quite selective in his choice of indexes.  In the book he notes (only in passing!) that the areas with greatest economic growth also have the highest instances of substance abuse (p. xiv), lowest birthrate (p. 250) and greatest income inequalities (p. 263).  In addition it would not be surprising to find that murder rates and instances of pedophilia also are higher in these areas of economic growth.  His selective use of indexes skews the argument to support a certain social and political agenda.  In his second book he is quite defensive of use of the indexes, but misses the point that he has selectively chosen his indexes for his argument.  The reason for the correlation between the indexes and economic growth is that creative people are more creative in the ways they do both good things and evil things. 

 Florida’s observations on the change of class structures in American society are well supported and quite illuminating.  His solutions to moral decline in urban centers, however, appeal to societal regulations, education, and government intervention.  Never does he advocate that a change of the heart is needed.

 I think it is worthy of consideration, however, that churches are not characterized as places of creativity and innovation.  I think Christianity in general has failed to fully capitalize on the creativity of people and produce churches that are magnets for creative people.  We have a tough battle to fight because the readership of this book will agree that the church based community is resistant to creativity.  Fortunately Trinity is countering this trend, but no doubt more needs to be done.

Comments by Terry Ewell (March 2006)