Showing posts from July, 2006

From our own correspondent

Two reports to do with France this week. The first is about people returning to Algeria to visit the towns where they lived before independence. The second report talks about the Julyists and the Augustists. Listen to find out more!

French bloggers Incidentally, this article shows you why I hardly ever read the Independent.

Oh no! Not drugs?

Greeting one another with a holy kiss

Apparently I once said of this "The least said about that the better". It was just a quip, you understand. Now my motto is "Just do it". Derek Thomas' article is more measured and more full. Poor Mr Putin's dilemma reminds me of the children's first day at school here. A little chap came running up with Gwilym and rattled off a long string of quick, unintelligible French at me. I leaned over to hear him better and he kissed me on the cheek! It's important to note that not all men kiss all men here. Outside the school the dads shake hands. I shake hands with college friends. But brothers in the church kiss just like family members kiss. It's that covenant bond, see.

Some heatwave photographs Keep the shutters and windows closed and the house stays much cooler than otherwise!

I'm not an expert but..

£195 a bottle seems a lot to me.,,2-2283840,00.html

More France heatwave news

On the BBC website. They also have a video news report accessible from the same page.

Field on the Middle-east conflict

I have never thought myself a Darwinian

or a neo-Darwinist, or an adherent of any other kind of theory of origins by evolution. It was never compelling to me, even (especially) during my Biology studies. Nevertheless, thanks to Paul for posting a link to this article at the Royal Institute of Philosophy: Paul's post:

Bridge-building. Not easy!

Health - the good news and the bad news

The Good News. We are now members of the French Health System, with effect from last October. (I don't fully understand that bit yet). The Bad News. Our support target will need to be increased a little to cover the (quite large) employers contribution. This means that there'll probably be a bit of deputation to do perhaps early next year. Our support is a teeny bit under. The Other Bad News. I will have to have a routine blood test that the doctor has been putting off until we are in the health system (cholesterol etc.) p.s. sorry if the title frightened you!

Landaise sale

is proceeding step by step. The current steps: 1) to get past the period of reflexion, which ends on Monday 2) paying the initial deposit - i.e. transferring the money from British savings account to French account, checking it is there, then writing the cheque. This we completed this morning. Did I tell you that it is considered fraud to write a bouncing cheque in France? Your bank account can be frozen, or you can be banned from holding a bank account for doing so. This means that cheques are trusted here, but it also means that Brits tend to have nightmares about accidentally going overdrawn (which is, of course, forbidden), and that you have to maintain a buffer in your current account - you can't afford to run it down to zero.

A side effect of the heatwave

EDF has had to buy foreign electricity:

Killer heatwave

9 deaths attributable to the heatwave so far, including 3 in Bordeaux (2 elderly people and one homeless).

Asbestos and parasites in the Landaise

The survey for asbestos and parasites arrived this morning. There is no evidence of any asbestos in the house at all, which surprised me a little. It was built in 1979 and I thought it could have had some somewhere. They also survey for termites and rot. No evidence of termite activity, though the house is in a termite zone. (I think that all of Bordeaux is essentially a termite zone!) One of the shutters has signs of rot, and one of the external beams has some rot at the bottom, so it means painting some Cuprinol round sometime. Other than that a clean bill of health.

I had better watch out!

though I am sure the mission would say something first, and it appears that her blog had a somewhat different character from this ...

Causes of death in Western Europe Suicides and road accidents are tragedies. However, these statistics also reflect the good physical health of the population. Few die of infectious disease. The statistics also show the desperate need amongst western europeans for the hope of the gospel. As the gospel triumphs, then one can expect fewer road accidents and dramatically fewer suicides, of course.

France is evacuating people from Lebanon, too. France has colonial ties with Lebanon, having recognised its independence in 1943.

The heat!

While Britain luxuriates in the warmth, Gironde is on orange alert because of a potentially dangerous heatwave. French readers can read about it here: The drill is: Shutters and windows closed. Drink LOTS of water. Eat salty food occasionally.

With us it's

Cheddar cheese, baked beans, P G Tips, proper bacon Oh - and for Pat brown sauce, Dairy Milk chocolate and salad cream oh, and jelly, and whipping cream and marmalade and ...

We have something like this Because our car is so ancient (2003!) it doesn't play MP3 CDs or have a socket to plug in your MP3 player. But these gadgets are sold in all sorts of places in France; Planete Saturne , Virgin Megastore . It works OK and enables us to tune in to our MP3 player (Creative, not iPod!) and listen to MP3 of Bible or sermons in French without making audio CDs all the time.

If on a winter's night a traveller, then Demission de la raison

Italo Calvino first. I am reading this in English because he wrote it in Italian. If you have to read in translation you had just as well read in English translation! Then I have lined up "Escape from reason" in French. If this book is as good as I thought it was when I was a student I'll give it to one of our lecturers at DEFLE.

La moustache

by Emmanuel Carrere. Just finished it. Gripping book again. Been turned into a film, which I haven't yet seen. Would recommend reading the book before seeing the film. Pretty sure the book exists in English translation. Essentially the story starts like this - a chap and his wife are talking. He says, "Would you still love me if I shaved off my moustache?" She says, "Of course I would, silly. I love you, not your moustache." She goes out. While she's out he shaves it off. She comes back. Says nothing. They go for a meal with friends. They say nothing. They return home. He says "Well?" She says "What?" He says "The moustache?" She says, "What moustache?" He says, "I shaved it off." She says "You never had one." Is he mad? Is she mad? Is it a conspiracy? Is she out to get rid of him? What's going on? The book's conclusion is indescribably sad.

Pictures of Bastille Day!

It's July 14th! Hooray!

Nuclear power The different attitude to nuclear power is amazing. In France about 80% of electricity comes from nuclear power stations and they are built pretty near to where people live - our nearest is in Blaye, about 30 miles downstream (and upwind...). I was talking to someone about the British distrust of nuclear power and he laughed. "They're not going to build a Chernobyl in France!" he said. Of course, for the British mind, that's exactly what we suspect they will build in Britain. I don't think the safety record is dramatically different. It's just that in France nuclear power is seen as safe, modern, clean and practical. In Britain it is seen as dangerous, new-fangled, dirty and expensive. The government and EDF work very hard to encourage this positive attitude to nuclear power.

Jolly pictures of the tour It's an Apple advert really, but there's some nice pictures of the tour, especially passing Carcassonne and on a snowy mountain road.

Centenary of the Dreyfus affair It is difficult to overstate the importance of the Dreyfus affair to France and to Europe, giving a chilling indication of the horrors to come less than 50 years later.

What do you think Microsoft will do? a. Pay the fine and change their ways b. Ignore the European Union ("Union of what?", says Bill) c. Buy the European Union and release Europe 2007 XP Enterprise edition in 2012 d. Something else (please supply)

When the Tour came through Gradignan


Tim is reading Jerry Bridges' Discipline of Grace

Tim Challies is reading "the Discipline of Grace" and sharing his readings and reflections with us. You can start here: Jerry Bridges' books are wonderfully helpful, from their sound teaching to their short chapters, and much of what he has written is available in French. I plan to use his books more than I used to in English.

Football, France and me

I have never taken any interest in football whatsoever - until going to France. Football in France is important. 1) It has been a key bridge between Gwilym and the other lads. 2) It is a ready topic of conversation, and if French people find you supporting the blues they generally like it. 3) It is a ready source of gospel illustrations. For example: a. the French team is among the strongest forces for racial integration in France today. They come from everywhere and they are heros. They are building bridges between people of very different origins and cultures. That's a gospel issue! The church of God is kaleidoscopic and multiracial and wonderfully integrated - not in a team, but in the one man Jesus Christ. b. the French media use the word "dieu" very freely - for example a calendar of rugby players called "les dieux de la stade", etc. Zidane has been nicknamed "le dieu" because of his footballing prowess. In a way, that's understandable and a t

The Marseille grand mosque +

Bethinking - a thought stirring site

World cup

Bof! bof! and thrice bof! Bof! because they played it on Sunday. What's the matter with Saturday? Has there been some strange law banning sport on Saturday? Bof! because the World Cup was decided on penalty shoot-outs. This ought not to be. Bof! because France lost (and so ... embarrassingly.)

Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs

When we were anticipating coming to France one of the things I knew I would miss is the strong "meat and taters" hymns we sang in North Wales. We sing modern songs in France, like we did in Deeside, but we don't sing many of the strong old "meat and taters" hymns. However, we do read lots from the psalms. In my opinion the psalms are really important for worship, whether in Isaac Watts type gospelisations, or in free interpretations like "Praise, my soul, the King of heaven" or "A mighty fortress", or in more straightforward settings. For one thing the psalms are full of Jesus. What shows the triumph of the gospel as wonderfully as Psalm 72? Or the world's rebellion like Psalm 2? Or Jesus' sufferings like Psalm 22? The psalms are full of authentic Christian experience, too. There are too few contemporary Christian songs that show the hard experiences of the Christian life. That means that without the older hymns or the psalms you can

Well, it probably beats sitting on the terraces

with flags painted on your cheeks... 

Lots of sermon notes

My good friend Richard Mint (and a member of our mission council) is loading a lot of his sermon notes onto blogs. Good man! You can find them here:

Study Reports More Bibles, Less Religious Literacy

================================================== ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome ================================================== Study Reports More Bibles, Less Religious LiteracySurveyed Catholics in France, Spain and Italy ROME, JUNE 29, 2006 ( ).- Despite the increasing number of Bibles in circulation, knowledge of the Scriptures and the Church is weak among Catholics in three European countries, reports the Universal Biblical Alliance. In a three-year study conducted by professor Luca Diotallevi, of the University of Rome Three, some 650 Catholics in Spain, France and Italy revealed low levels of Mass attendance and general religious knowledge. The study, commissioned by the Universal Biblical Alliance, and carried out by Eurisko, also conducted in-depth interviews with leaders of the Catholic Church in the three countries. Diotallevi, presenting the report at a press conference on Monday in Rome, said that in the 40 years following the Second Vatican Cou

Geoff, Graham, Al, Garry, Ted and Jonathan I've been itching to read these. Geoff sits at the back of the room with his loptap taking full notes of the talks, and so does us all a favour. I love to read people who write about Jonathan Edwards, and to hear people talk about him. He does make people passionate, and he makes me excited about the Saviour.

Allez les bleus

The children have made French flags to put in the back windows of the car. The other day we were on the rocade, overtaking a car full of people (not that common for us, even with our turbodiesel engine, but one tries one's best...). All of a sudden they started honking like mad! Oh no, I thought, a wheel's coming off or something! When we looked they were honking and jumping up and down excitedly in the car and pointing at the flags and shouting "Allez les bleus!". And our wheels were fine.

An interesting looking book

on the historicity of the New Testament. ... Just out of interest, when one writes "a historical" one says "er h istorical" When one writes "an historical" does one say "an 'istorical" or "an h istorical"? The former sounds odd, the latter clumsy. I know this is virtually an 'eretical hopinion nowadays, but I think it is far simpler to keep it as "a historical". Ken'll answer this one, I am sure!

English MP3 Bible

Toll roads

Quite a lot of motorways in France are toll roads. OK, you accept the status quo. But after the meeting in Montauban the other day I have thought again about French toll roads. You frequently see vans driven by chaps who seem simply to be driving up and down the motorways, keeping an eye on things. Think of that when a lorry sheds its tyre - you rarely see any debris on the toll roads. Or think of the reassurance for women driving alone, and the deterrent to any misbehaviour. Even if you can't get mobile phone coverage, you know a van will be along sometime, and one may appear at any time.

Landaise signed for

Vendors and us. Initialled (8 times each) and signed (twice each, I think.) There we are. It looks like we are buying a house in Pessac Alouette.


Lots of it. Coming down in buckets!

My prognostication

That's what a lady asked me for today when she saw the tricolor flags the kids have stuck in the back windows of the car. Quelle est votre prognostication? On va gagner ou perdre? I said gagner, bien sûr!

Landaise in the picture again

It transpires that the person who bought the Landaise can't get a mortgage. So we have made a proposition of the same price as they (a few complications on the way) and we await to find out whether the vendor will accept our money. I'm pretty confident of getting a mortgage because we have a good deposit. Oh what fun, eh! If we do end up buying this house, spare a thought for me this October, up on scaffolding, spraying magnolia paint on the double height, rough-cast ( crepis ), sooty living-room walls.

You see, it's not simple... but just as the Welsh address God as ti , the French pray using tu . An old friend once told me that when he was little God was the only person in the whole wide world that he ever said ti to. (Except, I guess, his playfriends)

More international sports

As you probably know, this area is rich in maritime pines, which produce massive pine cones. At the Pignodrome of St Jean d'Illac, les lanceurs de pignes compete in the world championship at the end of June. The current world champion, a local man, chucked his regulation championship pine cone a staggering 60 metres!

So a France - Italy final then

Catrin to her mother

"I really look forward to going to school now."

Some thoughts on Independence Day

I can never suppose this country so far lost to all ideas of self-importance as to be willing to grant America independence; if that could ever be adopted I shall despair of this country being ever preserved from a state of inferiority and consequently falling into a very low class among the European States. - George III "I desired as many as could to join together in fasting and prayer, that God would restore the spirit of love and of a sound mind to the poor deluded rebels in America." - John Wesley, Journal, Aug 1, 1777

Could it be Sego next year?

Some thoughts on guidance;&version=31 ; Sometimes we have to drive to places we don't know. We have three ways of doing this. One is the excellent or giving you routes to places. Another is to get directions from someone. The third is to have someone with you to guide you. With mappy and viamichelin you always know where you are. It's great really. However, you can go wrong if you miss a turning or a sign, or count your roundabouts or exits wrong. A lot still depends on you. With directions, well your directions are only as good as the person giving them, and sometimes they can be hard to follow. But you generally know where you're going and sometimes where you are. What I like best is having a guide - like when we take someone home. They know the way. From time to time they may say things like "Do you know where you are now?" and generally I don't! I can't even guess what the


I talked with a few people about the Landaise, and about my remaining reservations: a) the cracks (fissures) in the exterior woodwork. Apparently they're all like that. They're meant to be like that. Fissures don't matter. Little holes do, because that's termites . b) the heating. Apparently what we need to do is get an insert installed. That way we won't need to use any heating anyway because burning wood in the insert will heat the whole house. (The couple who assured us of this live in a really big house, so it must be true!) But, you must buy your wood from a reputable wood furnisher, and you must not stack it against the house because that is an invitation for the termites . Yes. Bordeaux has termites . They eat their way through concrete to reach tasty wood. The folks mentioned in b) showed us where their next-door neighbour had to have his concrete walls treated to kill and repel the termites after stacking his wood against the house. So. The house is proba

She rolls well.

One of the nice things about French is that when talking about driving you use the verb rouler , to roll. So: A car is a nice little runner. Elle roule bien. (Cars are, of course, girls.) ... doing 80 mph. ... roulant à 130. Nice, eh?

MP3 files

We have not hit a rich vein of MP3 messages in French, have we! It is much easier to find material in English. For example Capitol Hill Baptist Church (of 9 marks fame) have an introduction and overview message for every Bible book. Old Testament:,,PTID324006%7CCHID677216%7CCIID2142376,00.html New Testament:,,PTID324006%7CCHID677216%7CCIID2058052,00.html

Bye, Ross, bon retour!

Ross is a young American chap who has been over for a few months to stay with the Foucachons. He's here because he's doing a History and French degree, but also because he's exploring the possibilities for the future. He's a great chap. We made our farewells today because he's off back to the States soon, and I won't see him again before he leaves (he's at a young people's camp this week). I think a good option for him might be to come back and improve his French at the DEFLE while immersing himself in the work of the gospel here. But of course, the one who's building his church may have other plans far better than mine. Anyway, blessings, Ross.

Fortes chaleurs!

N'oubliez pas de se réhydrater. Strong heats! Don't forget to drink. (Helpful sign over the ring road today.)

What a noisy evening!

A friend from DEFLE got engaged on Friday. It was great news. He had been planning it for months, a small circle of us were in on it, helping him with the ring and things like that. He popped the question and she said yes. So they had a quick engagement and football party last night. They were away somewhere watching the England match so they said not to arrive before 8. So we all drove down to their apartment to chat with their mates, enjoy salads and pizzas and watch France play. Sort of. I can't watch a whole football match. They're too long! It's like those films that last two hours. I know I will never watch Narnia all the way through. But one of their friends is a professional footballer, so he was very entertaining as he shouted instructions to the team (and they did seem to follow his advice.) It's great that you're never off duty as a pastor - a guy there said that in his home country of Chile he used to go to an evangelical church, but he hadn't found

Collaborative postings - Evening services and MP3 sermons in French

Evening services : I have nothing new to report. I'll post a summary of people's comments in a few weeks time. Preaching in French : There are not many websites that offer MP3 files of preaching in French. One I know of is the church where Florent Varak serves at . What other sites can people offer? These three for a start:

I'm not a poet

I had to do this talk and project on "Oulipo" - a workshop of writers who try to set themselves strict limits to stimulate their creativity. They describe themselves as "rats who build their own maze to find the way out of". One of their techniques is to cut down poems to make new structures that they say are sometimes more powerful than the original. I tried with this one. You may recognise the original. Helpless babe, Glory veiled; To serve, That we might live. Garden tears. Chose to bear; His heart torn, 'Yours,' He said. Hands and feet, Sacrifice, Stars in space. Cruel nails. Learn to serve, Enthrone Him; To prefer Serving.

Jan Ullrich out of the Tour! Two years ago I came on a recce of Bordeaux and walked through central Paris a week after the Tour ended. This year the tour is passing within 2 miles of our house, and we will be away. Irritating.

The kids' school reports

We are thankful, proud, humbled, reassured, overwhelmed. Thankful to all those who took our kids to their hearts and did so much to help them settle, especially prayed. Thankful to God. Gwilym's report was awestruck. The teacher is impressed by his progress in French. His geography is good, as is his science and maths. And of course, in English he got 89.5/90. Catrin, too. Here's her teacher's comment: Despite the language barrier, Catrin has progressed enormously in the class. An hour of support (from the headmistress) each morning has allowed her to integrate into the group of children in the class and at last to communicate, to play, to participate. Some gaps remain, certainly, in French, (I know the feeling!) but Catrin has the motivation and will make the effort necessary to fill them. After explaining the instructions (I don't think her teacher speaks English), her level in Maths is completely satisfactory.

John Piper's been talking at EMA It reminds me of when I left British Telecom to be Assistant Pastor at Deeside in 1891. My mother said "Will you be better off financially?" (My salary was going to be halved - and then some. No church can pay like BT!) I said "No, it's not like that, Mam." She was worried for a while because what I was doing seemed risky to her. It seemed risky to me, too, frankly. But she had a chat with her vicar who explained how he had left his job in local government to become a vicar, and I think she realised that if what I was doing was risky, it wasn't so unusual really. Coming to France seemed risky too. Still does. "What if?" But what if God works everything together for good, like he promises, eh?