Greenflame

Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Faith & Religion

Of the city and angels

After Wednesday’s conversation with Steve and his comment on this blog that I might need to work on developing an urban (urbane?) spirituality I’ve been thinking.

Two things are rattling around in my head.

The first is the prayer Jesus in the City by Doug Gay (from the book Alternative Worship).
It’s a prayer that I’ve read several times, and used in different contexts, and it always speaks
to me. It ends with the lines

God of the City,
Maker, Saviour, Spirit,
Come close to hear us and speak to us and touch us tonight.
So we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The second thing is a song by The Mutton Birds called Envy of Angels which starts

Look over there, you used to say
The shape of the land beneath the street
Ridges and valleys and underground streams
You have to know what’s under your feet

So you can make things strong enough
To take the weight
The weight of all the people
That haven’t been born

That’s what you said to me
And it’s the envy of angels

Don McGlashan of the Mutton Birds writes of Auckland in 1998

Arriving in Auckland, sitting at the lights surrounded by pristine four-wheel drives, we read a billboard which says: “There’s no such thing as an unfair advantage, unless it’s you that doesn’t have it”. Not a motto to build a civilised city on, but it seems to fit just now. It’s a harsher, more red-necked place than we left. And behind the billboards and half-finished apartment blocks, it’s more fragile as well. The electricity has failed, and the sewage and transport systems might not be far behind. Friends seem more resigned and helpless about the state of things than I remember them to be, too. How does that happen? Would I feel that way if I was still living here? Does the rest of the country feel the same?

So two things (among the many): the closeness of God in the city and a deep knowledge of this place.

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