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).
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)
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)
At the HOPE FOR A NEW NATION Festival I've been to, there were apparently up to 94,000 attenders in 2 days. Amazing!
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
Strange, while highlighting the Faculté de Vaux-sur-Seine's impact on the French Evangelical field, I mentioned a few days ago John Winston and Lorraine Winston's legacy. In their own ways, both of them impacted French contemporary Protestant history.
I just learned that Lorraine Winston passed away. The service will be held on the 24th of October, 2011.
The death of Steve Jobs (1955-2011), founder of the Apple Brand and digital genius, has everything to fascinate observers of contemporary religion.
If you are blessed enough to read French, please click here to check out my French-speaking blognote. It you read English only (nobody's perfect), please read Andy Crouch's excellent analysis of Steve Jobs as a secular prophet (Wall Street Journal).
In my 2008 book devoted to the study of megachurches, I had noticed that branding strategies could interfere with religious motives, especially in some big megachurches.
This Lausanne Conference, held from the 13th to the 15th of October, 2011, will put some fresh light on this questions. The title of the Conference is : "Religions as Brands – The Marketizalisation of Religion and Spirituality". It will include some remarkable speakers as Steve Bruce, Laurence Iannacocone, Philippe Simmonot and Roger Finke.
In France, everybody knows her for sure, as she served as an able and hard-working Finance minister for 3 years. But the world still needs to get more familiar with the new head International Monetary Fund (IMF), where she replaces…. Another French politician, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, currently facing criminal charges in New York.
Even France, often self-described as "the hotbed of Human Rights" (French Revolution, blablabla), is currently facing the growth of extreme right wing party (with Marine le Pen, credited with 20% of vote intentions!).
Often described as a threat, migrants' rights are more and more at risk.
How do Civil societies react ? Including churches ?
Whoever wants to know more about the current state of French Protestantism should notice: a big Conference will be organized in Paris in 2010, from November, the 18th, to November the 20th.
The conference's title is : "French Protestantism : A restructured family". This conference is impulsed by the Protestant Federation of France (FPF).
Even if around 90% of the French would have voted for him if they could have done so, make no mistake!!!
This is baaaaad news for many of my people...
With G.W. Bush as a US president, it was increasingly easy for us to feel superior...