France is awesome

I mean it. Clear sign of God's common grace and love for humanity.

Lots of reasons. Here's another.

This week the government finally decided what to do about a possible new regional airport near Nantes, in a little place called Notre Dame des Landes. (Nothing to do with the Landes de Gascogne)

The project had created a lot of discussion, protest, sit-ins and Swampy-style squatting, but no decision from the government either for or against the plan.

Macron's government promised to make a final decision, and there were lots of consultations with all sorts of people on the local and national level. And this week Edouard Philippe, the prime minister, announced the decision. Not before large numbers of riot police had been ferried into the area.

He said that where large-scale projects had succeeded there had always been united support - they had been projects that commended themselves to all kinds of people. This project obviously created a lot of division. So the government had decided to knock it on the head once and for all.

No decision would have been easy, which may be why previous governments have chosen that path? To decide for the airport would mean a huge backlash from the environmental and agricultural lobbies. To decide against leaves Nantes without a regional hub and leaves large businesses wanting compensation for the work they have already put in.

It reminded me of a situation many years ago where I learned a lot about rule by elders. In a happy church not far from London the elders had decided that it would be good to start area house groups. They worked it through and announced it to the church meeting.

Shock and awe. Some people were horrified. Some years previously there had been a serious dispute in the church which seemed to have come from some bad behaviour on the part of house group leaders. Now history seemed about to repeat itself.

The elders looked at each other, looked round the room and promptly knocked the whole idea on the head. Ruling means more listening than talking.


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