For our readers in Europe, the European People’s Party will host a conference at the European Parliament next week on the persecution of Christians around the world:
The Group of the European People’s Party (EPP Group) has the pleasure to invite you to a conference organised by the Intercultural Activities and Religious Dialogue Unit on ‘The Persecution of Christians in the World’. The conference will take place on 1 July 2015 from 14.30-18.00 hrs in the European Parliament in Brussels.
The aim of the conference is to raise awareness at EU level and to provide a follow-up for the Motion for Resolution on the persecution of Christians in the world, in relation to the killing of students in Kenya by terror group al-Shabaab, adopted on 30 April 2015 in Strasbourg by Members of the European Parliament. In this Resolution, Members condemned the persecution of Christians and called on the EU and its Member States to address the persecution of Christians as a priority issue for their foreign policy.
The conference will consist of two parts: the first session will concentrate on the broader Middle East region, notably the cases of Syria and Iraq, and the second on other areas of the world, by giving examples from Asia to Africa.
Interpretation will be provided in ES-DE-EN-FR-IT-HU-PL
The event will take place in Brussels on July 1. Details are here. (H/T: Peggy McGuinness).
This month, the University of Nebraska Press released “The Lawyer of the Church: Bishop Clemente de Jesús Munguía and the Clerical Response to the Mexican Liberal Reforma,” by Pablo Mijangos y González. The publisher’s description follows:
Mexico’s Reforma, the mid-nineteenth-century liberal revolution, decisively shaped the country by disestablishing the Catholic Church, secularizing public affairs, and laying the foundations of a truly national economy and culture.
The Lawyer of the Church is an examination of the Mexican clergy’s response to the Reforma through a study of the life and works of Bishop Clemente de Jesús Munguía (1810–68), one of the most influential yet least-known figures of the period. By analyzing how Munguía responded to changing political and intellectual scenarios in defense of the clergy’s legal prerogatives and social role, Pablo Mijangos y González argues that the Catholic Church opposed the liberal revolution not because of its supposed attachment to a bygone past but rather because of its efforts to supersede colonial tradition and refashion itself within a liberal yet confessional state. With an eye on the international influences and dimensions of the Mexican church-state conflict, The Lawyer of the Church also explores how Mexican bishops gradually tightened their relationship with the Holy See and simultaneously managed to incorporate the papacy into their local affairs, thus paving the way for the eventual “Romanization” of Mexican Catholicism during the later decades of the century.
In August, the Indiana University Press will release “Shi’i Cosmopolitanisms in Africa: Lebanese Migration and Religious Conversion in Senegal,” by Mara A. Leichtman (Michigan State University). The publisher’s description follows:
Mara A. Leichtman offers an in-depth study of Shi‘i Islam in two very different communities in Senegal: the well-established Lebanese diaspora and Senegalese “converts” from Sunni to Shi‘i Islam of recent decades. Sharing a minority religious status in a predominantly Sunni Muslim country, each group is cosmopolitan in its own way. Leichtman provides new insights into the everyday lives of Shi‘i Muslims in Africa and the dynamics of local and global Islam. She explores the influence of Hizbullah and Islamic reformist movements, and offers a corrective to prevailing views of Sunni-Shi‘i hostility, demonstrating that religious coexistence is possible in a context such as Senegal.
The Dignitatis Humanae Colloquium will be held from October 30 through November 1 in Norcia, Italy.
December 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the most controversial document of the Second Vatican Council, the ‘Declaration on Religious Freedom’, Dignitatis Humanae. Ever since its promulgation, it has been the subject of prolonged and often impassioned debate. What precisely does it teach? What is its authority? How can it be reconciled with the Church’s teaching about the kingship of Christ and the duties of Catholic statesmen? Scholars from all over the world will be meeting in Norcia this autumn, in the presence of Cardinal Raymund Burke, to discuss these vital questions.
In May, Yale University Press released “The Age of Secrecy: Jews, Christians, and the Economy of Secrets, 1400–1800” by Daniel Jütte (Harvard University). The publisher’s description follows:
The fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries were truly an Age of Secrecy in Europe, when arcane knowledge was widely believed to be positive knowledge that extended into all areas of daily life, from the economic, scientific, and political spheres to the general activities of ordinary people.
So asserts Daniel Jütte in this engrossing, vivid, and award-winning work. He maintains that the widespread acceptance and even reverence for this “economy of secrets” in premodern Europe created a highly complex and sometimes perilous space for mutual contact between Jews and Christians. Surveying the interactions between the two religious groups in a wide array of secret sciences and practices—including alchemy, cryptography, medical arcana, technological and military secrets, and intelligence—the author relates true stories of colorful “professors of secrets” and clandestine encounters. In the process Jütte examines how our current notion of secrecy is radically different in this era of WikiLeaks, Snowden, et al., as opposed to centuries earlier when the truest, most important knowledge was generally considered to be secret by definition.
This month, Edinburgh University Press releases “Diasporas of the Modern Middle East: Contextualising Community” edited by Anthony Gorman (University of Edinburgh) and Sossie Kasbarian (University of Lancaster). The publisher’s description follows:
Approaching the Middle East through the lens of Diaspora Studies, the 11 detailed case studies in this volume explore the experiences of different diasporic communities in and of the region, and look at the changing conceptions and practice of diaspora in the modern Middle East. They show how concepts central to diaspora such as ‘homeland’, ‘host state’, ‘exile’, ‘longing’, ‘memory’ and ‘return’ have been deconstructed and reinstated with new meaning through each complex diasporic experience. They also examine how different groups have struggled to claim and negotiate a space for themselves in the Middle East, and the ways in which these efforts have been aided and hampered by the historical, social, legal, political, economic, colonial and post-colonial specificities of the region.
In situating these different communities within their own narratives – of conflict, resistance, war, genocide, persecution, displacement, migration – these studies stress both the common elements of diaspora but also their individual specificity in a way that challenges, complements and at times subverts the dominant nationalist historiography of the region.
In September, the University of California press will release, “God in the Tumult of the Global Square: Religion in Global Civil Society,” by Mark Juergensmeyer (University of California, Santa Barbara), Dinah Griego (University of California, Santa Barbara), and John Soboslai (University of California, Santa Barbara). The publisher’s description follows:
How is religion changing in the twenty-first century? In the global era, religion has leapt onto the world stage, though often in contradictory ways. Some religious activists are antagonistic and engage in protests, violent acts, and political challenges. Others are positive and help to shape an emerging transnational civil society. A new global religion may be in the making, providing a moral and spiritual basis for a worldwide community of concern about environmental issues, human rights, and international peace. God in the Tumult of the Global Square explores all of these directions, based on a five-year Luce Foundation project that involved religious leaders, scholars, and public figures in workshops held in Cairo, Moscow, Delhi, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, and Santa Barbara. In this book, the voices of these religious observers around the world express both the hopes and fears about new forms of religion in the global age.
In August, the Indiana University Press will release “Erased from Space and Consciousness: Israel and the Depopulated Palestinian Villages of 1948,” by Noga Kadman (researcher and licensed tour guide). The publisher’s description follows:
Hundreds of Palestinian villages were left empty across Israel when their residents became refugees after the 1948 war, their lands and property confiscated. Most of the villages were razed by the new State of Israel, but in dozens of others, communities of Jews were settled—many refugees in their own right. The state embarked on a systematic effort of renaming and remaking the landscape, and the Arab presence was all but erased from official maps and histories. Israelis are familiar with the ruins, terraces, and orchards that mark these sites today—almost half are located within tourist areas or national parks—but public descriptions rarely acknowledge that Arab communities existed there within living memory or describe how they came to be depopulated. Using official archives, kibbutz publications, and visits to the former village sites, Noga Kadman has reconstructed this history of erasure for all 418 depopulated villages.
This month, University of California Press releases “Missionary Stories and the Formation of the Syriac Churches” by Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent (Marquette University). The publisher’s description follows:
Missionary Stories and the Formation of the Syriac Churches analyzes the hagiographic traditions of seven missionary saints in the Syriac heritage during late antiquity: Thomas, Addai, Mari, John of Ephesus, Simeon of Beth Arsham, Jacob Baradaeus, and Ahudemmeh. Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent studies a body of legends about the missionaries’ voyages in the Syrian Orient to illustrate their shared symbols and motifs. Revealing how these texts encapsulated the concerns of the communities that produced them, she draws attention to the role of hagiography as a malleable genre that was well-suited for the idealized presentation of the beginnings of Christian communities. Hagiographers, through their reworking of missionary themes, asserted autonomy, orthodoxy, and apostolicity for their individual civic and monastic communities, positioning themselves in relationship to the rulers of their empires and to competing forms of Christianity. Saint-Laurent argues that missionary hagiography is an important and neglected source for understanding the development of the East and West Syriac ecclesiastical bodies: the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of the East. Given that many of these Syriac-speaking churches remain today in the Middle East and India, with diaspora communities in Europe and North America, this work opens the door for further study of the role of saints and stories as symbolic links between ancient and modern traditions.