Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Q&A with Art Ruch

Art: Paul, you live in the Netherlands. Dutch is your native language but you speak (or at least you write) English very well. Where did you learn English and does blogging in English help keep your language skills up?
Paul: Thanks for the compliment! I learned English at school. Dutch people need to speak foreign languages because most foreigners refuse to learn Dutch - don't ask me why. I used to work for an international company about ten years ago in marketing communications. Working in an international environment helped me developing and improving my language skills. Now I work as a publisher in the Netherlands but I still have many international contacts so I do need to speak my languages.
Blogging in English is very helpful - I do pick up some new expressions and words like sanded drywall. I'll admit I had to google that one.
I blog in English because I enjoy the international contacts and I like to know what is going on in the rest of the world.
My English is good enough to communicate, but I can't express myself as good as in my own language of course. I am always a bit worried about making grammar mistakes. I don't mind if people point them out, because that's the only way to learn from them.

Art: You are a committed Christian living in a country and on a continent not known for having a strong Christian base. Is this true, and if so, how does the Dutch Christian community deal with being a minority?
Paul: How can you say that this continent doesn't have a strong Christian base? Where did Luther come from and where does the pope live?
But seriously, I think that in Europe there are still millions of nominal Christians - but more importantly, there are many real followers of Christ too! Many people do hold on to traditional Christian values and ideas, even if they don't attend church regularly or don't consider themselves to be 'Christian'. I think it is important to rediscover the ancient roots of Christianity in Europe and I hope that more people will go back to the Source of living water: Christ himself.
Two months ago I quoted Sadhu Sundar Singh here, who wrote about the West,"They have for centuries been surrounded by Christianity, entirely steeped in its blessings, but the Master's truth has not penetrated them. Christianity is not at fault; the reason lies rather in the hardness of their hearts. Materialism and intellectualism have made their hearts hard. So I am not surprised that many people in the West do not understand what Christianity really is."
As a publisher, a writer and a blogger I want to share my faith. I try to inform people about what Christianity really is by pointing them at the Master who is not just the founder of an old religion, but the Creator of the universe and the eternal Source of love and life.
It is true that Christians constitute a minority in Europe as a whole and in the Netherlands in particular, but we are still a force to be reckoned with and - like salt and light - we can still have a strong and positive influence on society.
I don't think that we must try to impose our Christian views on secular society - Jesus never asked us to do that. We are called to lead by example. All to often Christians are only protesting and complaining about 'the world'. I believe that it is better to try to live as followers of Christ day by day. We must care for the people around us, be a positive force in our communities and show people what it means to be loved and changed by Christ.

Art - You blog about spiritual issues, offer devotions and thoughts on your faith. You also work in Christian publishing and writing. Obviously, you have many thoughts to share. Have you ever thought of going into the full-time ministry?
Paul: Well, if you define full-time ministry as a professional pastor's or preacher's job, than I have to say that I never considered that option. I think that you must have a real calling to be a minister in that sense. But as followers of Christ we are all called to be full-time witnesses and light-bearers. If you call yourself a Christian, people will look at you and you have a responsibility to live up to that name. Maybe you are the only 'bible' people will ever read. It's quite an impossible task to represent Jesus in this world, though. I do hope that people will realise that I am - at best - just a poor reflection of the Original.

Art: You are a parent of children who are quickly growing up. What is your advice to them? What hope or fear do you have for the world they will grow old in?
Paul: I am worried about the future of this planet and when I think about climate change, global political and religious tensions and the devaluation of values, morals and ethics (to name just a few things), I sometimes wonder what the future will hold for our kids. But by raising them with love and respect and by showing them the power of our faith in Christ, we can give our children the best preparation for life.
We are blessed with three healthy and bright kids - two of them are doing bilingual education (Robin, 15 and Sosha, 13) and the third one (Pascalle, 10) is also a girl of many talents. I trust that God will take care of them and that He will guide them in all their ways.
I am more excited and curious than worried about their future, to be honest. I hope that they will stay with us in our house for (at least!) ten more years, but of course we don't know what the future holds for them. My advice for our kids comes straight from the Master: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Luke 10:27

Art: Your photo blog is quite impressive. What do you like so much about photography and, please tell me, what is the secret of taking a good photograph?
Paul: Thanks, but I am not really a good photographer so I don't have any special secrets to share. I like photography because it gives you a simple tool to capture beautiful memories, faces and sights. I do think that I have an eye for colours and beauty and I enjoy watching people and landscapes, but the pictures on my photo blog are my lucky shots. Of course it also helps that I am living in an interesting little country! Whenever I visit sites like Flickr and see the stunning pictures that some people make, I really feel inadequate as a photographer. I hope that my pictures give an impression of the way I view life. There are many beautiful things to see everywhere - if you just stop for a moment and take good notice.

Thanks for the interview, Art and sorry for keeping you waiting so long. I do hope that my answers are as good as your questions. And by the way, do you play chess?

Paul would like to thank Art for the interview. In addition, anyone who would like to be interviewed by Paul, should follow these rules:

1. Leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


Vicki said...

Wonderful interview, Paul! And, Art, those were some really good questions.

Paul, I think you express yourself in English better than a lot of English-speaking people. I especially love your devotionals.

I like the photo...who won the chess game?

Art said...

Paul, this is great! I love your answers... and I'd have to say they are better than the questions. The photo is a nice touch as well. I wasn't expecting that.

And ditto to what Vicki said about you expressing yourself in English better than many native spekers. Trust me, that is true.

As for the chess match, I'm guessing Paul won it. I play, but not very well.

Thanks, Paul!

John said...

Paul and Art,

Great work! I've got to add my kudos to your English language usage - flawless as far as I can tell. I deeply respect that as I am trying to learn Spanish. My heart knows what it wants to say and it even knows most of the root words to use but my head has no idea how to put them together with proper grammar. Someday I'll blog in Spanish!

OK, I'm in on the interview thing. I'm saying it, "INTERVIEW ME!" (insert shameless plug here).


Luis F. Batista said...

I have done this meme some years ago and this is a very nice exercise.

Interview me!


Paul said...

Thanks, guys. But be a little patient with me, because I will go on a holiday first... I will have enough time to think about some interesting questions! Stay tuned.

Carolanne said...

Definitely a great interview!

Paul, I nominated you for a "Reflections Award". It's at my blog post called, "Awards and Blogging". Just a nice little surprise for when you return from our short holiday. :)

God bless you and your family!

Carolanne said...

"Your" not "our" - too many typos lately and I forgot to proof read. :)

little david said...

I agree, Paul, that you do a marvelous job of communicating in English. I have occasionally written to French bloggers, but I don't think that I could sustain a French language blogsite.

When you return from Germany and get settled in, go ahead and "interview me." Auf wiedersehn!

jonboy said...

I'm just impressed that you speak and write in at least two languages. And you do write much better than many English speakers, at least the ones on this side of the pond.
Loved your answers to the questions. Hope you have a great vacation.

When you get back "Interview Me." I would like to find out if I even have answers to questions like that.

Carol L. Douglas said...

You really raise a good point about what constitutes a Christian nation. I think that sometimes evangelicals fall into the trap of believing that “everyone is a sinner except thee and me, and I'm not so sure about thee.” I agree that Europe is less evangelical than the US, but my limited experience in Canterbury left me with the sense that the roots of traditional Anglicanism run very deep. I was moved to tears listening to the choir practice in St. Martin’s Canterbury, which has been in continuous use since the sixth century. These were not great soloists in a great Cathedral; these were simple men and women preparing to worship in their parish church.

You and I discussed the question of Dutch vs. American social pathology at length some time ago and I was surprised to learn that despite popular opinion, our abortion laws are more liberal and our rate is higher.

It’s a real limitation when evangelicals come at traditional Christians with the viewpoint that they are by definition non-believers going through the motions. I’m sure there are people like that in every church. But I’ve been in both kinds of churches and known sincere, good Christians in both. Doesn’t it make sense to reach for the similarities rather than the differences?

I was discussing this with John on his blog recently (that’s what happens when you take a vacation). I think that we often masquerade as followers of the truth when we are really followers of social convention. I firmly believe in absolute truth but also think that as human beings we have limited understanding of what that truth is.

Enough of this! Back to sanding drywall (actually I am sanding the spackle; the drywall just exists beautifully). If you want, interview me. I’ve now figured out how to post.

Carol L. Douglas said...

PS--Art, excellent questions.