Saturday, 9 August 2008

Cognitive dissonance in beautiful Switzerland

On Friday evening I set off for Neufchatel a part of Switzerland I've only ever travelled through before. It is such a beautiful country and I realised I know almost nothing about it - I just look out of the train or car window and drink in all the scenery: lakes, mountains, pretty villages, beautiful towns ...
The person in charge of in-service training for ministers in the Bern and Neufchatel churches met me and took me off into the countryside. Before setting off for our destination proper she decided to show me the small church where she used to be minister. It dates back to the 12th century - inside are extraordinary wall frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries and I suddenly realised that I was in a very different place to what I'm used to. This is a francophone area where the churches even the very old ones are predominantly Protestant - hence the dissonance for me, I'm not used to being in a place which speaks French and is Protestant. It's a little bit destabilising to talk to ministerial colleagues in French and realise they are dealing with a completely different reality to the ecclesial reality I know. It also makes me realise that Geneva really was a late comer to the Swiss confederation. I still have a lot to learn about the country I work in but do not live in.


Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Jane,

My grandfather was from that region. It has always been odd in Canada especially to be from a French protestant background. However, there is apparently one French protestant community in Quebec. I found that some Quebecois are quite knowledgeable on this.

Jane said...

Me predessor in the Church in Dunkerque went to serve the French Protestant community in Quebec for a while
I discovered yesterday that Neufchatel is supposed to speak the purest French in Switzerland - it actually used to belong to the Prussian King and he got rid of it to hold on to Hanover apparently