Category Archives: Interconti

State of the Union

A tiny little virus is about to change our daily lives, forcing the poweful to their knees. Partly: impressive. On my way home from work I found these two impressive scenes and gave them symbolic titels:

Looking back.

Looking forward.

What I hope our grandchildren will read in their history books on 2020:

  • Humanity stopped kidding nature.
  • Serious (non-populist) leaders came back on the rise.
  • Humanity stopped kidding each other.

Spread love, not the virus.

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Filed under #TalkPeace, CoronaJournal, Interconti, Photography


One evening this summer, I went out with a friend. We had a drink down by the river. After the late sunset, it got a little chilly so we both went our ways home. On my way, I passed by my favorite Pakistan takeaway restaurant and I decided to get some samosa. Sadly, samosa was sold out, just as almost every dish they served. I noticed that the restaurant was completely full and so was the Pakistan Burger restaurant next door, just like the Turkish restaurant further down the street. No free table left, families with huge generously filled plates all over the place, all over the street. Not the not most common »German« scene to observe at 11 p.m. But then it came to me – of course – it was the Ramadan. However, I still felt this was a somehow peculiar moment.

Yesterday, we put up our Christmas tree, a tradition deeply ingrained in me. But for a moment, I tried to look at it from a different perspective. Take an alien unfamiliar with our cultural and spiritual background, the Western capitalism, and our fauna system and try to explain: We cut a Nordmann fir tree, put it up in our living room, illuminate it with candle and/or LED lights, decorate it with all kinds of things – straw stars, hearts, glistening balls, wooden miniature toys, angels, and angel-like figures… We place gifts beneath the tree, some are brought there by Baby Jesus, some might be flown there by Santa Claus riding a reindeer-driven sleight.

I love this tradition (even though more the Baby-Jesus-type than the reindeer-believer), and I know the religious and cultural background and explanations as to why conifers live in our house for a couple of days or weeks during Christmas time. Christmas is a dear and serious mystery to me. But I want to point out: It’s not like we don’t have cultural or religious traditions that might appear strange to others.

So my Christmas wish goes out to all the people who decorated a tree these days, who celebrate the birth of Christ, to all who celebrated Ramadan in Summer, to all who live their own, completely different tradition – or try to live none, to all the inter-culturals, to all who don’t connect to any of that – may your traditions and thoughts be peaceful, and may they bring millions of little lights into the dark corners of our world.

#OperaRocks #DoPeace #TalkPeace

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Filed under #TalkPeace, Et unam sanctam catholicam..., Interconti

The magic in between

Leaving a message is one part of a social contract which is completed by the checking of the message, as explained by Sheldon Cooper.

20130305 letter

This social contract seems to be subject to a major change: modern communication tools allow us to check if the message has been checked. I endorse a lot of developments the internet has brought to us, but thinking back I figured that some of the magic seems to get lost.

“Thinking back” – let’s take Taizé in 2005. Things were pretty simple: Incoming calls could be received on two lines between 8h and 23h. For outgoing calls, phone booths were available 24/7. Mail was delivered several times per day: email delivery for breakfast, snail mail came for lunch, more email after 20h, plus the occasional email delivery when someone the email girl had passed the computer. In fact, the email girl was a crucial part of the social message contract.
We received email printed on paper, replies could be send electronically (yes!), 15 minutes every other day in summer, 20 minutes per day in winter. We were unaware of the major disadvantages of sending email as they are revealed today: There was no way to check at which time the recipient read the message. No way to see at which moment they had been online for the last time. Or if they were currently writing a reply. Any message sent to the Hill was part of a in fact very fragile social contract – until receiving an answer, no one could be sure the message did not get lost in the El Abdiodh computer, the El Abiodh printer, or some El Abiodh corridor (and things did get lost). There were only the messages – and the magic in between (this magic could be a lot of tristesse, I admit).

And of course, there was snail mail! I’ve never written that much letters in my whole life, I’ve never been a more creative creator of evelopes (like the Milk Carton Classic). While telephone companies came up with flat fees for phoning and internet, we enjoyed something very rare – a flat fee on postage, up to 2 kg, world wide. In the 21st century, a priceless social and cultural experience.

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Filed under Interconti, Viva!

Monday Bread

Now, not everyone will understand this, but some will…

On Thursday I felt it again. After such a long time. I took a bite of the baguette and it was there, wondful feeling – thanks God, it’s Monday!
In the working and stuyding world, of course, Mondays are cursed. But not in Taizé. Not only becuase the most tiring day of the week is finally over. There’s another little thing that makes this day special: The “bad bakery” does not deliver, thus El Abiodh is supplied with the “Lechêne”-bread, something you can actually eat without wishing for a salvation-package of the Breadlab-Bakers. So I want to use this moment to greet all those who enjoyed Monday bread with me.

And talking about Taizé, I had another thought. I heard about quite some people who wrote some kind of thesis about things going on the Hill, like ecumenicalism or music. We should publish a compendium on scientific Taizé research (and it would be probably be called “Élargir” 😉 ). So here I’ll start with my (German) article on language in Taizé, Implementation of acquired French.

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Filed under Interconti, Occhia alla Lingua

Entering into Easter

So ist der Titel der vielleicht nicht ganz so katholischen Ikone, die ich kürzlich in meinem Zimmer aufstellte. Sie wurde von der Künstlerin mit viel Liebe und einer speziellen Wasserfarben auf Holz-Technik angefertigt und gilt als schwedisches Unikat. In der Serie erschien ebenfalls die Marienikone in besonderer Anfertigung. Subtil versteckte die Künstlerin ihre eigene Lebensfreude und Pfiffigkeit im markant gezeichneten Gesichtsausdruck des Hasen, der auf einzigartige Weise die Existenz von Leiden und neuem Leben in sich vereint.
Mit diesem einmalige Kunstwerk werde ich mich der Künstlerin auf ewig verbunden fühlen.

Entering into Easter

Entering into Easter

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Filed under curioso, Et unam sanctam catholicam..., Interconti

Tea Time

Tea Time

Ich entdeckte heute in meinem Zimmer einen Adventskalender, für den ich im Advent irgendwie keinen Nerv hatte. Ich glaube, ich hatte es darauf angelegt, ihn im Januar wiederzufinden und dann auf einmal plündern zu können. Also schritt ich zur Tat. Es stand in großen Lettern “Tee Adventkalender” drauf und es war noch eine CD dabei – irgendein Tscheche spielt die Vier Jahreszeiten auf der Geige. Als ich dann zum Innenleben des Adventskalenders vorstieß, fand ich wie erwartet lauter verschiedene Tees aus ganznahöstlichen Beständen, mit Bezeichnungen in tschechischer Sprache, einige in Begleitung einer englischen Übersetzung. Und die Hälfte waren Shrek-Tees, allesamt “ovocný čaj aromatiznovaný, caffeine free”. Ein anderer war ACE-Saft-Tee, den habe ich gleich mal probiert. Interessant.

Und ich dachte mir mal wieder – eh, maybe not…

Aber eine liebe Geste war es ja trotzdem gewesen.


Filed under Interconti, Life in Gießen