A job interview in French...
Fillette: A look back in time

Esprit + Explaining your religion in France.....a tricky undertaking

Hoping to see some of you at tomorrow's Alliance Française (Denver) meetup! It's from 5-7 pm. 

esprit (es-pree) noun, masculine

  : mind;  wit; spirit

Audio File
Listen to my son, Max (12 years old at the time), pronounce today's word & quote:Download esprit.mp3

Il y a une  dimension spirituelle dans chaque relation. Lorsque deux personnes se réunissent, c'est que l'esprit le veut ainsi. There is a spiritual dimension in every relationship. When two people come together, it is because the spirit wanted it that way. --African proverb

Improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French Phonics.


    by Kristi Espinasse

(story written in 2007)

I arrived to pick up my daughter at summer day camp where the director greeted me with a cheery "Hello!" After her warm English greeting and a bit of shoot-the-breeze papotage, she pointed to my daughter's necklace with its cross pendant.

"Are you Protestant?" she inquired.

Here we went again with The Religious Affiliation Question. I'd gone over this before with the Catholic priest during premarital counseling.* If it was difficult to describe my spiritual orientation then, I must confess that, thirteen years later, I still haven't quite pinned it down.

"No, I'm not Protestant," I began.
"Catholic?" the director guessed.
"No, not really," I answered, regretfully, for if I were Catholic I would have "l'embarras du choix" or quite a selection of churches to go to given the number of églises catholiques in France.
"But your children were baptized?"
Oh, dear! This is where things get complicated...
"Er, yes... in the Catholic church."
The director looked as confused as I felt.

"I'm not Methodist," I continued, by deduction. Perhaps Baptist? Was I Baptist after all? "Baptiste" is a popular French prénom that signifies "plonger dans l'eau." I myself was immersed in water, there in a desert church (on Central Avenue, to be exact) and not far from Katz Delicatessen where I would, years later, nurse a bowl of matzo ball soup and wonder about how to convert to Judaism. My boyfriend back then, Howard, had explained to me that, should we marry and have children, our family would observe certain rituals. Words like "bar mitzvah" were as foreign to me as the French language which, unbeknownst to me, was just around destiny's corner....

"I am Muslim," The director offered encouragingly. Catapulted back to the present moment, I looked over at my daughter's cross and realized how different life has turned out. No more visits to Katz's deli. I had lost my best friend when my relationship with Howard ended. But, just as it wasn't religion that separated us, I sensed that the same was true for the Muslim director and me.

I know little about the Muslim religion and when I admitted as much, the director's warm response included an invitation to a un congrès where villagers of all faiths come together in the spirit of breaking down barriers.

As I contemplate my religion, the vision of white robes swaying, hands clapping, and feet dancing takes me away... to Dorothy Love Coates & the Original Gospel Harmonettes...and to The Soul Stirrers and their thumb snapping tune "Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb." Tunes like "Oh Happy Day!" and Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" speak to me like no denomination can. "Amazing Grace," whether sung by Judy Collins or Ani Difranco, moves me like ministry.

I still hadn't answered the director's question. The time had come. I looked into her searching eyes with my own and, for the first time, understood the uncommon denomination that best described my faith: not Methodist or Mormon, not Born Again or Buddhist, not Catholic or Confucian.

"Do you know music?" I asked. "You know, 'le gospel..."
"Oui!" the director said in anticipation.

I cleared my throat and my conscience at once when the following words tumbled out:

"I'm Gospel."

                                    *    *   *

The director looked at me, her eyes bright with compassion. We were no longer American, French, or North African, no longer Muslim or Christian. We were soul sisters.

*  *  *


le papotage (m) = small talk; premarital counseling: don't miss the chapter "attendre" and learn about my wedding day and more, click here; une église (f) catholique = Catholic church; le prénom (m) = first name; plonger dans l'eau = to plunge into the water; un congrès (m) = conference: goh-spell = (French pronunciation for "gospel" music)

Keep up your French...and help support this free web journal when you purchase a copy of my book. Click here to order. Merci beaucoup!


Caper bush on Corsica with capers and flowers
I leave you with a beautiful caper blossom, thriving from the Mediterranean sea breeze. 

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Patricia Sands

I'm with you, Kristi! Le Gospel covers everything.
Surely we can all be soul sisters and live in peace and harmony.
Thanks for this!

Betty A Gleason

Beautiful and loving.
Didn't know capers had such lovely flowers.

Helen Mills

Gospel just about sums it up for many of us! Thanks for putting it into words.

H.D. Mills


Alléluia, Kristi!

Judith B. Dunn

Having married in the 60's and living in NYC for 10 years, we were of the 'Hippie Variety'. Neither of our children were baptized much to both sets of parents anguish! Our daughter was 'forced' to become baptized in the Presbyterian church in our neighborhood when she was 12, so she could be on the softball team that summer. We muttered and acquiesced to the rigors of her learning the catechism. All grandparents happy, tho they were suspect of her motive. Our son is still a bona fide 'heathen' , however, no grandparents are around to chide him. To each his/her own when it comes to communing with the God of your choice. Not being baptized does not diminish your soul in my eyes....


Our dear Kristi,
Once again your beautiful words have filled us with light and inspiration.
We are all God's children.The love ,comfort,and belief we each have in Him does not require a particular name.
Bless you and your family always.
Natalia . xo


Spirituality is a personal connection to the mystery of this magnificent life/world/cosmos. Religion is a set of tribal rules designed to keep the tribe under control, a patriarchal control, and to keep the "others" out by making them heathen. I'm here for the spirituality of music - and the communion and inclusion of everyone in the gift of life.

Carolyn Chase

In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo„ (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.” Thus to be "gospel" seems quite appropriate.
"Religions" are groups of people organized to pass on beliefs, to do together good works not easy for a singe individual, to offer support for one another. Being human, individuals can corrupt the group, but that doesn't devalue the central purpose of the group.

Mary Anne MacMorran

I identify with this like you wouldn't believe! For me, spirituality should not be limited by a religious affiliation. Thanks for sharing!

Mary Anne from Austin, Texas


One of your the most beautiful posts, Kristi. Thank you.
I am actively waiting for the fusion of all religions - maybe then our world would
become more peaceful and harmonious. So Be It.

Enlightening links below for all curious in the "fused" spiritual matters:

"Syncretism (/ˈsɪŋkrətɪzəm/) is the combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merging or assimilation of several originally discrete traditions, especiall..."

"Salvation means liberation from ignorance and the fusion of the impersonal self with the Absolute, of knower and known. Other Eastern religions, such as Buddhism and Taoism, take salvation as an illumination,.."


"Established in the Southern regions of Vietnam in the early 1920’s, Cao Dai seeks to create the perfect religion, combining the beliefs of Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism Confucianism and Islam. It is based in the province of Tay Ninh, an hour away from Cu Chi and it currently has 7 to 8 million followers in Vietnam and 30,000 around the world.

“Cao Dai” is a metaphor for spiritual growth and literally translates as “high tower” or “palace”. Its followers believe that God was concerned that the multiplicity of religions prevented people from living together in harmony and so gave a third revelation through a spirit called Duc Cao Dai. This revelation grew into Caodaism..

Like Buddhism the faithful are expected to cultivate their spiritual growth by breaking free of the material world and the false impressions it gives us of reality. Only when this is done can they achieve spiritual enlightenment. They also believe in the system of Karma, where a good or bad act in one life has a positive or negative effect on a being’s future existence. The clergy, made of men and women, are vegetarians, believing that destroying other life hinders its own quest for enlightenment and creates bad karma for themselves... ."


Adding some more on the world's "fisrt religion" and its (Glorious) Purpose. Just some Food for the Thoughts.

Sanatana Dharma is the original religion that comes down from the dawn of creation of this universe. What is Sanatana Dharma? Sanatana means eternal and Dharma means duty, activity or nature. Thus Sanatana Dharma means the eternal duty or the eternal activity or the eternal nature of the soul. (More about Sanatana Dharma and the eternal nature of the soul will be discussed in session 5 and 6 of this course). To awaken the eternal spiritual nature of the soul and realize God is the goal of all religions.

Wouldn’t it be simple and less confusing if there was only one scripture teaching us of one God and one religion rather than all these varieties of God’s and scriptures? Yes, it would be less confusing but it would also be less accommodating to have only one level of scripture for everyone. This is because there are a wide variety of people on the planet.

To cater to this huge variety of people at different levels, Sanatana Dharma or the details about the nature of God and the soul are given to the people according to the different times, places and circumstances. To the spiritually advanced more details are given and to the spiritually bankrupt only initial instructions are given.

Let us consider the origin or the beginning of the major religions of the world with respect to 2011 AD:

Sikhism: 600 yrs old. Founder: Guru Nanak. Scripture: Guru Grantha Sahib.

Islam: 1300 yrs old. Founder:…

Christianity: 2000 yrs….

Buddhism: 2500 yrs…

Bhagavad Gita: 5000 yrs old

Hinduism: 6000 yrs…
4.5k Views · https://www.quora.com/profile/Vaishnava-Seva-Dasa


The Greek New Testament was written 100-200 AD. It is a different world now. Then tribal. Now global. Religious groups are fine as long as they don't get too "human" (i.e. my God hates everyone I hate).


Hi Kristi, The most gospel oriented religion is Catholicism.....no mincing of Jesus' words....as in the Last Supper where He gave to us His Body and His Blood. Yes, scandals are abounding right now, but those have been committed by those who are no longer living Christ's words. Perhaps educate yourself concerning Catholicism and then decide.
God bless, C-Marie

Valerie Meluskey

Wonderful entry today! Interesting that "gospel" means "truth!" That 's what I've always looked for!
I find it sad that many lose their ability to connect with Spirit--or Love or Truth or All that Matters when preoccupied with rules and regulations of whatever chosen religion or tribe or identity. Wonderful Gospel music usually moves the heart and soul...much closer to Spirit than icons and religious laws.
And I love hearing Max say "Spirit" in French at age 12!


Hallelujah!! I love this ost!!

Laura C

I've always liked the metaphor of the blind men and the elephant to explain the narrow passionate view of individuals about religion vs. God. God is the elephant. One person focuses only on the cool,smoothness and point of the tusk. Another exclaims how wrong that view is; it's wrinkly, tough and stout (leg). Another concurs with wrinkly and tough but says it's long and narrow (tail.) Another - the trunk, the nails, the mouth. Only the wise can step back and experience the richness variety of God.
Only those with an expanded heart like yours, Kristi, refuse to be stuffed into a narrow set of beliefs and rituals.
After 500 bloody years, Catholics and Protestants recently stopped killing each other. (Last site was northern Ireland.) But now Sunnis and Shites are torturing and murdering "infidels" whose brand of Muslim is different. Sigh!


True words, Laura C.
I'd like to quote Rumi here (13th century Persian poet/GodLover, famous for avoiding any religions and rituals):

A man once asked Rumi,
"Why is it you talk about silence so much?"

His answer:
"The radiant one inside me has never said a word."


HILARIOUS!!! My friend, Kristen, the Gospel! Loved that. She'll probably ask you to sing next time. Hope you get to go to the mixed religion shindig. I want to know more about Islam also. xxxx

P cotterill

well said. the gospel is christian, christians all originate from the catholic (universal) church..and also, france is the eldest daughter of the catholic church, ie the first country to announce herself catholic.

Pam Horovitz

I would add to the music list Missa Luba, the Catholic Mass sung by a Congolese choir, with very African rhythms and percussion. While not quite gospel music in an American tradition, it always leaves me with the same uplifted spirit.


To Loulou:

God, Islam & The Skeptic Mind: A Study on Faith, Science, Religious Diversity, Ethics and Evil Paperback – November 8, 2014
by Saiyad Fareed Ahmad (Author), Saiyad Salahuddin Ahmad(Author)
4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customers


K.J. Laramie

I’m doing a series of peace paintings coalescing all of what you’re talking about. One painting is called Woven in One Truth.

After practicing a form of yoga/meditation for thirty years which puts you in touch with your own Divinity, one realizes God is within each one of us...

Oneness, Light, Truth, Love!


To K.J. Laramie: Thank you very much for your achievement and for your wonderful, I am sure, work of art. Is there any chance we may have a link to your painting(s)?

More and more people realizing That - That which is impossible to squeeze into any religion(s).

Indeed - Oneness, Light, Truth, Love. 🙏

K.J. Laramie

Thank you for your interest! I was told by a gallery owner years ago that he’d prefer his artists not to have websites, and since this body of work (nineteen multicanvas constructions, a true labor of love) is not complete, I’m deferring to his advice.
But, since we speak the same language (tat tvam asi), I’d like to include you in my mailing list. I can be reached at [email protected].


Thank you for your insight. When asked about religion I am sometimes stymied about what to say. I also love the blossom picture. It looks almost unreal. I saved a copy for wallpaper.


Thank you, I have just sent you an email with the words "tat tvam asi" in the subject.


I'd like to offer a few more words onto the core of ANY religion (the subject Kristi so thoughtfully started a few days ago, thank you, Kristi), which is Communion with the Ultimate Reality. Most religions less or more are offering their (sometimes helpful) hand at reaching this Communion. As the result of that Communion a person comes (whether he or she wants it or not) to the innate understanding of the Universe, a realization, which by the ancient tradition could be summarized by these three, hiding "The Great Mystical Secret" words: Tat Tvam Asi.

I was able to find two versions explaining these tree profound words with great clarity. The first is laid out in simple words of Eknath Easwaran, the second one is a video by Allan Watts, his rather a humorous vision :-) of the vision of Tat Tvam Asi -- which (as accepted in some spiritual and religious communities of the world) is The Essence of Every Human Being.

You Are That
Eknath Easwaran
Published on Jun 21, 2012
What is our true identity? Who are we, really? Easwaran offers a short, powerful explanation of the famous Sanskrit spiritual formula, "Tat tvam asi", meaning "You are That": the infinite, immortal spirit at the core of human consciousness. TRANSCRIPT One of the great statements, called Mahavakyas in Sanskrit, that has reverberated down the centuries for thousands of years is tat tvam asi. There is a precision about this formula, as I call it, which is not philosophy, nor is it metaphysics, as I shall try to show in the course of this brief talk.

Tat literally means 'that.' The infinite, immortal, immutable spirit that is at the core of human consciousness. It's called by a precise scientific name, Atman, the Self, which is closer to me than this body, which is nearer to me as the Sufis say than my jugular vein, which is dearer to me than my very life. This is a formula like E equals MC squared, which can be verified by anyone who has the dedication, determination, and devotion, which is latent in us by virtue of being a human being. When Mahatma Gandhi says, "This is no tropical figment of the imagination," anyone who develops the same singleness of purpose and the same faith that he developed can verify, can realize for oneself, not after death, here, in this life. So, tat means that Supreme Reality which, as a great mystic of Kerala says, Shankara, is something from which words turn back frightened, which thoughts cannot reach. That is tat, regardless of country, religion, caste, sex, status.

The second word is tvam; is addressed to everyone, to Jim, to Tom, to Sumner, without exception.

Tvam asi. And asi means, 'you are.' Whether you believe it or not, it does not matter. Whether you accept it or not, it does not matter. That is what you are.
Category - Educational

Alan Watts: What Is Tat Tvam Asi?

Original recording is called 'Turning The Head Or Turning On'.

K.J. Laramie

Thanking Kristi for opening this subject to a wide audience, I am grateful for her very pronounced ‘stardust’. I, too, am exalted by the joy of gospel music and this joy is hard to explain (as eloquently as Francesca has) to others. That is why I paint the Light.

A Bennett

Hi Kristi - I adore your blog and today's entry provided a personal revelation worthy of the effort to comment and express my thanks. Yes! My religion is also Goh-spel, albeit with a twist of bluegrass. Currently listening to the Stanly Bros and feeling "religion" from head to toes. ; ) I'll share one of my favorites with you (so happy I'll be): https://youtu.be/Iwbui7lU2zc

Thank you, thank you, merci, merci beaucoup por votre voix sur l'internet!


You mention le gâteau des rois. I wonder if that is the same la Galette de la Fève that children in Paris love on le six janvier. It’s a cake with one haricot in it and the child that gets the section of cake with the bean in it is the king for the day and from that moment on he/she is le véritablement maître of the fête. If I recall I think it’s called c’est le jour de Rois.

Diane from Oak Ridge, NJ

The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, who came to Earth to rescue ALL peoples from the slavery of sin, which is common to all mankind. A holy God inherently expects holiness from all who wish to reside eternally with him. Since all have sinned and have fallen short of God's glory, the Heavenly Father sent His son Jesus to rescue mankind. God is not willing that anyone should live eternally without Him. God is so patient and so caring, but He will not be eternally patient. At some point this world will end for us. Choose the eternal life offered to us by the spotless Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus suffered for all mankind, so that we wouldn't have to suffer. Whether you believe in Satan, or not, the Evil One is hoping that decisions for Christ will not be made. Look at the 10 Commandments and judge for yourselves whether you have been able to keep these 10 simple laws perfectly. The truth is evident. Jesus said, "I am the way, the Truth, and the Life. Whosoever believes in Me will not perish, but will have Everlasting life." Wow! That is good news and that is the Gospel that we happily sing about.

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