Showing posts from May, 2007

"The Roma who found religion"

The Dawkins Letters

David Robertson of Dundee responds to "The God delusion"

Well I've got the car back

It entailed a phone call to the garage at 15:40 (or thereabouts) - then : Bus 46 from l'Alouette to Pessac Centre. Tram ligne B from Pessac Centre to Victoire. Bus 20 from Victoire to Pont de la Maye and my garagiste . On the bus 5pm was looming, but I phoned the garage and they said they close at 6. Phew ! Why take the car to Pont de la Maye? Complicated story. Ready? When the first owner bought the car in 2003 he paid for a 5 year service-included extended warranty. But the naughty receptionist didn't log it onto Citroën's system. When I bought the car the warranty came with it, but my garagiste had to phone the dealer in Picardy to establish that the contract was good. So now every time he services the car he sends the bill to the dealer in Picardy and they stump up, and not me. The first controle technique (MOT) is due this autumn. All included. Today he changed the discs and pads. All included. And the warranty runs up to November 2008. Yippeee! So I think the scuttli

A morning strolling round Bordeaux

The car went in for its service to the garage in Villenave d'Ornon near where we used to live. The proprietor said it'll be ready for 5pm. I said "No chance of midday?" He said, "Ring." So I took the bus into Victoire (about the only place you can go by public transport from Villenave!) and spent the morning strolling round the city. Then I got the tram to Pessac centre and walked Gwilym home from school. (I rang. The car isn't ready.) I don't know why there were so many riot police vans in a row, each with its lights flashing and with just the driver on board. Perhaps there's a demonstration in town?

More pictures from this morning

The first shows a very welcome spot just round the corner from Victoire . I asked a guy at a café where the nearest public toilet was - and of course, he had to ask me what I wanted to do in order to decide if this would suit the purpose or not. It did. The next shows Mr. Millipede's charcuterie stall at the indoor market on Cours Victor Hugo. His stall is not open. He's legged it. Some of the wrought-ironwork in Bordeaux is simply gorgeous. By the way, I heard on the radio this morning that the hotel our sound recordist stayed in has burnt down !

A lovely Mehari

I booked the car in for its next service and saw this:

Phew !

I just did our déclaration des impôts online. If you do it by paper the deadline is 31 May, but online it's 12 June. And they give you 20€ (£14) off if you promise to pay online, too. Last year they gave us money (!), but that may have been a quirk of the system, because we were paid partly in Britain and partly in France. We'll see. It's good to get it done. Next I have to tell the Inland Revenue that we have no British income to tax any more. They want that on a Tax Return form.

Sinclair on Genesis 3:15

From : ... Genesis 3:15 is in a sense the most basic text in the whole Bible: God puts enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman; the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent, and the serpent will crush the heel of the woman’s seed. Romans 16:20 and Revelation 12:9 both make crystal clear from the perspective of Christ’s completed work that Genesis 3:15 promises the ultimate cosmic conflict between our Lord Jesus Christ and Satan and the powers of darkness. Of course Satan is not mentioned by name in Genesis 3 – a point of some hermeneutical interest in itself – but when Paul writes that ‘the God of peace will bruise Satan under your head shortly’ (Romans 16:20), and John sees in Revelation 12:9 that the serpent has grown into a dragon, it is clear that the New Testament writers thought of Genesis 3:15 as a reference to the coming Messiah, and to his conflict with Satan.The war about which the bo

How do I explain this to the children

France has strong links with the ex-colony of Burkina Faso, so it wasn't that strange that Pat should go there with 7 other nurses and lots of supplies in a big cargo plane. But when the aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff, that was profoundly shocking. I thought about what to say to the children, and about the chaos that was about to hit our lives. What should we do? Return to Britain? How would we live? Then I woke up and realised that Pat was in Catrin's room. Catrin had had a bad dream. She wasn't the only one.

To win the nation for Christ in the next thirteen years

The Free Church Moderator's visionary challenge. This is a long read, but very worthwhile. John Ross raises issues that exist far beyond the bounds of Scotland.

Well that didn't last !

You know that a few days ago someone pressed the hot switch ? Well Friday evening someone pressed the wet switch. Rain. And wind. Our Whitsun treat has been cancelled because we were going to go to the Lot et Garonne for a barbecue and for fun and games in the forest, but the hailstones have been so big and hard and numerous that they have stripped the trees of leaves. So we're going to Remania , as my mother would have said. As for me - I am pretty bushed, so I will value a quiet day at home, with just a few folks dropping in. (Pat hasn't said how many...)

The ways and wisdom of the ant

"A scientific study of the teamwork of army ants has discovered how they are prepared to let their fellow ants walk all over them to get the job done."

The voice-over

At this state of the rat recording studio we recorded the voice-over for the mission DVD. The microphone is clipped to a wonky music stand and propped on the bed behind a duvet draped over two chairs to create an echo-free environment. Afterwards I ran our sound man to his air-conditioned hotel room, through the grounds where the grasshoppers were singing and the frogs were croaking in the lake.

Someone flicked the 'hot' switch

During our team meeting on Tuesday morning at centre FAC someone flicked the 'hot' switch and turned on summer. It caused us Daveys a small problem because I was wearing my natty red fleece and Pat had on a sweater. Still, it made the centre of Bordeaux look jolly. (I was just framing the high-powered police scooters in the camera when the lights changed and they zoomed away)

Can anyone read the titles on these books ?

The President's official photo has been taken by a photographer who's made his name in the "people" (pee-pull) section of the press. This roughly equates to the gossip columns / Hello magazine. They've chosen to photograph Sarkozy in a library with the two flags of France and Europe, rather than in the gardens of the Elysée like Chirac . I think it makes the president look small. What do you think ? It's the first time the official photo has included the European flag, apparently at the suggestion of the photographer.

from all over the world

Sometimes people imagine that Airbus suffers from the way that its part are manufactured all over Europe (wings in Wales, etc..) Here's a blog about the assmbly of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which shows that all over Europe is small game !

Carl, Martin, this is profoundly helpful stuff Especially look at the distinction he makes between those who want to teach , and those who want to be teachers .

A hymn to God the Father

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun, Which was my sin, though it were done before? Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run, And do run still, though still I do deplore? When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done, For I have more. Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won Others to sin, and made my sin their door? Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun A year or two, but wallowed in a score? When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done, For I have more. I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ; But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ; And having done that, Thou hast done ; I fear no more. by John Donne. I know this poem is a bit too full of ponnes , but it is still great. And it does capture the span of God's forgiveness - the cancelling of all our debt, our real guilt as fallen people and

Some pictures of Bordeaux

The blog's gone a bit quiet, it's true. Here's some pictures to look at in the meantime.

An astonishing fact

You know when you are reading decimal numbers? You know how you say 25.25 and 125.125 as twenty-five point two five and one hundred and twenty-five point one two five ? Well in France you say vingt-cinq virgule vingt-cinq and cent vingt-cinq virgule cent vingt-cinq . Poor Gwilym. When he told me I wouldn't believe him, but then a chap I got into conversation with on the tram confirmed it.

I'm Madame Fillon, isn't it. There's a lovely interview, too, and if that's a home counties twang then I'm a man of Kent and you can just call me Tarquin.

Well the weather's been pretty well perfect ...

It drizzled constantly up till Sunday, stopping me from strimming the grass. Then it EMPTIED down. Then on Sunday afternoon it was quite pleasant for the students' and others' barbecue. Now this morning it is drizzling, so no strimming again!

Here's the photo of the display of "Cargoes" from Cardiff Bay

Sorry about the stripey shirt!

That's Bordeaux for you

Well the young folk are coming back for a barbecue at lunchtime after the service, together with sundry others (a couple from North Wales and possibly two American guys), and it's hosing down with rain. Hosing down ! Thankfully we have the covered patio thing at the side of the house, which is where we sit anyway, so we'll probably sit there happily in the smoke chomping on our chops...

Loco ? No, locaux !

The search for a place to meet continues. We have the possibility of the school rooms. They could work functionally, but they don't solve one of the issues that the church has had to deal with during our time in the basement of the pastor's house in Floirac, which is the absence of a presence, an identity in the city. A shop front. A placard. We feel we need to find premises which conform to the standards for public meeting rooms and which can carry our identity and be used flexibly for the gospel. Meanwhile we expect to quit our present premises in early July.

Raclette rides again

There's three fellers from America helping the church at the moment with our removal process. One of them is the kind of guy who can make things out of his head. He designed and put up the boat in the garden with his team five years ago. Now he and his lads have taken it down and stored it away. Next they'll dismantle the chalet and I think they are going to mantle it again in another garden. It's been sold. Anyway - they came round to eat last night and we racletted them, which they enjoyed. The kids were thrilled, too, for various reasons. For one thing they love having people here but for another we had bought LOADS of Coca Cola. It was great to have them and to get to know them. We talked with them about our long-term, "one day maybe" project of putting a wooden mezzanine in our lounge to create another one or two rooms upstairs and you could see him working out timber sizes and directions of beams in his head. Maybe one day he'll draw it up for us.

Irish Calvinist reviews Grudem on Evangelical Feminism Have you read the book? Some folks say "These verses are really hard to understand and to interpret". Does he deal with that, the alleged obscurity of these words : I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (2 Tim. 2.12) ?

Thanks, Tim, for this

There's lovely, isn't it Note : M. Fillon "Has a Welsh wife, Penelope, and five children". In French Penelope is pronounced Pennerlopp, but the name is not greatly used and I think she's known as Penny anyway.

It's Ascension Day

GOD is gone up on high, with a triumphant noise; the clarions of the sky proclaim the angelic joys! Join all on earth, rejoice and sing; glory ascribe to glory’s King. God in the flesh below, for us He reigns above: let all the nations know our Jesu’s conquering love! Join all on earth, rejoice and sing; glory ascribe to glory’s King. All power to our great Lord is by the Father given; by angel hosts adored, He reigns supreme in heaven: Join all on earth, rejoice and sing; glory ascribe to glory’s King. High on His holy seat He bears the righteous sway; His foes beneath His feet shall sink and die away: Join all on earth, rejoice and sing; glory ascribe to glory’s King. His foes and ours are one, Satan, the world, and sin; but He shall tread them down, and bring His kingdom in: Join all on earth, rejoice and sing; glory ascribe to glory’s King. Till all the earth, renewed in righteousness divine, with all the hosts of God in one great chorus join: Join all on earth, rejoice and sing; g

Guy Moquet's letter

M. Sarkozy's first day was a busy one. After his inauguration he laid wreaths at the tomb of the unknown soldier and at a statue of deGaulle. He decreed that all high school children should read Guy Moquet's letter, and then met up with Angela Merkel. As we left the cinema yesterday we walked past the town war memorial. At the centre is a big, long list of the men who were killed during the first world war. Then on either side shorter lists. On the right the men who fell in the field of battle during the second world war. On the left those who were "shot or deported". Bordeaux was in the occupied zone. With Sarkozy's first day, it illustrates how close you live to history here. Guy Moquet was a lad of 16 when France was invaded. He lived in Paris and committed himself to resistance (leaflets and pamphlets). He was denounced and arrested in 1941, acquitted at trial but imprisoned anyway because he was a Communist (he's 17 now). Then a German officer is assassin

The inauguration of Président Sarkozy

People here tend to equate the président's role with the British prime minister, but I think this is more like a coronation than anything else. Though we didn't have street parties.

France's health system People often say that the health system in France is much better than in Britain. I don't know about that, but I do know that we pay a lot for it. It is insurance based, so as well as our health care contribution paid through the association for workers in religion we have top-up insurance to cover the rest. I expect that the reason why cost of drugs is not such an issue is because of the role of the insurance.

They're all demob happy here

Pat has finished for this year at the DEFLE, going out in a blaze of exams. Hurrah ! Tomorrow is Ascension Day, and therefore a bank holiday (jour férié). So the kids' schools have also taken Friday off to make a great big long weekend ! Hurrah for the principals ! It's business as usual for me, but to celebrate Gwilym and I went to the cinema at Pessac this afternoon to see Spiderman Trois (version française). After a while you forget that it's dubbed. It was my first visit to our cinema, so I took some pictures. It's REALLY COOL.

A bilingual blog to look at


OK. Here is where we are at. Pastor and family - they have secured a house to rent in St Loubès , a small town between Bordeaux and Izon , and they expect to move in July. Church - we have a fallback position - some rooms to rent in a private school just off the inner ring road in Bordeaux. So we have somewhere to go. The complication is that we don't have the rooms until September, and we will probably give back the keys on our current place mid-July. Still, we are getting there. Thank you for praying about this.

Dramas at school...

Well it has been lively day at school. Catrin's school friends are going through a time of Malory Towers - you know, where Bunty is best friends with Felicity, but decides not to talk to her or to invite her to her party etc. etc. Meanwhile the curriculum has taken Gwilym into the Old Testament in the French lessons and the New Testament in the History lessons. French was this morning and the charming, aunt-like (is it still avuncular for aunts?) French teacher sought me out at lunch time to explain that Gwilym had become very upset during the lesson, which was on Genesis 1. Hmmm. Under interrogation he told me that what upset him was when when she used the word "mythology" and compared Genesis 1 to the Odyssey. So I tried to explain that people use the word "mythology" in various ways - they don't always mean that it's not true... In fact I do not know if I have ever met a French christian who is a 6 day creationist. Most seem to take the "poetic a

Pessac tram tests

We were early picking Gwilym up from school so we went to see the new tram terminus in Pessac. The houses alongside were varied so I took some pictures of four neighbouring ones - one of them is the most 'Bates motel' house I have ever seen. To get to Pessac centre the tram has to duck under the railway line. The bank on the left has been planted with ivy. On the right there are various shrubs (I spotted cotoneaster). The tram goes downhill very slowly, but comes back up really fast!

Assemblée générale

at Saint Aubin de Blaye. Here's some pictures of the texts painted on the walls. I was very taken with one couple's name, and when we take French citizenship perhaps we'll do a name change as well. Pesquidou. Pronounced Pesky-doo. Cool, eh? I was also very taken with the Blaye bottled water. The brand? Centrale . The thing is, there is a Centrale (power station) at Blaye, and it is nuclear. I think it may be a pressurised water reactor, too... Anyway, that water I drank certainly seemed to give me a nice shot of energy. It was necessary, really. It had been a long, busy weekend. I preached in the morning from Rev 3 - the letter to the church at Philadelphia. Then quick dash back to Pessac with someone who was ill. Then picnic at church and prepare PowerPoint for the Assemblée. Then off to the Blayais. The Assemblée went well, I thought, with a review of a year that has been hard but good.

I don't know what was going on at the Cathedral

but I quite liked the way the flags were stuck on the town hall annexe wonky. And here's one of those street lights that I like, too.

Some photos

Firstly the tram going back and fore to Pessac town centre. It looks like all is on schedule for the service to begin at the end of May. Then the flags on the town hall to commemorate the abolition of slavery. There was a piece in the paper about the hassle of raising and lowering all these flags everywhere when there's so many commemorations in quick succession in May. Then a photo I took because I like the street lamps.

En route for Côte d'Ivoire

This is the Griffins. They came to Bordeaux this week for a reconnaissaince visit. This autumn they are coming to France to learn French en route to Côte d'Ivoire.

Anyone who had an Anglican childhood

and sang in the robed choir of a traditional but low church where a pointed psalm was sung each service will appreciate this post of David Field's if they click on " This " and " This ".

They're all at it !

How can you even contemplate letting him go ? ( Don't answer that...)

It's a fêteful May !

May 1st - Labour day - Bank holiday. May 8th - Victory 1945 - Bank holiday May 9th - 50 years of Europe - no bank holiday May 10th - Abolition of slavery - no bank holiday May 17th (I think) - Jeanne d'Arc - no bank holiday. (Oops ! It was Ascension Day and it was a bank holiday...) Whooopidooooooo !

Look what I saw outside the town hall last night !

This is an eSolex. Modelled on the VeloSolex that coughs and sputters its way round the streets of the city in a cloud of sweet-smelling smoke, this one gets charged from the mains and runs silently and greenly on France's 80%-nuclear electricity. They have only recently started being sold. They're quite expensive and this is the first one I've seen in the flesh.

Some people are very enthusiastic about Sarko. DCMP = EMC -new_08052007 I don't like the way this article is written, but I thought I'd share it with you because it reflects the way that some people are very pro- Sarko . Others point out that his programme of reforms could begin very quickly, much more quickly than in Britain. Pierre Emmanuel McBaudouin celebrated in his own way, recalling the Auld Alliance (the less said about that the better...) Meanwhile, although people seem to have been unimpressed with Ségo's performance during the debate ("She was pretending to be angry", "She had all that planned and prepared", "She was schoolmarm-ish") here in Bordeaux she was the choice of the voters. Incidentally, yesterday I got hold of Sarko's book, La République, les religions, l'espérance . This i

See, be and flee

(This meme started out being from books, but by the time it got to me it included films. Thanks for tagging me, Exiled from Groggs.) Three characters I wish were real, so I could meet them: 1) Mma Ramotswe . I am sure she'd give me very good advice, some bush tea and a nice piece of cake. And she would be so polite! 2) Inspector Clouseau. He'd make me laugh uncontrollably. 3) Uncle Podger . Three characters I would like to be: 1) When I was a child I always wanted to be Julian or Dick and to go off on adventures on bikes all over Devon. Except I couldn't handle being called Julian or Dick, of course. No offence, Julian and Dick, but it just wouldn't do for a Welshman. 2) I suppose it might be fun to be Thursday Next and to work in Jurisfiction and to have a dodo saying " pok , pok ". 3) Boy, this is really hard. I can't really imagine wanting to be anyone else. Does that mean that I am smug? Three characters who scare me: 1) Francis Urquhart. Nasty. 2) F

You know I said my week usually starts slowly and then gets crazy from Friday to Sunday?

Well this week things are more balanced: Monday lunchtime - Pessac Men's Group - Christ au coeur de la prédication . Monday evening - Bible study in French with a Chinese student at the student centre. This will be fun. His French is very much at beginner level, but we have bilingual Bible Study books in French and Chinese. Tuesday evening - Groupe Rive Gauche - beginning a series of Bible Overview / Big Picture studies with the creation chapter from Le salut de la Genèse à l'Apocalypse . Now I'm going through this book with one of the students, so this makes it easier. (That's the book with the unpronounceable Qu'ignorerions -nous? question in it.) Incidentally the student centre really buzzed this Saturday with a good turnout for the Chinese meeting 2 - 4:40, good numbers for the English Class 4:30 - 6:15 ish and then the evening session on Apologetics from 7 to 10. It's great to have the place nice and busy!

Oooh it's so exciting ! update - 20:07 - well it was exciting, briefly...

It does seem strange... Madame Royal says that if Sarko is voted in there'll be violence in the streets. Others have been saying this for some time. Of course on one level it's inevitable, because even now in certain suburbs of Paris and other big cities there's fairly frequent violence in the streets. However it does seem strange to imagine that today 54% of the French electors may vote Sarko in and tomorrow the other 46% will decide to throw stones at the nearest policeman in protest. What is perhaps more likely is that as he begins to make his changes, his big changes, his rupture totale with the past, that people will protest at the changes, and perhaps then there would be violence. It is hard for Brits to take in the difference in culture. Most French people I ask have been in demonstrations. In fact so far only one person has ever replied "No, I have never been in a manifestation."

Les voitures des Présidents français

The truth about bananas

Well, we can see which way Mr Heffer thinks it should go. Meanwhile the students were not impressed with Madame Royal's performance in the debate. Some described her as bête , which is pretty strong in that context and for them. Mr Heffer draws an interesting comparison between the Thatcher revolution and the possibilities of some Sarkozy years. Madame Royal foresees violent confrontations in the streets if Sarkozy is elected. (It's a fair bet. There are violent confrontations from time to time now.) Mrs Thatcher's government made the British riot. Remember the Poll Tax? Meanwhile the BBC is less decided, but sums up the situation. We'll see. Meanwhile we are urged: Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Rom 13) and I urge, then, first of al

Well the boy's back

A good time was had by all. He took over 500 photos - thankfully with an old digital camera which is not yet broken! Apparently everyone was very sage and his favourite place was the Coliseum. (The first picture is of some roofs in Pessac)

I like my doctor

Six months ago she said "See you in six months". Today she said, "I haven't seen you in a long time!" "No," I said, "six months. Approximately. More or less." Then she said "Have you lost weight?" I said "Maybe?", thinking 'surely not after the food at that conference in the Cévennes...' Then she checked my breathing (I was) and my blood pressure (it is). She tells me my blood pressure but she tells me in centigrade and I can only do fahrenheit. I sneak a look at the peak flow meter and yes, I am blowing well today. "Well balanced." she said, "See you again in six months' time. Blood tests again in 18 months."

The Great Debate : oh well, you pays your money and..

you makes your choice... Here's what the Telegraph says about the Great Debate : and here's the BBC : For me, Madame Royal reminded me of this silly sketch :

Sarko / Ségo - It's the big debate this evening...

From 9 till 11 each candidate has the same amount of time to speak. It's prayer meeting night (8h30 - 10h00, 1/2 hour away). I may record the debate, but I find it hard to imagine that I'll really sit down at a later time and watch TWO HOURS of electioneering - especially when I can't even vote. My biggest and best reason to do it would be solidarity with everyone. After all, everyone's really excited about it.

Ooh la la!

It's the government that injects oyster into the mice. If the mice live the oysters are fine. While we wait for the mice to "deliver their verdict" everyone holds their breath in anxious anticipation! Possibly including the mice... The article doesn't say how the Italians propose to test their oysters. Or if they test them, even...

When there's a problem it's important to find the RIGHT answer.

A friend's pastor in the USA has recently written about the problems with fundamentalism there in This fundamentalism has been imported to France, by the way. (Unless you know who these people are, I suggest that you scamper down to the paragraph that begins: The latter part of the lecture... and read from there...) I was thinking early this morning about one of the emergent slogans "Belonging before believing" and about how right and how wrong it is. How right, because churches have to be open communities that accept new arrivals and the uncommitted, and who know how to welcome them warmly. How wrong, because still we don't really belong until we believe. Believing brings belonging. It took me to Acts 5 : 12 - 13, where we see how people were drawn to the church but didn't dare join them. It reminded me of my conversion when I so wanted to be a Christian,

The Reformed iPod are offering Richard Baxter's Reformed Pastor on MP3 free this month.

9Marks have reviews of books on preaching and Biblical theology

They review four books by Dennis Johnson, Sidney Greidanus, Ed Clowney and Graeme Goldsworthy. Here's a link to the Goldsworthy review. I choose that one because a) it is available in French b) it's the book the Pessac men are studying together.,,PTID314526%7CCHID598014%7CCIID2327108,00.html

Anyone know how to cook sea urchins?

Those black tufty things.