Had one of those odd conversations. Well, really, the conversation wasn’t so odd, but the timing was.
Our family has been giving a lovely young man a ride to Mass in recent weeks. He’s from Germany, but his family went first to France, then to the US seeking educational freedom. I started to apologize for the ugly architecture of this particular multi-useless room/hotel convention center exhibit hall style church building to which we were heading for Mass. One thing lead to another, and soon he was telling me that, while in France, they lived 45 minutes from a village church begun in the 4th century and built over the course of centuries by a team of 5 workers – that was all the manpower the tiny village could devote to it. He added that you could see several different styles of building, as the different builders contributed what they could and were replaced by later builders with different tastes.
He added that there was nothing special about this church besides its very ancient age – every village had its church, but most were built in modern times – you know, the 15th century.
So, unsolicited, I got first hand confirmation of several of the points I was making in the posts on the nation state fetish. We urban and suburban Americans spend our money on our own house and other lifestyle accouterments. The people of that French village spent their time and money on a building that wasn’t completed until the people who started the project had been dead for a couple centuries.
Once talked to a man in our town who planted a valley oak on his property.
He figured that his grand kids would enjoy it – valley oaks live for 600 years or more, and take about 50 – 100 years to get really big. Another man I met once, when he gave me a ride back from getting my car serviced, was a great-grandfather. He and his brothers had bought adjoining houses on a street here in Concord many years ago, Over the years, whenever any houses on the street became available and they could swing it, they bought it, too. 4 generations of this family now live on the same block in this nondescript suburb.
Perhaps what I see and find compelling in villages still lives in men such as these.
2 thoughts on “Village Church”
I find the same things compelling. I wonder, though, as a father, how do you try to get this same sort of community going? From what I’ve read of your blog, none of your siblings live that close to you. My family is much younger (three older brothers, eldest is 32, I’m 24, younger sister is 18; brothers are all married, only the eldest and I have kids), but none of us live near each other. We all went to separate colleges, and now our careers have taken us to different places. The same story holds true for my parent’s siblings as well, although to a lesser degree. In addition, although we were all raised Catholic, only my sister and I remain so. Since my religion is what I desire most to pass on to my children, I’m not even sure it would be feasible/desirable to have a “village” (i.e., all on the same block) with my brothers. But I would sure like it if my own kids lived in close proximity to me one day! As your children go off to college, some to far off places, what do you do to encourage them to come back?
Short answer: I don’t know. I don’t think it’s something one person just does. Don’t know how it’s going to work out for our kids, who will all be off to college within a few years.
It’s a step in the right direction to at least start thinking about it, as something that matters rather than just an anachronism.