Lucky us, Monday was Pentecost Monday, another one of those wonderful holidays that STILL exist in France, a country that has managed to add on the Republican holidays to the already existing religious holidays, in a particularly... CATHOLIC spirit, which holds that... hard work will not replace grace in that almost full time occupation of SAVING YOUR SOUL, that our generation has now translated into "being happy". (That was a long sentence, I will try to do better, promise...)
Remember, somebody way back there when said "man does not live by bread alone". Nor does he live by "hard work", nor... retirement pensions, nor gambling in the stock market, nor by zipping all over the planet in package tours. All that may be "fun" (what a trite word...), but "it" will not get you up in the morning day after day. 'Specially not when you get older, and your body starts falling apart in bits and pieces.
My husband's family, like most French so called "liberals" has been almost rabidly anti clerical for many years, if not generations. A year ago, I deeply upset my father in law's wife by defending the Catholic faith, and holding that vacuous proclamations of "equality for women, children, cats, dogs, you name it" being the SOVEREIGN good had some... serious disadvantages that we are beginning to reap as a society these days. And that... a LEGALIST society is just NOT the utopia that our republican (no, not Rush Limbaugh and company, I'm talking about those who are busy defending OUR French republic) fathers imagined way back when, when they decided in a fit of rabid fury to overturn the Catholic Church's privileges, battering, and destroying its buildings and images at the same time. (They had some pretty legitimate gripes, too, but few of us really know much about this, because so much... propaganda inevitably fills our history manuals to justify our own social choices that we blithely trot out our ignorance at every chance we get.)
So... imagine my amazement this weekend to hear... religion as a subject of discussion in one form or another at almost every meal.
Questions from one generation to the previous about what such and such meant... Where it came from. Why it existed.
(By the way, in France the priest drinks white wine at Communion, not red. Nobody in MY crowd knows why..)
I tell them that growing up a Presbyterian Protestant in the U.S. meant drinking... GRAPE JUICE at Communion. (Protestantism in France has always been, and will probably remain a MARGINAL sect. It's not for nothing that France at one time earned the nickname, "the elder daughter of the (Catholic) Church. (Marginal) Protestantism in France doesn't look very much like (mainstream) Protestantism in the U.S.)
Better than nothing, maybe (because I'm not sure that the Catholics get a shot at the wine anyway...) but... rather Disneyland next to the real McCoy.
For the time being, this talking is being done in a rather disparaging and sarcastic manner, but GUESS WHAT ???
When you are REALLY indifferent about something YOU DON'T TALK ABOUT IT AT ALL..
Words are like money.
They multiply and disseminate. THEY are behind monetary speculation, making and breaking economies. They sow, and perpetuate ideas. You know... ideas that people are sometimes ready to die for, AND to kill for. Because we are not Caspar Milquetoast animals at all. Never have been, either.
Talking about something IN WHATEVER MANNER helps keep it alive.
Thus ensuring... THAT THE NEXT GENERATION WILL BE ABLE TO LATCH ON TO IT when the time comes, for example.
The next generation which will INVARIABLY be defining itself at least partially IN OPPOSITION to the previous (remember my last exposé ?...).
I used to get all worked up when people made disparaging remarks about the Church, Jesus, etc.
Now I sit back and listen. I bide my time...
To my friends who confidently (but out of a form of mysterious naiveté that is so common in people cynical in this domain) proclaim that organized religion is dead, I say :
We'll see, won't we ??
(And guess what ? I found out while working as a shrink that..INTENTIONALLY NOT TALKING about something (i.e. keeping secrets) sometimes was an incredible GUARANTEE that IT would be transmitted. Really, it's a clear case of damned if you do (talk about it) AND damned if you don't... LOL. This comment goes right back to what I wrote here about "what you receive from your fathers, inherit it in order to possess it", OTHERWISE IT WILL POSSESS YOU.)
In the meantime, I dream of a Communion ceremony where we could ALL drink FREE millésimé Bordeaux wine (for example) and sink our teeth into good, crusty bread.
Tear away at it.
For our bodies. AND for our souls.