Questions


I must confess… The new Pope’s election is indeed a good time for instrospection and asking some questions which, being at the middle of the road, I feel it might be time to address. Having been a child of the seventies (I was eight when 1970 saw it first dawn…) and also an admirer of Voltaire, I had always put tolerance on a footing equal if not superior to cardinal virtues. What Benedict has called relativism, of which, and this seems like a paradox, he denounces the dictature.


I must say to me, it seemed nothing wrong could happen if you were tolerant of other people’s opinions and beliefs. I’d always hated Saint-Just for proclaiming “No freedom for the enemies of freedom”, words which opened the gates of Terror and put an ignominous end, I must admit, to the gallant endeavour the French Revolution had been till then. I’d always followed Voltaire in his noble defense of oppressed religious minorities, be they the protestants or the more radical libertins. One of my favorite texts from Voltaire is the one where he cruelly derides those prophets, like Torquemada or Calvin, who send their correligionaries to burn for a minor difference on interpration of the Scriptures.


I’m no longer so sure… Even though I have always clamored for complete freedom on moral issues with the most liberal people, I have always preferred a moral and rather conservative life for me, seeing that the excesses to which a badly understood freedom may lead are cause for an even uglier slavery than that of the moral order… But as long as people did not try to force them on me, and since I have the intelligence and resources to refuse them, I had been thinking this was annoying, but much less so than the alternative, that is having moral laws enforced on people. I did not differ on religious issues. Even though I believe Jesus is the Son of God come on Earth to free us from Evil, I’d been thinking that whatever your religion, you were on the road to God if you followed its precepts.


Those were, my opinions, and they still are… But for the last 4 years, precisely since September 11th, I have felt a growing unease. That such horrors could be done by people claiming they speak in God’s name, that my family is at risk from the acts of these lunatics can no longer be ignored. That depravation is an invasion from which I can no longer shut myself away is highly disturbing… Not a week without seeing the dire consequences of laissez faire on weak minds. What pains me most is that the lives of these kids submitted to pornography may well be shattered forever, even though they fortunately have been spared the most odious aspects. How will they understand that love bonding two persons is more important to personnal fulfillment than enacting their fantasies?


Questions, I said, and no answers… I do not wish to see a theocracy, and so on all these things I am treading prudently, caught between 2 equally hatable alternatives. This is just where I stand in the middle of my life, caught up in the middle, not worshipping what I’d burned down nor burning down what I’d worshipped. Uncertain and unhappy, praying God I’ll see my way, and suspecting I’ll never find a simple alternative or a trade wind to carry me, but I’ll have to worm my ship through contrary winds, rocks and currents.

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My son Birthday


 


 


Some events are kind of a milestone in your life, I guess. This week showcased it for me. On April the 12th, my elder son, Alexandre, hit his 10th birthday… When you have a kid whose age is now counted with 2 digits, I can say this rattles you a bit… I don’t feel any older than before, just a bit weird. It looks like yesterday I had my very own tenth birthday, and heck, I still remember what I did that very day, and what presents I got, and what I ate with the friends & school mates I’d invited home… and thinking this is nearly 34 years is kind of creepy. It’s alsio feeling like an achievement, since it looks like I have fulfilled the first part of the contract I had with myself when he was born, that is give hima happy and mostly carefree childhood. We parents can nearly always do so for our kids… after 10 years, however, it no longer depends on us. Seems he had his first chagrin d’amour a few days ago, *wink*


 But anyway, my kids really loved the celebration, Alexandre had exactly what presents he wanted since he chose tehm himself out of the toy store, and this has been a great family moment. I guess I’ll share it also with my online friends, and post a few pics. By the way, there is also an odd thing about my kids and me… The elder one, Alexandre, was born on the 12th of April, just like Prince Victor. And his brother Olivier was born on November the 16th, 3 yeras later, just like Katherine (though I pray he won’t follow in her steps, eh!).


 


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On the political front, the current vote about the European Constitution is starting to wear on my patience… I really do not understand this piece of crap, heck, that’s a hefty stack of pages full of lawyerisms and obscurities… which will prompt me to vote no, I guess. I did not watch Chirac this Thursday on TV (heck, even though I do not always behave as nicely as I should, I have not deserved THAT, haven’t I?), but I read the press about it the following day. It looks like nobody understood what he said, but, lo and behold, so didn’t he understand  the 80 or so  “youths” handpicked to ask him questions. Great! I’d been guessing it was so, but seeing him confirm it is somewhat depressing… It looks he’s good but for one thing: making me regret as often as possible to have cast my vote for him the last time.


Hmmm, well, I’ll manage… Holidays next friday for 2 weeks, starting with my first Aerotech game and a CBT game the following day. I’l free after this… Folks, get your Megamek ready, I’m coming!


 


Half Mast…


 


http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/04/05/pope.france.flags.reut/index.html


 


You certainly have noticed this bit of news. This is certainly something which, seen from abroad, must look uncomprehensible, and in contradiction with the general feeling about the Pope’s death, or even shocking. I feel an explanation is owed, to make you see what may be behind all this.


France’s worst civil war was a war of religions. Lasting from 1562 to the Edict of Nantes in 1598, through which King Henri the 4th instituted something akin to religious tolerance between Catholics and Protestants in the realm. Tensions kept on running high, however, with several flares up till, in 1685, King Louis the 14th, through the Edict of Fontainebleau, rescibnded the Edict of Nantes, leaving French peotestants no other choice but conversion, or exile (By the way, this is the origin of many a noble family in Prussia, for example the Von Fran蔞is, one of whom palayed a prominent role in the battle of Tannenberg in 1914). This sotuation was not well accrpted, with prominent writers like Voltaire, or teh Encyclopedists, repetedly denouncing it throughout teh XVIIIth century. Eventually, religious tolerance was instituted under the French Revolution, to the dismay of teh Catholic Church, of which a large part siupported Royalist upheavals like the Vend嶪, until Bonaparte signed a Concordat (no bull, *chuckles*) with Pope Pius the VIIth. The clerics would be chosen and paid by the government and named by the Church, reinstituting Catholicism like a State religion, albeit other religions were kept free.


Throughout the 19th Century, however, the French Church was the throne’s staunchest support after the Monarchy’s Restauration, and, after it was eventually forever abolished, clamored endlessly to see it brought back. Even after 1870, the Church was abusive against teh French 3rd Republic regime, which some clerics nicknamed the “Gueuse” (the b…). Eventually, the Republic abolished the Concordat, and took stringent measures to insure that State and Religion were utterly separate. These measures have never been rescinded since, and this question resurfaces at times, with a side jumping at the other’s throat until it calms down, usually, truth be told, on the schools’ question.


Many people here, although religious, are deeply attached to this separation of State and Church. In efffect, this measure brought back religious peace to the country. Now, I must that after a century, it allowed the Church and the Republic to come to good terms (beginning no later than 1914, where French priests did not shirk their duty and took their share of the Trenches’ horror, which started the reconciliation process).


My personnal take on this is that I am not personnally shocked by Chirac’s half mast decision. Indeed, if there is a religion in this country guilty of intolerance, it is not the Catholic Church… Time, in my opinion, has come to come to terms with our religious past, now that a century has firmly established that religion is not a danger to democracy (Hmmm, some religions, anyway). However, this is nit a unanimous feeling. Some people in this country are more, hmmm, conservative on this issue. This does not mean they are all godless radicals. And I come here to the real reason of this long, and boring, historical detour; and request that you do not hold too harsh a judgement on us, and understand the reasons that stand behind the unwelcome brouhaha.

Spring


 


Sorry everybody. It looks like I have been unable to keep the weekly schedule. Actually, I had little to say. Well, of course there is the news. But they are not too good, and well, I rather avoid whining about stuff which, after all, is barely that important. What saves me, is the coming of Spring. Winter has been really long this year (mind you, not very cold, we had much worse), stopping barely two weeks ago. We went from heavy clothes to T shirts in very short notice.


And this is also the time to start walking in the countryside. I have just found a great place to do so, barely 1 klick away from home. A path following the local river, the Eau Bourde. So here are a few pics for you to enjoy.


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