les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

So is it OK if I use the main switch on the distribution board to switch it off ?

OK. This heating system. It sure works. Oh boy, does it work !

The temperature in the lounge was at 21° and rising. There's no thermostat or timer. There is just the knob on the boiler itself to switch on and off and to make it run hotter or less hot. And the boiler is in the loft.

I had a brianwave. There's a whopping great switch on the electricity distribution board that cuts the current. Can we use that to switch it on and off ?

I emailed the boilerman. He phoned back. "Well yes, you can, but the best way to use the heating is to set it low and leave it on all the time."

"What ? From now till March ?"

"Well, yes."

So two things happened.

One, I turned the knob on the boiler all the way down - it couldn't go any lower without being switched off.

Two, the weather turned mild.

We gave up and turned it off at the distribution board until the cold snaps come ! Oh - and I did a quick experiment last night - I turned it on just as I went to bed and turned it off at 7am. This way it runs on cheap rate electricity.

Maybe this will be effective until we can get a thermostat and programmer installed.

Grace has come !

Grace Pooley ! For the weekend !

Friday, October 29, 2010

Marc : l'expérience 2

Marc 1:9 - 3:12

Bloc A (1:9 - 20)
Le baptême et la tentation de Jésus ( 9 - 13)
Jésus annonce la bonne nouvelle (14 - 15)
Jésus appelle les premiers disciples ( 16 - 20)

Bloc B ( 1:21 - 2:28)
a  Jésus chasse un démon (1:21 - 28)
b  Jésus guérit la belle-mère de Simon et d'autres personnes (1:29 - 34)
c  Jésus dit que sa priorité est d'enseigner (1:35 - 39)
d  Jésus guérit un homme lépreux (1:40 - 45)
d' Jésus guérit un homme paralysé (2:1 - 12)
c' Jésus appelle Lévi et mange avec des gens de mauvaise vie (2:13 - 17)
b' Jésus prédit la rupture radicale avec le Judaïsme (2:18 - 22)
a' Jésus est maître du sabbat (2:23 - 28)

Bloc C (3:1 - 12)
Jésus provoque de l'opposition en guérissant le jour du sabbat (3:1 - 6)
Jésus bénéficie d'une popularité grandissante (3:7 - 12)

Marc : l'expérience 1

At FAC we're learning the structure of Mark's gospel, from Andrew Page's book "Marc : l'expérience". Here's the intro: (Marc 1 : 1 - 8)

a  Le témoignage de Marc concernant Jésus (1)
b  Le témoignage des prophètes de l'Ancien Testament (2 - 3)
c  Le baptême de Jean suscite beaucoup d'intérêt (4 - 5)
b' Jean ressemble à un prophète de l'Ancien Testament (6)
a' Le témoignage de Jean concernant Jésus (7 - 8)

Marianne Faithfull à Pessac - I'm not making it up.

Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull à Pessac
Mercredi 10 novembre à 20h30
Marianne Faithfull sera sur scène au Galet (35, avenue du Pont de l’Orient) pour une lecture musicale accompagnée par Vincent Segal au violoncelle. Elle mettra en voix "Sonnets de Shakespeare", durant une heure.
Réservez vite au 05 56 45 69 14

Télécharger la saison culturelle de Pessac 2010-2011
www.pessac-en-scenes.com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cinéma

So we went together to see "Il reste du jambon". Kind of "My big fat Greek wedding" but Franco-Arab. It was ok. Feel-good in the end kind of film. Some language (you get worse on Facebook !) No steamy bits. Nice to be out together.



"Either Bin Laden can't put his plans into action or France is extremely well protected"

Bin Laden thinks France is a good target. Nevertheless France remains unattacked. Why ?

Perhaps because Bin Laden can't do anything - he's holed up and hiding.
Perhaps because France's intelligence agencies are more efficient than those of Britain, Germany or Spain.

What do you think ?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The heating man cometh again

The pump was a bit seized, but now the water wasn't heating up at all.

"Aucun souci. Je reviendrai cet après-midi, et le chauffage va marcher."

No worries. I'll be back this afternoon and the heating will work.

He's very confident !

Our nice gift

Pat babysat the nipper next door and his mum bought us a lovely thank-you gift - 10 tickets for the cinema.

We've been very excited about it but we've not yet been able to go. The tickets have to be used by the end of November, so we think that this week is our big opportunity to go to the pictures all together.

But it's already Wednesday ! We'd better get a move on !

Strikes, even during the school holidays !

The airport is being affected by strikes this Thursday which means that some folks here can't fly home to the UK that day. Instead they'll be accommodated in a hotel until Sunday and they'll fly then.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Off to the pastorale nationale

Monday morning to Wednesday there's the Pastorale Nationale, the annual pastors' conference.

It's being held not far from Nîmes, about 6 hours drive away.

There's three of us going. Samuel has a seriously aged Peugeot 405. Jean-Baptiste won't have a car at all. I have thought of hiring a car, but we need to leave on Sunday and the car hire places are not open then. We'd have to get the car on Friday and return it on Wednesday - and a small car would come to 200 euros. It MIGHT be possble to pick something up on Sunday from the station in Bordeaux. I'll give them a ring, in case.

But our car did very well on our epic journey to Pau. We should be OK. We'll probably take the Berlingo.

The week in view

This evening we have the amazing Thé O show Café théologique on the issue of "Seul dans la foule" - solitude and loneliness.

Tomorrow and Thursday I anticipate surveys on the campus. Tomorrow evening prayer meeting.

Thursday evening we have the great English Class - this week with a heated debate, joke of the week, etc..

Sunday I am preaching in French am on Nicodème, I think.

Sunday afternoon we leave for the pastors' conference in the Cévennes.

Cats ! Can't live with 'em !

It's a pain being allergic to cats. We were invited to eat at the home of some friends in the church on Sunday and they have a very friendly, very furry cat who loves to be stroked etc...

We ate very well and were very happy, but I was getting more and more clogged up and asthmatic, so we had to leave.

The problem is that if you explain why, then either people feel guilty for having a cat (!) or they think that perhaps if they put the cat out all will be OK (it won't - it isn't presence of cat that sets you off, it's essence of cat and that takes weeks to clear.) Meanwhile you feel too uncomfortable and short of breath to discuss it !

So it's better to make some kind of excuse and leave, then to let them know later when you are able to explain without feeling ill and distressed !

It also meant that preaching was a bit bizarre as I needed to have tissues handy to blow my nose and also explain why from time to time I had to stop and stifle sneezes !

Monday, October 25, 2010

Martin van den Berg basstrombone plays Saturdaynight!

The bad news and the good news

Today's Sud-Ouest gives us the good news and the bad news.

The bad news : 1/4 of the petrol/diesel pumps in France are dry.

The good news : The South-West of France is not very affected.

The good news : It's School Holiday time !

The bad news : The strikers plan to strike this week anyway...

It also defies the opinion of my friend who reckoned that once the law was actually voted in the strikers and demonstrators would shrug their shoulders, fold their arms (and their banners) and go back to work...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

La France ! Elle est belle ! Elle est grande !

The thing about France is that if you are going to Pau, for example, and you miss your exit on the motorway because you are talking, for example, it can be a very long distance before you realise.

One person realised pretty quickly and turned back - but still arrived after us.

We realised rather slowly, after passing a certain power-station which my guide did not expect to see, and so we had a lovely scenic drive through la France profonde *, including le Gers, which is lovely, and we passed through Marciac which is really very nice indeed.

We were late for lunch but there was lots left over anyway so towards the end of the afternoon repetition we went and scavenged and ate very well.

The concert with the two big bands went very well - we played in a big swanky shopping centre just opposite a café. I thought, "watch that place empty !" but no, people stayed and applauded and so on...

There's another concert this afternoon, but I needed to come home to preach this evening, so I drove sedately through the night after the evening meal., this time on the right road and with just enough diesel to get here !

* la France profonde - equivalent of "the sticks" in English, "cefn gwlad Powys" in Welsh or "darkest Peru" in Paddington Bear.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Off to Pau with the PJB

This weekend the PJB has a long-standing engagement with the Lescar Big Band from Pau. We have a joint concert this afternoon and another tomorrow. This afternoon's is in a shopping centre and tomorrow's is at the foot of the town walls.

In order to preach tomorrow evening I'll have to come home today, so I can't be with them for the whole weekend, so today I am off to Pau in the car.

It should be fun, though the journeys will be tedious.

C.Saint-Saens "Mon Coeur S'ouvre A Ta Voix" From "Samson and Dalila"

A bit of Saturday morning culture.

Oh dear

Gwilym is taking the train to Poitiers today to spend a few days with his friend, Pierre. We booked him his ticket noting that there were two TGVs leaving Bordeaux for Poitiers at the same time and arriving at the same time. We bought the cheapest ticket and there we are.

Last night we found out that his train is cancelled because of the strike, so he'll have to go to the ticket booth at the station and get it changed.

And I am in Pau with the PJB today, so I can't help him...

Still, surrogate big-brother Vincent has said he can take him to the station so maybe he can help him to get the ticket sorted out..

Friday, October 22, 2010

A brief word about books

Une Bible, du café, des disciples - we're enjoying reading this - sometimes I don't quite agree with everything but it's a good base for discussion. We've only just done chapter 2 together, so it's still early days.


La foi chrétienne en libre accès - this is great ! It's all condensed down very usefully. Very impressed. Very handy.


Le mal fait-il partie du plan de Dieu. The next chapter-summary is overdue, I know... I'll get to it soon !

Tout reprit son calme

Well Pat has gone to the feminine circle on the bus and tram. She says she likes going that way and it saves hunting for a parking spot. OK. The kids are in school. Catrin has a half-day today but is going swimming with surrogate-big-sisters Jenna and Marije after lunch.

So I have a quiet morning ahead of me. I can get Sunday evening really sorted, I'm not preaching in the morning.

Also I might be able to pop out to the Orange store. I was just on the verge of signing on the dotted line for that laptop / phone contract deal when orange dropped their prices for iPhone contracts. Rotters ! It's not all that obvious to me what is what from the website so I need to call into a store and get them to talk me through. Then go and sign on the dotted line, perhaps !

At lunchtime I'm in the collège chapel. I am thinking to take our copies of "L'évangile en bandes dessinées". we don't use them and the kids there really go for the manga gospel and acts. So much so that I am reluctant to disturb their reading !

The heating man came yesterday, fiddled with the boiler and set it working, but the radiators are still cold. He said he'd come back and check at the start of the afternoon, but we must have missed him by about 10 minutes. We found his card wedged in the door. I phoned and emailed him to say that they're still stone cold.

Meanwhile he said that there would be a possibility of changing the boiler for a heat-pump. Instead of a 5kw electric water-heater boiler we'd install a 1kw heat-pump. The advantage being much greater efficiency and the government offers interest-free loans and 40% of the cost of the boiler refunded. He said he'd get the figures to us.

So we're waiting for him to get back to us.

Meanwhile the wood for the wood-stove will be delivered on  Monday at 10am.

This evening  church council at 6pm. Big band practice at 8:30pm, but they know I'll be late.

And, saving the best till last, tomorrow is the start of the Toussaint school holidays - that means no more getting up at 6am for 10 days. Yippppeeeeeee !

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Life can be so tough

I couldn't find the bread to make myself a sandwich so I HAD to have steak and chips for tea !


The heating man cometh

So the background task this week is about heating. On Monday afternoon I spent a happy time on the phone ordering wood (it was at this point that I decided that people were panic buying !) and looking for a heating man to come and look at our system.

We normally try to discourage people from visiting us in winter because the house is cold. It's OK in the evening because we can heat the stove seven times in readiness but you don't want to stay here overnight ! People who have done that generally become very attached to the wood-stove, ask us regularly about our heating system and encourage us to get someone to look at it..

I'd ruled out EDF some time ago. They charge 300euros to talk to you about your heating, which I didn't like too much.

Anyway on Monday I started phoning the heating people near the house. I got everyone's answering machine, and the first person who phoned back was the chap who put our system in! To begin with the house was heated from the workshop next door, and then when the former owner sold the workshop the systems were separated and this electric boiler put in our house. The guy came this morning and talked to me about it and adjusted it - he made it go and then said that he'd call back this afternoon to ensure that it is working.

In the meantime we don't have a programmer or a thermostat - to control the system you have to go in the loft and turn the knob on the boiler. Obviously I think this is a drawback, but he said that a thermostat and programmer can be added at not much cost.

But what you ought to do, he said, is change the boiler for a heat pump. These work like air-con systems, but they heat water to run radiators and heat water tanks. They are 4.5 times more efficient than electric boilers and their purchase is subsidised by the government with interest-free loans to cover the residue.

We'll see. He's going to get back to us about that, as well as the other plumbing issues in the house.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"en cure"

You know there are questions you dare not ask and situations in which you dare not ask them. Thus it was that when a friend said during a committee meeting "je vais en cure" I dared not ask on about what on earth she was.

I did not have the same scruples when my friend Gérard the JW came round and said he was 'en cure' for the next three weeks. So here it is...

If one has, say, rheumatism, or circulation problems, or perhaps ... asthma ... one can go "en cure" - you go to a centre somewhere, a thermal spa for rheumatism or circulation or maybe a mountain place for asthma - and you spend three weeks being pampered and cossetted. Gérard spends a lot of time in a pool of mud up to his neck.

I said "Yes, but that isn't covered by the health service?" but yes it is !

Oh really ? Amazing !

Excuse me ! Excuse me !

On the bus yesterday we were just going through Gambetta, a place used as a rallying point for demonstrating strikers. I watched people furling their banners and idly thought of how they'd all come to town by bus and tram and of what fun it would be if a bus driver did a selective strike and refused to let strikers on his bus on the grounds of solidarity.

As I stared gormlessly at the strikers one signaled to another that she was off to find some food. I thought, "Aha ! You're glad the cafés are not all striking aren't you !"


Anyway I don't know what's wrong up there in Paris or over there in Lyon, but here I don't think there's been any cars burnt or anything like that here in Bordeaux. No more than usual anyway. The buses are running normally, much to Gwilym's chagrin. Some of his comrades are striking. One day there were 9 in his class, another day 12. Normally there's 20. All seems pretty well normal except for the marches and the fact that the radio channels are playing more records than usual. Apparently some high school kids have been naughty in the streets.

I think people are panic buying wood - we phoned a couple of suppliers to be told that they were either sold out or inundated with orders. One lady said she can deliver "des chûtes de chêne" before the weekend. These are off-cuts, not fallen trees as I originally misunderstood !

French friends reckon that once the vote takes place today the strikers will shrug and go back to work. Anyway you can't do a six-week "May '68" lock-down in November ! People will die !

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I have come to the conclusion that God conceals from people

what a drip I am.

I am not complaining !

Despite the fact that I have a positive response rate of at best, say, 10%, people continue to ask me all sorts of fascinating and challenging questions !

It's quite wonderful. I wish I could help people more, but anyway their confidence in me is testimony that mankind has a vast capacity for faith.



A friend lives opposite

this baroque church in the poshest part of Bordeaux.






There's an app for that !

for using your iPhone to find a filling station where they have fuel...

There's something deeply ironic about this, I think.

FAC Bible Study

This evening is the first Bible Study of this session. It'll be chock-full of good stuff ! A survey of the Pentateuch ( me ), the life of Abraham ( Fi ) and the start of "The Mark Experiment" ( Si ).


One drawback of living a long way from church

is that when you forget the PowerPoint with the words of the songs you have a long drive home to get it ! Patrick rose wonderfully to the occasion and started with the notices and I still got back to the church before several of the congregation arrived.

Ok, the decision is taken

For some time I've been looking out for a replacement for the mission laptop, now 5 years old and "creaking", and for my desktop computer which died a little while ago, fried motherboard.

I considered getting a Macbook, using some kind of credit facility, or getting a Mac Mini, perhaps second-hand or reconditioned. Friends' macs have proved no more reliable than pcs, however. The last nail in the coffin was when someone said that they needed to plug in their Macbook pro in case the battery ran out halfway through an evening. I pointed out that they have a 10 hour battery-life. Yes, when they're new, came the reply. This one is three years old and you just get a couple of hours. You have to buy a new battery to keep the good battery-life. Oho ?

I've saved up our supermarket points, we now have 110€ worth, ready to put against a computer from our supermarket. They currently have a Compaq CQ62 with AMD V120, 2GB memory and 320GB disk which would come in at 289€ if I did that.

However I have waited. Partly because the old laptop is still kinda functional, though it can't do anything with photos any more (blue screen of death) and the wifi is unreliable. It lives plugged into the modem on my desk ! But also because our computer-mongers occasionally do killer deals. And here's the one that looks promising.

It's a big laptop, a Samsung R730 17" jobby. Intel T4400, 4GB memory, 320GB disk. It comes in at 250€ if you get a mobile phone contract at the same time, and I can do that - my mobile phone is out of contract on January 6th and they are happy to defer the start of the phone contract by two months, AND the phone contract is suitable, too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

The tee-shirts

Read what CNN has found out here.

Cox and Box

That's us today.
This morning Pat went out saying "See you tomorrow !"
Then I went out.
Then I came home and grabbed some lunch.
Then I went out again.
Then Pat came home.
Then the kids came home.
Then they went out.
Then I came home.
Soon I'll go out again.
Then they'll come home.
Lastly I'll come home.

We'll all see each other tomorrow !

The Phil Collins Big Band The Westside

Sky News advertising Scientology

Don't be fooled. The adverts for "TheWaytoHappiness.org" are promoting a website for the 21 precepts that science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard wrote in his book "The Way to Happiness". The idea is to get you signed up for Scientology courses.

"You seem to have issues with Brooklyn..."

said the JW lady.

I said, "yes, we have issues with every city that sets itself up to control people's lives and faith." and listed a few prominent cities.

Spirit of Babylon lives on, eh ?

Missionary Blog Watch

offers books etc. here

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A wonderful interview following the rescue of the miners in Chile.

Read it here.

Phil Collins Big Band - That's All

Arturo Velasco plays the trombono.

Est-ce que vous êtes spécialiste es la langue greque ?

Moi non plus.

This is how we began our reading of the first half of John 1, my JW friend, his companion and me. We read, we shared very openly.

He should know by now the text on which they base the authority of the committee in Brooklyn (Matthew 24 : 45 - 51), but it takes him a while to find it (again). He says, "parmi tant de religions dans ce monde, quelle est la bonne ?" I reply, "Aucune ! On n'a pas besoin d'une religion. On a besoin d'un sauveur, de Jésus-Christ !"

I don't know. Is it a waste of time ? Will my friend ever awake and see through the watchtower ?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Désimlocker le portable - continué - tout est bien qui finit bien

Got it done ! Amazing !

I decided that I was not going to give up ( thank you Sir Winston ) and rang and rang till they said "your waiting time is 3 minutes".

Then the phone went all funny so I had to ring off and ring and ring again.

Eventually I got this nice young lady who said she'd have to email Apple (Fancy!)

She then went on to try to tempt me to upgrade to an iPhone 4 at a cut-down price, special offer today for our most faithful customers, sir. This would have been more convincing if I had been with them for more than 9 months. Even she hesitated when she said "puisque ça fait ... um ... neuf mois et onze jours que vous êtes avec nous". Are people really so fickle? Anyway, I reckon by Christmas they'll pay me to have one, like they did with this thing.

Steve Jobs got back to me while she was trying to persuade me (c'est si beau, je l'ai sous les yeux ici, c'est si jolie, c'est si léger, ça fait des vidéos, je suis sûre que ça fait des gateaux si on trouve la bonne application...) so I did what Steve's email said. I got a dead cat and swung it by its tail in the garden anticlockwise while balancing the iPhone on my nose. After some alarming beeps and buzzes the phone said it was unlocked. It then proceeded to play me up all morning, missing calls, changing my sms from "J'arrive" to "Martine" (got Simon guessing...) and generally driving me nuts.

Still, all's well that ends well. Except for the cat.

Struggling with the timing of the old prayer letter

Boy we need prayer. Thankfully we have lots of prayers (pray-ers). And the prayers need information !

That's why we send out prayer letters ! However when do you send them ?

A logical time is in September before everything in the student work starts up and when everything is in planning. However everything is so "prospective" then. We hope to, we want to, we plan to... (Yes, that's all very good but give us people to PRAY for !)

In October (now) everything IS startiing up. It means you're juggling planning meetings and meeting meetings though, and you don't yet know how things will go.

Then there's the "micro-timing". Christian work in France is a roller-coaster. Something goes well ( this could be someone putting out Bibles before a meeting, or it could be a national reconciliation of christian groups ) and you're on cloud 9. Two days later soemthing else happens and you're back in the dumps. It's two steps forward and one step back often.

The best way, perhaps, is just to say "It's due" and send it out no matter...!

Taking off the simlock

The government said "You must take the simlock off people's phones on request free of charge after 6 months of contract".

'Ha !' thought my phone operator, ever colourful...


So they put in place a four-step automated desimlocking process with text messages shooting back and fore.
1. Send us your email address.
2. Send us the IMEI of your handset.
3. Wait 15 minutes.
4. We can't do it this way, phone Customer services.

So you phone customer services and they say "press 1 for... 4 for desimlocking your phone" and it takes you back round the loop again. Just as unsuccessfully.

So you go on the website and look on the customer service forum. It appears that some people have died while trying to get their phones unsimlocked. Died from old age. People who were young when they started the process.

You find another customer service number. You call it from your mobile.

It says "Sorry, we can't do this from your mobile, please call the landline number and choose "9"".

So you do that. It says "9 isn't a valid choice". I persist and press 9 . Lots.

It says, "Hang on, we'll try and get someone to talk to you. Oh sorry they're all busy. call again later."

Still, at least now I have memorised the IMEI number for my mobile.

Food for thought for theologians and preachers

Here, here and here.

Good old Telegraph !

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday, Monday

Big weary Monday.

But Chocolate All-Bran is back, albeit at a price. 1c per gram. And they come in a matchbox sized packet.

Pick up stagiare from the airport. Delegate transport to Pastorale to him. Planning meeting for Cours d'Anglais at Centre FAC in the evening.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday !

Jean 9 ce matin. Lunch with friends from church. Judges 2 this evening. It'll be a full day and a happy one.



Beef !

I've never seen beef in Britain like we get in France. We will be 10 for lunch and I was sent to get meat. There were these huge pieces of beef on offer - they look like hypersteaks. The instructions said "flash-fry over a high heat and serve bleeding". Oh yeah... I casseroled it with onions and peppers in the slow cooker overnight.



Saturday, October 09, 2010

Articuler

Sanglons l'Anglais sans gants ni sanglots. (à répéter 10 fois)

How to appraise

We have one channel of English-language TV and as you can imagine it is mostly a load of old rubbish. There is, however, Strictly Come Dancing ( we're on the series with Gethin ). it made me think about appraising people.

1. It's not an opportunity to show how witty or clever you are.

2. It's not an opportunity to be unkind.

3. Remember the goal is to help people to improve, not just to tell them where they went wrong.

Then it reminded me of Paul's words : Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up ( Eph 4:29 )

He doesn't just mean mucky talk, but put-downs, sniping, backchat, all that is not helpful. We all have a long way to go, don't you think ?

Lapsus

"non, ils parlent de partager les ( oh no ! What's an aircraft carrier in French ? ) - ces gros bateaux qui porte des ( ding ! Oh yes ) - les portes-avions avec la France...

I think I'm getting worse.. But it could be a lot worse. Last night I dreamt that a delivery man came to our house and I couldn't remember my address to write it on his form ! Scary !



Thursday, October 07, 2010

I love this Paul Tripp quote

The Christian life is not fretful, anxious, or driven, but a life of resting in the forgiveness of grace and relying on the power of grace.



Had I not been there I wouldn't have believed it

Brother Sam arrived at 9:15 and after our friends who'd driven from Mérignac to use the phone had finished, we zoomed off to the airport, then I continued to Eysines, sent down amazing wrong turnings by my gps which was having a funny turn. In fact so was I. Several funny turns. I refused to do a U-turn on the motorway. Anyway I got there.

It was the assemblée constituante of the section girondine of the CNEF, and I got there on the dot of 10. Not bad going. There were loads of us there, lots from the ADD churches and works. We set ourselves a finishing time of 12 and decided that we would review the guidelines for local sections of CNEF and then elect a group of 5 representatives, one for each of the big groups that make up the cnef (ADD, pentecostal/charismatic, FEF, FPF and "non-church works"). Then considering the large concentration of non-church works in Bordeaux we decided to have two representatives for them, ADD and others ! We works people went outside to choose our representatives. It was further decided to propose a non-Frenchman and by now you can probably see where this is going.

Thus at 12:20 the meeting was closed in prayer with a group of 5 chaps in place to adapt the standard CNEF working documents to our local situation and circulate them round for comment before our next plenary session in November.

I came out quite amazed by the efficiency ! Brilliant !

This made me laugh

David Murray gives tips for church meetings here.

We did most of these when I worked at British Telecom - the meetings where everyone stood up were certainly shorter though I don't think it did a lot for people's aggression.

In Deeside for the officers' meetings and for the church meetings we weren't gimmicky but we were businesslike. The main thing I remember is trying to ensure meetings were prayerful - we'd pray for issues before, after and sometimes as we discussed them.

Here yesterday there was a meeting of the group to discuss the future of the Christian Bookshop in the middle of town. To me it seemed slow and long. I remember once making some remark at the end of a seven hour church officers' meeting - one of our folk said "Oh, it seemed long to you ? I love 'em - they end too soon for me..."

This morning we have the Assemblée Constituante of the Antenne Girondine of the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France. It could take quite some time...

A lot of this is cultural. Anglo-Saxon culture is task oriented. We got an agenda, stuff to do, come on, busy, busy, busy. Get in, decide, get out, do. Meetings are a distraction from the work for us.

Latin culture is person oriented. What do you think about this ? Has everybody expressed themselves ? Everything progresses very slowly. Decide ? Don't rush us. One mustn't dance faster than the music. Meetings are the work.

Coming from an Anglo-Saxon culture I have always the tendency to think that we are right and the meetings too long, a distraction and counter-productive.

But then I remember the day when I was charging round the church folding, packing and stopping things while people kissed goodbye and when I realised that the church is about the kissing goodbye rather than the packing away of bits and bobs. Which is more like Jesus walking the roads of Israel followed by his disciples ?

It' might still be fun one day to suggest that we meet standing up with no table. Except there'd be nowhere to put the cakes...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

We saw a demonstration of

Surgeons, protesting about cuts.




Et les sourcils ?

A barber ! My friend J-P told me of a barber near where he lives where it's 10 euros a haircut. So I just had my hair cut. And the chap is super, friendly, just like a barber.

He said, "and the eyebrows ?"

I said, "why not ? There's a first time for everything."

Student events take off this week at FAC with the

grande soirée d'ouverture. Next week full swing !

David Murray comments on strength through weakness

here.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Monday - day off

Weekly shopping in the morning.
Lots to do in the afternoon. Haircut. Other things.

Friend comes round. Needs help.
Nothing gets done. Except some reading.

Oh who cares !

Books arrived !

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.
The Kingdom in the Republic by Lucie Bardiau-Huys (but the plural of bardd is beirdd, not bardiau...?)
This Way to Godliness by Stuart.

Jolly good !

Saturday, October 02, 2010

eBooks. Problem.

Can't shop around.
Can't buy second-hand.

The Briefing Library: From Euthanasia to the Gospel

The Briefing Library: From Euthanasia to the Gospel

Worth a read.

Al Mohler again - when atheists and baptists agree

I have trouble believing in the theory of evolution. So does Al, so at least I'm in good company.

I did my studies in biology at a time when neo-Darwinism was the current orthodoxy, in the late 1970s. Interestingly, Dawkins' first book, The Selfish Gene, had just been published and people were wrestling with his reductionism. I studied micro-evolution, population biology, the way populations respond to stresses, pressures and change. Classic peppered moth stuff. The thing is, populations have great diversity. When under pressure the population expresses less of that diversity and so they appear to change. Nothing new has happened - you just lose one extreme or another. We live in a world where we are losing diversity all the time. Because of pressure on environments we lose species every day. Where is the increasing diversity that we should see ? Surely pressure and crisis should produce an explosion of speciation. If it's true.

I became a christian during my studies and began to think about death and the gospel. I have to bury people. What do I say ? Do I say "Death is this tragedy, this terrible thing that has taken away your loved one, death is the last enemy that Jesus will destroy", or do I say "Death is the wonderful means that God has used to produce this wonderful rich world that we see today" ?

Not only that but for reformed christians the backbone of our faith is our understanding of how God works in covenant, with two federal heads. "In Adam all die", says Paul, "in Christ shall all be made alive".

He sets up a two-sided argument. There is Adam and all who are in him. Adam and his posterity are dead in sin and die eternally. There is Christ and all who are in him. Christ and his posterity are alive to righteousness and they will live for ever. We are born in Adam. Christians are translated into, seen in, placed in Christ.

Now take away Adam and take away the fall. Death was in the world for billions of years before any recognisably human species arose, so it can't be the result of any rebellion or fall. Anyway life is about a rise from the mud to this fruitful abundance, not a fall from perfection to this struggle we see.

Covenant theology becomes just a kind of philosophy, a model, a useful fiction.

Al, it's not just baptists, is it ? Or at least it shouldn't be.

Friday, October 01, 2010

An amazing day, no, I mean it.

It started fairly early on, the friend whose mother has died came round because he's had to quit his mother's flat and he recently subscribed to internet, tv and phone - so he needed help in getting it moved to his new address. Well it was a challenge combining all the joys of helplines, hold music, lost passwords, phone numbers that didn't work, etc. etc. etc. But we got it done. Amazing.

I prepared for the funeral. Scuttled off to the Reformed Church that we'd arranged to borrow, then cancelled, in case a friend we'd not been able to contact had gone there. He hadn't. Went home. Got changed. Went to the cemetery.

French cemeteries are bleak places. No grass. No trees. Graves very close together. The soil in the Pessac cemetery is very sandy. There must have been about 50 people there. The funeral directors arrived and we followed the van to a suitable place and set up there for the cérémonie. Our friend Patrice wanted to speak about the lady who died, and that suited me. I read from John 11 and spoke briefly about it. I abandoned the formal prayers I'd found in the French Book of Common Prayer and prayed simply for her family and for us all to reflect and find the faith in Christ that brings eternal life.

Afterwards we chatted with a very friendly, polite and helpful funeral director. Increasingly French people have no pastor or priest involved at their funeral and they want an atheist burial, so he's found a text which he reads and the remains are left and everyone walks away.

French graves are rented for 15 years (unless they are family vaults that have been bought for ever !). After 15 years the town hall contacts the family to see if they want to rent for another 15 years. If not then the body is exhumed and the remains are put in a labelled bag in the ossuary - a big cellar or building attached to the cemetery. French coffins are sealed with wax seals over the screws head and foot. We chatted with family members and friends and then went home to read, pray and eat with a student.

After funerals in North Wales sometimes I'd take refuge in Borders till my stress levels dropped again, sometimes we'd go and fly kites in Prestatyn. Here I had big band practice, which was awesome. We have two new pieces to learn, one a bit of a challenge (In the stone, an Earth,Wind and Fire number), and the other a bit of nonsense, really, Señorita Fajita, which has nice trombone riffs. We also rehearsed Fly me and Spain. And we have two new trombonistes, welcome Théo and Damien. Afterwards we hung around eating Pringles, brownies and talking about atheism and stuff.

Renaud, prof de trombone and directeur de big band, is very happy because he has his new airforce trombone, a brand spanking new Bach 42bo. This is the same model as my old 1970s Bach 42bo, and Bach have changed NOTHING ! NOTHING AT ALL ! Well, except the price, I imagine ! His valve is a bit stiff, it needs to be run in, but apart from that and my missing lacquer you'd have a job telling them apart. We started the rehearsal with me playing his new trombone, but then he needed it so I went back to my old faithful.

I told him that the American lads are unhappy because the new Bachs are made in China. He said "Oh no they're not;" "Oh yes they are..." You get the picture. He said he has a sheet of paper that says the trombone was made in America. I explained that the parts are made in China, then screwed together in a trailer-park in New Mexico, which means that they can be labelled made in America. He knows it's a wind-up and that I was making it all up anyway, except for the disgruntlement of the American trombone brothers. I have no idea where Renaud's trombone was made. Might have been Ystrad Mynach for all I know ! It's certainly tidy, anyway !