Un double expresso de la vie et de l'amour ; un peu, beaucoup, passionnément...

Christmas Gifts for the Unfortunate

Buy a child a Christmas gift whose parents are unable. This reputable association is in 114 countries worldwide. You can deliver the gift yourself or have it shipped anonymously. Check out Project Angel Tree at www.angeltree.org


YES! It is still alive. Adults adore the humor in this amusing film, but they leave the happy moral for children to take home. I, however, agree wholeheartedly. I happen to believe in happily-ever-after. Yes, that's right, I'm advocating that adults like you and I (thirty-something, cat, apartment on the left bank, whether married or still waiting for that prince) we can believe in miracles, we can believe in true LOVE, we can live happily-ever-after.

Happily-ever-after is not something that fairy dust grants you. It's something you choose, you create, you cultivate. I believe it would be pleasing to God if we all refused to settle for anything less than Happily-ever-after.

After all, what is love, if it is not TRUE LOVE?
-Neo Realist


CafePetal goes to the movies! Join the discussion, what's your take?

I was blown away by the ending of this film. You're left sinking into your seat going, "Yeah, now that's a true ending." It might be a legend but the moral speaks to a real life problem, and cuts you to the gut. And then you think how incredible it is that this story was written in 1100 AD, and we still can't talk openly and honestly about a subject as serious as Lust vs. LOVE. Powerful.


Is it better to have LOVED and lost than to never have LOVED at all?

Help an African Orphan Today

Sponsor the health and education of a REAL African orphan with an association inspired by the African women who welcome their orphaned cousins, nieces, and nephews into their homes. I love the photo where they are teaching the children how to brush their teeth!! TROP CHOU! Thanks to their sponsors, all of these children attend school. They are free to come to the orphan welcome center after school before going home where they live with extended family in true African style!
follow this link
Now that's aid we're proud to be a part of! I sponsor one too.

PRACTICALITY - does your world view answer everyday problems?

Recently I conversed with a friend about morality. He thought my definition was too simple. Hopefully he'll join our conversation shortly and give you his side of the story. :)

I say Jesus offers advice on how to make every decision in life. His speeches were bold, his words were provocative, the best advice is simple advice.
"LOVE the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and mind,
and LOVE your neighbor as your self."
This simple truth resonates in our hearts, each human desires to LOVE to their world. But rarely do we encounter profound teachings that are sufficient to guide every decision in life, even tough controversial ones. This is for real, it fulfills your soul.

- Neo Realist

PETROLEUM - the crisis you don't want to encounter

Imagine with me a world where we have used up all of the petroleum on the planet. Clothing designers will have to be once again creative with cotton, linen, silk and wool. Hand creams and foods will be healthier with all natural ingredients. Plastic bags will be replaced with paper and cotton, good riddance! But what about all of the other uses for plastic? Shoes. Tupperware. Computers?! Let's start conserving energy and petroleum today.

Who Can LOVE?

I can but try.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails"

- Neo Realist

SOCIAL CONSTRAINTS - Is freedom real or imagined ?

Last week in China a man was beaten and guards are surrounding his house even now, keeping him on house arrest. His crime is his belief.
click here to view full story

We benefit from a unique freedom in France, unique because it is a rare commodity in this world. But even in a land of just rulers and fair lawmaking, social constraints still limit our freedom in a very real way.

We voluntarily limit our own freedom in order to fulfill certain expectations of society.

Let's take a look at faith for example... The man in the story above has been punched in the face. But any psychologist will tell you that physical abuse heals faster than emotional abuse. In France we are likely to face the same judgmental abuse but on an emotional level, friends that mock us, colleagues that hinder our advancement, concerned family that watch over our house like hawks.

Because of the emotional pain of being singled out in this society, social constraints are far more limiting than laws could ever be. Social constraints keep us ignorant. If we never have the courage to ask our questions, then we will never have the privilege of choosing the truth. I live my freedom in heart and soul.

- Neo Realist

QUESTION - Show Us Your Best Altruism!

QUESTION : Do you find it possible for you to accomplish altruistic actions with absolutely no ulterior motives that resemble selfish ambition?

I'm reopening this question to hear personal testimonies of your altruistic acts. Responses should include actual good deeds our readers have performed. So take the time this week to brag a little and perhaps your honest ramblings about your best achievements can bring warmth and insight to those who are skeptical that altruism lives on.

- Neo Realist

les Dix Commandements

Je viens de recevoir ce message d'une amie : Selon un sondage, les Américains sont plus calés sur les ingrédients entrant dans la composition du Big Mac de McDonald's que sur les Dix Commandements de la Bible.
Click Here to Read Reuters Article

I don't find the results surprising considering the Big Mac gets much more publicity than the 10 Commandments.

People are already responding to this article by posting online their versions of the 10 Commandments in songs and rap. Personally, I don't think memorizing a rap about the 10 Commandments is the solution to the world's problems. People don't trust the 10 Commandments anymore. The real reason we have forgotten the 10 Commandments is that society no longer believes these principles will make their life better. But society does not understand what it means to truly LOVE, because society has never experienced what it means to be truly LOVED.

- Neo Realist
Afin d'AIMER veritablement,
il faut d'abord, savoir que tu es
veritablement AIMÉ par Dieu!

Weekly Question: Do you believe in a GOD?

1) Do you believe in GOD? (regardless of which religion you believe in!)

2) Does your belief in GOD define who you are and your decision between "right" and "wrong"? If not, how and why do you make the decision to do the right thing?

- resident-guru

QUESTION: How do you define a good person?

The request has been made that we post a question each week for general feedback and forum style responses. I think its a great idea, so here goes with a question for the week (with the weekend to ponder a good answer). Following my vision expressed in an earlier post, in order to make the world a better place, and to acheive a unity amongst its people, I believe that we all should be "good". So, before delving into complicated philosophical questions, lets try and keep it fairly simple and close to home...


What is it that makes a person "good"? Is it shown by behaviour and/or by deeper thought? Is it a gesture or a tolerance? How do you define what good is? Is it based on a religion, family, education, or a self taught concept of the difference between right and wrong?

Please post in whatever language you feel most comfortable writing in!!! AND please sign off at the bottom of your comment (a pseudonym will do)!

- Maestro di Amore

Global Peace - THE GAME??

With the coming release of the highly popular game Halo 3, it occurred to me that all accounts of the future, whether in film, video game or book tends to refer to the future always engulfing a dooms-day type scenario. Why is that? Is human nature really such a one to always choose war over love? Do we really doubt that our humanitarian groups and environmentalist groups will continue to grow in order to save the earth? Why is it so unfathomable to see the earth and its people joining hands in peace as in those cartoons from the 60s?

I would have thought that with the popularity of such aid and conservation groups that the public opinion would eventually sway towards such an attitude on life. Clearly at the moment the big selling computer games target the violence of society. But, with the popularity of such games as Sim City and Civ City I ask games, why not develop a computer game in which we have the task as the UN to rebuild the infrastructures of those cities and countries which require it. The game could encompass going out to the occidental companies for donations. Game play could include role-playing in negotiation skills. If the game required a darker side, it could look into the corrupt underhanded ways of corporate behaviour over its employees and marketplace.

If the gamers were to factor into place costs, perhaps we could discover that to achieve a “perfect world” where there is no poverty or children dying of starvation or the hunting of rare or endangered species can be achieved given the current global economy and manpower!

So to all gamers out there, here's a challenge I propose to you!

- Maestro di Amore

DISCRIMINATION - love is neither a currency nor a weapon

What makes you roll your eyes?

We are taught to use this simple facial expression to express disapproval. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've recently been lead to believe that this "innocent" expression is actually proof that we are withholding love.

When we roll our eyes at the colleague across the boardroom table we are actually communicating, something deeper, "What you said or stand for is unworthy of loving, I will not accept you or anyone who agrees with you until you change your views." We lean on our inherent supply and demand principles assuming that if we roll our eyes often enough the love drought will bring our colleague to surrender to our ideas. What makes us think we can use love like a currency? Withholding love will never produce love.

Everyone knows that the best way to win friends and supporters is to shower them with love. Imagine how that might work next time you're in the boardroom?

- Neo-Realist

SOLIDARITY - a lost man's solution for repairing broken love

Everyone wants it. Everyone claims it. No one can provide it.

Why do we seek solidarity? What underlying thirst draws us to crave such a thing?

"Love, what is this magical thing,
that I can experience,
but never replicate,
that I can give,
but never repay,
that has me feeling indebted,
but all the while knowing I can never reimburse,
love is only love if it is unconditional."

There is a thing called solidarity that would have us believe it is possible for a mere human to not only be faithful, but also to be unified with his fellow man. Where do we seek this; in the workplace, in social clubs, and most evidently in humanitarian efforts. It is, we say, the reason that we gather together to work toward a goal. It is above all the resounding call that casts in us a vision of the ultimate cause. Perhaps, just perhaps, this group will succeed at solidarity and be that magic calling that we have dreamed of being part of. Solidarity is also, in the end, the reason we abandon our hopes, and our friends. Has any association actually achieved it? Solidarity is dead.

I propose that every cause we have ever stood up for in the name of solidarity would be better won with love. What is solidarity if we do not unconditionally love our fellowman. What is shallow unity without love, but empty promises? Is not conditional love, by definition, the opposite of love?

- Neo-Realist

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

- Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ

Cafe Petal - Editorial - Maestro di Amore

My Vision: To bring true peace and unity to the world we live in so that we can all live as one family (in our garden of eden and with all our house pets)!

Since posting this blog, a number of my friends have asked me what is its relevance. Some have also rejected the idea of discussing the philosophies of life with a religious or spiritual underlining. But here is my question to you – isn’t everything in life defined by religious or spiritual belief? Even if we don’t believe in the Christian concept of God, whether another religion or none at all, we still have our beliefs and our morals and ethics.

So, what defines our beliefs and the way we behave? What provides with our concept of what is right and wrong? Is it really human nature? I don’t think so. I don’t particularly believe in a “religion” per se, but I do question what is the nature of our beliefs. After reading the bible, the most profound idea from it is the concept of “love thy neighbour”. But isn’t it in our animal instinct to fight to survive? So in essence to love thy neighbour is completely contradictory to our human nature. So to live in peace and harmony is a foreign concept. Do you really believe that this could have been brought on by some idealistic people, or is it that there is some higher being pulling the strings. Whether that means necessarily that there is a god or which religion we should follow is questionable as there are so many to choose from, and potentially maybe “The Matrix” is not so far fetched after all.

So, personally, who knows whether there is a God or a supercomputer pulling the strings, but clearly the message being driven is to live in piece and harmony.

My concept of “Café Petal” is one in which to gather thoughts and ideas on how better to survive in a world which is driven by greed and money. Where our minds are so easily influenced by marketing strategies in order to waste our efforts (money/time) on such unnecessary tools and gadgets when there is so much pain and suffering in this world. Instead of buying that PlayStation and then spending hours playing it, we could be putting that money to better use to aid those people really in need instead of lining the wealthy corporate pockets of these big businesses like Sony. Everything we buy now is made in China made using cheap labour, sold to the western societies, again for what goal? For the executive officers to afford to buy luxury launch in the Mediterranean.

Now you can argue that spending money generates employment and as such makes for less people to support. But we are talking about our economy with maybe 10% unemployment, when you look at places in Africa and Asia where the figures are much higher! So what if instead of buying that CD to make Britney Spears another million dollars to spend on her next boob job and stint in rehab, why not put that $30 towards a charity organisation or world aid program. Or take some homeless person into a restaurant and offer him or her a meal, and buy them some clothes. Or even put it into buying some seeds and go into the forest and plant them.

The biggest difficulty in unifying the world to be truly at peace, to be a world “sans frontiere” (without boundaries) is to remove the greed of our wealthy. And I would say that all of us who live in the western world are “wealthy”. Because we are fortunate to be able to feed ourselves and have hospitals and infrastructure in which we can live long lives. So why spend our money on fruitless needs when there is so much suffering in the world. No matter what race, colour, religion, sex we are, we are all the same. Every man is my brother and woman is my sister, and I love them all with equality. I am no better than any of them, I am more fortunate than them (and most even). And so I (we) should do all we can to support our brothers and sisters in this world so as to unite our family and live equally no matter where we may be.

I don’t have all the answers, but I think to find them we need to open our minds and our hearts and speak what we believe in order to find a way to step forward. My wish is that one day (in my lifetime) that there is unity amongst earths wonderful people, environment and animal kingdom with no boundaries between countries. A world in which those countries more fortunate choose to willingly share their knowledge and wealth to create and support sufficient infrastructures for all towns and cities! So that my global family is whole once more!

That's my thoughts for a Thursday morning after too few hours sleep when I should be working!

- Maestro di Amore

"he loves me, he loves me not..."

He loves me, He loves me not… Well, the simple answer is that HE loves all. And according to HIS word we should love all. So how does the question arise? Isn't the true source of the question related to what we expect of the word love.

So what does it mean to Love? Its funny, because the most common definitions include the words "deep affection" or the emphasis on physical attractions and desires. When I say "I love my cat" I do not have deep affection or physical attractions and desires. The best definition I could find was (4 th on the list) "unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others b : a person's adoration of God". I find it quite interesting that the examples are give are with reference to God, considering that this is how I apply the term Love to everyone and everything. I love the colour green, but I also love the colour red. It does not infer a preference or a priority associated with a deep affection.

So isn't love inherit in all. We love our family, our friends, our pets – without any questions asked. So why would we even ask the question of "he loves me, he loves me not"? Is it not because we want more in fact than love? In the terms of relationships, we ask the question because we want to be the most special person in that persons eyes. In a sense, is this not a form of greed? And how is this perception of ourselves developed? Is it human nature or is it ingrained in the competitive spirit that the capitalist world imposes on us? But then does the socialist or communist society invoke a sense of love for one another either? We clearly live in a materialistic world where we all require to have everything to be perfect. And with a culture of everything with a used-by-date we no longer need to reason and compromise.

So how do we avoid asking the question of whether "he loves me or not"? Perhaps an answer is to always show belief, trust and faith in all those we meet and see. Take the approach of "innocent until proven guilty". And try to avoid the selfish question of "He love me or He love me not". Because if we have belief, trust and faith in all and everything before us, then we will have belief, trust and faith in ourselves. At which point, there is no need to ask the question!

- Maestro di Amore

LOVE - an invitation for you

"He loves me, he loves me not ..."

Welcome guests. Chant the poem along with us. This is where the petals fall. Ask the hard questions. These are questions everyone has asked, and we, your authors, have asked them ourselves. Allow yourself to be swept away, and discover the truth at the end of the song ...

Thanks Maestro di Amore, for the definition of love. Perhaps our ramblings and verbal doodles will lead us in quite varied directions, but I whole-heartedly agree it is difficult to discuss such important subjects without clear definitions of underlying concepts, in this case, love.

Just last night around the table a long time friend of mine hinted that he is loosing interest in his church. I believe the reasons were that he doesn't feel needed (i.e. useful) and that the folks there aren't living solidarity. When mr.anti-war is sitting next to mr.pro-gun they don't find much to talk about.

It's a sad commentary if we can not hold a variety of views on issues like this and still love God, love the world around us, feed the poor, and just plain love each other for being human. Maybe I read too many books.

Maybe it's this crazy Parisian culture I live in where you build friendships based on whether you can argue your philosophical beliefs with conviction and wit, as opposed to whether you all hold the same convictions. It doesn't bother me if I'm sitting next to someone who holds radically different political or social views. They have come to their conclusion, as I have, over time, influenced by life experiences. (inevitably different experiences than mine)

I would want my church to be full of people who are very different, who represent different ideals, and who can sharpen each other. So I welcome all of our readers to join the discussion, I don't care what ideals you hold, just please don't discriminate against those who hold other views at my table. :)

- Neo-Realist

CONSISTENCY - social activism and the greater human problem

Is it possible to be consistent? Does anybody really live out all of their ideals?

First a quote to wet my whistle,
"When we were done, I started wondering if we had accomplished anything. I started wondering whether we had accomplished anything. I started wondering whether we could actually change the world. I mean, of course we could - we could change our buying habits, elect socially conscious representatives and that sort of thing, but I honestly don't believe we will be solving the greater human conflict with our efforts. The problem is not a certain type of legislation or even a certain politician; the problem is the same that it has always been.
I am the problem"

- Donald Miller in his book Blue Like Jazz

What does it mean to live out my ideals? Ever since the sixth grade I've been haunted by environmental guilt. My sixth grade teacher was a big environmental activist. Of course I walked into her class in the wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. And my little 10 year old self promptly ran home and adopted my very own blue whale. I still have the adoption certificate to prove it.

I have been a conscientious recycler ever since. At one point while the world was paying to have their trash stored away in huge ugly landfills, my parents made an extreme decision to personally burn their garbage, and the recycling plant paid us for all of the aluminum we brought them. But do I personally see to it that all of my paper waste is recycled? No, far from it. Now I'm the one filling the landfills with all of my trash and I don't even feel convicted because it is a hard uphill battle to do the right thing. How can I change the world if I can't even change me?

Okay you got me, Activism is just a red-herring. What I'm really talking about is that element of tension within each of us which surrounds every issue worthy of passion known to man-kind. If LOVE is truly my motive I can not fail in my passion, but if trends and fads fuel my activism then my passion with fizzle and fade. HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT ... is the sub-title of this page, namely because we believe that in the deepest part of ourselves only one thing is powerful enough to make the difference between whether I am consistent or not, LOVE. Do I LOVE it or do I NOT? I do what I LOVE to do. Point Finale.

This is the truth that speaks powerfully in a timeless ancient passage recording the words of Jesus.
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Does the reaction of Paul ressonate within you as it does me?
"I do not understand what I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am!"

- Neo-Realist