Patrick Freund is a second year M.Div. student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and served as the Theological Discernment Team Intern during summer 2015. He currently resides in Tübingen, Germany, where he is completing a semester exchange at the Evangelisches Stift.
Gentrification is a word that was relatively foreign to my vocabulary before moving to Chicago and beginning seminary. Growing up in small towns and suburbs the conversations surrounding housing issues, when they occur, are often “us and them” conversations. Or better yet, “here and there” conversations. It can be quite easy to live in a suburban development and never see or think about housing inequality. Upon beginning my studies at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) I was immersed into a zealous social justice oriented atmosphere. Housing inequality in the neighborhoods surrounding LSTC specifically and the city of Chicago in general is something that most people acknowledge, but see as too large or systemic to counteract. Still other issues, such as gentrification, are so nebulous that it seems easy to find but difficult to properly define. Gentrification is one small aspect of the housing equality and social responsibility discussions, and will be the focus of this month’s issue of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics. The topic of “Gentrification and Faith” is pursued this month because it seems to be a chimera; people are often quick to identify areas as gentrifying but when it comes to identifying related data, the numbers often either tell a different story, or describe a trend that has already taken place.