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The Godless French?

In Christ and Culture, Worldview on September 8, 2015 at 12:35 am

I recently heard a pastor refer to France as a spiritual wasteland, and this wasn’t the first time I had heard this.

Twenty-one of our students went to France this past spring break and I asked them if they found this to be true. They agreed that French culture is very secular. Very few people in France go to church, and they don’t really talk, or even think, about God. They have beautiful churches, but the students observed large gift shops in two of the most beautiful churches they visited, Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur.

But, they also saw evidence that perhaps the French aren’t as spiritually dry as we might think, and that they are, in some ways, expressing some aspects of honouring the Creator better than we do.

The most obvious example for the students was the French approach to food. The French value food, so when they eat, they take their time. A meal is not a mere biological necessity between work and an evening Bible study. The meal is one of the most important events of the day. The students said, “Even the fast food is slow.”

And meals aren’t just about the food. They are very much about the conversation that takes place over the meal. The French enjoy nothing more than great food with good friends. Here, restaurants try to maximize the number of seatings in an evening by carefully moving diners from the appetizer to the bill as quickly as possible without them feeling rushed. In France, you and your friends are expected to enjoy each other’s company for hours. If you want a bill, you have to ask for it.

Rather than serving groceries in the same store that also sells underwear and motor oil (Walmart, Target, etc.), the French have rows of small, independently owned specialty stores. Each only sells one thing–cheese, meat, pastry, bread, fish, vegetables. The idea is that if you specialize, you can better ensure the quality of your wares, and the resultant meals will be a lot more enjoyable.

Very early, the Bible establishes humanity’s three key relationships: with God, with others, and with Creation. The French do very little to nurture the first, hence the appellation “godless,” but, at least in their approach to meals, they do really well with the second two. They take the good gifts of God and treat them as the treasures they are.

Our culture conceived of Kraft Dinner which sells for $1.27 a box and takes less than 10 minutes to make and even less to consume even if we include the time it takes to offer a prayer acknowledging God’s gustatory providence.

This post was previously published at http://insideout.abbotsfordchristian.com/

Moral Lessons from Traffic Lights

In Apologetics on September 3, 2015 at 2:29 am

We had some pretty big winds in my corner of Canada this past weekend. It really messed up the traffic lights.

My daughter suggested that the various scenarios we experienced this past weekend were instructive.

I went through intersections where all the lights were black. People dealt with the absence of direction in two ways. The more thoughtful treated it as a 4-way stop, but others blasted right through, either oblivious to the situation or in reckless celebration of this unusual freedom.

In some places they had the opposite problem: I heard that when power was restored to some intersection, all the lights showed green. Apparently, in the absence of any restriction, there were numerous fender benders.

I went through an intersection where the lights in all directions were red, except a green left turn arrow. The 4-way stop procedure worked well until a vehicle drove down the left turn lane with the arrow. This confused the working order of the whole intersection.