Lacking time ? Looking for a speedy teaching about Japanese History ?
There it is ! This excellent Youtube video will do the trick. Bill Wurtz surveys the Land of the Rising Sun's entire past during a colorful, funny 9-minute lecture. Budhism, Samuraïs, diplomatic history, rice culture, World wars I and II, Hiroshima bomb, post-war Economic miracle are all covered. Hopes some day French History may be covered with such speed and intelligence!
The 300.000 Evangelicals in Japan are not mentioned, though. For those who want to know about this sub-chapter of Japanese religious History, click here (link).
Here is the video:
Too busy! This is the main reason why this blog has not been fed as expected in this year 2015. There is another reason however: my research has been directed more and more towards the French-speaking transnational territories between France and Africa. Here are some insights from my recent field studies in Congo DR and Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou):
Did you know that Luther’s ideas began to spread in France from 1520 onwards. The authorities did their best to oppose them. From 1540, under Jean Calvin’s influence, a new Church took shape, but separate from the Roman Catholic Church.
To know more, just click here (link), to reach the French-based Virtual Museum of Protestantism, an excellent website dedicated to spread scholarly information about Protestantism, France and worldwide.
Many sections are carefully crafted in English, so English-speaking readers have no excuse missing them!
Edited by the Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency), the quarterly journal Afrique Contemporaine makes available the analyses and opinions of researchers and specialists on the evolution of the African continent with a view towards sustainable development.
It has been an honour for me to lead a special issue, with my colleague Dr Cedric Mayrargue, about NEW CHRISTIANITIES in Africa (mostly Evangelicals).
This edition (n°252) has been released in July 2015, whith a rich content (related to Congo, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia etc.).
The CNEF survey also details progress in national coverage: 87 per cent of the country is now said to be within half an hour's drive of an evangelical congregation. Pastor David Buick's paper emphasizes the fact that there's a growing open-mindedness, too: many evangelical churches that aren't CNEF affiliates are included in the statistics.
Eurojihad examines the sources of radicalization in Muslim communities in Europe and the responses of European governments and societies. In an effort to understand the scope and dynamics of Islamist extremism and terrorism in Europe, this book takes into account recent developments, in particular the emergence of Syria as a major destination of European jihadists. Angel Rabasa and Cheryl Benard describe the history, methods, and evolution of jihadist networks in Europe (including FRANCE) with particular nuance, providing a useful primer for the layperson and a sophisticated analysis for the expert.
In the first three months of 2014, Reuters reminds us that more Jews left France for Israel than at any other time since the Jewish state was created in 1948, citing economic hardships in France's stagnating economy but also rising anti-Semitism as a factor.
The riots in Sarcelles (northern subburbs of Paris) on the 20th of July, 2014 won't curb the trend: jewish shops and a synagogue were deliberatly targeted by Muslim protesters who were supposed to demonstrate for Palestine. The French government reacted very strongly, as Reuters reports here (link).
The European Court of Human Rights has just upheld a ban by France on wearing the Muslim full-face veil - the niqab. A case was brought by a 24-year-old French woman, who argued that the ban on wearing the veil in public violated her freedom of religion and expression.
The court ruled that the ban "was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face". The Strasbourg judges' decision is final - there is no appeal against it. From BBC Europe (more here, link).
France's National Front stormed to victory: 25% (24 seats); Classical right UMP 21%; President Hollande's Socialists got a poor third with less than 14%.
For observers of the French religious scene, these elections have also signed the end of a lasting feature: French Catholic's tendency to boost Europe and to reject far-right National Front.
Her book traces the global, national, and local origins of the conflict between Muslims and Jews in France, challenging the belief that rising anti-Semitism in France is rooted solely in the unfolding crisis in Israel and Palestine. Maud Mandel shows how the conflict in fact emerged from processes internal to French society itself even as it was shaped by affairs elsewhere, particularly in North Africa during the era of decolonization.
To read more, click here (link).
Better late than never: let's emphasize the great value of Regardsprotestants, a French-speaking website dedicated to news from a Protestant perspective. The Pastor Eugène Bersier Foundation, with the help of WordAppeal, has launched it at the beginning of 2013.
A unique and remarkable gateway into the French-speaking Protestant world, www.regardsprotestants.com unites content from about 60 French Protestant media (blogs, TV, press, radio, etc.). From society to faith, culture and international affairs, the website covers all topics that are making headlines around the world. This new website - completely free - is gaining a growing attendance. It is aimed at people of the Protestant faith, and more broadly, to anyone interested in religion.
To know more, click here.
"The Catholic church in France can't be accused of lacking a sense of humour. Six Catholic dioceses in Normandy have banded together to encourage the faithful to "adopt a priest" via an online video as part of their annual fundraising drive. The 48-second video, which has already been viewed more than 22,000 times since being launched last week, targets young donors with its parody of a popular French dating site, adopteunmec.com (adopt a guy)."
Read more here (from The GUARDIAN)
And link here to the video (link)
"The French government has confirmed the death of Camille Lepage, a 26-year -old photojournalist working in the Central African Republic. The country is wracked with political instability, resulting in widespread violence, internal displacement and sectarian tension. Her body was found by French peacekeeping troops on May 13, 2014." (click here to read more)
Camille Lepage was not only a very talented and bold young photojournalist (published by Time Magazine, The New York Times etc). She was also powerfully advocating for left-behind countries and people, especially South Sudan where she found home in JUBA for 2 years.
"Faith in Empire is an innovative exploration of French colonial rule in West Africa, conducted through the prism of religion and religious policy. Elizabeth Foster examines the relationships among French Catholic missionaries, colonial administrators, and Muslim, animist, and Christian Africans in colonial Senegal between 1880 and 1940. In doing so she illuminates the nature of the relationship between the French Third Republic and its colonies, reveals competing French visions of how to approach Africans..."
"How did the Huguenots of Paris survive, and even prosper, in the eighteenth century when the majority Catholic population was notorious for its hostility to Protestantism? Why, by the end of the Old Regime, did public opinion overwhelmingly favour giving Huguenots greater rights? This study of the growth of religious toleration in Paris traces the specific history of the Huguenots after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685."
Let's thank Professor David Garrioch for this new synthesis:
"Over eight hundred Reformed churches sprang into existence in France between 1555 and 1562. Their advent occurred after a thirty-five year period of buildup, during which evangelical doctrines gained adherents throughout the kingdom and local networks formed out of which those churches would coalesce. (..) why and how these conventicles grew and then suddenly metamorphosed into well-organized churches remains largely a mystery"
Thanks to Jonathan Reid, this mystery is solved now. In a Open edition full text version now available, let's read his contribution "French evangelical networks before 1555: proto-churches?", in Philip Benedict, Silvana Seidel Menchi & Alain Tallon (ed.), LA RÉFORME EN FRANCE ET EN ITALIE, Ecole Française de Rome, 2007 (p.105-124).
Coordinated by the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, Religionfactor.net is analyzing for us "Religion and Gay Marriage Opposition in France" (link).
Is it allowed, or not, to trash religions, deities, beliefs?
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.
One of the most gifted French contemporary stand-up comedian, 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?
As 2014 just began, let's emphasize the great value of France.fr, officially launched in 2010.
Michel 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).
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.
This 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).
As 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).
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).
The 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.
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.
Who 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)