Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hilaire Belloc

Every once in awhile you run across an author whose name is familiar but when you stop to think about it you realize you know absolutely nothing about him and worse, you've never read a single thing he wrote.

Such is my experience this week with Mr Belloc. Maybe I finally saw it once to often but a few days ago this name stood out to me and I wondered what kind of an English author would have such a blatantly French name as that. A quick trip to Wikipedia told me all I needed to know, and enough to whet my appetite for what he wrote.

Apparently he was not only a prolific 19th-century writer (mostly in English) but also an avid long-distance walker, a fervent European, and a Catholic.

I was especially taken by the idea that he'd walked from central France to Rome and chronicled his journey in a book called, The Road to Rome. Ever since reading about this I've dreamed what such a journey would be like, and whether it would even be possible to do such a thing today.

Needless to say I've ordered the book. Check back here for my impressions later!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Where are the workers?

Talking to Raph this afternoon and it's obvious something has to break pretty soon because he's overworked and there's no end in sight. I'd rather hire locally but where on earth are the qualified programmers?

Our latest possibility called in yesterday to say that the job looked good and the pay was right but he'd had no idea we were "in the countryside" and that, as a city man, that made the job offer a negative.

We all talked about it this morning and everyone was amazed that this guy would take as a disadvantage the very thing that most people take as a decided perk!

I'm off to do the rounds of officialdom (the CCI in Le Mans and the ANPE in Château) without a lot of hope but a person has to start somewhere.

We're going to try Roo's Russian friends soon because they've already proven themselves and Raph says there are several projects that we could farm out to them for a song.

But it's frustrating not to be able to hire locally and work together as a team. In any case we must have at least one more physical person -- no matter how many Russians we get on subcontracting.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Only believe

Saw a picture Wendy took which comprised the word "believe" that was part of a shop window sign saying something surely quite banal.

But she'd captured just that one word and snapped it since it somehow seemed to encapsulate some hidden truth that the Lord was able to leak out in spite of this world's ploys. It was neat, it was heavy.

It all got me thinking ...

People act like the key thing a person should do in life is to believe -- without much of a thought as to the content of that belief, and even less about what that belief will demand of you.

It's as if just that one act -- believing in Jesus -- will get you where you want to go. "Do you believe in Jesus?"

They don't realize just how many people there are who believe in Jesus. Why not? He was real, wasn't he?

They don't realize just how easy it is to believe in Jesus. I believe in Jesus, you believe in Jesus, we all believe in Jesus.

They don't realize that even the demons believe in Jesus.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Au revoir Pierre

A couple of weeks ago, as I was driving back from Caen I heard that L'abbé Pierre had died at the ripe old age of 94. As you'd expect, the radio and newspapers had a good time celebrating his life in words and pictures; and there was plenty to celebrate in our very own Mother Theresa.

I remember hearing him on the radio years ago and have grown up conscious of this "working priest", his thick glasses, beret, cane and unkempt beard.

Once in awhile when some issue was particularly thorny he'd get on the radio to prick the national conscience with appeals to the French sense of humanity and generosity and comradeship.

But now he's gone and his death has gotten me doing more thinking that his life ever did.

Because, having been raised a good Protestant evangelical, my unconscious -- and unspoken -- reaction to a life lived like his, would have been something along the lines of, "Too bad he wasn't a Christian" or even, "Too bad he was a Catholic" as if those two sentences made a whit of sense!

It is as if Christianity was defined by something other than one's acts. As if it were common knowledge that one couldn't be a Christian and a practicing Catholic.

God help us all!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Back to England again

I've never been to England so often in so little a time! I've decided to return this Sunday to pick up Lilly and to drop off Nat for her week.

Lilly's been gone three weeks now and I can sense she's ready to return. Nat needs a little break to think things through and provide a change. Plus, Aunty needs help; that is the main priority of it all.

The rooms downstairs are very nearly finished; they're tiling the last ones today then there's just the hallways and the finishing touches to do. I reckon we'll be looking toward moving people in there by the following week.

Guillaume gave his notice yesterday for "personal reasons" unrelated, he said, to job pay or conditions. We need his work but he's been shy to a fault; never really integrating with all the others. Still, this is not a time to lose anyone, when we're just looking about for more.

I don't know what Aunty is going to do in the long run. It is obvious to anyone that knows her that she can't live much longer by herself, but she is so fiercely independent that she can't envisage living here. Never mind, the main thing is for us to be available.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The darker side of Christianity

What about the whole question of suffering? Do we suffer? Do we expect to suffer? Well, we don't want to, that's for sure. But maybe we should.

Maybe we should expect it in our lives... I was reading "Shared Life" this morning and these thoughts came to me. Paul talked enough about suffering in his letters. What does he mean when he talks about "sharing in his sufferings" and "filling up the sufferings of Christ"?

Later on this morning I was reading an old sermon by Weatherhead (God's Intolerable Compliment) in which he quotes C.S. Lewis from The Problem of Pain:

"It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes... God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense."

Then Weatherhead goes on to say, "We perceive that in a world constituted as this is there must be ignorance, folly, and sin. God is always trying to replace ignorance with knowledge, folly with wisdom, and sin with holiness. Therefore the ills that are consequent on ignorance, folly, and sin cannot be his intention."

Well put.