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.