British and Commonwealth Methodism in London (Matthew Wood)
On Monday afternoon, the 13th of May, 2013, the GSRL research team (Paris, France) had the opportunity to listen to a fascinating in-depth analysis of "the price of enthusiasm: British and Commonwealth Methodism in the "Global City".
The main point of Matthew Wood's topic was to study interactions at a local Methodist level in London, in order to understand better the cultural challenges of remixing Methodist identity today through the impact of migrations.
Levenson Prize 2013 for a groundbreaking book on religion in China
As a colleague of both in the French GSRL team, I very proudly recommand Vincent Goossaert and David A. Palmer The Religious Question in Modern China (University of Chicago Press, 2011), a groundbreaking book which obtained the 2013 AAS CIAC Levenson Book Prize!
The Religious Question in Modern China, co-authored by Vincent Goossaert and David Palmer, is a tour de force account of Chinese religiosity over the past century and across mainland China, the "new Chinese states" of Taiwan and Singapore, and diaspora communities in Southeast Asia and further afield.
It digests and makes legible a huge body of research (including their own major monographs) to a general China readership that often ignores or stereotypes religion in and from China. For those who study Evangelicals, lots of up-to-date material and analysis will also be found there. A must-read!
Diaspora of Brazilian religions
Thanks to Cristina Rocha & Manuel A. Vásquez, a new book on the Diaspora of Brazilian Religions (Brill, 2013) sheds a much-need light on these new trends.
Attitudinal change towards Jews and Muslims in France (conference)
France is a particularly interesting case study because it hosts both the largest Jewish community in Europe and the largest Muslim community. The electoral rise of the National Front since the mid 80s has polarised the political debate around the issues of immigration and national identity.
This is why this international conference about the evolution and reconfiguration of prejudice towards minorities (Jews and Muslims) in contemporary France is so strategic. Organized by Nonna Mayer, Vincent Tiberj and Tommaso Vitale, it will be held in Sciences Po Paris (France from the 18th to the 20th April 2013. Program here (PDF).
Grand Rabbi of France resigns after scandal
In the last 10 days, observers of the French religious scene have been amazed by this news: the Grand Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has been accused of plagiarism and cheating on his CV, pretending he obtained an "agregation de philosophie", a prestigious but extremely difficult to obtain achievement. After both accusations appeared to be true, Rabbi Gilles Bernheim finally resigned today after having refused to do so.
As a high moral authority, publically involved in the defense of traditional marriage in the current French debate around same-sex marriage, Gilles Bernheim has shocked many.
More news about it on Thelocal.fr (link).
Multiple Modernities and Postsecular Societies
The French like big concepts, with a capital letter, and ONE definition, once for all. Modernity, Liberty, Equality, Republic... Inherited from an Imperial past, a Republican model filled with messianism and a Catholic culture (centralized and absolute), this mindset is still around, but it is less and less prevailing.
Excellent news! Which does not mean we favor a relativist approach, far from that. But a healthy and ballanced thinkink requires that concepts and frameworks should always be put into perspective and into context. One of the scholars who has helped to reach a more nuanced and dewesternized view on Modernity is Schmuel Eisenstadt, who edited in 2002 a very important book on multiple modernities.
Good news: this globalized and dewesternized view on current world changes is reassessed in a new collective research just released by Ashgate. Its title: Multiple modernities and postsecular societies. (click here to continue)
War in Mali: a reminder that France is not "soft" on jihadists
Many different streams have built up the French left-wing tradition, including a growing trend in favour of multiculturalism, and a lasting pro-palestinian stance.
No wonder if according to polls, about 9 out of 10 French muslims voted for François Hollande (former leader of the Socialist Party) at the last presidential elections (2012).
However, it would be a mistake to conclude that the current French authorities play "soft on radical islam" and jihadists.
All the contrary! (click here to continue)
Face of France's 'Good King Henri IV' reconstructed
For lovers of French political and religious History, this is great news: the face of "Good Henri IV", the highly revered French king who died 400 years ago in 1610, has been reconstructed by a team of French researchers led by Philippe Charlier. Using scans of the skull believed to belong to the monarch, they created a very lively portrait of what Henry the fourth (a former Huguenot) looked like.
"Bravo"! (link here)
Studying religion and society, Sociological Self-Portraits
"How do you study religion and society? In Studying religion and society, edited by Phil Zuckerman and Titus Hjelm, some of the most famous names in the field explain how they go about their everyday work of studying religions in the field. They explain how the ideas for their projects and books have come together, how their understanding of religion has changed over the years, and how their own beliefs have affected their work."
Among them, French sociologist Jean-Paul Willaime (GSRL) explains, from page 175 to page 185, how he came to study protestantism in a Catholic and Secular context. A must read!
Religion as communication, God's talk
"Why do Gods persist in contemporary society? Religious revival and vitality all over the world contradict the vision of continuing declining of belief. This linear process of eclipse of the sacred in modern society has been proved wrong. Religion indeed is an expert system competent in ultimate meanings of human being and social order. "
Professor Enzo Pace is pleading for a more integrative approach of religion drawing from systems theory to consider religion as a very powerful (and unique) means of communication between the visible and the invisible.
A very stimulating book published by Ashgate (2011)
Happy new year !
2012, the Year when French "cellar Evangelicals" came into fame
As far as France is concerned, I choose the huge media attention on "cellar Evangelicals" after a tragic accident that happened in Stains (Paris subburbs) on the 8th of April, 2012 (Easter).
Paris is not only the "city of light". It is also a multicultural metropolis where poverty, unemployment, high property prices and sometimes difficult relations with local authorities mean that minority religion have a hard time finding decent worship places.
For many years, media attention was mainly focused on islam. Scholar Gilles Kepel rightly highlighted a "cellar islam", lacking proper space in French subburbs.
Back from South Sudan and Hope for a New nation Festival
At the HOPE FOR A NEW NATION Festival I've been to, there were apparently up to 94,000 attenders in 2 days. Amazing!
French Evangelicals through an American lens (GetReligion)
In our last post, we just highlighted the paper published by the Christian Science Monitor on French Evangelicals. A few days after, the GetReligion website (worth a visit!) released a critical review of this paper, written by George Conger.
Although it may be a little bit severe, it is inspiring (read also the comments).
French Evangelicals screened by the Christian Science Monitor
Evangelicals accuse French officials of discrimination (Global Post)
Immigrant Evangelical churches are a fast-growing movment in France. Mostly related to the Francophone world (According to the La nouvelle France protestante 2011 book, there is around 40 millions of French-speaking protestants in the World), they are often poor, and have a hard time finding proper worship places.
French Evangelicals on the move: the CNEF holistic evangelism
Connexion (June 2012) is the CNEF magazine (written in French). Its third issue is the opportunity to get a confirmation that social work, social Gospel and solidarity are back on the map for French Evangelicals, after a few post World War II decades during which these themes became old-fashioned.
Under the umbrella of the CNEF organization, evangelism appears to be defined in a holistic way, starting from the individual to reach social level. One of the reasons of this emphasis may rely on the CNEF distinctives.
Atheism and Secularism: more and more studied
A new leading figure of the European research field on African churches
Remember Annalisa Butticci’s name (picture left) : as the Padova International Conference on Pentecostalism reaches its end today, she’s the one to be praised (along with her mentor Enzo Pace) for boosting studies on Pentecostal and immigrant churches in Latin Europe.
After having completed her Ph.D in Sociology and Methodology for Social Science Research from the Catholic University of Milan (Italy), she conducted an ambitious field work, both in Nigerian immigrant churches and in Nigeria (she spent 8 months in Lagos), and she just achieved an amazing task in organizing such a large and successful conference in Padova. (Click to continue)
Kingdom Theology : a shift within Health and Wealth Gospel?
I was not the only one : several fascinating studies have been presented, including one describing a theological schift occuring within the Health and Wealth Gospel trend in Nigerian Pentecostalism.
Religion studied by social sciences: the visual turn
As I attended the first day of "Pentecostals, politics of space and power", the Padova international Conference organized by Professor Enzo Pace and Annalisa Butticci, let's highlight one inspiring concept emphasized by Annalisa Butticci : contemporary teaching and science are facing a "visual turn".
Less texts, more images. Social sciences have to adapt!
It makes all the more relevant "Na God", the picture exhibit realized by gifted photographer Andrew Esiebo (pictured left).
Pentecostals, politics of space and power (Padova, 7-9 June 2012)
However, this italian pentecostal landscape is rapidely changing through African first-generation immigrants, mainly from Ghana and Nigeria. More and more new African Pentecostal Charismatic Churches are now spreading in cities like Milano, Pavova or Rome.
This is one of the reasons why scholars Enzo Pace and Annalisa Butticci have successfully conducted a 4 years research project on African Pentecostal churches in Italy. The coming Padova Conference (7-9 June, 2012) aims to share the results of this project, as well as boosting comparisons and further studies.
French pastor André Thobois (1924-2012) remembered
A memorial service was held on the 31th of March, 2012, in the Avenue du Maine Baptist Church (Paris, France).
Christians from all denominations came to express their thanksgiving for what they considered to be such a lasting and fruitful ministry.
Cocorico to "The Artist"
A recent IFOP survey published by the French daily La Croix confirmed this pessimism.
But should the French be so pessimistic? The triumph of "The Artist", a French movie just winning 5 oscars including a best director Oscar for Michel Hazanavicius and a best actor trophy for Jean Dujardin invites also to say COCORICO (the victory song of the rooster, the French national emblem).
"Jesus loves Paris", the new trendy shirt
Just a few days ago, I came accross this post from a blogger who discovered this shirt in front of Beaubourg, downtown Paris: "Jesus loves Paris".
After painful research (kidding), I found out that the bold discoverer of this new French hybrid between religion and marketing is Pamela Poole, a witty freelance writer, blogger and translator.
History will tell if this new shirt (currently only available in ONE single shop) will make regular headlines and sell well... Click to continue
Updated CV (2012)
Happy new year 2012 !
Death of a megachurch leader in France: Selvaraj Rajiah (1952-2011)
Megachurches are not just a US (or Nigerian, Korean...) phenomenon.
Even Secular France has got some, including Paris Christian Center in La Courneuve (North of Paris), attracting more than 4,000 regular attenders every week.
This is why the sudden and unexpected death of Selvaraj Rajiah, senior pastor of PCC, is a major event in the French protestant news.
How many Protestants today in the world ? 800 millions
This is one of the many questions the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life helps to answer, due to a huge world survey on contemporary Christianity.
This comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 2010 global population of 6.9 billion. To know more, click here.
Understanding French Muslims' History: 3 films
Even more than the Evangelical growth (between 600,000 and 750,000 Evangelicals in today's France), the Muslim growth is "the" big religious news of the last 40 years.
In 2011 France, there are an estimated five million Muslims living in the country. A century ago, they were referred to as "colonials". During the 1960s, they were known as "immigrants". Today, they are "citizens".
But how have the challenges facing each generation of immigrants changed?