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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, September 12, 2008
    Radical intoxication
     
    There was music during Doug's talks at the Core Cities Theology Network conference on Culture this morning. It makes all the difference to urban theology, a bit of music.

    First there was a communal rendition of I belong to Glasgow (which many of us non-Glaswegians thoroughly enjoyed singing with gusto). Doug's talk was titled Radical Incorporation: the City as Body, but he told us that this song is a fine example of radical intoxication:
    I belong to Glasgow,
    Dear old Glasgow town;
    But what's the matter wi' Glasgow,
    For it's goin' roun' and roun'!
    I'm only a common old working lad,
    As anyone here can see,
    But when I get a couple o' drinks on a Saturday,
    Glasgow belongs to me!
    Many cities, Doug noted, have similar songs wherein their citizens express deep attachment to the place, even love for it: 'Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner, that I love London town', 'Ferry 'cross the Mersey, 'cause this land's the place I love, and here I'll stay'. Later I suggested to some of the conference's Geordie contingent that 'Fog on the Tyne is all mine, all mine' fits that too.

    And then we got even deeper, as Doug invited Brian McGlynn to sing Mother Glasgow, in which the city is enfleshed in a most intimate relationship with her offspring...
    In the second city of the Empire
    Mother Glasgow watches all her weans
    Trying hard to feed her little starlings
    Unconsciously she clips their little wings

    Mother Glasgow's succour is perpetual
    Nestling the Billy and the Tim
    I dreamt I took a dander with St. Mungo
    To try to catch a fish that couldnay swim

    [complete lyrics here]
    'Let Glasgow Flourish' are the words which end Michael Marra's song, the city's motto which is an abbreviated quote from a sermon of Saint Mungo in which he said 'Lord, Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word and the praising of thy name.'

    And then we were into Jesus standing over Jerusalem wanting to gather its children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings [Luke 13:34], and we were into St Paul's richly suggestive writings about the church as the body of Christ and we were awakening to all sorts of connections between the body social, the body spiritual, the body urban, the body politic. Intoxicating stuff.