Busy, busy day yesterday. I had lunch with a reporter from Le Monde, took the metro down south of the city to do a web TV interview, grabbed a cab back to the heart of the city to be interviewed by a reporter from Le Figaro, then hobbled — my blistered feet, you wouldn’t believe — over to a nearby Orthodox church for a presentation of Le pari bénédictin (click that link for a list of the rest of my public appearances this week). Finally, at 11pm, I sank my knife into the first food I’d had since lunch: the croque madame you see above.
Yesterday was a reminder that this is a working trip, not a vacation. It’s easy to forget the difference, in part because hey, it’s Paris, but also because I’m having way too much fun meeting French Christians and hearing about their lives. I have a theory, based on only five days of observation, so take it for what it’s worth: French Christian Millennials are so much more confident about their faith, without seeming naive, because they live in a society in which sentimental, half-measured Christianity, has long since faded. In other words, they do not have much of a Moralistic Therapeutic Deism problem, at least not that I can tell, because the MTD Christians in this country have already gone where they are bound to go in our country: into unbelief. If you are a young Catholic in this country, chances are you are some sort of conservative on matters of religion.
What’s left are young adult Catholics (I have not yet met any Protestants) who know very well what they believe, and why. It is a powerfully encouraging thing to see. I’ve been hanging out with the Catholic “creative minority” in this city, and it gives me hope.
I am a lot more careful, by the way, about comparing the situation for Catholics and other Christians in France, and in the US. The question of universalism is so powerful here, perhaps a legacy of the revolution. “Community” is a dirty word for many people. This makes it hard to present the Benedict Option. People hear it, and think I’m proposing going full Amish. I asked one of the journalists who interviewed me how I could get across my meaning properly to French audiences. He said, “You can’t. The best thing for you to do is just to say it plainly.”
OK, I’ll try.
No more to report right now. Another busy day ahead. Oh, I found out yesterday that the book is getting a rave review in the Catholic magazine La Nef.