July 14, 2006
Happy Bastille Day!
July 14 is Bastille Day, the French equivalent of the American Independence Day. I learned of Bastille Day in high school, both in French class and in world history class, and being a would-be revolutionary I glommed onto it. On July 14, 1789, French commoners stormed the Bastille prison, freeing political prisoners, stealing government armaments, and launching the French Revolution. I celebrate by indulging myself with all things French.
Today, for example, I downloaded the song "Dominique," by the Singing Nun. This French Dominican nun wrote the song as a tribute to the Spanish priest who founded her order, St. Dominic. I used to prance around my house like an idiot to this song, while my roommates tried to put as much distance between them and me as possible.
Coincidentally, I just finished editing the book Flirting with Monasticism, coming soon to the Likewise line, in which author Karen Sloan learns about monastic spirituality over the course of a year in regular interaction with several Dominican communities. I met Karen when she was leading Lauds (morning prayer) at a conference, and the more she told me about her year with these friars-in-training, the more I wanted to hear.
The monastic world is full of mystery for evangelicals, as much because we have no equivalent for our faith tradition as because monks aren't the chattiest people in the world (some of them take temporary vows of silence), and so they don't tend to share much about their lifestyle. The result is that evangelicals know less than they should about the monastic practices that would encourage their faith development, and Dominicans in general suffer from bad press: I was taught that "Dominique" tells the story of St. Dominic traveling through Europe killing Protestants. Needless to say, that's not a word-for-word translation from the French.
Check out Karen Sloan's weblog Wonder. And if you're in the mood to prance around like an idiot, you can download "Dominique" from i-Tunes for 99 cents. Bon chance!