The Deconstructed Church: In France …

DSC05229My forthcoming book, co-authored with Gerardo Marti, The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity, has been featured on the French blog Temoins (“Witnesses”).

Advance copies of The Deconstructed Church will be for sale at the discounted price of £15 (£22 on amazon) this Wednesday, 30 April, in Belfast, when I speak at Peter Rollins’ “Holy Ghosts” event on ‘The Questions that Haunt Emerging Christianity,’ at 7 pm at Aether and Echo. (Tickets cost £3, or you can buy a “fringe pass” for £18 for events Monday-Wednesday evenings.)

Though I sadly cannot read French, a quick run of the blog post through Google Translate reveals that it is a summary of an interview Gerardo and I recently gave to Bearings magazine. The author, Jean Hassenforder, then adds some of his own thoughts on how the findings from our research might translate into the French context.

Our book has a distinctly American/Northern Irish/British focus – though we acknowledge manifestations of the Emerging Church Movement elsewhere in the West – so it was fascinating to read Hassenforder’s reflections on France.

Noting our conclusion that the Emerging Church Movement will “persist and even thrive” in the current religious landscape, Hassenforder writes (please bear with my re-wording of Google Translate’s English):

The Emerging Church encounters obstacles in France. One may wonder why, since our country is also part of Western modernity. The sociological analysis of Daniele Hervieu-Léger confirms that the social and cultural trends highlighted by Gladys Ganiel and Gerardo Marti are also at work in France.

Certainly, we know that our country is facing a crisis in its adaptation to globalisation. This results in identity tensions. These can also manifest in the religious field, as highlighted in Hervieu-Léger’s The Pilgrim and the Converted.

But another aspect must be taken into account. In countries where the Emerging Church progresses, pluralism is often more developed than in France. Churches are more varied and flexible. In these contexts, emerging churches more easily occupy a space where they can be recognised and developed. However in France, where regular practice is now very much a minority pursuit, Christian life is expressed more in informal approaches through small groups and networks.

To what extent can this Christian sociability not only resist institutional conformity, but at the same time develop greater social visibility? If Ganiel and Marti are correct, social and cultural trends that occur over time operate in favour of the progress of the emerging church.

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