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Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau in the Orsay Museum

(Photo by George P. Landow)

I had heard of Art Nouveau before, but I didn’t think much of it until I encountered it again in Paris, France. The entrances of several metro stops were decked out in the style, one of the few visible remnants of the turn of the century that remain. But it wasn’t until I wandered into the Art Nouveau exhibit at the Orsay Museum that it captured my fancy.

As I came to find out, Art Nouveau is more than a type of art—it is also a font face and a style of interior design, and it was this last aspect that I discovered in the museum. It seemed that the designers of these beds, desks, and chairs deliberately avoided sharp corners, and the result was furniture that curves and flows, imitating the contour of vines and branches. As I walked through the exhibit, it no longer felt like Paris—this was Lothlórien!

It’s difficult to find words to describe the Art Nouveau style—it looks modern, but in an oldish sort of way. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the artists who created these works were inspired by the woods and fields, which of course were designed by the Creator Himself.

Hymn of the Week – Debout, Sainte Cohorte

This morning I had the opportunity to lead singing in French for the first time. This is one of the songs I led.

Musique: G. J. Webb
Paroles: R. Saillens

Debout, sainte cohorte,
Soldats du Roi des rois!
Tenez d’une main forte
L’étendard de la croix.
Au sentier de la gloire
Jésus-Christ nous conduit;
De victoire en victoire
Il mène qui le suit.

Debout, le clairon sonne:
Debout, vaillants soldats!
L’immortelle couronne
Est la prix des combats.
Si l’ennemi fait rage,
Soyez fermes et forts;
Redoublez de courage
S’il redouble d’efforts.

Debout, pour la bataille!
Partez, n’hésitez plus;
Pour que nul ne défaille,
Regardez à Jésus.
De l’armure invicible,
Soldats, revêtez-vous!
Le triomphe est possible
Pour qui lutte à genoux.

Debout, debout encore!
Luttez jusqu’au matin.
Déjà brille l’aurore
A l’horizon lointain.
Bientôt, jetant nos armes
Aux pieds du Roi des rois,
Les chants après les larmes,
Le trône après la croix.

Translation (courtesy of Google, since I have lots to do right now): Read More

Esperanto in France

Esperanto sticker in Paris

The sign above the door said “Espéranto,” so I figured we were at the right place. I opened the glass door, and my sister and I stepped from French-speaking Paris into the headquarters of Esperanto France, where the international language Esperanto is the tongue of choice. I greeted the man there with Saluton! and engaged in a dialogue which lasted a good while.

The subject matter was mundane enough—I asked him about their T-shirts that I had seen on their website, and he pulled them down and we looked through them; and he also showed me their small selection of Esperanto books for sale. But the amazing thing about all this was the simple fact that he and I were able to communicate, and on a much higher level than if I had used my meagre French skills.

Esperanto is a very unique and fascinating phenomenon that has allowed people all over the world to communicate and learn about other cultures. It isn’t a natural language, having been invented by L. L. Zamenhof in the 19th century, but this means that it is a neutral mediator for all peoples, unlike English.

And I’m glad I’m able to participate in it!


First impression of Czech Republic

(Photo by Deborah Bruce)

“Of all the places we’ve visited so far, this feels the most foreign.” Thus said my sister, as we sat in the cold outside the train station of Kaplice, Czech Republic. We had gotten off the train just moments before, expecting to find ourselves in a quaint little Czech town, probably with a bakery, and with the possibility of hiking to see some ancient castle ruins. What we found amid the stiff wind and rain was a sign pointing to the south, reading “Kaplice—6 km.” Even when we tried to get there on foot, we were stymied because the road was only made for motor traffic.

We weren’t lost, but we were alone, in a country with a strange language and strange currency, and this was enough to get our spirits down. But happily, that was not our last impression of the Czech Republic. The next train towards Czeske Budejovice finally arrived, and we went there to find a beautiful, good-sized city, with ATM machines and places to eat. We had a wonderful time there, and it made me think of the premature conclusions I sometimes make about people when I first meet them. They may not seem very pleasant at first, but upon getting to know them, I find their true character is much more delightful than it first seemed.


Hermit's Peak lookalike

I don’t know what I was expecting to find when we arrived in the pine forests of southern Germany. My father had told me of their beauty, and I had seen pictures from that region, but I had imagined that European forests, trees, and mountains were somehow different from the trees and mountains I know on my native continent. And thus it was that I was surprised to find striking similarity between the two when I walked beneath those high branches and climbed along the mountains. Every pine tree reminded me of the pine forests of New Mexico, and the high Alpine peaks made me think of the Rocky Mountains that I love so well. But how is it that these mountains are so similar to mountains thousands of miles away, on a completely different continent?

As I pondered this, I considered how the Creator’s hand may be seen in both places, and the similarities point to a common Creator. Other things came to mind as well: although there are a number of cultural differences between Europe and North America, the fellowship between brothers and sisters in Christ is the same no matter what side of the ocean I am on, and this familiarity is comforting to me.