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Final France, May 2011


Reflecting on a final day experience when in Prague, asking swat-like cops standing across the street from one of the Synagogues, why the heightened police presence around all the Jewish Temples in town… his answer wasn’t the obvious. “Why are we here? We are here because of your State!” He viewed his political distaste for US Middle East policy and the Czech Republic’s involvement due to being an ally and having to follow suit – “…but what do I know, I am just soldier.” Oppression from the Soviet occupation is still felt here and the Czech people (at least this ‘soldier’) now feel occupied by allied involvement with the USA to USA military policy… he expressed Czech sentiment of being a free country–free from any foreign dictation that endangers Czech people­. He was confrontive with me about his dissatisfaction with the assignment (though I noted he got paid to be there or anywhere else he was deployed).  But it was the fault of my State that this deployment had to be, because of the US, stsulpice3 the Czech people are in the Middle East…that is “why” these cops were there outside the synagogues of Prague. Allies are targets?

France: Paris/Paris/Bourges/Paris – home.

Day of shooting Paris churches: St. Sulpice (forget the da Vinci Code attraction taking place here)–I note the prayers stuffed into the statue crevices and the writing on statuary bases (assume the writing are prayer and not graffiti). Think of the faithful at ha-Kotel in Yerusalem.

stsulpice St. Louis de I’le, to St. Gervais, to La Perla for a couple Tequila drinks and then to St. Paul-St. Louis to pray for folks back home, especially Cody and Vasco.

Prayers for Cody and Vaco continue in all churches I attend among others on my prayer list – prayer list continues to grow.

Find a large oven roasting Poulet Roti (roasted chicken) and potatoes (15E… $21+ ouch) at a butcher and purchase to satisfy a two-day craving. Bring it back to the apartment to eat. I later invite Adrienne to the chicken, to feel free and pick at will. How fragile communication . . . she wonders why I named the chicken Will and that personalizing the chicken is a bit odd. Maybe I should have rephrased my invitation to pick freely at the chicken, it becomes a joke between us.

Late nights (it doesn’t get dark until 10pm).

Tired, cranky – late dinner (midnight) Adrienne makes steak and cous-cous.

nd-victories3_lefever St. Martin des Champ – purchase a church lunch for 7E[uro, I eat it all](salad, chicken curry and brown rice, chocolate cake and coffee–a lot of food): served lunch by a angel volunteer, a sweet French woman who found St. Martin church and made it her home, and I realize how much I like soft and kind women over self-assertive proud ambitious types–but I am assuming too much, I am working on my own kindness; something lost in me a few times on this trip

Next stop, St. Elizabeth then  Notre Dame Victories, where all walls are lined with marble plaques of donors– there are many faithful here in prayer.

With a “Will” sandwich and two nectarines I depart for Bourges on the morning train.

nd-victories1_lefever Listen to Mars Hill Audio: Economist John Medaille interview. He is a Distributist, an economic third way with roots in Aristotle, Aquinas, and Catholic social teaching, especially 1890 Papal encyclical Rarum Novarum. He discusses the failure of Capitalistic Consumerism, and suggests the ownership of property should be as wide spread as possible instead of in the hands of a few owners (Capitalism) or in the hands of state bureaucrats (Socialism). He also states that economics is not merely financial capital but a moral philosophy involving ethics, arguing that economics is not merely a physical science but also a moral science. He talks about License and freedom: “What we defend is the opposite of freedom. What we defend is license. We define freedom in a negative sense, that is, a lack of restriction. That has never been the case in the Christian understanding of freedom: freedom was about training one’s desires toward the Good (the greater social good), and that is a kind of freedom Capitalism doesn’t like because it depends on consumerism, it depends on disordered desires, it depends on always wanting something new, even if what we have is perfectly good.  stsernintoulouse_lefever So, license and freedom are confounded in Capitalism and that’s why our educational system is really advertising: we have to propagandize people 24 hours a day, seven days a week to train their desires towards things they may not really want…”. Ken Myers summarizes what strikes him is that economics is intrinsically moral, that all economic actions are intrinsically moral and have connections with other aspects of moral life. Economic activity is not some amoral sphere. I think how interconnected the aspects of our lives independently and jointly to one another. Am I my brother’s keeper or is my personal fulfillment and pleasure the better goal?

stgermain_aux_lefever Listen to an interview of Economist Herman Daly who wrote the forward to Wendell Barry’s book, “What Matters? Economics of a Renewed Commonwealth.” Daly discusses Homo-economicus, Adamist in nature: independent of others. We are defined by our relationships–it is the quality of all one’s relationships that really define one’s welfare, far more than the amount of goods and services one consumes, at least beyond some minimum subsistence. I wonder about internal economy of one’s spirit the spending of our actions in behaviors with others develop or destroy community and even personal well being.

Reflect on how in our personal lives, our own decisions to do particular actions don’t only affect us personally, but also affect many others related to us (to greater and lesser degrees), as well as people related to the other party. I think especially of sexual affairs, where people often make choices of personal interest without considering how that might spider web out to others, even people not known by us (like children or the spouse of the related “lover”)… stbonnet_bourges_lefever how often do we ever think of the well being of others over our own gratification and self indulgence in a given scenario (not just in our prayers, but in our daily actions and choices)… ? How often do we think in terms of ethics or morality anymore?

Adrienne & I discuss Existentialism, Nihilism, Arminianism, and even my own entropic view of our world… a lot of this kind of talk takes place this trip–certainly a theme topic for us this time around and especially here in Paris.

I am photographing a painting in St. Etienne, Bourges, when a elderly gentleman with a sports coat and red umbrella pinches my arm and pulls me toward him asking something in French. Then in proper British English  bourges-lefever he asks if I like art and in particular that painting. How do I know if it is good? We talk. He pinch pulls my arm again to show me another painting that he quite likes and wants to know what I think. He is also a part time volunteer Cathedral guide with a love for the stained glass more than the paintings. He asks how long I will be in Bourges… “I arrived at noon but I leave in 30 minutes (5:40pm)”. He hits me with his umbrella and rhetorically asks, “You came to Bourges for only half a day?” He hits me again in the arm with the umbrella, “It takes eight days to see Bourges! It takes two days alone for the Cathedral.”

E.M. Guillaume of Rue Parmenter, Bourges, is a native Bourgesian. I tell him I will return. What do you say about an older gentleman character speaking classic proper British who hits you in the arm repeatedly with his umbrella to make a point of saying, “You moron, wake up!”

I must start traveling differently. This trip is a testament to this fact.

Back in Paris from Bourges. A half a day isn’t enough to remember a place with the depth of knowing– like relationships in passing.



* notredame_bourges_lefever


Cody Day departs this world. Rest in peace & joy Cody, God Bless with deep comfort and compassion Dave and Dallas.






Last day in Paris: Museum Day

Medieval Museum: It is the “once-upon-a-time” and the Unicorns

The Orangerie: ode to Monet

Two more church stops… a night out and a discovery that small quantities of Jack Daniels on ice devours Euros at 11E a pop (translate that as wasted $$$$$ ouch)-We could have bought three bottles – or one LARGE Gentleman Jack (at Costco… but that is not Paris, is it?)!

Two hours sleep and it is off to Charles de Gaul International for my flight home. Adrienne rides the train with me to the airport to say good-bye and recap the trip. It may likely be two years until we see each other again.

galliac_lefever This was a trip of firsts and of lasts.  Many prayers offered at many churches and Cathedrals. This was a trip of discovery and challenge and internal growth. I hope as it is processed, I will be a better person as a result. The most trying of trips are usually those of greatest benefit to growth. Eccl. 7:2-4 comes to mind.

This year is not over yet… this is just the start, demanding, but doable.

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  1. Posted May 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Great images! I love the prayers on the base of the statue!

  2. Lorraine Bader
    Posted May 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    hey Jeff welcome back!!! I love your work and if you make this into a book (i really would love it) But this time I want to purchase some of your work ! xoxox L

  3. Jeff
    Posted May 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Mel – that was the first time I have seen that in a Catholic church. It was on the Saints… this photo of course is the risen Christ standing upon a sphere (the world I am assuming) in the clouds… notice the pierced feet.

  4. Jeff
    Posted May 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Just posted to your comment on FB: yes, Lorraine, a book is forthcoming, but it will be self published… so I am thinking at the moment.

    You know I will now be turning my attention to finishing my two versions of the Jerusalem Journal now that I am home, and then I am thinking of a USA Edition and of course European edition Vol 1. I am canceling the Sponsor supported Spain/Hungary/Poland/Germany trip – I am not mentally ready and I do not think I can raise the $20,000 it would cost me…. but talk to me … maybe we can run a fundraiser… surely there are a few who could benefit from a tax deduction to the FBA? I need your thinking cap. Maybe its time for patrons…

  5. Jeff
    Posted May 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    OK Lorraine – we can arrange something – I really need to make an online store – and guess what – I can now accept credit cards (on my iPhone)… (THANKS to Savannah and Philip for showing me SQUARE)

  6. Posted May 31, 2011 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    This feels like a transition for you. Looking forward to our trip later in 2011. Time to dig deeper and exhaust ideas without a tight time frame wherever we are.
    Thanks for writing and the great photos as usual.

  7. Jeff
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    You are right Scott, this was transitional…some illusions were shattered, including my own capability. I also came to grips I am not 20 anymore. (LOL)

    I think what we will be doing come October is the next step for me, and it will feed both our interests and support both our directions. I am excited about that. I wasn’t feeling the Spain/Hungary/Poland/Germany “with time” solo trip… and couldn’t ask for sponsorship to something I wasn’t feeling. In fact – this recent trip showed a wearing down of a dynamic that needs to stay vital… a new travel approach will reap far more results, especially as I consider the upcoming “partnership” phase (which will be after our travels in October. This past couple years have been difficult with far too many losses that forced one inexperienced transition after another my way, leaving me ungrounded and barely tethered. I will start planning my next steps now. Let’s you and I email – send me some of your ideas that you have been entertaining lately about your creativity and the artist community idea… let’s start making the synch.

    Thanks Scott for appreciating my effort and product. That means a lot.

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