Voltaire, Recreation & Horse Riding Lessons

Thaddaus was relaxing on the patio reading the newspaper and having a cup of coffee. He had spent the morning playing tennis with his friend, Jeremy. It was a good match. Although Jeremy was a formidable opponent, he ended up winning the match. After Jeremy left, Thaddaus showered and changed. He went to St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church for the Divine Liturgy at 9:45am which was usually three hours long. It was after 1pm when he returned to the mansion. After changing, he informed Giorgos that was going to have lunch on the patio. It was too beautiful a day to be inside.

Mariama was due to arrive shortly for her piano lesson. He was thinking that afterwards, they could sit on the patio for a while before she went home. He had to admit that he enjoyed her company. After bumping into her at the garden center, he had taken her for lunch at  KAVA Neo-Taverna. Once she was relaxed, they talked about all sorts of things–from Art, to Voltaire.

“How is your reading of Voltaire coming along?” he had inquired. “What’s it called again?”

“The Philosophical Dictionary. It’s coming along fine. I learned the reason why Voltaire’s wrote it. The idea was came about at a dinner party in the court of Prince Frederick II of Prussia in 1752. Voltaire and other guests each agreed to write an article and share them the next morning. Voltaire ended up being the only guest to take the game seriously and the idea developed into the Philosophical Dictionary.

“How fascinating. What interesting things did he have to say in the dictionary?”

“Voltaire was influenced by his visit to England. It gave him the opportunity to compare the problems in France with England which had free press. He became better acquainted with important and influential thinkers such as Locke and Newton. It was Newton’s theory that when it comes to dealing with tolerance if we do not know the essence of things we will not persecute others for those things. Then, there was the story of John Calas which play a factor when Voltaire was in the process of creating the book. John Calas was a Calvinist who was wrongfully convicted of killing his son. It was rumored that the murder was as a result of Calas’ son conversion to Catholicism. When David de Beaudrige, who was in charge of the case, heard this rumor, he had the Calas family arrested without making any inquiries. Voltaire used this theme in the Philosophical Dictionary to fight against the Catholic Church.”

“Voltaire wasn’t an atheist. He was against organized religion which he believed was corrupt. He was a strong advocate for the ‘tolerance’ of all religions, believing everyone was made by the same God. While it is true that we were all created by the same God, the God of heaven, salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. Not all religions believe in Jesus.”

“That’s true. The Egyptians had more than one god and all the other nations in biblical times had more than one god. The Jews were supposed to tell them about the one true God but they ended up being influenced and corrupted by the other nations. Solomon and other kings became idolaters because they turned from worshipping the true God to worshipping other gods.”

“I’ve read Voltaire’s L’Infame and other works in which he addresses concerns about the injustices of the Catholic Church, which he sees as intolerant and fanatical. When Protestants were killed in France, he defended them and denounced the Catholic Church for its intolerance.”

“Are you Catholic?”

“No. I’m Greek Orthodox.”

“What’s the difference between that and the Catholic church?”

“Well, the Catholic Church believes that the pope to be infallible in matters of doctrine. Orthodox believers reject the infallibility of the pope and consider their own patriarchs, too, as human and therefore subject to error. You can say that we are similar to Protestants who also reject any notion of papal primacy.”

“I’m a Baptist. I’m not sure what Baptists have in common with Orthodox aside from worshipping on the same day and not believing in the infallibility of the pope.”

“I’m sure there are other differences but nothing which would prevent the two denominations from getting along with each other. We worship the same God and have the same Savior.”

“Can an Orthodox believer marry non-Orthodox believer?”

“Yes. A Greek Orthodox man or woman can get married to a non-Orthodox man or woman providing they are Christian and have been baptized with water in the name of the Holy Trinity. The marriage must also take place in an Orthodox Church by an Orthodox Priest.”

“Did you ever read Voltaire’s novella, Candide?” 

“Yes. A long time ago. Have you read it?”


“And what did you think of it?”

“I thought the last line was very apt. Candide who initially was naïve and an idealist becomes a practical realist.”

Thaddaus’ thoughts were interrupted now as Giorgos came out to inform him that Ms. Sambu was waiting for him in the music room. He glanced at his watch. It was ten minutes to three. “Thank you, Giorgos.” Closing the newspaper and folding it, he rose to his feet. He picked up Jeremy’s cigarette case and lighter which he had forgotten. Later, he would call him and let him know that they were there and that he could stop by at any time to pick them up.

While Giorgos took up the empty cup, he went into the house and after going first to the study where he left the lighter and cigarette case, he headed for the music room. His student was sitting at the piano but she wasn’t playing. “Good afternoon, Ms. Sambu.”

“Good afternoon, Mr. Kyriaku.”

“And how are you this fine afternoon?”

“I’m fine, thank you.”

“I was outside on the patio enjoying the weather. Earlier, I enjoyed a good game of tennis with one of my friends. I don’t suppose you play tennis, do you, Ms. Sambu?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“What do you do for recreation, besides reading?”

“Jogging, listening to music, bowling, biking, going for long walks, playing board games–“

“Do you play Chess?”

“I don’t know how to play it.”

“I can teach you, if you like.”

“That would be nice.”

“How about learning how to ride a horse?”

She looked wary. “I’m not sure.”

“I know you’re not afraid of horses and that you like them. Mr. Vasilakis told me how you were with them, especially, Tucker. I can teach you how to ride him.”

Mr. Vasilakis was the older stable hand she had been talking to, who had known Mr. Kyriaku since he was a boy. “Sure,” she said. “I’d like to learn how to ride him.”

“Good. We’ll arrange a day and time. It will have to be over the weekend, mind you. Now, let’s get started with your lesson for today, shall we?”

He went and sat in the armchair while she began to play the piano.

Sources: Wikipedia; npr; D Barfield; Live Bold & Bloom; Greek Boston

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