01/31/2014

Blasphemy in Secular France

images.jpegIn the last years, Blasphemy has become one of the hot topics in French public debate.

Is it allowed, or not, to trash religions, deities, beliefs?

An interesting article has been rencently written on that matter by Diana Johnstone on counterpunch website. I do not agree with all of it, far from that.

Implying, for example, that Manuel Valls (French interior minister), "proclaims his own devotion to Israel, because his wife is Jewish", is just plain wrong!

However, Diana Johnstone's paper is a stimulating article and I recommand it for reading.

Link here.

01/11/2014

Dieudonné, controversial French comic: freedom of speech at stake?

_72019976_lead.jpgOne of the most gifted French contemporary comic, Dieudonné M'bala M'bala is also the most controversial. His bizarre journey led him to be condemned several times for ugly antisemitic remarks. These days, he makes headlines because of his new show, Le Mur, which has been banned in many places.

This has stirred debate about freedom of speech. Where does it start, where does it stop?

To know more in English, let's praise the BBC website for a very good coverage, here, here and there.

01/05/2014

Happy new year !

Wishes 2014.jpg

01/04/2014

Religion and secularism in France: see FRANCE.FR

France, religion, secularism, laïcité (laicity), france.frThis blog should have advertised earlier about this website. But never late than never!

As 2014 just began, let's emphasize the great value of France.fr, officially launched in 2010.

France.fr is the multilingual website of reference about France, intended for the international general public. Religion and secularism topics are part of it, as one can check here (link).

12/30/2013

Religion and Culture (Michel Foucault), a new 2013 edition

france,religion,culture,michel foucault,book,routledge,jeremy r. carrette,university of stirlingMichel Foucault (1926-1984) was one of the most important French intellectual figures of the twentieth century. He is known for many significant writings, including The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969) and the first volume of The History of Sexuality (1976). More than enough to take a look with great interest at this new edition of Religion and Culture (Routledge, 2013).

The editor of this collection of texts and essays is Jeremy R. Carrette, formerly Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Stirling (a great city where I was fortunate to live for one year).

12/27/2013

South Sudan : leaving hatred behind ?

As heavy fighting plagues South Sudan since mid-december 2013, let's share a wish (see below): 

May this motto replace hatred (picture taken in Juba, 2d december, 2013)

sebastien fath, south sudan

11/26/2013

Juba (South Sudan): studying its changing Christian landscape

south sudan,juba,christianity,evangelicals,nation building,africaIndependent since 2011, South Sudan is a rapidly changing country, with huge challenges ahead. As a scholar working on religion from a social science perspective, I am currently studying the changing landscape of Christianity in Juba, the capital.

After a belated landing in Juba on the 23d of November, I will leave on the 2d of December, 2013. Meanwhile, as I do my best to document my study, several pictures are posted on a Flickr Album you can enjoy here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pilgrimseb/sets/721576379507...

11/01/2013

Welcome to the World Religion Watch (French-based)

raphel liogier,bruno etienne,france,world religion watch,observatory for religious phenomenaNot always easy to have access in English to all French scholarly work!

Let's praise the The Observatory for Religious Phenomena (World Religion Watch) for its focus on providing resources in English. This French-based group was founded in 1992, within the framework of a research contract, under the guidance of Bruno Etienne, emeritus Professor at the Institute of Political Studies. It is now led by Professor Raphael Liogier.

After having obtained the status of "seed team", it has since acquired ongoing impetus as a widely acknowledged study group focusing on the sociology and political analysis of religious phenomena. Website here.

10/06/2013

An amazing South Sudan refugee's testimony published in France

south sudan,france,naomi baki,le cerf,sébastien fath,marie taurand,sophie porteil,gbaya,refugees,asylum status,islam,christianityThis is a book to remember. In Je suis encore vivante (transl, "Still Alive"), Mrs Naomi Baki, a young mother and refugee from South Sudan, shares a unique story of survival, from deep South Sudan to France, crossing Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Turkey and Greece, where she stayed for almost 10 years. This is a heart-wrenching story of redemption, from bondage (forced conversion into Islam), to freedom and full refugee status (10 years card residency) granted by France.

For historians, woman's right advocate, social activists, and every reader keen to learn a "bigger-than-life" story of Hope in the midst of persecution and misery, this amazing book (link) is a must-have.

Just edited by the French respected publisher Le Cerf (2013), with the much valuable help of Marie Taurand and Sophie Porteil, this book is not yet translated in English. But it will come! 

For being lucky enough to know the author, Mrs Baki, let's say she is also a wonderful and convincing speaker, particularly fluent in English (her mother tongue along with Gbaya, her tribal language).

10/02/2013

Regulating religion in Europe: a French author to read

jean-paul willaimeAs the French (and Canadian) debate is still quite polarized by "laïcité" (laicity) and the challenge of public regulation of religion, let's have a wider look and remind (among others) the works of Jean-Paul Willaime (link to his page).

A worldwide leading sociologist of religion, Director of studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE, Religious Studies section) and former president of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR), visiting professor at the College of Europe, Dr Jean-Paul Willaime is always worth being read.

He has authored many articles in English, including "European Integration, Laïcité and Religion" (link).

09/10/2013

A much needed book to understand Health and Wealth Gospel

41KBXB17RpL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_.jpgThe CEIA, located in Lognes, near Paris, is the biggest Evangelical meeting in France. Last year, the main theme was Health and Wealth Gospel. Not surprising!

This growing movement, mostly popular within some Charismatic circles, is taking roots in France. The two biggest Evangelical congregations in Paris, which are Charisma Eglise Chrétienne and Paris Centre Chrétien, could be described as linked to Prosperity Gospel.

This is why Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford University Press, 2013), authored by Kate Bowler, is not only needed in America. It is also a great tool for a better understanding of a world-wide movement much more diverse than what most people think. Good review to be read here (link).

09/06/2013

The burqa affair in Europe: a major comparative study

9781409470656.jpgIn recent years, the wearing of the full-face veil or burqa/niqab has proved a controversial issue in FRANCE and in many multi-cultural European societies. Focussing on the socio-legal and human rights angle, The Burqa Affair Across Europe (Ashgate, 2013), edited by Alessandro Ferrari and Sabrina Pastorelli (linked to my GSRL research team)  provides a useful comparative perspective on how the issue has been dealt with across a range of European states as well as at European institutional level.

In so doing, the work draws a theoretical framework for the place of religion between public and private space. With contributions from leading experts from law, sociology and politics, the book presents a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to one of the most contentious and symbolic issues of recent times. Link to the publisher's website.

08/19/2013

The connexion: a reliable source of information

title.jpgThe Connexion is the best-selling newspaper for English-speakers in France.

This paper provides essential news and practical information to help its readers understand and integrate into the French community. It is also very well-informed, including topics about religion (which is one of this blog's top interests). 

Here is a weblink to discover more about this reliable English-speaking source of information about French society, including laicity ("laïcité") and religion.

07/29/2013

Pentecostal narratives, a techne designed to deal with rapid changes?

logo.pngIn a few days, a symposium on Pentecostalism and Transnationalism will be held at the University of Western Sydney. Far from old Europe and France? Not so far actually.

Annalisa Butticci's documentary on African Pentecostals is focused on Italy. And Mark Hutchinson's paper (University of Western Sydney) appears very stimulating to explain Pentecostal narratives in France and Europe. His point is that "internal stories of pentecostals are a source for understanding the movement as a form of ‘techne’ for dealing with rapidly changing contexts, in particular those associated with globalisation". Full program here (PDF).

07/08/2013

"When religion comes to an end" (Conference to be held in Brussels)

download.jpgAs a social phenomenon, religion does have a start, as it does have an end too.

A very stimulating conference will focus on "When religion comes to an end... Political and Social factors in the demise of religions". Organized by the BABEL association, it will be held in Brussels (9-11 september, 2013).

Among the speakers, Paul Airiau will analyze the collapse of priest-recruitment in contemporary catholic France.

To download the program, just click here (PDF)

06/19/2013

French Protestant History on iTunes

Meromedia.jpgWho wants to discover French protestants in an easy, user-friendly way? Wait a minute, iTunes has something for you. The Protestant Library was created as an extension of the Internet site www.museeprotestant.org, of the Virtual Museum of French Protestantism (Pasteur Eugène Bersier Foundation of French Protestant History).

The first volume, "History of Protestant France" exposes the main characteristics of Protestant France from the XVIth to XXth century: of Calvin's time to the Edict of Nantes and to the 1905 law, including the period of the “Desert”. Click here for more (link)

05/16/2013

British and Commonwealth Methodism in London (Matthew Wood)

M.Wood.jpgOn 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.

(click here to continue)

Lire la suite

04/27/2013

Levenson Prize 2013 for a groundbreaking book on religion in China

vincent goossaert, david palmer, china, evangelicals, chinese evangelicals, chicago university press, taiwan, singaporeAs 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!

04/20/2013

Diaspora of Brazilian religions

54763.jpgFor a long time, American religious influence on France was mostly identified with USA. This is no longer true. South America, especially Brazil, has become a major exporter of religious goods. 

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. 


Link here.

 

04/16/2013

Attitudinal change towards Jews and Muslims in France (conference)

intolerance.jpgFrance 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).

04/11/2013

Grand Rabbi of France resigns after scandal

57357b0b00bacf5ef15daed68f6c694fd910934dd94b5da061300788de612c4f.jpgIn 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).

04/01/2013

Multiple Modernities and Postsecular Societies

9781409444121.jpgThe 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)

Lire la suite

03/25/2013

War in Mali: a reminder that France is not "soft" on jihadists

islam,france,france and islam,mali,west africa,jihadismMany 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)

Lire la suite

03/02/2013

Face of France's 'Good King Henri IV' reconstructed

pb-130212-king-henri-reconstruction-jsa-3.jpgFor 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)

02/18/2013

Studying religion and society, Sociological Self-Portraits

phil zuckerman,titus hjelm,routledge,jean-paul willaime "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!  


01/28/2013

Religion as communication, God's talk

9781409435235.jpg"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)

01/01/2013

Happy new year !

Happy 2013.jpg

12/10/2012

2012, the Year when French "cellar Evangelicals" came into fame

france,evangelicals,paris,cellar evangecalismAs a scholar working on Evangelicals, what would be my "highlight of the year"? 

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.

Lire la suite

11/01/2012

Back from South Sudan and Hope for a New nation Festival

picture taken by Sebastien Fath.jpgI just come back from an amazing week in JUBA (South Sudan), where I went to survey, as a French scholar, a huge Christian event organized by Rev Franklin Graham

At the HOPE FOR A NEW NATION Festival I've been to, there were apparently up to 94,000 attenders in 2 days. Amazing!

For those who speak French, there are more details in my French-speaking blog, and also in this other one devoted to promote friendship between France and South Sudan. See also my Flickr album here.

07/30/2012

French Evangelicals through an American lens (GetReligion)

images.jpegIn 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).

Link here