Christian renaissance coming, predicts French academician

Philosophies and ideologies are almost dead, argues well-known anthropologist René Girard in a newly published book in which the French Academy member predicts a new Christian cultural revolution that will make the Renaissance "seem like nothing".

In a book published recently in Italian, Verite o fede debole. Dialogo su cristianesimo e relativismo ("Truth or Weak Faith: Dialogue on Christianity and Relativism"), Professor Girard writes that "we will live in a world that will seem and be as Christian as today it seems scientific", Zenit reports.

"I believe we are on the eve of a revolution in our culture that will go beyond any expectation, and that the world is heading toward a change in respect of which the Renaissance will seem like nothing," Girard says, who was elected in 2005 as one of the 40 "immortals" of the French Academy.

The book, which is the product of 10 years of discussion between the French thinker and Italian professor Gianni Vattimo, theorist of so-called "weak thought", transcribes three debates between the authors on topics such as faith, secularism, Christian roots, the role of the Gospel message in the history of humanity, relativism, the problem of violence, and the challenge of reason.

In the book, Professor Girard argues that "religion conquers philosophy and surpasses it."

He says that ideologies and political theories are "almost dead" and confidence in science "has already been surmounted."

"There is in the world a new need for religion," the French thinker said.

In regard to moral relativism, which is defended by Professor Vattimo, Professor Girard answers that "I cannot be a relativist" because "I think the relativism of our time is the product of the failure of modern anthropology, of the attempt to resolve problems linked to the diversity of human cultures.

"Anthropology has failed because it has not succeeded in explaining the different human cultures as a unitary phenomenon, and that is why we are bogged down in relativism.

"In my opinion, Christianity proposes a solution to these problems precisely because it demonstrates that the obstacles, the limits that individuals put on one another serve to avoid a certain type of conflicts."

The French academic continues: "If it was really understood that Jesus is the universal victim who came precisely to surmount these conflicts, the problem would be solved."

Professor Girard is the latest in a series of eminent theologians to hold Chair No 37 at the French Academy.

He succeeds Dominican Fr Robert-Ambroise-Marie Carre who preached retreats for Pope Paul VI. The chair was earlier held by notable Vatican II figures Cardinals Jean Danielou and Eugene Tisserant.

Anthropologist Foresees a Christian Renaissance (Zenit, 18/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
René Girard (Académie Française)
René Girard (Wikipedia)
List of members of the Académie française by seat number

19 Dec 2006