Contes de fées: Cachez cette violence que je ne saurai voir (Looking back at the disturbing origins of fairy tales)

30 mars, 2014
  Locust plague"Jews caused the disease by poisoning the wells"
Cupid and Psyche (Giuseppe Maria Crespi)
Titania with donkey-faced Bottom (Midsummer's night dream, Johann Heinrich Füssli)
Pig King (Crane)
Pig  King (Anne Anderson)

Beauty and the Beast

Petrus Gonsalvus, by anonymoushttp://www.jcbourdais.net/journal/images_journal/fontana/anton1.jpg
Qu’est-ce qui est plus nuisible qu’aucun vice ? La compassion active pour tous les ratés et les faibles — le christianisme… Nietzsche
Le christianisme entend venir à bout des fauves : sa méthode consiste à les rendre malades — l’affaiblissement est la recette chrétienne de l’ apprivoisement, de la "civilisation". Nietzsche
Le christianisme, c’est le mensonge dangereux d’un univers sans victime. Nietzsche
Les contes ont été relégués à la chambre d’enfants comme on relègue à la salle de jeux les meubles médiocres ou démodés, principalement du fait que les adultes n’en veulent pas et qu’il leur est égal qu’ils soient maltraités. JRR Tolkien
Peut-on imaginer personnage littéraire plus désagréable que le Dieu de l’Ancien Testament? Jaloux et en étant fier; obsédé de l’autorité, mesquin, injuste et impitoyable; vengeur et sanguinaire tenant de l’épuration ethnique; tyrannique, misogyne, homophobe, raciste, infanticide, génocidaire, fillicide, pestilentiel, mégalomane, sadomasochiste et capricieusement diabolique. Richard Dawkins
Dans certains des Psaumes l’esprit de haine nous frappe au visage comme la chaleur d’une fournaise. Dans d’autres cas, le même esprit cesse d’être effrayant mais c’est pour devenir (aux yeux de l’homme moderne) presque comique par sa naïveté. (…) Si nous excusons les poètes des Psaumes sous prétexte qu’ils n’étaient pas chrétiens, nous devrions pouvoir montrer que les auteurs païens expriment le même genre de choses et pire encore (….) Je peux trouver en eux de la lascivité, une bonne dose d’insensibilité brutale, une froide cruauté qui va de soi pour eux, mais certainement pas cette fureur ou cette profusion de haine…. La première impression que l’on en retire est que les Juifs étaient bien plus vindicatifs et acerbes que les païens. CS Lewis 
Il y a une quantité incroyable de violence dans des pièces telles que Médée ou les Bacchantes, dans la tradition dionysiaque dans son ensemble qui est centrée sur le lynchage. L’Iliade n’est rien d’autre qu’une chaîne d’actes de vengeance ; mais ce que C. S. Lewis et Nietzsche disent sur cette question est sans doute vrai si le problème est défini de la façon qu’ils le définissent il, à savoir en termes non pas de pure quantité de violence exposée mais de l’intensité de la rancoeur ou du ressentiment. (…) Même si les Bacchantes d’Euripide ne sont pas loin de prendre la défense de la victime, en fin de compte elles ne le font pas. Le lynchage du roi Penthée de la propre main de sa mère et de ses sœurs est horrible certes, mais pas mauvais; il est justifié. Le  roi Penthée est coupable de s’immiscer dans les rituels religieux des Bacchantes, coupable de s’opposer au dieu Dionysos lui-même. René Girard
On dit que les Psaumes de la Bible sont violents, mais qui s’exprime dans les psaumes, sinon les victimes des violences des mythes : “Les taureaux de Balaam m’encerclent et vont me lyncher”? Les Psaumes sont comme une fourrure magnifique de l’extérieur, mais qui, une fois retournée, laisse découvrir une peau sanglante. Ils sont typiques de la violence qui pèse sur l’homme et du recours que celui-ci trouve dans son Dieu. René Girard
De nombreux commentateurs veulent aujourd’hui montrer que, loin d’être non violente, la Bible est vraiment pleine de violence. En un sens, ils ont raison. La représentation de la violence dans la Bible est énorme et plus vive, plus évocatrice, que dans la mythologie même grecque. (…) Il est une chose que j’apprécie dans le refus contemporain de cautionner la violence biblique, quelque chose de rafraîchissant et de stimulant, une capacité d’indignation qui, à quelques exceptions près, manque dans la recherche et l’exégèse religieuse classiques. (…) Une fois que nous nous rendons compte que nous avons à faire au même phénomène social dans la Bible que la mythologie, à savoir la foule hystérique qui ne se calmera pas tant qu’elle n’aura pas lynché une victime, nous ne pouvons manquer de prendre conscience du fait de la grande singularité biblique, même de son caractère unique. (…) Dans la mythologie, la violence collective est toujours représentée à partir du point de vue de l’agresseur et donc on n’entend jamais les victimes elles-mêmes. On ne les entend jamais se lamenter sur leur triste sort et maudire leurs persécuteurs comme ils le font dans les Psaumes. Tout est raconté du point de vue des bourreaux. (…) Pas étonnant que les mythes grecs, les épopées grecques et les tragédies grecques sont toutes sereines, harmonieuses et non perturbées. (…) Pour moi, les Psaumes racontent la même histoire de base que les mythes mais retournée, pour ainsi dire. (…) Les Psaumes d’exécration ou de malédiction sont les premiers textes dans l’histoire qui permettent aux victimes, à jamais réduites au silence dans la mythologie, d’avoir une voix qui leur soit propre. (…) Ces victimes ressentent exactement la même chose que Job. Il faut décrire le livre de Job, je crois, comme un psaume considérablement élargi de malédiction. Si Job était un mythe, nous aurions seulement le point de vue des amis. (…) La critique actuelle de la violence dans la Bible ne soupçonne pas que la violence représentée dans la Bible peut être aussi dans les évènements derrière la mythologie, bien qu’invisible parce qu’elle est non représentée. La Bible est le premier texte à représenter la victimisation du point de vue de la victime, et c’est cette représentation qui est responsable, en fin de compte, de notre propre sensibilité supérieure à la violence. Ce n’est pas le fait de notre intelligence supérieure ou de notre sensibilité. Le fait qu’aujourd’hui nous pouvons passer jugement sur ces textes pour leur violence est un mystère. Personne d’autre n’a jamais fait cela dans le passé. C’est pour des raisons bibliques, paradoxalement, que nous critiquons la Bible. (…) Alors que dans le mythe, nous apprenons le lynchage de la bouche des persécuteurs qui soutiennent qu’ils ont bien fait de lyncher leurs victimes, dans la Bible nous entendons la voix des victimes elles-mêmes qui ne voient nullement le lynchage comme une chose agréable et nous disent en des mots extrêmement violents, des mots qui reflètent une réalité violente qui est aussi à l’origine de la mythologie, mais qui restant invisible, déforme notre compréhension générale de la littérature païenne et de la mythologie. René Girard
Ceux qui considèrent l’hébraïsme et le christianisme comme des religions du bouc émissaire parce qu’elles le rendent visible font comme s’ils punissaient l’ambassadeur en raison du message qu’il apporte. René Girard
Aujourd’hui on repère les boucs émissaires dans l’Angleterre victorienne et on ne les repère plus dans les sociétés archaïques. C’est défendu. René Girard
Au XIXe siècle, les spécialistes de religion comparée insistaient beaucoup sur les similitudes spectaculaires entre la Bible et les mythes du monde entier. Et ils conclurent trop vite que la Bible était un recueil de mythes identiques à tous les autres. Etant des "positivistes" et percevant un peu partout une plus ou moins grande ressemblance entre les données qu’ils étudiaient, ils ne notèrent aucune différence réelle entre la Bible et le reste. Un seul penseur a perçu cette différence cruciale : il s’agit de Friedrich Nietzsche. Dans la pensée de Nietzsche, du moins dans sa phase tardive, la dichotomie entre maîtres et esclaves doit d’abord se comprendre comme une opposition entre, d’un côté, les religions mythiques, qui expriment le point de vue des persécuteurs et considèrent toutes les victimes comme sacrifiables, et d’autre part la Bible et surtout les Evangiles, qui « calomnient » et sapent à la base les religions du premier groupe – et, en réalité, toutes les autres religions, car les Evangiles dénoncent l’injustice qu’il y a, dans tous les cas de figure, à sacrifier une victime innocente. (…) Il convient de voir dans les Ecritures judéo-chrétiennes la première révélation complète du pouvoir structurant de la victimisation dans les religions païennes ; quant au problème de la valeur anthropologique de ces Ecritures, il peut et doit être étudié comme un problème purement scientifique, la question étant de savoir si, oui ou non, les mythes deviennent intelligibles, comme je le crois, dès lors qu’on les interprète comme les traces plus ou moins lointaines d’épisodes de persécution mal compris. (…) Et pourtant, y a-t-il quelque chose qui soit plus naturel aux chercheurs que de traiter des textes similaires de façon similaire, ne serait-ce que pour voir ce que cela donne ? Un tabou inaperçu pèse sur ce type d’étude comparative. Les tabous les plus forts sont toujours invisibles. Comme tous les tabous puissants, celui-ci est antireligieux, c’est-à-dire, au fond, de nature religieuse. A partir de la Renaissance, les intellectuels modernes ont remplacé les Ecritures judéo-chrétiennes par les cultures anciennes. Puis, l’humanisme de Rousseau et de ses successeurs a glorifié à l’excès les cultures primitives et s’est également détourné de la Bible. Si la lecture que je propose est acceptée, notre vieux système de valeurs universitaires, fondé sur l’élévation des cultures non bibliques aux dépens de la Bible, va devenir indéfendable. Il deviendra clair que le véritable travail de démythification marche avec la mythologie, mais pas avec la Bible, car la Bible elle-même fait déjà ce travail. La Bible en est même l’inventeur : elle a été la première à remplacer la structure victimaire de la mythologie par un thème de victimisation qui révèle le mensonge de la mythologie. René Girard
Biblical reenactments are theatrical and very violent. Parents need to know that The Bible contains lots of violent and bloody scenes, including beatings, drownings, and the murdering of infants and adults. It also features a very lengthy and graphic reenactment of a crucifixion. Adultery is discussed; and men are often shown shirtless and in loin cloths and occasionally women are shown undressed (but no real nudity). Wine is sometimes consumed during religious ceremonies and over meals. All of this is offered in context, but it may be too intense for younger and/or sensitive viewers. Common sense media
From the Egyptian standpoint the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt was actually a justifiable expulsion. The main sources are the writings of Manetho and Apion, which are summarized and refuted in Josephus’s work Against Apion . . . Manetho was an Egyptian priest in Heliopolis. Apion was an Egyptian who wrote in Greek and played a prominent role in Egyptian cultural and political life. His account of the Exodus was used in an attack on the claims and rights of Alexandrian Jews . . . [T]he Hellenistic-Egyptian version of the Exodus may be summarized as follows: The Egyptians faced a major crisis precipitated by a group of people suffering from various diseases. For fear the disease would spread or something worse would happen, this motley lot was assembled and expelled from the country. Under the leadership of a certain Moses, these people were dispatched; they constituted themselves then as a religious and national unity. They finally settled in Jerusalem and became the ancestors of the Jews. James G. Williams
René Girard has changed the way that I interpret violence in the Bible, and, indirectly, in movies. Girard calls the Bible a “text in travail.” In other words, the Bible is a text that struggles with its own violence. Part of that struggle is its mere reflection of human violence, but where the Bible is unique in human history is that it challenges its own violence. While many stories in the Bible merely reflect human violence, other stories in the Bible reveal that violence will only lead to our own destruction and that God never demands violence. Girard writes that the Bible’s travail against its own violence and against a violent view of God “is not a chronologically progressive process, but a struggle that advances and retreats. I see the Gospels as the climactic achievement of that trend”. Girard claims that the Sermon on the Mount is one of those major advancements in the Bible, because in it Jesus “shows us a God who is alien to all violence and who wishes in consequence to see humanity abandon violence”, but Girard also points to the Joseph story as another major advancement. Indeed, you only need to finish reading the first book of the Bible for evidence that the Bible is a “text in travail.” Yes, in Genesis you will find all the violence mentioned above, but if you read to the end, you will discover the Joseph story – a story that provides the only true answer to the problem of violence. It’s a familiar story, so I won’t go into much detail. Joseph’s father loves him more than his 11 brothers, which makes his brothers jealous. Filled with jealousy, Joseph’s 11 brothers violently unite against him. As they leave him for dead in a pit, one brother suggests that they spare Joseph’s life and sell him as a slave. Joseph, now a slave, arrives in Egypt where he thrives and becomes Pharaoh’s right-hand man. Years later there is a famine and his brothers come to Egypt looking for help. They meet Joseph, who recognizes his brothers, but his brothers don’t recognize him. At this point in the story, Joseph held all the power. He could have responded to his brothers’ request by continuing the cycle of violence. It would be a mere reflection of human violence if Joseph said, “Remember when you planned to kill me, but then sold me as a slave? Well, I spent years in jail, and now you will too!” But that’s not how Joseph responds. Rather, Joseph reveals the only way out of violence by responding to his brothers with compassion and forgiveness. Many Christians have seen Joseph as a Christ-like figure. Indeed, Jesus responded to violence in the same way Joseph did. While hanging on the cross, Jesus prayed for his persecutors to be forgiven, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Then, in the resurrection, Jesus only offered words of peace to those who betrayed him. Why is there so much violence in the Bible? Because human history shows that we have a tendency to be violent. Yet violence is not inevitable. As the Bible struggles with its own violence, it also reveals that forgiveness is the only solution to cycles of revenge. So, when it comes to storytelling, whether in the Bible or in movies, our concern shouldn’t be whether or not there is violence. Our concern should be whether these stories merely reflect human violence, or whether these stories are in travail against human violence. Good stories are like the Joseph and Jesus stories. They transform our identity away from violence and into an identity of forgiveness. That, I would offer, is the litmus test for any good story. Adam Ericksen
La Dysneyfication (sic) des contes depuis soixante-dix ans a insidieusement installé dans notre esprit l’image d’un monde simple où des gens beaux combattent des méchants plutôt laids et doivent faire face à des obstacles apparemment insurmontables dans leur quête d’une vie heureuse, aidés qu’ils sont par M. ou Mme (ou plus vraisemblablement SAS) Juste ; un monde où le bien triomphe toujours et où il n’est pas de meilleur mariage que ceux construits sur la grandeur d’un royaume.  David Barnett 

Cachez cette violence que je ne saurai voir  !

Expulsion de tout un peuple suite à des calamités naturelles ou imaginaires attribuées à un Dieu libérateur, sacrifice de jeunes filles vouées à la dévoration d’un monstre d’abord divinisé puis humanisé par l’amour …

A l’heure où un chroniqueur égyptien réclame des dommages et intérêts pour les plaies

Et où la chaine franco-allemande Arte revient sur l’histoire d’un homme atteint du syndrome rarissime de l’hypertrichose ayant pu inspirer le célèbre conte de mesdames de Villeneuve et de Beaumont (La Belle et la bête), aboutissement d’une longue liste de reprises historiques (d’Apulée et d’Ovide à Shakespeare, Satarapola et Grimm) …

Pendant qu’aux Etats-Unis, une mini-série sur la Bible se voit déconseillée aux enfants de moins de 14 ans

Comment ne pas s’étonner, avec René Girard, de cet étrange refus de nos historiens de voir dans les mythes les traces de persécution et de violences notamment anti-juives qu’ils repèrent si aisément dans les textes de notre propre Moyen-Age en quête de boucs émissaires face aux dévastations de la Peste noire ?

Mais comment aussi s’expliquer, au-delà  des habituelles édulcorations de nos psychanalystes et des scénaristes des studios Disney, ce non moins étrange aveuglement de nos folkloristes devant des contes de fées qui ne sont manifestement autres eux aussi que "les traces plus ou moins lointaines d’épisodes de persécution mal compris" ?

Faut-il interdire les Contes de Grimm aux enfants?
Bibliobs

21-10-2009

Les Anglais aiment les fées, les monstres et les légendes. Ils aiment aussi beaucoup en parler. La semaine dernière, après leur avoir demandé si une traduction peut améliorer un livre, le «Guardian» a même proposé le thème des contes de fées aux blogueurs de la section Books.

Chez BibliObs, on s’est beaucoup amusé à lire la prose de David Barnett, qui s’est attelé à creuser la difficile question de la violence dans les contes pour enfants. D’après lui,en effet :

« La Dysneyfication (sic) des contes depuis soixante-dix ans a insidieusement installé dans notre esprit l’image d’un monde simple où des gens beaux combattent des méchants plutôt laids et doivent faire face à des obstacles apparemment insurmontables dans leur quête d’une vie heureuse, aidés qu’ils sont par M. ou Mme (ou plus vraisemblablement SAS) Juste ; un monde où le bien triomphe toujours et où il n’est pas de meilleur mariage que ceux construits sur la grandeur d’un royaume ». (Qui a dit que l’écriture anglaise n’était pas grandiloquente?)

Pour Barnett, le monde de l’Oncle Walt est dessiné pour les enfants, alors que les Contes des Frères Grimm (1) dépeignent un monde sombre fait de forêts effrayantes où des méfaits encore plus sombres seraient commis, et sans être jamais punis…

Pour mieux s’en expliquer, ce jeune auteur du nord-est de la Grande-Bretagne cite un passage particulièrement sanglant extrait du « Fiancé voleur » :

« La bande arrive à la maison avec une jeune fille qu’ils ont enlevée. Complètement ivres, ils n’entendent pas ses cris et ses plaintes. Ils lui donnent du vin à boire, trois pleins verres. Un de blanc, un de rouge et un de jaune pour lui crever le cœur. Et là, ils lui ôtent sa fine robe, l’allongent sur la table et découpent son joli corps en petits morceaux puis versent du sel dessus. »

Les Frères Grimm, qui ont recueilli les contes de la bouche de plusieurs informateurs, en fait surtout des informatrices – Dorothea Viehmann, qui a fourni à elle seule plus de trente textes du recueil, et les filles des familles Hassenpflug, Wild et Haxthausen – s’étaient d’ailleurs opposés au titre que leur éditeur proposait, « Contes pour les enfants et la maison », comme le rappelle Heinz Rölleke, le grand spécialiste allemand des contes de Grimm dans une interview accordée à nos confrères d’Arte il y a quelques années :

« Jacob Grimm était convaincu qu’on ne pouvait "servir deux maîtres à la fois", qu’il n’était donc pas possible de rendre et commenter les textes correctement tout en les édulcorant pour en faire un livre pour enfants. Mais il finit par accepter, à contrecœur. Le grand écart est parfaitement réussi : au fil des éditions, Wilhelm Grimm, le frère cadet, a adapté les textes au goût des enfants, sans leur ôter de leur substance. C’était le seul moyen de faire de ce livre un succès mondial. »

David Barnett ne dit pas autre chose : pour lui, les contes sont d’abord « des histoires pour les adultes ». Mais il préfère citer J.R.R. Tolkien et son essai de 1938, « Du conte de fées », où l’auteur préféré des geeks de tous horizons nous signale que l’association entre les contes de fées et les enfants est un « un accident de notre histoire domestique » qui a fait que les contes ont été « relégués à la chambre d’enfants comme on relègue à la salle de jeux les meubles médiocres ou démodés, principalement du fait que les adultes n’en veulent pas et qu’il leur est égal qu’ils soient maltraités ».

(On en saura plus sur cet essai, en se rendant à cette adresse, grâce au travail de Laurent Femenias, directeur d’école en Côte-d’Or et fan d’Iron Maiden…)

Les livres pour enfants ne sont pas du tout faits pour les enfants. Mais pour Barnett, ce n’est pas un problème. Car, nous dit-il dans sa langue un rien emphatique, « ils aident à donner aux enfants le sens de la fantaisie qui est vital pour naviguer dans la forêt souvent sombre et dense de la vie adulte ».

Fantaisie dont Tolkien parlait aussi dans son essai, en disant que contrairement aux idées reçues elle « est fondée sur la dure reconnaissance du fait que les choses sont telles dans le monde qu’elles paraissent sous le soleil ; une reconnaissance du fait, mais non un esclavage à son égard ». Bien dit.

Une citation encore, de G.K. Chesterton (dont la page Wikipedia est passionnante), qu’un lecteur anglais de Barnett partage généreusement dans les commentaires de l’article :

« Les contes de fées ne disent pas aux enfants que les dragons existent. Les enfants savent déjà que les dragons existent. Les contes de fées disent aux enfants qu’on peut tuer les dragons. »

Et on sait qu’en la matière, les Anglais sont à l’avant-garde : leur saint patron est même le tueur de dragons le plus célèbre au monde.

Voir également:

Il était une fois
La véritable histoire des contes de fées
Lisa Melia
l’Express
21/03/2011

La Journée mondiale des contes qui a lieu ce dimanche est une occasion de célébrer un genre littéraire universel.

"Il était une fois…" les contes. Récits merveilleux qui divertissent chaque génération d’enfants, les contes d’aujourd’hui n’ont pourtant rien à voir avec leurs ancêtres moyenâgeux. "Les premières traces de contes datent du 12e siècle environ, explique Catherine Velay-Vallantin, maître de conférence à l’EHESS et auteur d’une Histoire des contes. Les prédicateurs franciscains et dominicains les utilisaient notamment pour illustrer leurs prêches." Mais ce sont surtout les conteurs qui font vivre la tradition. Ils vont de foyer en foyer pour raconter des histoires et rassembler près du feu les parents et les enfants, divertissant les premiers et effrayant les seconds. Dès cette époque, trois exigences caractérisent le conte, qui demeure une tradition orale: concision narrative, inventivité esthétique, et logique. Il faudra attendre Charles Perrault au XVIIe siècle pour voir l’émergence d’un genre littéraire spécifique.

La vie est cruelle

Les versions originales sont bien plus violentes que leurs transpositions actuelles. "Le soleil, la lune et Thalie, le récit à l’origine de la Belle au bois dormant, remonte au 14e siècle, raconte Catherine Velay-Vallantin. Pour résumer, c’est l’histoire d’un viol. Le prince est déjà marié et viole la princesse dans son sommeil. Elle donne naissance à des jumeaux qui, cherchant son sein, suce son doigt et retire l’écharde qui la maintenait endormie. Elle se réveille alors et constate l’ampleur du désastre." Les contes, à l’époque, se finissent souvent mal et sont empreints de violence, en écho à l’existence difficile des paysans. Ils confirment que la vie est cruelle. "Il existe quand même des contes pour enfants", tempère la chercheuse. Le conteur s’adapte à son public et ne choisit pas toujours la version la plus tragique. Les contes de "randonnées" ont un but didactique : apprendre à compter aux enfants. "Ils enseignent la logique", résume Catherine Velay-Vallantin.

Un premier adoucissement des histoires se produit avec Charles Perrault, au public bourgeois, qui commence à s’inquiéter des répercussions sur les enfants. Exclu de la Petite Académie par Colbert, Perrault connaît de sérieuses difficultés financières. Il écrit pour revenir à Versailles et choisit délibérément les versions les plus édulcorées pour répondre aux exigences morales de l’Eglise. "Charles Perrault est considéré aujourd’hui comme un bon père de famille, s’amuse Catherine Velay-Vallantin, alors que c’était un carriériste, et certainement pas un pédagogue." En leur temps, les ouvrages de Perrault et ceux des frères Grimm ont rencontré un succès phénoménal. Presque autant lu que la Bible, ils ont été traduits et diffusés dans toute l’Europe.

Le monde de la recherche s’est penché sur leur richesse et continue à le faire. Du psychanalyste Bruno Bettelheim au sociologue Jack Zypes, en passant par les revues d’universitaires telles que La Grande Oreille. On peut être chercheur et avoir su garder son âme d’enfant.

Voir encore:

The Dark Side of the Grimm Fairy Tales
Jesse Greenspan
History
September 17, 2013

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s collection of folktales contains some of the best-known children’s characters in literary history, from Snow White and Rapunzel to Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. Yet the brothers originally filled their book, which became known as “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” with gruesome scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in an R-rated movie. The Grimms never even set out to entertain kids. The first edition of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” was scholarly in tone, with many footnotes and no illustrations. Only later, as children became their main audience, did they take out some of the more adult content. Their stories were then further sanitized as they were adapted by Walt Disney and others. As the 150th anniversary of Jacob’s death approaches—he passed away on September 20, 1863, about four years after Wilhelm—check out some of the surprisingly dark themes that appear in the Grimms’ work.

1. Premarital sex
In the original version of “Rapunzel,” published in 1812, a prince impregnates the title character after the two spend many days together living in “joy and pleasure.” “Hans Dumm,” meanwhile, is about a man who impregnates a princess simply by wishing it, and in “The Frog King” a princess spends the night with her suitor once he turns into a handsome bachelor. The Grimms stripped the sex scenes from later versions of “Rapunzel” and “The Frog King” and eliminated “Hans Dumm” entirely.
But hidden sexual innuendos in “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” remained, according to psychoanalysts, including Sigmund Freud and Erich Fromm, who examined the book in the 20th century.

2. Graphic violence
Although the brothers Grimm toned down the sex in later editions of their work, they actually ramped up the violence. A particularly horrific incident occurs in “The Robber Bridegroom,” when some bandits drag a maiden into their underground hideout, force her to drink wine until her heart bursts, rip off her clothes and then hack her body into pieces. Other tales have similarly gory episodes. In “Cinderella” the evil stepsisters cut off their toes and heels trying to make the slipper fit and later have their eyes pecked out by doves; in “The Six Swans” an evil mother-in-law is burned at the stake; in “The Goose Maid” a false bride is stripped naked, thrown into a barrel filled with nails and dragged through the streets; and in “Snow White” the wicked queen dies after being forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes. Even the love stories contain violence. The princess in “The Frog King” turns her amphibian companion into a human not by kissing it, but instead by hurling it against a wall in frustration.

3. Child abuse
Even more shockingly, much of the violence in “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” is directed at children. Snow White is just 7 years old when the huntsman takes her into the forest with orders to bring back her liver and lungs. In “The Juniper Tree” a woman decapitates her stepson as he bends down to get an apple. She then chops up his body, cooks him in a stew and serves it to her husband, who enjoys the meal so much he asks for seconds. Snow White eventually wins the day, as does the boy in “The Juniper Tree,” who is brought back to life. But not every child in the Grimms’ book is so lucky. The title character in “Frau Trude” turns a disobedient girl into a block of wood and tosses her into a fire. And in “The Stubborn Child” a youngster dies after God lets him become sick.

4. Anti-Semitism
The Grimms gathered over 200 tales for their collection, three of which contained Jewish characters. In “The Jew in the Brambles” the protagonist happily torments a Jew by forcing him to dance in a thicket of thorns. He also insults the Jew, calling him a “dirty dog,” among other things. Later on, a judge doubts that a Jew would ever voluntarily give away money. The Jew in the story turns out to be a thief and is hanged. In “The Good Bargain” a Jewish man is likewise portrayed as a penny-pinching swindler. During the Third Reich, the Nazis adopted the Grimms’ tales for propaganda purposes. They claimed, for instance, that Little Red Riding Hood symbolized the German people suffering at the hands of the Jewish wolf, and that Cinderella’s Aryan purity distinguished her from her mongrel stepsisters.

5. Incest
In “All-Kinds-of-Fur” a king promises his dying wife that he will only remarry if his new bride is as beautiful as her. Unfortunately, no such woman exists in the whole world except his daughter, who ends up escaping his clutches by fleeing into the wilderness. While interviewing sources, the Grimms likewise heard versions of a different story–“The Girl Without Hands”–with an incestuous father. Nonetheless, in all editions of their book they recast this father as the devil.

6. Wicked mothers
Evil stepparents are a dime a dozen in fairy tales, but the Grimms originally included some evil biological mothers as well. In the 1812 version of “Hansel and Gretel,” a wife persuades her husband to abandon their children in the woods because they don’t have enough food to feed them. Snow White also has an evil mother, who at first wishes for and then become infuriated by her daughter’s beauty. The Grimms turned both of these characters into stepmothers in subsequent editions, and mothers have essentially remained off the hook ever since in the retelling of these stories.

Voir aussi:

Un chroniqueur égyptien : L’Egypte doit intenter un procès à Israël pour les dix plaies ; à la Turquie pour l’occupation ottomane ; à la France pour l’invasion napoléonienne et à la Grande-Bretagne pour le colonialisme
Memri No. 5686
Mars 20, 2014

Dans un article paru le 11 mars 2014 dans le quotidien égyptien Al-Yawm Al-Sabi, le chroniqueur égyptien Ahmad Al-Gamal, qui écrit également pour Al-Ahram et Al-Masri Al-Yawm, estime qu’il faudrait intenter un procès à Israël, la Turquie, la Grande-Bretagne et la France pour les dommages que tous ces pays ont causés à l’Egypte depuis les temps bibliques jusqu’au 20ème siècle. Selon lui, Israël devrait être poursuivi pour les dommages causés par les dix plaies d’Egypte (décrites dans la Bible) et pour les matériaux précieux utilisés par les Israélites pour construire le Saint Tabernacle dans le désert ; la Turquie devrait rendre des comptes pour avoir envahi l’Egypte à l’époque ottomane, recruté des artisans égyptiens à la construction de projets à Istanbul, avoir volé des antiquités, des manuscrits et des livres, et avoir comploté avec les sionistes contre l’Egypte dans les années 1950 et 1960. Quant à la France, elle doit payer des indemnités pour l’invasion de Napoléon à la fin du 18ème siècle et la campagne de Suez en 1956 ; et enfin, la Grande-Bretagne doit payer pour 72 ans d’occupation, au cours desquels l’Egypte a subi vols et usurpation.

Voir par ailleurs:

The Bible and Movies and Violence – Oh My!
Adam Ericksen
God’s Politics Blog
06-26-2013

This Thursday I’ll be interviewing Gareth Higgins on the Raven Foundation’s Voices of Peace radio show. Gareth is the founder of the very popular Wild Goose Festival. If you attend this summer, you will meet Raven friend James Alison, who will talk about his latest project, Jesus the Forgiving Victim: Listening to the Unheard Voice. Gareth is also a film critic and analyzes films from a Christian point of view on his website God Is Not Elsewhere. He wrote a book called How Movies Helped Save My Soul and, with Jett Loe, he is the co-host of Film Talk, an award-winning Internet radio show of cinema reviews and interviews. Since we are in the heat of the summer movie season, I’ll be talking with Gareth about both the Wild Goose Festival and his passion for religion and films.

Before talking with Gareth, I’d like to ask this: Do movies and the Bible have anything in common? Fill in the blank with either the word “Bible” or “movies” and you will be asking a familiar question:

Why is there so much violence in the _____?

Whenever I hear someone lament that kids these days need to read their Bibles, I tell them that the Bible should be rated R for violence, nudity, rape, drug deals, and even genocide – and that’s just in the first book! Of course, as a youth pastor, I’ve found that the best way to get kids interested in the Bible is to tell them that if someone made it into a movie, it would be rated R.

The Bible and movies tell stories. Gareth points out the importance of stories in his article “It’s the Movies’ Fault/It’s not the Movies’ Fault” in which he brilliantly states that, “we could benefit from recognizing that the relationship between storytelling and the formation of human identity is crucial.” Indeed, the stories we tell are crucial to the formation of human identity, but the Bible and movies tell stories that are permeated with violence. So, the question becomes, how do we make sense of those violent stories in terms of human identity?

René Girard has changed the way that I interpret violence in the Bible, and, indirectly, in movies. Girard calls the Bible a “text in travail.” In other words, the Bible is a text that struggles with its own violence. Part of that struggle is its mere reflection of human violence, but where the Bible is unique in human history is that it challenges its own violence. While many stories in the Bible merely reflect human violence, other stories in the Bible reveal that violence will only lead to our own destruction and that God never demands violence. Girard writes that the Bible’s travail against its own violence and against a violent view of God “is not a chronologically progressive process, but a struggle that advances and retreats. I see the Gospels as the climactic achievement of that trend” (Violent Origins, 141).

Girard claims that the Sermon on the Mount is one of those major advancements in the Bible, because in it Jesus “shows us a God who is alien to all violence and who wishes in consequence to see humanity abandon violence” (Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, 183), but Girard also points to the Joseph story as another major advancement. Indeed, you only need to finish reading the first book of the Bible for evidence that the Bible is a “text in travail.” Yes, in Genesis you will find all the violence mentioned above, but if you read to the end, you will discover the Joseph story – a story that provides the only true answer to the problem of violence.

It’s a familiar story, so I won’t go into much detail. Joseph’s father loves him more than his 11 brothers, which makes his brothers jealous. Filled with jealousy, Joseph’s 11 brothers violently unite against him. As they leave him for dead in a pit, one brother suggests that they spare Joseph’s life and sell him as a slave. Joseph, now a slave, arrives in Egypt where he thrives and becomes Pharaoh’s right-hand man. Years later there is a famine and his brothers come to Egypt looking for help. They meet Joseph, who recognizes his brothers, but his brothers don’t recognize him. At this point in the story, Joseph held all the power. He could have responded to his brothers’ request by continuing the cycle of violence. It would be a mere reflection of human violence if Joseph said, “Remember when you planned to kill me, but then sold me as a slave? Well, I spent years in jail, and now you will too!” But that’s not how Joseph responds. Rather, Joseph reveals the only way out of violence by responding to his brothers with compassion and forgiveness.

Many Christians have seen Joseph as a Christ-like figure. Indeed, Jesus responded to violence in the same way Joseph did. While hanging on the cross, Jesus prayed for his persecutors to be forgiven, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Then, in the resurrection, Jesus only offered words of peace to those who betrayed him.

Why is there so much violence in the Bible? Because human history shows that we have a tendency to be violent. Yet violence is not inevitable. As the Bible struggles with its own violence, it also reveals that forgiveness is the only solution to cycles of revenge.

So, when it comes to storytelling, whether in the Bible or in movies, our concern shouldn’t be whether or not there is violence. Our concern should be whether these stories merely reflect human violence, or whether these stories are in travail against human violence. Good stories are like the Joseph and Jesus stories. They transform our identity away from violence and into an identity of forgiveness. That, I would offer, is the litmus test for any good story.

Adam Ericksen blogs at the Raven Foundation, where he uses mimetic theory to provide social commentary on religion, politics, and pop culture. Follow Adam on Twitter @adamericksen.

Egyptian Columnist: Egypt Should Sue Israel For The Ten Plagues, Turkey For The Ottoman Occupation, France For The Napoleonic Invasion, And Britain For Colonialism
Memri
Special Dispatch No. 5686
March 20, 2014

In a March 11, 2014 article in the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’, Egyptian columnist Ahmad Al-Gamal, who also writes for Al-Ahram and Al-Masri Al-Yawm, advocated suing Israel, Turkey, Britain, and France for damages they caused Egypt from biblical times until the 20th century. Israel, he said, should be sued for the damage caused by the Ten Plagues and for the precious materials used by the Israelites to build the Holy Tabernacle in the desert, and Turkey should pay damages for invading Egypt in the Ottoman period, for drafting Egyptian artisans to build projects in Istanbul, for stealing antiquities, manuscripts, and books, and for plotting with the Zionists against Egypt during the 1950s and 1960s. As for France, it must pay compensation for Napoleon’s invasion at the close of the 18th century and for the 1956 Suez Campaign, and Britain must pay for 72 years of occupation, during which Egypt was subjected to theft and robbery.

The following are excerpts from the article:[1]

Sue Israel For The Egyptian Gold And Silver The Israelites Took

"I tirelessly reiterate my demand to utilize all measures of the law and of customary law, and all ethical principles, to receive compensation for what the Israelis, Turks, French and English took from us. And if you ask me whether the Turks can be placed in the same category as [the Israelis, French and English], I will reply: Yes, absolutely. Erdogan, and his party, stream and orientation, are just as dangerous to Egypt and Arabism as the Zionists and imperialists. Had the [Turks] been in our place, and had we done to them what they did to us, they wouldn’t have left us alone for a moment without demanding their right many times over.

"We want compensation for the [Ten] Plagues that were inflicted upon [us] as a result of the curses that the Jews’ ancient forefathers [cast] upon our ancient forefathers, who did not deserve to pay for the mistake that Egypt’s ruler at the time, Pharaoh as the Torah calls him, committed. For what is written in the Torah proves that it was Pharaoh who oppressed the Children of Israel, rather than the Egyptian people. [But] they inflicted upon us the plague of locusts that didn’t leave anything behind them; the plague that transformed the Nile’s waters into blood, so nobody could drink of them for a long time; the plague of darkness that kept the world dark day and night; the plague of frogs; and the plague of the killing of the firstborn, namely every first offspring born to woman or beast, and so on.

"We want compensation for the gold, silver, copper, precious stones, fabrics, hides and lumber, and for [all] animal meat, hair, hides and wool, and for other materials that I will mention [below], when quoting the language of the Torah. All these are materials that the Jews used in their rituals. These are resources that cannot be found among desert wanderers unless they took them before their departure…"

Later in the article Al-Gamal wrote: "The stories of the Holy Scriptures state that the Israelites set off from the [Nile] valley at night and went to the Sinai Peninsula. This is known to be a desert, were there is no use for large quantities of gold, silver, precious stones, meats, oils, fabrics and the like. Therefore it is clear that the Israelites took all these things from Egypt before they left. Chapter 25 of Exodus, on the [Israelites'] departure [from Egypt], states: ‘The Lord said to Moses: Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering… These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Have them make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other [Exodus 25:1-12]‘…

"[Exodus 38:24 states]: ‘The total amount of the gold from the wave offering used for all the work on the sanctuary was 29 talents and 730 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel…’

"I call upon everyone with an interest in Torah studies to instruct us on a scientific basis what is the [precise] meaning of the word ‘talent.’ How many grams is it currently worth, what was the weight of the sheqel during those days, especially as it was made out of solid pure gold and pure silver…"

Turkey Must Compensate Egypt For The Backwardness They Inflicted Upon It

About Turkey, Al-Gamal wrote: "As for the Turks, we must demand [from them] adequate compensation for the economic, social, cultural, intellectual and political backwardness that their presence in our midst imposed upon us, for the world during those centuries [i.e., during the Ottoman period] made tremendous progress in all areas. We want compensation from the Turks for the invasion of our country and for the attendant oppression and aggression, and for taking all our human capital: scholars, builders, tentmakers, carpenters, coal miners, blacksmiths and all skilled artisans and forcing them to go to Istanbul to build palaces, mosques, and the like. We also want compensation for the antiquities plundered by the Turks, and especially for some relics of the Prophet and for stolen manuscripts and books. This theft and plunder lasted for centuries, from the beginning of the 16th century until the early 20th century.

"Likewise, we want compensation from the Turks for damaging the Egyptian psyche through their racism and haughtiness, their contempt for Egypt and the Egyptians, and their disgraceful treatment of the peasant as someone who [merely] plows, sows and reaps – although the harvest from the sweat of his brow filled the stomachs of the indolent Ottomans. We also want damages for the Turkish-Zionist plot hatched during the 1950s and 1960s, when Egypt led the Arab and global liberation movement and opposed the plans of the imperialist alliance, [an alliance] in which Turkey and the Hebrew state constituted vital components."

The British Owe Egypt Damages For 72 Years Of Occupation, The French For Napoleon’s Invasion

"Moving on to modern history, we must grab the Zionists, the French and the British by the throat in order to take the damages that are due us for Napoleon’s invasion and for the Franco-Anglo-Zionist plots against Egypt in 1956, in 1967 and also in 1973, because the British took part in preventing [Egypt] from realizing the fruits of its stupendous victory. We want compensation for 72 years of British occupation that imposed backwardness and dependency upon us, stole the resources of our country, drove a wedge between the sons of the homeland and turned [the members of] one social stratum into [British] agents who took no pity on the Egyptian poor…"

Al-Gamal concluded: "We have nothing to lose, let us sue [Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, [British Prime Minister, David] Cameron, and others who stole from us and played a role in what befell us for generations."

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), March 11, 2014.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization providing translations of the Middle East media and original analysis and research on developments in the region. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.
MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

The Middle East Media Research Institute
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: [202] 955-9070 Fax: [202] 955-9077 E-Mail: memri@memri.org
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Papauté: Après l’obamamanie, voici la papomanie ! (Esquire’s best dressed man of 2013 celebrates first year in office)

13 mars, 2014
 http://www.courrierinternational.com/files/imagecache/article_ul/2014/hebdos/1215/UNES/1215-RollingStone.jpghttp://cdn.spectator.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Pope-Idol-v3_SE_v2-393x413.jpg
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Nous vivons dans un système international injuste, au centre duquel trône l’argent-roi. (…) C’est une culture du jetable, qui rejette les jeunes comme les vieux. Dans certains pays d’Europe, […] toute une génération de jeunes gens est privée de la dignité que procure le travail. Pape François
Dans ce contexte, certains défendent encore les théories de la “rechute favorable”, qui supposent que chaque croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire en soi une plus grande équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde. Cette opinion, qui n’a jamais été confirmée par les faits, exprime une confiance grossière et naïve dans la bonté de ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique et dans les mécanismes sacralisés du système économique dominant. En même temps, les exclus continuent à attendre. Pour pouvoir soutenir un style de vie  qui exclut les autres, ou pour pouvoir s’enthousiasmer avec cet idéal égoïste, on a développé une mondialisation de l’indifférence. Presque sans nous en apercevoir, nous devenons incapables d’éprouver de la compassion devant le cri de douleur des autres, nous ne pleurons plus devant le drame des autres, leur prêter attention ne nous intéresse pas, comme si tout nous était une responsabilité étrangère qui n’est pas de notre ressort. La culture du bien-être nous anesthésie et nous perdons notre calme si le marché offre quelque chose que nous n’avons pas encore acheté, tandis que toutes ces vies brisées par manque de possibilités nous semblent un simple spectacle qui ne nous trouble en aucune façon. Non à la nouvelle idolâtrie de l’argent. Une des causes de cette situation se trouve dans la relation que nous avons établie avec l’argent, puisque nous acceptons paisiblement sa prédominance sur nous et sur nos sociétés. La crise financière que nous traversons nous fait oublier qu’elle a à son origine une crise anthropologique profonde : la négation du primat de l’être humain ! Nous avons créé de nouvelles idoles. L’adoration de l’antique veau d’or (cf. Ex 32, 1-35) a trouvé une nouvelle et impitoyable version dans le fétichisme de l’argent et dans la dictature de l’économie sans visage et sans un but véritablement humain. (…) Alors que les gains d’un petit nombre s’accroissent exponentiellement, ceux de la majorité se situent de façon toujours plus éloignée du bien-être de cette heureuse minorité. Ce déséquilibre procède d’idéologies qui défendent l’autonomie absolue des marchés et la spéculation financière. Par conséquent, ils nient le droit de contrôle des États chargés de veiller à la préservation du bien commun. Une nouvelle tyrannie invisible s’instaure, parfois virtuelle, qui impose ses lois et ses règles, de façon unilatérale et impla­cable. Pape François
Francis continues to talk about his wish for a “poor church”, a “church for the poor”. But lately he has spoken out on “greed” and “inequality”, social maladies due to “neoliberalism” and “unfettered capitalism”. If this is the direction in which he is going, one must worry about his view of the world. How does he understand it? Specifically, has he understood the basic fact: Capitalism has been most successful in producing sustained economic growth. And that it is this growth which has been most effective in greatly reducing poverty? Just where is there “unfettered capitalism” in the world today? It is in China. Since the economic reforms that began in 1979 China has been the clearest example of “unfettered capitalism” (or, if you will, of the “neoliberal Washington Consensus”). It is still “fettered” by the bulky presence of inefficient state-owned enterprises, debris of the socialist past, with privileged access to capital and government favors. Nevertheless the capitalist engine has been roaring on, the private sector of the economy that does not have to worry about the “fetters” imposed on it in Western democratic countries—an expensive welfare state, laws and regulations that inhibit growth, and free labor unions. And it is this capitalist sector of the Chinese economy that has lifted millions of people from degrading poverty to a decent level of material life. The Chinese regime is appalling in many ways, but not because of failure to deal with poverty. Does Francis understand any of this? Greed is a moral flaw that exists in any economic system. And inequality is not of great concern to most people; they are concerned about the quality of their own lives and the prospects for the future of their children, rather than the income or wealth of people across town (that concern is called envy, which, if I recall correctly, is also a sin). Peter Berger
Revenons sur l’analogie avec Obama. Comme Francois, le président américain a été une figure télégénique succédant à un prédécesseur impopulaire avec la promesse d’un changement radical. Comme Francois, il est passé incroyablement vite à la notoriété mondiale, avec une histoire personnelle compliquée pouvant être lue de plusieurs manières. Et comme Francois, il a inspiré un consensus presque étrange parmi les commentateurs. Les médias influents ont décidé qu’il était essentiellement un gars bien qu’ils ont jugé par la suite sur ses intentions et non sur ses réalisations, blamant largement ses échecs sur ses ennemis et l’appuyant à chaque fois qu’il en avait le plus besoin. Francois n’est pas, bien sûr, le nouvel Obama, mais il jouit de la même relation enchantée  avec les journalistes. Oui, la lune de miel se terminera, comme elle l’a fait avec le président, mais cela ressemble au début d’un long mariage heureux. (…) De toute évidence, les journalistes ont aussi un intérêt économique à poursuivre leur idylle avec le François fantasmagorique : les articles sur ce sujet se vendent bien. Après tout, il a été la personnalité la plus débattue sur Internet l’année dernière. Si l’on met en ligne une jolie photo de lui en train d’embrasser un enfant, ou si l’on arrive à se faire un selfie [autoportrait pris au téléphone portable] avec de jeunes admirateurs du pape au Vatican, le nombre de pages vues grimpe en flèche. François est devenu l’un des produits les plus vendeurs en ligne. Aucun blogueur ne voudrait casser le marché. Rush Limbaugh, conservateur américain et présentateur de radio, a accusé le pontife de prôner “un marxisme pur et dur”. De toute évidence, on avait affaire à un nouvel avatar du François fantasmagorique. Sous François, l’Eglise s’engage résolument à mettre en œuvre ce que les théologiens appellent “l’option préférentielle pour les pauvres”. Mais pour choisir cette option, l’Eglise doit courtiser les plus riches. Par exemple, quelques multimillionnaires généreux financent la plupart des initiatives catholiques en Angleterre et au pays de Galles. Il suffirait que l’un d’entre eux soit rebuté par l’image “marxiste” de François pour que l’Eglise soit en difficulté. Cet homme de 77 ans sait qu’il doit faire aboutir rapidement les réformes financières lancées par son prédécesseur Benoît XVI, remanier la curie romaine, imposer des normes mondiales rigoureuses sur la conduite à tenir face aux affaires de sévices sexuels commis par des prêtres, continuer à prôner la paix en Syrie, inviter les Israéliens et les Palestiniens à négocier pendant sa visite en Terre sainte, et superviser un synode marqué par les controverses, qui pourrait revoir la position de l’Eglise en ce qui concerne les catholiques divorcés et remariés. Entre-temps, le François fantasmagorique va supprimer des dogmes, attiser la lutte des classes et influencer les tendances de la mode masculine. Mais ne tombez pas dans le panneau : tout cela est une illusion tout aussi entretenue par les médias que l’idée selon laquelle l’Eglise catholique serait obsédée par le sexe et l’argent. Ce qui compte, ce sont les paroles et les actes du vrai François. Et cela devrait être plus intéressant que les inventions, même les plus captivantes. The Spectator

Après l’obamamanie, voici la papomanie !

Couverture de Rolling Stone, encensement par le Guardian ("nouveau héros évident de la gauche” pour remplacer remplacer les posters défraîchis d’Obama “sur les murs des chambres d’étudiants de par le monde”), personne de l’année à la fois du magazine d’information Time et du magazine homosexuel américain The Advocate, homme le mieux habillé de l’année pour Esquire, personnalité la plus débattue sur Internet …

Alors que, de Rolling Stone au Guardian et de Time à Esquire et à l’Advocate, la nouvelle idole de nos éditorialistes fait les couvertures de la presse de gauche bien-pensante …

Comment ne pas voir, en ce premier anniversaire de son élection et avec l’une des rares voix discordantes, la même image largement fantasmée qui nous avait été faite d’un certain messie noir et plus rapide prix Nobel de la paix de l’histoire?

VATICAN François l’illusionniste

Tolérant, progressiste, voire marxiste, le pape François est la nouvelle idole des éditorialistes de la gauche bien-pensante. Une image qui doit beaucoup à leur imagination, selon l’hebdomadaire conservateur.

The Spectator (extraits)

Luke Coppen

1I février 2014

Le 31 décembre 2013, les médias ont reçu une dépêche stupéfiante. Le Vatican démentait officiellement que le pape François ait l’intention d’abolir le péché. On aurait dit un canular, mais ce n’en était pas un. Qui avait poussé le Vatican à publier un commentaire sur quelque chose d’aussi improbable ? Il s’avère que c’est l’un des plus éminents journalistes d’Italie : Eugenio Scalfari, cofondateur du journal de gauche La Repubblica Son article s’intitulait “La Révolution de François : il a aboli le péché”.

Pourquoi un journaliste, et a fortiori un analyste aussi prestigieux que Scalfari, se serait-il imaginé que le pape avait jeté aux orties l’un des principes fondamentaux de la théologie chrétienne ? Eh bien, depuis son entrée en fonctions, l’année dernière, François a été promu au rang de superstar de la gauche libérale [libérale au sens anglo-saxon, c’est-à-dire réformiste]. Ses origines modestes (il a été videur), son aversion pour la pompe vaticane (il prépare lui-même ses spaghettis) et sa volonté de mettre en avant l’engagement de l’Eglise en faveur des pauvres a amené les gens de gauche, et même des athées comme ce Scalfari, à le croire aussi étranger qu’eux aux dogmes de l’Eglise. Autrement dit, ils pensent que le pape n’est pas catholique. L’année dernière, presque tous les commentateurs orientés à gauche sont tombés sous le charme de ce jésuite laveur de pieds. Article après article, ils projetaient leurs rêves les plus fous sur François.

En novembre, Jonathan Freedland, journaliste au Guardian, annonçait que François était “le nouveau héros évident de la gauche”. Pour lui, les portraits du souverain pontife devaient remplacer les posters défraîchis d’Obama “sur les murs des chambres d’étudiants de par le monde”. Quelques jours plus tard, François prononçait une homélie dénonçant ce qu’il appelait “le progressisme adolescent”. Mais les gens ne voient et n’entendent que ce qu’ils veulent et personne n’a rien remarqué.

Voilà comment on en est venu à faire du pape une idole de la gauche. Dès qu’il se montre fidèle à la doctrine catholique, ses fans de gauche font la sourde oreille. En décembre, le plus vieux magazine gay des Etats-Unis, The Advocate, a salué en François son homme de l’année, du fait de la compassion qu’il a exprimée envers les homosexuels. Ce n’était guère révolutionnaire : l’article 2358 du catéchisme de l’Eglise catholique appelle à traiter les gays “avec respect, compassion et sensibilité”. En se contentant de réaffirmer un enseignement catholique, François est devenu un héros. La palme de la glorification absurde revient aux journalistes d’Esquire, qui sont arrivés à faire passer pour l’homme le mieux habillé de l’année en 2013 une personnalité portant la même tenue tous les jours.

Certains experts ont remarqué le gouffre existant entre le François fantasmagorique, figure née de l’imagination de la gauche, et l’actuel occupant du trône de saint Pierre. James Bloodworth, rédacteur du blog politique Left Foot Forward, a récemment appelé ses pairs à tempérer leurs ardeurs. “Les positions du pape François sur la plupart des sujets ont de quoi faire dresser les cheveux sur la tête de n’importe quelle personne de gauche, écrit-il. Au lieu de cela, article après article, des journalistes dont on pourrait attendre un peu plus de vigilance nous servent la même guimauve.”

La remarque de Bloodworth annonce-t-elle un réveil des laïques ? Pendant un certain temps, il a paru inévitable que les fans du nouveau pape comprennent qu’il n’était pas sur le point de donner sa bénédiction aux femmes prêtres, à l’usage du préservatif, au mariage gay ou à l’avortement, et qu’ils se retournent alors contre lui. Or cela paraît peu probable. Maintenant qu’ils ont inventé le François fantasmagorique, ses sympathisants de gauche ne vont peut-être plus jamais vouloir tuer leur création.

De toute évidence, les journalistes ont aussi un intérêt économique à poursuivre leur idylle avec le François fantasmagorique : les articles sur ce sujet se vendent bien. Après tout, il a été la personnalité la plus débattue sur Internet l’année dernière. Si l’on met en ligne une jolie photo de lui en train d’embrasser un enfant, ou si l’on arrive à se faire un selfie [autoportrait pris au téléphone portable] avec de jeunes admirateurs du pape au Vatican, le nombre de pages vues grimpe en flèche. François est devenu l’un des produits les plus vendeurs en ligne. Aucun blogueur ne voudrait casser le marché.

Rush Limbaugh, conservateur américain et présentateur de radio, a accusé le pontife de prôner “un marxisme pur et dur”. De toute évidence, on avait affaire à un nouvel avatar du François fantasmagorique. Sous François, l’Eglise s’engage résolument à mettre en œuvre ce que les théologiens appellent “l’option préférentielle pour les pauvres”. Mais pour choisir cette option, l’Eglise doit courtiser les plus riches. Par exemple, quelques multimillionnaires généreux financent la plupart des initiatives catholiques en Angleterre et au pays de Galles. Il suffirait que l’un d’entre eux soit rebuté par l’image “marxiste” de François pour que l’Eglise soit en difficulté.

Cet homme de 77 ans sait qu’il doit faire aboutir rapidement les réformes financières lancées par son prédécesseur Benoît XVI, remanier la curie romaine, imposer des normes mondiales rigoureuses sur la conduite à tenir face aux affaires de sévices sexuels commis par des prêtres, continuer à prôner la paix en Syrie, inviter les Israéliens et les Palestiniens à négocier pendant sa visite en Terre sainte, et superviser un synode marqué par les controverses, qui pourrait revoir la position de l’Eglise en ce qui concerne les catholiques divorcés et remariés.

Entre-temps, le François fantasmagorique va supprimer des dogmes, attiser la lutte des classes et influencer les tendances de la mode masculine. Mais ne tombez pas dans le panneau : tout cela est une illusion tout aussi entretenue par les médias que l’idée selon laquelle l’Eglise catholique serait obsédée par le sexe et l’argent. Ce qui compte, ce sont les paroles et les actes du vrai François. Et cela devrait être plus intéressant que les inventions, même les plus captivantes.

Voir aussi:

Sorry — but Pope Francis is no liberal

Trendy commentators have fallen in love with a pope of their own invention

Luke Coppen

11 January 2014

On the last day of 2013, one of the weirdest religious stories for ages appeared on the news wires. The Vatican had officially denied that Pope Francis intended to abolish sin. It sounded like a spoof, but wasn’t. Who had goaded the Vatican into commenting on something so improbable? It turned out to be one of Italy’s most distinguished journalists: Eugenio Scalfari, co-founder of the left-wing newspaper La Repubblica, who had published an article entitled ‘Francis’s Revolution: he has abolished sin’.

Why would anyone, let alone a very highly regarded thinker and writer like Scalfari, believe the Pope had done away with such a basic tenet of Christian theology? Well, since he took charge last year, Francis has been made into a superstar of the liberal left. His humble background (he is a former bouncer), his dislike for the trappings of office (he cooks his own spaghetti) and his emphasis on the church’s concern for the poor has made liberals, even atheists like Scalfari, suppose that he is as hostile to church dogma as they are. They assume, in other words, that the Pope isn’t Catholic. Last year few left-leaning commentators could resist falling for the foot-washing Jesuit from Buenos Aires. In column after column they projected their deepest hopes on to Francis — he is, they think, the man who will finally bring enlightened liberal values to the Catholic church.

In November Guardian writer Jonathan Freedland argued that Francis was ‘the obvious new hero of the left’ and that portraits of the Supreme Pontiff should replace fading Obama posters on ‘the walls of the world’s student bedrooms’. Just days later Francis preached a homily denouncing what he called ‘adolescent progressivism’, but people see and hear what they want to, so no one took any notice of that.

That is how the Pope has come to be spun as a left-liberal idol. Whenever he proves himself loyal to Catholic teaching — denouncing abortion, for instance, or saying that same-sex marriage is an ‘anthropological regression’ — his liberal fan base turns a deaf ear. Last month America’s oldest gay magazine, the Advocate, hailed Francis as its person of the year because of the compassion he had expressed towards homosexuals. It was hardly a revolution: Article 2358 of the Catholic church’s catechism calls for gay people to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’. In simply restating Catholic teaching, however, Francis was hailed as a hero. When a Maltese bishop said the Pope had told him he was ‘shocked’ by the idea of gay adoption, that barely made a splash. Time magazine, too, made Francis person of the year, hailing him for his ‘rejection of Church dogma’ — as if he had declared that from now on there would be two rather than three Persons of the Holy Trinity. But for cockeyed lionisation of Francis it would be hard to beat the editors of Esquire, who somehow managed to convince themselves that a figure who wears the same outfit every day was the best dressed man of 2013.

Some pundits have noticed the gulf between what you might call the Fantasy Francis — the figure conjured up by liberal imagination — and the actual occupant of the Chair of St Peter. James Bloodworth, editor of the political blog Left Foot Forward, recently urged his journalistic allies to show some restraint. ‘Pope Francis’s position on most issues should make the hair of every liberal curl,’ he wrote. ‘Instead we get article after article of saccharine from people who really should know better.’

Is Bloodworth’s remark a sign of a coming secular backlash against the new Pope? For a while, it seemed inevitable that the new Pope’s fans would come to realise he is not about to bless women bishops, condom use, gay marriage and abortion — and then they would turn on him. Now, that seems unlikely. Having invented the Fantasy Francis, his liberal well-wishers may never want to kill off their creation.

Consider the Obama analogy. Like Francis, the US president was a telegenic figure who followed an unpopular predecessor with a promise of radical change. Like Francis, he rose to worldwide prominence with incredible speed, bringing a complicated personal history that could be read in multiple ways. And like Francis, he inspired an almost eerie consensus among the commentariat. The most influential media outlets decided he was essentially a decent guy and judged him thereafter on his intentions rather than his achievements, blamed his failures largely on his enemies and backed him whenever he needed it most. Francis is not, of course, the new Obama, but he enjoys the same charmed relationship with journalists. Yes, the honeymoon will end, as it did with the president, but this looks like the start of a happy, lifelong marriage.

There’s only one case I can think of in which the media would turn on Francis: in the unlikely event that his private character were dramatically at odds with his public persona. He would have to be caught, say, building a death ray in the Vatican Gardens. (Even then some outlets would present it in the best possible light: ‘Pope Francis develops radical cure for human suffering.’)

Journalists also have a clear economic motive for sticking with the Fantasy Francis narrative: people will pay to read about it. After all, he was the most discussed person on the internet last year. Post a cute photo of him hugging a child, or posing for a ‘selfie’ with young admirers in the Vatican, and you’ll see a satisfying spike in page views. Francis has become one of the world’s most reliable online commodities. What sensible hack would want to threaten that?

Actually, Pope Francis has already survived a secular backlash. Barely an hour after he first appeared on the balcony above St Peter’s Square last March, the editor of the Guardian tweeted: ‘Was Pope Francis an accessory to murder and false imprisonment?’ The answer was ‘no’, of course. But allegations about Francis’s behaviour during Argentina’s Dirty War featured in bulletins for the next 24 hours, before fizzling out. The backlash lasted one entire news cycle. The idea of a left-wing pope, who had come to tear down the temple he inherited, turned out to be a far better story.

Perhaps the real challenge for the Pope this year will come from a different quarter. In his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Francis criticised ‘trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice’. In classic Vatican style, that was a mistranslation of the original Spanish, which rejected the theory that ‘economic growth, encouraged by a free market alone’, would ensure more justice.

Such nuances didn’t concern the American conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who accused the Pontiff of espousing ‘pure Marxism’. Clearly this was just another version of the Fantasy Francis — a misapprehension of the man and his message that the Catholic hierarchy has done little to correct. But there is a price to be paid in allowing such myths to grow — a price that may have been paid, for example, by the Archdiocese of New York, which may have lost a seven-figure donation. According to Ken Langone, who is trying to raise $180 million to restore the city’s Catholic cathedral, one potential donor said he was so offended by the Pope’s alleged comments that he was reluctant to chip in.

Under Francis, the church is deeply committed to what theologians call ‘the preferential option for the poor’. But in order to opt for the poor, the church has to court the super-rich. A few generous multi-millionaires, for example, fund most of the major Catholic initiatives in England and Wales (including a significant part of Benedict XVI’s state visit in 2010). If just one of them was put off by the distorted ‘Marxist’ image of Francis, the church here would be in trouble.

Of course if those who caricature the church as bigoted and uncaring are forced to take a second look, then Pope Francis can claim he is doing his job. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, says that Roman Catholicism had been ‘out-marketed’ by its Hollywood critics — but now Pope Francis is changing the tone, without changing the substance.

But while the Pontiff has succeeded in appealing to those outside the church, his boldness has upset some within it. The Vatican analyst John Allen describes this as the Pope’s ‘older son problem’ — a reference to the parable of the Prodigal Son, in which the faithful brother gripes when his father welcomes back the wayward one. Allen writes that ‘Francis basically has killed the fatted calf for the prodigal sons and daughters of the postmodern world, reaching out to gays, women, non-believers, and virtually every other constituency inside and outside the church that has felt alienated.’ But some Catholics feel Francis is taking their loyalty for granted. ‘In the Gospel parable,’ Allen notes, ‘the father eventually notices his older son’s resentment and pulls him aside to assure him: “Everything I have is yours.” At some stage, Pope Francis may need to have such a moment with his own older sons (and daughters).’

You might think: why bother? The Pope should be focused on reaching out to the alienated, rather than on tending his followers’ wounded egos and stressing that he has not come to tear down Catholic teaching. But Francis needs an eager workforce if he is to realise his beautiful vision of the church as ‘a field hospital after battle’.

Catholics are having just as much trouble as everyone else distinguishing the real Francis. Just last week a devout, well–informed laywoman asked me if it was true that Francis had denied the existence of hell. It turned out that the Pope had overturned 2,000 years of Christian teaching at the end of the ‘Third Vatican Council’ — as reported exclusively by the ‘largely satirical’ blog Diversity Chronicle.

The true Francis will be moving fast throughout this year. The 77-year-old knows he must quickly finish the financial reforms launched by his predecessor Benedict XVI, overhaul the Roman Curia (which liberals and conservatives agree is in desperate need of reform), impose rigorous global norms on the handling of clerical sex abuse cases, continue to press for peace in Syria, nudge Israelis and Palestinians closer to an agreement during his Holy Land visit and oversee a contentious synod of bishops that could shift the Church’s approach to divorced and remarried Catholics.

Meanwhile, the Fantasy Francis will continue to throw out dogmas, agitate for class war and set trends in men’s fashion. But don’t be fooled: this is as much of a media-driven illusion as the idea that the Catholic church is obsessed by sex and money. What matters is what the real Francis says and does. And that should be more interesting than even the most gripping invention.

Luke Coppen is editor of the Catholic Herald.

Le Pape s’attaque à la « tyrannie » des marchés

Giulietta Gamberini

La Tribune

26/11/2013

Le capitalisme débridé est « une nouvelle tyrannie » selon le Pape François qui, dans un texte publié mardi, invite les leaders du monde entier à lutter contre la pauvreté et les inégalités croissantes.

Depuis son élection en mars, le Pape François avait déjà ponctué ses sermons de critiques contre l’économie capitaliste. Dans sa première exhortation apostolique, appelée Evangelii Gaudium (La joie de l’Evangile) et rendue publique ce mardi, il dessine nettement sa vision économique et sociale et appelle à l’action l’Eglise comme les leaders politiques. L’inégalité sociale y figure notamment comme l’une des questions tenant le plus à cœur au nouveau pontife, qui exhorte à une révision radicale du système économique et financier.

Non à une économie de l’exclusion

« Certains défendent encore les théories de la "rechute favorable", qui supposent que chaque croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire en soi une plus grande équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde. Cette opinion, qui n’a jamais été confirmée par les faits, exprime une confiance grossière et naïve dans la bonté de ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique et dans les mécanismes sacralisés du système économique dominant ».

Les intérêts du « marché divinisé » sont transformés en règle absolue, condamne le Pape, produisant un système inégalitaire où les exclus, pire que les exploités, deviennent des « déchets ».

« Il n’est pas possible que le fait qu’une personne âgée réduite à vivre dans la rue meure de froid ne soit pas une nouvelle, tandis que la baisse de deux points en bourse en soit une. »

Contre l’économie de l’exclusion et de la disparité sociale, le chef de l’Eglise va jusqu’à invoquer le cinquième commandement du décalogue chrétien « Tu ne tueras point » puisque, souligne-t-il, un tel système finit aussi par tuer.

Non à la nouvelle idolâtrie de l’argent

« La crise financière que nous traversons nous fait oublier qu’elle a à son origine une crise anthropologique profonde : la négation du primat de l’être humain ! »

Le Pape regrette surtout que les objectifs humanistes de l’économie soient perdus de vue et que l’être humain soit réduit à l’un seul de ses besoins : la consommation. La négation du droit de contrôle des Etats, chargés de préserver le bien commun, par la « nouvelle tyrannie invisible », « parfois virtuelle », de l’autonomie absolue des marchés et de la spéculation financière y est pour beaucoup selon le Pape, qui pointe aussi la corruption et l’évasion fiscale.

« Une réforme financière qui n’ignore pas l’éthique demanderait un changement vigoureux d’attitude de la part des dirigeants politiques, que j’exhorte à affronter ce défi avec détermination et avec clairvoyance, sans ignorer, naturellement, la spécificité de chaque contexte. »

Le pontife invite notamment à revenir à une économie et à une finance humanistes ainsi qu’à la solidarité désintéressée.

Non à la disparité sociale qui engendre la violence

« Quand la société – locale, nationale ou mondiale – abandonne dans la périphérie une partie d’elle-même, il n’y a ni programmes politiques, ni forces de l’ordre ou d’intelligence qui puissent assurer sans fin la tranquillité ».

Le Pape François met en garde contre la violence sociale, qui ne pourra jamais être éradiquée, au niveau national comme mondial, tant que l’exclusion et la disparité sociales persistent, empêchant tout développement durable et pacifique.

« Les revendications sociales qui ont un rapport avec la distribution des revenus, l’intégration sociale des pauvres et les droits humains ne peuvent pas être étouffées sous prétexte de construire un consensus de bureau ou une paix éphémère, pour une minorité heureuse ».

Une paix sociale obtenue par l’imposition serait fausse selon le suprême pasteur de l’Eglise, la dignité humaine et le bien commun se situant au-dessus de la tranquillité des catégories privilégiées.

Oui à une redistribution des revenus

« La croissance dans l’équité exige quelque chose de plus que la croissance économique, bien qu’elle la suppose ; elle demande des décisions, des programmes, des mécanismes et des processus spécifiquement orientés vers une meilleure distribution des revenus, la création d’opportunités d’emplois, une promotion intégrale des pauvres qui dépasse le simple assistanat »

Les plans d’assistance ne peuvent plus représenter que des solutions provisoires selon le Pape, qui appelle les gouvernants comme le pouvoir financier à agir pour assurer à tous les citoyens un travail digne, une instruction et une assistance sanitaire.

« L’économie, comme le dit le mot lui-même, devrait être l’art d’atteindre une administration adéquate de la maison commune, qui est le monde entier. »

Les conséquences que toute action économique d’envergure produit sur la totalité de la planète invitent les gouvernements à assumer leur responsabilité commune, rappelle le pontife.

Mais l’Eglise aussi, souligne le Pape, doit profondément se rénover et reprendre contact avec la réalité sociale, notamment la hiérarchie du Vatican.

Evangelii Gaudium

Cette fois, c’est sûr : le pape François est socialiste

Clément Guillou

Rue89

27/11/2013

Le pape François n’est pas encore marxiste, même s’il a déclaré il y a peu que les hommes étaient des esclaves devant « se libérer des structures économiques et sociales qui nous réduisent en esclavage ».

Mais depuis l’exhortation apostolique publiée mardi par le Vatican, on peut affirmer sans crainte que le pape François est farouchement antilibéral et même… socialiste.

Il est des passages encore plus révolutionnaires dans ce premier texte majeur du pontificat de François, à en croire les journalistes accrédités au Vatican, mais celui-ci m’intéresse davantage.

Dès le chapitre 2, il se lance dans une longue diatribe contre le modèle économique « qui tue ». Extraits :

« De même que le commandement de “ne pas tuer” pose une limite claire pour assurer la valeur de la vie humaine, aujourd’hui, nous devons dire “non à une économie de l’exclusion et de la disparité sociale”. Une telle économie tue. »

Notre confiance en la bonté des puissants

Le pape François s’en prend ensuite à la théorie libérale du « trickle down [l’expression employée dans la version anglaise, d’ordinaire traduite par “ruissellement”, ici par “rechute favorable”, ndlr] ».

Cette théorie économique, qui stipule que les revenus des plus riches contribuent indirectement à enrichir les plus pauvres, a justifié l’action de Margaret Thatcher et Ronald Reagan et les libéraux la considèrent encore comme valable :

« Dans ce contexte, certains défendent encore les théories de la “rechute favorable”, qui supposent que chaque croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire en soi une plus grande équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde.

Cette opinion, qui n’a jamais été confirmée par les faits, exprime une confiance grossière et naïve dans la bonté de ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique et dans les mécanismes sacralisés du système économique dominant. En même temps, les exclus continuent à attendre. »

Puisqu’on ne peut pas faire confiance au marché ni à ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique pour enrichir les plus pauvres, il faut revenir à plus d’Etat. L’air de rien, le pape explique que ce sont la régulation économique et la redistribution des richesses qui peuvent diminuer l’exclusion, pas la charité :

« Ce déséquilibre procède d’idéologies qui défendent l’autonomie absolue des marchés et la spéculation financière. Par conséquent, ils nient le droit de contrôle des Etats chargés de veiller à la préservation du bien commun. Une nouvelle tyrannie invisible s’instaure, parfois virtuelle, qui impose ses lois et ses règles, de façon unilatérale et implacable. »

« L’argent doit servir, non pas gouverner ! »

Et puis tant qu’à faire, François recommande aussi d’abandonner l’austérité et le dogme des 3% de déficit :

« De plus, la dette et ses intérêts éloignent les pays des possibilités praticables par leur économie et les citoyens de leur pouvoir d’achat réel. S’ajoutent à tout cela une corruption ramifiée et une évasion fiscale égoïste qui ont atteint des dimensions mondiales. »

Conclusion :

« Une réforme financière qui n’ignore pas l’éthique demanderait un changement vigoureux d’attitude de la part des dirigeants politiques, que j’exhorte à affronter ce défi avec détermination et avec clairvoyance, sans ignorer, naturellement, la spécificité de chaque contexte. L’argent doit servir et non pas gouverner ! »

De l’anticommunisme à l’anticapitalisme

Bien sûr, le Vatican délivre de plus en plus souvent des messages économiques depuis la crise financière de 2008, allant même jusqu’à proposer ses solutions pour la régulation.

Mais François semble leur accorder une importance primordiale, qualifiant le chômage des jeunes et la solitude des personnes âgées de « plus grandes afflictions du monde actuellement ».

Farouchement anticommuniste, Jean-Paul II avait défendu le rôle du marché et la propriété privée, tout en mettant en garde contre les leurres de la société de consommation et en insistant sur l’importance d’apporter un cadre législatif et éthique strict respectueux de la liberté humaine.

Benoît XVI, lui, « semblait critiquer autant l’Etat que le marché ; François oriente considérablement son propos, pour dire que le marché a bien plus de pouvoir que l’Etat », observe un professeur de théologie interrogé par le Wall Street Journal.

La journaliste de The Atlantic Heather Horn, qui maîtrise mieux que moi son histoire de l’économie, y voit beaucoup de rapprochements avec les thèses de l’économiste hongrois Karl Polanyi, adepte d’un socialisme démocratique :

au lieu que ce soit le marché qui aide les gens à vivre mieux, ce sont les gens qui s’adaptent au marché ;

nos problèmes [la Première Guerre mondiale pour Polanyi, la crise actuelle pour François, ndlr] viennent du fait que le marché est au cœur de l’économie, et non l’homme ;

la théorie du marché absolument libre, déconnecté de la société, « détruirait physiquement l’homme et transformerait son environnement en monde sauvage », écrivait Polanyi, tandis que le pape note que « dans ce système, qui tend à tout phagocyter dans le but d’accroître les bénéfices, tout ce qui est fragile, comme l’environnement, reste sans défense ».

Le passage de l’anticommunisme à l’anticapitalisme, raconté par The Atlantic, doit évidemment se lire à l’aune des ravages de l’une et l’autre doctrine. Il n’en reste pas moins que, pour le Vatican, c’est une sacrée évolution.

Is Liberation theology resurgent ?

Two German Cardinals, and a Peruvian Dominican

Peter Berger

The American interest

December 4, 2013

The British Catholic journal The Tablet (which I have found to be a reliable and balanced source for what goes on in the Roman world) carried a story in its November 23, 2013, issue by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, its correspondent in Germany. Titled “Mueller vs. Marx: Clash of the Titans”, the story reports on a public disagreement between Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich, president of the European Bishops’ Conference and recent appointee to Pope Francis’ eight-member advisory Council of Cardinals. Whether these two men merit the label “titans” will not be immediately clear to non-Catholics; it will be to those who look to Rome for criteria for what is important: The CDF (which was headed by Benedict XVI before his elevation to the papacy) is the Church’s watchdog for doctrinal orthodoxy; Munich is the largest German diocese.

The disagreement is over the issue of whether divorced Catholics should continue to be barred from receiving communion, as canon law presently mandates. Mueller takes a hardline position on this: Appeals to “mercy” must not override this affirmation of the indissolubility of marriage. Marx, very much in tune with recent remarks by Pope Francis, has said that the issue should not be considered as closed. If there is a list of intra-Catholic issues that outsiders could not care about less, this probably heads the list. I have not thought about it, and I will hardly do so in the future: Catholics should be left alone to decide whom they admit to their sacramental commensality. But something else caught my attention: What Mueller and Marx have in common despite their doctrinal differences: an affinity with the teachings of Gustavo Gutierrez. That is a matter that everyone, Catholic or non-Catholic, with an interest in public policy should care about very much.

Gustavo Gutierrez was born in Lima, Peru, in 1928. A Dominican priest, he ministered to poor people in the slums. He also had higher education in his own country and in Europe, and is still on the faculty of Notre Dame in the US. In 1971 he published his enormously influential book, A Theology of Liberation, which became the founding document for the theological school of that name; Gutierrez is rightly seen as a founder of the school, which became a movement. He also advocated the so-called “preferential option for the poor” (“la opcion preferencial para los pobres”), which proposed that the Church should pay primary attention to the interests of the poor. It became the slogan for the Catholic left in Latin America and beyond, and was solemnly agreed upon at the conference of Latin American bishops (CELAM) in Medellin, Colombia, in 1968. Rome was from the beginning skeptical about the movement, not for its concern for the poor, but for its adoption of a Marxist interpretation of the contemporary world—“unjust social structures” equated with capitalism—and for the advocacy by some of its followers for class struggle and socialist revolution. The CDF, under then Cardinal Ratzinger, criticized Liberation Theology in 1984 and 1986. I don’t know how far Gutierrez himself endorsed the more radical versions of his theology, but he certainly became an idol for those who did.

Strange as this may seem, what the two cardinals in the Tablet story have in common is, precisely, sympathy with the ideas of Gustavo Gutierrez. Mueller met the latter on a visit to Lima, where he was impressed by his encounters with the “poorest of the poor”. He has repeatedly visited Peru and maintained his relationship with Gutierrez. He has not directly embraced Liberation Theology, but he has started the process toward the sanctification of Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated by a right-wing death squad in 1980 and has become an object of veneration by the Catholic left. Marx has published a tongue-in-cheek letter to his namesake Karl, saying that the latter’s ideas have been rejected too broadly. He has sharply criticized “neoliberalism” and “turbo-capitalism”. Most interestingly, he has co-authored a book with Gutierrez! [I have not read this book. I spend some time reading things for my blog, but I’m afraid there are limits.] I understand that this book develops the core idea of Liberation Theology—the “solidarity with the poor”. Marx is apparently a folksy character; he enjoys attending the annual Munich Beer Festival, guzzling that beverage to the ear-shattering sound of Bavarian folk music. [Speaking as a Viennese, this doesn’t necessarily endear him to me.]

What emerges here is the possibility of an axis between theological conservatism and political leftism. Is this where the Catholic Church is heading?

A few months ago I wrote a post on this blog, asking whether the pontificate of Francis I heralds a new opening for Liberation Theology. I cautiously suggested that this may not be the case, though the jury is still out. Francis’ identification with the poor is not necessarily linked to leftist ideology. Even the “preferential option”, understood as a general moral rather than specifically political orientation, is hardly surprising in any follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

There is evidence that Francis showed little if any sympathy for Liberation Theology in his native Argentina. Then as now, he showed personal identification with the most marginal people in society—it is not accidental that as pope he chose the name of the saint known as “poverello” (“the little poor one”). So far, so good. So far, I don’t feel compelled to retract my earlier assessment of the present papacy. But I’m getting a bit worried.

Presumably worrisome: In September 2013 Francis received Gustavo Gutierrez in a private audience. A sign of personal favor? Or a move to avoid criticisms by conservatives? Or another attempt to draw back into the Church a constituency on the left with grievances? (After all, there has been a long campaign to reconcile the papacy with the right-wing critics of Vatican II.) Francis continues to talk about his wish for a “poor church”, a “church for the poor”. But lately he has spoken out on “greed” and “inequality”, social maladies due to “neoliberalism” and “unfettered capitalism”. If this is the direction in which he is going, one must worry about his view of the world. How does he understand it? Specifically, has he understood the basic fact: Capitalism has been most successful in producing sustained economic growth. And that it is this growth which has been most effective in greatly reducing poverty? Just where is there “unfettered capitalism” in the world today? It is in China. Since the economic reforms that began in 1979 China has been the clearest example of “unfettered capitalism” (or, if you will, of the “neoliberal Washington Consensus”). It is still “fettered” by the bulky presence of inefficient state-owned enterprises, debris of the socialist past, with privileged access to capital and government favors. Nevertheless the capitalist engine has been roaring on, the private sector of the economy that does not have to worry about the “fetters” imposed on it in Western democratic countries—an expensive welfare state, laws and regulations that inhibit growth, and free labor unions. And it is this capitalist sector of the Chinese economy that has lifted millions of people from degrading poverty to a decent level of material life. The Chinese regime is appalling in many ways, but not because of failure to deal with poverty. Does Francis understand any of this? Greed is a moral flaw that exists in any economic system. And inequality is not of great concern to most people; they are concerned about the quality of their own lives and the prospects for the future of their children, rather than the income or wealth of people across town (that concern is called envy, which, if I recall correctly, is also a sin).

I continue to think that Francis’ view of the world is to the right of the Liberation Theology movement. But the papacy is very much a “bully pulpit”. If the Pope continues to make leftist noises, he will give encouragement to the leftist wave that has (predictably) risen as a result of the economic crises of the last five years. These certainly are cause for reform of the capitalist economy, especially its financial industry, but not for a return to the poverty-enhancing policies of socialist utopianism. As far as I know, the agency called “Iustitia et Pax” (“Justice and Peace”) has been a niche of leftist ideas in the complex bureaucracy of the Vatican. It would be very unfortunate if Francis, wittingly or not, caused this niche to expand.

Voir aussi:

The Denominational Imperative

Peter Berger

The American interest

November 20, 2013

On November 11, 2013, Religion News Service reprinted an Associated Press story by Gillian Flaccus on the development of “atheist mega-churches”. These have the rather revealing name “Sunday Assemblies” (perhaps an allusion to the Pentecostal Assemblies of God—in the hope of emulating the success of the latter?). The story described a recent gathering of this type in Los Angeles: “It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Several hundred people, including families with small children, packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational talk and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.” Apparently there now are similar “churches” in other US locations. The movement (if it can be called that) began in Britain earlier this year, founded by Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, two prominent comedians (I am not making this up). The pair is currently on a fundraising tour in America and Australia.

The AP story links this development to the growth of the “nones” in the US—that is, people who say “none” when asked for their religious affiliation in a survey. A recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (a major center for religious demography) found that 20% of Americans fall under that category. But, as the story makes clear, it would be a mistake to understand all these people to be atheists. A majority of them believes in God and says that they are “spiritual but not religious”. All one can say with confidence is that these are individuals who have not found a religious community that they like. Decided atheists are a very small minority in this country, and a shrinking one worldwide. And I would think that most in this group are better described as agnostics (they don’t know whether God exists) rather than atheists (those who claim to know that he doesn’t). I further think that the recent flurry of avowed atheists writing bestselling books or suing government agencies on First Amendment grounds should not be seen as a great cultural wave, in America or anywhere else (let them just dream of competing with the mighty tsunami of Pentecostal Christianity sweeping over much of our planet).

How then is one to understand the phenomenon described in the story? I think there are two ways of understanding it. First, there is the lingering notion of Sunday morning as a festive ceremony of the entire family. This notion has deep cultural roots in Christian-majority countries (even if, especially in Europe, this notion is rooted in nostalgia rather than piety). Many people who would not be comfortable participating in an overtly Christian worship service still feel that something vaguely resembling it would be a good program to attend once a week, preferably en famille. Thus a Unitarian was once described as someone who doesn’t play golf and must find something else to do on Sunday morning. This atheist gathering in Los Angeles is following a classic American pattern originally inspired by Protestant piety—lay people being sociable in a church (or in this case quasi-church) setting. They are on their best behavior, exhibiting the prototypical “Protestant smile”. This smile has long ago migrated from its original religious location to grace the faces of Catholics, Jews and adherents of more exotic faiths. It has become a sacrament of American civility. It would be a grave error to call it “superficial” or “false”. Far be it from me to begrudge atheists their replication of it.

However, there is a more important aspect to the aforementioned phenomenon: Every community of value, religious or otherwise, becomes a denomination in America. Atheists, as they want public recognition, begin to exhibit the characteristics of a religious denomination: They form national organizations, they hold conferences, they establish local branches (“churches”, in common parlance) which hold Sunday morning services—and they want to have atheist chaplains in universities and the military. As good Americans, they litigate to protect their constitutional rights. And they smile while they are doing all these things.

As far as I know, the term “denomination” is an innovation of American English. In classical sociology of religion, in the early 20th-entury writings of Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch, religious institutions were described as coming in two types: the “church”, a large body open to the society into which an individual is born, and the ”sect”, a smaller group set aside from the society which an individual chooses to join. The historian Richard Niebuhr, in 1929, published a book that has become a classic, The Social Sources of Denominationalism. It is a very rich account of religious history, but among many other contributions, Niebuhr argued that America has produced a third type of religious institutions—the denomination—which has some qualities derived from both the Weber-Troeltsch types: It is a large body not isolated from society, but it is also a voluntary association which individuals chose to join. It can also be described as a church which, in fact if not theologically, accepts the right of other churches to exist. This distinctive institution, I would propose, is the result of a social and a political fact. The denomination is an institutional formation seeking to adapt to pluralism—the largely peaceful coexistence of diverse religious communities in the same society. The denomination is protected in a pluralist situation by the political and legal guarantee of religious freedom. Pluralism is the product of powerful forces of modernity—urbanization, migration, mass literacy and education; it can exist without religious freedom, but the latter clearly enhances it. While Niebuhr was right in seeing the denomination as primarily an American invention, it has now become globalized—because pluralism has become a global fact. The worldwide explosion of Pentecostalism, which I mentioned before, is a prime example of global pluralism—ever splitting off into an exuberant variety of groupings.

The British sociologist David Martin has written about what he called the “Amsterdam-London-Boston axis”—that offspring of the Protestant Reformation that did not eventuate in state churches—the free churches, all voluntary associations, which played an enormous role in the British colonies in North America and came to full fruition in the United States. This form of Protestantism has pluralism in its sociological DNA. One could say that it has a built-in denominational imperative: “Go forth and multiply”. American Protestant history is one of churches splitting apart, merging, splitting apart again. Churches have divided over doctrinal differences, ethnic or regional ones, or because of moral or political differences. Almost all Protestant churches split over the issue of slavery in the 19th century, as they divide now over what I call issues south of the navel. American Lutheranism was for a long time split into ethnically defined synods, though this has now been replaced by basic doctrinal disagreements. Roman Catholicism has been protected from Protestant denominationalism by its centralized hierarchy, but it has become “Protestantized” in a different way: Against its deepest ecclesiological instincts, it has become de facto a voluntary association—with the result that its lay people have become vocally uppity. Even American Jews have organized in at least four denominations. (Joke: An American Jew stranded on a desert island built two synagogues, one in which he goes to pray, the other in which he would not be found dead), Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus in America have all fallen into the denominational pattern. The same pattern appears in secular movements (for example, the various “denominations” of American psychotherapy). Even witches have managed to create a denomination, Wiccan (I understand that they want the right to appoint chaplains for hospitals or in the military). Why should atheists be an exception?

The First Amendment is the icon invoked by all denominations in America. But its basic legal principle is reflected in everyday American mores. When I came to America as a young man, someone told me: “If you don’t want to do something, just say that it’s against your religion”. I had difficulty imagining a situation in which I could plausibly use this recommendation. I asked: “But won’t they ask what my religion is?” The response: “They wouldn’t dare.”

Voir également:

BERGER (Peter L.), ed., The Desecularization of the World, Resurgent Religion and World Politics

Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1999, 135 p.

Sébastien Fath

p. 71-73

Référence(s) :

BERGER (Peter L.), ed., The Desecularization of the World, Resurgent Religion and World Politics, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1999, 135 p.

Cet ouvrage collectif, au titre provoquant, est le résultat d’une commande. Il répond au souhait de la Greve Foundation (alors présidée par John Kitzer), relayé par le Foreign Policy Institute de la John Hopkins University, d’inventorier (et d’expliquer) les nombreux phénomènes de vitalité religieuse sur la scène politique mondiale. C’est l’Ethic and Public Policy Center (présidé par Elliott Abrams, Washington D.C.) qui fut chargé de répondre à cette demande, ce dont il s’acquitta en confiant la tâche à P.L.B. et à une équipe de conférenciers. Ce livre, qui regroupe les différentes contributions rassemblées à l’initiative de Berger, défend une thèse : celle, non pas de la « désécularisation » du monde (contrairement au titre), mais du maintien vigoureux du religieux « traditionnel » sur la scène publique de très nombreux pays. Cette hypothèse est essentiellement présentée, et théorisée, par P.L.B. lui-même, dans une ample introduction.

D’après P.L.B., le monde d’aujourd’hui est « aussi furieusement religieux que toujours » (p. 2). Ce qui vaut à l’auteur un rapide mea culpa. dans la mesure où il s’est montré, par le passé, l’un des partisans les plus pénétrants de la théorie de la sécularisation, qu’il considère aujourd’hui comme globalement erronée. En effet, l’idée que la modernisation de la société conduise nécessairement au déclin de la religion dans l’espace public et dans la sphère individuelle s’est, d’après lui, avérée « fausse » (p. 3), les faits montrant au contraire une permanence vigoureuse (et parfois même un développement) du rôle des religions dans les sociétés humaines. Cette permanence n’a pas été uniforme : reprenant les hypothèses développées notamment par Roger Fink et Rodney Stark, il souligne que les religions qui ont cherché à s’aligner sur les valeurs de la modernité ont globalement « échoué », tandis que celles qui ont maintenu un « supernaturalisme réactionnaire » ont largement prospéré (p. 4). Partout, l’A. constate la vitalité des mouvements religieux « conservateurs, orthodoxes ou traditionalistes » (p. 6). Le choix d’une ligne catholique conservatrice par Jean-Paul II, la montée en puissance du protestantisme évangélique aux États-Unis, les succès du judaïsme orthodoxe (aussi bien en Israël que dans la diaspora), l’impact impressionnant de l’islamisme relèvent de ce phénomène, observable aussi dans l’hindouisme et le bouddhisme. En dépit de grandes différences, tous ces mouvements auraient pour point commun une posture « religieuse sans ambiguïté », et une démarche, « pour le moins », de « contre-sécularisation » (p. 6). L’essor de l’islam et celui du protestantisme évangélique constituent, pour l’A., les exemples les plus remarquables de cette « contre-sécularisation » (on est tenté de le suivre en partie sur ce point). Tous deux manifestent un dynamisme conversionniste considérable, même si celui de l’islam s’exprime surtout dans des pays déjà musulmans, ou comprenant d’importantes minorités musulmanes (comme en Europe), alors que le protestantisme évangélique connaîtrait un développement mondial, dans des pays où « ce type de religion était auparavant inconnu ou très marginal » (p. 9).

L’A. voit deux exceptions apparentes à la thèse de la « désécularisation » (sic). D’une part, l’Europe, aux taux de pratique religieuse très faibles. D’autre part, l’existence d’une « subculture internationale composée d’individus dotés d’une éducation occidentale supérieure » dont les contenus sont, « en effet sécularisés » (p. 10). Cette subculture, dominante dans les milieux médiatiques, académiques, politiques, constituerait une « élite globalisée », qui tenterait d’imposer ses normes (fondée sur les idéaux des Lumières) par le biais des médias et des institutions universitaires. P.L.B. n’hésite pas à critiquer (non sans humour) le « vase clos » relatif d’universitaires favorables au postulat de la sécularisation, mais incapables de prendre la mesure du décalage entre leur « monde » et celui des populations dont ils sont supposés analyser le rapport à la religion. Opérant un exercice radical de décentrage, il n’hésite pas à affirmer que cette « subculture » des élites occidentales sécularisées (à laquelle les universitaires participent) constitue, tout compte fait, une anomalie beaucoup plus étonnante que tel ou tel phénomène de radicalisme religieux. De ce fait, « l’Université de Chicago est un terrain beaucoup plus intéressant pour la sociologie des religions que les écoles islamiques de Qom » ! (p. 12) Les théories de la « dernière digue », défendues par ceux qui cherchent à sauver l’hypothèse de la sécularisation linéaire (les musulmans et les évangéliques constitueraient d’ultimes « digues » religieuses face à la marée de la sécularisation) ne tiennent pas, selon l’A. Il considère comme aberrante l’hypothèse selon laquelle « des mollah iraniens, des prédicateurs pentecôtistes, et des lamas tibétains penseront tous – et agiront – comme des professeurs de littérature dans les universités américaines » (p. 12). Cependant, il souligne la variété des relations à la modernité, qui peuvent aller d’une attitude « anti-moderne » (qui caractériserait selon lui l’islam) à une valorisation de la démocratie et de l’individu (qui caractériserait, d’après P.L.B., le courant évangélique). Quelles que soient les stratégies d’adaptation, les religions conservent une part essentielle dans les « affaires du monde » (p. 14), que ce soit sur le terrain politique, économique, social, humanitaire, tant il apparaît évident, pour l’A., que le sentiment religieux (et sa traduction intramondaine) constitue « un trait pérenne de l’humanité » (p. 13).

Les chapitres suivants (de moindre portée) proposent ensuite quelques éclairages partiels à partir de terrains spécifiques. La contribution de George Weigel (pp. 19 à 36) s’attache essentiellement à mettre en perspective l’impact de la pensée de Jean-Paul II (minutieusement exposée). Au passage, l’A. montre qu’à l’image de Léon XIII à la fin du XIXe siècle, le pape présente la vérité catholique comme une vérité « publique » (p. 25), bonne pour tous et pas seulement pour les catholiques. Mais il souligne en même temps (et c’est là un apport majeur) que sa posture apparaît désormais comme « post-Constantinienne » (p. 32). En d’autres termes, sans pour autant vouloir revenir au temps des catacombes (une sous-culture de repli), le catholicisme de l’an 2000 et de demain entend tenir une distance critique (qui n’a pas toujours été adoptée par le passé) face aux pouvoirs politiques. En clair, il s’agit de la fin d’un modèle moniste qui, en catholicisme, a longtemps voulu associer le politique et l’Église dans un modèle englobant. Cette analyse en terme de différenciation partielle des sphères, on le voit, ne paraît guère s’accorder avec l’hypothèse d’une « désécularisation » du monde : à la lumière de contributions comme celles de Weigel, on voit bien qu’une approche plus nuancée s’impose, une réelle vigueur religieuse n’étant pas incompatible avec certains phénomènes de sécularisation. C’est au même type de conclusion que parvient David Martin (pp. 37-49) dans son analyse du renouveau évangélique en protestantisme. En dépit d’un essor très significatif des Églises de type évangélique dans le monde, ces dernières lui paraissent surtout défendre « le rôle de commentateurs influents au sein d’une société pluraliste » (p. 48). L’idée d’une « société chrétienne », d’une Jérusalem évangélique terrestre a globalement décliné tout au long de l’époque contemporaine. Opposant lui aussi l’inspiration pluraliste et démocratique du courant évangélique à la perspective plus moniste de l’islam (p. 49), il considère donc, comme George Weigel, qu’une forme de « différenciation des sphères » (qui constitue une des caractéristiques fortes de la modernité sécularisée) joue à plein dans son terrain d’étude. La contribution de Jonathan Sacks (très engagé idéologiquement) développe ensuite la question de l’identité juive en modernité (pp. 51-63). Concluant sur le fait que les juifs survivront non par le nombre, mais « par la qualité et la force de la foi juive » (p. 63), il paraît déplorer, en attendant, le degré de sécularisation trop important qu’il constate en judaïsme, rapportant cette anecdote éclairante de Shlomo Carlebach en visite sur les campus américains : « je demande aux étudiants ce qu’ils sont. Si quelqu’un se lève et dit, « je suis un Catholique », je sais que c’est un Catholique. Si quelqu’un dit. « Je suis un Protestant », je sais que c’est un Protestant. Si quelqu’un se lève et dit, « Je suis seulement un être-humain », je sais que c’est un Juif » (p. 60). Il ne s’agit pas là, à proprement parler, d’un langage religieux identitaire, « désécularisé »… Là encore, le contenu de la contribution paraît apporter de sérieuses réserves à l’hypothèse liminaire défendue par P.L.B.

Grace Davie, quant à elle, semble davantage se situer dans cet axe. Dans son analyse de l’Europe, possible « exception qui confirme la règle » (pp. 65-83), elle s’attache minutieusement à montrer, qu’après tout, les Européens ne sont peut-être pas moins religieux, mais différemment religieux que les citoyens d’autres parties du monde. Appuyée principalement sur une analyse très fine des résultats de l’Enquête Européenne sur les valeurs, elle confirme à la fois le diagnostic d’une « déprise » de la religion sur les populations, et le maintien d’une demande religieuse « hors institution ». Elle précise aussi très opportunément que les données quantitatives disponibles sur la pratique religieuse en Europe ne sont pas assez étoffées, dans leur échantillonnage, pour rendre compte des minorités religieuses (comme le judaïsme, l’islam, l’hindouisme, les « nouveaux mouvements religieux »). Or, il est essentiel, selon elle, de tenir compte de ces minorités, qui font globalement preuve d’un réel dynamisme religieux. La prise en considération, d’autre part, des taux de pratique toujours élevés aux États-Unis l’invite, au contraire de Steve Bruce dont la thèse est présentée entre les pages 74 et 77, à considérer l’Europe comme l’exception occidentale… qui confirme la règle d’un vigoureux maintien du religieux en modernité. Se référant aux travaux de José Casanova, elle attribue ce particularisme européen aux liens séculaires entre l’Eglise et l’État. S’appuyant ensuite sur les analyses de Danièle Hervieu-Léger, elle souligne le « paradoxe de la modernité » européenne (p. 80), qui corrode les mémoires collectives (amnésie) mais ouvre de nouveaux espaces utopiques que seule la religion peut remplir. Sa conclusion laisse ouverte la question d’une poursuite, ou non, du recul du religieux eu Europe. Les dernières contributions (Tu Weiming sur la Chine, pp. 85-101, et Abdullahi A. An-Na’im sur l’islam (pp. 103-121) n’apportent pas d’éléments décisifs, tout en soulignant qu’en Chine comme dans l’espace islamique, le religieux s’avère plutôt plus présent aujourd’hui qu’il y a quelques décennies.

Dépourvu de conclusion, l’ouvrage laisse un goût d’inachevé : la thèse suggérée dans le titre (la « désécularisation ») n’y aura pas été démontrée, et les contributions, à l’orientation parfois plus confessionnelle que scientifique, suggèrent une interprétation nuancée de la réalité : réaffirmations religieuses parfois (Chine, essor de l’islam et du protestantisme évangélique), certes, mais aussi déclin continu du rôle social des Églises (dans le cas européen), sur fond de multiples négociations avec la modernité où une sécularisation interne des religions s’observe parfois (option pour un modèle « post-constantinien » en catholicisme, valorisation accrue du pluralisme chez les évangéliques). Au bout du compte, l’ouvrage dirigé par P.L.B. soulève plus de questions qu’il n’en résoud. Peut-être était-ce, au fond, son objectif ?

Référence papier

Sébastien Fath, « BERGER (Peter L.), ed., The Desecularization of the World, Resurgent Religion and World Politics », Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 112 | 2000, 71-73.

Référence électronique

Sébastien Fath, « BERGER (Peter L.), ed., The Desecularization of the World, Resurgent Religion and World Politics », Archives de sciences sociales des religions [En ligne], 112 | octobre-décembre 2000, document 112.6, mis en ligne le 19 août 2009, consulté le 08 décembre 2013. URL : http://assr.revues.org/20264

Stephens: Obama’s Envy Problem

Inequality is a problem when the rich get richer at the expense of the poor.

That’s not happening in America.

Dec. 30, 2013

By BRET STEPHENS

As he came to the end of his awful year Barack Obama gave an awful speech. The president thinks America has inequality issues. What it has—what he has—is an envy problem.

I’ll get to the point in a moment, but first a word about the speech’s awfulness. To illustrate the evils of income inequality, the president said this:

"Ordinary folks can’t write massive campaign checks or hire high-priced lobbyists and lawyers to secure policies that tilt the playing field in their favor at everyone else’s expense. And so people get the bad taste that the system is rigged, and that increases cynicism and polarization, and it decreases the political participation that is a requisite part of our system of self-government."

This is coming from the man who signs legislation, such as Dodd-Frank, that only high-priced lawyers can understand; who, according to the Guardian newspaper, has spent much of 2013 on a "record-breaking fundraising spree," making "30 separate visits to wealthy donors," at "more than twice the rate of the president’s two-term predecessors."

In my last column, comparing Jane Fonda with Pope Francis, I wrote that liberalism was haunted by its hypocrisy. Consider Mr. Obama’s campaign-finance pieties as Exhibit B.

Now about inequality. In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville noticed what might be called the paradox of equality: As social conditions become more equal, the more people resent the inequalities that remain.

"Democratic institutions awaken and foster a passion for equality which they can never entirely satisfy," Tocqueville wrote. "This complete equality eludes the grasp of the people at the very moment they think they have grasped it . . . the people are excited in the pursuit of an advantage, which is more precious because it is not sufficiently remote to be unknown or sufficiently near to be enjoyed."

One result: "Democratic institutions strongly tend to promote the feeling of envy." Another: "A depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304591604579290350851300782 1/3/2014

Bret Stephens: Obama’s Envy Problem – WSJ.com Page 2 of 3

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) saw the dark side of the politics of equality. Corbis

expense of the poor.

their own level and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom."

That is the background by which the current hand-wringing over inequality must be judged. Inequality is not a problem simply because the rich get richer faster than the poor get richer. It’s a problem only when the rich get richer at the

Mr. Obama tried to prove that in his speech, comparing present-day income with that halcyon year of 1979: "The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income—it now takes half," he said, suggesting that the rich are eating a larger share of the national pie. "Whereas in the past, the average CEO made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today’s CEO now makes 273 times more. And meanwhile, a family in the top one percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country."

Here is a factual error, marred by an analytical error, compounded by a moral error. It’s the top 20% that take in just over half of aggregate income, according to the Census Bureau, not the top 10%. That figure is essentially unchanged since the mid-1990s, when Bill Clinton was president. And it isn’t dramatically different from 1979, when the top fifth took in 44% of aggregate income.

Besides which, so what? In 1979 the mean household income of the bottom 20% was $4,006. By 2012, it was $11,490. That’s an increase of 186%. For the middle class, the increase was 211%. For the top fifth it’s 320%. The richer have outpaced the poorer in growing their incomes, just as runners will outpace joggers who will, in turn, outpace walkers. But, as James Taylor might say, the walking man walks.

As it is, to whom except the envious should it matter that the boss now makes a lot more, provided you, too, also make more? Class-consciousness has always been a fact of American life, but rarely is it about how the poor, or even the middle class, feel toward the very rich. It has been about how the professional class—lawyers, journalists, administrators, academics—feel toward the financial class. It’s what Volvo America thinks about S-class America.

That idiot you knew freshman year, always fondling a lacrosse stick, before he became the head of his fraternity—his bonus last year was how much?

The moral greatness of capitalism rests in the fact that it is the only economic system where one person’s gain can be another’s also—where Steve Jobs’s billions are his shareholders’ thousands. Capitalism cultivates a sense of admiration where envy would otherwise rule in a zero-sum economic system. It’s what, for the past 60 years, has blunted the democratic tendency toward envy in the U.S. and distinguished its free-market democracy from the social democracies of Europe. It’s what draws people to this country.

Somewhere in the rubble of Mr. Obama’s musings on inequality there was a better speech on economic mobility. Then again, under Mr. Obama the median income of the poorest Americans has declined in absolute terms, to $11,490 in 2012 from $11,552 in 2009, at the height of the recession. Chalk it up as another instance of Mr. Obama being the cause of the very problems he aspires to address.

Le pape François se défend d’être marxiste

Jean-Marie Guénois

Le Figaro

15/12/2013

«Je le répète, je ne me suis pas exprimé en technicien, mais selon la doctrine sociale de l’Église», a rappelé le pape François.

Après ses diatribes contre le libéralisme, le souverain pontife a précisé ses positions économiques dans une interview à La Stampa.

Le pape François n’est pas «marxiste». Il a dû le préciser explicitement dimanche dans une interview exclusive accordée au quotidien italien La Stampa en réponse à une vague d’accusations venues des États-Unis qui ont suivi l’Exhortation apostolique publiée le 26 novembre où François avait effectivement instruit un procès en règle contre l’économie libérale qui «tue». On apprend également dans cet entretien son opposition aux femmes «cardinal» et sa prudence sur l’évolution de l’Église en faveur des divorcés remariés.

Rush Limbaugh, un animateur de radio américain, avait en effet fustigé l’exhortation apostolique intitulée La Joie de l’Évangile, la qualifiant de… «marxisme pur». Stuart Varney, de la chaîne Fox News, y avait vu du «néo-socialisme». Jonathon Moseley, membre du Tea Party, avait renchéri: «Jésus n’était pas un socialiste!» En France, Clément Guillou titrait sa chronique sur le site Rue 89: «Cette fois, c’est sûr, le pape François est socialiste».

Mais la polémique s’est à ce point enflammée outre-Atlantique, y compris dans les milieux catholiques, étonnés par les positions économiques du Pape, que François a dû préciser sa pensée par cet entretien avec le journaliste Andréa Tornielli, l’un des vaticanistes italiens les plus en vue. «L’idéologie marxiste est erronée, lui confie le pape François, mais dans ma vie j’ai rencontré de nombreux marxistes qui étaient des gens bien.»

«  Une des causes de cette situation se trouve dans la relation que nous avons établie avec l’argent, puisque nous acceptons paisiblement sa prédominance sur nous et sur nos sociétés»

Extrait de l’exhortation apostolique

En fait, le passage de l’exhortation apostolique qui a mis le feu aux poudres a été la critique du Pape contre la théorie de la «rechute favorable» (en anglais «trickle down», expression mieux traduite en français par «théorie du ruissellement»): «Certains défendent encore les théories de la “rechute favorable”, écrivait François, qui supposent que chaque croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire en soi une plus grande équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde. Cette opinion, qui n’a jamais été confirmée par les faits, exprime une confiance grossière et naïve dans la bonté de ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique et dans les mécanismes sacralisés du système économique dominant. Mais, pendant ce temps, les exclus continuent à attendre.»

Le Pape ajoutait, dans ce même chapitre: «Une des causes de cette situation se trouve dans la relation que nous avons établie avec l’argent, puisque nous acceptons paisiblement sa prédominance sur nous et sur nos sociétés. La crise financière que nous traversons nous fait oublier qu’elle a, à son origine, une crise anthropologique profonde: la négation du primat de l’être humain! Nous avons créé de nouvelles idoles. L’adoration de l’antique veau d’or a trouvé une nouvelle et impitoyable version dans le fétichisme de l’argent et dans la dictature de l’économie sans visage et sans un but véritablement humain.»

Prônant un renforcement de l’État dans le contrôle de l’économie, le Pape concluait: «Alors que les gains d’un petit nombre s’accroissent exponentiellement, ceux de la majorité se situent de façon toujours plus éloignée du bien-être de cette heureuse minorité. Ce déséquilibre procède d’idéologies qui défendent l’autonomie absolue des marchés et la spéculation financière. Par conséquent, ils nient le droit de contrôle des États chargés de veiller à la préservation du bien commun. Une nouvelle tyrannie invisible s’instaure, parfois virtuelle, qui impose ses lois et ses règles, de façon unilatérale et impla­cable.»

Des propos d’une fermeté inédite dans la bouche d’un pape – car la doc­trine sociale de l’Église a toujours défendu la responsabilité personnelle et la liberté d’entreprise – qui ont alors suscité une incompréhension certaine, car plusieurs observateurs nord-américains ont reconnu là les thèses de l’écono­miste hongrois d’inspiration socialiste Karl Polanyi (1886-1964).

D’où cette mise au point du Pape dans l’interview de La Stampa: «Il n’y a rien dans l’exhortation apostolique qui ne soit dans la doctrine sociale de l’Église. Je ne me suis pas exprimé d’un point de vue technique, mais j’ai cherché à présenter une photographie de ce qui se passe. L’unique citation spécifique est celle de la théorie de la “rechute favorable”, selon laquelle toute croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire, par elle-même, une meilleure équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde. Soit la promesse que quand le verre serait rempli, il déborderait, et les pauvres alors en profiteraient. Mais quand il est plein, le verre, comme par magie, s’agrandit et jamais rien n’en sort pour les pauvres. Ce fut là ma seule référence à une théorie spécifique. Je le répète, je ne me suis pas exprimé en technicien mais selon la doctrine sociale de l’Église. Cela ne signifie pas être marxiste.»

Voir par ailleurs:

Le pape François, un an au Vatican : une révolution en trompe-l’oeil ?

Le Plus-Nouvelobs

14-03-2014

Jean-Marcel Bouguereau

éditorialiste

LE PLUS. Premier pape argentin de l’histoire, le pape François a fêté, jeudi 13 mars, le premier anniversaire de son élection au Vatican. Porteur de nombreuses attentes de réformes et d’ouverture, celui qui a succédé à Benoît XVI est-il à la hauteur ? Notre éditorialiste Jean-Marcel Bouguereau dresse un premier bilan.

Édité par Sébastien Billard

Le pape François pourrait en remontrer à l’autre François (Hollande) : en un an, il a réussi à changer beaucoup de choses dans cette institution par nature conservatrice, l’Église. C’est le magazine "Rolling-Stone" qui titrait à propos de lui : "Les temps changent".

On a beaucoup parlé de son style de vie, de sa simplicité, jusqu’à son refus de porter les traditionnels escarpins rouges, préférant rappeler son cordonnier argentin pour réparer ses vieilles chaussures. Il a bouleversé par son exemple les habitudes de la Curie romaine, en instaurant au Vatican une humilité qui n’était plus de mise chez ces prélats confits dans leurs ors et leurs brocards.

Transparence financière et gestes d’ouverture

Même si cela a beaucoup contribué à sa popularité, l’essentiel n’est pas là. Premier pape non européen, premier pape jésuite, premier pape de la mondialisation, il a montré sa volonté de réformer la toute-puissante Curie.

Son super ministère des finances va coiffer la fameuse banque du Vatican où il a commencé à faire le ménage : plus aucun laïc ne peut y ouvrir de compte ce qui, jusque-là, permettait à certains mafieux de blanchir au Vatican l’argent de trafics de drogue. Une transparence financière qui ne plait guère aux parrains de la mafia calabraise, qui lui auraient adressé des menaces de mort.

Il a multiplié les gestes de compréhension envers les homosexuels et envers les athées, demandant "l’ouverture et la miséricorde vis-à-vis des personnes divorcées, homosexuelles ou encore des femmes qui ont subi un avortement".

Mais sa volonté, selon la formule de Kierkegaard, "de remettre un peu de christianisme dans la chrétienté", ne plait pas à tout le monde. Le Tea Party américain n’a-t-il pas dénoncé en lui un "marxiste" et même, horresco referens, un "libéral", c’est à dire une sorte de gauchiste !

Pensez donc ! Un homme qui parle de la différence entre pêcheurs et corrompus, qui dit "qui suis-je pour juger un gay qui cherche Dieu ?", qui critique une société qui fait de l’argent une idole !

Se transformer pour continuer à exister

Mais parce qu’il prépare lui-même ses spaghettis et qu’il s’échappe clandestinement du Vatican les soirs de grand froid pour visiter des SDF romains, faut-il, comme certains, en faire une nouvelle idole de la gauche dont les posters viendraient remplacer ceux de Guevara ?

Ce pape reste pape. Dans ses goûts cinématographiques figurent le néoréalisme italien, Fellini, Rossellini et "Le Guépard" de Visconti où l’on trouve cette phrase tirée du roman de Lampedusa "Il faut que tout change pour que rien ne change".

Dans cette période du risorgimento ("Renaissance") où l’aristocratie ne meurt pas mais se transforme, on peut trouver une analogie avec la situation d’une Église qui doit impérativement se transformer pour continuer à exister.

Voir encore:

Eglise : jusqu’où veut aller le pape François sur les dossiers sensibles ?

Marie Lemonnier

Le Nouvel Observateur

13-03-2014

La place des femmes et des laïcs, l’homosexualité, la réforme de la Curie… Le successeur de Benoît XVI amènera-t-il le renouveau ?

Elu il y a un an, le 13 mars 2013, après la renonciation de Benoît XVI, souverain pontife pris dans les tourments du Vatileaks, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 77 ans, a été désigné par ses pairs pour opérer la réforme nécessaire de l’appareil catholique. Avec ses prises de paroles, parfois tranchées, parfois ambiguës, et les premières décisions de sa première année de gouvernance, le pape argentin a ouvert plusieurs grands chantiers qui laissent entrevoir une forte volonté de renouveau, sans néanmoins toucher aux fondamentaux de la doctrine dont les papes sont les héritiers autant que les garants. Jusqu’où veut-il aller et jusqu’où pourra-t-il mener l’Eglise ?

1 La réforme de la Curie

Après le Vatileaks, les cardinaux électeurs ont clairement demandé au nouveau successeur de Pierre d’opérer un nettoyage et une rationalisation de la Curie romaine. Il s’agit d’une part d’alléger la structure, dans laquelle les dicastères (équivalent de ministères) se sont accumulés ces dernières décennies, mais aussi d’en changer la perspective. Au lieu de la laisser prospérer au-dessus des évêques comme un super-gouvernement tout puissant, François souhaite lui confier le rôle de médiateur entre les épiscopats et le pape. L’objectif ? Qu’elle soit véritablement au service des pasteurs de l’Eglise universelle et des Eglises locales. Une manière de faire vivre la collégialité, maître-mot de Vatican II que souhaite mettre en application Bergoglio, comme on le voit également à travers son usage du synode qui est l’occasion pour les évêques du monde entier de prendre part à la décision mais aussi avec la création de ce conseil permanent de 8 cardinaux venus des cinq continents, surnommé le G8 ou le C8, chargé de l’aider dans sa réforme de la Curie.

François veut ainsi que l’Eglise ne soit plus une monarchie absolue mais un organe de participation autour du pape, qui reste néanmoins seul détenteur de l’autorité. Etranger à l’institution romaine sur laquelle il porte un regard critique voire sévère, le pape argentin n’hésite pas à fustiger les querelles de pouvoir en son sein, les habitudes de cour et tous ceux qui s’y "prennent pour des dieux". Il semble ainsi très déterminé à remplir sa mission. A cette fin, une nouvelle Constitution apostolique doit être écrite pour remplacer celle de Jean-Paul II appelée Pastor Bonus, en vigueur depuis 1988. Le père Lombardi, porte-parole du Saint-Siège, a déjà tenté de modérer les impatiences en avertissant qu’elle ne verrait pas le jour avant 2015.

2 La gestion et la transparence des finances

"Je veux une Eglise pauvre au service des pauvres", martèle le pape François. En créant fin février un "Secrétariat pour l’économie" (un super ministère aux pouvoirs étendus sur le Saint-Siège et l’Etat du Vatican), dirigé par le cardinal australien Pell, qui fait déjà partie des hommes forts du G8 du pape, ainsi qu’un "Conseil pour l’économie" ayant autorité pour contrôler toutes les instances vaticanes, le pape François donne enfin les premiers signes concrets de la réforme institutionnelle.

C’est comme s’il avait créé la Cour des comptes et l’Inspection des finances en même temps !", souligne l’historien de la papauté Philippe Levillain.

Des bilans financiers seront rendus publics et les procédures moins bureaucratiques. Autre nouveauté, pour assurer une meilleure transparence, ce Conseil pour l’économie (CE) sera composé de 8 prélats mais aussi de 7 laïcs (dont le Français Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, patron de la société Incipit). C’est la première fois que des laïcs entrent ainsi dans une institution curiale. Enfin, le CE sera coordonné par l’archevêque de Munich et tout nouveau président de la Conférence épiscopale allemande Reinhard Marx, également auteur d’un livre intitulé… "Le Capital". Ca ne s’invente pas.

Même si aucune décision n’a encore été prise concernant la très critiquée et opaque banque du Vatican, la commission chargée de sa réforme poursuit ses travaux et devrait faire des annonces courant avril. Plus de la moitié des 19.000 comptes de l’IOR (Institut pour les Œuvres de religion) a été contrôlée ; un millier a été fermé et moins d’une centaine de comptes suspects fait l’objet d’investigations plus approfondies. "Tout va changer dans la gestion économico-administrative du Saint-Siège", promet ainsi le site Vatican Insider.

3 La place des femmes et des laïcs

La femme "peut et doit être plus présente dans les lieux de décision de l’Eglise", affirme le Saint-Père dans le "Corriere della Sera" du 5 mars, laissant ainsi espérer que des femmes puissent être à l’avenir nommées à la tête de dicastères. Le pape faisait toutefois observer qu’il s’agit là d’une "promotion de type fonctionnel" qui ne fait guère "avancer les choses". Il a également plusieurs fois exprimé sa volonté de promouvoir une "théologie de la femme" qui laisse dubitatif sur les réelles avancées à attendre sur le sujet. Surtout, il n’a pas caché qu’il n’ordonnera pas de femmes prêtres. Quant à nommer une femme Cardinal ? "D’où est sortie cette blague ?", a-t-il tout bonnement écarté dans "la Stampa" du 15 décembre.

Le pape ne dit rien, en revanche, sur l’ordination éventuelle d’hommes mariés. Cela peut-il faire partie des non-dits où les lignes peuvent bouger ?

Si le cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, coordinateur du conseil des huit cardinaux chargé de la réforme, a émis l’idée de mettre un "couple marié" à la tête du Conseil pontifical pour la famille, l’hypothèse paraît là aussi douteuse. D’autant que ce Conseil pontifical pourrait se voir fondu dans un ensemble plus large. En revanche, une véritable Congrégation pour les laïcs pourrait voir le jour.

4 Les homosexuels

Si une personne est gay et cherche le Seigneur et qu’elle est de bonne volonté, mais qui suis-je pour la juger ?"

Lancée dans l’avion qui le ramenait du Brésil en juillet 2013, cette phrase est peut-être la plus connue et la plus commentée du pape François. Du moins dans sa version tronquée : "Qui suis-je pour juger ?". Et décontextualisée. En effet, le pape répondait à une question précise, qui portait sur Mgr Battista Ricca, le prélat qu’il venait de nommer comme conseiller pour la réforme de la banque du Vatican et dont l’homosexualité venait d’être révélée dans les médias italiens. La phrase lui valut néanmoins les honneurs de la célèbre revue LGBT américaine Advocate et a été accueillie comme une phrase symbolique de la bienveillance papale. En invitant les pasteurs à mieux "accompagner" les homosexuels, François prône ainsi une Église qui "considère la personne" avant de "condamner".

"La pensée de l’Eglise, nous la connaissons et je suis fils de l’Eglise, mais il n’est pas nécessaire d’en parler en permanence. Les enseignements, tant dogmatiques que moraux, ne sont pas tous équivalents, déclare Bergoglio. Nous devons donc trouver un nouvel équilibre, autrement l’édifice moral de l’Eglise risque lui aussi de s’écrouler comme un château de cartes, de perdre la fraîcheur et le parfum de l’Evangile".

Même s’il souhaite étudier les raisons pour lesquelles des Etats ont pu adopter des unions civiles, le pape rappelle que le mariage est "l’union d’un homme et d’une femme".

5 La famille et la question des divorcés-remariés

La question des divorcés remariés, très attendue par l’opinion publique, est une source de crispations actuellement au Vatican. On l’a vu dernièrement au consistoire préparatoire au synode sur la famille qui s’est tenu les 20 et 21 février à Rome et dont le cardinal français Paul Poupard redoutait qu’il se termine en "guerre civile". "Les confrontations fraternelles et ouvertes font grandir la pensée théologique et pastorale. De ceci je n’ai pas peur, plutôt je le cherche"¸ a cependant assuré le pape François.

"Je crois que ce temps est celui de la miséricorde", avait-il déclaré au retour des JMJ de Rio. Ce qui ne veut pas dire suppression de l’interdiction pour eux de communier. Le "non" a été formulé par le préfet de la congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, Mgr Gerhard L. Müller. Le pape argentin a néanmoins donné des signes d’espoir et d’ouverture, en choisissant le cardinal théologien Walter Kasper pour ouvrir le consistoire.

Dans son discours inaugural, ce dernier, connu pour ses positions progressistes, a en effet émis l’idée d’un "nouveau développement" concernant l’épineuse question des divorcés remariés, suggérant que la pratique actuelle serait "contre-productive". Le cardinal propose ainsi des solutions vers un sacrement de pénitence. Cette voie ne serait cependant pas une solution générale mais s’adresserait au petit nombre de ceux qui seraient sincèrement intéressé par les sacrements. Des pistes de réflexion qualifiées de "théologie sereine" par le pape François qui défend par ailleurs la famille traditionnelle si "maltraitée, dépréciée", mais "plan lumineux de Dieu".

La question n’est pas celle de changer la doctrine mais d’aller en profondeur et faire en sorte que la pastorale tienne compte des situations et de ce qu’il est possible de faire pour les personnes", a-t-il tenu à préciser dans sa dernière interview du 5 mars tout en saluant le "génie prophétique de Paul VI", auteur de l’encyclique Humanae Vitae qui fermait la question de la contraception.

Prudent, le pape François veut donc replacer la morale à sa "juste place" sans rien lâcher sur la doctrine. Ayant choisi le mode de la collégialité sous la forme de deux synodes en 2014 et 2015, aucune conclusion ne devrait voir le jour avant la fin des travaux ecclésiastiques.


Cinéma: Hollywood confirme Malraux (Year of the Bible: Hollywood gets religion)

1 mars, 2014
https://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/d3b2a-bibleemmyminiseriesbillboard.jpghttp://www.sonofgodmovie.com/assets/Son_Of_God_poster_small.jpg
Notre civilisation sera contrainte de trouver sa valeur fondamentale ou elle se décomposera. Malraux
Le problème capital de la fin du siècle sera le problème religieux, sous une forme aussi différente de celles que nous connaissons que le christianisme le fut des religions antiques. Malraux
Je pense que la tâche du prochain siècle, en face de la plus terrible menace qu’ait connue l’humanité, va être d’y réintégrer les dieux.
Notre crise est celle de la civilisation la plus puissante que le monde ait connue. [...] En face de nous, ce n’est pas la nature de l’homme qui est en cause, c’est sa raison d’être [...]. Et notre réponse, c’est : « A quoi bon conquérir la Lune, si c’est pour s’y suicider? Malraux
On m’a fait dire que le XXIe siècle sera religieux. Je n’ai jamais dit cela, bien entendu, car je n’en sais rien. Ce que je dis est plus incertain. Je n’exclus pas la possibilité d’un événement spirituel à l’échelle planétaire. Malraux
Over the next 11 months, Hollywood is planning to release more big Biblical movies than it put out during the previous 11 years combined, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down in 2015 (or beyond). For an industry that spent much of the 2000s shying away from explicitly religious fare—the controversy over the alleged anti-Semitism of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ effectively wiped out the genre, despite the film’s huge box office receipts—it’s a remarkable about-face that’s as surprising as it is sudden. Consider the 2014 release schedule. On Feb. 28, Twentieth Century Fox is first out of the gate with Son of God, a Jesus biopic culled from the History Channel’s hit 2013 miniseries The Bible. (A Bible sequel titled A.D. is set to air next year on NBC.) Paramount is up next in March with Noah, director Darren Aronofsky’s epic re-imagining of the life of the Old Testament’s most famous ark-builder (played by Russell Crowe). Debuting in April is Heaven is for Real, starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a boy who claims to have passed through the pearly gates during a near-death experience, and both the Mother of God drama Mary (Ben Kingsley, Julia Ormond) and Ridley Scott’s Exodus (Christian Bale, Aaron Paul) follow in December, right in time for awards season. And that’s just 2014. Other faith-based projects kicking around Hollywood include a Cain and Abel movie directed by Will Smith; a Pontius Pilate picture starring Brad Pitt as the titular villain; an absurdist comedy about the Rapture (Kevin Smith’s Helena Handbag); and an HBO drama about the same apocalyptic reckoning (The Leftovers).  (…) It’s no secret that the industry is stuck in a bit of a rut. The demand for blockbusters is bigger than ever, but there are only so many comic books to mine for characters and stories, and you can’t reboot the Spider-Man franchise or churn out Iron Man sequels forever. The Bible, meanwhile, has chapter after chapter and verse after verse of (to put it crassly) action-packed material—Moses, David, Job, Jesus, Revelation, and so on—plus a "fanbase" that’s even larger and more avid than Marvel Comics’. "When we looked at it we saw that around about 50 million Americans sit in a church each week," Burnett explains. "On a monthly basis that’s almost 150 million, because not everybody goes every Sunday. And that community is tightly knit. The last thing Jesus said to his disciples was to go out and spread the word." No marketing budget is big enough to buy the kind of word-of-mouth that flows organically through the Christian community, and no secular endorsement has the power to influence as many viewers as, say, Rick Warren’s or Joel Osteen’s. The potential payoff, as studio executives now seem to be realizing, is huge. But there may be more to 2014′s Bible resurgence than cold, hard cash. Burnett, for one, believes that viewers are more open to messages of spiritual uplift in the wake of the 2008 financial crash than they may have been in an earlier, more comfortable age. "Part of it has to do with hope," he says. "I feel like a lot of people, as a result of what happened in 2008, are still hurting. And they’re relying upon their faith. Joel Osteen on Sunday mornings gets more than 7 million viewers. That’s more people watching than some primetime network TV shows." My sense is that politics is playing a part as well. In the Age of George W. Bush, religion was a polarizing force in the public sphere. Evangelicals were on the march for the GOP; less devout (or vocal) Americans felt somewhat besieged. But with Obama in office, the religious right is no longer as powerful as it once was, and the old, divisive battles over "values" seem to have waned. This may have had two effects—subtle but real—on moviegoing audiences. The first is that the sort of Evangelicals who took center stage during the Dubya years might feel a little "left out" at this point—meaning they’re especially eager to participate in any mainstream cultural event that’s willing to cater to them (such as The Bible). The second is that less fervent Americans no longer recoil from anything that smacks of overt religiosity because responding that way no longer feels as politically urgent as it did in, say, 2004. As a result the hard-core Christian community may be more ready than ever for a movie such as Exodus—and rest of America may be more open to it. The Daily Beast
Saddest of all, Diogo Morgado, the Portuguese actor in the lead (yes, another Euro-Jesus) has been directed to a performance that resembles little more than a kind of strange, smug hippie, the blissed-out organic market employee talking down to you about hemp milk. This is a Son of God already posing for his resurrection close-up. Movies.com
The standard casting cliche has been followed as to Jesus — the handsome Portuguese actor, Diogo Morgado, who plays him, still looks more like a modern beach bum than a 1st-century Israelite — but the rest of the actors have interesting and unknown faces. Greg Hicks is particularly good as Pontius Pilate (always the juiciest role in these films). … To its credit, this is one of the few movies to emphasize Jesus’ heritage (we see him reading from Torah, and being given a Jewish burial) and to de-emphasize the anti-Semitism that can be a part of Passion Plays. (In this telling, it’s not "the Jews" who really want Jesus silenced, but mostly one threatened elder.) … After the ugliness of "The Passion of the Christ" and, frankly, its filmmaker, that’s very welcome – as is a film which, once again, chooses to emphasize a message of total honesty and loving forgiveness. … But there’s little fresh or daring here. As controversial as "Passion" or "The Last Temptation of Christ" were, at least they presented very personal visions of this ancient story; whether you felt they were enlightening or blasphemous, they took risks. They dared all. … But when it comes to "Son of God" — well, the film is willing. But its spirit is weak. NJ
In the first ninety minutes, the movie seems to go out of its way to avoid the pitfalls of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” which featured, in between lengthy scenes of torture, a panoply of hook-nosed Yids straight out of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” … Indeed, “Son of God” is at its most interesting when it deviates from rushing through the New Testament’s Greatest Hits (a loaves & fishes here, a “cast the first stone” there) and tries to imagine the political situation in Jerusalem under Roman rule. For much of the movie the high priest Caiaphas, long hissed at in Passion Plays throughout history, is cast in a somewhat friendly light. There’s a poignant moment – quite possibly the only artful scene in the whole film – which intercuts Jesus’ agonized prayers at Gesthemene with Caiaphas and company in a similar plea for divine guidance at the Temple. (Because three is a nice number, Pontius Pilate’s wife, who has had visions of Jesus in a dream, prays to the Roman gods as well.) For a brief moment, Sympathy For Caiaphas seems the unlikely tune. … ‘Son of God’ is at its most interesting when it deviates from rushing through the New Testament’s Greatest Hits (a loaves & fishes here, a ‘cast the first stone’ there) … For this first part of the move, the Jews are shown to be a tough spot – pushed around by the Romans and forced to deal with pesky agitators in their own community. One of them is the nasty looking Barabbas. With a bald head and scarred face he’s seen ranting about taxation like the angriest of the Occupy Wall Street set. (The other Bible movies – and I’ve seen them all – usually position Barabbas as just a mere thief. However, the Gospel According to John does refer to him as a “bandit,” which was a term also used for “revolutionary,” so we’ll let that slide.) Caiaphas is more like Mayor Carcetti on “The Wire” — a little bit corrupt, sure, but somewhere down there wants to do good, or at least just wants things to go easy, but is subject to other, more powerful forces. … When Jesus comes to town on the back of a donkey (with about ten extras cheering him on – this movie is CHEAP), Caiaphas makes a tough call. If he doesn’t do something about this new rabble-rouser the Romans are going to come down on the Jews hard. He gives Jesus an opportunity to back off, but Jesus faces Caiaphas down and in the way that will do the most damage – he claims to be the son of God. … So, here’s the part where this stops being just a movie and starts to involve peoples’ beliefs. If you’ve never heard of Jesus before you are possibly going to be on Caiaphas’ side here. This guy claims to be the son of God, but he knows that saying so is going to make everyone crazy (and is so blasphemous that it is punishable by death). Believers will be cheering him on. Anyone who wants to maintain peace and order will think “what is WITH this guy?” … As a movie, “Son of God” is a disaster. The acting is wretched, the camerawork is lazy, the cutting is hamfisted and the screenplay is a mess. It is both an abridged version of the mini-series and previous unseen footage. An example: we don’t hear anything about John the Baptist until someone shouts at Jesus, “your friend John the Baptist is dead!” We cut to Jesus looking sad. There’s a flash to a man with dreadlocks dunking Jesus in water. And that’s it. No context, no nothing. … Newcomers to the Greatest Story Ever Told may be mystified by scenes like this, but one thing will be made abundantly clear – Caiaphas and his cabal of Jews were real jerks. Once they decided to dispense with Jesus they were ruthless about it. The moment when the crowd petitions Pilate to release Barabbas is revealed to have been a total set-up. They papered the house, keeping followers of Jesus outside of the town square (a really small and cheap and fake looking town square, by the way) to make sure that when Pilate asks for the name of a prisoner to spare, no one suggests Jesus. … As Barabbas is released a pained Mary Magdalene shrieks “Jesus!” at the top of her voice. As we hear this we cut to Caiaphas, his head covered in Rabbinical-looking robes, laughing. Pilate, disgusted, asks the crowd “you choose a MURDERER?” None of the assembled speaks up for Jesus. This is not, as they say, Good For The Jews. Now, maybe it happened this way. What do I know? But, I suspect that it didn’t. In fact, scholars reject the idea of Romans releasing prisoners in this fashion – it only exists in the Gospels. What I do know is that this moment in the story has caused centuries of tsuris for the Jews. I also know that this movie, which will be distributed by 20th Century Fox, is going to be seen by an awful lot of Americans in areas who don’t actually see and know Jews in real life. (Nor do they know anyone from the Middle East, so they won’t blink when they see a a very white Irish woman playing Mary, but that’s another story.) Times of Israel
The stories — Noah’s Ark, the Exodus, the tumbling walls of Jericho, the crucifixion and resurrection — are likely well-known to just about anyone who spent time in Sunday school or saw any of the various other attempts at Bible adaptations over the years, including the star-studded Cecil B. Demille network perennial “The Ten Commandments.” So the challenge is to bring something new to well-trodden ground; and in the just over three hours that I sampled, there were few fresh elements on display beyond contemporary CGI updates of spectacles like the parting of the Red Sea and the vision of the burning bush. Instead, “The Bible” takes a familiarly earnest and plodding approach with a lot of overwrought acting by a cast of a thousand accents. (Noah sounds Scottish; many of the Israelites hail from England, apparently; and the Pharaoh appears to be American.) The styles of acting also range from very natural to Shakespearean melodrama to almost too contemporary. (At one point, when Abraham is dealing with the displeasure of Sarah and Hagar, he appears to look skyward with a “Women, amirite?”-type expression.) It may also be impossible to intone phrases like “Let my people go” after so many iterations with anything resembling freshness. But the proclivity for the kind of bellowing normally reserved for Captain Kirk railing against Khan starts to become comical as each character histrionically shouts up to the heavens in turn: “Isaac!” “Moses!” “David!” To Downey and Burnett’s credit, unlike the perfectly coiffed movie stars of yore, there is a lot of dirt in the first few hours, contributing to a palpable sense of heat, grime, and blood. And while it would be impossible to please everyone when dealing with such sensitive (and, to many, sacred) material, you can feel the heartfelt solemnity throughout. It’s clear they take the work seriously. Theological scholars can determine whether “The Bible” achieves the stated goal of endeavoring to “stay true to the spirit of the book,” but as entertainment, even the most faithful believers might find some scenes unintentionally comic or snoozy, or wish for a stronger cast, direction, and writing to bring these stories to life once again. As is, “The Bible” sometimes feels too facile, like a colorful Sunday school pop-up book come to life, albeit one with much more graphic violence (which some parents might want to preview before sharing with their kids). The Boston Globe
The Bible, on the other hand, doesn’t amount to much more than a further piece of evidence that drama and reverence don’t mix well. (To be fair, it would be the prohibitive favorite if only there were an Emmy for Screenplay In Which The Sentences ‘God Has Spoken To Me’ and ‘God Will Provide’ Are Said the Most Times.) With the pace of a music video, the characterizations of a comic book and the political-correctness quotient of a Berkeley vegetarian commune — laughably, the destruction of Sodom is depicted without the faintest hint of the sexual peccadillo that takes its name from the city — this production makes Cecil B. DeMille look like a sober theologian. The Bible marks the first attempt at drama by reality-show maven Mark Burnett, whose soul I would consider in serious jeopardy if it hadn’t already been forfeited during the second season of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? The Miami Herald
Et si Jésus était le plus beau mec à avoir jamais marché sur l’eau ? Et si Noé avait un accent écossais ? Et si Marie avait été sauvée d’une foule en folie par Joseph ? Et envisagez cette hypothèse : et si la famille de Loth avait été sauvée par un ange spécialiste des arts martiaux ? Bienvenue dans The Bible, vue à travers les yeux de Roma Downey et de son mari, Mark Burnett, le génie derrière Survivor et The Apprentice (…) Est-ce que cette mini-série va être un carton ? Bien entendu ! Il y a des millions de Juifs et de Chrétiens souhaitant des programmes religieux au milieu de ce désert de sexe et de violence à la télévision. le New York Post
The Bible a la malchance de paraître bien cheap à côté du festin d’effets proposé par Vikings [ndlr: diffusée le même sur la chaîne History]. Et le niveau de jeu des comédiens n’est pas assez convaincant pour oublier ce handicap. Cette première fiction produite par Mark Burnett est une preuve irréfutable qu’il devrait continuer à faire ce que personne ne fait aussi bien que lui. La télé réalité est son royaume.  Uncle Barky
C’est dommage, vraiment, parce cette mini-série a visiblement nécessité des heures de travail et de réflexion. Aucun doute sur la sincérité et le sérieux de l’effort non plus. Mais il lui manque la passion et l’interprétation. Ils ont rassemblé les plus grandes histoires de la Bible, rajouté par-dessus les effets spéciaux en CGI requis – Les nuages qui défilent ! Le tonnerre ! Les éclairs ! Les chutes d’eau ! – pour les raconter aussi gracieusement que possible. The Bible n’offensera sans doute personne. Mais il est aussi peu probable qu’elle inspire qui que ce soit. Newsday
The Bible, ou plutôt la vision proposée par Burnett et Downey, est une production magnifique et qui en met plein les yeux. Mais c’est aussi une mini-série plate et souvent ennuyeuse, même quand elle verse dans la frénésie, peu importe le volume de la bande-originale composée par Hans Zimmer. Les dialogues sont convenus, avant tout fonctionnels et souvent surjoués.  Los Angeles Times
Les spécialistes en théologie pourront juger de la qualité de cette mini-série et de son objectif de "rester fidèle à l’esprit du livre". Du simple point de vue du divertissement, même le plus dévoué des croyants ne pourra pas s’empêcher de trouver certaines scènes comiques ou assommantes, et regrettera une distribution plus solide, une meilleure réalisation ou écriture pour ces histoires éternelles. En l’état The Bible paraît parfois trop creuse, comme un livre distribué aux cours de catéchisme, avec juste un peu plus de violence que d’habitude. The Boston Globe
Les motivations derrière cette adaptation sont à coup sûr sincères mais l’approche trahit paradoxalement un manque de foi dans le pouvoir de ces histoires bibliques. La Bible est un conte lyrique et épique aux multiples épaisseurs, dans lequel les destins des personnages se confondent avec la destinée générale, et au sein duquel les échecs côtoient les victoires. Burnett et Downey, leurs acteurs et leurs scénaristes ne montrent pas forcément le talent de transcender cette complexité et de lui rendre justice. Ils en sont réduits à des simplifications de base dans lesquelles les méchants sont trop souvent de risibles caricatures.  The New York Times
The Bible n’est rien d’autre qu’une preuve supplémentaire que le drame et la révérence ne font pas bon ménage (…) Par exemple la destruction de Sodome est montrée sans la moindre mention ou évocation des petites pécadilles sexuelles qui y avaient lieu. Cette production fait passer Cecil B. DeMille [ndlr: le réalisateur des Dix commandements] pour un austère théologien. The Miami Herald

Hollywood se serait-il mis en tête de réaliser à lui tout seul la prophétie de Malraux ?

A l’heure où, en cette veille de Pâques et avant, en cette "année du film biblique" dix ans après le scandale de la "Passion" de Mel Gibson, "Noah" et "Exodus" puis l’an prochain la suite de la mini-série télé …

Sort "Son of God", la version cinéma centrée sur un Jésus au look peace and love de rigueur pour laquelle des églises ont réservé des cinémas entiers à travers les Etats-Unis …

Retour sur la minisérie du producteur de téléréalité Mark Burnett pour la chaine américaine History channel dont il est tiré ("The Bible", 10 épisodes et en un peu moins d’heures, de la Genèse à la ressurection du Christ)…

Et qui avec quelque 100 millions de téléspectateurs avait été un incroyable succès l’an dernier aux Etats-Unis (reprise dans 18 pays dont la France sur Paris première en décembre 2013 et disponible fin avril 2014 en DVD) …

“The Bible”, une série qui peut provoquer des crises de foi
Séries TV | De Noé à Jésus, “The Bible”, minisérie boursouflée, se résume à une suite de tableaux poussifs. Qui a pourtant fait un carton d’audience outre-Atlantique.
Pierre Langlais
Télérama
06/03/2013

Les Américains sont très croyants. C’est la seule explication sensée au succès immense de The Bible, minisérie lancée dimanche 3 mars 2013 sur la chaîne History outre-Atlantique. Créée et produite par Roma Downey et Mark Burnett – déjà coupables des Anges du Bonheur, une bondieuserie des années 90 – elle a attiré 13,1 millions de téléspectateurs lors de sa première soirée, un record sur le câble cette saison.

Ouvert sur Noé nous racontant les sept jours de la création (sous des litres de flotte), ce premier chapitre se referme sur le passage (lui aussi très arrosé) de la mer Rouge par Moïse. Entre-temps, il a fallu expédier la vie d’Abraham, la fin de Sodome, le buisson ardent, les dix plaies d’Egypte… Bref, un énorme programme à régler en une heure trente chrono. Inspirés par Les Dix Commandements de Cecil B. DeMille, Downey et Burnett revendiquent le sérieux de leur entreprise, et la liste considérable d’universitaires et de religieux qui les ont conseillés. Sans doute serait-il intéressant de montrer le résultat de leurs efforts à d’autres spécialistes moins impliqués, mais ce n’est pas le sujet ici.

Pour le critique athée, cette Bible-là n’a pas grand-chose à offrir. A vouloir condenser à l’excès les histoires du livre sacré, elle se résume à une suite de tableaux poussifs, où les personnages sont rapidement dessinés, réduits à leur mission – un trait qu’on retrouve en un sens dans la Bible, mais accentué ici, comme le reste. Emportés par leur foi, les auteurs en oublient tout simplement de faire une fiction. Ils se livrent à un exercice religieux sans doute émouvant pour certains croyants, mais qui passe régulièrement les frontières du ridicule pour les autres.

Tout n’est ici que ralentis, grandes répliques définitives les yeux tournés vers le ciel et « morceaux de bravoure » boostés aux effets spéciaux de piètre qualité, la minisérie ayant coûté environ 22 millions de dollars pour sept heures trente de programme, ce qui est assez peu selon les standards américains. A voir leurs postures, Abraham et ses successeurs, certes éclairés par Dieu, avaient aussi la certitude qu’ils allaient finir dans un bouquin majeur et, surtout, dans la minisérie qui en serait tirée – sinon, pourquoi surjoueraient-ils à ce point-là ? De plus, selon The Bible, ça castagnait sévèrement dans l’Ancien Testament. Un des anges chargés de faire le ménage à Sodome, un Asiatique, éclate la tête des méchants en mode kung-fu, deux fois plus fort que dans Kill Bill…

Si vous avez lu la Bible, même en diagonale, vous n’apprendrez strictement rien ici. Le récit risque au contraire de vous sembler extraordinairement réducteur. Les autres découvriront quelques événements majeurs en version grand spectacle. The Bible, c’est la « Bible pour les nuls » façon show à l’américaine. Loin de moi l’envie de blasphémer, mais d’un pur point de vue artistique, ça ne vaut pas grand-chose. Un récit moins ampoulé, plus intelligent, servi par des auteurs peut-être moins aveuglés par leur foi (et par leur mauvais goût) serait bien plus intéressant. Reste à savoir si 13,1 millions de téléspectateurs américains y auraient consacré leur dimanche soir…

Holey ‘Bible’

Linda Stasi

The NY Post

March 2, 2013

What if Jesus were the handsomest dude to have ever walked on water? What if Noah had a Scottish brogue — and what if the Virgin Mary got shoved around by a crowd, only to be rescued by Joseph?

And ponder this possibility: could Lot’s family actually have been saved by a martial arts angel — as opposed to merely being “Touched By An Angel?

Welcome to “The Bible” as seen through the eyes of “Angel’s” Roma Downey, and her husband, Mark Burnett , the genius behind “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.”

This staunchly Christian couple has created a 10-part series that opens with Noah in the ark telling his family the story of Adam and Eve as they and the animals are being rocked by savage seas.

“The Bible” then goes into fast-forward mode through Noah and Genesis, all in Episode One, so we can get to the juicy bits in the other episodes.

We’re then treated, in slow-motion, to the travails of Abraham and the Israelites in the desert; the revelations by teenage Moses; and the parting of the Red Sea, which is better than Cecil B. DeMille’s parting, although in all fairness, CBD didn’t have the miracle of CGI.

Much of this is tediously drawn out, with crazy fly-overs between Biblical Chapters that may make you think it’s “Survivor: Holy Lands,” which, of course, it is.

After all, those Biblical figures did live on forever through The Bible after being brought before their own tribal councils.

Things really pick up when Jesus — played by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, who looks like a surfer dude, particularly in the shot-from-below, walk-on-water sequence — shows up. Morgado is very good in the part, although he sure doesn’t look the part.

Most of the other roles are taken by Brits (who look nothing like their roles since they look nothing like Middle Easterners).

The main exception to the Brit rule is Downey, who got the plumb role of the Virgin Mary. Of course she’s a producer of “The Bible” who’s married to the other producer, so it’s not likely she’d end up in the secondary role of Lot’s salty wife.

Since the last two episodes (the crucifixion and resurrection) hadn’t been edited by screening time, it’s impossible to say how good they are, but the trailers look very good.

Will this series be a hit? You bet. There are millions of devout Jews and Christians starving for religious programming in the er, desert of sex and violence on TV.

Not that the real Bible isn’t filled with plenty of both.

Difference is, you can’t make this stuff up.

History (Channel) further follows the scripts by filling Sundays with Vikings and The Bible

Ed Bark

National TV Reviews & News

03/01/13

/…/

Back in the mid- to late 1990s, the TNT network mounted an ambitious series of Old Testament Bible tales spotlighting Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, Samson, Delilah and others.

Stars in lead roles included Richard Harris, Ben Kingsley, Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Landau, Dennis Hopper, Diana Rigg, Leonard Nimoy, F. Murray Abraham and Oliver Reed.

The Bible, produced by reality maestro Mark Burnett (The Apprentice, Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank), comes off as thoroughly cut-rate in comparison. Beginning with a brief glimpse of Noah in his Ark before moving to the story of Abraham, it’s over-cooked and sometimes really half-baked. As when one of God’s angels, played by an Asian actor, twirls two swords Ninja-style to dispatch some bad guys while fire bolts rain down on Sodom.

Save for Burnett’s wife, Roma Downey (as Mary in later episodes), viewers are unlikely to recognize any of the "acclaimed UK-based actors" striding through The Bible. The guy playing Abraham, Gary Oliver, is a real scenery-chewer. "Trust in God!" he bellows in Jon Lovitz’s "Master Thespian" fashion as the story moves rapidly through the travails of the ancient sacrificer and his wife, Sarah.

Narrated by Keith David, a familiar voice to Ken Burns devotees, The Bible "endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the book," according to an opening advisory. In that respect, Burnett at least doesn’t resort to having pirates attack Noah’s Ark (as NBC did in a silly 1999 miniseries). Nor does Jesus go to outer space with the devil (as He did in CBS’ 2000 Jesus miniseries while being tempted in the desert).

Sunday night’s second hour re-tells the very oft-told story of how Moses freed the Israelites from centuries of slavery by the Egyptians. Pharoah gets a jagged facial scar this time around, the product of a teen boy fight with his half-brother. He’s also chubby and very redundant while the actor playing Moses at times looks a lot like William H. Macy’s disheveled lead character in Showtime’s Shameless. Compared to Charlton Heston, he otherwise makes no impression at all.

Pharoah comes off as a laughable raging bull who also gets stuck with the line, "You always were a fighter, Moses. But you never knew when you were beaten."

The resultant fabled parting of the Red Sea is strictly pedestrian from a special effects standpoint. Maybe these stories are just too well-known at this point. They’ve certainly been better told on film.

The bulk of Jesus’ story begins in Episode 7, with Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado very pretty looking in the early going. But he emotes to fairly good effect during the Garden of Gethsemane segment, in which he begs, "Father, take this from me. Spare me."

Episode 8 ends just before the torture and crucifixion of Jesus begin. And that portion of The Bible wasn’t made available for review.

But Sunday night’s previews of coming attractions — both at the beginning and the end — are long and detailed enough to basically give viewers the entire series in a nutshell. Not that most adults aren’t already well-versed.

The Bible has the misfortune of looking cheap in comparison to the visual feast provided by the Vikings. And the acting isn’t nearly strong enough to overcome this.

Producer Burnett’s first fully scripted series — his 2004 Commando Nanny for The WB never made it to the air — provides strong evidence that he should resume doing what no one else does better. "Reality" series are his forte. The Bible is Old and New Testament to that.

GRADE: C

‘The Bible’ review: No testament to inspiration

Verne Gay

Newsday

March 1, 2013

THE SHOW "The Bible"

WHEN|WHERE Starts Sunday night at 8 on History

WHAT IT’S ABOUT This 10-hour film — with a score by Hans Zimmer, narrated by Keith David and produced by reality TV magnate Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, who also stars as Mary — is a dramatic retelling of several major Biblical stories, including: Genesis, Sarah and Abraham, and the Exodus (Sunday); Joshua’s quest to secure the Promised Land, the prophet Samuel and King David (March 10), Daniel, and then into the New Testament, with the birth of Jesus (March 17); Jesus and his disciples and the betrayal by Judas (March 24); then the Passion and Revelation (March 31). With Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as Jesus.

MY SAY Since the creation of the motion picture camera, there have been hundreds of films and TV movies based on the Bible — no fewer than five "Ten Commandments," for example — and each has relied to a greater or lesser degree on creative license. They’ve had to and the reason is obvious — the Bible didn’t come with set directions, or tips about tracking shots or crossfades, or all that much expository dialogue, either. (Hey, it was called The Word, after all, not "The Picture.")

But license is vital, and because so much has been taken, great work — even numinous work — has been the result. But more often than not, Biblical cornhuskings are the byproduct, and from what I sampled (three hours) here, Burnett and Downey’s ambitious and plodding "The Bible" falls in the latter category.

It’s too bad, really, because clearly a great deal of work and thought has been put into this. There’s no doubting the sincerity or earnestness of the effort, but what’s missing is passion or interpretation.

They’ve taken the big stories, added the requisite CGI special effects — Fast-shifting clouds! Thunder! Lighting! Towering walls of water! — and retold them as blandly as possible.

This "Bible" probably won’t offend anyone, but it’s hard to imagine it will inspire anyone, either.

BOTTOM LINE Big, sprawling and flat

GRADE C

Review: History’s ‘The Bible’ an epic, epically overwrought, tale

History channel’s new 10-episode miniseries ‘The Bible’ is a good-looking, Westernized production but it’s also often tiresome.

R obert Lloyd,

March 02, 2013

Los Angeles Times

History channel, which for so many years seemed dedicated primarily to discovering how many documentaries might be extracted from the Second World War — the Hitler Channel was its joking sobriquet — has been branching out. Last year, its "Hatfields & McCoys" miniseries set basic-cable records and was nominated for 16 Emmys (and won five). Sunday brings its first scripted drama, "Vikings," and another miniseries, "The Bible," scheduled so that it ends on Easter.

There are millions if not billions who take the Bible as literal truth, but it is not history as we commonly understand the word. There are historical components to the series, of course — decisions have been made about costumes and settings and incidental behavior, and some of the narrative in the New Testament episodes has been lifted from other ancient texts — but the series is ultimately a work of the imagination; indeed, it could have used a little more.

Its creators are Mark Burnett, the man behind "Survivor" and "The Voice" and other monuments of reality television, and his wife Roma Downey, who starred in "Touched By an Angel" (and plays Jesus’ mother, Mary, in her older scenes). They are not in it for the money: "I’ve loved Jesus all my life," Downey told the Christian Post recently, adding that "Casting began with prayer."

Theirs is a Christian view, in which the Old Testament is a prophetic prelude to the New. Five of the 10 hours are taken up with Jesus — the last of them, post-crucifixion, follows the fortunes of the apostles — which allows that story more room to breathe The first five are a bit of a greatest-hits package, hurried along by the narration of Keith David, whose voice you know as well as your own, and titles reading "12 years later," "40 years later" and so on.

Many viewers will be satisfied that TV is telling these stories at all, and not even on a Christian network, though they do make their way pretty regularly to the tube. They are, after all, the most illustrated stories in the West. That the Bible itself does not offer much in the way of description or dialogue leaves a lot of space for elaboration that has kept it adaptable through the ages, the source of works of high and low art over millenniums, from medieval mystery plays to the songs of the Golden Gate Quartet, from small painted icons to huge Gothic cathedrals. But it is the source of much awful kitsch too.

"The Bible" according to Burnett and Downey is a handsome and generally expensive-looking production, but it is also flat and often tedious, even when it tends to the hysterical, and as hard as the Hans Zimmer soundtrack strains to keep you on the edge of your sofa. The dialogue is pedestrian and functional — sometimes it has the flavor of having been made up on the spot — and often overacted, as if in compensation. It is "psychological" only in obvious ways, with the poetry of the King James version all but ignored.

If Bible stories have been an occasion for slipping a little more sex into the culture than the culture was quite ready for, "The Bible" stays modest on this account. (I have not seen episodes dealing with David and Bathsheba or Samson and Delilah — six of 10 were provided for review — so I may be proved wrong on this account.) You get a bit of the bare shoulder of Hagar, the servant girl Abraham impregnates, anxious to father the nation God has promised him. The sins of Sodom are represented by kissing, dancing and fire-eating.

Violence, on the other hand, gets a good workout — it’s in the book, after all — with all the brutal modern touches. (Squelchy sound effects, slow motion.) In one notable scene, an angel (Asian, for inclusiveness) finishes off a pair of attackers with a two-handed stab out of a martial arts movie. This is for the kids, I guess.

As the episodes depicting Christ’s condemnation and crucifixion were not available, I can’t address their explicitness or what is perhaps the central interpretive question of such a film — the degree to which whether it blames Pilate or "the Jews" for the death of Jesus. I certainly wouldn’t call the film anti-Semitic, yet it does play to mainstream Western images of Christ:, the postcard, gentile Jesus, depicted as a tall, good-looking European, while his opponents … aren’t.

He is played here by Diogo Morgado, who is Portuguese, with a smile that practically defines the word "beatific." And then the trouble starts.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

————————–

‘The Bible’

Where: History

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Rating: TV-14-V (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with an advisory for violence)

Television Review

The good book translates into a bad series

Sarah Rodman

The Boston Globe

February 28, 2013

Given how many epic, sprawling, multi-character stories about good, evil, and the gray areas in between have found their way to television in the past few years — from HBO’s fantastical yet earthy “Game of Thrones” to the swords, sandals, and sexcapades of Starz’s soon to conclude, and underrated, “Spartacus” — it makes sense that someone decided to apply anew the “biblical proportions” approach to the actual source material for that phrase.

That those someones are reality show Midas Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” and “The Voice”) and his wife, Roma Downey (“Touched by an Angel”), may be a surprise to those unaware that the pair are devout Christians.

The 10-hour, five-part “The Bible” — the first two-hour installment of which premieres Sunday at 8 p.m., and which concludes, naturally, on Easter — is a passion project for the couple.

Downey, who also costars as Mother Mary, and Burnett take a sort of “greatest hits” approach to the bestseller, splitting time between the Old and New Testaments. The stories — Noah’s Ark, the Exodus, the tumbling walls of Jericho, the crucifixion and resurrection — are likely well-known to just about anyone who spent time in Sunday school or saw any of the various other attempts at Bible adaptations over the years, including the star-studded Cecil B. Demille network perennial “The Ten Commandments.”

So the challenge is to bring something new to well-trodden ground; and in the just over three hours that I sampled, there were few fresh elements on display beyond contemporary CGI updates of spectacles like the parting of the Red Sea and the vision of the burning bush.

Instead, “The Bible” takes a familiarly earnest and plodding approach with a lot of overwrought acting by a cast of a thousand accents. (Noah sounds Scottish; many of the Israelites hail from England, apparently; and the Pharaoh appears to be American.)

The styles of acting also range from very natural to Shakespearean melodrama to almost too contemporary. (At one point, when Abraham is dealing with the displeasure of Sarah and Hagar, he appears to look skyward with a “Women, amirite?”-type expression.)

It may also be impossible to intone phrases like “Let my people go” after so many iterations with anything resembling freshness. But the proclivity for the kind of bellowing normally reserved for Captain Kirk railing against Khan starts to become comical as each character histrionically shouts up to the heavens in turn: “Isaac!” “Moses!” “David!”

To Downey and Burnett’s credit, unlike the perfectly coiffed movie stars of yore, there is a lot of dirt in the first few hours, contributing to a palpable sense of heat, grime, and blood. And while it would be impossible to please everyone when dealing with such sensitive (and, to many, sacred) material, you can feel the heartfelt solemnity throughout. It’s clear they take the work seriously.

Theological scholars can determine whether “The Bible” achieves the stated goal of endeavoring to “stay true to the spirit of the book,” but as entertainment, even the most faithful believers might find some scenes unintentionally comic or snoozy, or wish for a stronger cast, direction, and writing to bring these stories to life once again. As is, “The Bible” sometimes feels too facile, like a colorful Sunday school pop-up book come to life, albeit one with much more graphic violence (which some parents might want to preview before sharing with their kids).

God’s Word, the Greatly Abridged Version

‘The Bible’ Mini-Series on the History Channel

Neil Genzlinger

The NYT

March 1, 2013

Mark Burnett, an impresario of reality television, has surely encountered the question before: How do you make viewers believe what they’re seeing? Did those “Survivor” contestants really eat that stuff? Would any of these seemingly intelligent “Apprentice” candidates actually want to work for Donald Trump?

Mr. Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, gave themselves a chance to tackle the ultimate make-me-believe-it challenge when they decided to produce “The Bible,” a 10-hour dramatization that begins on Sunday on History. Instead of embracing this challenge, they ducked it, serving up a rickety, often cheesy spectacle that is calculated to play well to a certain segment of the already enlisted choir but risks being ignored or scorned in other quarters.

The mini-series certainly seems unlikely to be much of a recruitment tool for Christianity, putting the emphasis on moments of suffering rather than messages of joy, and not just when it comes time for the Crucifixion. In this heavy-handed treatment, having Jesus born in a manger is not enough; the arrival also has to occur during what looks like a typhoon. Because why have a moderate amount of hardship when you can have an excess of it?

The feelings behind the series may be sincere — Ms. Downey has said that she and her husband “felt called to do this” — but the approach here actually shows a lack of faith in the power of the biblical stories. The real Bible is a layered, often lyrical epic in which personal journeys are intertwined with collective ones, and human failings bump up against human strivings.

Mr. Burnett and Ms. Downey, their actors (Ms. Downey herself is one) and especially their adapters don’t have nearly the skill to translate such a thing to the small screen in a way that does justice to its complexity. The best they can do is a black-and-white simplification in which villains often come across as laughable caricatures because the creators are so eager to make sure that everyone realizes that they’re villains.

Mel Gibson, of course, already proved that there is a substantial audience for a suffering-heavy treatment of Christianity with “The Passion of the Christ.” But Mr. Gibson’s movie had the advantage of a narrow focus. By taking on the entire Bible, even at 10 hours in length, Mr. Burnett and Ms. Downey force themselves into a clumsy “Bible’s greatest hits” approach.

This doesn’t serve the source material — so rich in interconnections across time — very well, and it doesn’t make for very involving television. Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel and the other great biblical figures aren’t really developed in a way that illuminates them or makes them linger in our minds; they are simply called forth to perform a set piece or two. It’s like a trip through a Christian theme park. “Next stop on the tour, ladies and gentlemen: the Noah’s ark tableau, followed by the Daniel in the lion’s den diorama.”

That might be tolerable if effort had gone into providing some connective tissue to relate the scenes organically. Instead a bland narration fills the gaps between them, covering leaps of decades or even centuries, not to mention some of Christianity’s pivotal tenets. It is the narrator who announces that God has given Moses the great laws of life, the Ten Commandments, a curiously momentous thing to leave to a voice-over.

The result is a mini-series full of emoting that does not register emotionally, a tableau of great biblical moments that doesn’t convey why they’re great. Those looking for something that makes them feel the power of the Bible would do better to find a good production of “Godspell” or “Jesus Christ Superstar.” And those thinking that the ancient miracles might be better served by the special effects available in 2013 than they have been in previous versions should prepare for disappointment. The Red Sea parts no more convincingly here than it did for Charlton Heston in 1956.

The Bible

History, Sunday nights at 8, Eastern and Pacific times; 7, Central time.

Produced for History by Lightworkers Media and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication. Created by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey; Mr. Burnett, Ms. Downey and Richard Bedser, executive producers; Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs, executive producers for History; Keith David, narrator; Hans Zimmer, composer.

WITH: Roma Downey (Mother Mary), Diogo Morgado (Jesus Christ), Darwin Shaw (Peter), Sebastian Knapp (John), Amber Rose Revah (Mary Magdalene), Greg Hicks (Pilate) and Simon Kunz (Nicodemus).

Voir enfin:

Differences from the Bible

In the introduction to each episode, the message is displayed “This program is an adaptation of Bible stories that changed our world. It endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the book.” Roma Downey stated in an interview, “we had a great team of scholars and theologians helping us, making sure that we told these stories accurately and truthfully,” However, many of the story elements in the series have been criticized as deviating from the events described in the traditional text, and using too many creative licenses. These are included below:

In the book of Genesis, the angelic visitors were approached by Lot who insisted that they stay with him. Then they feasted with Lot in his home. The series shows the angels approaching Lot, begging for help with no hospitality extended to them.(Genesis 19:1-5)

The text describes a mob gathered outside of Lot’s home wanting to rape his two angelic visitors, and Lot offering his daughters instead. The series omits this. (Genesis 19:4-10)

At the destruction of Sodom, the series shows the angels slaughtering some of the city’s inhabitants. Critics refer to these as "Ninja Angels". This is not in the text. (Genesis 19:1-17)

The series shows Abraham traveling with Isaac, a very short distance to the place where he was to sacrifice his son. In the Bible it is a three day journey and the two are accompanied by a donkey and two attendants. (Genesis 22:1-4)

The series shows Sarah running after Abraham once she realizes he is going to sacrifice Isaac. This is not in the text.[39] (Genesis 22:1-19)

In the Binding of Isaac, the text describes a ram (adult) caught by its horns in a thicket. The miniseries depicts a juvenile lamb caught by its leg (Genesis 22:13)

After David’s affair with Bathsheba and the killing of Uriah the Hittite, he is confronted by Nathan. The series depicts David as resistant or even indignant, whereas in the text, David is remorseful for his sin and admits his guilt, leading him to write Psalm 51 and beg forgiveness from God (2 Samuel 12:13, Psalms 51)

When the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem, Jeremiah is depicted as escaping unnoticed by the invaders. In the text Jeremiah is captured, bound in chains and later released[40] (Jeremiah 39:11-40:6)

The show depicts Daniel and his three compatriots being captured during the siege, when in fact, they were deported more than a decade before Jerusalem’s destruction[40] (Daniel 1; 2 Kings 24:10-16)

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue, the miniseries depicts them as being tied up, with a fire lit under them. In the text, the king orders the three to be thrown into a furnace that was heated seven times hotter than usual. In fact, the text describes the furnace as being so hot, that some of Nebuchadnezzar’s "strongest soldiers" who threw them in there where killed by the flames while doing so. (Daniel 3:19-23)

The miniseries’s depicts the prophet Isaiah as a contemporary of Daniel, living during the time of the Babylonian exile. This is a major inconsistency with the text as Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus the Persian would release the captives after a period of time. This prophecy occurred 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before Cyrus performed any of these feats (and he did, eventually, perform them all), and 80 years before the Jews were taken into exile meaning that Daniel, Cyrus and Isaiah could never have existed contemporaneously at the same time. (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; and 45:13).

In the miniseries’ depiction of the Temptation of Christ, the Devil took Jesus to a high mountain when he tempted Jesus to throw himself down. In the text, the Devil tempted Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. The high mountain was where the devil tempted Jesus to worship him. (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13)

Voir par ailleurs:

Entertainment

Hollywood Declares 2014 the Year of the Bible

The Daily Beast

01.09.14

Russell Crowe is Noah. Christian Bale is Moses. Brad Pitt is Pontius Pilate. With pages of action and a faithful fanbase, Hollywood is mining the good book for blockbuster stories.

Pop quiz: How many of the top 15 highest-U.S.-grossing movies of all time—adjusted for inflation—star comic-book characters?

Answer: Zero.

And how many are based on the Bible?

Answer: Two.

In the late 1950s, The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur teamed up for $1.795 billion in adjusted domestic ticket sales. That’s more than Avatar, The Dark Knight, and Transformers combined.

Which may explain, at least in part, why the movie industry seems—unofficially, of course—to have declared 2014 The Year of the Bible.

Over the next 11 months, Hollywood is planning to release more big Biblical movies than it put out during the previous 11 years combined, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down in 2015 (or beyond). For an industry that spent much of the 2000s shying away from explicitly religious fare—the controversy over the alleged anti-Semitism of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ effectively wiped out the genre, despite the film’s huge box office receipts—it’s a remarkable about-face that’s as surprising as it is sudden.

Consider the 2014 release schedule. On Feb. 28, Twentieth Century Fox is first out of the gate with Son of God, a Jesus biopic culled from the History Channel’s hit 2013 miniseries The Bible. (A Bible sequel titled A.D. is set to air next year on NBC.) Paramount is up next in March with Noah, director Darren Aronofsky’s epic re-imagining of the life of the Old Testament’s most famous ark-builder (played by Russell Crowe). Debuting in April is Heaven is for Real, starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a boy who claims to have passed through the pearly gates during a near-death experience, and both the Mother of God drama Mary (Ben Kingsley, Julia Ormond) and Ridley Scott’s Exodus (Christian Bale, Aaron Paul) follow in December, right in time for awards season.

And that’s just 2014. Other faith-based projects kicking around Hollywood include a Cain and Abel movie directed by Will Smith; a Pontius Pilate picture starring Brad Pitt as the titular villain; an absurdist comedy about the Rapture (Kevin Smith’s Helena Handbag); and an HBO drama about the same apocalyptic reckoning (The Leftovers).

And so, given all the Biblical hustle and bustle currently consuming Hollywood, it seems like an appropriate time to ask: What the devil is going on?

Earlier this week, I decided to put that question to the man who may have done more than anyone else in the industry to ressurect movies like The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur for 2014: Mark Burnett. The British-born producer famous for Survivor, The Apprentice, Shark Tank, and The Voice, among other reality-series, Burnett is also a devout Christian (along with his wife, the actress Roma Downey). While watching The Ten Commandments on TV with their children for the umpteenth time, Burnett and Downey had an epiphany. "Our kids were like, ‘This is not that great,’" Burnett tells me. "The special effects are quite obvious. These kids are used to Superman and Batman. People’s first memories of the Bible are usually either a movie or a piece of art. So we thought an updated version could be really powerful."

The resulting 10-hour series, The Bible—Burnett’s first scripted project—debuted on the History Channel on March 3, 2013. It was very popular (to put it mildly). The series premiere attracted 13.8 million viewers; the second and third installments pulled in about 11 million each; the finale beat AMC’s The Walking Dead and HBO’s Game of Thrones. All told, The Bible racked up about 100 million cumulative viewers over a six-week period, making it the third most-watched cable series or miniseries of 2013. Even the DVD was a hit, moving 525,000 copies in its first week to become the fastest-selling disc of the last half-decade. "A lot of people said to us, ‘Nobody’s going to watch The Bible in primetime TV. You guys are crazy,’" Burnett says. "But Roma and I said, ‘We think you’re completely underestimating this faith-based, Christian audience.’ And we proved that it was enormous, and that it makes sense to create something in that world."

‘This is not a subject like doing a western or sci-fi. You can’t just make it and hope for the best.’

Now other Hollywood bigwigs seem to have taken notice (including the bigwigs at 20th Century Fox, the studio that snapped up Burnett’s Son of God shortly after The Bible scored such impressive ratings.) Which brings us to the first of three reasons I think 2014 is shaping up to be the Year of the Bible: money.

It’s no secret that the industry is stuck in a bit of a rut. The demand for blockbusters is bigger than ever, but there are only so many comic books to mine for characters and stories, and you can’t reboot the Spider-Man franchise or churn out Iron Man sequels forever. The Bible, meanwhile, has chapter after chapter and verse after verse of (to put it crassly) action-packed material—Moses, David, Job, Jesus, Revelation, and so on—plus a "fanbase" that’s even larger and more avid than Marvel Comics’. "When we looked at it we saw that around about 50 million Americans sit in a church each week," Burnett explains. "On a monthly basis that’s almost 150 million, because not everybody goes every Sunday. And that community is tightly knit. The last thing Jesus said to his disciples was to go out and spread the word." No marketing budget is big enough to buy the kind of word-of-mouth that flows organically through the Christian community, and no secular endorsement has the power to influence as many viewers as, say, Rick Warren’s or Joel Osteen’s. The potential payoff, as studio executives now seem to be realizing, is huge.

But there may be more to 2014′s Bible resurgence than cold, hard cash. Burnett, for one, believes that viewers are more open to messages of spiritual uplift in the wake of the 2008 financial crash than they may have been in an earlier, more comfortable age. "Part of it has to do with hope," he says. "I feel like a lot of people, as a result of what happened in 2008, are still hurting. And they’re relying upon their faith. Joel Osteen on Sunday mornings gets more than 7 million viewers. That’s more people watching than some primetime network TV shows."

My sense is that politics is playing a part as well. In the Age of George W. Bush, religion was a polarizing force in the public sphere. Evangelicals were on the march for the GOP; less devout (or vocal) Americans felt somewhat besieged. But with Obama in office, the religious right is no longer as powerful as it once was, and the old, divisive battles over "values" seem to have waned.

This may have had two effects—subtle but real—on moviegoing audiences. The first is that the sort of Evangelicals who took center stage during the Dubya years might feel a little "left out" at this point—meaning they’re especially eager to participate in any mainstream cultural event that’s willing to cater to them (such as The Bible). The second is that less fervent Americans no longer recoil from anything that smacks of overt religiosity because responding that way no longer feels as politically urgent as it did in, say, 2004. As a result the hard-core Christian community may be more ready than ever for a movie such as Exodus—and rest of America may be more open to it.

So by mining the good book for blockbuster stories, Hollywood may be on to something. But as rewarding as the approach may seem, it’s worth remembering that it’s not without risks as well. In Burnett’s opinion, The Bible succeeded in large part because it was faithful to its source material. "What’s critical when you’re dealing with the Bible is that you’re accurate," he says. "The first thing we did was to get a group of 40 church leaders and run scripts by them. There is an enormous audience, but it is very serious. This is not a subject like doing a western or sci-fi. You can’t just make it and hope for the best. There’s a way to get a massive audience if you’re faithful, and there’s also a potential backlash if you’re not. And the backlash would be pretty enormous."

Seems like someone at Paramount agrees. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the studio recently demanded changes to Aronofsky’s Noah after screenings for religious groups in New York and Arizona generated "troubling" responses. At the time, Aronofsky was "dismissive," according to a talent rep with ties to the project. But apparently the studio is aware of a possibility that its auteur prefers to ignore. Sure, the lucrative faith-based audience can giveth—but it can also taketh away.

Voir enfin:

"Nul n’est prophète" : Malraux et son fameux "XXIe siècle"

Brian Thompson Université du Massachusetts Boston

Plus de trente ans après la mort de Malraux sa fameuse phrase selon laquelle « le XXIe siècle sera religieux [ou spirituel, ou mystique] ou ne sera pas », continue à faire couler de l’encre ou à agiter les Internautes, à conforter les uns, à provoquer ou exaspérer les autres. Ce qui est certain, c’est qu’elle reste très présente dans l’esprit des gens, et bien au-delà de l’Hexagone. Elle trouve un écho dans les milieux les plus divers: culturels, politiques, sociaux, religieux, scientifiques, et même commerciaux. Les uns croient qu’elle est en train de se réaliser — pour le meilleur ou pour le pire — , d’autres espèrent qu’elle se réalisera au fil des années, d’autres encore craignent qu’elle ne se réalise, étant donné les désastres dont la religion porte au moins en partie la responsabilité.

La phrase de Malraux continue à être citée, paraphrasée, détournée ou déformée pour dire tout et son contraire. Un bref survol de quelques exemples:

Le collectif Peter Pan « pour la survie des rêves » annonce, en paraphrasant Malraux et en encourageant davantage d’efforts pour la politique culturelle de la France: « le 21e siècle sera culturel ou ne sera pas » 1 . Ghaleb Bencheikh, dans une interview avec l’équipe de rédation d’ African Geopolitics / Géopolitique Africaine , perd 2 légèrement les pédales en paraphrasant Malraux mais déclare que « le 21e siècle sera féminin ou ne le sera pas » 2 . (Ailleurs on affirme carrément que Malraux lui-même disait : le XXIe siècle sera féminin ou ne sera pas 3 . ⤠ . De même, mais plus honnêtement, François Planque note que « [l]’impact de l’homme sur la nature n’a jamais été aussi problématique. Malraux aurait dit que le 21e siècle « sera spirituel ou ne sera pas »; peut-être dirait-il aujourd’hui qu’il sera écologique ou ne sera pas [...] » 5 , tandis que dans la Conférence de Paris pour une gouvernance écologique mondiale, tenue les 2 et 3 février de cette année, José Manuel Durão Barroso, Président de la Commission européenne, a détourné la phrase “attribuée” à Malraux en disant que « le 21e siècle sera environnemental ou ne sera pas » 6 . D’autres scientifiques s’y mettent joyeusement, des ingénieurs chimistes par exemple, prévoyant une pléthore de poursuites en justice et paraphrasant la « fausse » ( fake ) citation « apocryphe » sur le XXIe siècle « mystique » comme suit: « le 21e siècle sera juridique ou il ne sera pas » 7 . Parlant à quelque 400 scientifiques, académiques et politiques lors d’un séminaire sur les « Directions de la science au 21e siècle: Perspectives indiennes et françaises » organisé par l’Académie nationale indienne de sciences et l’Ambassade de France à New Delhi le 17 février 2003, l’Ambassdeur de France en Inde, Dominique Girard, insistait sur la responsabilité des scientifiques de considérer les conséquences graves de leurs avancées technologiques qui vont en s’accélérant en ce début du XXIe siècle (rejoi gnant en cela certains soucis de Malraux). Ils devront mettre des questions éthiques au cœur de leur réflexion car « le 21e siècle sera éthique ou il ne sera pas » 8 . Dans une revue de scientifiques 9 comme dans une  3 revue pour consommateurs éthiques 10 , nous lisons que « le 21e siècle sera le siècle de l’éthique ou ne sera pas ». Cette formulation—« le siècle de [...] »—a un certain succès et se prête à de nombreuses variantes. Ainsi, toujours partan t de la phrase de Malraux, le XXIe siècle sera-t-il « le siècle de la communication » 11 , « le siècle des abus du langage » 12 , « le siècle des chemins de fer » 13 , « le siècle de l’hybridité » 14 , « le siècle du dialogue » 15 , sans oublier « le siècle de la religion » 16 et « le siècle de la spiritualité »—langage qui pénètre jusque dans le profil qu’une entreprise japonaise brosse d’elle-même puisque l’un de ses trois principes de base s’inspire de Malraux sur ce plan. 17 Vu les vagues de pauvres qui déferlent sans discontinuer sur les pays riches, l’Académicien, Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, se moquant gentiment, dans Le Monde , de la prédiction de Malraux, conclut que le XXIe siècle sera le siècle du partage ou ne sera pas 18 .

Pour le journaliste politique du Figaro en Inde et en Asie du sud, François Gautier, le XXIe siècle sera « l’ère de l’Est » 19 , l’Inde seule étant en mesure de sauver notre monde qui s’en va à vau-l’eau sur le plan écologique, social et politique. Des branchés en informatique et Internet proclament que « [m]ême le Seigneur se numérise » : « Malraux l’avait prédit : « le 21e siècle sera religieux ou ne sera pas!» Mais, aurait-il pu ajouter — s’il avait eu accès à Internet, bien entendu — , ce siècle risque fort toutefois d’être celui de la religion… en ligne» 20 . La phrase a donc la vie dure. Pourtant, il y en a qui 1) nient carrément que Malraux l’ait jamais prononcée, ou 2) mettent, plus modestement, sa paternité en question, ou 3) se disputent simplement sur le terme exact qu’il a (ou aurait) employé. Regardons-y de plus près. 4 Olivier Germain-Thomas fait remarquer, avec raison que je sache, que Malraux n’a jamais écrit ni publié ni laissé publier de son vivant cette phrase précise au-dessus de sa signature 21 . Il conclut que la phrase la plus citée de Malraux est « un faux ». Mais il est d’accord avec moi pour dire que sur un plan du moins, c’est du pur Malraux, car Malraux avait le goût et le don de la formule : « Il aura donc été puni par là où il a péché : le goût des formules ». Dans un texte plus récent, pourtant, Germain-Thomas s’en prend à la chute de la formule : « Pour qui fréquente ses tournures, le « sera ou ne sera pas » sonne comme une copie de pacotille. Quand il ramassait sa pensée dans une fulguration de mots, il y mettait au moins de la poésie » 22 . Ce qui n’empêche que deux poètes l’avaient précédé dans cette voie, René Ghil (1862-1925) au début de ce siècle : « Dans le futur, la poésie sera une science ou ne sera pas! » 23 et André Breton qui proclamait que « la beauté sera convulsive ou ne sera pas » 24 . Quoi qu’il en soit, de telles formules lapidaires et frappantes reviennent souvent sous la plume de Malraux. On en verra une autre revenir à plusieurs reprises ci-dessous. Olivier Germain-Thomas est loin d’être le seul à affirmer que Malraux n’a jamais prononcé la fameuse phrase. En novembre 2000, Antoine Terrasse répond à une interrogation sur les propos de Malraux sur la spiritualité du XXIe siècle: "En fait, Malraux n’a jamais dit : « le XXIe siècle sera religieux ou ne sera pas » mais « le grand problème du XXIe siècle sera celui des religions » et encore, dernière phrase de son ouvrage «L’homme précaire…» : « [...] nous souviendrons- nous que les éléments spirituels capitaux ont récusé toute prévision [...]» 25 .

De même, Patrice de Plunkett, dans une grande conférence du Figaro, affirme que la fameuse phrase, ici avec le terme « spirituel », n’est pas de Malraux. 26 Un examen des manuscrits inédits de Malraux mène Marius-François Guyard, professeur émérite de Paris IV, à constater « qu’à deux reprises, du moins, il avait rédigé un net désaveu de paternité » de la phrase célèbre, la traitant, dans des corrections manuscrites, de 5 « formule ridicule » avant de trancher : « La prophétie est ridicule ». Quant à l’hypothèse, avancée par Max Torres dans le texte, d’une religion qui créerait un nouveau modèle de l’humanité, elle suscite chez son interlocuteur une réponse où le « oui » se mue en « sans doute » et, pour finir, en « peut-être » 27 . Dans une interview pour Le Point du 10 décembre 1975 Malraux est encore plus explicite: « On m’a fait dire que le XXIe siècle sera religieux. Je n’ai jamais dit cela, bien entendu, car je n’en sais rien. Ce que je dis est plus incertain. Je n’exclus pas la possibilité d’un événement spirituel à l’échelle planétaire ». En dépit de ce déni de l’intéressé lui-même, les citations de la phrase continuent bon train, que ce soit pour abonder dans le sens (supposé) de Malraux, pour la détourner, comme on l’a vu, à d’autres fins, ou pour dénigrer ou se moquer de Malraux ou de tout ce qui touche de près ou de loin aux domaines religieux ou spirituel, « ce fatras de calembredaines » 28 . Certains, modestes, indiquent que la phrase a été « attribuée » ou « prêtée » à Malraux. Beaucoup d’autres la citent comme si son authenticité allait de soi. Un dernier cas de figure, ce sont les témoins auriculaires qui affirment avoir entendu la phrase de la bouche même de Malraux. C’est le cas, notamment, d’André Frossard, journaliste émérite du Figaro, qui en témoigne de façon détaillée dans Le Point du 5 juin 1993: [...] la phrase de Malraux sur le XXIe siècle a bien été dite, j’en témoigne, puisqu’elle a été prononcée devant moi, au cours d’une conversation dans le bureau de la rue de Valois. Je ne me souviens pas de la date (en mai 1968, je crois), mais je me souviens de Malraux me disant, à propos des événements: « La révolution, c’est un type au coin de la rue avec un fusil; pas de fusil, pas de révolution ». Puis, passant comme toujours de l’histoire à la métaphysique, il a eu la fameuse formule que l’on cite toujours de façon inexacte. Il n’a pas dit: « Le XXIe siècle sera religieux… ou spirituel… », mais « Le XXIe siècle sera mystique ou ne sera pas », ce qui n’est pas du tout la même chose. Quant au sens de ce bizarre « ou ne sera pas », que l’on prend non moins bizarrement à la lettre, il signifiait que ce XXIe siècle, faute de retrouver l’élan initial de toute intelligence 6 du monde, n’aurait plus de pensée — ce qui équivalait pour Malraux à n’être plus 29 . Il est impossible, me semble-t-il, de limiter la citation, comme le fait ici André Frossard, au seul terme « mystique »; Malraux a très bien pu lui dire « mystique » à lui — je le crois volontiers sur parole — , et « religieux » ou « spirituel » à d’autres. Prétendre le contraire dépasse ce que André Frossard (ou qui que ce soit) est à même de savoir.

A mon avis, d’ailleurs, il y a très peu de différence entre ces trois termes dans l’esprit de Malraux. Pour lui, le mot « religion » (de religio, « lien ») porte sur ce qui relie l’homme au cosmos, aux autres hommes, éventuellement aux dieux ou à Dieu; comme l’indique Bettine Knapp, il « ne suggère pour Malraux ni hiérarchie ni organisation institutionnelle » 30 . C’est ce qui donne un sens à la vie, à toute l’entreprise humaine, c’est une communion avec le domaine du sacré, avec ce qui, en l’homme, dépasse l’homme. Comme Malraux le note dans sa préface à L’Enfant du rire , « le fait religieux fondamental appartient aujourd’hui pour nous au domaine métaphysique » 31 . Je ne suis pas non plus l’interprétation d’André Frossard du « ou ne sera pas »; j’y reviendrai. Dans son dernier livre, et jusqu’en quatrième de couverture, Claude Tannery refute comme apocryphe « la formule ressassée ad nauseam » 32 . Il dit connaître « les arguments des plus sérieux défenseurs de l’authenticité de cette phrase » mais continue à la tenir pour apocryphe, même si on remplace « religieux » par « spirituel » ou « mystique ». Il note, comme Marius-François Guyard, que Malraux a qualifié cette prédiction de « ridicule » et qu’il s’en est distancié. A part les « arguments » évoqués, que faire des témoins auriculaires comme André Frossard ou moi-même? Il faudrait supposer que chacun de nous—séparément, puisque nous ne sommes pas tous d’accord sur le terme exact— 1) ait inventé la phrase 7 de toute pièce et menti sciemment depuis (pour quelle raison?), ou 2) se souvienne mal de ce que Malraux nous a dit (chacun de la même façon, à un mot près?), ou 3) ait des « visions dans les oreilles » (là encore, presque identiques?). Est-ce que l’une ou l’autre de ces explications est plus crédible que les témoins auriculaires eux-mêmes? A mon avis, aucune des trois ne résiste à l’analyse. Les témoignages — du moins, celui d’André Frossard et le mien — si. Claude Tannery pense surtout que « le tout ou rien du « ou ne sera pas » n’appartient pas aux modes de pensée de Malraux ». Mais cette alternative est-elle si différente, dans sa forme comme dans son fond, de la conclusion que Malraux tire lors d’une interview accordée le 5 mai 1969 à la Radio-Télévision yougoslave et l’hebdomadaire belgradois Nin : « Notre civilisation sera contrainte de trouver sa valeur fondamentale ou elle se décomposera » 33 . A Claude Tannery ensuite de citer certains textes pour « refuter » l’authenticité de la fameuse phrase, dont un texte que j’ai cité ailleurs pour montrer à quel point elle était au contraire dans la droite ligne de la pensée de Malraux depuis au moins 1955 : « Le problème capital de la fin du siècle sera le problème religieux, sous une forme aussi différente de celles que nous connaissons que le christianisme le fut des religions antiques » 34 . On pourrait aussi citer, de la même année: « Je pense que la tâche du prochain siècle, en face de la plus terrible menace qu’ait connue l’humanité, va être d’y réintégrer les dieux » 35 . En 1970 Malraux souligne de nouveau l’opposition entre notre civilisation technologiquement avancée et le vide, le manque de sens, de raison de vivre, à son centre: [...] notre crise est celle de la civilisation la plus puissante que le monde ait connue. [...] En face de nous, ce n’est pas la nature de l’homme qui est en cause, c’est sa raison d’être [...]. Et notre réponse, c’est : « A quoi bon conquérir la Lune, si c’est pour s’y suicider? » 36 . 8 Malraux reprend la même formule dans Le Miroir des limbes : « Aucune civilisation n’a possédé une telle puissance, aucune n’a été à ce point étrangère à ses valeurs. Pourquoi conquérir la Lune, si c’est pour s’y suicider? » 37 Il y reviendra encore à la fin de sa préface pour L’Enfant du rire de son vieil ami, Pierre Bockel, ancien aumônier de la Brigade Alsace-Lorraine : Presque toutes les civilisations qui ont précédé la nôtre ont connu leurs valeurs, et même l’image exemplaire de l’homme qu’elles avaient élue. La civilisation des machines est la première à chercher les siennes. La fission de l’atome n’était pas encore découverte au temps où je constatais que la plus puisssante civilisation de la terre n’avait inventé ni un temple, ni un tombeau. Des livres comme celui-ci nous enseigne nt ce que les chrétiens attendent d’une résurrection de la foi, assurée par un retour aux sources, et dont la formule serait sans doute, en effet, que la véritable religion est la communion en Dieu. Il est possible qu’un croyant voie d’abord dans la transcendance le plus puissant moyen de sa communion. Il est certain que pour un agnostique, la question majeure de notre temps devient : peut-il exister une communion sans transcendance, et sinon, sur quoi l’homme peut-il fonder ses valeurs suprêmes? Sur quelle transcendance non révélée peut -il fonder sa communion? J’entends de nouveau le murmure que j’entendais naguère : à quoi bon aller sur la lune, si c’est pour s’y suicider? 38 Il est intéressant de noter ce que le père Bockel dit dans ce livre sur Malraux et sa vision du monde à venir: Ce prophète du siècle n’aperçoit de salut pour l’humanité qu’au travers d’une civilisation de type religieux, dont la nature lui paraît encore imprévisible, mais qu’il souhaite et prévoit comme la cond ition du véritable progrès humain (129).

Le père Bockel se demande si la révolution spirituelle qui accompagnait et prolongeait mai 68 n’était pas l’un des [p]remiers signes pour justifier la vision de Malraux, et de tant d’autres, sur l’avenir de la civilisation? Celle-ci, pensent-ils, sera religieuse ou se perdra. Car, 9 après l’échec de l’espoir fondé sur la science, voire sur la seule politique, quelle autre référence resterait-il à l’homme pour signifier la vie, lui offrir un sens et donner une direction à l’histoire? (200 ; c’est moi qui souligne). Si cette affirmation, avec sa forme de stri cte alternative, n’est pas au-dessus de la signature de Malraux, elle est en-dessous, dans un texte paraphé, pour ainsi dire, par la préface de Malraux. J’ai eu l’occasion de rencontrer Malraux pour la première fois en 1972 à Verrières-le-Buisson pour une interview pr éparée par des questions et des réponses écrites. Il m’a dit que nous étions la première civilisation dans l’histoire du monde à ne pas avoir de centre, de transcendance, qui l’informe en tant que civilisation. Très sensible à l’avancée de la technologie moderne et à ses dangers dans notre ère nucléaire, il s’inquiétait pour l’avenir d’une telle civi lisation sans centre, sans transcendance, et c’est là où il m’a dit : « Le XXIe siècle sera religieux ou ne sera pas ». Il a expliqué qu’il ne savait pas quelle forme cela prendrait : ou bien le renouveau d’une religion existante, ou bien une nouvelle religion, ou bien quelque chose de tout à fait imprévisible, comme il l’a souligné dans L’Homme précaire et ailleurs. Mais de toute façon, pour lui, ou bien notre civilisation retrouverait, en tant que civilisation, un centre, une transcendance, quelquechose qui donne un sens à la vie, ou bien nous nous ferions tous sauter en l’air puisque nous en avons maintenant les moyens techniques (« la plus terrible menace qu’ait connue l’humanité ») d’un suicide collectif, non sur la Lune mais ici même, sur la Terre. Le « ou ne sera pas » est à prendre à la lettre, nonobstant André Frossard. Quelques mois plus tard, le 12 novembre 1972, Claude Mauriac note dans son journal les propos de Malraux l’avant-veille, parlant d’une renaissance religieuse possible et opposant religion et science de façon binaire: Hier soir, Maurice Clavel a parlé. Et s’il a sorti sa formule préparée (littérateur, libérateur), il a aussi [...] répété ce qu’il nous disait l’autre matin, que nous avions 10 lu dans ses livres, et que Malraux, presque avec les mêmes mots, avait déclaré la veille (rencontre étonnante, troublante) : qu’une renai sssance religieuse se préparait, peut-être , disait Malraux (« C’est la religion ou la science [...] ») Sûrement , disait ou laissait entendre Clavel [...]. 39

Dans son dernier livre, comme le rappelle Antoine Terrasse, Malraux « évoque l’hypothèse d’un événement spirituel , qu’il appelle de tous ses vœux. Il est avide de quelque foi nouvelle. Car la connaissance scientifique, qui caractérise notre civilisation, « ne possède aucune valeur ordonnatrice ». Il existe une formule de l’énergie, mais non du sens de l’homme [ ... ] » 40 Claude Tannery cite une interview de Malraux avec son traducteur et ami japonais, Tadao Takémoto, interview que Germain-Thomas a pu placer précisément le 22 mars 1974 41 : « Si le prochain siècle devait connaître une révolution spirituelle, ce que je considère comme parfaitement possible — probable ou pas n’a pas d’intérêt, ce sont des prédictions de sorcier — je crois que cette spiritualité sera du domaine de ce que nous pressentons sans le connaître, comme le XVIIIe siècle a pressenti l’électricité avec le paratonnerre ». Ce « prédiction de sorcier » reflète sans doute l’extrême réticence de Malraux à prédire quoi que ce soit de façon directe et explicite, au risque de se faire traiter de « prophète » par des esprits simplistes — ce qui explique peut-être son déni d’avoir prononcé la phrase qui, comme nous l’avons vu, a été si souvent mal comprise, détournée et déformée à volonté par tout un chacun. En octobre 1975 Malraux répond, à la main et à l’encre rouge, à l’interrogation de son ancien collaborateur, André Holleaux, à propos du XXIe siècle, indiquant deux possibilités, l’une et l’autre imprévisibles dans le détail, dans des termes très semblables à ce qu’il m’avait dit trois ans auparavant : Le siècle prochain pourrait connaître un grand mouvement spirituel : nouvelle religion, métamorphose du christianisme — aussi imprévisible pour n[ou]s que 11 le fut celui-ci pour les philosophes de Rome, qui prevoyaient la fin, croyaient (supposaient) que le successeur serait le stoïcisme, ne pensaient pas aux chrétiens 42 . Le 12 mai 1976, donc quelques mois avant sa mort, Malraux s’adresse à la Commission des libertés de l’Assemblée nationale. Il note que « [t]outes les grandes civilisations, ordonnées par des valeurs suprêmes, généralement religieuses, ne fonctionnaient que parce qu’elles avaient conç u un type exemplaire de l’homme », mais non la nôtre où, depuis le 19e siècle, « la valeur suprême, reconnue ou non, c’est la science ». Puis, rappelant l’exergue que Marcellin Berthelot avait mis à l’Encyclopédie (« La Science est capable de tuer un bœuf, elle ne l’est pas de créer un œuf »), Malraux reprend, pour le fond sinon pour la forme, la chute de la fameuse phrase : « La plus puissante civilisation que l’homme ait connue, la nôtre, peut détruire la terre ; elle ne peut pas former un adolescent » 43 (c’est moi qui souligne). C’est, en clair, « la plus terrible menace qu’ait connue l’humanité », menace à laquelle Malraux espérait que le XXIe siècle trouverait une réponse adéquate.

Il est clair que Malraux, depuis au moins 1955 et sans doute auparavant (au temps où la « fission de l’atome n’était pas enco re découverte ») se souciait de ce qui se préparait à l’approche du XXIe siècle pour notre civilisation sans centre ni transcendance. Etant donné les avancées de la science et les dangers qu’elles comportent si elles sont vides de sens, il a distillé sa pensée en une formule frappante qui, toute seule et sans mode d’emploi, s’est prêtée à tous les détournements et déformations imaginables. Remise dans le contexte de tout ce que Malraux a dit et écrit dans la dernière partie de sa vie, elle prend tout son sens, non comme la prédiction d’un quelconque Nostradamus de foire, mais comme un sérieux appel de la part d’un « être spirituel ouvert aux plus hautes valeurs de l’homme », comme le décrit son ami, Pierre 12 Bockel 44 . Olivier Germain-Thomas, qui fréquentait Malraux dans les dernières années de sa vie, note que Malraux pressentait « la nécessité de retrouver des valeurs et une transcendance , faute de quoi notre civilisation volerait en éclats ». Lors d’une de leurs dernières rencontres, Malraux lui a dit: « Préparez-vous à l’imprévisible ». Bon consigne pour nous tous, dans ces premières années du XXIe siècle.


Martin Luther King/85e: Cachez cette religion que ne saurai voir ! (No religion please, we’re Americans!)

20 janvier, 2014
St MLKhttp://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/amos-5-24-2.jpghttp://www.amdoc.org/projects/truelives/pressroom/mayalin/images/03_mayalin.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/Westminster_Abbey_C20th_martyrs.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/28676-libertybellatlibertymiddle.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/a6560-freeatlast.pngMoïse monta des plaines de Moab sur le mont Nebo, au sommet du Pisga, vis-à-vis de Jéricho. Et l’Éternel lui fit voir tout le pays (…) L’Éternel lui dit: C’est là le pays que j’ai juré de donner à Abraham, à Isaac et à Jacob, en disant: Je le donnerai à ta postérité. Je te l’ai fait voir de tes yeux; mais tu n’y entreras point. Moïse, serviteur de l’Éternel, mourut là, dans le pays de Moab, selon l’ordre de l’Éternel. (…) Les enfants d’Israël pleurèrent Moïse pendant trente jours, dans les plaines de Moab (…) Il n’a plus paru en Israël de prophète semblable à Moïse, que l’Éternel connaissait face à face. Nul ne peut lui être comparé pour tous les signes et les miracles que Dieu l’envoya faire au pays d’Égypte contre Pharaon, contre ses serviteurs et contre tout son pays, et pour tous les prodiges de terreur que Moïse accomplit à main forte sous les yeux de tout Israël. Deutéronome 34 : 1-12
Comme tout le monde, j’aimerais vivre une longue vie. La longévité est importante mais je ne suis pas concerné par ça maintenant. Je veux juste accomplir la volonté de Dieu. Et il m’a autorisé à grimper sur la montagne! Et j’ai regardé autour de moi, et j’ai vu la terre promise. Martin Luther King (extrait de son sermon à la veille de son assassinat)
Que la droiture soit comme un courant d’eau, et la justice comme un torrent qui jamais ne tarit. Amos 5: 24
Que toute vallée soit exhaussée, Que toute montagne et toute colline soient abaissées! Que les coteaux se changent en plaines, Et les défilés étroits en vallons! Alors la gloire de l’Éternel sera révélée, Et au même instant toute chair la verra. Esaïe 40: 4-5
Et nous sommes déterminés ici à Montgomery, de travailler et de nous battre jusqu’à ce que la justice jaillisse comme l’eau et le droit comme un torrent intarissable. Martin Luther King (Montgomery, 1955)
Nous ne sommes pas satisfaits et ne le serons jamais, tant que le droit ne jaillira pas comme l’eau, et la justice comme un torrent intarissable. (…) Je rêve qu’un jour toute vallée sera relevée, toute colline et toute montagne seront rabaissées, les endroits escarpés seront aplanis et les chemins tortueux redressés, la gloire du Seigneur sera révélée à tout être fait de chair. Telle est notre espérance. C’est la foi avec laquelle je retourne dans le Sud. Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de distinguer dans la montagne du désespoir une pierre d’espérance. Martin Luther King (Washington, 1963)
Vous proclamerez la liberté dans le pays pour tous ses habitants. Lévitique 25: 10
Mon pays, c’est toi, douce terre de liberté, c’est toi que je chante. Terre où sont morts mes pères, terre dont les pèlerins étaient fiers, que du flanc de chacune de tes montagnes, sonne la cloche de la liberté ! Mon pays, c’est toi que je chante (ancien hymne national américain)
Enfin libres, enfin libres, grâce en soit rendue au Dieu tout puissant, nous sommes enfin libres !  Negro spiritual
Hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King, I ain’t usin’ it for the right thing, In between Lean and the fiens, hustle and the schemes, I put together pieces of a Dream I still have one …The world waitin’ for me to yell "I Have a Dream … Common
Now, the main thing, Martin Luther King wanted not to be a deity. He wanted to be just an ordinary man. He did not want to be a saint or viewed as a saint. He was just a human being, capable of becoming and producing and leading his people out of the wilderness of segregation into the promise land, saying to me, privately, long before he said it from the Memphis pulpit, "Ralph, I may not get there, but I have been to the mountain top." "Take my people on across this Jordan to the land of Canaan", "And I want freedom for all Americans." And he freed many white people and poor people who were black, American Indians, the native people of this country and he was just a marvelous and fantastic leader and I am surprised that they would center on four pages and I didn’t ever say that he had sex with anybody. I said that when I was awakened, he was coming out of the room with this lady and maybe, I don’t know what they did, he never told me he had sex with that lady. He may have been in there discussing and debating and trying to get her to go along with the movement, I don’t know, the sanitation workers track. I did not say that later that when we arrived at the motel, the Lorraine Motel, that he engaged in sex. I merely said that this Kentucky Legislator was there and when I discovered that he was in good hands, I took off and went to bed because it was about 1:30 to 2 in the morning. I did not try to dodge the issue. Ralph Abernathy (39:50-42:43)
Il y a, cependant, des considérations pratiques occasionnelles qui justifient les tergiversations, voire la répression. Au cours de la l’hystérie médiatique Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton a été neutralisé, incapable de mener à bien les tâches qui étaient les siennes avec le cafouillage sur les taches des robes bleues et la configuration exacte du pénis présidentiel. Il aurait pu être  désastreusement distrayant si, pendant la crise des missiles cubains, on avait appris que les frères Kennedy se faisaient Marilyn Monroe à tour de rôle. Les grandes affaires du monde sont plus importantes que ces anecdotes. La vision de MLK n’a pas encore été entièrement accomplie: jusqu’à qu’elle le soit, son héritage doit être protégé, comme l’a été la réputation publique des Kennedy en leur temps. Tant pis si cela requiert une dose d’aseptisation, la lutte continue pour les droits civiques n’est pas chose futile. Néanmoins, je préférerais de beaucoup voir le film de Greengrass que celui de Spielberg, pas vous? John Sutherland (The Guardian)
Du rififi à Montgomery Les studios Universal ont décidé de lâcher Memphis, un projet de film sur Martin Luther King porté par le réalisateur Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, United 93, Green Zone, la série des Jason Bourne…), qu’ils prévoyaient de sortir à l’occasion du prochain Martin Luther King Day, en janvier 2012. La raison officielle est qu’ils craignent que le film ne puisse pas être prêt à temps, mais il existe une raison officieuse, selon le site Deadline, qui a révélé l’information: «Les héritiers King se montraient très critiques envers le projet et ont exercé des pressions sur le studio pour qu’il l’abandonne. […] La famille aurait fait savoir qu’elle pourrait manifester publiquement son déplaisir concernant le scénario de Greengrass.» (…) «Il devait se concentrer sur les derniers moments controversés de Martin Luther King en mars-avril 68, de son combat pour les droits des éboueurs de Memphis à ses relations enflammées avec le président Johnson en raison de leur désaccord sur le Vietnam, en passant par sa vision du Black Power et de la classe ouvrière. Le film devait aussi s’attarder sur sa vie personnelle, alors qu’à l’époque sa tabagie s’intensifiait, son mariage s’effondrait et qu’il consommait des quantités déraisonnables de nourriture et d’alcool.»Un ami et confident de King, Andrew Young, ancien maire d’Atlanta, s’en est lui pris au projet dans les colonnes du quotidien britannique The Independent on Sunday: «Ce scénario était fondé sur des informations fausses. Des gens ont témoigné devant le Congrès du fait que le FBI avait fabriqué certaines informations, comme celle selon laquelle Martin et Coretta songeaient au divorce. […] C’est une histoire trop grandiose pour s’attarder sur des balivernes. […] Je veux que quelqu’un fasse pour Martin Luther King ce que Sir Richard Attenborough a fait pour Gandhi.» Deadline estime que cette attitude pourrait également s’expliquer par l’existence d’un autre projet porté par le scénariste Ronald Harwood (Le Pianiste de Polanski) et les studios Dreamworks de Steven Spielberg, qui ont payé les droits pour pouvoir utiliser les discours du leader des droits civiques. Un troisième projet sur Martin Luther King, Selma, du réalisateur Lee Daniels, a lui échoué à se lancer. Revenant sur cette affaire et sur celle de la mini-série sur les Kennedy tournée puis refusée par une chaîne américaine, le chroniqueur John Sutherland livre un point de vue ambigu dans The Guardian, en estimant qu’un certain degré de réécriture de l’Histoire peut encore se justifier: "La vision de MLK n’a pas encore été entièrement accomplie: jusqu’à qu’elle le soit, son héritage doit être protégé, comme l’a été la réputation publique des Kennedy en leur temps. Tant pis si cela requiert une dose d’aseptisation, la lutte continue pour les droits civiques n’est pas chose futile. Néanmoins, je préférerais de beaucoup voir le film de Greengrass que celui de Spielberg, pas vous?" Slate
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
Sad news. My MLK project involvement has ended. I did an extensive rewrite of the script, but the producers won’t go with it.
10:04 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
The script dealt w/ issues of adultery, conflicts within the movement, and King’s spiritual transformation into a higher, more radical being
10:13 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth.
10:21 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington
10:30 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
Martin, I grieve for you. You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans—but, thank God, not a saint.
10:39 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone has run smack into the same wall on a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr biopic that director Paul Greengrass hit when Universal kicked his MLK project Memphis to the curb two years back. Stone took to his Twitter account today to say that DreamWorks and Warner Bros rejected his script rewrite and that he was done with the movie that also had Jamie Foxx attached. It came down to the studios — which are in lockstep with the MLK estate that brought them the right to use his famous copyrighted speeches — rejecting Stone’s characterization of long-running rumors that King Jr. engaged in extramarital affairs. “I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth,” Stone tweeted. He also added a message directly to MLK: ‘I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington.” This is almost a carbon copy of what happened two years ago with Memphis, the superb script that Captain Phillips helmer Greengrass wrote and set at Universal with producer Scott Rudin. The project stopped in its tracks after a version of the script found its way to the King family, and Ambassador Andrew Young, who was one of Dr. King’s closest confidants during the turbulent Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. While Universal was never really clear on why it halted the movie, blaming scheduling, it is clear that a film disowned by MLK’s family might hurt its audience appeal. (…) I read the script for Memphis – which juxtaposed MLK’s final days, haunted by Hoover’s FBI, whose agents were then thrust into a ticking-clock thriller to find his killer — and found it to be exceptionally good, and the depiction of Dr. King with a woman who wasn’t his wife was presented in matter-of-fact fashion and wasn’t a focus of the story at all. It was just there. (…) I suggested that when films canonize subjects, audiences can sense it, and that is why good biopics mix reverence with warts-and-all treatment. (…) Stone had no choice to move off the project, which has to be blessed by Dr. King’s heirs. Greengrass has no such shackles. When I interviewed Greengrass recently, he promised that he will make the film. He just wants to do something else beforehand as he takes his time to find the right actor to play the Civil Rights leader. Here are the comments he made, right after the death of Nelson Mandela, whose recently released biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom showed the former South African leader in a less than flattering light that included extramarital affairs. By the way, it didn’t undermine Mandela’s evolution and heroism. (…) Greengrass told me recently. “I don’t think it will be next. I didn’t want Memphis to come out when it was all about the King of ‘I have a dream.’ There’s an arc to that very great life, somewhat the reverse of Mandela’s life. 1963 was a moment of transcendent oratorical achievement that in the following year ushered in busing rights and other civil rights acts. I was more interested in the King of ’68, very late in his life, when I think he was having a crisis of faith. That felt real to me. My family, on my father’s side, is strict Baptist. I understand the valleys and the mountains of growing up with that, in a British context. The way I see it is, any time between now and four or five years’ time it will be time to make that movie. I also need to meet the actor who’ll play him.” (…)  Even though there are pitfalls, fact-based films are often the most satisfying and enduring films Hollywood makes. But DreamWorks and Warner Bros are in a bind here. Stone is right, the forgettable biopics are the ones that are too reverent to their subject. “Martin, I grieve for you,” Stone wrote. “You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans–but thank God, not a saint.” Mike Fleming jr.
Nous ne rendons pas service à Martin Luther King et au pays qu’il a contribué à changer quand nous enjolivons l’image du tumulte social et politique déclenché par le mouvement pour les droits civiques, mouvement extrêmement controversé qui s’est heurté à une opposition acharnée. Tout comme King lui-même. On ne se souvient qu’imparfaitement de Martin Luther King, réduit à quelques fragments de rhétorique dans les gentils sermons du dimanche et à une silhouette de teinte sépia dans les parades scolaires. Si vous vous imaginez que King était un homme paisible et modéré sur le plan politique, passionné mais jamais provocateur, vous ne savez rien de lui. Vous avez fait d’une personnalité complexe une caricature. Il était bien plus que sa célèbre formule "Je fais un rêve". Les archives historiques montrent que King était rejeté comme un communiste – un traître – par une grande partie des citoyens américains, et non des moindres, tel le directeur du FBI de l’époque, J. Edgar Hoover. Alors que King incitait ses partisans à n’opposer aux chiens policiers et aux lances à incendie que des têtes baissées, on l’accusait de fomenter des violences.(…) Si King louait généreusement les responsables religieux blancs, juifs et catholiques compris, qui soutenaient le mouvement pour les droits civiques, il critiquait aussi férocement les hommes d’Eglise blancs qui ne le faisaient pas. Dans un entretien accordé en 1965 au magazine Playboy, il expliquait : "L’Eglise blanche m’a considérablement déçu. Alors que l’homme noir lutte contre une terrible injustice, la plupart des religieux blancs n’ont à offrir que de pieuses absurdités et de sentencieuses bêtises. Les paroissiens blancs, qui tiennent tant à se dire chrétiens, pratiquent la ségrégation dans la maison de Dieu avec la même rigidité que dans les salles de cinéma. Les croyants blancs sont bien trop nombreux à se montrer timides et inefficaces, et certains sont hystériques dans leur défense du racisme et des préjugés." Une des déclarations publiques les plus controversées de Martin Luther King a été sa dénonciation de la guerre du Vietnam, en 1967, lors d’un discours prononcé dans l’église de Riverside, à New York. Outre ses critiques à l’encontre de la guerre elle-même, il s’en est pris vertement au recours à la force de l’Amérique : "Je sais que jamais je ne pourrai de nouveau m’élever contre la violence dont font l’objet les opprimés dans les ghettos sans m’être d’abord exprimé sans ambiguïté à propos du plus grand pourvoyeur de violence dans le monde aujourd’hui, mon propre gouvernement." Les Vietnamiens "nous regardent empoisonner leur eau, détruire leurs récoltes par millions d’hectares. Jusqu’à présent, peut-être avons-nous tué 1 million d’entre eux, des enfants pour la plupart", avait-il déclaré. Cynthia Tucker
“It was a good speech,” says Clarence Jones, writer of the final draft. “Substantively it was not his greatest speech. But it was the power of delivery and the power of the circumstances. The crowd, the march, the Lincoln Memorial, the beautiful day. So many intangible things came together … It was a perfect storm.” A great speech is both timely and timeless. First and foremost it must touch and move its immediate audience. It needs to encapsulate the mood of a moment, reflect, and then amplify it. But it must also simultaneously reach over the heads of the assembled toward posterity. There are many excellent speeches so narrowly tailored to the needs of their particular purpose that their lasting relevance is limited. The “I Have a Dream” speech qualified on both counts. It was delivered in a year that started with Alabama governor George Wallace standing on the steps of the state capitol in hickory-striped pants and a cutaway coat declaring, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” and ended with President Kennedy’s assassination. The march was held just ten weeks after Wallace stood in a schoolhouse doorway to prevent black students from going to college, and little more than two weeks before four black girls were bombed to death in Birmingham, Alabama, during Sunday school. So it came at a turning point for both the civil rights movement and the country. The speech starts, both literally and metaphorically, in the shadow of Lincoln (King spoke at the Lincoln Memorial), ends with a quote from a Negro spiritual, and in between quotes the song “My Country ’Tis of Thee” while evoking “a dream rooted in the American dream” and drawing references from the Bible and the Constitution. (…) It speaks, in the vernacular of the black church, with clarity and conviction to African Americans’ historical plight and looks forward to a time when that plight will be eliminated ("We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating ‘for whites only’. No, no, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream"). Its nod to all that is sacred in American political culture, from the founding fathers to the American dream, makes it patriotic ("I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’"). It sets bigotry against colour-blindness while prescribing no route map for how we get from one to the other. ("I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists… little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.") Gary Younge
These green bars represent familiar songs and hymns and scriptures throughout the piece. These words were sacred to the audience because they’d read and sung them together. The orange bars are references to political documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of independence. … Now let’s look at that amazing climax of the speech … there’s a lot of green … Green, remember, is the spiritual songs and hymns …   the first batch of green is a scripture from the prophetic book of Isaiah making the audience fill as if they are fulfilling scripture. The second batch of green is a patriotic song "My countrys t’is of thee" … The fourth batch of green is the very famous negro spiritual "Free at last". This serves as a powerful ending to his new bliss. What Dr. King did is he reached into the hearts of his audience. He identified things that were already there and resonated deeply with those things and utilized them throughout his speech to persuade the audience to work towards equality for all men. Nancy Duarte
The Memorial has generated some controversy, first for the choice of a Chinese sculptor. It’s also been pointed out that one of the engraved quotations is broadly paraphrased rather than quoted exactly, and another, though spoken by King, was originally from a sermon given a century earlier by Theodore Parker. Be all that as it may, the sculpture, “The Stone of Hope,” (…) the concept derives from a line in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered 48 years ago tomorrow, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King said that with faith in the dream, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Yixin has shown King himself as a kind of stone of hope emerging out of the marble block. King’s language here, as so often, is deeply biblical. My uncle, Carl Scovel, a Unitarian minister, attended the March on Washington in 1963 and heard King and others speak. He said to me it was striking how biblical King’s rhetoric sounded, far more so than any of the other speakers. Hewing stone comes up a lot in the King James Bible. King may not be thinking of any particular passage, but there are several that he might have had in mind. Moses is commanded by God to hew two tables of stone that will become the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:1-4), for instance. And Jesus is buried in a tomb hewn out of the rock, with a stone rolled in front of it (Matthew 27:59-60). The Temple in Jerusalem is built by the workers of David and Solomon hewing stones out of the mountain (1 Chronicles 22, 2 Chronicles 2). One of the inscriptions on the walls of MLK memorial contains a passage from the prophet Amos that obviously spoke to King: he used it often, including during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and later in the “I Have Dream” speech. The wording on the memorial is from the Montgomery speech: “We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” In 1963, King modified the words slightly: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” The quoted verse is from Amos 5:24 and the language is that of the KJV, with the single exception of the word “justice.” The KJV translators chose “judgment” instead, but the word was altered to “justice” in the American Standard Version (1901), which King may have been remembering as well. (He could also have known the Revised Standard Version of 1952, which also has “justice,” but it changes “mighty stream” to “ever-flowing stream,” so King wasn’t remembering this translation.) The language of the King James Bible, its word choices, its rhythms and patterns of speech, have been a part of American public oratory for the country’s entire history, especially, though not exclusively, among African Americans. (Lincoln’s speeches were highly biblical.) Appropriately, at the inauguration of American’s first African American president, Barack Obama, the Rev. Joseph Lowry repeated the verse from Amos’s prophecy that was so important to Martin Luther King. In his benediction, Lowry looked forward, as King had done, to the time “when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.” Hannibal Hamlin
Four days after police arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. explained the Christian foundation of the civil rights movement he was about to lead. "I want to say that we are not here advocating violence," King said in a Dec. 5, 1955, speech at the Holt Street Baptist Church. "I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people," King said. "We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest." King, a Baptist minister and American patriot whose organization would be called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, wanted the nation to know that the civil rights movement was rooted in fidelity to Judeo-Christian morality and to America’s founding documents. "And we are determined here in Montgomery," King said that day in 1955, "to work and fight until justice ‘runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.’" In these last words, King was quoting from the Bible — Amos 5:24. A visitor to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., will find 16 statements from King carved in granite there. One is from his 1955 Montgomery speech. In its entirety, it reads: "We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’" This is as close as the memorial gets to acknowledging that King was a Christian clergyman who passionately argued that discrimination was wrong because it violated God’s law. The words "God," "Jesus" and "Lord" — ever-present in King’s speeches and sermons — are carved nowhere in the stones of the memorial dedicated in his name. King’s name is repeatedly carved into the memorial. But none of these carvings refer to him as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In all cases, he is called simply "Martin Luther King Jr." (…) Near the close of his "I Have a Dream" speech" — delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963 — King cites Isaiah 40:4-5. "I have a dream," said King, "that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’ "This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with," King said. "With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope" On the right side of the granite statue of King at the memorial, the last half of this last sentence is carved in stone: "Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope." The first half of the sentence — "With this faith, we will be able to hew" — is missing. Yes, the "faith" is missing. Just a few feet from this statue of King where the word "faith" has been edited from the passage of his "I Have a Dream" speech, there is a similarly secular quote from a sermon reprinted in King’s book, "Strength to Love." At the end of that sermon, King said: "Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him." The Rev. Martin Luther King was a Christian clergyman who became an American hero by standing up for the God-given rights our nation was founded to protect. It is a shame the name of God cannot be found at his memorial. Terence P. Jeffrey

Attention: un tabou peut en cacher un autre !

Au lendemain de la véritable overdose de panégyriques qui a suivi la mort d’autre grand saint laïque qui, à quelques arrangements près avec son passé de terroriste repenti a eu, lui, droit à plusieurs films …

Et en ce 85e anniversaire du pasteur baptiste et véritable apôtre (républicain, s’il vous plait!) de la lutte pour les droits civiques américain Martin Luther King (né Michael King) …

Comment ne pas s’étonner, 46 ans après sa mort-martyre, que l‘équivalent le plus proche de ce que les Américains puissent avoir d’un saint laïque n’ait toujours pas eu droit, malgré plusieurs récentes tentatives (les nombreux plagiats et les tout aussi multiples liaisons ne semblent décidément pas passer, du moins pour la famille King qui interdit aussi pour des raisons de droits la reproduction du fameux discours de 1963, la rampe de l’histoire ou en tout cas du cinéma grand public ?) , à aucun film ?

Mais surtout, contre toute vérité historique, que les divers monuments qui ont depuis été construits en son honneur aient pu à ce point gommer ce qui faisait justement la force et la résonance proprement prophétiques de ses discours et de son action …

A savoir non seulement les célébrissimes cadences mais la parole vive de la Bible elle-même ?

Missing From Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: God

Terence P. Jeffrey

CNS news

January 18, 2012

Four days after police arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. explained the Christian foundation of the civil rights movement he was about to lead.

"I want to say that we are not here advocating violence," King said in a Dec. 5, 1955, speech at the Holt Street Baptist Church.

"I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people," King said. "We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest."

King, a Baptist minister and American patriot whose organization would be called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, wanted the nation to know that the civil rights movement was rooted in fidelity to Judeo-Christian morality and to America’s founding documents.

"And we are determined here in Montgomery," King said that day in 1955, "to work and fight until justice ‘runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.’"

In these last words, King was quoting from the Bible — Amos 5:24.

A visitor to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., will find 16 statements from King carved in granite there. One is from his 1955 Montgomery speech. In its entirety, it reads: "We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’"

This is as close as the memorial gets to acknowledging that King was a Christian clergyman who passionately argued that discrimination was wrong because it violated God’s law.

The words "God," "Jesus" and "Lord" — ever-present in King’s speeches and sermons — are carved nowhere in the stones of the memorial dedicated in his name.

King’s name is repeatedly carved into the memorial. But none of these carvings refer to him as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In all cases, he is called simply "Martin Luther King Jr."

How important was King’s Christian ministry to him? When he was thrown in the Birmingham jail for marching without a permit on Good Friday 1963, King wrote an open letter expressing disappointment with fellow clergymen who criticized the nonviolent movement to desegregate that city.

"I say it as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen," said King.

In the same letter, King explained again how the civil rights movement was rooted in traditional Christian morality.

"A just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God," King said. "An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law."

In this letter, King also again argued that the God-given moral law that demanded equal rights for African Americans was the same God-given moral law on which America was founded.

"We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands," said King.

"One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, and thus carrying our whole nation back to great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence," said King.

The granite slabs at the memorial do quote from this famous letter. But they steer clear of King’s invocation of God’s law, the Declaration and the Constitution. Instead they use these words: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Near the close of his "I Have a Dream" speech" — delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963 — King cites Isaiah 40:4-5.

"I have a dream," said King, "that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’

"This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with," King said. "With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope"

On the right side of the granite statue of King at the memorial, the last half of this last sentence is carved in stone: "Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope." The first half of the sentence — "With this faith, we will be able to hew" — is missing.

Yes, the "faith" is missing.

Just a few feet from this statue of King where the word "faith" has been edited from the passage of his "I Have a Dream" speech, there is a similarly secular quote from a sermon reprinted in King’s book, "Strength to Love."

At the end of that sermon, King said: "Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him."

The Rev. Martin Luther King was a Christian clergyman who became an American hero by standing up for the God-given rights our nation was founded to protect. It is a shame the name of God cannot be found at his memorial.

Voir aussi:

Martin Luther King and the King James Bible

Hannibal Hamlin

Manifold greatness

Tomorrow (August 28) was to have been the day for officially opening the new and long-awaited Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC. Hurricane Irene delayed these plans along with so much else. (Check the Memorial’s website for updates on the ceremony plans for the future.) August 28 remains, of course, the anniversary of King’s famous “I have a dream” speech from the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.

For the past week, the site on the Tidal Basin, on a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, has been open to visitors, though, who could view the impressive sculpture by Lei Yixin and the many quotations from King’s speeches and writings engraved around the site. The Memorial has generated some controversy, first for the choice of a Chinese sculptor. It’s also been pointed out that one of the engraved quotations is broadly paraphrased rather than quoted exactly, and another, though spoken by King, was originally from a sermon given a century earlier by Theodore Parker.

Be all that as it may, the sculpture, “The Stone of Hope,” looks impressive, though I’ve as yet seen it only in photos. The concept derives from a line in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered 48 years ago tomorrow, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King said that with faith in the dream, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Yixin has shown King himself as a kind of stone of hope emerging out of the marble block. King’s language here, as so often, is deeply biblical. My uncle, Carl Scovel, a Unitarian minister, attended the March on Washington in 1963 and heard King and others speak. He said to me it was striking how biblical King’s rhetoric sounded, far more so than any of the other speakers. Hewing stone comes up a lot in the King James Bible. King may not be thinking of any particular passage, but there are several that he might have had in mind. Moses is commanded by God to hew two tables of stone that will become the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:1-4), for instance. And Jesus is buried in a tomb hewn out of the rock, with a stone rolled in front of it (Matthew 27:59-60). The Temple in Jerusalem is built by the workers of David and Solomon hewing stones out of the mountain (1 Chronicles 22, 2 Chronicles 2).

One of the inscriptions on the walls of MLK memorial contains a passage from the prophet Amos that obviously spoke to King: he used it often, including during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and later in the “I Have Dream” speech. The wording on the memorial is from the Montgomery speech: “We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” In 1963, King modified the words slightly: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” The quoted verse is from Amos 5:24 and the language is that of the KJV, with the single exception of the word “justice.” The KJV translators chose “judgment” instead, but the word was altered to “justice” in the American Standard Version (1901), which King may have been remembering as well. (He could also have known the Revised Standard Version of 1952, which also has “justice,” but it changes “mighty stream” to “ever-flowing stream,” so King wasn’t remembering this translation.)

The language of the King James Bible, its word choices, its rhythms and patterns of speech, have been a part of American public oratory for the country’s entire history, especially, though not exclusively, among African Americans. (Lincoln’s speeches were highly biblical.) Appropriately, at the inauguration of American’s first African American president, Barack Obama, the Rev. Joseph Lowry repeated the verse from Amos’s prophecy that was so important to Martin Luther King. In his benediction, Lowry looked forward, as King had done, to the time “when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.” That final time of Justice might not yet have arrived, but Lowry must have been thinking that at least some of those waters had rolled down since 1963. King had looked down the Mall toward the Capitol as he shared his dream of racial equality, but Lowry, and Obama, looked back the opposite way from the steps of the Capitol itself.

Hannibal Hamlin, associate professor of English at The Ohio State University, is co-curator of the Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Voir encore:

On Eve Of MLK Day, Will Adultery Keep Epic Dr. King Movie Off The Big Screen?

Mike Fleming

January 17, 2014

Oliver Stone has run smack into the same wall on a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr biopic that director Paul Greengrass hit when Universal kicked his MLK project Memphis to the curb two years back. Stone took to his Twitter account today to say that DreamWorks and Warner Bros rejected his script rewrite and that he was done with the movie that also had Jamie Foxx attached. It came down to the studios — which are in lockstep with the MLK estate that brought them the right to use his famous copyrighted speeches — rejecting Stone’s characterization of long-running rumors that King Jr. engaged in extramarital affairs. “I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth,” Stone tweeted. He also added a message directly to MLK: ‘I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington.”

This is almost a carbon copy of what happened two years ago with Memphis, the superb script that Captain Phillips helmer Greengrass wrote and set at Universal with producer Scott Rudin. The project stopped in its tracks after a version of the script found its way to the King family, and Ambassador Andrew Young, who was one of Dr. King’s closest confidants during the turbulent Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. While Universal was never really clear on why it halted the movie, blaming scheduling, it is clear that a film disowned by MLK’s family might hurt its audience appeal. This is an incredibly difficult and emotional situation because it depicts flaws in a man whose message of tolerance and equality and nonviolence still means so much to so many and has made him one of the most galvanizing figures of the 20th Century.

I read the script for Memphis – which juxtaposed MLK’s final days, haunted by Hoover’s FBI, whose agents were then thrust into a ticking-clock thriller to find his killer — and found it to be exceptionally good, and the depiction of Dr. King with a woman who wasn’t his wife was presented in matter-of-fact fashion and wasn’t a focus of the story at all. It was just there. Young understandably felt differently. “There is testimony in congressional hearings that a lot of that information was manufactured by the FBI and wasn’t true,” Young told me. “The FBI testified to that. I was saying simply, why make up a story when the true story is so great? My only concern here is honoring the message of Martin Luther King’s life, and how you can change the world without killing anybody. You’ve seen glimpses of that in the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Poland, South Africa, in a movement in Egypt that began with prayers, where even mercenaries and the most brutal soldiers have trouble shooting someone on their knees. These regimes crumbled before nonviolent demonstrations, and that is a message the world needs.”

I suggested that when films canonize subjects, audiences can sense it, and that is why good biopics mix reverence with warts-and-all treatment. Young said: “It’s not wrong if the warts are there. But we had the most powerful and understanding wives in history: Coretta, my wife Jean, and Ralph Abernathy’s wife Juanita. These women were more dedicated and enthusiastic in pushing us into these struggles than anybody, and the inference Coretta might have been upset about Martin being gone so much or them having marital troubles, it’s just not true. Maybe I’m piqued because nobody read my book, and I tried to be honest, and I was there. We were struggling with history that we didn’t even understand, but somehow by the grace of God it came out right. We were trying to change the world — not by any means necessary, but by being dedicated to loving our enemies and praying for those who persecuted us. That’s hard to believe in this day and age. But I can remember when everybody had guns in the South, and after Martin’s house was bombed, they all came. He sent them home. Time after time, our nonviolent commitment was put the test, but that was one test we passed, even in extremely difficult circumstances.” Young said he offered input on Memphis but hasn’t heard back. “I said I would pay my own way to LA to sit with the writers, tell what really went on, and give them names, but nobody took me up on it,” he said.

Stone had no choice to move off the project, which has to be blessed by Dr. King’s heirs. Greengrass has no such shackles. When I interviewed Greengrass recently, he promised that he will make the film. He just wants to do something else beforehand as he takes his time to find the right actor to play the Civil Rights leader. Here are the comments he made, right after the death of Nelson Mandela, whose recently released biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom showed the former South African leader in a less than flattering light that included extramarital affairs. By the way, it didn’t undermine Mandela’s evolution and heroism.

You’ll definitely see it, I’m just not quite ready to do it yet,” Greengrass told me recently. “I don’t think it will be next. I didn’t want Memphis to come out when it was all about the King of ‘I have a dream.’ There’s an arc to that very great life, somewhat the reverse of Mandela’s life. 1963 was a moment of transcendent oratorical achievement that in the following year ushered in busing rights and other civil rights acts. I was more interested in the King of ’68, very late in his life, when I think he was having a crisis of faith. That felt real to me. My family, on my father’s side, is strict Baptist. I understand the valleys and the mountains of growing up with that, in a British context. The way I see it is, any time between now and four or five years’ time it will be time to make that movie. I also need to meet the actor who’ll play him.”

These fact-based films continue to present creative quandaries, the latest of which is The Wolf Of Wall Street, which got a haul of Oscar nominations this week including Best Picture. It was among five fact-based stories that got Best Picture noms. Even though there are pitfalls, fact-based films are often the most satisfying and enduring films Hollywood makes. But DreamWorks and Warner Bros are in a bind here. Stone is right, the forgettable biopics are the ones that are too reverent to their subject. “Martin, I grieve for you,” Stone wrote. “You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans–but thank God, not a saint.”

Voir par ailleurs:

"I have a dream" : il y a 50 ans, Martin Luther King a failli ne pas prononcer ce discours

Béatrice Toulon

journaliste formatrice

Le Nouvel observateur

28-08-2013

LE PLUS. "I have a dream" est l’un des discours les plus célèbres du monde. Prononcés par Martin Luther King le 28 août 1963, ces mots fêtent leurs 50 ans. Mais ce jour-là, le pasteur a failli rater son rendez-vous avec l’histoire… Retour sur les coulisses avec Béatrice Toulon, formatrice spécialiste de la prise de parole en public.

"I have a dream" aurait pu rester dans les mémoires sous le nom "Let Freedom Ring" ou "Go back". Il aurait pu ne pas avoir de nom du tout, car aujourd’hui, il serait oublié.

"I have a dream", le discours prononcé par Martin Luther King il y a juste 50 ans, le 28 août 1963, a failli être amputé de la partie du rêve éveillé qui lui a donné son statut de chef d’œuvre de rhétorique aux USA et dans le reste du monde.

Le 27 au soir, le leader du Mouvement des droits civiques est dans un hôtel de Washington, avec ses conseillers. Ils parlent du discours qu’il doit prononcer le lendemain. Le 28, on célèbre les 100 ans de l’abolition de l’esclavage. Ce sera le point d’arrivée de la grande marche "Justice et emploi" qui mobilise des dizaines de milliers de personnes qui réclament l’abolition de la ségrégation encore en vigueur dans les États du sud. 100.000 personnes sont attendues, les télévisions ont fait le déplacement.

"Ne mets pas ‘le rêve’"

Les discours, c’est son job. Martin Luther King est pasteur, un de ces prêcheurs du Sud qui changent les messes en kermesses. Il s’est aussi rodé au discours politique à force de meetings. Mais là, c’est différent. Il ne s’adresse pas à ses paroissiens, ni au militants des droits civiques, il s’adresse à toute l’Amérique, il doit lui faire comprendre qu’elle perd son âme en acceptant la ségrégation. Et qu’elle peut encore gagner son ciel.

Les conseillers se disputent pas mal sur le contenu du discours. Wyatt Walker, l’un de ses proches, est sûr d’une chose:

"Ne mets pas ‘le rêve’. C’est trop banal, trop cliché."

Il parle de "I have a dream". Ce rêve éveillé d’un monde meilleur, Martin Luther King le place systématiquement dans ses discours depuis quelques temps. Il aime cette idée de décrire une Jérusalem céleste sur Terre. Cela correspond bien à sa double personnalité d’homme d’Église et d’homme d’action.

La semaine précédente, son rêve a eu un beau succès dans son discours à Chicago. Walker insiste :

"Je t’assure, tu l’as trop utilisé."

Martin Luther King travaille toute la nuit à son discours. Il dira plus tard qu’il a aussi beaucoup dialogué avec Dieu, pour l’inspiration. Le lendemain matin, il descend dans le hall muni et donne son texte à un assistant pour impression. Le rêve n’y figure pas.

"Dis-leur ton rêve, Martin !"

Martin Luther King est le dernier intervenant de la journée, juste avant la bénédiction. La foule compte 250.000 personnes, du jamais vu. Mais l’ambiance est un peu molle. Les orateurs se sont succédé toute la journée, l’assistance est un peu fatiguée. Le rabbin Prinz évoque l’Allemagne sous Hitler, "un grand peuple devenu muet, simple spectateur" et exhorte les Américains à "ne plus rester muets". Puis il passe la parole à Martin Luther King.

Orateur aguerri, King est stressé. Il lit son texte, trop. Ceux qui le connaissaient bien diront qu’il n’était pas à son meilleur. Peu à peu, il prend de l’assurance, lève les bras, se met à vibrer à la lecture des mots scandés comme dans les poésies :

"Go back to Mississipi, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana…"

La fin du discours approche. Son conseiller Clarence Jones racontera plu tard qu’à ce moment-là, Mahalia Jackson, la chanteuse et amie très chère du pasteur, lui lance depuis l’arrière de l’estrade :

"Dis leur ton rêve, Martin ! Le rêve…"

King poursuit encore son texte puis lève le nez, met son texte de côté et lance :

"Même si nous affrontons des difficultés, je fais un rêve…"

Clarence Jones entendit Walker s’écrier :

"Oh, merde ! Le rêve…"

Son public : toute l’Amérique

Il ne faut pas toujours écouter les conseillers. Ce que Walker n’avait pas compris c’est que jusqu’à présent, seuls les paroissiens et les partisans avaient entendu les discours/prêches de King.

Son public, cette fois, c’était toute l’Amérique. Il pouvait lui décrive avec son éloquence de génie qu’elle était devenue l’enfer sur terre mais qu’elle pouvait, si elle le voulait, devenir le paradis. Pour cela, il fallait lui faire prendre de la hauteur, une hauteur vertigineuse même, là-haut où les peurs s’effacent devant la beauté de la promesse.

Toute la partie précédente, solide, explicative, puissante n’arriverait pas assez haut sans l’offre d’un rêve, d’une utopie partagée. Martin Luther King expliquera plus tard qu’il avait senti qu’il fallait qu’il ajoute "I have a dream". Il ne risquait rien, ce n’était pas vraiment une improvisation. Les témoins parleront d’une foule électrisée. L’année suivante toutes les lois raciales étaient abolies.

Pour le racisme, c’est une autre histoire…

Voir enfin:

I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

28 August 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3

¹ Amos 5:24 (rendered precisely in The American Standard Version of the Holy Bible)

2 Isaiah 40:4-5 (King James Version of the Holy Bible). Quotation marks are excluded from part of this moment in the text because King’s rendering of Isaiah 40:4 does not precisely follow the KJV version from which he quotes (e.g., "hill" and "mountain" are reversed in the KJV). King’s rendering of Isaiah 40:5, however, is precisely quoted from the KJV.

3 At: http://www.negrospirituals.com/news-song/free_at_last_from.htm

Also in this database: Martin Luther King, Jr: A Time to Break Silence

Audio Source: Linked directly to: http://www.archive.org/details/MLKDream

External Link: http://www.thekingcenter.org/

JE REVE

(traduction en français)

Jeune Afrique

"Je suis heureux de me joindre à vous aujourd’hui pour participer à ce que l’histoire appellera la plus grande démonstration pour la liberté dans les annales de notre nation.

Il y a un siècle de cela, un grand Américain qui nous couvre aujourd’hui de son ombre symbolique signait notre Proclamation d’Émancipation. Ce décret capital se dresse, comme un grand phare illuminant d’espérance les millions d’esclaves marqués au feu d’une brûlante injustice. Ce décret est venu comme une aube joyeuse terminer la longue nuit de leur captivité.

Mais, cent ans plus tard, le Noir n’est toujours pas libre. Cent ans plus tard, la vie du Noir est encore terriblement handicapée par les menottes de la ségrégation et les chaînes de la discrimination. Cent ans plus tard, le Noir vit à l’écart sur son îlot de pauvreté au milieu d’un vaste océan de prospérité matérielle. Cent ans plus tard, le Noir languit encore dans les coins de la société américaine et se trouve exilé dans son propre pays.

C’est pourquoi nous sommes venus ici aujourd’hui dénoncer une condition humaine honteuse. En un certain sens, nous sommes venus dans notre capitale nationale pour encaisser un chèque. Quand les architectes de notre République ont magnifiquement rédigé notre Constitution de la Déclaration d’Indépendance, ils signaient un chèque dont tout Américain devait hériter. Ce chèque était une promesse qu’à tous les hommes, oui, aux Noirs comme aux Blancs, seraient garantis les droits inaliénables de la vie, de la liberté et de la quête du bonheur.

Il est évident aujourd’hui que l’Amérique a manqué à ses promesses à l’égard de ses citoyens de couleur. Au lieu d’honorer son obligation sacrée, l’Amérique a délivré au peuple Noir un chèque en bois, qui est revenu avec l’inscription “ provisions insuffisantes ”. Mais nous refusons de croire qu’il n’y a pas de quoi honorer ce chèque dans les vastes coffres de la chance, en notre pays. Aussi, sommes-nous venus encaisser ce chèque, un chèque qui nous donnera sur simple présentation les richesses de la liberté et la sécurité de la justice.

Nous sommes également venus en ce lieu sacré pour rappeler à l’Amérique les exigeantes urgences de l’heure présente. Ce n’est pas le moment de s’offrir le luxe de laisser tiédir notre ardeur ou de prendre les tranquillisants des demi-mesures. C’est l’heure de tenir les promesses de la démocratie. C’est l’heure d’émerger des vallées obscures et désolées de la ségrégation pour fouler le sentier ensoleillé de la justice raciale. C’est l’heure d’arracher notre nation des sables mouvant de l’injustice raciale et de l’établir sur le roc de la fraternité. C’est l’heure de faire de la justice une réalité pour tous les enfants de Dieu. Il serait fatal pour la nation de fermer les yeux sur l’urgence du moment. Cet étouffant été du légitime mécontentement des Noirs ne se terminera pas sans qu’advienne un automne vivifiant de liberté et d’égalité.

1963 n’est pas une fin, c’est un commencement. Ceux qui espèrent que le Noir avait seulement besoin de se défouler et qu’il se montrera désormais satisfait, auront un rude réveil, si la nation retourne à son train-train habituel.

Il n’y aura ni repos ni tranquillité en Amérique jusqu’à ce qu’on ait accordé au peuple Noir ses droits de citoyen. Les tourbillons de la révolte ne cesseront d’ébranler les fondations de notre nation jusqu’à ce que le jour éclatant de la justice apparaisse.

Mais il y a quelque chose que je dois dire à mon peuple, debout sur le seuil accueillant qui donne accès au palais de la justice : en procédant à la conquête de notre place légitime, nous ne devons pas nous rendre coupables d’agissements répréhensibles.

Ne cherchons pas à satisfaire notre soif de liberté en buvant à la coupe de l’amertume et de la haine. Nous devons toujours mener notre lutte sur les hauts plateaux de la dignité et de la discipline. Nous ne devons pas laisser nos revendications créatrices dégénérer en violence physique. Sans cesse, nous devons nous élever jusqu’aux hauteurs majestueuses où la force de l’âme s’unit à la force physique.

Le merveilleux esprit militant qui a saisi la communauté noire ne doit pas nous entraîner vers la méfiance de tous les Blancs, car beaucoup de nos frères blancs, leur présence ici aujourd’hui en est la preuve, ont compris que leur destinée est liée à la nôtre. L’assaut que nous avons monté ensemble pour emporter les remparts de l’injustice doit être mené par une armée bi-raciale. Nous ne pouvons marcher tout seul au combat. Et au cours de notre progression il faut nous engager à continuer d’aller de l’avant ensemble. Nous ne pouvons pas revenir en arrière.

Il y a des gens qui demandent aux militants des Droits Civiques : “ Quand serez-vous enfin satisfaits ? ” Nous ne serons jamais satisfaits aussi longtemps que le Noir sera la victime d’indicibles horreurs de la brutalité policière. Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps que nos corps, lourds de la fatigue des voyages, ne trouveront pas un abri dans les motels des grandes routes ou les hôtels des villes.

Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps que la liberté de mouvement du Noir ne lui permettra guère que d’aller d’un petit ghetto à un ghetto plus grand. Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps que nos enfants, même devenus grands, ne seront pas traités en adultes et verront leur dignité bafouée par les panneaux “ Réservé aux Blancs ”. Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps qu’un Noir du Mississippi ne pourra pas voter et qu’un Noir de New-York croira qu’il n’a aucune raison de voter. Non, nous ne sommes pas satisfaits et ne le serons jamais, tant que le droit ne jaillira pas comme l’eau, et la justice comme un torrent intarissable.

Je n’ignore pas que certains d’entre vous ont été conduis ici par un excès d’épreuves et de tribulations. D’aucuns sortent à peine d’étroites cellules de prison. D’autres viennent de régions où leur quête de liberté leur a valu d’être battus par les orages de la persécution et secoués par les bourrasques de la brutalité policière. Vous avez été les héros de la souffrance créatrice. Continuez à travailler avec la certitude que la souffrance imméritée vous sera rédemptrice.

Retournez dans le Mississippi, retournez en Alabama, retournez en Caroline du Sud, retournez en Georgie, retournez en Louisiane, retournez dans les taudis et les ghettos des villes du Nord, sachant que de quelque manière que ce soit cette situation peut et va changer. Ne croupissons pas dans la vallée du désespoir.

Je vous le dis ici et maintenant, mes amis, bien que, oui, bien que nous ayons à faire face à des difficultés aujourd’hui et demain je fais toujours ce rêve : c’est un rêve profondément ancré dans l’idéal américain. Je rêve que, un jour, notre pays se lèvera et vivra pleinement la véritable réalité de son credo : “ Nous tenons ces vérités pour évidentes par elles-mêmes que tous les hommes sont créés égaux ”.

Je rêve qu’un jour sur les collines rousses de Georgie les fils d’anciens esclaves et ceux d’anciens propriétaires d’esclaves pourront s’asseoir ensemble à la table de la fraternité.

Je rêve qu’un jour, même l’Etat du Mississippi, un Etat où brûlent les feux de l’injustice et de l’oppression, sera transformé en un oasis de liberté et de justice.

Je rêve que mes quatre petits-enfants vivront un jour dans une nation où ils ne seront pas jugés sur la couleur de leur peau, mais sur la valeur de leur caractère. Je fais aujourd’hui un rêve !

Je rêve qu’un jour, même en Alabama, avec ses abominables racistes, avec son gouverneur à la bouche pleine des mots “ opposition ” et “ annulation ” des lois fédérales, que là même en Alabama, un jour les petits garçons noirs et les petites filles blanches pourront se donner la main, comme frères et sœurs. Je fais aujourd’hui un rêve !

Je rêve qu’un jour toute vallée sera relevée, toute colline et toute montagne seront rabaissées, les endroits escarpés seront aplanis et les chemins tortueux redressés, la gloire du Seigneur sera révélée à tout être fait de chair.

Telle est notre espérance. C’est la foi avec laquelle je retourne dans le Sud.

Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de distinguer dans la montagne du désespoir une pierre d’espérance. Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de transformer les discordes criardes de notre nation en une superbe symphonie de fraternité.

Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de travailler ensemble, de prier ensemble, de lutter ensemble, d’aller en prison ensemble, de défendre la cause de la liberté ensemble, en sachant qu’un jour, nous serons libres. Ce sera le jour où tous les enfants de Dieu pourront chanter ces paroles qui auront alors un nouveau sens : “ Mon pays, c’est toi, douce terre de liberté, c’est toi que je chante. Terre où sont morts mes pères, terre dont les pèlerins étaient fiers, que du flanc de chacune de tes montagnes, sonne la cloche de la liberté ! ” Et, si l’Amérique doit être une grande nation, que cela devienne vrai.

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des merveilleuses collines du New Hampshire !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des montagnes grandioses de l’Etat de New-York !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des sommets des Alleghanys de Pennsylvanie !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des cimes neigeuses des montagnes rocheuses du Colorado !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne depuis les pentes harmonieuses de la Californie !

Mais cela ne suffit pas.

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut du mont Stone de Georgie !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut du mont Lookout du Tennessee !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut de chaque colline et de chaque butte du Mississippi ! Du flanc de chaque montagne, que sonne le cloche de la liberté !

Quand nous permettrons à la cloche de la liberté de sonner dans chaque village, dans chaque hameau, dans chaque ville et dans chaque Etat, nous pourrons fêter le jour où tous les enfants de Dieu, les Noirs et les Blancs, les Juifs et les non-Juifs, les Protestants et les Catholiques, pourront se donner la main et chanter les paroles du vieux Negro Spiritual : “ Enfin libres, enfin libres, grâce en soit rendue au Dieu tout puissant, nous sommes enfin libres ! ”."

Voir par ailleurs:

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

by Rev. Ralph David Abernathy

Booknotes

October 29, 1989

BRIAN LAMB: Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, author of the book, "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down," when did you first think that you wanted to write your autobiography?

ABERNATHY: Oh, about four or five years ago. I decided that I would write my autobiography and I have been working on it ever since then. Not straight out but for given periods, I would write and I would leave it, you know, and go back to it, and come back to it, and so I wanted to write this book.

LAMB: Are you happy about it?

ABERNATHY: Yes, I am very, very happy about it. I am so pleased that it is a good looking book and it is a good book and it is more than 600 pages of my life story. I am the son of a farmer and I grew up in Linden, Alabama — Meringo County, the heart of the black belt. My grandfather and my grandmother were born slaves and I just wanted to tell my story and to show the youth of America, the children of America, that you may be locked in poverty and you may have a difficult time surviving but you can be, what my dear friend, Martin Luther King, often quoted: "If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, be a scrub in the valley but be the best little scrub by the side of the hill…be a bush if you can’t be a tree." So you can be something and somebody if you do not lose your sense of worth and dignity and somebody-ness.

LAMB: I want to start with the last part of the book first, the epilogue. In there you describe that in 1980 you supported Ronald Reagan for the presidency. Why did you do that?

ABERNATHY: Well, I did it for the simple reason first. I did not believe President Carter could lead the nation forward at that particular juncture. He is a good man but I just did not feel that you could run the country as he had ran the state of Georgia and he did not have, around him, the staff, that was able to do that. Secondly, I supported Ronald Reagan because he was talking about jobs and income and I went on with that side of my political life and thirdly, I believe that young black people should participate in both parties. The Republican Party has too long ignored us and the Democratic Party has taken us for granted and so since all of my colleges and the latter in various places across the country were supporting the Democratic Party, I felt that I should support Ronald Reagan.

I understood very, very clearly that it is a policy in politics, according to President Gerald Ford, that you reward your friends but you punish your enemies, so I thought that I would launch a job program and get help from Mr. Reagan and from the private sector as well as the public sector. The Republicans have most of the money in the country and I thought that I would get that type of help but he’d soon forgotten what I had sought to do to him, or I cannot get through. And one distinguished journalist, just happened to have been connected with my congregation and I had to do the grandmother’s funeral and she told me, "Dr. Abernathy, what you really should do to get to Mr. Reagan is get to Mrs. Reagan and maybe like that you can get through." But Ed Meese and the people surrounded him. I just felt that they never let my calls through and never gave me ample time to explain fully the meaning of the foundation of economic enterprises development.

LAMB: Let’s go back. I did not mean to interrupt, but I want to go back so that the audience understands the context. You were asked to come and do public, hold up the hands and endorse President Reagan back during the 1980 campaign, and you did that. Do remember the city in which you did that?

ABERNATHY: Yes, in Detroit, Michigan.

LAMB: And you flew up there to do it and when you got there you had a meeting with the President. And then you walked out and found some of your other friends were there with you?

ABERNATHY: Yes, I found that other persons, including Jose Williams, former staff member of mine, at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, had come to join me in endorsing Mr. Reagan. But I had a private conference with Mr. Reagan because I wanted to get the guarantee from him that he wanted me to endorse him and that he would be accessible to me, because I didn’t want to just be endorsing a man that I was unable to talk to.

LAMB: After you endorsed him, the election is over, you tried to reach President Reagan, what happened?

ABERNATHY: Well, I could not get any farther than Ed Meese. I went out to Palm Springs to see President Gerald Ford and he was most sympathetic, most kind and he called the White House while I was there and he …

LAMB: This was in 1981, right in the first year?

ABERNATHY: Yes, and he said, "Well, hey Meese, I want you to arrange a meeting with the President and Ralph Abernathy has suffered greatly." — Because my colleagues didn’t like that, you know. They tried to dry up my resources and everything. — And he said, "Well, I want him to be able to talk to the President." And he said, "Well, I will arrange the meeting and you can be assured." I was in his office at that particular time. I had set up the foundation for Economic Enterprises Development, was fully tax deductible and I had gone through this ordeal of my friend James Peterson had worked with me and he was the executive vice-president of the organization and finally the meeting was arranged. It was just about a five minute, ten minute meeting.

LAMB: With the President?

ABERNATHY: Yes.

LAMB: Was he interested?

ABERNATHY: No, Mr. Meese had told me that he was not interested. He, Mr. Ford, thought that he could call to the White House, some millionaires, about one hundred of them, and they could give the money that was necessary — $100,000 each to the Foundation and take care of one who had suffered so much because I endorsed the President. Mr. Meese said that he could not call anybody to come to the White House and there were no private sector funds available and he told me that the public sector writes proposals. And we wrote a proposal, and finally, the Department of Transportation — finally we received a small grant from the Department of Labor, and that is all that we received and that was not enough to sustain that Foundation. So the Foundation now has no address to receive contributions but I am working still with the Foundation and James Peterson is working still with the Foundation and hopefully we will get it back operating.

LAMB: What did you do in 1984, did you endorse President Reagan for a second term?

ABERNATHY: No, I decided to go with my friend, Jesse L. Jackson. Jesse Jackson had expressed the hope and the dream of receiving the nomination of the Democrats. So, naturally, he was my former employee and my friend, and so I went to — I guess it was somewhere in North Carolina — and when he announced his candidacy I supported him all the way. He preached at my church and spoke at my church and we were able to give him more than $10,000 in offering for his candidacy. And we were proud to. And he has carried us closer as black people to the White House than any other person. Jesse Jackson is a good man. He is very, very articulate. He has his faults and failures as all of us have them and he has a big ego, but I do not know a President of the United States that has not had a big ego. I guess it takes a big ego to become the President.

LAMB: In the epilogue, again, you write about the illnesses that you had and you talk about the strokes. How many strokes have you had?

ABERNATHY: I have had two small strokes, never a massive stroke. I have had brain surgery, one of the carotid arteries was clogged and I went to Johns Hopkins Hospital. My wife took me there and I had a carotid artery and that artery supplies the blood flow to the brain — there are two — and I became the 51st person to undergo that microscopic surgery and it takes about 12 hours. I could not speak too clearly because of it being clogged. So, consequently, when the anesthesiologist came to me and gave me lessons and said, "Dr. Abernathy…," — they call me "Dr. A." — "Dr. A., when you wake up, I want you to wake up talking and when we ask you to move your right hand, don’t move your left hand and you have to prove to us that you understand when we ask, who is the President of the United States, we want you to say, ‘Ronald Reagan’".

So, consequently, Mr. Reagan did call me and wish me success in everything and so when I finished with the surgery and the anesthesiologist called me, "Dr. A., wake up…," I knew and I heard them the first time, but I knew that I would have to spend the rest of my life, from my meager earnings and savings, paying them for such an operation, so I just caused them some anxiety.

They had to call me the second time. "Dr. A., wake up…" and I said, "I love Jesus, I love Jesus, I love Jesus." And they said, "Dr. A., don’t say another word, because you are running your blood pressure off the cuff." What I was thought to be did not happen. I was to have a black eye and I was to have to be kept in intensive care for five to six days. But the next morning I was awakened and I had a full breakfast — bacon and eggs, juice and coffee and they said, "Now we are going to get you out of here, because you are doing fine." And I called my wife over at the Hopkins Inn and she said, "Oh, Ralph, why are you — are you still perking and kicking…?" And I said, "I am back in my room at Johns Hopkins Hospital." And she said, "I cannot believe it, they said that you would be there four to five days in intensive care." But God was good to me and God be the Glory, he is due all the praise and people across this nation had fasted and prayed for me and my family and Juanita is a very, very, lovely wife and I am proud that she is the mother of my four, lovely children. She is a great woman and she is a woman of great intellect. And she is just — I love her.

LAMB: In the book, we have a picture here that the audience will see of your family, when was this taken?

ABERNATHY: Oh, that was taken, I guess, a couple of years ago.

LAMB: Can you tell us who is your daughter here?

ABERNATHY: Oh, that is Donzalae. Donzalae Abernathy is married to George Bosley and George Bosley is a high school — not high school — but college school mate, who majored in the movie industry also. Donzalae is an actress. She maintains her name Abernathy. She is married to a young white man but she is dedicated to the family. She is the second of our two daughters.

LAMB: This daughter right here?

ABERNATHY: That is Donzalae.

LAMB: And you say that she is married to a white man?

ABERNATHY: Yes, uh huh…

LAMB: Would you tell us the story that you tell in the book about the marriage itself?

ABERNATHY: Well, it is just a very, very comical thing. The church holds about 2,500 people and the marriage was scheduled for 11 o’clock and it was thought that George’s mother had a heart attack the previous evening and it turned out that she just had some gas pains or something like that but she was in the hospital. George was to go by and let her check him out and see his tuxedo, and he neglected — as young people will do — to call the church and be in contact with me and I thought that he might have stood up my daughter.

LAMB: How late was he?

ABERNATHY: He was about 45 minutes late.

LAMB: So you had a church full of 2,500 people?

ABERNATHY: Yes, yes and they were waiting and Father Jim Nickie from Chicago, Illinois, the Chaplain of the O’Hare Airport, had been invited to assist me in marrying my daughter and I was to marry her, but certainly he was to assist me and I had him go out and assure the people that George was running late and finally, George came. What a relief it was for me.

LAMB: All right, in this picture, in addition to Donzalae you have another daughter and let’s see on the screen please … Who is this daughter?

ABERNATHY: This daughter is Wandalynn. Wandalynn is our oldest daughter. She lives in West Germany as she is an opera singer. She sang at the wedding of Donzalae. She is not married. I chided recently about being able to see one of my grandchildren before passing on to the other side, my new home. And she said, "Oh, daddy, I am not married." And I said, "I would like to see some of my grandchildren." And she said, "Well, what about a surrogate, grandchild?" And I said, "Oh, no, no, I want the real thing. I want a real Abernathy."

LAMB: You have more children here in this picture, two sons, right here. Who are they?

ABERNATHY: Yes, that is Quamaylatuli, an 18-year-old student Williams College in Massachusetts now and Ralph David Abernathy III. He is a member of the State Legislature in Georgia.

LAMB: Ralph David Abernathy, our guest and the name of the book is "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down." Where did you get the title?

ABERNATHY: Well, I just thought about it and finally concluded to use the old spiritual .. the battle is Jericho, Jericho. "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down."

LAMB: Did you write this yourself or did you have help?

ABERNATHY: No, no, I wrote it myself. Naturally, I had editorial assistance, suggestions and I had research person who checked out the dates for accuracy and assisted me in reading and grammar and spelling of words and so forth but it is my writing, my story, my words."And the Walls Came Tumbling Down".

LAMB: How did you write it? Did you write it on a typewriter, long hand or a computer, or how?

ABERNATHY: Sometimes I wrote it on a legal pad, in long hand and I used to talk into a tape recording machine and the secretary would lift it from there and I would use various means. No I cannot operate a computer. I was not blessed with any such skills. I had to deal with the talking into a tape recorder or writing it in long hand. And I have my own type of short hand. You know, you have to write when you feel like writing, are inspired to write. I have to write my sermons like that So often my wife says to me, "You know, Ralph, if you complete your sermon and then we can go out to a party or visit some friends but you don’t write." I don’t write like that. I have to wait for the moment of inspiration to come. And I can work, work and work and work and work long hours way until the wee hours of the morning. Often I sit up all night long.

LAMB: Did you write totally from memory or had you kept notes over the years?

ABERNATHY: I had kept notes over the years but mainly memory. As I acknowledged in the introduction, the Bible was written by many, many inspired men of God. But the life of Jesus is recorded in what is referred to as the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And they give the life, the verse, the crucifixion, and the resurrection and the ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But they all tell it in a different day and I wrote it from my perspective. And I told it to the best of my ability. And memory sometimes fail. But I had a person to check me on accurate dates, especially the New York Times.

LAMB: There are 638 pages including the index in this book. And as you well know, three pages out of this book have been the focus of attention. The night before Martin Luther King was murdered. Are you surprised that only those three pages have been the subject of all the attention for this book?

ABERNATHY: Greatly surprised and disappointed.

LAMB: Why?

ABERNATHY: Because to me it is only jealousy. I didn’t ask anybody if I could write my autobiography. It is my story. The story of my life. And you would believe it was the story of the life of my dearest buddy and friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And so it is not his story, but it is my story. And the second reason why I am surprised — they took these four pages and created a controversy. And they sent me a telegram and tried to get me to retract, falsely accused me of not having written the book, and demanding that I withdraw. Tell the publisher "repudiate this book." And I said to her, "I cannot do that." And I went to Memphis on my first tour in promoting the book. And so when I got there, upon arrival at the Peabody Hotel, this young man from the commercial appeal on the newspaper …

LAMB: In Memphis?

ABERNATHY: … in Memphis, was there. And he was a black young man and he said, "Dr. Abernathy I need to see you and ask you some questions." And naturally I didn’t want to talk to him but he said, "It’s very, very urgent." And I went up and checked in and went up to the room and came back to talk with him and he told me that the Associated Press had received a telegram and that had been sent to me from The Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change. I thought that was very, very unfortunate because The Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change is being very, very violent.

These people had not come to see me at all. Only the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Jesse Hill, had come to see me. And he came not reaching me, keeping me standing all day that Saturday and all day that Sunday. And on the Sunday brought a dear friend of mine who signed the telegram and he just left on the message box of my wife’s telephone that I should look under the door because they had left a message for me, the copy that of the telegram that I would be receiving. And so I didn’t. It was piercing and strong –telling me to repudiate it and I talked to Dr. Kilgore and to him the next morning and Dr. Kilgore was in very, very unique position because he had enough love for me and my family and enough love for Dr. King Jr. and his family. He loved and supported both of us. He was now in North Carolina and Jesse Hill hooked me into Dr. King, Dr. Kilgore, and we talked, we talked, we talked and we prayed, and we prayed, and we prayed and I agreed to receive calls from Lerome Bennett and from Bob Johnson, the editor of Jet magazine in Chicago and the editor of Ebony magazine, since they were learned in that field of publication.

And the next time I heard from Mr. Hill he was telling me or telling my wife that he had received a message that I was supposed to answer that I was supposed to give in response to. And Lerome Bennett never called me. Bob Johnson never called me. And I didn’t dignify what they were trying to say to me. If they wanted to reach me my telephone is listed. The only black leader, national black leader in the country. I have a listed telephone and you can look in the telephone directory and see the Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and you can look in the telephone book under the Mary Kay Cosmetic Section, Business Section and my wife’s telephone is listed, Mrs. Juanita Odessa Jones Abernathy. And so, I have always had the burning desire to be accessible to the poor people of this country and the poor people of this land.

LAMB: Why do you think that your friends, and there are a lot of people that are well known — Jesse Jackson was in that — I assumed signed that telegram and others. Why do they feel that strongly about you publishing what you say is the truth about Martin Luther King?

ABERNATHY: Well, I don’t know you would have to ask them. I cannot answer that question.

LAMB: They help sales. Are you selling more books because of all of the controversy?

ABERNATHY: No, I don’t know, I have not been in contact with the Harper & Row. I just heard that they have ordered some more books, but I do not know how the sales of the books are going and whether they are helping or hurting. I just don’t know.

LAMB: What do you think of the way that the media has treated you, the interviews that you have they been fair?

ABERNATHY: No, a lot of people ask me the same old questions, there it goes again, the same question, over and over again. And Bryant Gumble from NBC, my brother, who is my hero, March Arden, long for him to have the host of the Today Show, and he, one week prior to my appearance on NBC, had come to Atlanta and taped in the interview with me and had not even mentioned anything about Martin Luther King womanizing or anything but he wanted me to come to New York last Friday and I went to New York and I told him, you know, "Why come to Atlanta and ask me nothing about these pages?" And nobody had to ask me anything about Martin Luther King’s womanizing and if they had been true, most people that read a book and buy a book, especially in the black community, they stop long before 435 pages. They don’t read that far but they created a controversy.

LAMB: Why did you fly all the way to New York to sit down with Bryant Gumble on the Today Show? Did he tell you what he was going to do, that he wanted to ask you about those pages before you flew up there?

ABERNATHY: No, he did not tell me that. I was scheduled to go to New York and to sign books and promote the book for Harper & Row. When I got there, just as I am in Washington today, I was invited to appear on your show, and so I was invited to appear on Phil Donahue’s Show. My wife and I were both on the show and bell hooks was on that show, Roy Ennis was on that show with us and the four of us dealt with Mr. Donahue the same day. And Jose Williams was invited and I understand that he had called me the Judas of the movement, and Jose Williams had always supported me across the years and he had brought 30 pieces of silver and Judas sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Now, the main thing, Martin Luther King wanted not to be a deity. He wanted to be just an ordinary man. He did not want to be a saint or viewed as a saint. He was just a human being, capable of becoming and producing and leading his people out of the wilderness of segregation into the promise land, saying to me, privately, long before he said it from the Memphis pulpit, "Ralph, I may not get there, but I have been to the mountain top." "Take my people on across this Jordan to the land of Canaan", "And I want freedom for all Americans." And he freed many white people and poor people who were black, American Indians, the native people of this country and he was just a marvelous and fantastic leader and I am surprised that they would center on four pages and I didn’t ever say that he had sex with anybody. I said that when I was awakened, he was coming out of the room with this lady and maybe, I don’t know what they did, he never told me he had sex with that lady. He may have been in there discussing and debating and trying to get her to go along with the movement, I don’t know, the sanitation workers track. I did not say that later that when we arrived at the motel, the Lorraine Motel, that he engaged in sex. I merely said that this Kentucky Legislator was there and when I discovered that he was in good hands, I took off and went to bed because it was about 1:30 to 2 in the morning. I did not try to dodge the issue.

I wanted to tell the story, where my book would have validity and not be thrown out by historians because they would say that he has been dishonest in not talking about the life of Martin Luther King to it’s fullest extent, so if he lies about one thing, looks over one side of the picture, the book is no good. I wanted it to be an honest and truthful book and I told nothing but the truth, so help me God. I am not a criminal and I challenge anybody to prove that the things that I said was not true in that book.

LAMB: Right after this book was published and right after the Memphis appeal reporter and the AP and all started writing about that four pages, the first thing that we read was that you had a couple of strokes and had brain surgery and that something was wrong — and that was why you put it in here, and did not quite know what you were doing. And then after another series of stories, we read that Bernard Lee, who was written about as the only other man with you that night, I believe, before. Is that correct?

ABERNATHY: Yes …

LAMB: Bernard Lee is out here in Lorton Prison as a chaplain …

ABERNATHY: Yes, that is right.

LAMB: …but then you hear Bernard Lee being quoted as saying that you were intoxicated that night.

ABERNATHY: Well, Bernard Lee is quoted as saying that he is the assistant pastor of the West 100th Street Baptist Church …

LAMB: Where you were?

ABERNATHY: And I, where I am today and Bernard Lee has never assisted me as pastor of the West 100th Street Baptist Church, so he told an untruth. I have never been a drinking man. I have never desired even a strong — a Coca-Cola is too strong for me and it burns my throat and I have never needed caffeine to wake me up. I have never been a smoker and I have never been a coffee drinker, even if it is decaffeinated coffee. They said that I have had two massive strokes and I have had brain surgery, but thanks be to God, you can ask me any question about what happened in the Movement. I was there and they were not there. I was there and I can give you an accurate account of what happened because I was there and I was alive and I was awake and I have never been drunk.

LAMB: One last question on this particular thing — Why have your former friends, or you may call them still your friends, worked so hard at trying to discredit you? What will be — after the dust clears on this — what is the effect of trying to discredit you?

ABERNATHY: Well, I really don’t know, for my so-called friends. First they are so-called friends because they didn’t come to see me out of the 25-30 people that signed that telegram. Many of them I do not even know and, consequently, only, I guess two people came to see me while I had these so called massive strokes. Now, I am not paralyzed. A massive stroke leaves an individual paralyzed or the mouth disfigured, or something like that. I have all of my thinking faculties and my memory. I talk slow and I am not — the wear and tear of the 63 years of my life has taken it’s toll on me — but I have been on this show.You told me when I came in that I came in here with the understanding that I was to talk to you for 45 minutes and you told me an hour and I am going an hour and I can go two hours, because I am an honest man and if you expect me to talk to you an hour, I will talk to you two hours if necessary.

Jesus says that when any man requires of you to walk one mile with him, walk two miles with him and that meant in my estimation, the one mile is required, but when you start walking the second mile, he is embarrassed and he starts loving you and being kind to you. And Jesus was a non-violent personality, but Jesus became violent on one occasion when he ran the people out of the temple because they were misusing his house. Martin Luther King shoved a woman across the bed the next day because he lost his temper. People are just people, human beings are mortal feeble beings and the apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh of which he spoke about.

I could call you a list of people. I am staying at the Jefferson Hotel, but Thomas Jefferson had made some mistakes also. The father of our nation, George Washington had made mistakes, the slave girls talked about his affairs. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt — I don’t propose to know and be able to talk about these people and I do not speak of them in this book but I do speak of my friend, Martin Luther King Jr. and he would want me to tell it like it is and be honest and truthful and I am not trying to hurt Mrs. King because she knows it is public knowledge.

J. Edgar Hoover had revealed Martin Luther King’s lifestyle and in the book I tell of visits that I had made on his behalf and I am not trying to tell the children, his lovely children, of anything about that day because I love those children and they call me Uncle Ralph and they cited to me in the telegram that the Uncle Ralph I know would not do this. Yet, they do all kinds of things, including sending me mail to my house where they invite not my wife to the birthday celebration of Mahatma Ghandi. They are just always trying to ignore and re-write history.

If you go to the King’s Center on the marches and demonstrations and if you go to the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, you will see pictures of me and Martin marching together and that somebody has cropped me off. They have decided that I am not going to fill my rightful place in history and, if they have the power to broad out my having been there by the side of Martin Luther King, they are willing. They have my permission to try to block me out because I came as Jesus came to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to free the captives to set liberty to those of the blues and to proclaim the acceptable year of the law. I have been talking to you all this time and have not even taken a drink of water from this lovely cup that I am going to take and put in a loftily place, signifying that I was here today.

LAMB: Let me ask you, and we are about out of time. Your chapter headings are Atlanta, Albany, Birmingham, St. Augustine, Selma, Chicago, Memphis, Charleston, Martin Luther King Jr., and then you have a chapter heading Jesse Jackson. Now let me read to you the last paragraph that you wrote about Jesse Jackson in this chapter."Yet I have supported him twice in his bid for Presidency…" – I assume that is 1984 and 1988?

ABERNATHY: That is right.

LAMB: "… And I suspect that I will support him again if he chooses to run. Over the years I have come to love and admire Jesse in part because he has matured into a great leader, in part because he has been so supportive of me." You go on to write though in the book, or you wrote before that in the book, about the night that Martin Luther King was killed and the story that we have looked at many times since then — was Jesse Jackson there and did he cradle Martin Luther King his arms? And you talk about how close you were to him, and that Jesse Jackson. — I haven’t got the quotes here right in front of me — was nowhere around right after the shot was fired. How much admiration is there from Jesse Jackson to you? And after this episode, where he has denounced you in what you said here, do you think that you will still support him the next time that he runs for President?

ABERNATHY: Jesse Jackson is a good man and he has shown amazing growth in his maturity as we all. He was young then but he did not cradle Martin Luther King. He was down in the Courtyard and his first reaction was to call Mrs. King and notify her that he had been shot. But I rushed to the side of Martin Luther King and I cradled him in my arms and Bernard Lee, I want you to ask him — didn’t I and he commit civil disobedience and stay in the operating room and the doctor came over and said to me that it would be an act of mercy if God took him because he would be a vegetable. He would be paralyzed from his neck down. And I want you to ask Jose Williams, where did Jesse Jackson get that blood from — the man that called me the Jesus and the man that has supported me all of these years. And I have never done anything but try to tell the truth and try to be with Martin Luther King in all of his efforts while he was alive and lived in Resurrection City, right here in Washington D.C. and built the Resurrection City and stayed in the Movement — trying to keep Martin Luther King’s dream alive of exposing poverty in this nation.

LAMB: What is your favorite chapter, we just have a minute left, of all the chapters?

ABERNATHY: Oh, my favorite chapter is the chapter Little David, the first chapter in the book, because I just love, I just love my daddy. Upon birth when I was delivered by my maternal grandmother, Ellen Bell, he came home and made my name Little David and I regret that fact that my sister later added Ralph, because Ralph does not have much meaning but I love the name David. I was a Little David, like the goal I faced and I was able to do much, much to help Martin Luther King realize his dreams and my dreams and the dreams of all black people in this country.

LAMB: Our guest for the last hour has been Ralph David Abernathy and this is the book. "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down," an autobiography. Thank you for being with us.

ABERNATHY: Thank you so very, very kindly.

Voir aussi:

I have a Deram or Dream

By IHaveaDERam

CNN (unvetted)

August 2, 2009

Forty years after his death, the popularity of Martin Luther King remains extraordinary. He is perhaps the single most praised person in American history, and millions adore him as a hero and almost a saint. The federal government has made space available on the Mall in Washington for a national monument for King, not far from Lincoln’s. Only four men in American history have national monuments: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt; and now King will make five.

King is the only American who enjoys the nation’s highest honor of having a national holiday on his birthday. There are other days of remembrance such as Presidents’ Day, but no one else but Jesus Christ is recognized with a similar holiday. Does King deserve such honors? Much that has been known to scholars for years—but largely unknown to most Americans—suggests otherwise.

Plagiarism

As a young man, King started plagiarizing the work of others and he continued this practice throughout his career.

At Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor of divinity degree in 1951, many of his papers contained material lifted verbatim and without acknowledgement from published sources. An extensive project started at Stanford University in 1984 to publish all of King’s papers tracked down the original sources for these early papers and concluded that his academic writings are “tragically flawed by numerous instances of plagiarism.” Journalist Theodore Pappas, who has also reviewed the collection, found one paper showing “verbatim theft” in 20 of a total of 24 paragraphs. He writes:

“King’s plagiarisms are easy to detect because their style rises above the level of his pedestrian student prose. In general, if the sentences are eloquent, witty, insightful, or pithy, or contain allusions, analogies, metaphors, or similes, it is safe to assume that the section has been purloined.”

King also plagiarized himself, recycling old term papers as new ones. Some of his professors complained about sloppy references, but they seem to have had no idea how extensively he was stealing material, and his habits were well established by the time he entered the PhD program at Boston University. King plagiarized one-third of his 343-page dissertation, the book-length project required to earn a PhD, leading some to say he should be stripped of his doctoral degree. Mr. Pappas explains that King’s plagiarism was a lifelong habit:

“King’s Nobel Prize Lecture was plagiarized extensively from works by Florida minister J. Wallace Hamilton; the sections on Gandhi and nonviolence in his ‘Pilgrimage’ speech were taken virtually verbatim from Harris Wofford’s speech on the same topic; the frequently replayed climax to the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech—the ‘from every mountainside, let freedom ring’ portion—came from a 1952 address to the Republican National Convention by a black preacher named Archibald Carey; and the 1968 sermon in which King prophesied his martyrdom was based on works by J. Wallace Hamilton and Methodist minister Harold Bosley.”

Perhaps King had no choice but to use the words of others. Mr. Pappas has found that on the Graduate Record Exam, King “scored in the second-lowest quartile in English and vocabulary, in the lowest ten percent in quantitative analysis, and in the lowest third on his advanced test in philosophy.”

Adultery

King lived a double life. During the day, he would speak to large crowds, quoting Scripture and invoking God’s will, and at night he frequently had sex with women from the audience. “King’s habits of sexual adventure had been well established by the time he was married,” says Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University, a King admirer. He notes that King often “told lewd jokes,” “shared women with friends,” and was “sexually reckless.” According to King biographer Taylor Branch, during a long party on the night of January 6 and 7, 1964, an FBI bugging device recorded King’s “distinctive voice ring out above others with pulsating abandon, saying, ‘I’m f***ing for God!’”

Sex with single and married women continued after King married, and on the night before his death, King had two adulterous trysts. His first rendezvous was at a woman’s house, the second in a hotel room. The source for this was his best friend and second-in-command, Ralph Abernathy, who noted that the second woman was “a member of the Kentucky legislature,” now known to be Georgia Davis Powers.

Abernathy went on to say that a third woman was also looking for King that same night, but found his bed empty. She knew his habits and was angry when they met later that morning. In response, writes Abernathy, King “lost his temper” and “knocked her across the bed. … She leapt up to fight back, and for a moment they were engaged in a full-blown fight, with [King] clearly winning.” A few hours later, King ate lunch with Abernathy and discussed the importance of nonviolence for their movement.

To other colleagues, King justified his adultery this way: “I’m away from home twenty-five to twenty-seven days a month. F***ing’s a form of anxiety reduction.” King had many one-night stands but also grew close to one of his girlfriends in a relationship that became, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David Garrow, “the emotional centerpiece of King’s life.” Still, sex with other women remained “a commonplace of King’s travels.”

In private, King could be extremely crude. On one FBI recording, King said to Abernathy in what was no doubt a teasing remark, “Come on over here, you big black motherf***er, and let me suck your d**k.” FBI sources told Taylor Branch about a surveillance tape of King watching a televised rerun of the Kennedy funeral. When he saw the famous moment when Jacqueline Kennedy knelt with her children before her dead husband’s coffin, King reportedly sneered, “Look at her. Sucking him off one last time.”

Despite his obsession with sex and his betrayal of his own wife and children, and despite Christianity’s call for fidelity, King continued to claim the moral authority of a Baptist minister.

Whites

King stated that the “vast majority of white Americans are racist” and that they refused to share power. His solution was to redistribute wealth and power through reparations for slavery and racial quotas:

“No amount of gold could provide an adequate compensation for the exploitation and humiliation of the Negro in America down through the centuries. Not all the wealth of this affluent society could meet the bill. Yet a price can be placed on unpaid wages. … The payment should be in the form of a massive program by the government of special, compensatory measures which could be regarded as a settlement.” Continued King, “Moral justification for such measures for Negroes is rooted in the robberies inherent in the institution of slavery.” He named his plan the Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged. Some poor whites would also receive compensation because they were “derivative victims of slavery,” but the welfare of blacks was his central focus.

King has been praised, even by conservatives, as the great advocate of color-blindness. They focus too narrowly on one sentence in his “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he said he wanted to live in a nation “where [my children] will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The truth is that King wanted quotas for blacks. “[I]f a city has a 30 percent Negro population,” King reasoned, “then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30 percent of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas.”

One of King’s greatest achievements is said to have been passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At the signing ceremony on July 2, he stood directly behind President Lyndon Johnson as a key guest. The federal agency created by the act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, now monitors hiring practices and ensures that King’s desires for racial preferences are met.

Like liberals today, King denied racial differences. In a reply to an interviewer who told him many Southern whites thought racial differences were a biological fact, he replied:

“This utterly ignorant fallacy has been so thoroughly refuted by the social scientists, as well as by medical science, that any individual who goes on believing it is standing in an absolutely misguided and diminishing circle. The American Anthropological Association has unanimously adopted a resolution repudiating statements that Negroes are biologically, in innate mental ability or in any other way inferior to whites.”

The conclusions to be drawn from his belief in across-the-board equality were clear: failure by blacks to achieve at the level of whites could be explained only by white oppression. As King explained in one interview, “I think we have to honestly admit that the problems in the world today, as they relate to the question of race, must be blamed on the whole doctrine of white supremacy, the whole doctrine of racism, and these doctrines came into being through the white race and the exploitation of the colored peoples of the world.” King predicted that “if the white world” does not stop this racism and oppression, “then we can end up in the world with a kind of race war.”

Communism

In his public speeches, King never called himself a communist, instead claiming to stand for a synthesis of capitalism and communism: “[C]apitalism fails to realize that life is social. Communism fails to realize that life is individual. Truth is found neither in the rugged individualism of capitalism nor in the impersonal collectivism of communism. The Kingdom of God is found in a synthesis that combines the truths of these two opposites.”

However, David Garrow found that in private King “made it clear to close friends that economically speaking he considered himself what he termed a Marxist.” Mr. Garrow passes along an account of a conversation C.L.R. James, a Marxist intellectual, had with King: “King leaned over to me saying, ‘I don’t say such things from the pulpit, James, but that is what I really believe.’… King wanted me to know that he understood and accepted, and in fact agreed with, the ideas that I was putting forward—ideas which were fundamentally Marxist-Leninist. … I saw him as a man whose ideas were as advanced as any of us on the Left, but who, as he actually said to me, could not say such things from the pulpit. … King was a man with clear ideas, but whose position as a churchman, etc. imposed on him the necessity of reserve.” J. Pius Barbour, a close friend of King’s at seminary, agreed that he “was economically a Marxist.”

Some of King’s most influential advisors were Communists with direct ties to the Soviet Union. One was Stanley Levison, whom Mr. Garrow called King’s “most important political counselor” and “at Martin Luther King’s elbow.” He organized fundraisers for King, counseled him on tax issues and political strategy, wrote fundraising letters and his United Packinghouse Workers Convention speech, edited parts of his books, advised him on his first major national address, and prepped King for questions from the media. Coretta Scott King said of Levison that he was “[a]lways working in the background, his contribution has been indispensable,” and Mr. Garrow says the association with Levison was “without a doubt King’s closest friendship with a white person.”

What were Levison’s political views? John Barron is the author of Operation SOLO, which is about “the most vital intelligence operation the FBI ever had sustained against the Soviet Union.” Part of its work was to track Levison who, according to Mr. Barron, “gained admission into the inner circle of the communist underground” in the US. Mr. Garrow, a strong defender of King, admits that Levison was “one of the two top financiers” of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), which received about one million dollars a year from the Soviet Union. Mr. Garrow found that Levison was “directly involved in the Communist Party’s most sensitive financial dealings,” and acknowledged there was first-hand evidence of Levison’s “financial link to the Soviet Union.”

Hunter Pitts O’Dell, who was elected in 1959 to the national committee, the governing body for the CPUSA, was another party member who worked for King. According to FBI reports, Levison installed O’Dell as the head of King’s New York office, and later recommended that O’Dell be made King’s executive assistant in Atlanta.

King knew his associates were Communists. President Kennedy himself gave an “explicit personal order” to King advising against his “shocking association with Stanley Levison.” Once when he was walking privately with King in the White House Rose Garden, Kennedy also named O’Dell and said to King: “They’re Communists. You’ve got to get rid of them.”

The Communist connections help explain why Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy authorized the FBI to wiretap King’s home and office telephones in October 1963. Kennedy, like his brother John, was deeply sympathetic to King but also aware of the threat of communism.

Mr. Garrow tried to exonerate King of the charge of being a fellow traveler by arguing that Levison broke with the CPUSA while he worked for King, that is, from the time he met King in the summer of 1956 until King’s death in 1968. However, as historian Samuel Francis has pointed out, an official break with the CPUSA does not necessarily mean a break with the goals of communism or with the Soviet Union.

John Barron argues that if Levison had defected from the CPUSA and renounced communism, he would not have associated with former comrades, such as CP officials Lem Harris, Hunter Pitts O’Dell, and Roy Bennett (Levison’s twin brother who had changed his last name). He was also close to the highly placed KGB officer Victor Lessiovsky, who was an assistant to the head of the United Nations, U Thant.

Mr. Barron asks why Lessiovsky would “fritter away his time and risk his career … by repeatedly indulging himself in idle lunches or amusing cocktail conversation with an undistinguished lawyer [Levison] … who had nothing to offer the KGB, or with someone who had deserted the party and its discipline, or with someone about whom the KGB knew nothing? … And why would an ordinary American lawyer … meet, again and again, with a Soviet assistant to the boss of the United Nations?”

Other Communists who worked with King included Aubrey Williams, James Dombrowski, Carl Braden, William Melish, Ella J. Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Benjamin Smith. King also “associated and cooperated with a number of groups known to be CPUSA front organizations or to be heavily penetrated and influenced by members of the Communist Party”—for example, the Southern Conference Educational Fund; Committee to Secure Justice for Morton Sobell; the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America; the National Lawyers Guild; and the Highlander Folk School.

The CPUSA clearly tried to influence King and his movement. An FBI report of May 6, 1960 from Jack Childs, one of the FBI’s most accomplished spies and a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for Intelligence, said that the CP “feels that it is definitely to the Party’s advantage to assign outstanding Party members to work with the [Martin] Luther King group. CP policy at the moment is to concentrate upon Martin Luther King.”

As Republican Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina concluded in a Senate speech written by Francis, King’s alliance with Communists was evidence of “identified Communists … planning the influencing and manipulation of King for their own purposes.” At the same time, King relied on them for speech writing, fundraising, and raising public awareness. They, in turn, used his stature and fame to their own benefit. Senator Helms cited Congressman John M. Ashbrook, a ranking member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, who said: “King has consistently worked with Communists and has helped give them a respectability they do not deserve. I believe he has done more for the Communist Party than any other person of this decade.”

Christianity

King strongly doubted several core beliefs of Christianity. “I was ordained to the Christian ministry,” he claimed, but Stanford University’s online repository includes King’s seminary writings in which he disputed the full divinity of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection, suggesting that we “strip them of their literal interpretation.”

Regarding the divine nature of Jesus, King wrote that Jesus was godlike, but not God. People called Jesus divine because they “found God in him” like a divinely inspired teacher, not because he literally was God, as Jesus himself claimed. On the Virgin Birth, King wrote:

“First we must admit that the evidence for the tenability of this doctrine is to [sic] shallow to convince any objective thinker. How then did this doctrine arise? A clue to this inquiry may be found in a sentence from St. Justin’s First Apology. Here Justin states that the birth of Jesus is quite similar to the birth of the sons of Zeus. It was believed in Greek thought that an extraordinary person could only be explained by saying that he had a father who was more than human. It is probable that this Greek idea influenced Christian thought.”

Concerning the Resurrection, King wrote: “In fact the external evidence for the authenticity of this doctrine is found wanting.” The early church, he says, formulated this doctrine because it “had been captivated by the magnetic power of his [Jesus’] personality. This basic experience led to the faith that he could never die. And so in the pre-scientific thought pattern of the first century, this inner faith took outward form.” Thus, in this view, Jesus’ body never rose from the dead, even though according to Scripture, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.”

Two other essays show how King watered down Christianity. In one, he wrote that contemporary mystery religions influenced New Testament writers: “[A]fter being in contact with these surrounding religions and hearing certain doctrines expressed, it was only natural for some of these views to become part of their subconscious minds. … That Christianity did copy and borrow from Mithraism cannot be denied, but it was generally a natural and unconscious process rather than a deliberate plan of action.” In another essay, King wrote that liberal theology “was an attempt to bring religion up intellectually,” and the introduction to the paper at the Stanford website says that King was “scornful of fundamentalism.” King wrote that in fundamentalism the Trinity, the Atonement, and the Second Coming are “quite prominent,” but again, these are defining beliefs of Christianity.

Known and unknown

King is both known and unknown. Millions worldwide see him as a moral messiah, and American schools teach young children to praise him. In the United States there are no fewer than 777 streets named for him. But King is also unknown because only a few people are aware of the unsavory aspects of his life. The image most people have of King is therefore cropped and incomplete.

In the minds of many, King towers above other Americans as a distinguished orator and writer, but this short, 5’6½" man often stole the words of others. People believe he was a Christian, but he doubted some of the fundamentals of the faith. Our country honors King, but he worked closely with Communists who aimed to destroy it. He denied racial differences, but fought for racial favoritism in the form of quotas. He claimed to be for freedom, but he wanted to force people to associate with each other and he promoted the redistribution of wealth in the form of reparations for slavery. He quoted the ringing words of the Bible and claimed, as a preacher, to be striving to be more like Jesus, but his colleagues knew better.

Perhaps he, too, knew better. His closest political advisor, Stanley Levison, said King was “an intensely guilt-ridden man” and his wife Coretta also called him “a guilt-ridden man.” Levison said that the praise heaped upon King was “a continual series of blows to his conscience” because he was such a humble man. If King was guilt-ridden might it have been because he knew better than anyone the wide gap between his popular image and his true character?

The FBI surveillance files could throw considerable light on his true character, but they will not be made public until 2027. On January 31, 1977, as a result of lawsuits by King’s allies against the FBI, a US district judge ordered the files sealed for 50 years. There are reportedly 56 feet of records — tapes, transcripts, and logs — in the custody of the National Archives and Record Service.

Meanwhile, for those who seek to know the real identity of this nearly untouchable icon, there is still plenty of evidence with which to answer the question: Was Martin Luther King, Jr. America’s best and greatest man?

COMPLEMENT:

Why ‘I have a dream’ was and still is an exceptionally good speech

by JC Durbant

As a biographer of Martin Luther King’s famous 1963 speech recently said, a great speech is a speech that is “both timely and timeless”, that is a speech that is both adapted to the occasion and its immediate audience but also a speech that will stand the test of time. And ‘I have a dream’ obviously qualifies on both counts.

Timely because it appealed to and had a message for all the different types of audience that were then present, the over 200, 000 thousands who were physically there on Washington’s Mall and the probably millions who were listening in or watching at home on their radios or televisions. To the ordinary blacks who needed encouragement for the present and hope for the future (“we are not be satisfied”, “go back to Mississippi”) and the militant blacks who were tempted by the violent ways of Malcom X and the Black panthers (“discipline”, “dignity”). But also to the average whites and the largely white authorities who needed to understand the black population’s unacceptable condition and their responsibility in it as well as the white supremacists who needed to be shown blacks were just as American as they were and not the savages they portrayed them to be (“police brutality”, “lodging in motels and hotels”, “For Whites only signs”, the northern “ghettoes”, the “vote” question).

And timeless because it appealed to all that was then and still is sacred to all Americans. First by placing itself literally in the shadow of US history’s most respected president (the majestic Lincoln memorial but also the centennial of his Emancipation Proclamation which offered freedom to the South’s slaves willing to fight for it). But also by profusely and patriotically quoting from the founding texts of the nation: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (”unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”) as well as the old national anthem (“America, my country ‘tis of thee”) and the Liberty bell’s biblical motto (“proclaim liberty throughout the land”). And of course, not to mention the Gettysburg Address reference (“five score years ago”), the naming of all the major states and a Shakespeare half quote (“summer of discontent” from the opening of Richard III), from the Bible itself – King never let you forget he was a pastor – both directly (“justice rolls down like waters”, “every valley shall be exalted”) and through an old Negro spiritual (“Free at last”).

But both timely and timeless by the way Dr. King and his speechwriters so effectively made use of all the riches of eloquence and rhetoric. From the easy-to-remember anaphora and epistrophe (the famous “I have a dream” – which is also “deeply rooted” in the quintessential American dream – repeated no less than eight times, “now is the time”, “satisfied”, “let freedom ring”, “free at last”, “together”) to the biblical cadences and parallelisms. From the analogies, comparisons and metaphors to the alliterations, rhymes and rhetorical questions, not to mention the humor and irony (“bad check”, perhaps the only direct reference to the March’s original goal of jobs). And of course from King himself, the deep, powerful voice to inspire, build up emotion and win over both heads and hearts. Then, as the crowd’s cheering amply shows in the recording but also as the civil rights legislation and his Nobel prize proved the following year or just more recently his own national holiday and memorial in the nation’s capital. And still, fifty-one years later – and not just to Americans – under an African-American president, today.

I Have A Dream

Common, 2006

(I am happy…I Have a Dream) I got a Dream

(That One Day ) Were gonna work it out out out

(I Have a Dream) I got a Dream

(That One Day) That one day

(That One Day) I’ma look deep within myself

(I Have a Dream) I gotta find a way…

My Dream Is To Be Free

In search of brighter days, I ride through the maze of the madness,

Struggle is my address, where pain and crack lives,

Gunshots comin’ from sounds of Blackness,

Given this game with no time to practice,

Born on the Black list, told I’m below average,

A life with no cabbage,

That’s no money if you from where I’m from,

Funny, I just want some of your sun

Dark clouds seem to follow me,

Alcohol that my pops swallowed bottled me,

No apology, I walk with a boulder on my shoulder,

It’s a Cold War – I’m a colder soldier,

Hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King,

I ain’t usin’ it for the right thing,

In between Lean and the fiens, hustle and the schemes,

I put together pieces of a Dream

I still have one

Chorus

The world’s seen me lookin’ in the mirror,

Images of me, gettin’ much clearer,

Dear Self, I wrote a letter just to better my soul,

If I don’t express it then forever I’ll hold, inside

I’m from a side where we out of control,

Rap music in the ‘hood played a fatherly role,

My story’s like yours, yo it gotta be told,

Tryna make it from a gangsta to a godlier role,

Read scrolls and stow slaves,

And Jewish people in cold cage,

Hate has no color or age, flip the page,

Now my rage became freedom,

Writin’ dreams in the dark, they far but I can see ‘em,

I believe in Heaven more than Hell,

Blessings more than jail,

In the ghetto let love prevail,

With a story to tell, my eyes see the glory and well,

The world waitin’ for me to yell "I Have a Dream


Mimétisme: Attention, un triangle peut en cacher bien d’autres ! (From Venitian vanitas and Venus in sackcloth to NSFW, nude yoga and pubic hair mannequins: the long road to the domestication of the male gaze)

19 janvier, 2014
Debate: Shoppers have had mixed reactions to the window display, with some agreeing that it' a positive move for feminism and others believing it is too graphichttp://medias.unifrance.org/medias/170/200/116906/format_page/belle-comme-la-femme-d-un-autre.jpghttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/BeBb3GJIIAAbIWR.jpgTu ne convoiteras point la femme de ton prochain; tu ne désireras point la maison de ton prochain, ni son champ, ni son serviteur, ni sa servante, ni son boeuf, ni son âne, ni aucune chose qui appartienne à ton prochain. Deutéronome 5: 21
Si le Décalogue consacre son commandement ultime à interdire le désir des biens du prochain, c’est parce qu’il reconnait lucidement dans ce désir le responsable des violences interdites dans les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Si on cessait de désirer les biens du prochain, on ne se rendrait jamais coupable ni de meurtre, ni d’adultère, ni de vol, ni de faux témoignage. Si le dixième commandement était respecté, il rendrait superflus les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Au lieu de commencer par la cause et de poursuivre par les conséquences, comme ferait un exposé philosophique, le Décalogue suit l’ordre inverse. Il pare d’abord au plus pressé: pour écarter la violence, il interdit les actions violentes. Il se retourne ensuite vers la cause et découvre le désir inspiré par le prochain. René Girard
Monsieur le président, mesdames les ministres, cet amendement concerne l’article 206 du code civil. J’évoquais tout à l’heure Jaurès. Je souhaite maintenant convoquer les mânes de Courteline, Feydeau, Labiche et Guitry. Pourquoi ? Parce qu’en transformant l’article 206, mes chers collègues, vous supprimez la belle-mère ! Vous supprimez un personnage essentiel de leur théâtre ! Vous portez un coup terrible au théâtre de boulevard ! La belle-mère disparaît ! Marc Le Fur (député UMP, débat parlementaire sur la suppression des mots "père" et "mère", 05.02.13)
Je vous jure, Monseigneur, qu’il n’existe pas d’homme perspicace qui ne la prenne pour une femme en chair et en os. Il n’existe pas d’homme assez usé par les ans, ni d’homme aux sens assez endormis, pour ne pas se sentir réchauffé, attendri et ému dans tout son être. Ludovico Dolce
Les toiles de Titien et les Sonnets luxurieux de l’Arétin ont la même raison – érotique – d’être. Mais, à la différence de ces sonnets, les nus de Titien peuvent sembler répondre à l’exigence du Livre du Courtisan de Baldassar Castiglione, livre de chevet de l’empereur Charles Quint, livre qui régit les convenances de toutes les cours : « Pour donc fuir le tourment de cette passion et jouir de la beauté sans passion, il faut que le Courtisan, avec l’aide de la raison, détourne entièrement le désir du corps pour le diriger vers la beauté seule, et, autant qu’il le peut, qu’il la contemple en elle-même, simple et pure, et que dans son imagination il la rende séparée de toute matière, et ainsi fasse d’elle l’amie chérie de son âme. Pascal Bonafoux
Le système de l’amour du prochain est une chimère que nous devons au christianisme et non pas à la nature. Sade
Il me semblait même que mes yeux me sortaient de la tête comme s’ils étaient érectiles à force d’horreur. Georges Bataille
Il arriverait, si nous savions mieux analyser nos amours, de voir que souvent les femmes ne nous plaisent qu’à cause du contrepoids d’hommes à qui nous avons à les disputer, bien que nous souffrions jusqu’à mourir d’avoir à les leur disputer ; le contrepoids supprimé, le charme de la femme tombe. On en a un exemple douloureux et préventif dans cette prédilection des hommes pour les femmes qui, avant de les connaître, ont commis des fautes, pour ces femmes qu’ils sentent enlisées dans le danger et qu’il leur faut, pendant toute la durée de leur amour, reconquérir ; un exemple postérieur au contraire, et nullement dramatique celui-là, dans l’homme qui, sentant s’affaiblir son goût pour la femme qu’il aime, applique spontanément les règles qu’il a dégagées, et pour être sûr qu’il ne cesse pas d’aimer la femme, la met dans un milieu dangereux où il lui faut la protéger chaque jour. (Le contraire des hommes qui exigent qu’une femme renonce au théâtre, bien que, d’ailleurs, ce soit parce qu’elle avait été au théâtre qu’ils l’ont aimée. Proust
Vous nous avez fait faire tout ce chemin pour nous montrer quoi: un triangle à la française ? Eglinton (Ulysse, James Joyce)
Elle était belle comme la femme d’un autre. Paul Morand
En 1974, un accident de la circulation impliquant le président Giscard d’Estaing, qui conduisait lui-même une voiture aux côtés d’une conquête, au petit matin dans une rue de Paris avait fait les titres de la presse satirique. (…) Mitterrand, entre deux dossiers, consacrait beaucoup de temps à son harem. Chirac nommait ses favorites au gouvernement. Ses disparitions nocturnes entraînaient l’inévitable question de Bernadette : "Savez-vous où est mon mari ce soir?" C’est ainsi: en France, sexe, amour et politique sont indissociables. Sexus Politicus
Les sorties de l’Elysée en direction d’un souterrain où l’attendaient un scooter et un casque intégral, les séjours rue du Cirque (cela ne s’invente pas) semblent sortir d’une comédie de boulevard ou d’un vaudeville. La France est passée en quatre décennies d’un Président qui sortait de l’Elysée en petite voiture discrète pour aller voir ses maîtresses, et qui pouvait heurter le camion du laitier à l’aurore à un Président polygame entretenant sa deuxième famille aux frais du contribuable, avant que vienne le célèbre monsieur « trois minutes douche comprise ». Elle a échappé au priapique du Sofitel de New York pour avoir le premier Président non marié et acteur burlesque à ses heures, dans le rôle « je trompe ma femme, mais elle ne le sait pas, d’ailleurs ce n’est pas ma femme ». Ce Président a voulu le mariage pour les homosexuels, mais surtout pas pour lui-même. Guy Millière
L’éventail proposé dans Benefits Street est large : il y a la mère de famille polonaise qui élève seule ses deux enfants et tente de trouver un boulot, un couple de 22 et 23 ans avec deux enfants qui ne travaille pas, une famille de 14 Roumains, récemment installés, qui inspectent les poubelles pour trouver du métal afin de le revendre, le vieil alcoolique revendiqué qui explique fièrement «être la vedette du programme et avoir inventé le titre» et affirme utiliser ses allocations pour nourrir son chien et acheter ses bouteilles. Bref, on plonge droit dans le cliché complet de ce que certaines critiques – et elles sont nombreuses – ont qualifié de "pornographie de la pauvreté". Libération

Après le mariage, le vaudeville pour tous !

A l’heure où, oubliant le double accident qui entre le rejet de Sarkozy et la défection de DSK l’avait fait, l’actuel maitre de la synthèse qui nous tient actuellement lieu de président vient de rappeler au monde l’une des plus grandes contributions du pays de Sade et de Bataille à la compréhension de la nature humaine, à savoir le fameux "French triangle"  de nos célébrissimes pièces de boulevard …

Et en ces temps du tout est permis où le terme de pornographie ne peut plus guère qualifier que le rappel de la pauvreté …

Pendant que, du yoga nu aux mannequins aux poils pubiens, nos cousins américains rivalisent d’ingéniosité pour contourner les nouveaux interdits du "male gaze" des féministes et du NSFW de leurs employeurs …

Comment ne pas voir derrière les efforts titienesques de nos premiers grands peintres il y a quelque 500 ans pour tenter de légitimer, entre vénus et marie-madeleines, leur célébration du corps humain et surtout féminin …

Et, du voyeurisme (autre importante contribution lexicale française au monde) au contrepoids proustien ou à la pulsion scopique freudienne ou au miroir lacanien, derrière les efforts non moins titanesques de nos romanciers et de nos cliniciens  …

La vérité, longtemps oubliée depuis l’avertissement multimillénaire du dixième commandement mais retrouvée et théorisée récemment par René Girard, de la nature intrinsèquement triangulaire du désir humain  …

Autrement dit, comme le rappelle si efficacement, le titre morandien d’un film (français) qui vient de sortir sur nos écrans, qu’aucune femme n’est jamais aussi belle que la femme d’un autre ?

To NSFW or not to NSFW? (now SFW)

Roger Ebert

October 31, 2010

This entry is safe for work.

I hesitated just a moment before including Miss June 1975 in my piece about Hugh Hefner. I wondered if some readers would find the nude photograph objectionable. Then I smiled at myself. Here I was, writing an article in praise of Hefner’s healthy influence on American society, and I didn’t know if I should show a Playmate of the Month. Wasn’t I being a hypocrite? I waited to see what the reaction would be.

The Sun-Times doesn’t publish nudes on its site, but my page occupies a sort of netherland: I own it in cooperation with the newspaper, but control its contents. If anyone complains, I thought, it will be the paper, and if they do I’ll take it down.

You dance with the one that brung you. But no one at the newspaper said a word, even though they certainly saw the page because the same article also appeared in the Friday paper. Hefner was in town for the weekend for a nostalgic visit to his childhood home, and a screening at the Siskel Film Center of the new documentary about his life . He’s a local boy who made good.

At first no one at all objected to the photo, even though the entry was getting thousands of hits. It went online early on Sunday afternoon. But Monday was a workday, and a reader asked if it had occurred to me to label it NSFW ("not suitable for work"). The thought may have crossed my mind, but come on, would anybody be surprised to find a nude somewhere during a 2,200-word piece on Hef? It wasn’t like I was devoting a whole page to it; I embedded it at a prudent 300 pixels. Like this:

Sorry. After learning that the mere presence of this photograph could get you fired and my blog put on a restricted list, I have removed the "prudent 300 pixels" and linked the photograph here.

Then other readers started wondering about a NSFW warning. They weren’t objecting to the photo; indeed, no one ever did, even some readers who felt Hefner had been a pernicious influence on the world. Feminist readers, some well known and respected by me, spoke of his objectification of the female body, his misuse of the Male Gaze, and so on. But no one objected to the photo itself. No, they explained that they read the column at work ("during lunch break," of course) and were afraid a supervisor or co-worker might see a nude on their monitor. I asked one of these readers if his co-workers were adults. Snark.

As a writer, it would have offended me to preface my article with a NSFW warning. It was unsightly — a typographical offense. It would contradict the point I was making. But others wrote me about strict rules at their companies. They faced discipline or dismissal. Co-workers seeing an offensive picture on their monitor might complain of sexual harassment, and so on. But what about the context of the photo? I wondered. Context didn’t matter. A nude was a nude. The assumption was that some people might be offended by all nudes.

This was a tiny version of this photograph. When will we grow up?

I heard what they were saying. I went in and resized the photo, reducing it by 2/3, so that it was postage-stamp 100 pixel size (above) and no passer-by was likely to notice it. This created a stylistic abomination on the page, but no matter. I had acted prudently. Then I realized: I’d still left it possible for the photo to be enlarged by clicking! An unsuspecting reader might suddenly find Miss June 1975 regarding him from his entire monitor! I jumped in again and disabled that command.

This left me feeling more responsible, but less idealistic. I knew there might be people offended by the sight of a Playmate. I disagreed with them. I understood that there were places where a nude photo was inappropriate, and indeed agree that porn has no place in the workplace. But I didn’t consider the photograph pornographic. Having grown up in an America of repression and fanatic sin-mongering, I believe that Hefner’s influence was largely healthy and positive. In Europe, billboards and advertisements heedlessly show nipples. There are not "topless beaches" so much as beaches everywhere where bathers remove swimsuits to get an even tan.

At Cannes you see this on the public beach, and pedestrians nearby on the Croisette don’t even stop to notice. Ironically, the only time you see a mob of paparazzi is when some starlet (on the Carlton Hotel pier say), is making a show of removing her clothes. Then you have a sort of meta-event, where paparazzi are photographing other paparazzi photographing this event. It’s all a ritual. The clothes come off, the photographers have a scrum, everyone understands it’s over, and the paparazzi leave, sometimes while the starlet is still standing there unadorned. In Europe, people know what the human body looks like, and are rather pleased that it does.

America has a historical Puritan streak, and is currently in the midst of another upheaval of zeal from radical religionists. They know what is bad for us. They would prefer to burn us at a metaphorical stake, but make do with bizarre imprecations about the dire consequences of our sin. Let me be clear: I am not speaking of sexual behavior that is obviously evil and deserves legal attention. But definitions differ. Much of their wrath is aimed at gays. I consider homosexuality an ancient, universal and irrefutable fact of human nature. Some radicals actually blamed it for 9/11. For them the ideal society must be Saudi Arabia’s, which I consider pathologically sick.

When we were making "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," I got to know Cynthia Myers and Dolly Read (above), the two Playmates in the film, and have followed them through the years. They have good memories of the experience. I am in touch with Marcia McBroom, the actress who played the third of the movie’s rock band members. She is a social activist, loves the memory of her Hollywood adventure, and recently sponsored a benefit showing of BVD for her Africa-oriented charity, the For Our Children’s Sake Foundation. These women looked great in the 1970s and they look great today, and let me tell you something I am very sure of: We all want to look as great as we can.

Now back to the woman in the photograph. Her name is Azizi Johari. She went on after her centerfold to have some small success in motion pictures, most notably in John Cassavetes’ "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie." Today she would be in her 50s and I hope is pleased that such a beautiful portrait of her was taken. A reader sent me a link to Titian’s 16th century painting "Venus of Urbino" (below), and suggested to me that this was art and Miss Johari’s photograph was not. I studied them side by side. Both women are unclothed, and regard the viewer from similar reclining postures on carefully-draped divans. I looked at them with the Male Gaze, which I gather that (as a male) is my default Gaze. I want to be as honest as I can be about how these two representations affect me.

Let us assume that the purpose of both artworks is to depict the female form attractively. Both the photographer and the painter worked from live models. Titian required great skill and technique in his artistry. So did the photographer, Ken Marcus, because neither of these portraits pretends to realism. Great attention went to the lighting, art direction and composition of the photograph, and makeup was possibly used to accent the glowing sheen of Miss Johari’s skin. I would argue that both artworks are largely the expressions of imagination.

For me, Miss Johari is more beautiful than Venus. She strikes me as more human. She looks at me. Her full lips are open as if just having said something. Her skin is lustrous and warm. Venus, on the other hand, seems to have her attention directed inward. She is self-satisfied. She seems narcissistic, passive, different. Johari is present. She seems quietly pleased to suggest, "Here I am. This is me." Wisely she avoids the inviting smile I find so artificial in "pin up" photography. She is full of her beauty, aware of it, it is a fact we share. Venus is filled by her beauty, cooled by it, indifferent to our Gaze. If you were to ask me which is the better representation of the fullness of life, I would choose Johari.

Of course abstract artistic qualities are not the point of either work. The pictures intend to inspire a response among their viewers. For men, I assume that is erotic feeling. Women readers will inform me of the responses they feel. Homosexuals of both sexes may respond differently. They will tell me.

For me? Miss June is immediately erotic. I regard first of all her face, her eyes, her full lips and then her breasts, for I am a man and that is my nature. I prefer full lips in women, and hers are wonderful. I admire full breasts. Hers are generous but manifestly natural. The female breast is one of the most pleasing forms in all of nature, no doubt because of our earliest associations. I dislike surgical enhancements. As my friend Russ Meyer complained in the early days of silicone, "It misses the whole principle of the matter."

Miss Johari’s arms and legs are long and healthy, she is trim but not skinny, she is not necessarily posing with her left arm but perhaps adjusting a strand of hair. I find the dark hue of her skin beautiful. Photographs like this (she was the fifth African-American Playmate) helped men of all races to understand that Black is Beautiful at a time when that phrase came as news to a lot of people. In a blog about her, I find she was "the first black Playmate to have distinctly African features." Another entry could be written about that sentence.

As for Venus of Urbino, she has no mystery at all. I look at her and feel I know everything, and she thinks she does too. She gives no hint of pleasure or camaraderie. If you tickled her with a feather, she would be annoyed. Miss Johari, I imagine, would burst into laughter and slap the feather. I can see myself having dinner with her. To have dinner with Venus would be a torment. My parting words would be, "This bill is outrageous! I wouldn’t pay it if I were you!"

Of course these are all fantasies. I know nothing about either model. That is what we do with visual representations of humans; we bring our imaginations to them. It’s the same with movies. The meaning is a collaboration between the object and the viewer. That is how we look at pictures, and how we should. If it seems impertinent of my to compare the photograph with the painting, the best I can do i quote e. e. cummings:

mr youse needn’t be so spry

concernin questions arty

each has his tastes but as for i i likes a certain party

gimme the he-man’s solid bliss for youse ideas i’ll match youse

a pretty girl who naked is is worth a million statues

Now as to the problem of the workplace. I understand there will be pictures on a computer screen that will be offensive. I get that. Why will they be offensive? Perhaps because they foreground a worker’s sexual desires, and imply similar thoughts about co-workers. Is that what’s happening with the blog entry on Hefner? Is anyone reading it for sexual gratification? I doubt it. That’s what bothers me about so many of the New Puritans. They think I have a dirty mind, but I think I have a healthy mind. It takes a dirty mind to see one, which is why so many of these types are valued as censors or online police.

The wrong photographs on a screen might also suggest a blanket rejection of the values of the company. Some corporations require an adherence to company standards that is almost military. Sex has a way of slicing through all the layers of protocol and custom and revealing us as human beings. But lip service must be paid to convention.

We now learn that the recent Wall Street debacle was fueled in part by millions spent on prostitution and drugs. We have seen one sanctimonious politician and preacher after another exposed as a secret adulterer or homosexual. I don’t have to ask, because I guess I know: If an employee in the office of one of those bankers, ministers or congressman had Azizi Johari on his screen, he would be hustled off to the HR people.

I haven’t worked in an office for awhile. Is there a danger of porn surfing in the workplace? Somehow I doubt it. There is a greater danger, perhaps, of singling out workers for punishment based on the zeal of the enforcers. And of course there is always this: Supervisors of employee web use, like all employees, must be seen performing their jobs in order to keep them.

There is also this: Perfectly reasonable people, well-adjusted in every respect, might justifiably object to an erotic photograph on the computer monitor of a coworker. A degree of aggression might be sensed. It violates the decorum of the workplace. (So does online gaming, but never mind.) You have the right to look at anything on your computer that can be legally looked at, but give me a break! I don’t want to know! I also understand that the threat of discipline or dismissal is real and frightening.

I’ve made it through two years on the blog with only this single NSFW incident. In the future I will avoid NSFW content in general, and label it when appropriate. What a long way around I’ve taken to say I apologize.

Voir aussi:

Behind the mask

Jonathan Jones

The Guardian

04 January 2003

Very little is recorded of the life of the great Renaissance artist Titian. What we do know of his personality and his turbulent sexuality is laid bare in his painting

He could not help looking. It was an accident – well, all right, an accident combined with curiosity. But what was a man to do? Actaeon, the story goes, was out hunting with his friends in the woods when he got lost. That was his only mistake, really – that and looking at a naked goddess. "There is nothing sinful in losing one’s way," points out the ancient Roman poet Ovid, who tells the story of Actaeon in his fabulist poem Metamorphoses, written 2,000 years ago.

The grandson of Cadmus had hunted all morning with his friends, and their nets and swords were dripping with blood, when Actaeon suggested they call it a day and enjoy the noon heat. He himself wandered off from the sweaty mob into a thickly overgrown valley, and found a cave. It was a beautiful and refreshing place, entered via a graceful arch, and inside there was cold, clear water, flowing from a spring into a deep pool where Diana, goddess of the hunt, liked to come to cool off when she was tired from shooting her bow and hurling her javelin. Here she was, accompanied by her nymphs, who took her weapons and her clothes so that, naked, unencumbered, she could bathe. And that was when Actaeon blundered in.

Did his eyes fix on her breasts, her thighs? Or did he try not to look? Diana didn’t care if he was guilty or innocent. She was a modest goddess. She hadn’t got her bow, so instead she threw water – magic water – in the young fool’s face, yelling at him, "Now go and tell everyone you saw Diana naked – if you can!" Actaeon was growing antlers, his face was turning furry. Diana turned him into a stag – a dumb male animal, his phallic antlers useless when what he needed, and no longer had, was a voice to tell his hunting dogs it was him, their master, Actaeon, that they were hunting down.

In Titian’s painting The Death Of Actaeon, the dogs have just caught up with their hapless master. They are good, zealous dogs, doing what they were trained to do. In a line of energy, they fly at him – the three pack leaders are already on him. In Titian’s version, some details of Ovid’s story are changed in a way that brilliantly simplifies and intensifies the action, and heightens its emotion. Titian’s Actaeon has the body of a burly man; only his head has changed into that of a very stupid-looking stag, like a dead, stuffed trophy fixed on to his shoulders. The strangest thing about Actaeon’s head is that you can barely see his eye on the profile facing us; Titian – who painted the reflective depths of eyes as well as anyone in history – has chosen here to blind Actaeon in a painterly equivalent to Ovid’s robbing him of speech.

Titian’s painting has humour – it’s a blackly comic tale of voyeurism punished, and Titian relishes Diana’s mighty presence in a way that’s joyous and celebratory – but it is also heartfelt, sombre, magnificently piteous. The tragedy is in the trees. They are yellow and brown and seared and autumnal; these are not the fresh, green trees of youth, but the tired woods of age, decay; it is as if Actaeon’s youth has sped into senescence as the life not lived flashes in front of him. And yet those trees are lovely; the matted texture of them is so deliberately thick and rough that you can feel it on your skin, on your face. You can feel the stormy air, too, the chill breeze before the storm that those roiling clouds and that terrific sky – eerily turning from grey to yellow – promise.

It was said that Tiziano Vecellio was 104 years old when he died in 1576. This was probably an exaggeration, but an understandable one – 500 years ago, living beyond your 30s was an achievement. The one rival to Titian’s crown as the supreme genius of Renaissance Venice – the romantic, turbulent Giorgione – died of plague as a young man in 1510, after less than a decade’s work. Titian outlived him, and the average life span, by 10, 20, 30 . . . eventually, in that world, you lost count. He was probably born in the 1480s, making him between 86 and 96 when he died. Which means that Titian was at least in his 60s when he wrote to Philip II of Spain in June 1559, telling him he had "two poesie already under way: one of Europa on the Bull, the other of Actaeon torn apart by his own hounds".

Actaeon never got to Spain; it never joined the collection commissioned by Philip II from Titian, illustrating myths from Ovid. Instead, it seems to have stayed in his studio, possibly until his death. It is a chromatically muted painting – very different from the erotic, visual banquets of Titian’s other poesie; some say that it is unfinished, that it would have eventually looked much brighter. But I think the lack of finish is telling. The Death Of Actaeon seems to me a fearsomely personal work. It is one of those paintings in which Titian speaks about himself: he is Actaeon. An Actaeon grown old, a frenzied animal at the mad mercy of his eye, his roving, incredible eye.

About his greatness there has never been any doubt – not since he painted his astonishing altarpiece of the Assumption in the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice as an up-and-coming contender in 1516-18. The Frari is a gothic church, high and bare, its glory a tall, semicircular network of arched windows that turns its south-west wall into a broken dazzle of sunlight. Insanely, the ambitious Titian accepted a commission to make an altar painting to stand in front of this wall of light – a painting that was doomed to be cast into a deep shadow, to seem a mere eccentric, dull daub against the sun that shone above and around it.

Titian’s painting meets the sun on equal terms. It is so bright, the gold heaven towards which the Virgin Mary is raised on a cloud borne by putti is so luminous, that instead of being overpowered by the sunlight streaming above, it seems that the sun is paying its compliments to Titian. Look more closely, and it turns out that Titian has tricked the eye by mimicking the contrast of light and shade that threatens to dull his painting. Down at the bottom of the seven metre tall panel, at our level, the disciples – as we do – look up at the ascending Virgin; they are in shade in a dowdy space. At the very centre of the earthbound crowd is a black hole. Up above, the heavenly gold light Mary enters is a shining circle, its circumference clearly defined by angels’ faces, and it gets whiter towards the centre: it is a depiction of the sun. Seeing how this light outshines the cooler colours below, we somehow accept that this painted sun is as powerful as the real one. Titian is a magician, and this is his most jaw-dropping sleight of hand.

No one has ever questioned that this is one of the world’s indispensable works of art; and no one has ever questioned Titian’s stature. He is the painter’s painter, and he is also the prince’s painter (not to mention, as he was nicknamed, the Prince of Painters); he is the expert’s painter and the people’s painter; he has never gone out of fashion, not in his lifetime, not ever. His art is endlessly fresh and generative. Even when they parodied him – Manet’s Olympia is a travesty of Titian’s Venus Of Urbino – artists learned from him, studied him, were inspired by him.

The three most influential post-Renaissance painters, Velázquez, Rubens and Rembrandt, were devoted to Titian – Rembrandt modelled one of his own self-portraits on Titian’s Portrait Of A Man (with a blue sleeve) in the National Gallery; Velázquez learned his luxurious style from Titians in the Spanish royal collection; Rubens copied many of his paintings. More than anyone else, Titian shaped our idea of painting – what it is, what it is capable of.

When he was young, oil painting was a new idea, and it was used with a raw excitement, as if every painting were a scientific discovery – the first time a landscape was depicted in convincing perspective, the first accurate painting of a reflection. When Titian died, oil painting had grown up – it had at its command an incredible array of techniques, an empire of the visual. It was Titian who created this empire. It was Titian who demonstrated the full range of powers specific to painting on canvas – to be at once a convincing imitation of appearances and also something else, something abstract. At the same time he displayed painting’s sensuality: when the American artist Willem de Kooning said oil paint was invented to depict flesh, it must have been Titian (and his disciple, Rubens) he was thinking of. Today, it is possible to argue that Titian was the most influential painter in history. And because his painterliness has an abstract quality, he has continued to influence modern artists. In the 19th century, Delacroix took Titian’s colour into realms of romantic madness – his Death Of Sardanapalus is a psychotic riff on Titian – and Degas took up his cult of the flesh. Even today, the best living painters, Gerhard Richter (who has done versions of Titians) and Lucian Freud, echo different aspects of Titian.

Titian is part of a triumvirate, with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who invented the very idea of the modern artist. Da Vinci and Michelangelo, in their refusal to complete commissions and, in Michelangelo’s case, his stroppiness, established the image of the self-pleasing, wilful genius; Titian, partly because of his long career, but mostly through his dominance of a Europe-wide art market in which kings and princes collected his work for decades, established the authority of painting. He once dropped his brush in the presence of Emperor Charles V, and it was the Emperor who insisted on picking it up in deference to Titian.

And yet, he wears a mask. He lived for perhaps 90 years, in the most sophisticated city in the world, and he was famous from his 20s onwards. He was by all accounts an articulate, courtly, sociable man, a close friend of the writers Ariosto and Aretino, bright enough to be sent on diplomatic missions on behalf of the Venetian Republic, refined enough to become the companion of kings. And yet behind the screen of constant, smooth success, his life is practically unknown. His work, because of that, retains an enigmatic distance. The Frari altarpiece is Venice’s answer to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel; and yet it’s nothing like as touristed because Titian doesn’t have the charisma of Michelangelo, his Florentine contemporary. Titian’s personality doesn’t burst out of the past like Michelangelo’s.

Titian never said anything quotable, but Michelangelo said something quotably mean about Titian. In the 1540s, Titian worked for a while in Rome. There, Michelangelo visited his studio. Titian had just finished his painting of Danaë – illustrating another tale from ancient mythology, in which the god Jupiter takes the form of a shower of gold to make love to Danaë. He did several versions of the painting – but the one Michelangelo saw is the best (part of the Capodimonte Museum exhibit in Naples, it is coming to the National Gallery’s Titian exhibition). It is the erotic pendant to Titian’s Frari altarpiece; just as he creates his own blazing sun in the Frari, here he makes flesh and gold merge in an uncanny, inexplicable bit of magic – a painting that is at once sensual and mystical, or rather, that is mystical about the senses.

As in the Frari, it is the play of light and darkness that weaves a spell. On her bed, the naked Danaë is warmed by subtly golden light. Titian captures the richness rather than the vulgarity of gold: that is also true of the almost bronze cloud, flecked with coins, that looms above Danaë in a dark, dense interior. The void of darkness at the centre makes the scene incomplete, luring the viewer to complete it; the imagination does this by abstracting and fusing the colours of skin and gold, that hang in memory as a dream, a vision of desire beyond verbal expression.

After seeing this incredible painting, Michelangelo praised the painting to Titian’s face. When he left the studio, however, he commented that it was very nice, its colouring was very nice – but it was a pity that Titian couldn’t draw.

Michelangelo’s put-down is the most celebrated expression of the fundamental difference between Florentine and Venetian art: while Tuscan Renaissance artists believed that line came first, Venetian painting defines space by colour, and it is in his colours that Titian’s personality will be found, in the texture of his paint. Titian’s paintings are not designed, then filled in; they exist in total spontaneity, in the brushing that Titian makes visible. His paintings are not smooth; he paints on rough canvas in which paint catches; and he pursues the same emotive, personal themes across his long career. Titian was a high-class kind of guy; his friend, the poet Aretino, commented on how Titian always knew how to speak to a lady, kissing hands, making courtly jests. And there’s a pleasure in civilised restraint – or, perhaps, a need for it – that distinguishes his art. This comes out most profoundly in his love of genre.

Titian, I think, enjoyed the discipline of objective rules – for example the conventions of portraiture – which he could then stretch, challenge, reinvent. His incredibly lifelike Portrait Of A Man (with a blue sleeve), painted in 1512, which may be a self-portrait, is an example of this. Titian’s joy as an artist in this painting is purely technical; he reinvents the repertoire of poses available to painters. Doing something stylish, Titian communicates something personal – the deeply felt presence of this unnamed 16th-century man.

Titian’s most accomplished genre of all is the one he himself invented or helped to invent – that of erotic mythology. There had been classical mythological paintings in Italy since the 15th century, but the kind of narrative, Ovidian art for which Titian is famous was new; it was his genre, the "poesie", as he called his paintings for Philip II. If genre is a discipline, and literary subject matter is an objective constraint, what Titian gave himself when he developed his unique kind of narrative painting was a way of both restraining and at the same time releasing – in a stylised, mediated way – his own sexuality. It is as if he was so obsessed with eroticism, so obsessed with women – like Picasso in his sometimes loving, sometimes hateful portraits – that he had to invent a new art of organised fantasy, of civilised eroticism.

Because the fantasies that Titian painted, from early on, are not just the lovingly painted, perhaps slightly complacent images of bountiful, sexually generous women, such as his Venus Of Urbino in the Uffizi – a painting that strikes you as pure body, openly desired by the artist. Or his dreamlike Le Concert Champêtre in the Louvre, once attributed to Giorgione, in which the same woman – depicted twice, including from behind, as if Titian wanted to record her entire physical presence – is the unashamedly naked attendant, the sexy yet docile companion, of two fully dressed men (this is a another picture Manet parodied – Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe).

Titian loved women – this has to be the least debatable statement in the history of art. This wasn’t just sex. He painted women as heroic and strong social actors – his portrait known as La Schiavona in the National Gallery stands above a marble relief of her own face, making her resemble a proud Roman matron, and she’s a big, forceful character. And the most brilliant of all Titian’s portraits, the most lovingly alive, is his dignified picture of a two-year-old girl, Clarissa Strozzi.

Titian’s emotional life pervades his paintings. Far from coming easily, the civilised tone of his art seems hard-won – violence, rage, terror are frothing in his brushwork. His overriding eroticism is not something worked up for patrons – although there was obviously a market for paintings like "the nude lady", as the man who commissioned it called the Venus Of Urbino – but something in him which painting allows him to project, simultaneously to enjoy and control.

Through his career, he is drawn to fierce and violent images. In his very first major public commission, a series of frescoes in Padua, he includes a scene of shocking brutality: the story of a jealous husband who murdered his wife. She begs for mercy while he prepares to stab her a second time. Later, Titian did several paintings of The Rape Of Lucretia, including a late, expressionistic work comparable to The Death Of Actaeon.

None of this is to say that Titian’s paintings are misogynist, hateful or hypocritical – on the contrary. There is a stale view of paintings such as the Venus Of Urbino, which arises from their popularity in the 19th century, as mildly saucy soft porn. In reality, and this is the source of his power, Titian’s sexuality is complicated, emotional, tortured and alive; his paintings embody the desires and terrors of a man who was capable of acute jealousy, anger, and a kind of religious worship of women.

Titian’s paintings of women are personal in another way. The same models recur in many of his pictures. One group of paintings seems to depict a woman who – a flower she holds suggests – may have been called Violante. It used to be said she was his lover and the pictorial evidence makes that romantic Victorian idea very plausible. The woman who posed as Flora, Titian’s most iconic beauty, is also in his painting Sacred And Profane Love. Flora is interpreted in all kinds of ways – as the goddess Flora, as a Venetian courtesan, as an image of correct sexual behaviour in a Venetian marriage – but the intimacy and warmth and passion of this painting (which is coming to the National Gallery from the Uffizi in Florence) might actually be Titian’s, and her, secret. Many of his most erotic paintings may be games in which Titian paints monuments to his lovers under the guise of heady mythological and pastoral art. It has even been suggested that Flora is Titian’s mistress Cecilia, whom he finally married in 1525 to legitimise their children.

Titian, so quiet about himself and so organised in his professional career, is in reality a powder keg of emotion, artfully channelled but never suppressed; his art is profoundly confessional. The Death Of Actaeon is a confession. And at the end of his life, Titian movingly drops all his elaborate strategies, takes off his Venetian mask and addresses us – and his God – directly in one of the most unguarded paintings anywhere. Only a master of irony could make such a total confession; only a master of colour could make a painting that is so denuded of it: Titian’s Pietà in the Accademia in Venice was painted as an ex-voto offering, a prayer, when Titian was very old and when Venice, the city he adored, was being devastated by plague. Titian’s Pietà pleads (the text is on a painted tablet) for mercy for Titian himself and for his son, Orazio. Titian puts himself in the painting, an almost naked, bearded old man, pathetically and hopelessly touching the hand of the dead Christ. Light has almost gone from the world – apart from a dull glow on the mosaic above Christ’s dimly shining corpse, the painting sinks into reveries of shadow, of death. If you look, you will eventually see what you fear, and in this last painting Titian sees death, his own death. Titian’s offering failed; neither he nor Orazio outlived the plague epidemic.

What is striking is that Titian, in his 80s, or 90s, or – who knows? – at the age of 104, so obviously wanted more life, more colour, more flesh. And looking at his paintings, so do we

· Titian is at the National Gallery, London WC2 (020-7747 5898), from February 19-May 18, 2003.

Voir également:

Italy’s Most Mysterious Paintings: Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love

Walks of Italy

November 29, 2012

Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love… a beautiful, and mysterious, painting in Italy!

Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love is the gem of Rome’s Borghese gallery… and one of the most famous paintings of Renaissance Italy. It’s so beloved, in fact, that in 1899, the Rothschild family offered to pay the Borghese Gallery 4 million lira for the piece—even though the gallery’s entire collection, and the grounds, were valued at only 3.6 million lira!

Perhaps the painting is so famous simply because of its beauty and because it’s a masterpiece by the Renaissance great Titian.

Or perhaps people have fallen in love with it because of its hidden secrets and symbolism—much of which art historians still don’t completely understand!

There’s a lot of mysterious stuff going on here.

At first glance, the painting might just look like another portrait of two lovely ladies, with a pastoral background behind them.

Look again.

First of all, there are the women themselves. One is clothed, bejeweled, and—seemingly—made up with cosmetics. She’s wearing gloves, and holding a plant of some kind. The other is (almost) stark naked, holding just a torch.

The church and pasture in Sacred and Profane Love

Then look at what they’re sitting on. That’s no carved-marble bench… that’s a sarcophagus. In other words, a coffin, of the type the ancient Romans used.

And it’s a strange sarcophagus, because it appears to be filled with water, which a cherubic baby is swirling.

Look even closer, and you can see a spout in the sarcophagus’ front, which the water is pouring out of and, seemingly, watering a growing plant below.

In the background, meanwhile, you have some other strange things going on: On our left, a horse and rider race up a mountaintop to a looming fortress, while two hares appear to be playing (or chasing each other); on our right, shepherds herd sheep in a pasture in front of a picturesque church, while a dog chases a hare.

Nothing that’s here is here by mistake. So what does it all mean?

We’re not sure. We have to rely on our knowledge of the painting’s symbols and hidden meanings to find out. And that’s because…

We don’t even know the real title of one of the most famous paintings in Europe

Although the piece is called Sacred and Profane Love, that’s not its original name. In fact, we don’t know what its original name was.

Here’s what we do know: Titian painted the piece in 1513-1514, at the age of just 25. And it was commissioned to celebrate the marriage of Niccoló Aurelio, a secretary to the Council of Venice, to Laura Bagarotto. No name is listed in the records for the painting, but in 1693, almost 200 years after it was painted, it showed up in the Borghese Gallery’s inventory under the name Amor Divino e Amor Profano (“divine love and profane love”).

…or what it’s supposed to show.

Sacred—or profane?

For a long time, art historians thought that the painting was supposed to show two different kinds of love: the sacred, and the profane.

It’s definitely safe to say the painting is about love. Symbols of love are scattered throughout, from the roses on the sarcophagus to the myrtle the woman on our left clasps (more on that later!). And, of course, the painting was a marriage gift, which would make this focus highly appropriate.

But does it show sacred and profane love? Well, if so, that might explain the background. The fortress, symbol of war and humanity, could symbolize the profane (or worldly); the church would, obviously, symbolize the sacred.

And it could explain the two women. Perhaps one is meant to be a Venus showing what worldly love looks like; the other, a Venus showing us sacred love.

But the interesting question is:

If this is true, then which of the two women represents sacred love, and which is the profane?

Is nudity actually a sign of the sacred? (Maybe!)

At first glance, you might think the woman on our left represents sacred love. After all, she’s clothed! The other, naked one would, of course, represent worldly, amorous love.

Some aspects of each woman’s costume do back up that theory, because there are so many hidden symbols here! For example, the clothed woman’s belt was generally considered a symbol of marital ties; and the myrtle in her hand symbolized the lasting happiness of marriage. On the other hand, the nude woman’s flame symbolized earthly lust.

But look again, and you see just as much symbolism pointing us in the opposite direction. For one thing, the clothed woman is seated, and therefore below—and closer to the earth than—her nude counterpart. She’s wearing gloves for falconry, or hunting, and holding a case of jewels, both signs of worldly pursuits. And she’s dressed very sumptuously (and not all that modestly!), with rich fabrics and even a touch of cosmetics.

But heavenly beauty doesn’t need any worldly adornment. The nude woman, therefore, might be sacred.

The key could be Cupid, mixing the waters in the sarcophagus…

Water swirls in the sarcophagus… and waters a growing plant?

Of course, that’s no baby between the two depictions of love (in this interpretation, two versions of Venus, goddess of love, herself): It’s Cupid. By mixing the waters in the well/sarcophagus, he might be suggesting that the ideal love is, in fact, a mix of these two kinds.

But this painting might not even be about sacred and profane love.

In the 20th century, art historian Walter Friedländer argued that the painting wasn’t about these two types of love at all. He thought it showed Polia and Venere, two characters in Francesco Colonna’s popular 1499 romance Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (don’t worry, there won’t be a test on that name!).

Another interpretation that’s much more simple… and makes a lot of sense? The painting could show the bride, Laura Bagarotto, herself, dressed in virginal white on the left. And the nude woman on the right? She might be Venus, initiating Laura into what love is like—complete with showing her the passion that’s necessary to make a marriage work (the torch).

But no one is sure what this painting really means. There’s a lot going on here, that’s for sure. And it’s kept art historians interested—and arguing!—for centuries.

Voir encore:

Titien ou l’art plus fort que la nature : être Apelle

Pascal Bonafoux

Ecrivain et critique d’art. Professeur d’histoire de l’art à l’université.

Clio

Le 5 janvier 1857 dans son Journal, Delacroix note : « Si l’on vivait cent vingt ans, on préférerait Titien à tout. » Cézanne affirme quant à lui : « La peinture, ce qui s’appelle la peinture, ne naît qu’avec les Vénitiens. » Cézanne songe à Titien comme il songe à Tintoret et à Véronèse. Peu lui importe que Titien ait près de trente ans, trente ans peut-être, lorsque naît Tintoret, qu’il ait dix ans de plus lorsque naît Véronèse en 1528. Ces regards de peintres sont essentiels. Parce qu’ils savent ce que « regarder », ce que « voir » veut dire. Parce qu’ils savent ce que « peindre » veut dire. Or la peinture est la seule vérité de Titien. Pour le reste…

Plus jeune en sa jeunesse, plus âgé en son vieil âge

Le 1er août 1571, Titien écrit à Philippe II pour réclamer des sommes qui lui sont dues. Il se dit dans cette lettre « serviteur du roi, maintenant‚ âgé de quatre-vingt-quinze ans ». Un émissaire espagnol, un certain Garcia Hernandez, dans un rapport daté du 15 octobre 1564, assure que Titien a près de quatre-vingt-dix ans. Raffaello Borghini écrit, quelques années après la mort du peintre, qu’il mourut en 1576 « à l’âge de quatre-vingt-dix-huit ou quatre-vingt-dix-neuf ans ». Ce qui confirme à peu près la même date… Titien serait né en 1477…

Dans le registre de la paroisse de San Canciano où meurt Titien le 27 août 1576, on inscrit son âge : cent trois ans. Titien serait né en 1473… Dans une lettre du 6 décembre 1567, Thomas de Cornoça, consul d’Espagne à Venise, affirme alors au roi que Titien a « quatre-vingt-cinq ans ». Titien serait né en 1482… Lorsqu’il lui rend visite en 1566, Vasari note que Titien a alors « environ soixante-seize ans ». Titien serait né en 1490… Dans le Dialogo della Pittura qu’il publie à Venise en 1557, Lodovico Dolce, qui est de ses amis, assure que lorsqu’il entreprit de peindre les fresques du Fondaco dei Tedeschi auprès de Giorgione en 1508, il « n’avait pas encore vingt ans ». Titien serait donc né en 1488…

1477, 1473, 1482, 1488, 1490 ?… Jeune, longtemps Titien a sans doute laissé entendre qu’il était plus jeune encore. Pour que l’on ne doute pas de sa précocité. Âgé, Titien n’a vu aucun inconvénient à ce qu’on le crut plus vieux qu’il n’était. Pour que l’on rende hommage aux prodiges dont il ne cessait pas d’être capable en dépit de son âge.

Prouver qu’il est Titien

Regarder la peinture de Titien, c’est devoir songer à une lettre de Pietro Aretino – l’Arétin – qui regarde la nuit tomber sur Venise. « Vers certains côtés apparaissait un vert-bleu, vers d’autres un bleu-vert, des tons vraiment composés par un caprice de la nature, maîtresse des maîtres. À l’aide des clairs et des obscurs, elle donnait de la profondeur ou du relief à ce qu’elle voulait faire avancer ou reculer; et moi qui connais votre pinceau comme son inspirateur, je m’exclamai trois ou quatre fois : Ô Titien, où êtes-vous donc ? » Posée en mai 1544, la question reste sans réponse… Ou, plus exactement, les seules réponses qui vaillent sont celles de la légende, de la fable et du mythe. Parce que, grevées de soupçons, elles s’accordent aux silences qui bruissent de sens qui sont ceux de ses toiles.

Les lettres de Titien, celle adressée en 1513 au Conseil des Dix de la Sérénissime République de Venise, celle écrite en 1530 à Frédéric de Gonzague, duc de Mantoue, celle qu’il fait écrire en 1544 par Giovanni della Casa au cardinal Alessandro Farnese, celle encore qu’il adresse en 1545 à Sa Très Sainte Majesté Césarienne, Charles Quint, l’assurance qu’il donne en 1562 à Philippe II : « J’emploierai tout le temps de vie qui me reste pour faire le plus souvent possible à Votre Majesté Catholique la révérence de quelque nouvelle peinture, travaillant pour que mon pinceau lui apporte cette satisfaction que je désire et que mérite la grandeur d’un si haut roi », toutes ces lettres sont celles d’un peintre qui semble n’avoir d’autre ambition que de servir. Maldonne. Titien n’est, n’a jamais été fidèle qu’à Titien. Titien ne sert, n’a servi, que Titien.

Et tous les moyens lui auront été bons. Récit de Vasari : « À ses débuts, quand il commença à peindre dans la manière de Giorgione, à dix-huit ans à peine, fit le portrait d’un gentilhomme de la famille Barbarigo, son ami… on le jugea si bien peint et avec tant d’habileté que, si Titien n’y avait mis son nom dans une ombre, on l’aurait pris pour une œuvre de Giorgione. » Titien ne laisse pas longtemps son nom dans l’ombre… Il n’a voulu qu’on le confonde avec Giorgione, emporté par la peste en 1510, que parce que cette confusion le sert lorsqu’il n’a pas vingt ans encore. Lorsque les « faux » Giorgione qu’il a peints lui ont acquis la renommée qu’il estime devoir lui revenir, il n’a plus d’autre ambition que de prouver qu’il est Titien. Donc incomparable.

Le 5 octobre 1545, Titien lui-même écrit à Charles Quint : « Très Sainte Majesté Césarienne, j’ai remis au Seigneur Don Diego de Mendoza les deux portraits de la Sérénissime Impératrice, pour lesquels j’ai été aussi vigilant que possible. J’aurai voulu les apporter moi-même, mais la longueur du voyage et mon âge ne me le permettent pas. Je prie Votre Majesté de me faire dire les erreurs et les manquements, en me les renvoyant afin que je les corrige ; et que Votre Majesté ne permette pas qu’un autre y touche. » Nouvelle lettre impatiente, le 7 décembre 1545 : « Très Sainte Majesté Césarienne, j’ai envoyé il y a quelques mois à Votre Majesté par les mains du Seigneur Don Diego votre ambassadeur le portrait de la sainte mémoire de l’Impératrice votre épouse, fait de ma main, avec cet autre qui me fut donné par elle comme modèle. J’attends avec un infini dévouement de savoir si mon œuvre Vous est parvenue et si elle Vous a plu ou non. Car si je savais qu’elle vous a plu, je sentirais dans l’âme un contentement que je ne suis pas capable d’exprimer… » On raconte que devant ce portrait peint en 1545 de sa femme Isabelle de Portugal morte le 1er mai 1539, l’empereur pleura. Titien peut ne plus douter de la puissance de sa peinture. Qu’il peigne une impératrice morte ou une déesse, son pouvoir est le même.

« L’art plus puissant que la nature »

En 1554, quelques mois avant qu’une toile dont le Livre X des Métamorphoses d’Ovide a tenu lieu de modèle, quelques mois avant que la toile, récit de l’amour que porte Venus à Adonis, jeune mortel, ne soit expédiée à Madrid, Ludovico Dolce décrit l’œuvre découverte dans l’atelier de Titien : « Je vous jure, Monseigneur, qu’il n’existe pas d’homme perspicace qui ne la prenne pour une femme en chair et en os. Il n’existe pas d’homme assez usé par les ans, ni d’homme aux sens assez endormis, pour ne pas se sentir réchauffé, attendri et ému dans tout son être. » Les toiles de Titien et les Sonnets luxurieux de l’Arétin ont la même raison – érotique – d’être. Mais, à la différence de ces sonnets, les nus de Titien peuvent sembler répondre à l’exigence du Livre du Courtisan de Baldassar Castiglione, livre de chevet de l’empereur Charles Quint, livre qui régit les convenances de toutes les cours : « Pour donc fuir le tourment de cette passion et jouir de la beauté sans passion, il faut que le Courtisan, avec l’aide de la raison, détourne entièrement le désir du corps pour le diriger vers la beauté seule, et, autant qu’il le peut, qu’il la contemple en elle-même, simple et pure, et que dans son imagination il la rende séparée de toute matière, et ainsi fasse d’elle l’amie chérie de son âme. »

Le 10 mai 1533, Charles Quint nomme Titien comte du Palazzo Laterrano, du Consiglio Aulico et du Consistoro. Il lui accorde encore le titre de comte palatin et de chevalier « dello Sperone ». Titien a libre accès à la cour. Enfin l’empereur reconnaît à ses fils, auxquels il concède le titre de « Nobles de l’Empereur », les mêmes privilèges qu’à ceux qui portent un pareil titre depuis quatre générations. La devise que se choisit Titien est NATURA POTENTIOR ARS – l’art est plus puissant que la nature. Elle s’accorde à celle de Charles Quint, « Plus oultre ». Même volonté. Même orgueil.

Apelle, mythe et modèle

Au monastère de San Yuste où il se retire après avoir, rongé par la goutte, abdiqué à Bruxelles, le 28 août 1556, comme aucun empereur ne l’a fait depuis Dioclétien quelque douze siècles plus tôt, Charles Quint emporte plusieurs tableaux de Titien. Titien n’a peut-être pas eu d’autre ambition que d’être l’Apelle de cet empereur. D’Apelle, mort vers 300 avant J.-C., il ne reste rien. Il ne reste qu’un nom que rapportent quelques fragments de textes anciens, il ne reste que quelques anecdotes… Reste un mythe. C’est à ce mythe que Titien s’identifie.

On rapporte qu’Apelle datait des œuvres à l’imparfait. Le légat du pape à Venise commande à Titien un polyptyque. Lorsqu’il l’achève en 1520, il le signe et le date TICIANUS FACIEBAT MDXXII. À l’imparfait. Comme Apelle. Description par Ovide de l’œuvre la plus célèbre d’Apelle : « L’on voit Vénus ruisselante séchant avec ses doigts sa chevelure humide, toute couverte des eaux où elle vient de naître. » En 1520 peut-être, Titien peint une pareille Vénus qui essuie ses cheveux. Comme Apelle.

Pline assure : « Il n’y a de gloire que pour les artistes qui ont peint des tableaux. Il n’y avait aucune peinture à fresque d’Apelle. » Titien ne peint que de rares fresques. Après 1523, il n’en peint plus aucune. Comme Apelle. Alexandre, rapporte encore Pline, « avait interdit par ordonnance qu’aucun autre peintre fit son portrait. »

Charles Quint ne commande plus son portrait qu’à Titien qu’il dit en 1536 être son « Premier peintre ». Titien a auprès de Charles Quint la place qui fut, auprès d’Alexandre, celle d’Apelle. Titien est Apelle. Presque. Un geste de Charles Quint est nécessaire encore. Roger de Piles rapporte en 1708 : « Titien donna tant de jalousie aux courtisans de Charles Quint, qui se plaisait dans la conversation de ce peintre, que cet empereur fut contraint de leur dire qu’il ne manquerait jamais de courtisans, mais qu’il n’aurait pas toujours un Titien. On sait encore que ce peintre ayant un jour laissé tomber un pinceau en faisant le portrait de Charles Quint, cet empereur le ramassa, et que sur le remerciement et l’excuse de Titien lui en faisait, il dit ces paroles : Titien mérite d’être servi par César. » Par ce geste qui fut celui d’Alexandre qui, raconte-t-on, se baissa pour ramasser le pinceau d’Apelle, Charles Quint fait de Titien un nouvel Apelle – comme il se sacre lui-même l’égal d’Alexandre le Grand.

Voir enfin:

How long for France’s accidental president?

Konrad Yakabuski

The Globe and Mail

Jan. 16 2014

The narrow Paris laneway where French President François Hollande allegedly conducted his trysts, in a rented apartment tied to the Corsican mafia, is called Rue du Cirque – Circus Street, owing to its history as the site of a 19th-century summer carnival. And the no-drama nerd who promised to restore decorum to the presidency after the bling and histrionics of Nicolas Sarkozy has certainly ended up creating a circus worthy of his media-baiting predecessor.

In choosing not to marry his companion when he entered the Élysée Palace, Mr. Hollande was supposed to be making an honest break from the French tradition of presidents who had sexless wives for official functions but sexy mistresses for fun or love. Mr. Hollande was the modern man, finding his soulmate and satisfying protocol in his common-law relationship with journalist Valérie Trierweiler.

Ms. Trierweiler (pronounced Tree-air-vay-lair) became France’s first unmarried first lady, with her own Elysée office, staff, state schedule and web page. Allegations that Mr. Hollande has been having an affair with a younger actress have thrown Ms. Trierweiler’s official status up in the air and left the Socialist Mr. Hollande’s carefully constructed 2014 agenda in tatters. His own ministers see him as a millstone and his ability to govern his fractured nation is in doubt.

To be clear, the French don’t give a flying steak-frites about whom their presidents sleep with. But they do prize elegance. Mr. Sarkozy was an affront to both, with his messy marital breakup, his remarriage to a tipsy model, his new-money friends and his flashy presence. If Mr. Sarkozy’s private life was an open book, it was a cheesy Harlequin the French had no desire to read.

François Mitterrand had elegance. Three decades ago, he could maintain a second family without the media making a fuss or questioning the first-lady status of wife Danielle. Both wife and mistress attended his 1996 burial, which, while noted, was hardly big news.

Mr. Hollande’s mistake was to believe his after-hours dalliances would be treated with similar discretion by the mainstream media. The presidency is no longer held in much reverence by the French. Today, not even Mr. Mitterrand could get away with living a double life, especially if seen to be interfering with his job or contradicting the image he was seeking to project.

But what the French find most galling about Mr. Hollande’s alleged affair, which he has not denied, is his sloppiness. The photos of the helmet-wearing President sneaking out on the back of a scooter, with minimal security detail following him, raise serious questions about whether those protecting this G-7 head of state are plain incompetent or just out to undermine their boss.

Didn’t the Groupe de securité de la présidence de la République, France’s secret service, know of paparazzi snapping photos from a building adjacent to where Mr. Hollande allegedly met actress Julie Gayet? Didn’t it know that the apartment was rented by a Gayet acquaintance whose two previous partners (one of whom was murdered just this year) had possible ties to the Corsican mafia?

This is not just tabloid fodder. Even Le Monde is playing the conspiracy card, asking whether Mr. Sarkozy’s aim of recapturing power had something to do with a gossip magazine’s publication of the compromising photos just four days before Mr. Hollande was set to give a critical speech. “At the Elysée, those loyal to [Mr. Sarkozy] are still in place, particularly in the GSPR,” Le Monde wrote in Monday’s edition.

Mr. Hollande’s Tuesday speech came after a disastrous year economically in France. In pledging tax and spending cuts, Mr. Hollande aimed to make headlines with new pro-business policies and a goal to spread French influence globally. But those ambitions now look laughable, as steamier headlines crowd out Mr. Hollande’s desired narrative.

All this makes the otherwise jovial Mr. Hollande a tragicomic figure. He became president by accident; voters did not so much choose him as reject Mr. Sarkozy. But he has been true to his nickname (Flanby, after a jiggly French custard dessert). In office, he’s had the consistency of Jell-O, with ambiguous policies that please no one in his factionalized party or the broader electorate.

All he had going for him was the appearance of normalcy at home. Now, that’s gone. How long before he is, too?


Fête des boites/Fête de la Saint Etienne: Attention, une dispute peut en cacher une autre ! (Boxing Day/St Stephen’s Day: Why Christmas brings back bad memories for Jews)

26 décembre, 2013
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/Golden_bough.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/Paolo_Uccello_-_Stoning_of_St_Stephen_-_WGA23196.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/31/Disputation.jpg/220px-Disputation.jpgEarly: Shops opened from 6am today to help bargain-hunters spend as much time as possible insideAh ! quel beau matin, que ce matin des étrennes ! Arthur Rimbaud
Israel has nothing against Christmas or Christmas trees … These symbols remind many Jews of how their ancestors were persecuted in Europe by Christians. Yuli Edelstein (Knesset Speaker, 2013)
Chers pèlerins francophones, au lendemain de Noël, le martyre du diacre Etienne montre que la naissance du Fils de Dieu a inauguré une ère nouvelle, celle de l’amour. L’amour abat les barrières entre les hommes. Il les rend frères en les réconciliant par le pardon, donné et reçu. Que l’intercession de saint Etienne, fidèle jusqu’au bout au Seigneur, soutienne les chrétiens persécutés et que notre prière les encourage ! À sa suite, témoignons sans peur, avec courage et détermination de notre foi. Bonnes fêtes à tous !" Benoit XVI (2012)
Il sera le juge des nations, L’arbitre d’un grand nombre de peuples. De leurs glaives ils forgeront des hoyaux, Et de leurs lances des serpes: Une nation ne tirera plus l’épée contre une autre, Et l’on n’apprendra plus la guerre. Esaïe 2: 4
Je vous laisse la paix, je vous donne ma paix. Je ne vous donne pas comme le monde donne. Que votre coeur ne se trouble point, et ne s’alarme point. Jésus (Jean 14: 27)
Ne croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jésus (Matthieu 10: 34-36)
Aujourd’hui cette parole de l’Écriture, que vous venez d’entendre, est accomplie. … Sans doute vous m’appliquerez ce proverbe: Médecin, guéris-toi toi-même; et vous me direz: Fais ici, dans ta patrie, tout ce que nous avons appris que tu as fait à Capernaüm.Mais je vous le dis en vérité, aucun prophète n’est bien reçu dans sa patrie. Jésus (Luc 4: 21-24)
Nous, nous prêchons Christ crucifié; scandale pour les Juifs et folie pour les païens. Paul (1 Corinthiens 1: 23)
Quelques membres de la synagogue dite des Affranchis, de celle des Cyrénéens et de celle des Alexandrins, avec des Juifs de Cilicie et d’Asie, se mirent à discuter avec lui; mais ils ne pouvaient résister à sa sagesse et à l’Esprit par lequel il parlait. Alors … ils le saisirent, et l’emmenèrent au sanhédrin. … Le souverain sacrificateur dit: Les choses sont-elles ainsi? Étienne répondit: Hommes frères et pères, écoutez! Le Dieu de gloire apparut à notre père Abraham, lorsqu’il était en Mésopotamie, avant qu’il s’établît à Charran; et il lui dit: Quitte ton pays et ta famille, et va dans le pays que je te montrerai. Il sortit alors du pays des Chaldéens, et s’établit à Charran. De là, après la mort de son père, Dieu le fit passer dans ce pays que vous habitez maintenant; il ne lui donna aucune propriété en ce pays, pas même de quoi poser le pied, mais il promit de lui en donner la possession, et à sa postérité après lui, quoiqu’il n’eût point d’enfant. Dieu parla ainsi: Sa postérité séjournera dans un pays étranger; on la réduira en servitude et on la maltraitera pendant quatre cents ans. Mais la nation à laquelle ils auront été asservis, c’est moi qui la jugerai, dit Dieu. Après cela, ils sortiront, et ils me serviront dans ce lieu-ci. Puis Dieu donna à Abraham l’alliance de la circoncision; et ainsi, Abraham, ayant engendré Isaac, le circoncit le huitième jour; Isaac engendra et circoncit Jacob, et Jacob les douze patriarches. Les patriarches, jaloux de Joseph, le vendirent pour être emmené en Égypte. Mais Dieu fut avec lui, et le délivra de toutes ses tribulations; il lui donna de la sagesse et lui fit trouver grâce devant Pharaon, roi d’Égypte, qui l’établit gouverneur d’Égypte et de toute sa maison. Il survint une famine dans tout le pays d’Égypte, et dans celui de Canaan. La détresse était grande, et nos pères ne trouvaient pas de quoi se nourrir. Jacob apprit qu’il y avait du blé en Égypte, et il y envoya nos pères une première fois. Et la seconde fois, Joseph fut reconnu par ses frères, et Pharaon sut de quelle famille il était. Puis Joseph envoya chercher son père Jacob, et toute sa famille, composée de soixante-quinze personnes. Jacob descendit en Égypte, où il mourut, ainsi que nos pères; et ils furent transportés à Sichem, et déposés dans le sépulcre qu’Abraham avait acheté, à prix d’argent, des fils d’Hémor, père de Sichem. Le temps approchait où devait s’accomplir la promesse que Dieu avait faite à Abraham, et le peuple s’accrut et se multiplia en Égypte, jusqu’à ce que parut un autre roi, qui n’avait pas connu Joseph. Ce roi, usant d’artifice contre notre race, maltraita nos pères, au point de leur faire exposer leurs enfants, pour qu’ils ne vécussent pas. A cette époque, naquit Moïse, qui était beau aux yeux de Dieu. Il fut nourri trois mois dans la maison de son père; et, quand il eut été exposé, la fille de Pharaon le recueillit, et l’éleva comme son fils. Moïse fut instruit dans toute la sagesse des Égyptiens, et il était puissant en paroles et en oeuvres. Il avait quarante ans, lorsqu’il lui vint dans le coeur de visiter ses frères, les fils d’Israël. Il en vit un qu’on outrageait, et, prenant sa défense, il vengea celui qui était maltraité, et frappa l’Égyptien. Il pensait que ses frères comprendraient que Dieu leur accordait la délivrance par sa main; mais ils ne comprirent pas. Le jour suivant, il parut au milieu d’eux comme ils se battaient, et il les exhorta à la paix: Hommes, dit-il, vous êtes frères; pourquoi vous maltraitez-vous l’un l’autre?  Mais celui qui maltraitait son prochain le repoussa, en disant: Qui t’a établi chef et juge sur nous? Veux-tu me tuer, comme tu as tué hier l’Égyptien? A cette parole, Moïse prit la fuite, et il alla séjourner dans le pays de Madian, où il engendra deux fils. Quarante ans plus tard, un ange lui apparut, au désert de la montagne de Sinaï, dans la flamme d’un buisson en feu. Moïse, voyant cela, fut étonné de cette apparition; et, comme il s’approchait pour examiner, la voix du Seigneur se fit entendre: Je suis le Dieu de tes pères, le Dieu d’Abraham, d’Isaac et de Jacob. Et Moïse, tout tremblant, n’osait regarder. Le Seigneur lui dit: Ote tes souliers de tes pieds, car le lieu sur lequel tu te tiens est une terre sainte. J’ai vu la souffrance de mon peuple qui est en Égypte, j’ai entendu ses gémissements, et je suis descendu pour le délivrer. Maintenant, va, je t’enverrai en Égypte. Ce Moïse, qu’ils avaient renié, en disant: Qui t’a établi chef et juge? c’est lui que Dieu envoya comme chef et comme libérateur avec l’aide de l’ange qui lui était apparu dans le buisson. C’est lui qui les fit sortir d’Égypte, en opérant des prodiges et des miracles au pays d’Égypte, au sein de la mer Rouge, et au désert, pendant quarante ans. C’est ce Moïse qui dit aux fils d’Israël: Dieu vous suscitera d’entre vos frères un prophète comme moi. C’est lui qui, lors de l’assemblée au désert, étant avec l’ange qui lui parlait sur la montagne de Sinaï et avec nos pères, reçut des oracles vivants, pour nous les donner. Nos pères ne voulurent pas lui obéir, ils le repoussèrent, et ils tournèrent leur coeur vers l’Égypte, en disant à Aaron: Fais-nous des dieux qui marchent devant nous; car ce Moïse qui nous a fait sortir du pays d’Égypte, nous ne savons ce qu’il est devenu. Et, en ces jours-là, ils firent un veau, ils offrirent un sacrifice à l’idole, et se réjouirent de l’oeuvre de leurs mains. Alors Dieu se détourna, et les livra au culte de l’armée du ciel, selon qu’il est écrit dans le livre des prophètes: M’avez-vous offert des victimes et des sacrifices Pendant quarante ans au désert, maison d’Israël?… Vous avez porté la tente de Moloch Et l’étoile du dieu Remphan, Ces images que vous avez faites pour les adorer! Aussi vous transporterai-je au delà de Babylone. Nos pères avaient au désert le tabernacle du témoignage, comme l’avait ordonné celui qui dit à Moïse de le faire d’après le modèle qu’il avait vu. Et nos pères, l’ayant reçu, l’introduisirent, sous la conduite de Josué, dans le pays qui était possédé par les nations que Dieu chassa devant eux, et il y resta jusqu’aux jours de David. David trouva grâce devant Dieu, et demanda d’élever une demeure pour le Dieu de Jacob; et ce fut Salomon qui lui bâtit une maison. Mais le Très Haut n’habite pas dans ce qui est fait de main d’homme, comme dit le prophète: Le ciel est mon trône, Et la terre mon marchepied. Quelle maison me bâtirez-vous, dit le Seigneur, Ou quel sera le lieu de mon repos? N’est-ce pas ma main qui a fait toutes ces choses?… Hommes au cou raide, incirconcis de coeur et d’oreilles! vous vous opposez toujours au Saint Esprit. Ce que vos pères ont été, vous l’êtes aussi. Lequel des prophètes vos pères n’ont-ils pas persécuté? Ils ont tué ceux qui annonçaient d’avance la venue du Juste, que vous avez livré maintenant, et dont vous avez été les meurtriers, vous qui avez reçu la loi d’après des commandements d’anges, et qui ne l’avez point gardée!… En entendant ces paroles, ils étaient furieux dans leur coeur, et ils grinçaient des dents contre lui. Mais Étienne, rempli du Saint Esprit, et fixant les regards vers le ciel, vit la gloire de Dieu et Jésus debout à la droite de Dieu. Et il dit: Voici, je vois les cieux ouverts, et le Fils de l’homme debout à la droite de Dieu. Ils poussèrent alors de grands cris, en se bouchant les oreilles, et ils se précipitèrent tous ensemble sur lui, le traînèrent hors de la ville, et le lapidèrent. Les témoins déposèrent leurs vêtements aux pieds d’un jeune homme nommé Saul. Et ils lapidaient Étienne, qui priait et disait: Seigneur Jésus, reçois mon esprit! Puis, s’étant mis à genoux, il s’écria d’une voix forte: Seigneur, ne leur impute pas ce péché! Et, après ces paroles, il s’endormit. Actes 6: 11- 7: 51-60
Quand viendra le temps du messianisme, ils forgeront des socs avec leurs glaives et des serpes de leurs lances. On ne lèvera plus l’épée peuple contre peuple et l’on n’apprendra plus la guerre. Nahmanide
Quant aux juifs, ils déconcertaient Saint Louis. Ils n’entraient pas dans son schéma du monde: l’Eglise distinguait les chrétiens et les païens. Dans le monde chrétien les hérétiques étaient considérés comme abominables. Mais les juifs étaient à la fois dedans et dehors. Ils sont mêlés aux chrétiens sur un plan territorial, et également religieux par la référence commune à l’Ancien Testament. Saint Louis deviendra au fil du temps de plus en plus antijuif. Je n’emploie pas le terme d’antisémitisme, car il contient une notion de racisme qui n’existait pas alors. Saint Louis voit de plus en plus les juifs sous des traits d’usuriers. Il y eut la malheureuse affaire du Talmud de Babylone que des convertis juifs avaient fait connaître à Saint Louis et qui contenait des horreurs sur le Christ et la Vierge. La dernière année de son règne, il obligea les juifs à porter la rouelle rouge, l’équivalent de la future étoile jaune. Cette mesure avait été décidée par l’Eglise en 1215, mais la plupart des princes chrétiens s’étaient refusés à l’appliquer. Joinville, lui-même très antijuif, soutient que Saint Louis aurait dit qu’il ne faut jamais discuter avec un juif, mais "lui planter l’épée dans le ventre". Il est possible que l’historiographe en ait rajouté. Dans les enseignements de Saint Louis on citait une invitation à réprimer les juifs, qui a été ajouté au texte, probablement lors du procès en canonisation. Saint Louis a été emporté par un courant naissant en Occident qui pouvait aboutir à la «pureté ethnique». Elle apparaîtra surtout en Espagne à la fin du XVe siècle. Saint Louis rêvait d’un royaume "pur" et pensaient que les juifs sont un élément d’impureté. Saint Louis, qui n’a pas été antisémite, car le racisme n’existait pas à l’époque, a contribué à la lointaine naissance de ce qui deviendra l’antisémitisme. Jacques Le Goff
Du reste, que le nouveau pape des fous se rendit compte à lui-même des sentiments qu’il éprouvait et des sentiments qu’il inspirait, c’est ce que nous sommes loin de croire. L’esprit qui était logé dans ce corps manqué avait nécessairement lui-même quelque chose d’incomplet et de sourd. Aussi ce qu’il ressentait en ce moment était-il pour lui absolument vague, indistinct et confus. Seulement la joie perçait, l’orgueil dominait. Autour de cette sombre et malheureuse figure, il y avait rayonnement. Ce ne fut donc pas sans surprise et sans effroi que l’on vit tout à coup, au moment où Quasimodo, dans cette demi-ivresse, passait triomphalement devant la Maison-aux-Piliers, un homme s’élancer de la foule et lui arracher des mains, avec un geste de colère, sa crosse de bois doré, insigne de sa folle papauté. (…)  Alors la confrérie des fous, la première stupeur passée, voulut défendre son pape si brusquement détrôné. Les égyptiens, les argotiers et toute la basoche vinrent japper autour du prêtre. Victor Hugo (Notre Dame de Paris)
Il y avait seize ans à l’époque où se passe cette histoire que, par un beau matin de dimanche de la Quasimodo, une créature vivante avait été déposée après la messe dans l’église de Notre-Dame, sur le bois de lit scellé dans le parvis à main gauche, vis-à-vis ce _grand image_ de saint Christophe que la figure sculptée en pierre de messire Antoine des Essarts, chevalier, regardait à genoux depuis 1413, lorsqu’on s’est avisé de jeter bas et le saint et le fidèle. C’est sur ce bois de lit qu’il était d’usage d’exposer les enfants trouvés à la charité publique. Les prenait là qui voulait. Devant le bois de lit était un bassin de cuivre pour les aumônes. L’espèce d’être vivant qui gisait sur cette planche le matin de la Quasimodo en l’an du Seigneur 1467 paraissait exciter à un haut degré la curiosité du groupe assez considérable qui s’était amassé autour du bois de lit. Le groupe était formé en grande partie de personnes du beau sexe. (…) — Qu’est-ce que nous allons devenir, disait Jehanne, si c’est comme cela qu’ils font les enfants à présent ? — Je ne me connais pas en enfants, reprenait Agnès, mais ce doit être un péché de regarder celui-ci. — Ce n’est pas un enfant, Agnès. — C’est un singe manqué, observait Gauchère. — C’est un miracle, reprenait Henriette la Gaultière. Victor Hugo (Notre Dame de Paris)
Il baptisa son enfant adoptif, et le nomma Quasimodo, soit qu’il voulût marquer par là le jour où il l’avait trouvé, soit qu’il voulût caractériser par ce nom à quel point la pauvre petite créature était incomplète et à peine ébauchée. En effet, Quasimodo, borgne, bossu, cagneux, n’était guère qu’un à peu près. Victor Hugo (Notre Dame de Paris)
La fête des Fous ou fête des Innocents était pratiquée dans beaucoup de villes de France jusqu’au XVIIe siècle. Elle pouvait même être religieuse (cf. évêque-fou et abbé des fous). On l’appelait aussi :fête de l’Âne, des Sous-Diacres, des Diacres-Saouls, des Cornards, des Libertés de décembre, etc. (…) Ces divertissements avaient ordinairement l’église pour théâtre et les ecclésiastiques pour acteurs. Dans certaines églises, pendant les 3 jours de Saint Étienne, de Saint Jean et des Innocents (26, 27 et 28 décembre), un jeune clerc décoré du titre d’évêque des fous, Episcopus stultorum, occupait le siège épiscopal revêtu des ornements pontificaux à l’exception de la mitre, qui était remplacée par une sorte de bourrelet. À la fin de l’office, il recevait les mêmes honneurs que le prélat véritable, et son aumônier prononçait une bénédiction, dans laquelle il demandait pour les assistants le mal de foie, une banne de pardons, vingt bannes de maux de dents, et deux doigts de teigne sous le menton. La fête des Fous, dit Aubin-Louis Millin de Grandmaison, donnait lieu à des cérémonies extrêmement bizarres. On élisait un évêque, et même dans quelques églises un pape des fous. Les prêtres, barbouillés de lie, masqués et travestis de la manière la plus folle, dansaient en entrant dans le chœur et y chantaient des chansons obscènes, les diacres et les sous-diacres mangeaient des boudins et des saucisses sur l’autel, devant le célébrant, jouaient sous ses yeux aux cartes et aux dés, et brûlaient dans les encensoirs de vieilles savates. Ensuite, on les charriait tous par les rues, dans des tombereaux pleins d’ordures, où ils prenaient des poses lascives et faisaient des gestes impudiques. Ce n’étaient pas seulement dans les cathédrales et dans les collégiales que ces joyeusetés se célébraient : elles étaient aussi pratiquées dans les monastères des deux sexes. Les jeunes personnes qu’on pouvait surprendre au lit le jour des Innocents, 28 décembre, recevaient sur le derrière quelques claques, et quelquefois un peu plus, quand le sujet en valait la peine. La coutume de donner les innocents n’est pas un de ces usages isolés qui ne puisse être comparé à aucun autre. Dans diverses villes, les chanoines, les ecclésiastiques, et quelquefois, les séculiers étaient, à certains jours de l’année, pris le matin, dans leur lit et dans un état complet de nudité, conduits par les rues, dans les églises jusque sur l’autel, où on les arrosait d’eau. Des indécences du même genre avaient aussi trouvé leur place parmi les folies que les ecclésiastiques se permettaient le jour des Innocents. Ils allaient jusqu’à promener par la ville et exposer sur des théâtres des hommes entièrement nus. Des mesures furent prises pour mettre fin à ces désordres. (…) En ouvrant son roman « Notre-Dame de Paris » sur la Fête des Fous, Victor Hugo plonge immédiatement son lecteur dans une atmosphère de liesse populaire, laissant transparaître ses opinions sociales. La tradition française de la Fête des Fous commença comme un événement ecclésiastique dans des villes abritant des cathédrales comme Paris et Autun. Le bas clergé réservait le charivari général le 6 janvier, aussi appelé Jour des Rois, parce que les Rois Mages arrivèrent à Bethléem cette même date. Ce jour-là, pendant vingt-quatre heures, ils s’arrogeaient les privilèges réservés d’habitude à leurs supérieurs au sein de la très puissante Église catholique romaine. Au XVe siècle, époque où se déroule le roman d’Hugo, la coutume s’était étendue du clergé à la rue ; devenue un événement public attendu par tous, elle était l’occasion de réjouissances populaires ; on y buvait, y dansait, on y donnait des spectacles de mime, de magie, des tours, des momeries de théâtre, on y faisait des farces. Les dés roulaient dans les églises ; les prêtres marchaient de côté le long des ruelles, déguisés ; des jongleurs, des acrobates, des voyous de tout poil prenaient possession de la rue. (…) Au point culminant de la fête, les farceurs élisaient le Pape des Fous, la plupart du temps un diacre, souvent même un profane ou un étudiant, qui conduisait ensuite à travers les rues de la ville une procession débridée où les bagarres n’étaient pas rares, constituée de membres du clergé et d’hommes du peuple, qui se mêlaient aux noceurs. Paillarde, exubérante, bruyante, subversive, cette fête dérivait d’une ancienne fête romaine dédiée à Saturne, le dieu de l’agriculture. Pendant « Saturnalia », trois jours de fête durant l’hiver, les tribunaux et les écoles étaient fermés et les esclaves étaient les égaux de leurs maîtres. Wikipedia
Thirty days before the festival they chose by lot from amongst themselves a young and handsome man, who was then clothed in royal attire to resemble Saturn. Thus arrayed and attended by a multitude of soldiers he went about in public with full license to indulge his passions and to taste of every pleasure, however base and shameful. But if his reign was merry, it was short and ended tragically; for when the thirty days were up and the festival of Saturn had come, he cut his own throat on the altar of the god whom he personated. In the year A.D. 303 the lot fell upon the Christian soldier Dasius, but he refused to play the part of the heathen god and soil his last days by debauchery. The threats and arguments of his commanding officer Bassus failed to shake his constancy, and accordingly he was beheaded, as the Christian martyrologist records with minute accuracy, at Durostorum by the soldier John on Friday the twentieth day of November, being the twenty-fourth day of the moon, at the fourth hour. (…) This account sets in a new and lurid light the office of the King of the Saturnalia, the ancient Lord of Misrule, who presided over the winter revels at Rome in the time of Horace and Tacitus. It seems to prove that his business had not always been that of a mere harlequin or merry-andrew whose only care was that the revelry should run high and the fun grow fast and furious, while the fire blazed and crackled on the hearth, while the streets swarmed with festive crowds, and through the clear frosty air, far away to the north, Soracte showed his coronal of snow. When we compare this comic monarch of the gay, the civilised metropolis with his grim counterpart of the rude camp on the Danube, and when we remember the long array of similar figures, ludicrous yet tragic, who in other ages and in other lands, wearing mock crowns and wrapped in sceptred palls, have played their little pranks for a few brief hours or days, then passed before their time to a violent death, we can hardly doubt that in the King of the Saturnalia at Rome, as he is depicted by classical writers, we see only a feeble emasculated copy of that original, whose strong features have been fortunately preserved for us by the obscure author of the Martyrdom of St. Dasius. In other words, the martyrologist’s account of the Saturnalia agrees so closely with the accounts of similar rites elsewhere which could not possibly have been known to him, that the substantial accuracy of his description may be regarded as established; and further, since the custom of putting a mock king to death as a representative of a god cannot have grown out of a practice of appointing him to preside over a holiday revel, whereas the reverse may very well have happened, we are justified in assuming that in an earlier and more barbarous age it was the universal practice in ancient Italy, wherever the worship of Saturn prevailed, to choose a man who played the part and enjoyed all the traditionary privileges of Saturn for a season, and then died, whether by his own or another’s hand, whether by the knife or the fire or on the gallows-tree, in the character of the good god who gave his life for the world. In Rome itself and other great towns the growth of civilisation had probably mitigated this cruel custom long before the Augustan age, and transformed it into the innocent shape it wears in the writings of the few classical writers who bestow a passing notice on the holiday King of the Saturnalia. But in remoter districts the older and sterner practice may long have survived; and even if after the unification of Italy the barbarous usage was suppressed by the Roman government, the memory of it would be handed down by the peasants and would tend from time to time, as still happens with the lowest forms of superstition among ourselves, to lead to a recrudescence of the practice, especially among the rude soldiery on the outskirts of the empire over whom the once iron hand of Rome was beginning to relax its grasp. The resemblance between the Saturnalia of ancient and the Carnival of modern Italy has often been remarked; but in the light of all the facts that have come before us, we may well ask whether the resemblance does not amount to identity. We have seen that in Italy, Spain, and France, that is, in the countries where the influence of Rome has been deepest and most lasting, a conspicuous feature of the Carnival is a burlesque figure personifying the festive season, which after a short career of glory and dissipation is publicly shot, burnt, or otherwise destroyed, to the feigned grief or genuine delight of the populace. If the view here suggested of the Carnival is correct, this grotesque personage is no other than a direct successor of the old King of the Saturnalia, the master of the revels, the real man who personated Saturn and, when the revels were over, suffered a real death in his assumed character. The King of the Bean on Twelfth Night and the mediaeval Bishop of Fools, Abbot of Unreason, or Lord of Misrule are figures of the same sort and may perhaps have had a similar origin. James Frazer (The Golden Bough)
Comme ces rites qu’on avait cru noyés dans l’oubli et qui finissent par refaire surface, on pourrait dire que le temps de Noël, après des siècles d’endoctrinement chrétien, vit aujourd’hui le retour des saturnales. André Burguière
En un siècle et demi, l’enfant, à Noël, a donc quitté la rue pour la chaleur du foyer. Celui qui chantait des Carols sous les fenêtres illuminées des maisons bourgeoises a effectué un double passage : de l’espace public à l’espace domestique, de la communaute villageoise à la famille. De créancier de l’adulte, il est devenu récipiendaire d’un dû sans condition. Cependant, ce passage de la vieille année à la nouvelle a conservé sa symbolique profonde, celle d’un danger qui menace l’enfant et, avec lui, menace notre avenir. Mais la conjuration s’exerce de nos jours à travers une dépense somptuaire, un véritable sacrifice familial. Martyne Perrot
Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the weeklong celebration. The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.” Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman. The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time. In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season). In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians. The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday. Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia. As Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.” The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc. The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.” Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681. However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians. Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators. They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily.” As part of the Saturnalia carnival throughout the 18th and 19th centuries CE, rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of missiles. When the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition in 1836 to Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, he responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.” On December 25, 1881, Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Antisemitic frenzies that led to riots across the country. In Warsaw 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped. Two million rubles worth of property was destroyed. Simple to remember
The Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry took an allegorical view of the Saturnalia. He saw the festival’s theme of liberation and dissolution as representing the "freeing of souls into immortality"—an interpretation that Mithraists may also have followed, since they included many slaves and freedmen. According to Porphyry, the Saturnalia occurred near the winter solstice because the sun enters Capricorn, the astrological house of Saturn, at that time. In the Saturnalia of Macrobius, the proximity of the Saturnalia to the winter solstice leads to an exposition of solar monotheism, the belief that the Sun (see Sol Invictus) ultimately encompasses all divinities as one. Perceived relations among the Mithraic mysteries, the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun") on December 25, and the Christian Nativity as celebrated in December are a matter of long-standing and complex scholarly debate. The Mishna and Talmud (Avodah Zara 8a) describe a pagan festival called Saturna which occurs eight days before the winter solstice. It is followed eight days after the solstice with a festival called Kalenda. The Talmud ascribes the origins of this festival to Adam, who saw that the days were getting shorter and thought it was punishment for his sin. He was afraid that the world was returning to the chaos and emptiness that existed before creation. He sat and fasted for eight days. Once he saw that the days were getting longer again he realized that this was the natural cycle of the world, so made eight days of celebration. The Talmud states that this festival was later turned into a pagan festival. (…) Unlike several Roman religious festivals which were particular to cult sites in the city, the prolonged seasonal celebration of Saturnalia at home could be held anywhere in the Empire. Saturnalia continued as a secular celebration long after it was removed from the official calendar. As William Warde Fowler noted, Saturnalia "has left its traces and found its parallels in great numbers of medieval and modern customs, occurring about the time of the winter solstice." A number of scholars, including historian David Stephens from the University of Central Florida and Professor Parker-Ducharme from Tulane University, view aspects of the Saturnalia festival as the origin of some later Christmas customs, particularly the practice of gift giving, which was suppressed by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. During the ancient Roman Saturnalia, human-shaped delicacies were consumed and jovial singing was performed in the streets, which makes it a "precursor of modern gingerbread man" and caroling. The ancient Roman Saturnalia was integrated into Christianity in the 4th century, as a means to mass convert the pagan Roman citizens. Due to its pagan origin, the Christmas festival was banned in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681 by the Puritans as an illegal observance. Certain religious groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses do not observe Christmas for the same or similar reasons. Wikipedia
Macrobe rapporte diverses traditions romaines sur l’origine de cette fête : plusieurs font référence au séjour de Saturne dans le Latium avant la fondation de Rome. Saturne détrôné se serait réfugié en Italie, dans le Latium, où il rassemble les hommes féroces éparpillés dans les montagnes et leur donne des lois. Son règne est un âge d’or, ses paisibles sujets étant gouvernés avec douceur et équité. Les Saturnales vont contribuer à célébrer la mémoire de cet âge heureux de l’exercice du pouvoir. Pour la recherche moderne, les Saturnales sont une fête typique du « crépuscule de l’année » – Saturne est essentiellement le dieu de la période qui précède le solstice d’hiver – comme la fête celtique de Samain, période qui voit des pratiques de potlatch, de banquets et magnificence, pendant laquelle la paix règne et la communication avec le monde des morts est établie.Au cours des Saturnales, les esclaves jouissent d’une apparente et provisoire liberté. Durant cette fête très populaire, l’ordre hiérarchique des hommes et logique des choses est inversé de façon parodique et provisoire : l’autorité des maîtres sur les esclaves est suspendue. Ces derniers ont le droit de parler et d’agir sans contrainte, sont libres de critiquer les défauts de leur maître, de jouer contre eux, de se faire servir par eux. Les tribunaux et les écoles sont en vacances et les exécutions interdites, le travail cesse. On fabrique et on offre de petits présents (saturnalia et sigillaricia). Des figurines sont suspendues au seuil des maisons et aux chapelles des carrefours. Un marché spécial (sigillaria) a lieu. De somptueux repas sont offerts. La population se porte en masse vers le mont Aventin. On enlève à la statue du dieu les chaînes portées par lui, depuis que Jupiter a voulu contenir son appétit dévorant en le soumettant au rythme régulier des astres et des jours. D’abord fêtées le 14 avant les calendes de janvier (19 décembre), puis le 16 avant les calendes (17 décembre) et durant trois jours après la réforme du calendrier de Jules César3, puis quatre jours sous Auguste, puis cinq sous Caligula4, elles finissent par durer sept jours sous Dioclétien, du 17 au 24 décembre. (…) On dit que les Saturnales ont été en partie l’inspiration de fêtes religieuses ou traditionnelles instituées postérieurement : le jour de Noël chrétien reprend le symbole du solstice d’hiver, soit le thème du Sol invictus, (le soleil invaincu). la galette des rois, laquelle sacrait le « roi » de la fête. Par extension, ce terme de Saturnales désigne (…) des fêtes débridées pendant lesquelles tous les excès sont permis ; un temps de débordement, de débauche, de licence, de manifestation violente de pouvoir ou de vice. Wikipedia
Rabbin de Gérone, ensuite chef spirituel de la communauté juive de Catalogne, ami du roi Jacques Ier d’Aragon, il fait office de médiateur à maintes reprises entre la couronne et les almajas. La quiétude dont il jouit est brisée lorsque, en 1263, il est choisi pour une disputatio en présence du roi avec Pablo Christiani, sur l’ordre de Raymond de Penafort. Pablo Christiani, Juif passé au christianisme et devenu frère dominicain (et responsable d’inventions telles que la rouelle), est déjà connu pour avoir tenté de convertir la communauté juive de Provence. La démarche de Christiani est originale : présumant que son adversaire devra rester mesuré, de crainte de heurter la sensibilité des dignitaires chrétiens, il escompte non pas interdire le Talmud, mais au contraire l’utiliser afin de prouver la vérité de la foi et du message chrétien. En effet, il pense pouvoir attester à partir de plusieurs passages attenant à l’Aggada, que les Sages Pharisiens ont pensé que le Messie vivait à l’époque du Talmud, et donc qu’il s’agissait de Jésus. Nahmanide demande, et obtient, la complète liberté d’expression au cours des 4 jours qui vont suivre, du 20 au 24 juillet 1263. Les objets de la dispute de Barcelone furent de savoir : si le Messie était apparu ; si le Messie annoncé par les Prophètes devait être considéré comme divin, ou humain né de parents humains ; qui des Juifs ou des Chrétiens détenait la vraie foi. La tentative de Christiani tourna court. Le Ramban remit les choses dans leur contexte, prouvant que si les rabbins avaient véritablement cru en la messianité de Jésus, ils se seraient convertis. Ses interprétations étaient donc tendancieuses. Par ailleurs, la Aggada ne lie pas davantage les Juifs, que les chrétiens ne sont tenus de croire aux sermons des évêques. Le Ramban précisa que les Juifs étaient tenus de croire en la vérité de la Bible, et ne tenaient compte des arguments théologiques du Talmud que s’ils influençaient la pratique religieuse. De ce point de vue, les Juifs ne sont pas tenus de croire tout point théologique du Talmud, surtout lorsqu’il s’agit d’Aggada. Pour l’argument de Shilo (Le sceptre ne s’éloignera pas de Juda, jusqu’à ce que vienne Shilo), le Ramban fit valoir que, du fait de l’étymologie même du nom, le Messie devrait être humain, de chair et de sang, et non divin. Le Messie aux portes de Rome fut également rapidement réfuté, car cet enseignement aggadique de Rabbi Josué ben Lévi portait sur la fin des guerres et l’avènement d’un règne de paix et de justice. Où était-il aujourd’hui ? Le Ramban fit aussi remarquer que les questions attenant au Messie avaient moins d’importance pour les Juifs que ce que croyaient les Chrétiens. Selon lui, un Juif a en effet plus de mérite à observer les prescriptions divines en terre d’exil, sous le joug chrétien, qu’en Terre promise sous le règne du Messie, où chacun pratiquerait la Loi de façon naturelle. La disputation fut abrégée à la demande pressante des Juifs de Barcelone craignant d’exciter le ressentiment des Dominicains, et se termina sur la victoire éclatante de Nahmanide, le roi allant jusqu’à lui faire don de 300 maravedis en signe de respect. Cependant, le clergé dominicain prétendit avoir remporté la rencontre. Nahmanide fut obligé de relater la Dispute par écrit. Pablo Christiani s’en servit et sélectionna des passages jugés blasphématoires envers la Chrétienté pour forger le Telae Ignis Satanis, où "Bonastruc da Porta, le maître de Gérone" se trouve souvent pris de court face aux arguments pleins de vérité et ne s’échappe qu’à coup desdits blasphèmes. Ce faux permettra de poursuivre tout un qui s’adonnerait à l’étude du Talmud, reconnu ouvrage hérétique et anti-chrétien, mais il entraînera surtout la mise en accusation de Nahmanide. Le roi fit réunir une commission extraordinaire afin d’assurer l’impartialité du procès, qui se tenait en sa présence. Nahmanide admit avoir porté plusieurs atteintes à la Chrétienté, mais n’avoir rien dit d’autre que les arguments prononcés devant le roi, avec jouissance d’une liberté de parole totale. Bien que le roi et la commission reconnussent la justesse de sa défense, les Dominicains obtinrent que les livres de Nahmanide soient brûlés et qu’il soit exilé pour deux ans, ce qui se commua rapidement en bannissement à perpétuité. Wikipedia
Barcelone, juillet 1263 : devant le roi d’Aragon, la cour, et devant les personnalités les plus éminentes de l’Église chrétienne, s’engage une Dispute qui va durer quatre jours. Elle oppose Paul Christiani, juif converti au christianisme, à Rabbi Moïse ben Nahman (Nahmanide) de Gérone, l’une des plus hautes autorités du judaïsme espagnol. Quatre jours d’une âpre discussion touchant la venue du Messie et sa nature, et au cours desquels va se dévoiler l’endroit de la rupture entre judaïsme et christianisme : le pouvoir, la souveraineté. Du fond de cette rupture, c’est le sens de l’exil du peuple juif, dépossédé de cette souveraineté, qui devient l’enjeu de l’affrontement. Si le Messie est déjà venu et que les juifs ne l’ont pas connu, leur exil n’est plus qu’une inutile errance, ce qu’il y a de plus vain faisant suite à l’erreur la plus essentielle. Mais si le Messie n’est pas encore venu, le christianisme se trouve relégué au rang de simple puissance politique et sa vérité résumée à l’exercice momentané d’un pouvoir dans le monde. Editions Verdier
Rome est bien le signe de la caducité des empires, des royaumes et des nations appelées à mourir et à disparaître. Et si le messianisme juif met en question le pouvoir de l’Église, si pour lui l’exil n’est qu’une situation où la liberté fait défaut, le sens ultime et privilégié de son message est d’annoncer la fin de la servitude, de la domination d’un peuple par un autre, de la guerre comme éthique de vie. L’Église n’est plus seule à être en question, le judaïsme l’est également, maintenant qu’une puissance temporelle, un État s’en réclame. Phénomène aujourd’hui généralisé, l’on voit le messianisme se changer en son contraire. La théologie, en investissant tout le champ du politique, se pervertit en transcendance de la terreur. La dispute de Barcelone est toujours nouvelle. Edmond Amran el Maleh

Attention: une dispute peut en cacher une autre !

En ce lendemain de l’ancienne fête de préparation des saturnales (dédiée au vieillard dévoreur d’enfants mais subvertie par le christianisme en fête de la naissance du Christ et des enfants) …

Fête du lendemain de Noël qui, sous le nom de "Fête des boites" ("Boxing Day") chez nos voisins anglo-saxons,  en est apparemment la fête de conclusion avancée (les fameuses calendes de janvier ou  fête des sygillaires et "ancêtre" de notre Saint Sylvestre, dédiées elles à la déesse Strenia et connues chez nous une semaine plus tard sous le nom d’étrennes, avant le sacre, par hasard interposé – la fève de nos galettes des rois – du "roi" de la fête) où serviteurs et marchands reçoivent les cadeaux de leurs employeurs (pendant que les associations caritatives reprennent les distributions de nos prêtres qui jadis ouvraient les troncs des églises et en distribuaient le contenu aux pauvres dans une petite boîte ?) mais qui aujourd’hui, entre les matches et les chasses d’après-Noël, sert surtout de "Black Friday" de Noël où chacun s’active à revendre ses cadeaux ou profiter des soldes des invendus du potlatch de la veille …

Pendant que, sur fond de massacres continués des chrétiens dans principalement le monde dit musulman, parmi les plus religieux on fête la translation solennelle, par l’évêque Jean de Jérusalem à l’église du Mont-Sion de Jérusalem en l’an 415, du corps de la première victime judéo-chrétienne d’une des premières confrontations théologiques entre judaïsme et christianisme naissant …

Comment, à l’heure où dans leurs voeux l’Etat américain comme nombre d’entreprises ou d’individus n’osent plus même mentionner le nom (trop christique) de Noël et où des chrétiens arabes tentent d’imposer un sapin de Noël au Parlement israélien (à quand un sapin de Noël à la Mecque ?), ne pas repenser au sinistre envers d’une de nos plus chères célébrations dont les "fêtes des fous" médiévales (Victor Hugo ne fait-il pas de son "archétype du monstre sympathique" – bossu, borgne et boiteux, cumulant autrement dit à peu près la totalité des stigmates de victimisation – trouvé un dimanche d’après-Pâques l’un de ces "rois ou papes des fous"?) pouvaient mener aux pires débordements remplaçant, à l’instar du martyre de Saint Dasius de Durostorum bien analysé comme exemple de bouc émissaire par James Frazer, par des juifs, comme victimes des vexations jusqu’au XIXe siècle, les esclaves ou gladiateurs des saturnales romaines ?

Mais comment aussi ne pas se remémorer une autre "disputation" (merci Glaeken Trismegistus), presque aussi fameuse et tragique que celle apparemment plus improvisée de Saint Etienne, où, 23 ans après celle de Paris qui avait vu à l’instiguation du franciscain et apostat juif Nicolas Donin la condamnation et la crémation du Talmud, et entre le 20 et le 24 juillet 1263 à l’initiative du Grand Inquisiteur (Raymond de Peñafort) et en présence du roi Jacques Ier d’Aragon, s’affrontèrent à Barcelone l’une des plus hautes autorités du judaïsme espagnol (Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman de Gérone dit Nahmanide) et un dominicain et juif converti au christianisme  (Pablo Christiani dont le zèle de nouveau converti inspirera plus tard à notre Saint-Louis national le rétablissement de l’usage de la rouelle pour les juifs de France),  à propos de la venue du Messie et de sa nature …

Et qui, redémontrant avec le brio que l’on sait le scandale et la folie d’un Messie crucifié, vit la victoire officielle du talmudiste se transformer en exil forcé et expurgation officielle du Talmud de tous les passages concernant Jésus et Marie ?

Le messie au cœur de la dispute

Michael Blum

Jérusalem Post

12-18 août 2008

Publié en français pour la première fois en 1984, ce texte fondamental est réédité en édition de poche, permettant une lecture plus facile du récit de cette « dispute » qui a marqué l’histoire juive.

Nous sommes en juillet 1263, le roi d’Aragon veut imposer le christianisme dans une Espagne chrétienne au faite de sa gloire. Il convoque deux personnalités, un juif converti, Paul Christiani, soutenu par des dignitaires de l’Église, et Moshe Ben Nahman, plus connu sous le nom de Nahmanide ou Ramban, le grand maître du judaïsme espagnol de son époque.

L’affrontement verbal va durer quatre jours. Évoquant surtout la place du messianisme dans le judaïsme, Nahmanide tente de réfuter les thèses chrétiennes sur l’arrivée du Messie. Nahmanide raconte avec humour et finesse les débats qui l’ont opposé à Christiani. Cette dispute se révélera être plus un procès du judaïsme qu’autre chose.

En lisant cet ouvrage, on a le sentiment de revivre cette scène et d’assister à un véritable spectacle.

De haut niveau intellectuel, le débat est pourtant facile à lire grâce au talent de Nahmanide qui, citant des textes midrashiques et talmudiques, anime chaque joute de la controverse.

L’apostat, de son côté, tente d’utiliser le texte du Talmud pour démontrer que les rabbins de l’époque de Jésus croyaient à la possibilité qu’il soit le messie, tandis que Ramban s’efforce de prouver que la foi chrétienne est erronée.

Un des éléments de l’argumentation de Ramban est la différence marquée entre la foi dans un messie pour les chrétiens, élément essentiel du christianisme, alors que le judaïsme ne le mentionne que rarement.

Bien que le roi d’Aragon, impressionné par les arguments de Nahmanide, lui ait accordé la possibilité de continuer d’exercer sa foi, lui offrant même de l’argent, les Dominicains obtinrent que ses livres soient brûlés et qu’il soit banni du royaume.

Peu de temps après cet épisode, Ramban quitte sa ville de Gérone pour s’installer en Israël où il passera les trois dernières années de sa vie et publiera son commentaire sur la Torah.

La nouvelle édition est suivie des explications de Ramban sur le texte d’Isaïe portant sur le messianisme, qu’il n’a pas eu le droit de prononcer lors de la Dispute.

Isaïe présente le messianisme juif, fondamentalement différent de celui prôné par les chrétiens.

Les archives liées au texte de Nahmanïde, notamment les procès verbaux et les textes papaux de l’époque ajoutés au recueil, donnent des indications précieuses sur le contexte historique de la controverse.

Si les disputes de cette nature entre juifs et chrétiens n’existent plus, la lecture de ce texte prouve sa modernité dans un monde où la tentation du messianisme est toujours vivace.

 Voir aussi:

"Crois-tu, reprit le Frère Paul, que le Messie est venu ?" : un reportage de Na’hmanide sur la dispute de Barcelone en 1263

Henri Smolarski

Tribune juive

9 novembre 1984

Procès verbal royal : « L’année du Seigneur mille deux cent soixante-trois, le treizième jour des calendes d’août, le roi des Aragonais et de nombreuses personnes, barons, prélats, religieux et chevaliers se sont réunis au palais royal de Barcelone… »

Curieux des problèmes religieux, influencé par l’Inquisiteur Raymond de Pennafort, le roi Jaime Ier, en cet été de 1263, a organisé une dispute qui fera date dans l’histoire séculaire des relations judéo-chrétiennes. Devant un public de prêtres, de juifs, de négociants, de nobles et d’artisans, Paul Christiani est opposé à Moïse ben Na’hman.

Né sans doute à Montpellier, juif converti, clerc habile, Paul Christiani est pour l’Église un serviteur de grande valeur. Plus tard, sa fureur anti-juive lui fera exiger de Louis IX, dit Saint-Louis, le port de l’étoile jaune par les juifs de France. Moïse ben Na’hman, dit Na’hmanide, 70 ans, est un des rabbins les plus savants, les plus rayonnants de son temps. Les juifs d’Espagne lui ont naturellement demandé de défendre la Tora dans ce procès à grand spectacle.

Après la dispute, et sur requête de l’évêque de Gérone d’où il est originaire, Na’hmanide rédige sous forme de reportage les quatre journées de débats. Cet extraordinaire document est aujourd’hui traduit en français et publié avec une préface et un commentaire du rabbin espagnol des chapitres 52 et 53 d’Isaïe. La Dispute de Barcelone (collection des « Les Dix Paroles », Verdier) illustre un aspect original, à la fois religieux et politique, de la polémique entre juifs et chrétiens.

En 1240, à Paris, un autre apostat, Nicolas Donin, opposé à quatre rabbins français, dont Rabbi Ye’hiel, a obtenu la condamnation et le bûcher pour le Talmud considéré comme une entreprise blasphématoire. Le propos de Paul Christiani est tout à fait différent. « Il s’agit de montrer, dit l’anonyme préfacier de la traduction, que les docteurs du Talmud avaient reconnu la messianité de Jésus et avaient foi en sa religion. » Ce Na’hmanide, qui n’admet pas l’inspiration chrétienne du Talmud, n’est donc qu’un imposteur qui trompe le peuple sur la réalité de la tradition juive. Si le Messie est venu, l’errance juive, l’existence même du peuple juif est une absurdité. S’il n’est pas venu, tous les pouvoirs, tous les empires sont destinés à être emportés par le torrent de l’histoire, y compris l’Église.

L’enjeu du procès, Paul Christiani et Na’hmanide l’ont fort bien compris.

Selon Na’hmanide, la seule différence pour Israël « entre ce monde et les temps messianiques est la soumission aux pouvoirs ».

L’humour souvent cinglant de Na’hmanide, le mépris ouvert dans lequel il tient le Frère Paul « qui ne connaît rien du tout », confère à cette dispute une allure théâtrale vivante, loin des somnolentes controverses théologiques.

Dès le premier jour, Na’hmanide annonce la couleur et exige l’entière liberté de parole. « À condition de ne point faire outrage à la foi », répondit le Frère Raymond de Pennafort. Éclat de Na’hmanide. Pour qui me prend-on ? Croyez-vous que je n’ai pas assez d’instruction pour exprimer « avec retenue ce qui sera, cependant, mon intime conviction ? »

Paul Christiani lui lance au visage la question de Rabbi Josué au prophète Élie (Sanh. 98a) : Quand viendra le Messie ? Réponse : Demande-le au Messie lui-même ! — Et où est-il ? — À la porte de Rome parmi les malades. Triomphe de Frère Paul. « Tu vois bien, dit-il à Na’hmanide, le Messie est déjà venu et il est dans Rome. » Rire de Na’hmanide. Si le Messie est déjà venu, pourquoi demander à Élie « quand viendra-t-il ? ».

Là-dessus intervient Jaime Ier. « Et où est-il aujourd’hui, demanda le roi ? — Cela n’est pas indispensable à la dispute et je ne répondrai point, déclarai-je. Peut-être le trouveras-tu aux portes de Tolède, si tu y dépêches un de tes émissaires, dis-je en plaisantant… »

Tout au long des quatre jours, Na’hmanide, cette fois sans plaisanter, rappelle que le Messie signifie la fin des guerres, la justice, une civilisation du dialogue. Mais si le Messie est aux portes de Rome, c’est-à-dire de la civilisation romaine et chrétienne, ce n’est pas gratuitement. « Ce n’est que lorsque le Messie viendra devant le pape (à Rome) et lui dira par un commandement de Dieu : “Renvoie mon peuple”, qu’il sera effectivement venu… »

Le quatrième jour, la dispute prend fin par une polémique sur La Trinité. « C’est là, dit Paul Christiani, chose extrêmement profonde, que même les anges et les archanges ne comprennent pas. » Réplique de Na’hmanide : « Il est évident que l’homme n’a pas foi en ce dont il n’a pas connaissance. Aussi, les anges eux-mêmes ne peuvent-ils avoir foi en La Trinité. »

Le roi Jaime d’Aragon sourit, offre à Na’hmanide trois cents dinars et le prie de retourner dans sa ville « pour la vie et la paix », Pendant que le virulent Frère Paul s’en va sermonner les juifs de Provence, Na’hmanide prépare sa montée en Terre d’Israël. Autre façon de continuer la dispute de Barcelone.

 Voir également:

La controverse de Barcelone

Edmond Amran el Maleh

Le Monde

7 décembre 1984

Voici donc un texte essentiel, beau aussi en un sens et d’une grandeur certaine. À Barcelone en juillet 1263, en présence du roi d’Aragon Jaime Ier qui en avait pris l’initiative, eut lieu une des plus célèbres controverses judéo-chrétiennes, et elle dura quatre jours. L’Église est alors au faîte de sa puissance, mais il lui faut assurer sa domination spirituelle sans partage, forcer donc les juifs à la conversion, censurer et récupérer le Talmud, présenter enfin Jésus comme étant le Messie.

La dispute de Barcelone, qui se présente comme une mise en scène d’une ampleur dramatique, avec le concours de hautes personnalités de l’Église, du roi et de toute une foule bigarrée, met en présence, sur les lieux du palais, deux protagonistes. Paul Christiani, juif converti, fort de sa connaissance de l’hébreu et des textes, animé d’un zèle ardent en raison de sa conversion, se présente au débat avec une argumentation rédigée à l’avance, soutenu sur place par des personnalités de l’Église, des représentants des ordres militants, les célèbres « dominicanes, les chiens du Seigneur », les dominicains. En face de lui, Moïse Ben Nahman, l’illustre Nahmanide, de Gérone, commentateur du Talmud et cabaliste de grand renom. S’il est certes « maestro » de la tradition juive, bien qu’il récuse ce titre, il lui faudra tout le génie subtil de son esprit pour maîtriser le hasard de l’improvisation et confondre son redoutable adversaire.

D’entrée, et avec lucidité, Nahmanide engage la dispute : « Je souhaite qu’en cette noble assemblée ne soit débattu que de l’essentiel, de ce à quoi tout est suspendu… Nous nous mîmes d’accord pour parler d’abord du problème du Messie, [était-il] déjà venu comme le veut la foi chrétienne? ou bien [est-il] destiné à venir comme le prétend la foi des juifs ? Jésus est-il le Messie ? » La dispute s’engage dans le champ clos de l’exégèse, mais le monde est là dans sa rumeur et sa fureur, l’ombre de l’inquisition monte à l’horizon. Nahmanide est seul pour ainsi dire, seul en lice. Vainqueur ou vaincu, il se sait condamné à l’avance : « Beaucoup de membres de la communauté sont ici, et tous me pressent et m’implorent de ne pas continuer ; car ils ont grand peur de ces hommes, les prédicateurs qui répandent la terreur dans le monde… Même d’illustres gens d’Église m’ont fait dire de ne pas aller plus loin. » Sa grandeur est celle-là même de Socrate qui va sereinement au-devant de la mort.

La question est posée : quelle est la nature du Messie, du messianisme? « Rome sera détruite lorsqu’un homme dira à son compagnon : Rome et tout ce qu’elle renferme sont à toi pour un sou et qu’il répondra : je n’en veux pas », dit Nahmanide, qui, plus loin, ajoutera : « Quand viendra le temps du messianisme, ils forgeront des socs avec leurs glaives et des serpes de leurs lances. On ne lèvera plus l’épée peuple contre peuple et l’on n’apprendra plus la guerre. » Rome est bien le signe de la caducité des empires, des royaumes et des nations appelées à mourir et à disparaître. Et si le messianisme juif met en question le pouvoir de l’Église, si pour lui l’exil n’est qu’une situation où la liberté fait défaut, le sens ultime et privilégié de son message est d’annoncer la fin de la servitude, de la domination d’un peuple par un autre, de la guerre comme éthique de vie. L’Église n’est plus seule à être en question, le judaïsme l’est également, maintenant qu’une puissance temporelle, un État s’en réclame. Phénomène aujourd’hui généralisé, l’on voit le messianisme se changer en son contraire. La théologie, en investissant tout le champ du politique, se pervertit en transcendance de la terreur. La dispute de Barcelone est toujours nouvelle.

Voir encore:

DISPUTATIONS:

Jewish Encyclopedia

Public debates on religious subjects between Jews and non-Jews. Religious differences have at all times induced serious-minded men to exchange their views in order to win opponents over to their own side by appeals to reason. Abraham is represented in the Midrash as holding a religious debate with Nimrod (see Jew. Encyc. i. 86). In Alexandria disputations between Jews and pagans were probably quite frequent. The first actual disputation before a worldly ruler took place at Alexandria about 150 B.C., under Ptolemy Philometor, between Andronicus ben Messalam (Meshullam), the Judean, and Sabbeus and Dositheus (Theodosius), Samaritans, with reference to the Scripture text which the Samaritans claimed had been omitted by the Jews in the Septuagint translations. (Grätz, "Gesch." iii. 44, 650; compare Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 3, § 4). In the time of the emperor Caligula the first disputation between Jews and pagans before a ruling monarch took place at Rome, the erection of statues of Caligula in the synagogues of Alexandria having caused the Jews to send a deputation under Philo to the emperor, while the anti-Jewish party sent a deputation under Apion. It was typical of all later disputations, inasmuch as the defeat of the Jews was a foregone conclusion. Some of Philo’s arguments are probably preserved in part in his "Legatio ad Caium" (§§ 20-45). Papyri fragments discovered in recent years contain records of disputations held before Claudius and a later emperor ("Rev. Et. Juives," xxxvii. 218-223; Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., i. 65-70).

Between Jews and Romans.

In ‘Ab. Zarah iv. 7 and Baraita ‘Ab. Zarah 54b is recorded a disputation held in Rome between pagan sages () and four Jewish elders, whom Grätz properly identifies with Gamaliel II., Eleazar b. Azariah, Joshua b. Hananiah, and Akiba, who went to Rome to have Domitian’s decree against the Jews withdrawn (Grätz, "Gesch." 3d ed., iv. 110). The following was the dialogue: "If your God hates idolatry, why, being omnipotent, does He not destroy it?" "Shall sun, moon, and stars, without which the world can not exist, be destroyed on account of the fools that worship them?" "But why are not other idols which are of no consequence destroyed?" "As well should seeds when stolen not grown in the soil, or a child conceived in adultery not be born. No; the world goes on in its prescribed course, and the transgressors shall meet their retribution" (compare Bacher, "Ag. Tan." i. 84). According to Eccl. R. i. 9, R. Meïr was delegated to represent the Jews at a public disputation with the government in Rome, the boar (), as the Roman emblem, being made the subject of the debate (compare Bacher, l.c. ii. 35 et seq.). R. Meïr also had disputes with the Samaritans (Gen. R. iv.; Bacher, l.c. pp. 32 et seq.).

Between Jews and Christians.

Of an altogether different nature were the disputations between Jews and Christians. At first these were bitter and sarcastic in tone, but, like quarrels between members of one household, harmless in their consequences. As they turned chiefly on Scripture interpretations, the Jew easily obtained the victory over his less skilled adversary. A number are recorded in the Talmud and Midrash between Christians called "minim" (heretics) or philosophers and R. Gamaliel II. (Yeb. 102b; Midr. Teh. to Ps. x.; Ex. R. xxx.; see Derenbourg, "Hist." 1867, p. 357; Bacher, l.c. i. 87) and R. Joshua b. Hananiah (Ḥag. 5b; see Bacher, l.c. i. 176). How prominent these disputations were in the early days of Christianity is shown by the number of fictitious dialogues written by Christians for apologetic purposes, and mainly copied one from the other, with references to the same Scriptural passages, and all of them ending in the same way: the Jew, who seldom knows how to answer, finally yields and embraces Christianity (see Origen, "Contra Celsum," iv. 52, where the disputation between Papiscus the Jew and Jason is referred to; Harnack, in "Texte und Untersuchungen," i. 1-3; Conybeare, "The Dialogues of Athanasius and Zaccheus and of Timothy and Aquila," Oxford, 1898; McGiffert, "A Dialogue Between a Christian and a Jew, Entitled Αντιβολὴ Παπίσκου καὶ φίλωνος ‘Ιουδαίων προς Μόναχόντινα," New York, 1889). Most valuable as a characteristic example of such a disputation is Justin Martyr’s "Dialogue with Tryphon the Jew." The author, who frequently calls himself "philosopher," took the famous R. Tarfon (also pronounced, probably, "Tryphon": Derenbourg, l.c. p. 376; Grätz, l.c. iv. 58), noted for his fierce opposition to the Christian sect (Shab. 116a), as a typical representative of Jewish teaching, putting into his mouth rabbinical arguments for the sake of refuting them (see M. Friedländer, "Patristische und Talmudische Studien," pp. 20 et seq., 80-137, Vienna, 1878; Goldfahn, "Justinus Martyr und die Agada," in Monatsschrift," 1873, pp. 49, 104, 145, 194, 257). Often the Jew was horrified at the identification of "Christ" with the "Divine Shekinah," and termed it "blasphemy" (Friedländer, l.c. pp. 62 et seq.); and as the arguments taken from Gen. i 26, and similar expressions regarding the Deity used in Scripture, were ever reiterated by these troublesome "heretics," he found these disputations "full of weariness" (Eccl. R. i. 9; compare Sanh. 38b, 105b; Yer. Ber. ix. 12d; Friedländer, l.c. pp. 62, 82). In the course of time, however, polemics became a fine art with some of the rabbis, Cæsarea, a place where Christians and Jews constantly met, being the chief School of controversy (Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." i. 92). R. Simlai and R. Abahu were known as keen debaters (Bacher, l.c. i. 555, ii. 115). On the fictitious disputation in Rome between Pope Sylvester (314-335) and twelve Pharisaic doctors before the emperor Constantine, see Güdemann, "Gesch. des Erziehungswesens und der Cultur der Juden in Italien," 1884, pp. 39, 295.

In the Middle Ages.

Learned disputations of a harmless nature took place frequently in Italy, and a controversial Jewish literature sprang up in the thirteenth century (see Güdemann, l.c. pp. 12, 24, 87, 39, 230) with the declared object of defending the truth without giving offense to the Christian Church (see Polemical Literature). Quite different was the tone of the disputations introduced in the Byzantine empire. Here Basil I., about 880, instituted such disputations, and the Jews were to be forced either to admit or to disprove "that Jesus is the culmination of the Law and the Prophets" (Grätz, l.c. v. 229), the result being generally expulsion and persecution. In the West, Jews and Christians disputed freely and on terms of mutual good-will in spite of occasional hostile attacks (see "Rev. Et. Juives," v. 238 et seq.). The impression prevailed among Christians that they were no match for the learned and witty Jews, while the latter frequently challenged the former, openly and frankly criticizing the dogmas of the Church. Among these Nathan L’Official and his son in France obtained about the close of the twelfth century great renown as bold and skilful debaters, and the disputes they had with popes, archbishops, and other prelates have been partly preserved (Grätz, l.c. vi. 143, 366; Güdemann, "Gesch. des Erziehungswesens und der Cultur der Juden in Frankreich und Deutschland," 1880, pp. 18, 140 et seq.).

Paris and Barcelona.

It was only after Pope Innocent III. had infused the spirit of the Inquisition into Christendom, and the Dominicans had begun their warfare against every dissenter, that the disputations became associated with relentless persecution of the Jewish faith. Being turned into great spectacles by the presence of the dignitaries of Church and state—mock controversial tournaments in which the Jews were bound to suffer defeat—they became a direct menace to the literature and the very lives of the Jews. In order to secure to the Church the semblance of a victory, Jewish apostates lent themselves to the task of bringing malicious charges against their former coreligionists, supporting these by ferreting out every weak and ambiguous point in the Talmud or the Jewish liturgy that might be construed as a "blasphemy" or as defamation of Jesus and Christian dogma.

The first of these famous disputations took place at the royal court of Louis IX. in Paris June 25-27, 1240, in the presence of the queen – mother Blanche and the prelates of Paris, the rabbis Jehiel of Paris, Moses of Coucy, Judah ben David of Melun, and Samuel ben Solomon of ChâteauThierry being ranged against Nicholas DONIN, the Jewish apostate. The four rabbis were to defend the Talmud against the accusations of Donin, turning mainly upon two points: that the Talmud containes immoral sentiments and blasphemous expressions against the Deity, and that it speaks in an offensive manner of Jesus. R. Jehiel, timid at first, was encouraged by the assurance of protection by the queen, and succeeded in refuting Donin’s charges by proving that Jesus, the son of Panthera, can not be the Jesus of the New Testament; that the term "goy" in the Talmud does not refer to Christians; and that the Minim who are made an object of execration in the Jewish liturgy are not born Christians, but only born Jews who have become sectaries or heretics. R. Jehiel’s defense, however successful for the moment, did not save twenty-four cartloads of copies of the Talmud from being consigned to the flames two years later in Paris (see Levin in "Monatsschrift," 1869, pp. 97 et seq.; Grätz, l.c. vii. 401; Loeb, in "Rev. Et. Juives," i. 247, ii. 248, iii. 39).

The second disputation took place at Barcelona on July 20, 1263, at the royal palace, in the presence of James I. of Aragon and his court, and of many prominent ecclesiastics and knights, between Naḥmanides and Pablo Christiani, who, like Donin, was the accuser and the instigator. The debate turned on the questions whether the Messiah had appeared or not; whether, according to Scripture, the Messiah is a divine or a human being; and whether the Jews or the Christians held the true faith.

Disputation Between Jewish and Christian Theologians.(From Peter Schwarz, "Der Stern Messhiah," 1477.)

Differing from R. Jehiel of Paris, Naḥmanides met his antagonist with fearless courage and with the dignity of a true Spaniard; and when Pablo undertook to prove from various haggadic passages the Messianic character of Jesus, Naḥmanides frankly stated that he did not believe in all the haggadic passages of the Talmud, and he went so far as to declare that he had more regard for the Christian monarch than for the Messiah. As to the question whether the Messiah had come or not, he could not believe that he had come as long as the promised cessation of all warfare had not been realized. It was a triumph for the Jewish cause, yet all the more did both the Jewish and the Christian friends of Naḥmanides warn him against the peril threatening his brethren from the terrible power of the Dominicans in case of defeat, and so, at his own request, the disputation was interrupted on the fourth day. But the enemies of the Jews were not set at rest. They claimed the victory, and when Naḥmanides published the frank statements he had made, the king, who had dismissed him with presents and with expressions of his regard, could no longer protect him, and he had to leave the country. Again the Talmud was made the object of attack; but this time, instead of the whole Talmud being proscribed or burned, only the offending passages were singled out for erasure by a censorial committee appointed by the king (see Grätz, l.c. vii. 121-124).

Of literary rather than of historical importance are the public disputations held at Burgos and Avila in 1375 by Moses Cohen de Tordesillas with the apostates John of Valladolid and Abner of Burgos, and that held about the same time in Pampeluna by Shem-Ṭob ben Isaac Shaprut of Tudela with Cardinal Don Pedro de Luna, afterward Pope Benedict XIII., the disputations being made the subjects of the books "‘Ezer ha-Emunah" (by Moses) and "Eben Boḥan" (by Shem-Ṭob: see Polemics and Polemical Literature).

Disputation of Tortosa.

The most remarkable disputation in Jewish history, for the pomp and splendor accompanying it, the time it lasted, and the number of Jews that took part therein, is the one held at the summons of the antipope Benedict, XIII. in Tortosa. It began in Feb., 1413, and ended Nov., 1414, and was presided over by the pope in state, surrounded by the cardinals and dignitaries of the Church who still retained allegiance to him, while hundreds of monks and knights and men of all degrees were among the audience. Joshua Lorqui (Geronimo de Santa Fé), the apostate, was to prove from the Talmud that Jesus was the Messiah, and the twenty-two most distinguished rabbis and scholars of the kingdom of Aragon had the choice of refuting his arguments or—and this was the scarcely concealed purpose of the pope, anxious to regain power and prestige through the conversion of the Jews of Spain—espousing the Christian faith. To judge from the fragmentary records, there was no great erudition or acumen displayed either by the aggressor, who dwelt on a few haggadic passages concerning the Messiah, or by the defenders, who no longer possessed the courage and self-confidence shown by Naḥmanides. The sixty-nine sessions passed without any other result than that neither the blandishments nor the threats of the pope, nor the fierce attack on the Talmud made by Lorqui, the pope’s physician and chief adviser, could induce the Jews to become traitors to their heritage. A papal bull (May, 1415) of eleven clauses, forbidding the study of the Talmud and inflicting all kinds of degradation upon the Jews, showed the spirit that had prompted the disputation (see Grätz, l.c. viii. 116, 406). Under James II. of Castile, about 1430, Joseph ben Shem-Ṭob and Ḥayyim ibn Musa held frequent disputations with learned Christians at the court of Granada, but henceforth disputations became rare and of no historical importance.

Friendly Disputations. Religious Disputation Between Jews and Christians.(From Kohut, "Geschichte der Deutschen Juden.")

Belonging to the class of friendly disputations (ib. viii. 417, note 4) are those, whether authentic or embellished by legend, mentioned in Solomon ibn Verga’s "Shebeṭ Yehudah": (1) Between Don Joseph ibn Yaḥya and King Alfonso V. of Portugal, (a) concerning Jesus’miraculous powers; (b) regarding the perpetual character of the Mosaic, law; (c) as to the efficacy of the prayer of a non-Jew; (d) whether the hosts of angels are numerable or infinite; (e) why sorcery, being based on error, is so severely punished in Scripture. (2) Between three Jewish artisans taken from the street, and Don Joseph ibn Benveniste ha-Levi with Alfonso XI. of Castile, (a) on the qualities of God; (b) on the distance between earth and heaven; (c) on the sun’s radiation of heat; (d) on the forbidden fat and blood of animals; (e) on the night’s sleep; (f) on the immortality of the soul. (3) Between Don Samuel Abrabalia and Don Solomon ha-Levi and Pope Martin (Hebrew text has ; see Grätz, l.c. viii. 128, note), (a) concerning the fierce words of Simon b. Yoḥai, "The best of the heathen deserves killing" (: Mek., Beshallaḥ, i.; Yer. Ḳid. iv. 66c; Massek., Soferim, xv. 9; see Müller’s ed., note): (b) on Jer. 1. 12 (Hebr.), "The end of the heathen is shame and desolation"; (c) on Simon b. Yoḥai’s utterance, "You are called men, but the other nations are not called men" (B. M. 114b; Yeb. 61a; compare Lazarus, "Ethics of Judaism," i. 264, Philadelphia, 1900). (4) Between Don Pedro IV. of Aragon (1336-1387) and his physician, who, when asked why the Jews were not allowed to drink the wine touched by a Christian, had water brought to wash the king’sfeet, of which he then drank to show that the fear of impurity was not the reason of the prohibition (Grätz, l.c. i. 12). (5) Between Don Abraham Benveniste, Don Joseph ha-Nasi (ben Abrham ibn Benveniste) and R. Samuel ibn Shoshan of Ecija, and Don Alfonso XI. on the social conduct of the Jews, their usury and avarice, their musical accomplishments, their luxury, the Jewish sages ascribing Jewish usury to Christian legislation; as regards the dishonest means by which the Jews were said to have obtained wealth, they remarked, "We Jews are treated like the mice: one mouse eats the cheese, and people say, ‘The mice have done it.’ For the wrong-doing of one the whole race is made responsible" (ib. viii. 25-27). (6) Between a Christian and a Jew, before Don Alfonso (V. ?) of Portugal, on the Messianic passages in Ps. xxii., and on the hyperbolical haggadic passages in the Talmud.  The remarkable disputation of Ephraim ben (Don) Sango (Sancho ? more probably identical with the famous poet Don Santo de Carrion; see "Orient, Lit." 1851, xii., though disputed by Kayserling, "Sephardim," p. 328, note) with Don Pedro IV. on the question, Which religion is the better, the Jewish or the Christian? the Jewish sage answering with the parable of the two precious jewels and the two sons, obviously the original of the parable of the three rings, taken from Boccaccio by Lessing for his "Nathan the Wise" (see Wünsche, in Lessing-Mendelssohn’s "Gedenkbuch,"1879, pp. 329 et seq.). The story of a disputation on the question, Which is the best religion? is, however, very old. One is said to have taken place about 740, before Bulan, the king of the Chazars, who, uncertain whether to exchange his heathen religion, which he had come to abhor, for Mohammedanism or Christianity, summoned representatives of these two creeds, as well as of Judaism, for a disputation. None could convince him of the superiority of his faith, and Bulan resolved to espouse the Jewish, since both Christian and Mohammedan referred to it as the basis of their own, and each recognized it as superior to the others (See Chazars). Upon this story the religious disputations in Judah ha-Levi’s "Cuzari" are based. The story of a disputation occurs in Russian legends regarding Vladimir’s conversion, but with a different result (see Karamsin, "History of Russia," bk. i., ch. vii.).

In Italy, Germany, and Poland.

In order to have a great spectacle to excite the passions of the ignorant masses, John Capistrano, the Franciscan Jew-baiter, arranged in 1450 a disputation at Rome with a certain Gamaliel called "Synagogæ Romanæ magister," but otherwise very little known (see Vogelstein and Rieger, "Gesch. der Juden in Rom," 1895, ii. 14). Disputations of a friendly character were held at the court of Ercole d’Este I. at Ferrara by Abraham Farissol with two learned monks, the one a Dominican, the other a Franciscan, the matter of which is produced in Farissol’s "Magen Abraham" and "Wikkuaḥ ha-Dat" (see Grätz, l.c. ix. 45). In Germany it was the Jewish apostate Victor of Carben who, under the direction of Herrman, the Archbishop of Cologne, and in the presence of many courtiers, ecclesiastics, and knights, held a disputation with some Jews of the Rhine provinces about 1500, accusing them of blasphemy against the Christian religion; the consequence of this disputation was that the Jews were expelled from the lower Rhine district (ib. lx. 70).

An Eighteenth Century Disputation.

Quite different in tone and character were the disputations held by the Jews, both Rabbinites and Karaites, with Christians of various denominations in Poland at the close of the sixteenth century. Here the Jews, untrammeled by clerical or state despotism, freely criticized the various religious sects, and it was considered a difficult task for a Christian to convert a Jew (ib. ix. 456; see Isaac b. Abraham Troki). Occasionally disputations for conversionist purposes were arranged at German courts. One is reported to have taken place at the ducal court of Hanover, about 1700, in the presence of the duke, the dowager-duchess, the princes, clergy, and all the distinguished personages of the city, between Rabbi Joseph of Stadthagen and Eliezer Edzard, who had had been the instigator of the disputation. It ended in the complete victory of the rabbi, who not only refuted all the arguments of his antagonist from Scripture and the Midrash, but under the full approval of the court declined to answer under oath the question as to which religion was the best. He said: "We condemn no creed based upon the belief in the Creator of heaven and earth. We believe what we have been taught; let the Christians adhere to what they have been taught" (Bloch in "Oesterreichische Wochenschrift," 1902, p. 785).

Regarding the disputations between the rabbis and the Frankists before Bishop Dembowski at Kamenetz in 1757, and before the canon Nikulski at Lemberg in 1759, see Frank, Jacob. For others, see Steinschneider in "Monatsschrift," 1883, pp. 80 et seq., and his "Uebersetzungen," pp. 305, 461.

Bibliography:

Isidore Loeb. La Controverse Réligieuse Entre les Chrêtiens et les Juifs au Moyen Age, Paris, 1888;

I. Ziegler, Religiöse Disputationen im Mittelalter, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1894, reproduced in Hamburger, R. B. T. Supplement, v. 1900, s.v. Disputationen.

Voir de plus:

The History of Christmas

Lawrence Kelemen

Simple to remember

I. When was Jesus born?

A. Popular myth puts his birth on December 25th in the year 1 C.E.

B. The New Testament gives no date or year for Jesus’ birth. The earliest gospel – St. Mark’s, written about 65 CE – begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus. This suggests that the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.

C. The year of Jesus birth was determined by Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk, “abbot of a Roman monastery. His calculation went as follows:

a. In the Roman, pre-Christian era, years were counted from ab urbe condita (“the founding of the City” [Rome]). Thus 1 AUC signifies the year Rome was founded, 5 AUC signifies the 5th year of Rome’s reign, etc.

b. Dionysius received a tradition that the Roman emperor Augustus reigned 43 years, and was followed by the emperor Tiberius.

c. Luke 3:1,23 indicates that when Jesus turned 30 years old, it was the 15th year of Tiberius reign.

d. If Jesus was 30 years old in Tiberius’ reign, then he lived 15 years under Augustus (placing Jesus birth in Augustus’ 28th year of reign).

e. Augustus took power in 727 AUC. Therefore, Dionysius put Jesus birth in 754 AUC.

f. However, Luke 1:5 places Jesus’ birth in the days of Herod, and Herod died in 750 AUC – four years before the year in which Dionysius places Jesus birth.

D. Joseph A. Fitzmyer – Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America, member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and former president of the Catholic Biblical Association – writing in the Catholic Church’s official commentary on the New Testament[1], writes about the date of Jesus’ birth, “Though the year [of Jesus birth is not reckoned with certainty, the birth did not occur in AD 1. The Christian era, supposed to have its starting point in the year of Jesus birth, is based on a miscalculation introduced ca. 533 by Dionysius Exiguus.”

E. The DePascha Computus, an anonymous document believed to have been written in North Africa around 243 CE, placed Jesus birth on March 28. Clement, a bishop of Alexandria (d. ca. 215 CE), thought Jesus was born on November 18. Based on historical records, Fitzmyer guesses that Jesus birth occurred on September 11, 3 BCE.

II. How Did Christmas Come to Be Celebrated on December 25?

A. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the weeklong celebration. The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.” Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

B. The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time. In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season).

C. In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.[2]

D. The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

E. Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia. As Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.” The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.

F. The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”[3] Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681.[4] However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.

G. Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators. They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily.”[5]

H. As part of the Saturnalia carnival throughout the 18th and 19th centuries CE, rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of missiles. When the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition in1836 to Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, he responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.”[6] On December 25, 1881, Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Antisemitic frenzies that led to riots across the country. In Warsaw 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped. Two million rubles worth of property was destroyed.

III. The Origins of Christmas Customs

A. The Origin of Christmas Tree

Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the Church sanctioning “Christmas Trees”.[7] Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them, and this observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.

B. The Origin of Mistletoe

Norse mythology recounts how the god Balder was killed using a mistletoe arrow by his rival god Hoder while fighting for the female Nanna. Druid rituals use mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim.[8] The Christian custom of “kissing under the mistletoe” is a later synthesis of the sexual license of Saturnalia with the Druidic sacrificial cult.[9]

C. The Origin of Christmas Presents

In pre-Christian Rome, the emperors compelled their most despised citizens to bring offerings and gifts during the Saturnalia (in December) and Kalends (in January). Later, this ritual expanded to include gift-giving among the general populace. The Catholic Church gave this custom a Christian flavor by re-rooting it in the supposed gift-giving of Saint Nicholas (see below).[10]

D. The Origin of Santa Claus

a. Nicholas was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 CE and later became Bishop of Myra. He died in 345 CE on December 6th. He was only named a saint in the 19th century.

b. Nicholas was among the most senior bishops who convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE and created the New Testament. The text they produced portrayed Jews as “the children of the devil”[11] who sentenced Jesus to death.

c. In 1087, a group of sailors who idolized Nicholas moved his bones from Turkey to a sanctuary in Bari, Italy. There Nicholas supplanted a female boon-giving deity called The Grandmother, or Pasqua Epiphania, who used to fill the children’s stockings with her gifts. The Grandmother was ousted from her shrine at Bari, which became the center of the Nicholas cult. Members of this group gave each other gifts during a pageant they conducted annually on the anniversary of Nicholas’ death, December 6.

d. The Nicholas cult spread north until it was adopted by German and Celtic pagans. These groups worshipped a pantheon led by Woden –their chief god and the father of Thor, Balder, and Tiw. Woden had a long, white beard and rode a horse through the heavens one evening each Autumn. When Nicholas merged with Woden, he shed his Mediterranean appearance, grew a beard, mounted a flying horse, rescheduled his flight for December, and donned heavy winter clothing.

e. In a bid for pagan adherents in Northern Europe, the Catholic Church adopted the Nicholas cult and taught that he did (and they should) distribute gifts on December 25th instead of December 6th.

f. In 1809, the novelist Washington Irving (most famous his The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) wrote a satire of Dutch culture entitled Knickerbocker History. The satire refers several times to the white bearded, flying-horse riding Saint Nicholas using his Dutch name, Santa Claus.

g. Dr. Clement Moore, a professor at Union Seminary, read Knickerbocker History, and in 1822 he published a poem based on the character Santa Claus: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…” Moore innovated by portraying a Santa with eight reindeer who descended through chimneys.

h. The Bavarian illustrator Thomas Nast almost completed the modern picture of Santa Claus. From 1862 through 1886, based on Moore’s poem, Nast drew more than 2,200 cartoon images of Santa for Harper’s Weekly. Before Nast, Saint Nicholas had been pictured as everything from a stern looking bishop to a gnome-like figure in a frock. Nast also gave Santa a home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves, and his list of the good and bad children of the world. All Santa was missing was his red outfit.

i. In 1931, the Coca Cola Corporation contracted the Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa. Sundblom modeled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice, chosen for his cheerful, chubby face. The corporation insisted that Santa’s fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca Cola red. And Santa was born – a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, and commercial idol.

IV. The Christmas Challenge

· Christmas has always been a holiday celebrated carelessly. For millennia, pagans, Christians, and even Jews have been swept away in the season’s festivities, and very few people ever pause to consider the celebration’s intrinsic meaning, history, or origins.

· Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christian god who came to rescue mankind from the “curse of the Torah.” It is a 24-hour declaration that Judaism is no longer valid.

· Christmas is a lie. There is no Christian church with a tradition that Jesus was really born on December 25th.

· December 25 is a day on which Jews have been shamed, tortured, and murdered.

· Many of the most popular Christmas customs – including Christmas trees, mistletoe, Christmas presents, and Santa Claus – are modern incarnations of the most depraved pagan rituals ever practiced on earth.

Many who are excitedly preparing for their Christmas celebrations would prefer not knowing about the holiday’s real significance. If they do know the history, they often object that their celebration has nothing to do with the holiday’s monstrous history and meaning. “We are just having fun.”

Imagine that between 1933-45, the Nazi regime celebrated Adolf Hitler’s birthday – April 20 – as a holiday. Imagine that they named the day, “Hitlerday,” and observed the day with feasting, drunkenness, gift-giving, and various pagan practices. Imagine that on that day, Jews were historically subject to perverse tortures and abuse, and that this continued for centuries.

Now, imagine that your great-great-great-grandchildren were about to celebrate Hitlerday. April 20th arrived. They had long forgotten about Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen. They had never heard of gas chambers or death marches. They had purchased champagne and caviar, and were about to begin the party, when someone reminded them of the day’s real history and their ancestors’ agony. Imagine that they initially objected, “We aren’t celebrating the Holocaust; we’re just having a little Hitlerday party.” If you could travel forward in time and meet them; if you could say a few words to them, what would you advise them to do on Hitlerday?

On December 25, 1941, Julius Streicher, one of the most vicious of Hitler’s assistants, celebrated Christmas by penning the following editorial in his rabidly Antisemitic newspaper, Der Stuermer:

If one really wants to put an end to the continued prospering of this curse from heaven that is the Jewish blood, there is only one way to do it: to eradicate this people, this Satan’s son, root and branch.

It was an appropriate thought for the day. This Christmas, how will we celebrate?

Voir aussi:

Edelstein: Christmas Trees Bring Back ‘Bad Memories’ for Jews

The reason he did not sanction one in front of the Knesset had nothing to do with Christians, but with Jews, says MK Yuli Edelstein.

David Lev

12/26/2013

Israel has nothing against Christmas or Christmas trees, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Thursday. The reason he did not sanction one in front of the Knesset had nothing to do with Christians – but with Jews.

Last week, MK Hana Sweid (Hadash), born to a Christian Arab family, formally requested that a Christmas tree be set up in the Knesset as a symbol of Israel’s consideration for its Christian citizens, and the country’s appreciation of its ties to the Christian world. In a letter to Edelstein, Sweid said that the installation of a tree would show that the Knesset would not tolerate so-called “price tag” attacks, in which Jewish nationalists are accused of marring mosques and other non-Jewish institutions and symbols after Israelis undergo terror attacks.

Sweid added that “many Jews put up Christmas trees as well,” apparently referring to the Russian custom of putting up a New Year’s tree. The tree is similar to the traditional Christmas tree put up in many Western countries in appearance, but is not linked to the Christian holiday.

In a letter to Sweid, Edelstein said that he would not put up an “official” Christmas tree in the Knesset, but that the MK was invited to set one up in her office.

Speaking to Israel Radio Thursday, Edelstein explained that he valued Israel’s Christian citizens and did not mean to offend anyone. However, he said, the Christmas tree, like other Christian symbols, brought back bad memories for Jews, and as the Jewish state, Israel needed to ensure that its Jewish citizens were not subject to displays that would hurt their emotions.

“These symbols remind many Jews of how their ancestors were persecuted in Europe by Christians,” Edelstein said. “There are many other ways for the state to pay tribute to its Christian citizens.”

Among other official recognitions of the Christian holiday, Israeli law mandates that Christian employees of government offices receive the day off with pay. The National Insurance Institute also advanced the date it distributed this month’s child allowance and welfare payments to precede Christmas, to ensure that Christian Arabs had enough money to celebrate properly.

Voir également:

Triste Noël : le bilan 2013 des persécutions des chrétiens dans le monde

Contrairement aux idées reçues, le christianisme est la religion la plus violentée. 2013 aura été marquée par un regain de violences à leur encontre, principalement en Afrique et au Moyen-Orient. En cause : la montée en puissance, dans ces territoires, des mouvements islamistes qui souhaitent faire avancer les frontières de l’islam.

Atlantico

25 décembre 2013

Atlantico : Le soir de Noël, alors que les Européens vivent la commémoration de la naissance du Christ comme une fête joyeuse, des chrétiens sont victimes de persécutions dans le reste du monde. Quel est le bilan de ces exactions cette année ?

Alexandre Del Valle : Il est très difficile de répondre de manière précise à cette question étant donné que les chiffres diffèrent selon les sources, suivant qu’il s’agit de l’épiscopat ou du Conseil de l’Organisation pour la sécurité et la coopération en Europe (OSCE), par exemple. Sur 2,3 milliards de chrétiens dans le monde aujourd’hui, il y a au minimum plus d’une dizaine de milliers d’entre eux qui ont été tués parce qu’ils ont manifesté leur foi. Plus largement, on estime environ à 100 000 le nombre de chrétiens tués, parce qu’ils appartenaient à un groupe assimilé chrétien, c’est-à-dire parce qu’ils sont nés chrétiens, indépendamment même de leur foi et de tout prosélytisme. C’est le chiffre le plus bas. Le Conseil de l’OSCE évoque le chiffre de 105 000 chrétiens et l’épiscopat va jusqu’à 170 000.

Où ces massacres de chrétiens se déroulent-ils majoritairement ?

Ces massacres de chrétiens ont majoritairement eu lieu en Corée du Nord, en Arabie Saoudite,en Égypte, au Nigeria, en Centrafrique, au Soudan, en Irak et en Syrie. Si en Irak le phénomène n’est pas nouveau et qu’en Égypte les chiffres restent constants, en 2013, on a observé une montée des persécutions envers les chrétiens syriens alors que jadis ils étaient protégés par le régime. En outre, la Centrafrique a connu une montée flagrante des massacres chrétiens cette année.

Le phénomène est-il en progression depuis les révolutions arabes ?

Depuis qu’Al Qaeda a récupéré un certain nombre de rébellions là où les révolutions arabes n’ont pas pu se mener de manière démocratique, à l’instar de la Syrie et du Yémen, on a vu une accélération des persécutions. De même, elles se sont amplifiées en Irak, en Libye et même au Maghreb. Dans les pays arabes, les islamistes ont élaboré un plan d’éradication des chrétiens depuis les années 1990-2000. Ce plan d’éradication s’est consolidé avec les révolutions arabes.

L’intervention française en Centrafrique et au Mali sont-elles une réponse à ce "plan d’éradication" ?

En ce qui concerne les pays africains, on assiste depuis une dizaine d’années au "syndrome soudanais" en Côte d’Ivoire, en Erythrée, dans les pays sahéliens : ces pays sont divisés entre des musulmans et des chrétiens selon une fracture Nord/Sud. Depuis une dizaine d’années, et surtout depuis quatre/cinq ans, les mouvements comme AQMI, Ansar al-Islam, Boko Haram ou celui des Shebabs participent de cette division de la Somalie jusqu’aux portes du Maroc et de la Mauritanie. Au Sahel, il y a toute une bande où le Nord musulman, souvent un peu plus proche des Arabes ou qui est arabe, veut progresser vers le Sud noir-chrétien, ancienne réserve d’esclaves en général; c’est le cas au Mali, en Côte d’Ivoire, au Soudan.

L’offensive centrafricaine en est le résultat : des bandes armées islamiques progressent vers le Sud qui est pour eux un véritable champ de conquête et de razzia. Là aussi il y a un plan qui vise à exterminer les minorités chrétiennes. Et pourtant, la Centrafrique est un pays majoritairement chrétien, mais aujourd’hui les islamistes ont mis en place une christianophobie criminelle. Dans le nord du Nigéria, ceci est très flagrant.

Le but de ces mouvements islamistes, aussi bien dans le monde arabe qu’en Afrique, est de faire reculer les frontières de la chrétienté et de faire avancer celles de l’islam. Ils ont une véritable stratégie. Aujourd’hui les chrétiens sont des bouc-émissaires symbolisant la haine de l’Occident : c’est la nouvelle christianophobie.

Voir encore:

The Brits have it right: forget Happy Holidays, just wish people Merry Christmas

I’d rather be able to wish people in the US a Merry Christmas this week without having to worry if they’ll be offended

Heather Long

The Guardian

22 December 2013

A colleague made a curious statement when she returned to New York recently from London, "Everything was so Christmas-y there."

At first glance, it’s a bizarre statement. New York and London (among other cities in both countries) are decked out for the holidays. Who hasn’t heard of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree or London’s Oxford Street lights and mince pies? And that’s to say nothing of the famous storefront windows all aglow.

But look beyond the seasonal window treatments at Macy’s and you’ll quickly find a different story. In corporate America, everything is "happy holidays". Ads refer to "holiday shopping", end-of-year office soirees are "holiday parties" and kids’ school concerts this time of year are "holiday concerts". You get the idea.

Even at the Guardian, when we put up our Christmas tree in the New York office, the first thing one of our interns said was, "Where’s the menorah?"

It’s the "politically correct" question. Evergreens and menorahs go hand in hand in most public places in the US. Some offices have gone a step further on the PC scale and simply done "winter wonderland" themed decorations. They have silver, gold and white lights aplenty, but no red and green anything. In short, snow globes are fine, Santa is not.

An annual survey that came out last week revealed just how conflicted Americans are on whether it’s better to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" this time of year. Half of America prefers one term and half the other. However, in a business or public setting, nearly two-thirds of those under 30 feel it’s better to wish someone the more generic Happy Holidays. It’s about trying to be polite in an increasingly diverse society.

I see the trend just by looking at the greeting cards I’ve received this year in the mail and how people are signing off their emails. The majority wish me something along the lines of: happy holidays, peace, warm wishes for the New Year, and my least favorite, "seasons greetings". The cards have nice images of mittens, ice skates and snow covered landscapes (not to mention photos of cute kids), but not much overtly Christmas-y. They offer me everything jolly and merry this time of year, except a Merry Christmas.

I’m not to saying that Christmas isn’t prominently visible in the states. There are still plenty of Santas and pine trees for sale here, and a drive around the neighborhood, especially in parts of America outside of the major cities, and you’ll see people go all out with the Christmas lights and decorations outside their homes (there’s even a TV show about it). But even people who are clearly celebrating Christmas in their homes tend to be conflicted about what to say in the workplace or at school. No one wants to offend anyone or make assumptions about people’s religious beliefs, especially at work.

In America, the term "Christmas" still has a strongly religious connotation to it (despite what years of Santa and the "buy buy buy" mentality have done to the spirit of holiday). That’s only further reinforced by claims on Fox News and other conservative outlets that there is a "war on Christmas" and, by extension, a war on the Christian faith. Now wishing people a "Merry Christmas" almost has a political tone to it.

What’s striking to anyone who has spent time in the UK is that everyone says Merry (or Happy) Christmas. I’ve even had Muslim friends in the UK send me cards and write Merry Christmas on my Facebook wall. The saying in Britain seems to have lost its religious meaning. People say it regardless of whether or not they celebrate Christmas, and businesses feel no remorse whatsoever at openly calling things "Christmas sales" or "Christmas parties".

Of course, I am making broad generalizations. As a British friend reminded me, the UK has been celebrating Saturnalia long before Christmas, and plenty of places such as Birmingham have generic Winterval celebrations. Christmas isn’t ubiquitous.

But by and large, in two diverse societies with similar roots, Americans have opted to try to find neutral sounding holiday greetings, while Brits have chosen to make Christmas as open to everyone as possible.

Personally, I think the Brits have this one right. I’d rather be able to wish people a Merry Christmas this week without having to worry if they’ll be offended. I’d also rather have people wish me Happy Hanukkah, Happy Diwali or Eid Mubarak when those holidays come around. It makes me feel more a part of their celebration. Let’s call each holiday what it is instead of trying to lump Jewish, Christian and even the Kwanzaa ritual together. If we need a generic holiday, we’ve already got the New Year, which touches all people and cultures.

Telling someone to "enjoy your holiday" or worse, sending them "seasons greetings" are cop-outs. Instead of feeling more diverse and inclusive, it just feels like someone took a bit of sparkle out of the December festivities.

Voir enfin:

3. The Roman Saturnalia

James Frazer (The Golden Bough)

We have seen that many peoples have been used to observe an annual period of license, when the customary restraints of law and morality are thrown aside, when the whole population give themselves up to extravagant mirth and jollity, and when the darker passions find a vent which would never be allowed them in the more staid and sober course of ordinary life. Such outbursts of the pent-up forces of human nature, too often degenerating into wild orgies of lust and crime, occur most commonly at the end of the year, and are frequently associated, as I have had occasion to point out, with one or other of the agricultural seasons, especially with the time of sowing or of harvest. Now, of all these periods of license the one which is best known and which in modern language has given its name to the rest, is the Saturnalia. This famous festival fell in December, the last month of the Roman year, and was popularly supposed to commemorate the merry reign of Saturn, the god of sowing and of husbandry, who lived on earth long ago as a righteous and beneficent king of Italy, drew the rude and scattered dwellers on the mountains together, taught them to till the ground, gave them laws, and ruled in peace. His reign was the fabled Golden Age: the earth brought forth abundantly: no sound of war or discord troubled the happy world: no baleful love of lucre worked like poison in the blood of the industrious and contented peasantry. Slavery and private property were alike unknown: all men had all things in common. At last the good god, the kindly king, vanished suddenly; but his memory was cherished to distant ages, shrines were reared in his honour, and many hills and high places in Italy bore his name. Yet the bright tradition of his reign was crossed by a dark shadow: his altars are said to have been stained with the blood of human victims, for whom a more merciful age afterwards substituted effigies. Of this gloomy side of the god’s religion there is little or no trace in the descriptions which ancient writers have left us of the Saturnalia. Feasting and revelry and all the mad pursuit of pleasure are the features that seem to have especially marked this carnival of antiquity, as it went on for seven days in the streets and public squares and houses of ancient Rome from the seventeenth to the twenty-third of December.

But no feature of the festival is more remarkable, nothing in it seems to have struck the ancients themselves more than the license granted to slaves at this time. The distinction between the free and the servile classes was temporarily abolished. The slave might rail at his master, intoxicate himself like his betters, sit down at table with them, and not even a word of reproof would be administered to him for conduct which at any other season might have been punished with stripes, imprisonment, or death. Nay, more, masters actually changed places with their slaves and waited on them at table; and not till the serf had done eating and drinking was the board cleared and dinner set for his master. So far was this inversion of ranks carried, that each household became for a time a mimic republic in which the high offices of state were discharged by the slaves, who gave their orders and laid down the law as if they were indeed invested with all the dignity of the consulship, the praetorship, and the bench. Like the pale reflection of power thus accorded to bondsmen at the Saturnalia was the mock kingship for which freemen cast lots at the same season. The person on whom the lot fell enjoyed the title of king, and issued commands of a playful and ludicrous nature to his temporary subjects. One of them he might order to mix the wine, another to drink, another to sing, another to dance, another to speak in his own dispraise, another to carry a flute-girl on his back round the house.

Now, when we remember that the liberty allowed to slaves at this festive season was supposed to be an imitation of the state of society in Saturn’s time, and that in general the Saturnalia passed for nothing more or less than a temporary revival or restoration of the reign of that merry monarch, we are tempted to surmise that the mock king who presided over the revels may have originally represented Saturn himself. The conjecture is strongly confirmed, if not established, by a very curious and interesting account of the way in which the Saturnalia was celebrated by the Roman soldiers stationed on the Danube in the reign of Maximian and Diocletian. The account is preserved in a narrative of the martyrdom of St. Dasius, which was unearthed from a Greek manuscript in the Paris library, and published by Professor Franz Cumont of Ghent. Two briefer descriptions of the event and of the custom are contained in manuscripts at Milan and Berlin; one of them had already seen the light in an obscure volume printed at Urbino in 1727, but its importance for the history of the Roman religion, both ancient and modern, appears to have been overlooked until Professor Cumont drew the attention of scholars to all three narratives by publishing them together some years ago. According to these narratives, which have all the appearance of being authentic, and of which the longest is probably based on official documents, the Roman soldiers at Durostorum in Lower Moesia celebrated the Saturnalia year by year in the following manner. Thirty days before the festival they chose by lot from amongst themselves a young and handsome man, who was then clothed in royal attire to resemble Saturn. Thus arrayed and attended by a multitude of soldiers he went about in public with full license to indulge his passions and to taste of every pleasure, however base and shameful. But if his reign was merry, it was short and ended tragically; for when the thirty days were up and the festival of Saturn had come, he cut his own throat on the altar of the god whom he personated. In the year A.D. 303 the lot fell upon the Christian soldier Dasius, but he refused to play the part of the heathen god and soil his last days by debauchery. The threats and arguments of his commanding officer Bassus failed to shake his constancy, and accordingly he was beheaded, as the Christian martyrologist records with minute accuracy, at Durostorum by the soldier John on Friday the twentieth day of November, being the twenty-fourth day of the moon, at the fourth hour.

Since this narrative was published by Professor Cumont, its historical character, which had been doubted or denied, has received strong confirmation from an interesting discovery. In the crypt of the cathedral which crowns the promontory of Ancona there is preserved, among other remarkable antiquities, a white marble sarcophagus bearing a Greek inscription, in characters of the age of Justinian, to the following effect: “Here lies the holy martyr Dasius, brought from Durostorum.” The sarcophagus was transferred to the crypt of the cathedral in 1848 from the church of San Pellegrino, under the high altar of which, as we learn from a Latin inscription let into the masonry, the martyr’s bones still repose with those of two other saints. How long the sarcophagus was deposited in the church of San Pellegrino, we do not know; but it is recorded to have been there in the year 1650. We may suppose that the saint’s relics were transferred for safety to Ancona at some time in the troubled centuries which followed his martyrdom, when Moesia was occupied and ravaged by successive hordes of barbarian invaders. At all events it appears certain from the independent and mutually confirmatory evidence of the martyrology and the monuments that Dasius was no mythical saint, but a real man, who suffered death for his faith at Durostorum in one of the early centuries of the Christian era. Finding the narrative of the nameless martyrologist thus established as to the principal fact recorded, namely, the martyrdom of St. Dasius, we may reasonably accept his testimony as to the manner and cause of the martyrdom, all the more because his narrative is precise, circumstantial, and entirely free from the miraculous element. Accordingly I conclude that the account which he gives of the celebration of the Saturnalia among the Roman soldiers is trustworthy.

This account sets in a new and lurid light the office of the King of the Saturnalia, the ancient Lord of Misrule, who presided over the winter revels at Rome in the time of Horace and Tacitus. It seems to prove that his business had not always been that of a mere harlequin or merry-andrew whose only care was that the revelry should run high and the fun grow fast and furious, while the fire blazed and crackled on the hearth, while the streets swarmed with festive crowds, and through the clear frosty air, far away to the north, Soracte showed his coronal of snow. When we compare this comic monarch of the gay, the civilised metropolis with his grim counterpart of the rude camp on the Danube, and when we remember the long array of similar figures, ludicrous yet tragic, who in other ages and in other lands, wearing mock crowns and wrapped in sceptred palls, have played their little pranks for a few brief hours or days, then passed before their time to a violent death, we can hardly doubt that in the King of the Saturnalia at Rome, as he is depicted by classical writers, we see only a feeble emasculated copy of that original, whose strong features have been fortunately preserved for us by the obscure author of the Martyrdom of St. Dasius. In other words, the martyrologist’s account of the Saturnalia agrees so closely with the accounts of similar rites elsewhere which could not possibly have been known to him, that the substantial accuracy of his description may be regarded as established; and further, since the custom of putting a mock king to death as a representative of a god cannot have grown out of a practice of appointing him to preside over a holiday revel, whereas the reverse may very well have happened, we are justified in assuming that in an earlier and more barbarous age it was the universal practice in ancient Italy, wherever the worship of Saturn prevailed, to choose a man who played the part and enjoyed all the traditionary privileges of Saturn for a season, and then died, whether by his own or another’s hand, whether by the knife or the fire or on the gallows-tree, in the character of the good god who gave his life for the world. In Rome itself and other great towns the growth of civilisation had probably mitigated this cruel custom long before the Augustan age, and transformed it into the innocent shape it wears in the writings of the few classical writers who bestow a passing notice on the holiday King of the Saturnalia. But in remoter districts the older and sterner practice may long have survived; and even if after the unification of Italy the barbarous usage was suppressed by the Roman government, the memory of it would be handed down by the peasants and would tend from time to time, as still happens with the lowest forms of superstition among ourselves, to lead to a recrudescence of the practice, especially among the rude soldiery on the outskirts of the empire over whom the once iron hand of Rome was beginning to relax its grasp.

The resemblance between the Saturnalia of ancient and the Carnival of modern Italy has often been remarked; but in the light of all the facts that have come before us, we may well ask whether the resemblance does not amount to identity. We have seen that in Italy, Spain, and France, that is, in the countries where the influence of Rome has been deepest and most lasting, a conspicuous feature of the Carnival is a burlesque figure personifying the festive season, which after a short career of glory and dissipation is publicly shot, burnt, or otherwise destroyed, to the feigned grief or genuine delight of the populace. If the view here suggested of the Carnival is correct, this grotesque personage is no other than a direct successor of the old King of the Saturnalia, the master of the revels, the real man who personated Saturn and, when the revels were over, suffered a real death in his assumed character. The King of the Bean on Twelfth Night and the mediaeval Bishop of Fools, Abbot of Unreason, or Lord of Misrule are figures of the same sort and may perhaps have had a similar origin. Whether that was so or not, we may conclude with a fair degree of probability that if the King of the Wood at Aricia lived and died as an incarnation of a sylvan deity, he had of old a parallel at Rome in the men who, year by year, were slain in the character of King Saturn, the god of the sown and sprouting seed.


Criminalité: Cachez cette religion que je ne saurai voir ! (Crime mystery of the century: Why don’t people turn to crime when times are tough ?)

11 décembre, 2013
http://mjcdn.motherjones.com/preset_51/381in_lead_a_630.jpghttp://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341c6a7953ef0192ab9019c0970d-800wihttp://www.motherjones.com/files/blog_crime_baseline_lead_1.jpg
http://www.gasworks.org.uk/photos/large/471px-Hausbuch_Wolfegg_12r_Jupiter_LR.jpghttp://www.strangenotions.com/wp-content/uploads/Americas-Blessings.jpghttp://www.independent.org/images/books-hires/victory_of_reason_hirez.jpgNe croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison.  Jésus (Matthieu 10 : 34-36)
Quand les hommes se diront: Paix et sécurité! c’est alors que tout d’un coup fondra sur eux la perdition. Paul (lettre aux Thessaloniciens 5: 3)
Il n’y a plus ni Juif ni Grec, il n’y a plus ni esclave ni homme libre, il n’y a plus ni homme ni femme; car tous vous êtes un en Jésus-Christ. Paul
Les mondes anciens étaient comparables entre eux, le nôtre est vraiment unique. Sa supériorité dans tous les domaines est tellement écrasante, tellement évidente que, paradoxalement, il est interdit d’en faire état. René Girard
On apprend aux enfants qu’on a cessé de chasser les sorcières parce que la science s’est imposée aux hommes. Alors que c’est le contraire: la science s’est imposée aux hommes parce que, pour des raisons morales, religieuses, on a cessé de chasser les sorcières. René Girard
Notre monde est de plus en plus imprégné par cette vérité évangélique de l’innocence des victimes. L’attention qu’on porte aux victimes a commencé au Moyen Age, avec l’invention de l’hôpital. L’Hôtel-Dieu, comme on disait, accueillait toutes les victimes, indépendamment de leur origine. Les sociétés primitives n’étaient pas inhumaines, mais elles n’avaient d’attention que pour leurs membres. Le monde moderne a inventé la «victime inconnue», comme on dirait aujourd’hui le «soldat inconnu». (….) le christianisme peut maintenant continuer à s’étendre même sans la loi, car ses grandes percées intellectuelles et morales, notre souci des victimes et notre attention à ne pas nous fabriquer de boucs émissaires, ont fait de nous des chrétiens qui s’ignorent. (…) il faut distinguer deux choses. Il y a d’abord le texte chrétien qui pénètre lentement dans la conscience des hommes. Et puis il y a la façon dont les hommes l’interprètent. De ce point de vue, il est évident que le Moyen Age n’interprétait pas le christianisme comme nous. Mais nous ne pouvons pas leur en faire le reproche. Pas plus que nous pouvons faire le reproche aux Polynésiens d’avoir été cannibales. Parce que cela fait partie d’un développement historique.(…)  Mais, s’il est très bien de compatir au sort des malheureux, il faut aussi reconnaître que nous vivons dans la meilleure société que le monde ait jamais connue. Nous connaissons une amélioration du social qui dure depuis le haut Moyen Age. Et notre souci des victimes, pris dans son ensemble comme réalité, n’a pas d’équivalent dans l’histoire des sociétés humaines. (…) On ne peut donc pas supprimer les possibilités positives de cet univers : nous sommes toujours plus libres, du bien et du mal. C’est ce qui fait que notre époque est loin d’être terne, ennuyeuse ou désenchantée. Elle est à mon avis extraordinairement mouvementée, tragique, émouvante et intéressante à vivre. C’est-à-dire toujours ouverte sur les extrêmes du bien et du mal. René Girard
Jusqu’à présent, les textes de l’Apocalypse faisaient rire. Tout l’effort de la pensée moderne a été de séparer le culturel du naturel. La science consiste à montrer que les phénomènes culturels ne sont pas naturels et qu’on se trompe forcément si on mélange les tremblements de terre et les rumeurs de guerre, comme le fait le texte de l’Apocalypse. Mais, tout à coup, la science prend conscience que les activités de l’homme sont en train de détruire la nature. C’est la science qui revient à l’Apocalypse. René Girard
La même force culturelle et spirituelle qui a joué un rôle si décisif dans la disparition du sacrifice humain est aujourd’hui en train de provoquer la disparition des rituels de sacrifice humain qui l’ont jadis remplacé. Tout cela semble être une bonne nouvelle, mais à condition que ceux qui comptaient sur ces ressources rituelles soient en mesure de les remplacer par des ressources religieuses durables d’un autre genre. Priver une société des ressources sacrificielles rudimentaires dont elle dépend sans lui proposer d’alternatives, c’est la plonger dans une crise qui la conduira presque certainement à la violence. Gil Bailie
Religious Americans are more law abiding, have superior mental and physical health, are far more generous vis-à-vis charities, have much better family life, are more successful, and religious couples even have more satisfactory sex lives! The biggest by far has to do with the criminal justice system. If all Americans committed crimes at the same level as those who do not attend religious services, the costs of the criminal justice system would about double to, perhaps, $2 trillion annually. Rodney Stark
Les efforts des policiers dans les quartiers chauds de New York et de Los Angeles sont louables et ont contribué à améliorer la qualité de vie des résidants. Mais ces changements n’expliquent pas tout. Ceux qui y voient une réponse définitive font fausse route. Si la baisse s’expliquait par des changements dans le fonctionnement de la police dans les grandes villes, alors pourquoi observe-t-on une diminution du crime de façon uniforme, partout aux États-Unis? (…)  l’Occident au complet – et notamment le Canada – a connu une baisse du taux de criminalité au cours des 20 dernières années. L’internet, les cellulaires et les jeux vidéo ne peuvent expliquer la baisse, car les crimes ont commencé à chuter de façon uniforme dans les années 90, avant que ces inventions ne prennent leur envol. Et, pour la première fois depuis les années 70, le taux d’incarcération a commencé à baisser aux États-Unis, en 2007. Jumelé avec une hausse spectaculaire du chômage, cela aurait dû créer un mélange explosif. La réalité, c’est que nous n’avons pas de théorie qui puisse expliquer le phénomène. Pour l’instant, c’est un mystère. Frank E. Zimring (Berkeley)
If we eliminated every microgram of lead from the planet, we’d still have plenty of crime. So here’s a way to think about it. If you take a look at violent crime rates in America, you’d expect to see a sort of baseline level of crime. That level will depend on lots of things: poverty, drugs, guns, race, family structure, etc. But starting in the mid-60s, we saw an enormous rise in crime, well above any sensible sort of baseline. Then, in the 90s, we saw an equally enormous decline. (…) Most likely, the reason for this lies with all the usual suspects. But then … there’s the huge crime wave that lasted nearly 50 years from start to finish. That’s the part the lead hypothesis aims to explain. And the reason we need an explanation is simple: the usual suspects simply don’t seem to do a very good job of accounting for a gigantic, temporary rise and fall in violent crime rates. Within the criminology community, literally no one predicted the huge decline in crime that began in the early 90s. Their focus was on all the usual sociological causes, and they had no reason to think those were going to suddenly improve. And they were right. For the most part, they didn’t improve. It’s true that the crack epidemic of the 80s burned out, but no one really knows the underlying reason for that. Policing tactics changed in some places, but crime dropped everywhere, so that’s not a very compelling explanation either. Aside from that, poverty didn’t change much, and neither did race or guns or demographics or the number of broken familes or anything else. The truth is that there’s just not a good conventional explanation for both the huge rise and the huge fall in crime of the past half century. That’s one of the reasons the lead hypothesis deserves such serious consideration. Not only does it fit the data well and make sense based on what we know about the neurological effects of lead. It’s also just about the only good explanation we’ve got. Other factors are still important, and they probably explain rises and falls in the baseline rate of crime. But lead is the best explanation we have for the rest of it. Kevin Drum (Mother Jones)
The key factor is the demographic factor. Generally speaking, the people who go out and kill other people are males between the ages of 16 and 30. Samuel Huntington
Surprisingly, some sociologists think civilization is simply getting less violent and more civilized, Greenberg said. That theory was first proposed by German sociologist Norbert Elias in his book The Civilizing Process. Elias wrote that interpersonal violence had been in decline since the Middle Ages, a statement historians now accept. Elias said that for divine monarchs, like Louis XIV of France, their worth was more measured by their ability at witty badinage and manners than swordsmanship. This more civilized tendency spread to the European middle class and finally, in the nineteenth century, to the working classes. Joel N. Shurkin
At the deepest level, many of these shifts, taken together, suggest that crime in the United States is falling—even through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression—because of a big improvement in the culture. The cultural argument may strike some as vague, but writers have relied on it in the past to explain both the Great Depression’s fall in crime and the explosion of crime during the sixties. In the first period, on this view, people took self-control seriously; in the second, self-expression—at society’s cost—became more prevalent. It is a plausible case. Culture creates a problem for social scientists like me, however. We do not know how to study it in a way that produces hard numbers and testable theories. Culture is the realm of novelists and biographers, not of data-driven social scientists. But we can take some comfort, perhaps, in reflecting that identifying the likely causes of the crime decline is even more important than precisely measuring it. James Q. Wilson
Personal violent crime began declining in Western nations as early as the sixteenth century. While this research has emphasized violent crimes, similar processes may hold for crime more generally. Perhaps the rising crime rate from World War II through the early 1990s was simply a small spike that temporarily obscured a much longer downward trend. This long historical sweep may offer little solace to those confronted by crime today, but the encouraging long-term trend suggests explanations with deep roots. Eisner points to subtle shifts in parenting occurring over a long time span; Pinker suggests greater interdependence and broadened circles of people with whom we can empathize. Both draw on classic sociological work by Emile Durkheim and Norbert Elias, who attributed historical changes in crime and social disorder to changes in the relation between individuals and society. The centuries-long crime story is perhaps best explained by the gradual development of formal and informal social controls on our behavior. (…) U.S. homicide rates are more than double those of Canada, Japan, and much of Europe. Nevertheless, the U.S. crime picture has improved markedly, with significant across-the-board drops in violent and property offenses. Moreover, as Baumer points out, even behaviors like drinking, drug use, and risky sex are declining, especially among young people. We cannot explain such a sharp decline without reference to the social institutions, conditions, and practices shaping crime and its control. In particular, social scientists point to punishment, policing, opportunities, economics, demography, and history, though there is little consensus about the relative contribution of each. Further disentangling each factor’s unique contribution is a worthy endeavor, but it should not obscure a fundamental point: it is their entanglement in our social world that reduces crime.  (…) More than 90% of the “Part I” crimes reported to the police involve some kind of financial gain. The relationship between crime and the economy is more complicated than the simple idea that people “turn to crime” when times are tough, though. Contrary to popular expectations, for example, both victimizations and official crime showed especially steep declines from 2007 to 2009, when unemployment rates soared. Robbery, burglary, and household theft victimizations had been falling by a rate of about 4% per year from 1993-2006, but fell by an average of 6 to 7% per year during the Great Recession. This is not because crime is unrelated to economic conditions, but because crime is related to so many other things. For example, when people have less disposable income, they may spend more time in the relative safety of their home and less time in riskier places like bars. As noted above regarding opportunities, another reason crime rates are likely to drop when cash-strapped residents stay home at night in front of a television or computer screen is that their mere presence can help prevent burglary and theft. Chris Uggen and Suzy McElrath
[Dans] le cas de l’Estonie (…)  depuis 1995, les homicides ont chuté de 70 %, les vols de voitures de presque autant. Mais ce petit État postsoviétique n’est pas une exception. Dans les pays développés, la même tendance s’observe. Aux États-Unis, la chute a commencé en 1991 ; en Grande-Bretagne, autour de 1995. En France, la baisse date de 2001. Au Canada également ainsi que dans plusieurs pays d’Europe. (…) sur le cas américain, le plus impressionnant. La criminalité urbaine avait atteint des sommets au début des années 1990. Certains voyaient New York ou Los Angeles comme des jungles urbaines aux mains d’une faune de dealers, mafieux, proxénètes et squatters.
 Puis, contrairement aux prévisions, un véritable miracle s’est produit. La criminalité s’est mise à chuter à partir des années 1990. Globalement, elle a baissé d’un tiers dans les grandes villes, mais dans certains cas, elle a chuté de plus de 50 % ! À New York, le cas le plus spectaculaire, la criminalité a été divisée par quatre (- 78 %) entre le milieu des années 1990 et les années 2000. Sciences Humaines
Que vous soyez spécialiste de la question ou pas, vous avez sans doute déjà entendu cette théorie: quand les temps sont durs, la criminalité augmente. Pourtant, malgré une croissance économique stagnante et un chômage élevé, la criminalité a baissé dans la plupart des pays riches au cours de la dernière décennie. (…) Comment expliquer cette tendance générale qu’un rapide coup d’œil aux statistiques des Nations unies suffit à vérifier? Si la démographie est sans doute un facteur (la population vieillit, alors que ce sont les hommes de 16 ans à 24 ans qui commettent la plupart des crimes), The Economist souligne qu’elle ne peut pas expliquer à elle seule la baisse spectaculaire d’un certain type de criminalité dans des villes comme New York, Los Angeles ou Londres. D’autres hypothèses, comme l’augmentation du nombre de prisonniers, sont difficiles à prouver: si la population carcérale a doublé en Grande-Bretagne, en Australie et aux Etats-Unis, elle a diminué au Canada et aux Pays-Bas, pays qui ont aussi connu une baisse de la criminalité. (…) Le Guardian expliquait quand à lui en avril dernier que certains autres éléments concrets, comme de meilleurs antivols sur les voitures ou des portes et serrures plus résistantes rendaient les atteintes aux biens plus difficiles aujourd’hui. La technologie, qu’il s’agisse des tests d’ADN, de la localisation par téléphone portable ou des caméras de surveillance, a augmenté le risque de se faire prendre. Selon The Economist, l’explication la plus convaincante est plus simple encore. La police fait mieux son travail: "Une combinaison du fait que les policiers parlent aux habitants des quartiers où ils travaillent et du ciblage intensif des endroits mal famés a transformé la manière dont les rues sont protégées." Si le poids de chaque facteur reste impossible à déterminer, la majorité des experts semblent aujourd’hui s’accorder sur un point: l’augmentation de la criminalité qui a eu lieu un peu partout entre les années 1950 et les années 1980 ressemble de plus en plus à une anomalie de l’histoire. Slate

Attention: une explication peut en cacher une autre !

A l’heure où, avec la France d’une gauche qui s’était une spécialité de le critiquer et une Amérique émasculée par son Carter noir, l’Europe semble enfin se décider à reprendre en Afrique le rôle plus que nécessaire de gendarme du monde

Et où, profitant d’une grève de la police et à l’instar des nouveaux barbares du sud et de l’est qui déferlent sur nos côtes et nos villes, les pillards mettent l’Argentine en coupe réglée …

Pendant que pour défendre leurs damnés de la terre, nos belles âmes de la culture de l’excuse continuent inlassablement à nous seriner avec l’accroissement des inégalités et la violence et le racisme de la répression policière …

Et que pour expliquer l’incroyable baisse de la criminalité (vols de voitures, cambriolages et atteintes aux personnes: homicides, coups et blessures) que connaissent actuellement les Etats-Unis (divisée par deux en une seule génération !) et tout particulièrement leur première ville (de  2 245 homicides en 1990 à  414 l’an dernier et… zéro le 26 novembre 2012 !),  la bible de la bonne conscience de gauche Mother Jones nous ressort l’argument de la baisse du plomb dans l’essence et les peintures …

Comment, derrière l’ensemble des hypothèses qui, du vieillissement de la population à l’amélioration des mesures de protection (alarmes et surveillance, puces électroniques antivol) et de l’action policière (doublement du taux d’incarcération; meilleure utilisation des forces de police: quadrillages ciblés, concentration sur "points chauds", contrôles systématiques) ont toutes à peu près été examinées et ont probablement plus ou moins contribué au résultat général …

Ne pas se réjouir de voir nos sociologues s’intéresser enfin à un phénomène originellement mis à jour par le sociologue allemand Norbert Elias

A savoir le "processus de civilisation", c’est-à-dire une sorte de domestication des pulsions qui vit dans les sociétés occidentales et à partir du XVIe siècle, sur fond de la centralisation des sociétés avec l’institution d’un monopole étatique central de la violence, l’intériorisation par les individus de normes sociétales progressivement plus civilisées ?

Mais, devant l’indéniable origine occidentale d’un phénomène désormais en voie de mondialisation accélérée, comment non plus ne pas s’étonner de l’aveuglement continué des mêmes sociologues …

Face à  l’origine, comme le rappelle inlassablement notre René Girard national, tout aussi indéniablement judéo-chrétienne du phénomène ?

Mais ce non seulement, comme l’a bien montré le sociologue Rodney Stark, au niveau de la pacification de la société par les idées et les adeptes du judéo-christianisme …

Mais aussi, en même temps de par la libération/dislocation des anciens cadres sociétaux qu’il permet/provoque, au niveau même du déclenchement de la crise généralisée que connaissent actuellement nos sociétés occidentales et par contagion désormais la planète entière ?

D’où aussi, comme semblent l’oublier tant les apologistes du christianisme que nos pour le coup bien trop optimistes sociologues et en attestent les récents épisodes d’extrême brutalisation de deux guerres mondiales et plusieurs génocides comme les pages (plus besoin pour cela des textes apocalyptiques de nos bibles) de nos journaux quotidiennement …

Son hélas inévitable pendant, à savoir tant l’extrême fragilité de ladite pacification que la possibilité proprement apocalyptique de son issue finale …

Mystery Of New York’s Falling Crime Rate Remains Unsolved

Are we just becoming more civilized?

Joel N. Shurkin

Inside Science News Service

Feb 13 2013

(ISNS) — In the last 15 years, something dramatic has happened in New York City: the crime rate has dropped precipitously, making the city — where crime once was of epic proportions — the safest major city in America.

How that happened is a matter of considerable controversy, with popular theories ranging from fiercer policing, to abortion, lead paint, and computer-assisted crime prevention programs.

David Greenberg, a sociologist at New York University, believes none of the theories stand up on their own. It could be all or none of the above, he said.

It could also be that Western civilization is just becoming more civilized and less violent, and it is finally showing up in the statistics, even with recent mass shootings in the United States.

Crime rates have fallen in most of the Western world as well as most American cities, but what has happened in New York City, with a population of 8 million, is extraordinary. The rate of violent crime began to decrease in the 1980s, before jumping in the 1990s when crack cocaine made it to the streets in many cities. Then it sank and has continued to do so.

In 1990, there were 2,245 murders in the city. Last year the number was 414, the lowest since police began keeping reliable records.

In one remarkable day, Nov. 26, 2012, there was not a single murder, stabbing or shooting reported in the nation’s largest city, possibly the only time that happened since New York was a small Dutch colony.

"The analysis for homicide showed that rates dropped in every precinct although more in some than in others," Greenberg wrote in an article published in Justice Quarterly about the current trend. The same is true for other violent crimes, including robberies and assaults.

Greenberg said experts typically offer two common explanations. One is that in 1994 the New York Police Department installed CompStat, a computer program that tracks crime and allows police departments to manage personnel better. Another is the "broken windows" theory: police rigidly enforce misdemeanor crimes in an attempt to change the culture. Essentially, the police department believed that cracking down on offenses from prostitution to begging and excessive noise could help suppress felony crime. Either way, the NYPD takes credit.

For CompStat, the crime rate had already begun dropping when the software was installed. Greenberg also failed to find a causal relationship between an increase in misdemeanor charges and the overall crime rate.

Other theories also have been proposed. Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner, in the book "Freakonomics," proposed the increase in legal abortions was a factor. There were fewer young males, the demographic sector most responsible for crime. Malcolm Gladwell, in the book "The Tipping Point," said the increased police activity was just the last factor that ended an epidemic already ebbing. Both theories are highly controversial.

Another theory credits removal of lead from gasoline and paint. Lead causes brain damage and could account for some criminal activity so when lead was removed from gasoline and paint, fewer children were affected.

Greenberg said the evidence to support all those theories is weak.

So what is the answer?

Surprisingly, some sociologists think civilization is simply getting less violent and more civilized, Greenberg said.

That theory was first proposed by German sociologist Norbert Elias in his book The Civilizing Process. Elias wrote that interpersonal violence had been in decline since the Middle Ages, a statement historians now accept.

Elias said that for divine monarchs, like Louis XIV of France, their worth was more measured by their ability at witty badinage and manners than swordsmanship. This more civilized tendency spread to the European middle class and finally, in the nineteenth century, to the working classes.

The decrease also could be partly due to immigration to the city, an influx of people who may be particularly motivated to avoid legal trouble, especially if they are undocumented or because they are determined to make good lives for themselves, Greenberg said.

Then what caused the decline?

"I don’t know," Greenberg said.

Andrew Karmen, a sociologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York agreed.

"People and organizations claimed credit and think they know the reason for the crime drop, but the evidence is insufficient," Karmen said.

Crime also went down across America and in Europe where no one followed the NYPD tactics, said Karmen, who wrote a book on the subject, " New York Murder Mystery: The True Story Behind the Crime Crash of the 1990s."

Karmen agrees that the flow of immigration could be one reason, with the city’s population "refreshing" regularly. Another possibility, frequently ignored, is that New York is a college town. The City University of New York system alone enrolls 250,000 undergraduates and they are a substantial—and generally peaceful—portion of the young population.

Karmen said solving the mystery is important.

"If we don’t know why the crime rate went down, we won’t know what to do when it goes back up," Karmen said.

Joel Shurkin is a freelance writer based in Baltimore. He is the author of nine books on science and the history of science, and has taught science journalism at Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Voir aussi:

Hard Times, Fewer Crimes

The economic downturn has not led to more crime—contrary to the experts’ predictions. So what explains the disconnect? Big changes in American culture, says James Q. Wilson.

James Q. Wilson

The Wall Street Journal

May 28, 2011

When the FBI announced last week that violent crime in the U.S. had reached a 40-year low in 2010, many criminologists were perplexed. It had been a dismal year economically, and the standard view in the field, echoed for decades by the media, is that unemployment and poverty are strongly linked to crime. The argument is straightforward: When less legal work is available, more illegal "work" takes place.

The economist Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, a Nobel laureate, gave the standard view its classic formulation in the 1960s. He argued that crime is a rational act, committed when the criminal’s "expected utility" exceeds that of using his time and other resources in pursuit of alternative activities, such as leisure or legitimate work. Observation may appear to bear this theory out. After all, neighborhoods with elevated crime rates tend to be those where poverty and unemployment are high as well.

But there have long been difficulties with the notion that unemployment causes crime. For one thing, the 1960s, a period of rising crime, had essentially the same unemployment rate as the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period when crime fell. And during the Great Depression, when unemployment hit 25%, the crime rate in many cities went down. Among the explanations offered for this puzzle is that unemployment and poverty were so common during the Great Depression that families became closer, devoted themselves to mutual support, and kept young people, who might be more inclined to criminal behavior, under constant adult supervision. These days, because many families are weaker and children are more independent, we would not see the same effect, so certain criminologists continue to suggest that a 1% increase in the unemployment rate should produce as much as a 2% increase in property-crime rates.

Yet when the recent recession struck, that didn’t happen. As the national unemployment rate doubled from around 5% to nearly 10%, the property-crime rate, far from spiking, fell significantly. For 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported an 8% drop in the nationwide robbery rate and a 17% reduction in the auto-theft rate from the previous year. Big-city reports show the same thing. Between 2008 and 2010, New York City experienced a 4% decline in the robbery rate and a 10% fall in the burglary rate. Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles witnessed similar declines.

Some scholars argue that the unemployment rate is too crude a measure of economic frustration to prove the connection between unemployment and crime, since it estimates only the percentage of the labor force that is looking for work and hasn’t found it. But other economic indicators tell much the same story. The labor-force participation rate lets us determine the percentage of the labor force that is neither working nor looking for work—individuals who are, in effect, detached from the labor force. These people should be especially vulnerable to criminal inclinations, if the bad-economy-leads-to-crime theory holds. In 2008, though, even as crime was falling, only about half of men aged 16 to 24 (who are disproportionately likely to commit crimes) were in the labor force, down from over two-thirds in 1988, and a comparable decline took place among African-American men (who are also disproportionately likely to commit crimes).

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index offers another way to assess the link between the economy and crime. This measure rests on thousands of interviews asking people how their financial situations have changed over the last year, how they think the economy will do during the next year, and about their plans for buying durable goods. The index measures the way people feel, rather than the objective conditions they face. It has proved to be a very good predictor of stock-market behavior and, for a while, of the crime rate, which tended to climb when people lost confidence. When the index collapsed in 2009 and 2010, the stock market predictably went down with it—but this time, the crime rate went down, too.

So we have little reason to ascribe the recent crime decline to jobs, the labor market or consumer sentiment. The question remains: Why is the crime rate falling?

One obvious answer is that many more people are in prison than in the past. Experts differ on the size of the effect, but I think that William Spelman and Steven Levitt have it about right in believing that greater incarceration can explain about one-quarter or more of the crime decline. Yes, many thoughtful observers think that we put too many offenders in prison for too long. For some criminals, such as low-level drug dealers and former inmates returned to prison for parole violations, that may be so. But it’s true nevertheless that when prisoners are kept off the street, they can attack only one another, not you or your family.

Imprisonment’s crime-reduction effect helps to explain why the burglary, car-theft and robbery rates are lower in the U.S. than in England. The difference results not from the willingness to send convicted offenders to prison, which is about the same in both countries, but in how long America keeps them behind bars. For the same offense, you will spend more time in prison here than in England. Still, prison can’t be the sole reason for the recent crime drop in this country: Canada has seen roughly the same decline in crime, but its imprisonment rate has been relatively flat for at least two decades.

Another possible reason for reduced crime is that potential victims may have become better at protecting themselves by equipping their homes with burglar alarms, putting extra locks on their cars and moving into safer buildings or even safer neighborhoods. We have only the faintest idea, however, about how common these trends are or what effects on crime they may have.

Policing has become more disciplined over the last two decades; these days, it tends to be driven by the desire to reduce crime, rather than simply to maximize arrests, and that shift has reduced crime rates. One of the most important innovations is what has been called hot-spot policing. The great majority of crimes tend to occur in the same places. Put active police resources in those areas instead of telling officers to drive around waiting for 911 calls, and you can bring down crime. The hot-spot idea helped to increase the effectiveness of the New York Police Department’s Compstat program, which uses computerized maps to pinpoint where crime is taking place and enables police chiefs to hold precinct captains responsible for targeting those areas.

Researchers continue to test and refine hot-spot policing. After analyzing data from over 7,000 police arrivals at various locations in Minneapolis, the criminologists Lawrence Sherman and David Weisburd showed that for every minute an officer spent at a spot, the length of time without a crime there after the officer departed went up—until the officer had been gone for more than 15 minutes. After that, the crime rate went up. The police can make the best use of their time by staying at a hot spot for a while, moving on, and returning after 15 minutes.

Some cities now use a computer-based system for mapping traffic accidents and crime rates. They have noticed that the two measures tend to coincide: Where there are more accidents, there is more crime. In Shawnee, Kan., the police spent a lot more time in the 4% of the city where one-third of the crime occurred: Burglaries fell there by 60% (even though in the city as a whole they fell by only 8%), and traffic accidents went down by 17%.

There may also be a medical reason for the decline in crime. For decades, doctors have known that children with lots of lead in their blood are much more likely to be aggressive, violent and delinquent. In 1974, the Environmental Protection Agency required oil companies to stop putting lead in gasoline. At the same time, lead in paint was banned for any new home (though old buildings still have lead paint, which children can absorb).

Tests have shown that the amount of lead in Americans’ blood fell by four-fifths between 1975 and 1991. A 2007 study by the economist Jessica Wolpaw Reyes contended that the reduction in gasoline lead produced more than half of the decline in violent crime during the 1990s in the U.S. and might bring about greater declines in the future. Another economist, Rick Nevin, has made the same argument for other nations.

Another shift that has probably helped to bring down crime is the decrease in heavy cocaine use in many states. Measuring cocaine use is no easy matter; one has to infer it from interviews or from hospital-admission rates. Between 1992 and 2009, the number of admissions for cocaine or crack use fell by nearly two-thirds. In 1999, 9.8% of 12th-grade students said that they had tried cocaine; by 2010, that figure had fallen to 5.5%.

What we really need to know, though, is not how many people tried coke but how many are heavy users. Casual users who regard coke as a party drug are probably less likely to commit serious crimes than heavy users who may resort to theft and violence to feed their craving. But a study by Jonathan Caulkins at Carnegie Mellon University found that the total demand for cocaine dropped between 1988 and 2010, with a sharp decline among both light and heavy users.

Blacks still constitute the core of America’s crime problem. But the African-American crime rate, too, has been falling, probably because of the same non-economic factors behind falling crime in general: imprisonment, policing, environmental changes and less cocaine abuse.

Knowing the exact crime rate of any ethnic or racial group isn’t easy, since most crimes don’t result in arrest or conviction, and those that do may be an unrepresentative fraction of all crimes. Nevertheless, we do know the racial characteristics of those who have been arrested for crimes, and they show that the number of blacks arrested has been falling. Barry Latzer of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice has demonstrated that between 1980 and 2005, arrests of blacks for homicide and other violent crimes fell by about half nationwide.

It’s also suggestive that in the five New York City precincts where the population is at least 80% black, the murder rate fell by 78% between 1990 and 2000. In the black neighborhoods of Chicago, burglary fell by 52%, robbery by 62%, and homicide by 33% between 1991 and 2003. A skeptic might retort that all these seeming gains were merely the result of police officers’ giving up and no longer recording crimes in black neighborhoods. But opinion surveys in Chicago show that, among blacks, fear of crime was cut in half during the same period.

One can cite further evidence of a turnaround in black crime. Researchers at the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that in 1980, arrests of young blacks outnumbered arrests of whites more than six to one. By 2002, the gap had been closed to just under four to one.

Drug use among blacks has changed even more dramatically than it has among the population as a whole. As Mr. Latzer points out—and his argument is confirmed by a study by Bruce D. Johnson, Andrew Golub and Eloise Dunlap—among 13,000 people arrested in Manhattan between 1987 and 1997, a disproportionate number of whom were black, those born between 1948 and 1969 were heavily involved with crack cocaine, but those born after 1969 used very little crack and instead smoked marijuana.

The reason was simple: The younger African-Americans had known many people who used crack and other hard drugs and wound up in prisons, hospitals and morgues. The risks of using marijuana were far less serious. This shift in drug use, if the New York City experience is borne out in other locations, can help to explain the fall in black inner-city crime rates after the early 1990s.

John Donohue and Steven Levitt have advanced an additional explanation for the reduction in black crime: the legalization of abortion, which resulted in black children’s never being born into circumstances that would have made them likelier to become criminals. I have ignored that explanation because it remains a strongly contested finding, challenged by two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and by various academics.

At the deepest level, many of these shifts, taken together, suggest that crime in the United States is falling—even through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression—because of a big improvement in the culture. The cultural argument may strike some as vague, but writers have relied on it in the past to explain both the Great Depression’s fall in crime and the explosion of crime during the sixties. In the first period, on this view, people took self-control seriously; in the second, self-expression—at society’s cost—became more prevalent. It is a plausible case.

Culture creates a problem for social scientists like me, however. We do not know how to study it in a way that produces hard numbers and testable theories. Culture is the realm of novelists and biographers, not of data-driven social scientists. But we can take some comfort, perhaps, in reflecting that identifying the likely causes of the crime decline is even more important than precisely measuring it.

—Mr. Wilson is a senior fellow at the Clough Center at Boston College and taught previously at Harvard, UCLA and Pepperdine. His many books include "The Moral Sense," "Bureaucracy," and "Thinking About Crime." This essay is adapted from the forthcoming issue of City Journal, published by the Manhattan Institute.

Voir également:

Six Social Sources of the U.S. Crime Drop

Chris Uggen and Suzy McElrath

The Society pages

Feb 4, 2013

Chris Uggen

Chris Uggen is a sociologist and criminologist at the University of Minnesota. He believes that good science can light the way to a more just and safer world. He is co-editor of The Society Pages.

Suzy

Suzy McElrath is in the sociology program at the University of Minnesota. She studies the sociology of law and criminology, with a focus on mass atrocity, transitional justice, collective memory, and gender violence.

Each year, when the federal government releases new crime statistics, reporters seek out crime experts to help interpret the numbers. But following three decades of climbing crime rates, the downward trend of the past two decades has left even the experts searching for answers. Crime dropped under Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and when Republicans like George W. Bush were in charge. Crime dropped during times of peace and times of war, in the boom times of the late 1990s and in the Great Recession era from 2007 to 2009. In recent years, both criminologists and the public have been baffled by the improving crime situation—especially when many other social indicators looked so bleak.

But social scientists are starting to make sense of the big U.S. crime drop. At least among many of the “street” crimes reported by police and victims, today’s crime rate is roughly half what it was just two decades ago. This isn’t because people are twice as nice. Rather, the reasons behind the crime drop involve everything from an aging population to better policing to the rising ubiquity of cell phones. There’s no single “smoking gun” that can account for the drop: both formal social controls, such as police and prisons, and broader shifts in the population and economy play a part. That is, the main drivers are all social. Crime is less likely these days because of incremental changes in our social lives and interaction with others, including shifts in our institutions, technologies, and cultural practices. Before unpacking these social sources of the crime drop, we need to look a little more closely at its timing and variation across offenses, from auto theft to murder.

Dropping Like a Stone

It might not feel as though the United States is appreciably safer, but both violent and property crimes have dropped steadily and substantially for nearly twenty years. Whether looking to “official” crime (reported to the police) or victimization surveys, the story is the same—both violent and property crimes have dropped like a stone. While crime rose throughout much of the 1960s and ‘70s, most of today’s college freshmen have not experienced a significant rise in the crime rate over the course of their lives.

For all the talk about crime rates (technically, the number of offenses divided by the number of people or households in a given place and time to adjust for population changes), we only have good information about trends for a limited set of offenses—street crimes like murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, auto theft, and arson. Criminologists generally look to two sources of data to measure these crimes, the “official statistics” reported to the police and compiled as “Part I” offenses in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and reports from crime victims in the large-scale annual National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The official statistics are invaluable for understanding changes over time, because the reports have been consistently collected from almost every U.S. jurisdiction over several decades. The victimization data are also invaluable, because they help account for the “dark figure” of crime—offenses that go unreported to the police and are thus missing from the official statistics. Although both speak to the wellbeing of citizens and their sense of public safety, they do not necessarily show us the whole crime picture (they omit, for example, most white-collar crime and corporate malfeasance). Nevertheless, when victimization data tell the same story as police statistics, criminologists are generally confident that the trend is real rather than a “blip” or a mirage.

First, let’s look at the “Part I” crime rate according to the official FBI statistics. Property crimes like burglary and theft are much more common than violent crimes such as rape and robbery (as shown by the larger numbers on the left axis relative to the right axis). Both were clearly rising from the 1960s to about 1980. After some fluctuation in the 1970s and ‘80s, both rates of reported violence and property crime fell precipitously in 1991. Since then, official statistics show drops of about 49% and 43%, respectively. The sustained drop-off looks even more remarkable when compared to the earlier climb. Official 2011 statistics show offense rates on par with levels last seen in the 1960s for property crimes and in the early ‘70s for violent crime.

The federal government began taking victimization surveys from a nationally representative sample of households in the 1970s. The victimization picture is clouded by recall errors and other survey methodology challenges, but it’s less distorted by unreported crime than the official statistics. Because the survey was re-designed in 1992, we show only the trend in property and violent victimizations from 1993 onward.

Like the official statistics, the victimization data also show a broad-based and long-term crime decline, though there is some evidence of a slight uptick by 2011. There is a drop in violent victimizations through 2009 and a drop in property victimizations through 2010 (apart from a slight rise in 2006 that followed a change in survey methodology). Over this time, violent victimizations fell by 55% (from approximately 50 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 1993 to 23 per 1,000 in 2011). Property crimes fell by 57% (from 319 per 1,000 households in 1993 to 139 per 1,000 households in 2011). In both cases, the victim data suggest that the crime drop may be even larger than that suggested by the official statistics.

It isn’t just one type of crime that fell. All seven of the “Part I” offenses reported in the police statistics and the closest corresponding victimization offenses declined by at least 35% from 1993 to 2011. Although the specific offense categories are not directly comparable, similar types of crimes dropped in both the official statistics and the victimization data. For example, the steepest drops occurred for motor vehicle theft, which fell by 62% in official statistics and 74% in the victimization data. Taken together, this provides firm evidence that the crime drop is real, long-lasting, and broad in scope.

Six Social Sources

The big crime drop implies that either fewer people are participating in crime or that those who do participate are committing crime less frequently. But a society’s rate of crime is not a simple aggregation of the number of “crime-prone” individuals with particular psychological or biological characteristics. Under the right or, more precisely, the wrong social conditions, we are all prone to commit criminal acts. Communities therefore attempt to organize social life in ways that make crime less likely. While we often associate crime with institutions such as the police or courts, anything that alters patterns of human interaction can drive the crime rate up or down. This includes the technology in our cars, the places we go for entertainment, and the medical advances affecting reproduction and aging.

The idea that crime is social rather than individual is a prominent theme in much of the best new research. The crime drop partly reflects the work of institutions that are explicitly designed to increase social control, but it also reflects changes in other institutions designed to perform different societal functions.

Scholars have yet to neatly partition the unique contribution of the six social sources of the crime drop, but we can summarize current thinking about their likely impact.

Formal Social Control and Criminal Opportunities

Punishment

Punishment. No discussion of recent U.S. crime trends would be complete without considering our nation’s prison population, which increased from 241,000 in 1975 to 773,000 in 1990 to over 1.6 million in 2010. Because incarceration rose so rapidly, it is tempting to attribute the lion’s share of the crime drop to the incapacitating effects of prison. But if this were the case, as law professor Franklin Zimring points out, we should have seen an earlier crime drop (when incarceration first boomed in the 1970s). Instead, since crime is closely tied to the demography of the life course, new cohorts of potential offenders are always replacing those removed via incarceration. Moreover, many criminologists believe that prisons are actually criminogenic in the long-run, strengthening criminal ties and disrupting non-criminal opportunities when inmates are released.

In one of the most sophisticated studies of the effect of imprisonment on crime, sociologist Bruce Western estimates that roughly nine-tenths of the crime drop during the 1990s would have occurred without any changes in imprisonment. Economist Steven Levitt attributes up to one-third of the total decline to incarceration. Rising rates of imprisonment thus account for at least some of the crime drop in the 1990s and 2000s, with scholars attributing anywhere from 10 to 30% of the decline to America’s incarceration boom.

Policing

Policing. Both public and private policing strategies have changed considerably over the past several decades, as have the technologies available to law enforcement. Zimring and others conclude that “cops matter,” especially in explaining New York City’s crime decline. More specifically, criminologists David Weisburd and Cody Telep identify targeted policing of high-crime “hot spots,” gun crimes, and high-rate offenders, as well as proactive problem-oriented policing and the use of DNA evidence as police practices that reduce crime. In contrast, they find little evidence for the effectiveness of policing tactics like random preventive patrol, follow-up visits in domestic violence cases, and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (the DARE program).

While Levitt is skeptical about the role of new policing strategies, he attributes a portion of the 1990s crime drop to increases in the number of officers on the street. Because of the criminogenic effects of prison, scholars such as economist Steven Durlauf and criminologist Daniel Nagin propose shifting a greater share of criminal justice funding in policing. Effective law enforcement is part of the picture, says criminologist John MacDonald, but he also argues that public-private security partnerships such as targeted “business improvement districts” have helped to sustain the decline. The unique contribution of policing to the current crime drop is likely significant, but limited—accounting for perhaps 10 to 20% of the overall decline. Moreover, the effectiveness of the formal social controls provided by police depends, in large part, on support from informal social controls provided by families and communities.

Opportunities

Opportunities. Apart from changes in prisons and policing, the opportunities for crime have changed rapidly and dramatically since the 1990s. Technology isn’t an obvious social source of the crime drop, but people have been connecting in fundamentally different ways in the past two decades, altering the risks and rewards of criminal behavior. When it comes to “target hardening” (crime prevention through environmental design), simple changes can make an enormous difference. Recall that the biggest drop among all crime categories was in auto theft—in the United States and around the world, new technologies like car immobilizers, alarms, and central locking and tracking devices have effectively reduced this crime.

More generally, surveillance provides guardianship over ourselves and our property. It may even deter others from acting against us. With regard to a now-common technology, economists Jonathan Klick and Thomas Stratmann and criminologist John MacDonald point to the amazing proliferation of cell phones. They argue that cells increase surveillance and a would-be offender’s risk of apprehension, which affects the perceived costs of crime. Many potential victims now have easy access to a camera and are within a few finger-swipes of a call to 9-1-1. In a follow-up interview with the authors about his research, MacDonald said that the crime drop is “driven in part by target hardening, in part by consumer technological shifts, and in part by the movement of people’s nighttime activities back to the house.” In sum, where we spend our time and who is watching us likely plays a big role in the recent crime decline.

Of course, efforts to constrain criminal opportunities can also constrain non-criminal activities—and while most of us welcome the declining crime rates that accompany greater surveillance, we are far more ambivalent about being watched ourselves. As criminologist Eric Baumer explained to the authors, “not only are we spending more time off the streets and on a computer, but we are being watched or otherwise connected to some form of ‘social control’ pretty constantly when we are out and about.” It is difficult to quantify how myriad small changes in criminal opportunities affected the crime drop, but their combined contribution may be on a par with that of formal policing or prisons.

Social Trends and Institutional Change

Economics

Economics. More than 90% of the “Part I” crimes reported to the police involve some kind of financial gain. The relationship between crime and the economy is more complicated than the simple idea that people “turn to crime” when times are tough, though. Contrary to popular expectations, for example, both victimizations and official crime showed especially steep declines from 2007 to 2009, when unemployment rates soared. Robbery, burglary, and household theft victimizations had been falling by a rate of about 4% per year from 1993-2006, but fell by an average of 6 to 7% per year during the Great Recession.

This is not because crime is unrelated to economic conditions, but because crime is related to so many other things. For example, when people have less disposable income, they may spend more time in the relative safety of their home and less time in riskier places like bars. As noted above regarding opportunities, another reason crime rates are likely to drop when cash-strapped residents stay home at night in front of a television or computer screen is that their mere presence can help prevent burglary and theft.

Criminologists Richard Rosenfeld and Robert Fornango suggest that consumer confidence and the perception of economic hardship may account for as much as one-third of the recent reduction in robbery and property crime. Nevertheless, while economic recessions and consumer sentiment are likely to play some role, they cannot account for the long and steady declines shown in the charts above—boom or bust, crime rates have been dropping for twenty years. For this reason, most criminologists attribute only a small share of the crime drop to economic conditions.

Demography

Demography. Crime, it seems, is largely a young man’s game. For most offenses, crime and arrests peak in the late teen years and early twenties, declining quickly thereafter. During the 1960s and 1970s, the large number of teens and young adults in the Baby Boom cohort drove crime rates higher. In societies that are growing older, such as the contemporary United States, there are simply fewer of the young men who make up the majority of criminal offenders and victims. Due to these life course processes, the age and gender composition of a society is an underlying factor that structures its rate of crime.

An influx of new immigrants might also be contributing to lower crime rates. According to research by sociologist Robert Sampson and his colleagues, immigration can be “protective” against crime, with first-generation immigrants being significantly less likely to commit violence than third-generation Americans, after adjusting for personal and neighborhood characteristics.

While criminologists estimate that demographic changes can account for perhaps 10% of the recent crime drop, these factors are changing too slowly to explain why crime was essentially halved within the course of a single generation.

Social Dynamics

Longer-term Social Dynamics. Drawing back the historical curtain on U.S. crime rates puts the recent drop in perspective. So argued historian Eric Monkkonen, who showed that the urban homicide rates of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were on a par with the “peak” rates observed in the early 1990s. In fact, historical evidence amassed by scholars including psychologist Steven Pinker and historical criminologist Manuel Eisner convincingly shows that personal violent crime began declining in Western nations as early as the sixteenth century. While this research has emphasized violent crimes, similar processes may hold for crime more generally. Perhaps the rising crime rate from World War II through the early 1990s was simply a small spike that temporarily obscured a much longer downward trend.

This long historical sweep may offer little solace to those confronted by crime today, but the encouraging long-term trend suggests explanations with deep roots. Eisner points to subtle shifts in parenting occurring over a long time span; Pinker suggests greater interdependence and broadened circles of people with whom we can empathize. Both draw on classic sociological work by Emile Durkheim and Norbert Elias, who attributed historical changes in crime and social disorder to changes in the relation between individuals and society. The centuries-long crime story is perhaps best explained by the gradual development of formal and informal social controls on our behavior. In this light, Baumer argues that we should at least think more expansively about the contemporary crime drop. We cannot say for certain where the crime rate will be in five years, but if we had to bet where the crime rate would be in one hundred years, we could be reasonably confident it’d be measurably lower than it is today.

Room for Improvement

Criminologists almost universally acknowledge a sizeable crime drop over the last twenty years. This does not mean that everyone’s neighborhood became safer or that crime in the United States is low relative to other industrialized nations. In fact, U.S. homicide rates are more than double those of Canada, Japan, and much of Europe. Nevertheless, the U.S. crime picture has improved markedly, with significant across-the-board drops in violent and property offenses. Moreover, as Baumer points out, even behaviors like drinking, drug use, and risky sex are declining, especially among young people.

We cannot explain such a sharp decline without reference to the social institutions, conditions, and practices shaping crime and its control. In particular, social scientists point to punishment, policing, opportunities, economics, demography, and history, though there is little consensus about the relative contribution of each. Further disentangling each factor’s unique contribution is a worthy endeavor, but it should not obscure a fundamental point: it is their entanglement in our social world that reduces crime.

Recommended Reading

Eric P. Baumer and Kevin Wolff. Forthcoming. “Evaluating the Contemporary Crime Drop(s) in America, New York City, and Many Other Places,” Justice Quarterly. An up-to-the-minute appraisal of explanations for local, national, and global crime trends.

Manuel Eisner. 2003. “Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime,” Crime and Justice. A rich treatment of the decline in European homicide rates from the 16th to 20th centuries.

Steven D. Levitt. 2004. “Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not,” Journal of Economic Perspectives. A systematic appraisal of explanations for the crime decline by the renowned economist and Freakonomics author.

Eric H. Monkkonen. 2002. “Homicide in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago,” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. A careful historical examination of homicide in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Franklin E. Zimring. 2007. The Great American Crime Decline. A well-written and thoroughgoing account of the U.S. crime drop.

- See more at: http://thesocietypages.org/papers/crime-drop/#sthash.craHnp8m.dpuf

Voir encore:

America’s falling crime rate

Good news is no news

Americans are committing fewer crimes, though nobody seems to know quite why

Jun 2nd 2011

INTUITIVE theories are often easier to believe in than to prove. For instance: conventional wisdom says that the crime rate should rise during a recession. When people are out of work and out of money, the thinking goes, they turn to crime. But the evidence backing this theory is at best equivocal. There seem to be some links between crime and economic conditions, but they are neither as direct nor clear as one might assume. Crime rose during the Roaring Twenties then fell in the Depression. America’s economy expanded and crime rates rose in the 1960s. Rates fell throughout the 1990s, when America’s economy was healthy, but they kept falling during the recession in the early 2000s (see chart).

And during the current downturn, the unemployment rate rose as the crime rate fell. Between 2008 and 2009 violent crime fell by 5.3% and property crime by 4.6%; between 2009 and 2010, according to the preliminary Uniform Crime Report released by the FBI on May 23rd, violent crime fell by another 5.5% and property crime by 2.8%. Robberies—precisely the crime one might expect to rise during tough economic times—fell by 9.5% between 2009 to 2010. The decline in violent crimes was sharpest in small towns, where the rate dropped by more than 25%, and among regions sharpest in the South, which saw a 7.5% decline. Only two cities with more than 1m people—San Antonio and New York—saw their crime rates rise. And some perspective is warranted there: in 1991 around 2,200 people were murdered in New York. Last year just 536 were. Overall, America’s violent-crime rate is at its lowest level in around 40 years, and its murder rate at its lowest in almost 50.

According to the social scientists, this was not supposed to happen. In 1995 James Wilson, who came up with the “broken windows” theory of crime prevention widely credited with making New York safer, warned that by 2000 there would be “30,000 more young muggers, killers and thieves than we have now. Get ready.” One year later John DiLulio, another political scientist who studies crime, warned of a wave of “juvenile super-predators” wreaking havoc by 2010. Yet even as they wrote, the violent-crime rate had already begun to fall. Except for a bit of a rise from 2004 to 2006, it has fallen every year since 1991.

Although nobody predicted the striking decline in crime during the 1990s, in hindsight theories explaining it abound. Some give credit to smarter police tactics: particularly quantitative methods and “broken windows” policing. Others point to the increased availability of legal abortion in the 1970s, resulting in fewer children born to teenage, unwed and poor mothers: precisely the sorts of children who commit crimes at high rates during adolescence. There is also the waning of violence associated with the crack market, and the increased incarceration rate, which keeps more criminals off the street for longer (though at tremendous cost).

Although these factors explain the drop since the late 1980s, they do not explain the sharp drop in the past two years. For that Al Blumstein, a criminologist who heads the National Consortium on Violence Research, posits an “Obama effect”, in which the election of America’s first black president inspires a significant number of young black men away from violence. And indeed between 2008 and 2009, the numbers of blacks arrested for murder and robbery each declined by over 2%, though this theory has more narrative than evidentiary appeal.

Another theory concerns lead. Exposure to lead in childhood has been linked to aggression and criminal behaviour in adults. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, an economist at Amherst College, argues that the decline in American children’s exposure to lead since it was phased out of gasoline in the 1970s and removed almost entirely by 1985, accounts for much of the decline in violent crime in the 1990s. It may account for even more, as more of America’s unleaded children enter adolescence and their early 20s. And then there are those perennial bogeymen, video games and the internet, affordable forms of entertainment that keep people inside, and away from real crime and drugs.

Voir de même:

America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead

New research finds Pb is the hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic. And fixing the problem is a lot cheaper than doing nothing.

Kevin Drum

Mother Jones

Jan. 3, 2013

When Rudy Giuliani ran for mayor of New York City in 1993, he campaigned on a platform of bringing down crime and making the city safe again. It was a comfortable position for a former federal prosecutor with a tough-guy image, but it was more than mere posturing. Since 1960, rape rates had nearly quadrupled, murder had quintupled, and robbery had grown fourteenfold. New Yorkers felt like they lived in a city under siege.

Throughout the campaign, Giuliani embraced a theory of crime fighting called "broken windows," popularized a decade earlier by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in an influential article in The Atlantic. [8] "If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired," they observed, "all the rest of the windows will soon be broken." So too, tolerance of small crimes would create a vicious cycle ending with entire neighborhoods turning into war zones. But if you cracked down on small crimes, bigger crimes would drop as well.

Giuliani won the election, and he made good on his crime-fighting promises by selecting Boston police chief Bill Bratton as the NYPD’s new commissioner. Bratton had made his reputation as head of the New York City Transit Police, where he aggressively applied broken-windows policing to turnstile jumpers and vagrants in subway stations. With Giuliani’s eager support, he began applying the same lessons to the entire city, going after panhandlers, drunks, drug pushers, and the city’s hated squeegee men. And more: He decentralized police operations and gave precinct commanders more control, keeping them accountable with a pioneering system called CompStat that tracked crime hot spots in real time.

The results were dramatic. In 1996, the New York Times reported [9] that crime had plunged for the third straight year, the sharpest drop since the end of Prohibition. Since 1993, rape rates had dropped 17 percent, assault 27 percent, robbery 42 percent, and murder an astonishing 49 percent. Giuliani was on his way to becoming America’s Mayor and Bratton was on the cover of Time. It was a remarkable public policy victory.

But even more remarkable is what happened next. Shortly after Bratton’s star turn, political scientist John DiIulio warned that the echo of the baby boom would soon produce a demographic bulge of millions of young males that he famously dubbed "juvenile super-predators [10]." Other criminologists nodded along. But even though the demographic bulge came right on schedule, crime continued to drop. And drop. And drop. By 2010, violent crime rates in New York City had plunged 75 percent from their peak in the early ’90s.

All in all, it seemed to be a story with a happy ending, a triumph for Wilson and Kelling’s theory and Giuliani and Bratton’s practice. And yet, doubts remained. For one thing, violent crime actually peaked in New York City in 1990, four years before the Giuliani-Bratton era. By the time they took office, it had already dropped 12 percent.

The PB Effect

What happens when you expose a generation of kids to high lead levels? Crime and teen pregnancy data two decades later tell a startling story.

Second, and far more puzzling, it’s not just New York that has seen a big drop in crime. In city after city, violent crime peaked in the early ’90s and then began a steady and spectacular decline. Washington, DC, didn’t have either Giuliani or Bratton, but its violent crime rate has dropped 58 percent since its peak. Dallas’ has fallen 70 percent. Newark: 74 percent. Los Angeles: 78 percent.

There must be more going on here than just a change in policing tactics in one city. But what?

There are, it turns out, plenty of theories. When I started research for this story, I worked my way through a pair of thick [11] criminology tomes [12]. One chapter regaled me with the "exciting possibility" that it’s mostly a matter of economics: Crime goes down when the economy is booming and goes up when it’s in a slump. Unfortunately, the theory doesn’t seem to hold water—for example, crime rates have continued to drop recently despite our prolonged downturn.

Another chapter suggested that crime drops in big cities were mostly a reflection of the crack epidemic of the ’80s finally burning itself out. A trio of authors identified three major "drug eras" in New York City, the first dominated by heroin, which produced limited violence, and the second by crack, which generated spectacular levels of it. In the early ’90s, these researchers proposed, the children of CrackGen switched to marijuana, choosing a less violent and more law-abiding lifestyle. As they did, crime rates in New York and other cities went down.

Another chapter told a story of demographics: As the number of young men increases, so does crime. Unfortunately for this theory, the number of young men increased during the ’90s, but crime dropped anyway.

There were chapters in my tomes on the effect of prison expansion. On guns and gun control. On family. On race. On parole and probation. On the raw number of police officers. It seemed as if everyone had a pet theory. In 1999, economist Steven Levitt, later famous as the coauthor of Freakonomics, teamed up with John Donohue to suggest that crime dropped because of Roe v. Wade [13]; legalized abortion, they argued, led to fewer unwanted babies, which meant fewer maladjusted and violent young men two decades later.

But there’s a problem common to all of these theories: It’s hard to tease out actual proof. Maybe the end of the crack epidemic contributed to a decline in inner-city crime, but then again, maybe it was really the effect of increased incarceration, more cops on the beat, broken-windows policing, and a rise in abortion rates 20 years earlier. After all, they all happened at the same time.

To address this problem, the field of econometrics gives researchers an enormous toolbox of sophisticated statistical techniques. But, notes statistician and conservative commentator Jim Manzi in his recent book Uncontrolled [14], econometrics consistently fails to explain most of the variation in crime rates. After reviewing 122 known field tests, Manzi found that only 20 percent demonstrated positive results for specific crime-fighting strategies, and none of those positive results were replicated in follow-up studies.

Did Lead Make You Dumber?

Even low levels have a significant effect.

So we’re back to square one. More prisons might help control crime, more cops might help, and better policing might help. But the evidence is thin for any of these as the main cause. What are we missing?

Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics [15]: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it’s everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the ’60s and ’70s and the fall of crime in the ’90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule.

A molecule? That sounds crazy. What molecule could be responsible for a steep and sudden decline in violent crime?

Well, here’s one possibility: Pb(CH2CH3)4.

In 1994, Rick Nevin was a consultant working for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on the costs and benefits of removing lead paint from old houses. This has been a topic of intense study because of the growing body of research linking lead exposure in small children with a whole raft of complications later in life, including lower IQ, hyperactivity, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities.

But as Nevin was working on that assignment, his client suggested they might be missing something. A recent study had suggested a link between childhood lead exposure and juvenile delinquency later on. Maybe reducing lead exposure had an effect on violent crime too?

That tip took Nevin in a different direction. The biggest source of lead in the postwar era, it turns out, wasn’t paint. It was leaded gasoline. And if you chart the rise and fall of atmospheric lead caused by the rise and fall of leaded gasoline consumption, you get a pretty simple upside-down U: Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early ’40s through the early ’70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted.

Gasoline lead may explain as much as 90 percent of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.

Intriguingly, violent crime rates followed the same upside-down U pattern. The only thing different was the time period: Crime rates rose dramatically in the ’60s through the ’80s, and then began dropping steadily starting in the early ’90s. The two curves looked eerily identical, but were offset by about 20 years.

So Nevin dove in further, digging up detailed data on lead emissions and crime rates to see if the similarity of the curves was as good as it seemed. It turned out to be even better: In a 2000 paper [16] (PDF) he concluded that if you add a lag time of 23 years, lead emissions from automobiles explain 90 percent of the variation in violent crime in America. Toddlers who ingested high levels of lead in the ’40s and ’50s really were more likely to become violent criminals in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

And with that we have our molecule: tetraethyl lead, the gasoline additive invented by General Motors in the 1920s to prevent knocking and pinging in high-performance engines. As auto sales boomed after World War II, and drivers in powerful new cars increasingly asked service station attendants to "fill ‘er up with ethyl," they were unwittingly creating a crime wave two decades later.

It was an exciting conjecture, and it prompted an immediate wave of…nothing. Nevin’s paper was almost completely ignored, and in one sense it’s easy to see why—Nevin is an economist, not a criminologist, and his paper was published in Environmental Research, not a journal with a big readership in the criminology community. What’s more, a single correlation between two curves isn’t all that impressive, econometrically speaking. Sales of vinyl LPs rose in the postwar period too, and then declined in the ’80s and ’90s. Lots of things follow a pattern like that. So no matter how good the fit, if you only have a single correlation it might just be a coincidence. You need to do something more to establish causality.

As it turns out, however, a few hundred miles north someone was doing just that. In the late ’90s, Jessica Wolpaw Reyes was a graduate student at Harvard casting around for a dissertation topic that eventually became a study she published in 2007 as a public health policy professor at Amherst. "I learned about lead because I was pregnant and living in old housing in Harvard Square," she told me, and after attending a talk where future Freakonomics star Levitt outlined his abortion/crime theory, she started thinking about lead and crime. Although the association seemed plausible, she wanted to find out whether increased lead exposure caused increases in crime. But how?

In states where consumption of leaded gasoline declined slowly, crime declined slowly. Where it declined quickly, crime declined quickly.

The answer, it turned out, involved "several months of cold calling" to find lead emissions data at the state level. During the ’70s and ’80s, the introduction of the catalytic converter, combined with increasingly stringent Environmental Protection Agency rules, steadily reduced the amount of leaded gasoline used in America, but Reyes discovered that this reduction wasn’t uniform. In fact, use of leaded gasoline varied widely among states, and this gave Reyes the opening she needed. If childhood lead exposure really did produce criminal behavior in adults, you’d expect that in states where consumption of leaded gasoline declined slowly, crime would decline slowly too. Conversely, in states where it declined quickly, crime would decline quickly. And that’s exactly what she found [17].

Meanwhile, Nevin had kept busy as well, and in 2007 he published a new paper looking at crime trends around the world [18] (PDF). This way, he could make sure the close match he’d found between the lead curve and the crime curve wasn’t just a coincidence. Sure, maybe the real culprit in the United States was something else happening at the exact same time, but what are the odds of that same something happening at several different times in several different countries?

Nevin collected lead data and crime data for Australia and found a close match. Ditto for Canada. And Great Britain and Finland and France and Italy and New Zealand and West Germany. Every time, the two curves fit each other astonishingly well. When I spoke to Nevin about this, I asked him if he had ever found a country that didn’t fit the theory. "No," he replied. "Not one."

Just this year, Tulane University researcher Howard Mielke published a paper [19] with demographer Sammy Zahran on the correlation of lead and crime at the city level. They studied six US cities that had both good crime data and good lead data going back to the ’50s, and they found a good fit in every single one. In fact, Mielke has even studied lead concentrations at the neighborhood level in New Orleans and shared his maps with the local police. "When they overlay them with crime maps," he told me, "they realize they match up."

Location, Location, Location

In New Orleans, lead levels can vary dramatically from one neighborhood to the next—and the poorest neighborhoods tend to be the worst hit.

Maps by Karen Minot

Put all this together and you have an astonishing body of evidence. We now have studies at the international level, the national level, the state level, the city level, and even the individual level. Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes [20]. All of these studies tell the same story: Gasoline lead is responsible for a good share of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.

When differences of atmospheric lead density between big and small cities largely went away, so did the difference in murder rates.

Like many good theories, the gasoline lead hypothesis helps explain some things we might not have realized even needed explaining. For example, murder rates have always been higher in big cities than in towns and small cities. We’re so used to this that it seems unsurprising, but Nevin points out that it might actually have a surprising explanation—because big cities have lots of cars in a small area, they also had high densities of atmospheric lead during the postwar era. But as lead levels in gasoline decreased, the differences between big and small cities largely went away. And guess what? The difference in murder rates went away too. Today, homicide rates are similar in cities of all sizes [21]. It may be that violent crime isn’t an inevitable consequence of being a big city after all.

The gasoline lead story has another virtue too: It’s the only hypothesis that persuasively explains both the rise of crime in the ’60s and ’70s and its fall beginning in the ’90s. Two other theories—the baby boom demographic bulge and the drug explosion of the ’60s—at least have the potential to explain both, but neither one fully fits the known data. Only gasoline lead, with its dramatic rise and fall following World War II, can explain the equally dramatic rise and fall in violent crime.

If econometric studies were all there were to the story of lead, you’d be justified in remaining skeptical no matter how good the statistics look. Even when researchers do their best—controlling for economic growth, welfare payments, race, income, education level, and everything else they can think of—it’s always possible that something they haven’t thought of is still lurking in the background. But there’s another reason to take the lead hypothesis seriously, and it might be the most compelling one of all: Neurological research is demonstrating that lead’s effects are even more appalling, more permanent, and appear at far lower levels than we ever thought. For starters, it turns out that childhood lead exposure at nearly any level can seriously and permanently reduce IQ. Blood lead levels are measured in micrograms per deciliter, and levels once believed safe—65 μg/dL, then 25, then 15, then 10—are now known to cause serious damage. The EPA now says [22] flatly that there is "no demonstrated safe concentration of lead in blood," and it turns out that even levels under 10 μg/dL can reduce IQ by as much as seven points. An estimated 2.5 percent of children nationwide have lead levels above 5 μg/dL.

Is there lead in your house? [2]

Is There Lead in Your House? [2]

But we now know that lead’s effects go far beyond just IQ. Not only does lead promote apoptosis, or cell death, in the brain, but the element is also chemically similar to calcium. When it settles in cerebral tissue, it prevents calcium ions from doing their job, something that causes physical damage to the developing brain that persists into adulthood.

Only in the last few years have we begun to understand exactly what effects this has. A team of researchers at the University of Cincinnati has been following a group of 300 children for more than 30 years and recently performed a series of MRI scans that highlighted the neurological differences between subjects who had high and low exposure to lead during early childhood.

High childhood exposure damages a part of the brain linked to aggression control and "executive functions." And the impact turns out to be greater among boys.

One set of scans [23] found that lead exposure is linked to production of the brain’s white matter—primarily a substance called myelin, which forms an insulating sheath around the connections between neurons. Lead exposure degrades both the formation and structure of myelin, and when this happens, says Kim Dietrich, one of the leaders of the imaging studies, "neurons are not communicating effectively." Put simply, the network connections within the brain become both slower and less coordinated.

A second study [24] found that high exposure to lead during childhood was linked to a permanent loss of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex—a part of the brain associated with aggression control as well as what psychologists call "executive functions": emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility. One way to understand this, says Kim Cecil, another member of the Cincinnati team, is that lead affects precisely the areas of the brain "that make us most human."

So lead is a double whammy: It impairs specific parts of the brain responsible for executive functions and it impairs the communication channels between these parts of the brain. For children like the ones in the Cincinnati study, who were mostly inner-city kids with plenty of strikes against them already, lead exposure was, in Cecil’s words, an "additional kick in the gut." And one more thing: Although both sexes are affected by lead, the neurological impact turns out to be greater among boys than girls.

Other recent [25] studies link [26] even minuscule blood lead levels with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Even at concentrations well below those usually considered safe—levels still common today—lead increases the odds of kids developing ADHD.

In other words, as Reyes summarized the evidence in her paper, even moderately high levels of lead exposure are associated with aggressivity, impulsivity, ADHD, and lower IQ. And right there, you’ve practically defined the profile of a violent young offender.

Needless to say, not every child exposed to lead is destined for a life of crime. Everyone over the age of 40 was probably exposed to too much lead during childhood, and most of us suffered nothing more than a few points of IQ loss. But there were plenty of kids already on the margin, and millions of those kids were pushed over the edge from being merely slow or disruptive to becoming part of a nationwide epidemic of violent crime. Once you understand that, it all becomes blindingly obvious. Of course massive lead exposure among children of the postwar era led to larger numbers of violent criminals in the ’60s and beyond. And of course when that lead was removed in the ’70s and ’80s, the children of that generation lost those artificially heightened violent tendencies.

Police chiefs "want to think what they do on a daily basis matters," says a public health expert. "And it does." But maybe not as much as they think.

But if all of this solves one mystery, it shines a high-powered klieg light on another: Why has the lead/crime connection been almost completely ignored in the criminology community? In the two big books I mentioned earlier, one has no mention of lead at all and the other has a grand total of two passing references. Nevin calls it "exasperating" that crime researchers haven’t seriously engaged with lead, and Reyes told me that although the public health community was interested in her paper, criminologists have largely been AWOL. When I asked Sammy Zahran about the reaction to his paper with Howard Mielke on correlations between lead and crime at the city level, he just sighed. "I don’t think criminologists have even read it," he said. All of this jibes with my own reporting. Before he died last year, James Q. Wilson—father of the broken-windows theory, and the dean of the criminology community—had begun to accept that lead probably played a meaningful role in the crime drop of the ’90s. But he was apparently an outlier. None of the criminology experts I contacted showed any interest in the lead hypothesis at all.

Why not? Mark Kleiman [27], a public policy professor at the University of California-Los Angeles who has studied promising methods of controlling crime, suggests that because criminologists are basically sociologists, they look for sociological explanations, not medical ones. My own sense is that interest groups probably play a crucial role: Political conservatives want to blame the social upheaval of the ’60s for the rise in crime that followed. Police unions have reasons for crediting its decline to an increase in the number of cops. Prison guards like the idea that increased incarceration is the answer. Drug warriors want the story to be about drug policy. If the actual answer turns out to be lead poisoning, they all lose a big pillar of support for their pet issue. And while lead abatement could be big business for contractors and builders, for some reason their trade groups have never taken it seriously.

More generally, we all have a deep stake in affirming the power of deliberate human action. When Reyes once presented her results to a conference of police chiefs, it was, unsurprisingly, a tough sell. "They want to think that what they do on a daily basis matters," she says. "And it does." But it may not matter as much as they think.

So is this all just an interesting history lesson? After all, leaded gasoline has been banned since 1996, so even if it had a major impact on violent crime during the 20th century, there’s nothing more to be done on that front. Right?

Wrong. As it turns out, tetraethyl lead is like a zombie that refuses to die. Our cars may be lead-free today, but they spent more than 50 years spewing lead from their tailpipes, and all that lead had to go somewhere. And it did: It settled permanently into the soil that we walk on, grow our food in, and let our kids play around.

That’s especially true in the inner cores of big cities, which had the highest density of automobile traffic. Mielke has been studying lead in soil for years, focusing most of his attention on his hometown of New Orleans, and he’s measured 10 separate census tracts there with lead levels over 1,000 parts per million.

To get a sense of what this means, you have to look at how soil levels of lead typically correlate with blood levels, which are what really matter. Mielke has studied this in New Orleans [28], and it turns out that the numbers go up very fast even at low levels. Children who live in neighborhoods with a soil level of 100 ppm have average blood lead concentrations of 3.8 μg/dL—a level that’s only barely tolerable. At 500 ppm, blood levels go up to 5.9 μg/dL, and at 1,000 ppm they go up to 7.5 μg/dL. These levels are high enough to do serious damage.

"I know people who have moved into gentrified neighborhoods and immediately renovate everything. They create huge hazards for their kids."

Mielke’s partner, Sammy Zahran, walked me through a lengthy—and hair-raising—presentation about the effect that all that old gasoline lead continues to have in New Orleans. The very first slide describes the basic problem: Lead in soil doesn’t stay in the soil. Every summer, like clockwork, as the weather dries up, all that lead gets kicked back into the atmosphere in a process called resuspension. The zombie lead is back to haunt us.

Mark Laidlaw, a doctoral student who has worked with Mielke, explains how this works [29]: People and pets track lead dust from soil into houses, where it’s ingested by small children via hand-to-mouth contact. Ditto for lead dust generated by old paint inside houses. This dust cocktail is where most lead exposure today comes from.

Paint hasn’t played a big role in our story so far, but that’s only because it didn’t play a big role in the rise of crime in the postwar era and its subsequent fall. Unlike gasoline lead, lead paint was a fairly uniform problem during this period, producing higher overall lead levels, especially in inner cities, but not changing radically over time. (It’s a different story with the first part of the 20th century, when use of lead paint did rise and then fall somewhat dramatically. Sure enough, murder rates rose and fell in tandem.)

And just like gasoline lead, a lot of that lead in old housing is still around. Lead paint chips flaking off of walls are one obvious source of lead exposure, but an even bigger one, says Rick Nevin, are old windows. Their friction surfaces generate lots of dust as they’re opened and closed. (Other sources—lead pipes and solder, leaded fuel used in private aviation, and lead smelters—account for far less.)

We know that the cost of all this lead is staggering, not just in lower IQs, delayed development, and other health problems, but in increased rates of violent crime as well. So why has it been so hard to get it taken seriously?

There are several reasons. One of them was put bluntly by Herbert Needleman, one of the pioneers of research into the effect of lead on behavior. A few years ago, a reporter from the Baltimore City Paper asked him why so little progress had been made recently on combating the lead-poisoning problem. "Number one," he said without hesitation [30], "it’s a black problem." But it turns out that this is an outdated idea. Although it’s true that lead poisoning affects low-income neighborhoods disproportionately, it affects plenty of middle-class and rich neighborhoods as well. "It’s not just a poor-inner-city-kid problem anymore," Nevin says. "I know people who have moved into gentrified neighborhoods and immediately renovate everything. And they create huge hazards for their kids."

Tamara Rubin, who lives in a middle-class neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, learned this the hard way when two of her children developed lead poisoning after some routine home improvement in 2005. A few years later, Rubin started the Lead Safe America Foundation [31], which advocates for lead abatement and lead testing. Her message: If you live in an old neighborhood or an old house, get tested. And if you renovate, do it safely.

Another reason that lead doesn’t get the attention it deserves is that too many people think the problem was solved years ago. They don’t realize how much lead is still hanging around, and they don’t understand just how much it costs us.

It’s difficult to put firm numbers to the costs and benefits of lead abatement. But for a rough idea, let’s start with the two biggest costs. Nevin estimates that there are perhaps 16 million pre-1960 houses with lead-painted windows, and replacing them all would cost something like $10 billion per year over 20 years. Soil cleanup in the hardest-hit urban neighborhoods is tougher to get a handle on, with estimates ranging from $2 to $36 per square foot. A rough extrapolation from Mielke’s estimate to clean up New Orleans suggests that a nationwide program might cost another $10 billion per year.

We can either get rid of the remaining lead, or we can wait 20 years and then lock up all the kids who’ve turned into criminals.

So in round numbers that’s about $20 billion per year for two decades. But the benefits would be huge. Let’s just take a look at the two biggest ones. By Mielke and Zahran’s estimates, [32] if we adopted the soil standard of a country like Norway (roughly 100 ppm or less), it would bring about $30 billion in annual returns from the cognitive benefits alone (higher IQs, and the resulting higher lifetime earnings). Cleaning up old windows might double this. And violent crime reduction would be an even bigger benefit. Estimates here are even more difficult, but Mark Kleiman suggests that a 10 percent drop in crime—a goal that seems reasonable if we get serious about cleaning up the last of our lead problem—could produce benefits as high as $150 billion per year.

Put this all together and the benefits of lead cleanup could be in the neighborhood of $200 billion per year. In other words, an annual investment of $20 billion for 20 years could produce returns of 10-to-1 every single year for decades to come. Those are returns that Wall Street hedge funds can only dream of.

Memo to Deficit Hawks: Get the Lead Out

Lead abatement isn’t cheap, but the return on investment is mind-blowing.

There’s a flip side to this too. At the same time that we should reassess the low level of attention we pay to the remaining hazards from lead, we should probably also reassess the high level of attention we’re giving to other policies. Chief among these is the prison-building boom that started in the mid-’70s. As crime scholar William Spelman wrote a few years ago, states have "doubled their prison populations, then doubled them again, increasing their costs by more than $20 billion per year"—money that could have been usefully spent on a lot of other things. And while some scholars conclude that the prison boom had an effect on crime, recent research suggests that rising incarceration rates suffer from diminishing returns: Putting more criminals behind bars is useful up to a point, but beyond that we’re just locking up more people without having any real impact on crime. What’s more, if it’s true that lead exposure accounts for a big part of the crime decline that we formerly credited to prison expansion and other policies, those diminishing returns might be even more dramatic than we believe. We probably overshot on prison construction years ago; one doubling might have been enough. Not only should we stop adding prison capacity, but we might be better off returning to the incarceration rates we reached in the mid-’80s.

So this is the choice before us: We can either attack crime at its root by getting rid of the remaining lead in our environment, or we can continue our current policy of waiting 20 years and then locking up all the lead-poisoned kids who have turned into criminals. There’s always an excuse not to spend more money on a policy as tedious-sounding as lead abatement—budgets are tight, and research on a problem as complex as crime will never be definitive—but the association between lead and crime has, in recent years, become pretty overwhelming. If you gave me the choice, right now, of spending $20 billion less on prisons and cops and spending $20 billion more on getting rid of lead, I’d take the deal in a heartbeat. Not only would solving our lead problem do more than any prison to reduce our crime problem, it would produce smarter, better-adjusted kids in the bargain. There’s nothing partisan about this, nothing that should appeal more to one group than another. It’s just common sense. Cleaning up the rest of the lead that remains in our environment could turn out to be the cheapest, most effective crime prevention tool we have. And we could start doing it tomorrow.

Support for this story was provided by a grant from the Puffin Foundation Investigative Journalism Project.

Source URL: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline

Links:

[1] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline

[2] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-poisoning-house-pipes-soil-paint

[3] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/12/soil-lead-researcher-howard-mielke

[4] http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/01/lead-shooting-ranges-osha

[5] http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/does-lead-paint-produce-more-crime-too

[6] http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/08/lead-in-tap-water

[7] http://www.motherjones.com/topics/lead-and-crime

[8] http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/03/broken-windows/304465/

[9] http://www.nytimes.com/1996/12/20/nyregion/new-york-crime-rate-plummets-to-levels-not-seen-in-30-years.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

[10] http://www.city-journal.org/html/6_2_my_black.html

[11] http://www.powells.com/biblio/61-9780521681483-1

[12] http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=0195399358

[13] http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/dialogues/features/1999/does_abortion_prevent_crime/_2.html

[14] http://www.powells.com/biblio/64-9780465023240-0

[15] http://modeledbehavior.com/2012/01/08/on-lead/

[16] http://www.ricknevin.com/uploads/Nevin_2000_Env_Res_Author_Manuscript.pdf

[17] http://www.nber.org/papers/w13097

[18] http://pic.plover.com/Nevin/Nevin2007.pdf

[19] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412012000566

[20] http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050101

[21] http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/city.cfm

[22] https://www.motherjones.com/documents/531159-americas-children-and-the-environment-epa#document/p42/a84512

[23] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2789851/

[24] http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0050112

[25] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2810427/

[26] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17185283

[27] http://publicaffairs.ucla.edu/mark-ar-kleiman

[28] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896970700842X

[29] http://urbanleadpoisoning.com

[30] http://www2.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=9738

[31] http://www.leadsafeamerica.org/leadsafeamerica.org/Home.html

[32] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969710012672

Voir aussi:

Lead and Crime: Baselines vs. Crime Waves

Kevin Drum

Mother Jones

Jan. 10, 2013

Whenever you write about a complicated subject, you struggle with how best to explain things. In the end, you always hope you got your point across in a way that sinks in, but you’re never quite sure. And one of the things I’m not sure I explained well in my piece about the link between lead and violent crime [1] is precisely how important the effect of lead on crime is. After all, the causes of crime are varied and complex. Surely lead isn’t the whole answer?

It’s not, and I don’t want anyone to come away from my article thinking that. If we eliminated every microgram of lead from the planet, we’d still have plenty of crime. So here’s a way to think about it. If you take a look at violent crime rates in America, you’d expect to see a sort of baseline level of crime. That level will depend on lots of things: poverty, drugs, guns, race, family structure, etc. But starting in the mid-60s, we saw an enormous rise in crime, well above any sensible sort of baseline. Then, in the 90s, we saw an equally enormous decline. The chart below illustrates this. (The numbers themselves aren’t precise, so don’t take them too seriously. I’m just trying to illustrate a point.)

The baseline crime rate is the light red portion at the bottom. It goes up and down a bit over time, but also—and I’m guessing here—shows a steady, modest rise since the 60s. Most likely, the reason for this lies with all the usual suspects.

But then, in dark red, there’s the huge crime wave that lasted nearly 50 years from start to finish. That’s the part the lead hypothesis aims to explain. And the reason we need an explanation is simple: the usual suspects simply don’t seem to do a very good job of accounting for a gigantic, temporary rise and fall in violent crime rates. Within the criminology community, literally no one predicted the huge decline in crime that began in the early 90s. Their focus was on all the usual sociological causes, and they had no reason to think those were going to suddenly improve.

And they were right. For the most part, they didn’t improve. It’s true that the crack epidemic of the 80s burned out, but no one really knows the underlying reason for that. Policing tactics changed in some places, but crime dropped everywhere, so that’s not a very compelling explanation either. Aside from that, poverty didn’t change much, and neither did race or guns or demographics or the number of broken familes or anything else.

The truth is that there’s just not a good conventional explanation for both the huge rise and the huge fall in crime of the past half century. That’s one of the reasons the lead hypothesis deserves such serious consideration. Not only does it fit the data well and make sense based on what we know about the neurological effects of lead. It’s also just about the only good explanation we’ve got. Other factors are still important, and they probably explain rises and falls in the baseline rate of crime. But lead is the best explanation we have for the rest of it.

Source URL: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/lead-and-crime-baselines-vs-crime-waves

Links:

[1] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline

Voir enfin:

From the Archives: Is Lead Really the Main Cause of Violent Crime?

No. But it is the main cause of the great crime wave of 1965-2010.

Kevin Drum

Mother Jones

Aug. 13, 2013

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but over the past week I’ve suddenly gotten a flurry of new responses to my January piece about lead and crime. [1] Roughly speaking, they’re mostly complaints that crime has lots of causes, and it’s a mistake to claim that lead is preeminently important. I understand where this criticism comes from, but here’s the thing: I agree with it. That’s why it’s important to understand exactly what the lead hypothesis claims to explain: not all crime, but only the specific crime wave of 1965-2010. (In America, anyway. The dates vary in other regions of the world.) So because this has cropped up again, I’m going to reproduce a post [2] I wrote shortly after the article came out. Of all the things I didn’t explain well enough in the original piece, this is the one I most wish I had illustrated more clearly.

Whenever you write about a complicated subject, you struggle with how best to explain things. In the end, you always hope you got your point across in a way that sinks in, but you’re never quite sure. And one of the things I’m not sure I explained well in my piece about the link between lead and violent crime [3] is precisely how important the effect of lead on crime is. After all, the causes of crime are varied and complex. Surely lead isn’t the whole answer?

It’s not, and I don’t want anyone to come away from my article thinking that. If we eliminated every microgram of lead from the planet, we’d still have plenty of crime. So here’s a way to think about it. If you take a look at violent crime rates in America, you’d expect to see a sort of baseline level of crime. That level will depend on lots of things: poverty, drugs, guns, race, family structure, etc. But starting in the mid-60s, we saw an enormous rise in crime, well above any sensible sort of baseline. Then, in the 90s, we saw an equally enormous decline. The chart below illustrates this. (The numbers themselves aren’t precise, so don’t take them too seriously. I’m just trying to illustrate a point.)

The baseline crime rate is the light red portion at the bottom. It goes up and down a bit over time, but also—and I’m guessing here—shows a steady, modest rise since the 60s. Most likely, the reason for this lies with all the usual suspects.

But then, in dark red, there’s the huge crime wave that lasted nearly 50 years from start to finish. That’s the part the lead hypothesis aims to explain. And the reason we need an explanation is simple: the usual suspects simply don’t seem to do a very good job of accounting for a gigantic, temporary rise and fall in violent crime rates. Within the criminology community, literally no one predicted the huge decline in crime that began in the early 90s. Their focus was on all the usual sociological causes, and they had no reason to think those were going to suddenly improve.

And they were right. For the most part, they didn’t improve. It’s true that the crack epidemic of the 80s burned out, but no one really knows the underlying reason for that. Policing tactics changed in some places, but crime dropped everywhere, so that’s not a very compelling explanation either. Aside from that, poverty didn’t change much, and neither did race or guns or demographics or the number of broken familes or anything else.

The truth is that there’s just not a good conventional explanation for both the huge rise and the huge fall in crime of the past half century. That’s one of the reasons the lead hypothesis deserves such serious consideration. Not only does it fit the data well and make sense based on what we know about the neurological effects of lead. It’s also just about the only good explanation we’ve got. Other factors are still important, and they probably explain rises and falls in the baseline rate of crime. But lead is the best explanation we have for the rest of it.

Links:

[1] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/11/criminal-element

[2] http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/lead-and-crime-baselines-vs-crime-waves

[3] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline

Voir par ailleurs:

http://www.scienceshumaines.com/pourquoi-la-criminalite-chute_fr_31470.html

Pourquoi la criminalité chute

Achille Weinberg

Sciences humaines

03/10/2013

Mensuel N° 253 – novembre 2013

Comment expliquer le déclin de la criminalité constaté depuis quinze ans dans beaucoup de grands pays occidentaux ? Les spécialistes émettent plusieurs hypothèses.

Pour celui qui écoute régulièrement l’actualité, entendre dire que la criminalité chute est pour le moins surprenant. Que dites-vous ? La criminalité chute ? Et la série de meurtres à Marseille ? Et les bijouteries ou bureaux de tabac dévalisés ? Et les vols de portables ou de sacs dans le métro ? Précisons donc de quoi l’on parle.

La chute de la criminalité dont il est question ici est un constat massif qui concerne les principaux pays occidentaux sur une période de plus quinze ans. Le constat est assez unanime chez les spécialistes, mais les causes restent très disputées. The Economist a consacré sa couverture à cette énigme en juillet 2013.

Une tendance de fond

L’article commence par livrer quelques chiffres impressionnants. Pour frapper les esprits, le cas de l’Estonie est mis en avant : depuis 1995, les homicides ont chuté de 70 %, les vols de voitures de presque autant. Mais ce petit État postsoviétique n’est pas une exception. Dans les pays développés, la même tendance s’observe. Aux États-Unis, la chute a commencé en 1991 ; en Grande-Bretagne, autour de 1995. En France, la baisse date de 2001. Au Canada également ainsi que dans plusieurs pays d’Europe. Mais de quels crimes parle-t-on ? Un tableau l’illustre : principalement des vols (vols de voitures, cambriolages) et des atteintes aux personnes (homicides, coups et blessures).

Arrêtons-nous sur le cas américain, le plus impressionnant. La criminalité urbaine avait atteint des sommets au début des années 1990. Certains voyaient New York ou Los Angeles comme des jungles urbaines aux mains d’une faune de dealers, mafieux, proxénètes et squatters.

Puis, contrairement aux prévisions, un véritable miracle s’est produit. La criminalité s’est mise à chuter à partir des années 1990. Globalement, elle a baissé d’un tiers dans les grandes villes, mais dans certains cas, elle a chuté de plus de 50 % ! À New York, le cas le plus spectaculaire, la criminalité a été divisée par quatre (- 78 %) entre le milieu des années 1990 et les années 2000 (encadré ci-dessous) ! Que s’est-il donc passé ?

Où sont passés les délinquants ?

Les explications des experts ne manquent pas.

• Le travail de la police. La première explication qui vient à l’esprit est celle de l’action policière. Dans les grandes villes, des politiques offensives de reprise en main de la situation ont été menées. L’intervention policière a été déterminante. Pour certains criminologues, la criminalité a baissé parce qu’une partie des délinquants est désormais sous les verrous ! Aux États-Unis, le nombre de prisonniers a doublé dans les vingt dernières années. En Grande-Bretagne et en Australie aussi. Le message serait donc clair : la répression paye. Sauf que cette théorie répressive ne marche pas partout. Aux Pays-Bas et au Canada, la criminalité a également chuté alors que le nombre de prisonniers n’a pas augmenté et qu’il n’y a pas eu de mobilisation générale de la police. À New York, le taux d’incarcération est beaucoup moins important qu’à Los Angeles ou Chicago et les résultats se révèlent bien meilleurs ! Il faut donc trouver d’autres explications que la seule action policière.

• Une baisse démographique ? Certains experts ont avancé un argument démographique : le vieillissement de la population. Il y a moins de jeunes donc moins de délinquants. Steven Levitt a même soutenu dans son best-seller Freakonomics que l’avortement, dans les années 1970, avait été un facteur déterminant : dans les milieux les plus défavorisés où se recrutent le plus de délinquants, on fait désormais moins d’enfants.

Cependant, ce facteur démographique a lui aussi été contesté. À Londres et dans nombre de villes américaines, le taux de jeunes n’a pas diminué de façon significative alors que la criminalité s’est effondrée. C’est peut-être alors que les jeunes sont désormais scolarisés plus longtemps, donc mieux éduqués ? L’économiste Jessica Wolpaw Reyes a inventé une théorie pour le moins étonnante : la rénovation du plomb dans l’essence serait l’explication du déclin de la violence. En somme, moins de plomb entraîne moins de débiles (par saturnisme) donc moins de délinquants !

• La fin de l’« épidémie de crack ». Un autre phénomène semble avoir compté : la chute de la consommation du crack (un dérivé de la cocaïne). Cette drogue avait fait des ravages durant les années 1980 : elle exacerbait non seulement la guerre des gangs, mais poussait les drogués à commettre de nombreux délits pour se payer leur dose. L’épidémie de crack a commencé à baisser aux États-Unis au début des années 1990, et cette chute épouse celle de la criminalité. Cela ne veut pas dire que la consommation de drogue diminue globalement, mais elle est moins criminogène. Les « junkies » des années 1980 sont moins nombreux et la drogue a changé de nature.

• Les alarmes et la surveillance. Si les atteintes aux biens baissent, c’est, selon le criminologue néerlandais Jan Van Dijk, parce qu’il est moins facile de voler : magasins, entreprises, habitations, automobiles sont équipés de dispositifs de surveillance de plus en plus nombreux et sophistiqués. La chute spectaculaire des vols de voitures est incontestablement liée aux alarmes et aux puces électroniques antivol dont elles sont équipées. En revanche, les « vols à la tire » de portefeuilles et de téléphones portables ont explosé, même s’ils font l’objet de beaucoup moins de plaintes.

• Retour de la croissance. La dynamique de croissance qui a marqué les États-Unis et la Grande-Bretagne dans les années 1990-2000 a également été évoquée. Mais dans ce cas, la crise depuis 2008 aurait dû s’accompagner d’une flambée de la criminalité dans les pays les plus touchés par la crise. Cela n’a pas été le cas. The Economist plaide pour une convergence de facteurs tout en reconnaissant qu’au final, la chute de la criminalité reste à la fois une sorte de petit miracle et une énigme non résolue.

Partager :

Le cas new-yorkais

À fin des années 1980, le taux de criminalité a atteint des pics à New York. C’est alors que fut élu le républicain Rudolf Giuliani (1994-2001). Il décida de chasser de la ville criminels,
 prostituées, SDF…
La présence policière fut renforcée, des actions commandos mises en place, une politique de contrôle systématique imposée à la population. Entre 1993 et 1998, le nombre annuel de 
meurtres a été divisé
par trois, la délinquance ordinaire a chuté. 
Certains ont parlé d’un véritable miracle et proposé que le « peace maker » R. Giuliani soit lauréat du prix Nobel de la paix : grâce à lui, des milliers de vies et de victimes potentielles ont été épargnées.

Les experts criminologues sont plus dubitatifs. Dans son livre The City That Became Safe (2012), Franklin M. Zimring, criminologue à Chicago, avance deux idées clés. Le rôle de la police a été décisif. F.M. Zimring n’hésite pas à le dire et à se démarquer des positions habituelles des criminologues prompts à considérer que seules les politiques sociales peuvent durablement venir à bout de la criminalité. Selon l’auteur, la chute de la criminalité
à New York s’est effectuée à niveau socio-économique équivalent. C’est donc bien l’action de la police qui a été déterminante.

Pour autant, ce n’est pas la politique de « tolérance zéro » qui a payé. À New York, le nombre de criminels mis sous les verrous a moins augmenté qu’ailleurs (20 % dans les années 1990-2000). L’action principale de la police a consisté à déminer le terrain par des quadrillages ciblés, concentrés sur des points chauds, accompagnés de contrôles systématiques (procédures de « stop and frisk ») : arrestations, fouilles, harcèlement des criminels ont abouti à nettoyer une à une les zones de trafics et d’agressions.

Achille Weinberg

Voir aussi:

États-Unis: le crime à son plus bas niveau

À New York, le changement a été radical. Au début des années 90, 700 000 crimes étaient rapportés chaque année. L’an dernier, moins de 105 000 crimes ont été signalés aux autorités.

Nicolas Bérubé

La Presse

15 juillet 2012

(Los Angeles) Durant des années, un gardien armé était posté jour et nuit devant les ateliers remplis d’outils spécialisés du Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, rue Hoover. Puis, un matin, le gardien n’était plus là.

«Ça fait deux ou trois ans de cela, se souvient Carlos Mendes, propriétaire d’une petite boutique d’antiquités, en face. La protection intensive, ça fait partie d’une autre époque. Aujourd’hui, le quartier est beaucoup plus sûr.»

La nuit, M. Mendes avait l’habitude de s’endormir au son des rotors d’hélicoptères de la police de Los Angeles (LAPD), qui patrouillaient dans le secteur. «Maintenant, les jeunes familles achètent des maisons par ici et font des rénovations. Les gens se promènent le soir. C’est un changement radical.»

Ce qui se passe rue Hoover n’est pas un cas isolé. Les actes de violence et les crimes sont à leur plus bas niveau en 40 ans aux États-Unis, selon les données du gouvernement fédéral.

À Los Angeles, le nombre de crimes chute chaque année depuis 10 ans. L’an dernier, 298 homicides ont été commis sur le territoire du LAPD. Au milieu des années 90, plus de 1200 meurtres étaient enregistrés annuellement. Tout ça, dans une ville dont la population croit constamment.

Même les quartiers durs ont vu la violence diminuer. Compton, par exemple, a connu 17 meurtres en 2011, une baisse de 60 % par rapport à 2007.

À New York, le changement a aussi été radical. Au début des années 90, 700 000 crimes étaient rapportés chaque année. L’an dernier, moins de 105 000 crimes ont été signalés aux autorités.

Qu’est-ce qui a changé? George Tita, professeur au département de criminologie de l’Université de la Californie à Irvine, dit être surpris de voir la violence et la criminalité baisser, et ce, malgré la hausse du taux de chômage.

«Le nombre d’Américains qui vivent dans la pauvreté a augmenté depuis la crise financière de 2008, dit-il en entrevue avec La Presse. Le stress, la frustration, le manque de revenus: tout ça semble laisser présager une hausse de la criminalité. Or, le contraire s’est produit.»

Les experts ont cité plusieurs causes possibles, allant de la fin de l’épidémie de crack des années 90 à la hausse du niveau d’incarcération, ce qui garde les criminels loin de la rue.

Pour M. Tita, ces facteurs jouent un rôle, tout comme l’émergence de l’internet et des téléphones cellulaires.

«Avant, les vendeurs de drogue occupaient les coins de rue, ce qui créait un climat d’intimidation. Aujourd’hui, ils correspondent avec leurs clients par messages texte.»

Les jeunes hommes – groupe traditionnellement responsable d’une partie importante des crimes – passent aussi plus de temps à l’intérieur.

«La violence survient quand il y a des jeunes qui n’ont rien à faire, dit M. Tita. Depuis quelques années, les jeunes sont sur Facebook ou devant des jeux vidéo. Ils trainent moins dans la rue.»

La passion du moment

Dans un récent entretien au réseau NPR, l’ancien chef de la police de New York et de Los Angeles, William Bratton, a dit qu’il faut d’abord remercier la police pour la baisse de la criminalité.

Sous sa supervision, la police de New York et de Los Angeles a commencé à travailler sur les crimes dits «liés à la qualité de vie». Les gens qui sautaient les tourniquets dans le métro, par exemple, ou les petits revendeurs de drogue qui opéraient impunément au coin des rues.

«En contrôlant les comportements, la police a, dans les faits, lancé le message que la loi est là pour être respectée, a-t-il dit. Une personne est prise dans la passion du moment et décide de commettre un crime. C’est ici que la police entre en jeu. La police est là pour contrôler les comportements.»

Frank E. Zimring n’y croit pas. Professeur de droit à l’Université Berkeley et auteur de plusieurs livres sur la violence dans la société américaine, M. Zimring est l’un des experts les plus souvent cités en matière de prévention de la criminalité aux États-Unis.

Les efforts des policiers dans les quartiers chauds de New York et de Los Angeles sont louables et ont contribué à améliorer la qualité de vie des résidants, note-t-il. «Mais ces changements n’expliquent pas tout. Ceux qui y voient une réponse définitive font fausse route», explique-t-il en entrevue téléphonique.

Si la baisse s’expliquait par des changements dans le fonctionnement de la police dans les grandes villes, alors pourquoi observe-t-on une diminution du crime de façon uniforme, partout aux États-Unis? demande-t-il.

M. Zimring fait remarquer que l’Occident au complet – et notamment le Canada – a connu une baisse du taux de criminalité au cours des 20 dernières années.

«L’internet, les cellulaires et les jeux vidéo ne peuvent expliquer la baisse, car les crimes ont commencé à chuter de façon uniforme dans les années 90, avant que ces inventions ne prennent leur envol», dit-il.

Et, pour la première fois depuis les années 70, le taux d’incarcération a commencé à baisser aux États-Unis, en 2007. Jumelé avec une hausse spectaculaire du chômage, cela aurait dû créer un mélange explosif, note M. Zimring.

Voir également:

ÉTATS-UNIS

Mais pourquoi la criminalité baisse ?

Malgré la récession, les crimes et délits sont en net recul. Les spécialistes se creusent les méninges pour expliquer le phénomène.

The Economist

traduction Courrier international

23 juin 2011

Voilà qui semble une évidence : en période de récession, le taux de criminalité augmente. Pourtant, depuis le début de la crise financière, la hausse du taux de chômage s’est accompagnée d’une baisse du taux de criminalité. Entre 2008 et 2009, les crimes avec violence ont reculé de 5,3 % et les infractions contre les biens de 4,6 %. La baisse s’est poursuivie de 2009 à 2010, avec une diminution de 5,5 % et 2,8 % respectivement. Le vol qualifié (une infraction que l’on pourrait s’attendre à voir se multiplier en temps de crise) a même reculé de 9,5 % entre 2009 et 2010. D’une manière générale, les crimes avec violence sont à leur niveau le plus bas depuis quarante ans et les homicides à leur niveau le plus bas depuis cinquante ans.

A en croire les spécialistes, cela n’aurait pas dû se produire. James Wilson, l’auteur de la fameuse théorie du “carreau cassé” en matière de prévention de la délinquance [selon laquelle il faut réparer immédiatement toute dégradation sous peine de les voir se multiplier] avait annoncé en 1995 que le pays compterait en l’an 2000 “30 000 jeunes agresseurs, meurtriers et voleurs de plus qu’aujourd’hui”. Un an plus tard, le politologue John DiLulio mettait en garde contre un raz-de-marée d’“adolescents superprédateurs” qui, à l’horizon 2010, allaient semer le chaos. Pourtant, au moment même où ils formalisaient leurs prédictions, la criminalité avait déjà commencé à baisser et, hormis une légère hausse entre 2004 et 2006, elle n’a cessé de reculer depuis 1991.

Si personne n’avait prévu la baisse spectaculaire de la délinquance des années 1990, les théories pour l’expliquer rétrospectivement abondent. Certains l’attribuent à l’amélioration des stratégies policières. D’autres mettent en avant l’accès de plus en plus large à l’avortement, qui a permis de diminuer les naissances d’enfants de mères adolescentes, célibataires et pauvres – ceux, en d’autres termes, qui ont le plus de risques de sombrer dans la délinquance à l’adolescence. Parmi les autres facteurs avancés figurent le déclin des violences liées au trafic de crack et l’augmentation du taux d’incarcération.

Mais si ces facteurs peuvent expliquer la baisse de la criminalité depuis la fin des années 1980, ils ne disent rien de sa chute spectaculaire au cours des deux dernières années. Pour cela, le criminologue Al Blumstein, qui dirige le National Consortium on Violence Research (NCOVR), avance un “effet Obama” : l’élection du premier président noir de l’histoire des Etats-Unis aurait éloigné de la violence un nombre important de jeunes Noirs. De fait, entre 2008 et 2009, le nombre de Noirs arrêtés pour homicide ou vol a reculé de 2 %. Une autre hypothèse pointe du doigt le plomb. En effet, des liens ont été mis en évidence entre exposition au plomb dans l’enfance et comportement délinquant à l’âge adulte. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, économiste au Amherst College, estime que la moindre exposition des petits Américains au plomb explique pour une bonne part la diminution des crimes violents dans les années 1990. D’autres enfin mettent en cause ces éternels épouvantails que sont les jeux vidéo et Internet, arguant qu’ils permettent de maintenir les individus à l’intérieur de leur foyer et donc de les tenir éloignés du crime et des drogues.

Voir enfin:

La criminalité continue de baisser dans les pays riches malgré la crise

Grégoire Fleurot

Slate

22 juillet 2013

Que vous soyez spécialiste de la question ou pas, vous avez sans doute déjà entendu cette théorie: quand les temps sont durs, la criminalité augmente. Pourtant, malgré une croissance économique stagnante et un chômage élevé, la criminalité a baissé dans la plupart des pays riches au cours de la dernière décennie.

L’hebdomadaire britannique The Economist s’est intéressé dans un long article à cette tendance plutôt contre-intuitive qui a commencé en 1991 aux Etats-Unis, autour de 1995 en Grande-Bretagne et en 2001 en France pour les atteintes aux biens.

Comment expliquer cette tendance générale qu’un rapide coup d’œil aux statistiques des Nations unies suffit à vérifier? Si la démographie est sans doute un facteur (la population vieillit, alors que ce sont les hommes de 16 ans à 24 ans qui commettent la plupart des crimes), The Economiste souligne qu’elle ne peut pas expliquer à elle seule la baisse spectaculaire d’un certain type de criminalité dans des villes comme New York, Los Angeles ou Londres.

D’autres hypothèses, comme l’augmentation du nombre de prisonniers, sont difficiles à prouver: si la population carcérale a doublé en Grande-Bretagne, en Australie et aux Etats-Unis, elle a diminués au Canada et aux Pays-Bas, pays qui ont aussi connu une baisse de la criminalité.

Le blog de «factchecking» de la chaîne britannique Channel 4 s’est également posé la question, alors que les autorités viennent d’annoncer une nouvelle baisse de la criminalité malgré des réductions budgétaires significatives, et rappelle que «la plupart des experts concluent que les causes du crime sont si complexes que les changements économiques seuls ne l’emportent pas forcément sur d’autres facteurs».

Le Guardian expliquait quand à lui en avril dernier que certains autres éléments concrets, comme de meilleurs antivols sur les voitures ou des portes et serrures plus résistantes rendaient les atteintes aux biens plus difficiles aujourd’hui. La technologie, qu’il s’agisse des tests d’ADN, de la localisation par téléphone portable ou des caméras de surveillance, a augmenté le risque de se faire prendre.

Selon The Economist, l’explication la plus convaincante est plus simple encore. La police fait mieux son travail:

«Une combinaison du fait que les policiers parlent aux habitants des quartiers où ils travaillent et du ciblage intensif des endroits mal famés a transformé la manière dont les rues sont protégées.»

Si le poids de chaque facteur reste impossible à déterminer, la majorité des experts semblent aujourd’hui s’accorder sur un point: l’augmentation de la criminalité qui a eu lieu un peu partout entre les années 1950 et les années 1980 ressemble de plus en plus à une anomalie de l’histoire.


‘Gravity’: C’est une histoire de renaissance (Behind the technical wonders, a good old redemption story ?)

25 octobre, 2013
http://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/still/gravity-poster01.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/a93af-gravity_bullock_2-crop-promovar-mediumlarge.jpgEn vérité, en vérité, je te le dis, si un homme ne naît de nouveau, il ne peut voir le royaume de Dieu. Jésus (Jean 3: 3)
Il n’y a pas de plus grand amour que de donner sa vie pour ses amis. Jésus (Jean 15: 13)
Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie. Pascal
Le service religieux mené par le nouvel archevêque de Cantorbéry, Mg Justin Welby, a été on ne peut plus traditionnel. Elizabeth II est le gouverneur suprême de l’Eglise d’Angleterre, la religion officielle. L’héritier au trône, le prince Charles, entend couper ce cordon ombilical paradoxal dans un pays largement déchristianisé et dans une société multiculturelle où les confessions catholique, musulmane et bouddhiste ont le vent en poupe. William, lui, fortement marqué par l’influence de la reine, est ouvertement hostile à la défense de "toutes les croyances", réforme préconisée par le prince de Galles. Le choix des hymnes ou la teneur des sermons lors du baptême du prince George ont témoigné de cet attachement à la ligne religieuse la plus rigoriste. Le Monde
L’espace qu’on voit dans le film est aussi le miroir d’un espace intérieur. Le personnage dérive dans le vide intersidéral, victime de sa propre inertie. Il est dans sa bulle, fermé à toute communication. C’est la situation d’une personne isolée, qui pourrait être seule, quelque part dans une ville, et qui affronte l’adversité. C’est une histoire de renaissance. Des spectateurs y ont vu des sous-entendus spirituels. D’autres des sous-entendus médicaux et organiques. Pourquoi pas… J’y ai vu des sous-entendus biologiques. C’est aussi sur l’espèce humaine, avec la référence à Darwin, à la fin, lorsqu’elle sort de l’eau comme un amphibien, puis se lève sur ses jambes. Avec Jonas, on a pris plaisir à ouvrir le champs des possibles, en matière d’interprétations et d’imaginaire. Nous ne voulions pas dicter un point de vue unique. Alfonso Cuarón
A travers l’histoire de cette renaissance unique, Alfonso Cuarón radicalise et perfectionne le propos de ses Fils de l’homme. Avec Gravity, c’est encore à l’humanité entière que s’en prend le cinéaste, filmant une renaissance anthropologique en butte à la technologie. Comme le Titanic de James Cameron en son temps, Gravity est un film-époque à grand spectacle, centré sur un moyen de transport, incarnation d’un monde hors de contrôle. Les similitudes scénaristiques sont évidentes : il s’agit de regagner la terre ferme, et c’est la femme qui guide le film, sauvée par le sacrifice et la force morale de l’homme. (…) notre héroïne tente de réparer une station spatiale, mais est prise de nausées annonçant déjà une sorte de mal du pays (la terre, la pesanteur). Le plan s’étire jusqu’à ce que les débris percutent les astronautes, et suit leur déroute dans un détraquage des mouvements et des sens. Car les machines, une à une, deviennent folles et meurtrières, explosent, prennent feu : la technologie, écran entre l’homme et son humanité, abandonne celui-ci. Ainsi, le film qui est saturé par la technique en écrit aussi simultanément la condamnation. L’avarie de la navette spatiale oblige à une ingéniosité primaire et perdue. Le propulseur de Matt Kowalski (permettant d’avancer dans l’espace) n’a plus de carburant. Il faudra le remplacer par un extincteur, que l’ingéniosité transforme en propulseur de fortune. Lorsque l’héroïne parvient enfin à s’introduire dans une navette, elle se retrouve face à des centaines de boutons en chinois. (…) Dans Gravity, le salut passe par des navettes de tous pays (chinoises et internationales), montrant que le combat en solitaire de l’astronaute pour la survie est un combat de l’humanité entière, comme portée par cette première femme. Tandis que Ryan Stone (le nom est éloquent) travaille à son retour sur Terre, la mise en scène vertigineuse tend à se réguler enfin. Retrouver la pesanteur, c’est prendre conscience de sa corporéité, pour l’astronaute comme pour la mise en scène. Le salut du film dépend de sa capacité à se défaire de sa technicité. Pour voir enfin la caméra se poser dans un final épuré, il faudra que l’héroïne retrouve le contact du sol, et redécouvre, pas après pas, son humanité. Louis Séguin
During this final sequence, there appear at least two explicitly religious scenes: Aboard the Russian Soyuz, an Orthodox ikon above the spacecraft’s “dashboard”; on the Chinese Shenzhou, a statue of Buddha in the same location. Significantly, these religious images are featured on board the two spacecraft that play salvific roles. (The parallel figure we see aboard the crippled American space shuttle is a figurine of Marvin the Martian – the buffoonish cartoon alien bent on universal domination. Commentary, perhaps?) When Stone finally reaches Earth, her capsule sinks to the bottom of a shallow lagoon. She must swim to the surface and pull herself, alone (rescue crews haven’t had arrived yet) onto the shore of an Edenic landscape. Climbing onto land, unused to the eponymous “gravity,” she needs a moment to learn to walk again – the baptismal and rebirth motifs of her redemption story here fitting perfectly into the actual consequences of spaceflight. Throughout, Stone is always just a hair’s breadth away from becoming just another piece of cold debris floating through the vast, silent, beautiful cosmos. Vast distances and loneliness are ubiquitous, emphasized by the fact that Clooney and Bullock are the only actors ever seen alive in the entire movie. In one moment, Stone almost acquiesces to the “truth” of this empty loneliness, but through submission to a seeming act of revelation and a prayer, she manages to keep her life and is saved. But as is Hollywood’s usual way, this saving faith is generic, grounded in eclectic religious symbols – not really faith in anything in particular. To be sure, this kind of ambiguity is often found in good literature. Anything more than hints and suggestions can descend quickly into heavy-handed sermonizing rather than good storytelling. Yet Stone’s discovery of the need for faith calls for the effort to ground that faith in something solid. In the grandest scheme of things, Stone’s position marooned in space is really not that different than ours, sailing through the same vast space, albeit in our case on the Earth. Death is nevertheless a possibility at any moment. So what is this faith that finally saves? A delusional assertion of self in a fundamentally meaningless cosmos? A feel-good, eclectic spirituality? Or, to take a hint from the film’s respect for hard scientific fact, could there be a faith actually based in solid truth? These questions aren’t answered in Gravity. But one thing the film makes clear, amidst its impressive visuals and exacting accuracy: for man, lost in the cosmos, to really live requires more than technical and scientific fact. It takes a faith and a hope that come from beyond us. Michael Baruzzini
More than that film (and more than “Hugo” or “How to Train Your Dragon” or any other high-quality recent specimens), “Gravity” treats 3-D as essential to the information it wants to share. The reason for that is summed up in the title, which names an obvious missing element. Nothing in the movie — not hand tools or chess pieces, human bodies or cruise-ship-size space stations — rests within a stable vertical or horizontal plane. Neither does the movie itself, which in a little more than 90 minutes rewrites the rules of cinema as we have known them. But maybe not quite all of them, come to think of it. The script is, at times, weighed down by some heavy screenwriting clichés. Some are minor, like the fuel gauge that reads full until the glass is tapped, causing the arrow to drop. More cringe-inducing is the tragic back story stapled to Stone, a doctor on her first trip into orbit. We would care about her even without the haunting memory of a dead child, who inspires a maudlin monologue and a flight of orchestral bathos in Steven Price’s otherwise canny and haunting score. I will confess that the first time I saw “Gravity,” I found its talkiness annoying. Not just Ms. Bullock’s perky-anxious soliloquizing, but also Mr. Clooney’s gruff, regular-guy wisecracking. Doesn’t Stone say her favorite thing about space is the silence? But a second viewing changed my mind a bit. It’s not that the dialogue improved — it will not be anyone’s favorite part of the movie — but rather that its relation to that silence became clearer. Stone and Kowalski jabber on, to themselves and each other and to Houston “in the blind,” partly to keep the terror of their situation at bay, to fight the overwhelming sense of how tiny and insignificant they are in the cosmos. This assertion of identity is ridiculous and also, for that very reason, affecting. For all of Mr. Cuarón’s formal wizardry and pictorial grandeur, he is a humanist at heart. Much as “Gravity” revels in the giddy, scary thrill of weightlessness, it is, finally, about the longing to be pulled back down onto the crowded, watery sphere where life is tedious, complicated, sad and possible. The NYT
The overall villain in the movie is not a human and not even the eponymous gravity. Not directly, at least: The true antagonist is orbital mechanics. It comes into play when the satellite debris first swarms past the astronauts and rears its Newtonian head again and again throughout the movie when the astronauts make their way to the ISS and then push on to the Chinese space station Tiangong. The thing is, well … this won’t work. The problem is that most folks think of space as just having no gravity, so you can jet off to wherever you need to go by aiming yourself at your target and pushing off, like someone sliding on ice. But it doesn’t work that way. The reason is that there is gravity in orbit! The Earth’s. And objects orbiting the Earth are moving at high velocity, many kilometers per second, to stay in orbit. If you want to get from Point A to Point B you can’t just be at the right place at the right time; you need to match velocities as well. If the two objects are in different orbits, that gets a lot harder. Orbital velocity depends on altitude, so objects at different heights move at vastly different speeds, adding up to many hundreds if not thousands of kilometers per hour. The orbits can be tilted with respect to one another, making it hard to match direction. The shapes of the orbits can be different, too, again complicating a rendezvous.
Another significant plot point happens when Clooney and Bullock reach ISS. Still attached by a tether, they have a hard time finding a grip on the station to stop themselves. Eventually, Bullock’s leg gets tangled in the parachute shroud line from the Soyuz escape capsule. Its hold is tenuous, and she struggles to hold on to Clooney as he is pulled away from her. As her leg starts to slip, Clooney unclips his tether and falls away to his doom, saving her in the process. Except, well, not so much. The thing is, they very clearly show that when Bullock’s leg got tangled up in the shroud line, both her and Clooney’s velocity relative to the space station was zero. They had stopped. On Earth, if one person is hanging by a rope and holding on to a second person, yeah, gravity is pulling them both down, the upper person bearing the weight of the lower one. If the upper person lets go, the other falls away. But in orbit, they’re in free-fall. Gravity wasn’t pulling Clooney away from Bullock; there were essentially no forces on him at all, so he had no weight for Bullock to bear! All she had to do was give the tether a gentle tug and Clooney would’ve been safely pulled toward her. Literally an ounce of force applied for a few seconds would’ve been enough. They could’ve both then used the shroud lines to pull themselves to the station. This is a case where our “common sense” doesn’t work, because we live immersed in gravity, pulled toward the center of the Earth, supported by the ground. In space, things are different. During that scene, knowing what I know, all I could do was scream in my head “CLOONEY DOESN’T HAVE TO DIE!” but it was to no avail. My publicly admitted man-crush on Clooney plus my not-so-inner physics nerd made that scene hard to watch. Phil Plait
Le syndrome de Kessler est un scénario envisagé en 1978 par le consultant de la NASA Donald J. Kessler (en), dans lequel le volume des débris spatiaux en orbite basse atteint un seuil au-dessus duquel les objets en orbite sont fréquemment heurtés par des débris, augmentant du même coup et de façon exponentielle le nombre des débris et la probabilité des impacts. Au delà d’un certain seuil, un tel scénario rendrait quasi-impossible l’exploration spatiale et même l’utilisation des satellites artificiels pour plusieurs générations. Le syndrome de Kessler est un exemple de réaction en chaîne. Les vitesses relatives des objets en orbite peuvent dépasser 10 km/s. Tout impact à de telles vitesses entre deux objets de taille appréciable (de quelques centimètres ou décimètres) crée un nuage de débris à trajectoires aléatoires, dispersant l’énergie cinétique de la collision, qui sont autant de projectiles susceptibles de provoquer d’autres collisions. Lors d’une collision majeure mettant en cause un gros satellite comme la station orbitale, la quantité de débris pourrait rendre les orbites basses totalement impraticables. Cependant, plus on est à basse altitude (où la densité de ces débris devrait être la plus forte), plus l’atmosphère résiduelle subsiste, ce qui freine les débris et provoque leur entrée dans l’atmosphère. La densité des débris à basse orbite est donc plus faible que prévue. Les orbites les plus denses sont ainsi comprises entre 800 et 1 200 km. Wikipedia
Aujourd’hui, ces "écolos" spatiaux sont plus écoutés. Précisément depuis 2007, quand les Chinois ont amorcé une réaction en chaîne en tirant sur un de leurs satellites pour prouver leurs capacités spatiales militaires. L’opération a engendré 3 000 débris spatiaux et enclenché le "syndrome de Kessler", du nom d’un chercheur de la NASA qui, à la fin des années 1970, avait prédit que l’accumulation d’engins spatiaux et les collisions qui en résulteraient immanquablement allaient produire toujours plus de débris. Après la "démonstration" chinoise, les Américains ont répliqué en 2008 en abattant au missile un de leurs satellites en orbite basse, mais plus proprement – tous les débris sont désormais retombés. Ce n’est pas le cas de ceux produits en 2009 par la collision accidentelle entre un satellite de la constellation Iridium et un satellite russe Cosmos désactivé. Les 2 000 débris produits se sont ajoutés aux 170 millions d’objets de plus de 1 millimètre en orbite, dont 20 000, d’une taille supérieure à 10 cm, peuvent faire l’objet d’une surveillance depuis la Terre. Le pouvoir de destruction de ces bolides croisant à plusieurs kilomètres par seconde est potentiellement dévastateur pour les activités spatiales. Le Monde

Attention: un baptême peut en cacher un autre !

Icone russe, bouddha chinois, Marvin le Martien, sacrifice christique, lagon édénique, glaise adamique …

A l’heure où, contre les visées multiculturelles du Prince Charles, les jeunes parents du prince George retrouvent la tradition du baptême chrétien …

Pendant qu’oubliant son passé génocidaire, l’Europe envisage d’interdire la circoncision

Comment ne pas être touché comme le rappelle la critique d’un site catholique américain …

Au-delà de la magnificence des images de l’espace et de notre bonne vielle Terre comme de la haletante histoire de survie ….

Et malgré les quelques invraisemblances techniques (l’apparente inutilité du sacrifice de Kowalsky, les larmes flottantes, les problèmes d’orbites) …

A laquelle nous convie le film du réalisateur mexican Alfonso Cuarón (‘Gravity’) …

Par la sensation de l’incroyable fragilité de l’existence humaine dans l’effrayant mais encombré silence des espaces intersidéraux …

Mais aussi par cette autre image baptismale, c’est-à-dire à la fois de mort et ressurection …

D’une héroïne un temps tentée par le suicide après le double naufrage de la perte de sa fille et de ses partenaires astronautes  …

Mais redécouvrant, via le sacrifice et l’inspiration de son partenaire, la prière pour enfin réémerger à la fin des eaux d’un lagon édénique …

Et retrouver à la fois le plaisir du toucher de notre glaise originale …

Et du réapprentissage, pour cette nouvelle première femme et première Eve, de la marche dans notre bonne vieille gravité ?

Faith in Space: A Review of “Gravity”

Michael Baruzzini

The Catholic thing

09 October 2013

The film Gravity just opened to box-office success, telling a story about astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who are stranded in space after satellite debris destroys their space shuttle. Cut off from contact with Earth (voice of Ed Harris, in a nod to his roles in The Right Stuff and Apollo 13), the two must try to survive. Spoilers, be warned, ahead.

Is this movie science fiction? It certainly has the feel of a science-fiction story. Its greatest achievement, however, is its stark realism, in particular the beautiful and realistic visuals. All of the spacecraft, the technology, and (with one major exception) the events that happen are real spacecraft and technologies, accurately portrayed. None of the elements are “speculative.” Gravity is not science fiction, but a disaster film set in the world of present-day spaceflight.

One area where realism is almost entirely sacrificed, and understandably so, is in the depiction of distances between objects orbiting Earth. There is no way that the characters could have managed to fly from the space shuttle docked to the Hubble Space Telescope, to the International Space Station, and to Shenzhou as they do in the movie. Each of these orbits at different altitudes and inclinations. It’s like making a film in which someone survives the Titanic by just swimming to shore.

Still, for dramatic purposes, belief may be suspended, and the plot is straightforward: a sequence of effect-packed events the protagonists must endure to survive. Like all action movies, the characters are given emotional backgrounds with “issues” that must be worked through: In this case, Stone’s tendency towards despair and passivity in the face of tragic events. The drama is sometimes a bit overwrought and just shy of contrived. But it hints at a religion-friendly perspective.

Stone lost her four-year-old daughter in a freak playground accident, and has coped by engaging only with her work, remaining distant and aloof otherwise. After the disaster and subsequent loss of Kowalski, she is the sole survivor and is prepared to give up. Having made her way aboard a crippled Soyuz capsule, Stone mourns the fact that she has never learned to pray, in part because she has never really believed in anything. She shuts off the oxygen to the cabin and prepares to die.

Suddenly, the lost Kowalski reappears outside, climbs aboard the capsule, and gives her a humorous pep talk, encouraging her to keep trying. He also reminds her that the Soyuz’ landing engines still have fuel, possibly enough to get her to the Chinese space station. (A science aside: Stone could have survived the brief exposure to the vacuum that she encounters in this scene when Kowalski opens the hatch, but not without consequences, and the fact that she’s just fine is a clue that something isn’t quite right about what follows.)

Who or what is Kowalski in this scene? The film is properly ambiguous. Is he a figment of Stone’s oxygen-deprived brain? Kowalski himself, communicating from beyond the grave? An angel? In any case, his message works. Stone awakes to find herself alone, turns the oxygen back on, and follows Kowalski’s suggestion to find the Chinese station, which is rapidly deorbiting, but still has a Shenzou capsule available.

During this final sequence, there appear at least two explicitly religious scenes: Aboard the Russian Soyuz, an Orthodox ikon above the spacecraft’s “dashboard”; on the Chinese Shenzhou, a statue of Buddha in the same location. Significantly, these religious images are featured on board the two spacecraft that play salvific roles. (The parallel figure we see aboard the crippled American space shuttle is a figurine of Marvin the Martian – the buffoonish cartoon alien bent on universal domination. Commentary, perhaps?)

When Stone finally reaches Earth, her capsule sinks to the bottom of a shallow lagoon. She must swim to the surface and pull herself, alone (rescue crews haven’t had arrived yet) onto the shore of an Edenic landscape. Climbing onto land, unused to the eponymous “gravity,” she needs a moment to learn to walk again – the baptismal and rebirth motifs of her redemption story here fitting perfectly into the actual consequences of spaceflight.

Throughout, Stone is always just a hair’s breadth away from becoming just another piece of cold debris floating through the vast, silent, beautiful cosmos. Vast distances and loneliness are ubiquitous, emphasized by the fact that Clooney and Bullock are the only actors ever seen alive in the entire movie. In one moment, Stone almost acquiesces to the “truth” of this empty loneliness, but through submission to a seeming act of revelation and a prayer, she manages to keep her life and is saved.

But as is Hollywood’s usual way, this saving faith is generic, grounded in eclectic religious symbols – not really faith in anything in particular. To be sure, this kind of ambiguity is often found in good literature. Anything more than hints and suggestions can descend quickly into heavy-handed sermonizing rather than good storytelling. Yet Stone’s discovery of the need for faith calls for the effort to ground that faith in something solid.

In the grandest scheme of things, Stone’s position marooned in space is really not that different than ours, sailing through the same vast space, albeit in our case on the Earth. Death is nevertheless a possibility at any moment. So what is this faith that finally saves? A delusional assertion of self in a fundamentally meaningless cosmos? A feel-good, eclectic spirituality? Or, to take a hint from the film’s respect for hard scientific fact, could there be a faith actually based in solid truth?

These questions aren’t answered in Gravity. But one thing the film makes clear, amidst its impressive visuals and exacting accuracy: for man, lost in the cosmos, to really live requires more than technical and scientific fact. It takes a faith and a hope that come from beyond us.

Michael Baruzzini is a freelance science writer and editor who writes for Catholic and science publications, including Crisis, First Things, Touchstone, Sky & Telescope, The American Spectator, and elsewhere. He is also the creator of

CatholicScience.com, which offers online scisnce curriculum resources for Catholic students.

Voir aussi:

Alfonso Cuarón : “ ‘Gravity’, c’est une histoire de renaissance”

Entretien | Comment arriver à la prouesse technique de la vraisemblance et du réalisme à l’écran ? Le réalisateur mexicain Alfonso Cuarón raconte sa conquête de l’espace.

Télérama

18/10/2013

Propos recueillis par Jacques Morice

Drôle de zèbre, cet Alfonso Cuarón. Un cinéaste mexicain, résolument éclectique, qui a grandi à Mexico et fait ses classes aux Etats-Unis, à la télévision. En 2001, il décroche la timballe grâce à Y tu mama tambien, une comédie sensible tournée au Mexique, avec Gael Garcia Bernal. Suivent Harry Potter et le Prisonnier d’Azkaban (2004) et Les Fils de l’homme (2006), film d’anticipation glaçant et original autour d’une Angleterre aux abois, devenue dictature policière. Aujourd’hui, Alfonso Cuarón a décroché la Lune. Space-movie au réalisme stupéfiant, Gravity nous emmène, nous immerge surtout, au cœur du vide intersidéral, tout là-haut, aux portes du néant, d’une possible renaissance aussi. Rencontre avec son chef de mission.

[Attention, Alfonso Cuarón dévoile certains éléments-clés du film dans cet entretien.]

Autant de contemplation que d’action, priorité aux plans-séquence, économie de dialogues, un seul personnage à la moitié du film : vouliez-vous défier les lois d’Hollywood ?

Je ne pense pas à Hollywood, ni à transgresser ou calculer quoi que ce soit. Je sais qu’en France, vous pensez beaucoup à catégoriser, à définir ce qui est commercial ou non. Je pense pour ma part simplement en terme de cinéma. Et je suis toujours confiant vis-à-vis du public en me disant qu’il partage la même attente de cinéma que moi. Lorsque j’ai commencé à travailler le scénario avec mon fils, Jonas, ce dernier tenait à une chose : que le film nous cloue à notre fauteuil. Il fallait pour cela un suspense maximal, une tension maintenue de bout en bout. Le scénario était lui-même très dense. C’était ce que les studios appellent un « page-turner », un objet impossible à lâcher. Cela aide à convaincre les producteurs. Tant que la structure est bonne, on peut la remplir à sa guise de toutes sortes d’éléments… Ce que nous voulions, c’était suivre la journée d’un personnage confronté à des montagnes russes émotionnelles. Et que tout un chacun puisse s’identifier. L’important était que les thèmes soient signifiés par des métaphores visuelles, pas par la rhétorique. Eviter la rhétorique, c’était le leitmotiv de mon fils.

N’est-ce pas insolite d’écrire avec son fils ?

J’ai travaillé avec lui comme avec n’importe quel autre scénariste. Mais je tiens à lui rendre hommage, car son énergie m’a souvent inspiré. Il est très pragmatique, plus direct que moi. C’est lui qui m’a incité à retrancher une partie des dialogues, à aller vers des sensations et des sentiments primitifs, à profiter d’une certaine liberté visuelle, métaphorique. Nous avions deux modèles pour ce film, que nous avons évoqués dès le premier jour. Pas du tout des space-movies : il s’agit d’Un Condamné à mort s’est échappé, de Robert Bresson (1956) et de Duel, de Spielberg (1971). Ces deux films ont en commun de suivre un personnage comme en temps réel, avec deux tons complètement différents. Celui de Bresson est dépouillé et contemplatif. Celui de Spielberg correspond davantage à une approche de film d’action. Mais les deux ont des résonances existentielles. Métaphysiques chez Bresson, plus prosaïques chez Spielberg, où le personnage combat une étrange force du mal, un démon qui est presque en lui. La fin de Gravity se rapproche de celle du Condamné à mort s’est échappé. L’héroïne se lève et marche. On ne sait pas ce qui va lui arriver ensuite, si elle ne va pas être de nouveau bloquée. L’important, c’est qu’elle ait échappé au pire, au cours de cette journée.

Atteindre un tel réalisme dans l’action suppose paradoxalement de recourir à pas mal d’effets spéciaux. Jusqu’où êtes-vous allé dans l’avancée technologique ?

La technologie, les effets spéciaux, tout cela, ce n’est qu’un moyen, pas une fin. Il ne faut jamais l’oublier. Les deux objectifs étaient ici d’honorer les lois de la pesanteur et de paraître réaliste à l’image. Or, tout était rendu compliqué par le choix des plans-séquences, auxquels je tenais beaucoup. Moi-même, je ne suis pas du tout une personne technophile. Je sais à peine envoyer des courriels et faire des recherches sur Google… Et pourtant, je me suis retrouvé à orchestrer une caméra-robot, le travail de marionnettistes, l’animation informatique et infographique, et le dispositif révolutionnaire de la « Light Box » [un cube creux éclairé de minuscules lampes LED, dans lequel était enfermée Sandra Bullock]. J’étais en charge avec Emmanuel Lubezki, le directeur de la photo, et Tim Webber, responsable des effets spéciaux, de superviser tout ça. Nous étions sans doute les seuls à comprendre de quoi il s’agissait ! Car chacun avait une tâche qualifiée, très spécifique, sans savoir forcément à quoi elle était destinée dans l’ensemble.

Combien de temps a réclamé la réalisation de ce film ?

Quatre ans et demi. Car on a tâtonné avant de trouver, de développer ces nouvelles technologies et de les combiner. Toute l’animation était faite avant de démarrer le tournage. Ensuite, il a fallu faire tout coïncider : l’animation, l’éclairage, le tournage de l’action.

De quoi êtes-vous le plus fier ?

De la performance de Sandra Bullock. C’était un véritable exercice d’abstraction pour cela. Elle a joué dans la « Light Box », sans repères, sans avoir de retour. C’était comme une chorégraphie, avec des mouvements très rythmés, très cadencés… Sinon, il y a une séquence que j’aime tout particulièrement et que les gens n’ont pas forcément relevé, à la différence du plan du début ou de celui où la main de Georges Clooney lâche celle de Bullock : c’est le moment où Sandra Bullock est dans la capsule Soyouz. Elle entend et parle soudain à cet homme sur la Terre, mais dont elle ne comprend pas la langue. Elle pleure, se résigne à mourir, s’assoupit. Georges Clooney réapparait, prodigue ses conseils. Puis repart. Elle se fait alors violence, s’efforce de relancer la machine. Tout cela, c’est un seul et unique plan séquence ! On a d’ailleurs fait un court-métrage, qui a été montré à Venise, sur le contrechamp de cette action : le point de vue de celui qui est sur Terre. On y voit la personne qui parle : un Inuit, au fin fond du Groenland.

Le lointain et le proche, la pesanteur et l’apesanteur, l’infiniment grand et l’infiniment petit… Les extrêmes se rejoignent souvent dans votre film.

Absolument. L’espace qu’on voit dans le film est aussi le miroir d’un espace intérieur. Le personnage dérive dans le vide intersidéral, victime de sa propre inertie. Il est dans sa bulle, fermé à toute communication. C’est la situation d’une personne isolée, qui pourrait être seule, quelque part dans une ville, et qui affronte l’adversité. C’est une histoire de renaissance. Des spectateurs y ont vu des sous-entendus spirituels. D’autres des sous-entendus médicaux et organiques. Pourquoi pas… J’y ai vu des sous-entendus biologiques. C’est aussi sur l’espèce humaine, avec la référence à Darwin, à la fin, lorsqu’elle sort de l’eau comme un amphibien, puis se lève sur ses jambes. Avec Jonas, on a pris plaisir à ouvrir le champs des possibles, en matière d’interprétations et d’imaginaire. Nous ne voulions pas dicter un point de vue unique.

La Nasa a t-elle été consultée ?

Elle n’était pas impliquée, en tant qu’institution. Car il y a trop de casse pour elle, dans le film ! Mais on a fait appel à plusieurs astronautes ayant travaillé pour la NASA, et qui ont servi de consultants. D’autres, qui ont vu le film depuis, comme Jean-François Clervoy, sont très supporters. Et pour cause : ils s’y retrouvent totalement, car ce qu’on montre est fidèle à la réalité. On peut ne pas aimer le film, mais je pense qu’il y a deux choses sur lesquelles on est irréprochable : c’est le respect des lois de la physique et la véracité des outils technologiques employés.

Quel sera votre prochain film ?

J’ai commencé un autre scénario avec mon fils, mais ce « salaud » est très occupé en ce moment, puisqu’il tourne son film, Désert, avec Gael Garcia Bernal. Il va donc falloir que je patiente…

Gravity

On a marché sur la Terre

Louis Séguin

Transfuge

Un homme, une femme, le vide infini : Gravity est une variation dépouillée sur le film-catastrophe version spatiale. Ou comment reconquérir la pesanteur et renaître.

Hollywood est encore capable d’émerveiller, de créer des images vierges, de faire naître les émotions d’une première fois. Alfonso Cuarón s’offre avec Gravity un tour dans l’espace et en rapporte un blockbuster d’une légèreté de nageur. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) et Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), astronautes en mission spatiale, sont attaqués de plein fouet par des débris de satellite en orbite. S’ensuit un programme de film catastrophe assez classique : retrouver la Terre par tous les moyens et, en l’occurrence, la pesanteur du titre. Premier tour de force : l’économie scénaristique confine à l’épure. On ne verra d’ailleurs que les deux personnages cités, si l’on omet un troisième tôt disparu. La solitude des naufragés célestes est comme démultipliée par la beauté effrayante du paysage, la Terre bleue brillant au milieu d’une infinie étendue de sombre et d’oubli, aux reflets intermittents de lumière crue.

Si le film procure bien des sensations inédites, la première fois est aussi son sujet. Il s’agit, en effet, de filmer une venue au monde. Le sens dramatique (le retour sur terre) se double rapidement de son sens métaphorique et courant, et Gravity exploite à fond l’imagerie de la (re)naissance. On voit ainsi l’astronaute Ryan Stone en position foetale, confrontée à un silence utérin, et devant (au sortir de son oeuf) rapprendre à marcher, comme un nouveau-né, comme un premier homme. Le foetus de 2001 se rappelle à la mémoire du spectateur. Gravity s’ancre ainsi dans la lignée des grands films utilisant l’espace comme une terre vierge, ou plutôt comme une absence de terre, et donc de passé, de ce qui éloigne l’homme de son état de nature.

Car, à travers l’histoire de cette renaissance unique, Alfonso Cuarón radicalise et perfectionne le propos de ses Fils de l’homme. Avec Gravity, c’est encore à l’humanité entière que s’en prend le cinéaste, filmant une renaissance anthropologique en butte à la technologie. Comme le Titanic de James Cameron en son temps, Gravity est un film-époque à grand spectacle, centré sur un moyen de transport, incarnation d’un monde hors de contrôle. Les similitudes scénaristiques sont évidentes : il s’agit de regagner la terre ferme, et c’est la femme qui guide le film, sauvée par le sacrifice et la force morale de l’homme. Mais alors que Titanic était un paquebot lourd comme le siècle, et induisait une mise en scène d’artillerie lourde, l’expédition Gravity marque le règne de la technologie numérique, qui brille de ses plus beaux feux grâce à la caméra virtuose d’Alfonso Cuarón. Elle non plus ne pèse pas, mais virevolte dans les airs et les images de synthèse. Elle caresse les personnages comme un doigt effleure une tablette tactile. La mise en scène dans l’espace, prouesse incomparable du cinéaste, rend compte, notamment dans son plan séquence initial d’un quart d’heure, d’une fluidité (technologique) que l’accident dérègle. Dans cette ouverture, notre héroïne tente de réparer une station spatiale, mais est prise de nausées annonçant déjà une sorte de mal du pays (la terre, la pesanteur). Le plan s’étire jusqu’à ce que les débris percutent les astronautes, et suit leur déroute dans un détraquage des mouvements et des sens. Car les machines, une à une, deviennent folles et meurtrières, explosent, prennent feu : la technologie, écran entre l’homme et son humanité, abandonne celui-ci. Ainsi, le film qui est saturé par la technique en écrit aussi simultanément la condamnation. L’avarie de la navette spatiale oblige à une ingéniosité primaire et perdue. Le propulseur de Matt Kowalski (permettant d’avancer dans l’espace) n’a plus de carburant. Il faudra le remplacer par un extincteur, que l’ingéniosité transforme en propulseur de fortune. Lorsque l’héroïne parvient enfin à s’introduire dans une navette, elle se retrouve face à des centaines de boutons en chinois. Le Titanic, monde miniature, emportait dans son naufrage la lutte des classes. Dans Gravity, le salut passe par des navettes de tous pays (chinoises et internationales), montrant que le combat en solitaire de l’astronaute pour la survie est un combat de l’humanité entière, comme portée par cette première femme. Tandis que Ryan Stone (le nom est éloquent) travaille à son retour sur Terre, la mise en scène vertigineuse tend à se réguler enfin. Retrouver la pesanteur, c’est prendre conscience de sa corporéité, pour l’astronaute comme pour la mise en scène. Le salut du film dépend de sa capacité à se défaire de sa technicité. Pour voir enfin la caméra se poser dans un final épuré, il faudra que l’héroïne retrouve le contact du sol, et redécouvre, pas après pas, son humanité.

Between Earth and Heaven

A. O. Scott

The New York Times

October 3, 2013

“Life in space is impossible.” That stark statement of scientific fact is one of the first things to appear on screen in “Gravity,” but before long, it is contradicted, or at least complicated. As our eyes (from behind 3-D glasses) adjust to the vast darkness, illuminated by streaks of sunlight refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere, we detect movement that is recognizably human and hear familiar voices. Those tiny figures bouncing around on that floating contraption — it looks like a mobile suspended from a child’s bedroom ceiling — are people. Scientists. Astronauts. Movie stars. (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in spacesuits, as Mission Specialist Ryan Stone and Mission Commander Matt Kowalski; Ed Harris, unseen and unnamed, as “Houston” down below).

The defiance of impossibility is this movie’s theme and its reason for being. But the main challenge facing the director, Alfonso Cuarón (who wrote the script with his son Jonás), is not visualizing the unimaginable so much as overcoming the audience’s assumption that we’ve seen it all before. After more than 50 years, space travel has lost some of its luster, and movies are partly to blame for our jadedness. It has been a long time since a filmmaker conjured the awe of “2001: A Space Odyssey” or the terror of “Alien” or captured afresh the spooky wonder of a trip outside our native atmosphere.

Mr. Cuarón succeeds by tethering almost unfathomably complex techniques — both digital and analog — to a simple narrative. “Gravity” is less a science-fiction spectacle than a Jack London tale in orbit. The usual genre baggage has been jettisoned: there are no predatory extraterrestrials, no pompous flights of allegory, no extravagant pseudo-epic gestures. Instead, there is a swift and buoyant story of the struggle for survival in terrible, rapidly changing circumstances. Cosmic questions about our place in the universe are not so much avoided as subordinated to more pressing practical concerns. How do you outrun a storm of debris? Launch a landing module without fuel? Decipher an instruction manual in Russian or Chinese?

It has recently been observed that not all of the film’s answers to these questions are strictly accurate. The course that Stone and Kowalski plot from the Hubble Space Telescope to the International Space Station would apparently not be feasible in real life. (On the other hand, I was relieved to learn that a fire extinguisher really can serve as a makeshift zero-G jetpack. Not a spoiler, just a word to the wise.) Surely, though, the standard for a movie like this one is not realism but coherence. Every true outlaw has a code. The laws of physics are no exception, and Mr. Cuarón violates them with ingenious and exuberant rigor.

The accidental explosion of a communications satellite silences Houston and, what’s worse, sends a blizzard of shrapnel hurtling toward the astronauts. Quite a bit goes wrong. Straps connecting astronauts to the relative security of their spacecraft are severed. Parachute lines foul engines. Fires break out inside vessels, and stuff outside is smashed to pieces. Not everyone survives. All of it — terrifyingly and marvelously — evades summary and confounds expectations. You have to see it to believe it.

And what you see (through the exquisitely observant lenses of the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) defies easy description. Stone and Kowalski’s orbital path is perched between the inky infinite and the green, cloud-swept face of home. The perspective is dazzling and jarring, and Mr. Cuarón allows a few moments of quiet, contemplative beauty to punctuate the busy, desperate activity of staying alive. Kowalski, generally an irreverent joker, pauses to savor the sun over the Ganges, and you may find yourself picking out other geographical details. Look, there’s Italy, and the Nile Valley. These reference points are as unsettling as they are reassuring, because they are glimpsed from a vantage point that is newly and profoundly alien.

That sense of estrangement owes a lot to Mr. Cuarón’s use of 3-D, which surpasses even what James Cameron accomplished in the flight sequences of “Avatar.” More than that film (and more than “Hugo” or “How to Train Your Dragon” or any other high-quality recent specimens), “Gravity” treats 3-D as essential to the information it wants to share. The reason for that is summed up in the title, which names an obvious missing element. Nothing in the movie — not hand tools or chess pieces, human bodies or cruise-ship-size space stations — rests within a stable vertical or horizontal plane. Neither does the movie itself, which in a little more than 90 minutes rewrites the rules of cinema as we have known them.

But maybe not quite all of them, come to think of it. The script is, at times, weighed down by some heavy screenwriting clichés. Some are minor, like the fuel gauge that reads full until the glass is tapped, causing the arrow to drop. More cringe-inducing is the tragic back story stapled to Stone, a doctor on her first trip into orbit. We would care about her even without the haunting memory of a dead child, who inspires a maudlin monologue and a flight of orchestral bathos in Steven Price’s otherwise canny and haunting score.

I will confess that the first time I saw “Gravity,” I found its talkiness annoying. Not just Ms. Bullock’s perky-anxious soliloquizing, but also Mr. Clooney’s gruff, regular-guy wisecracking. Doesn’t Stone say her favorite thing about space is the silence?

But a second viewing changed my mind a bit. It’s not that the dialogue improved — it will not be anyone’s favorite part of the movie — but rather that its relation to that silence became clearer. Stone and Kowalski jabber on, to themselves and each other and to Houston “in the blind,” partly to keep the terror of their situation at bay, to fight the overwhelming sense of how tiny and insignificant they are in the cosmos.

This assertion of identity is ridiculous and also, for that very reason, affecting. For all of Mr. Cuarón’s formal wizardry and pictorial grandeur, he is a humanist at heart. Much as “Gravity” revels in the giddy, scary thrill of weightlessness, it is, finally, about the longing to be pulled back down onto the crowded, watery sphere where life is tedious, complicated, sad and possible.

“Gravity” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Existential terror and the salty language it provokes.

Gravity

Opens on Friday.

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón; written by Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón; director of photography, Emmanuel Lubezki; edited by Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger; music by Steven Price; production design by Andy Nicholson; costumes by Jany Temime; visual effects by Tim Webber; produced by Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman; released by Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes.

WITH: Sandra Bullock (Ryan Stone), George Clooney (Matt Kowalski) and Ed Harris (Voice of Houston).

Bad Astronomy Movie Review: Gravity

Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies! Follow him on Twitter.

Slate

Let’s get this out of the way immediately, so there’s no confusion: The movie Gravity (which opens today) is incredible. It was intense, it was tense, it was thrilling. Go see it. In fact—and I can’t believe I’m writing this—go see it immediately, and if you can, watch it in 3-D. I loved it.

But that love is not without its (minor) reservations. While I can wholeheartedly recommend it—I spent much of it literally on the edge of my seat—there were some things that, as a world-class nitpicky übernerd, I must point out. But I’ll note up front that nothing I whinge about below will detract from the experience of the movie itself. Seriously. It sets the bar for what movies can look like now. Go see it.

What follows below are spoilers, so fairly warned be thee, says I. Let me add that this is not your standard movie review; if you want thematic dissection and all that, then go read my colleague Dana Steven’s piece on Slate. With me, you get science analysis.

Plot Boiler

The plot of the movie can be summed up pretty briefly. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney portray astronauts orbiting the Earth on a routine extravehicular activity mission when a call comes from NASA: A Russian missile has destroyed a satellite, and the debris is headed their way at several kilometers per second. Before they can return to their Shuttle Orbiter, the shrapnel flies past, destroying the spacecraft and killing the crew. Clooney and Bullock make their way to the International Space Station, which is also damaged. Clooney is out of fuel in his Manned Maneuvering Unit and sacrifices himself to save Bullock. She uses a Russian Soyuz berthed to the ISS to get to the Chinese space station, where she finds a re-entry rocket capable of getting her back to Earth. But will she make it?

I won’t spoil the very end for you, because it was very well done. I’ll note that this is pretty much it for the plot—it’s thin, but you probably won’t notice.

That’s because the graphics really are all that. I mean, seriously: The special effects are superb. I generally shy away from movies that are all effects and no plot, but the immersive directing coupled with flawless effects—especially with the 3-D—was so compelling that I honestly felt the simple plot was not a concern as the movie unfolded. The drama and urgency were so riveting that I was essentially living in the moment, just experiencing the movie.

Dork Star

Still. There were some distractions in the form of scientific missteps. I’ll go over a few below, but I want to make myself very clear: My days of nitpicking a movie’s errors to death just because I can are behind me. The story lives or dies on the story, not whatever shortcuts it may need to take to move that story along, as long as those shortcuts don’t leap out and bite you on the nose. The plot of Gravity, unfortunately, does rely on some pivotal science boo-boos, but I understand sacrifices have to be made sometimes for the sake of the movie itself—without them, there’s no movie at all. And I’m far more willing to be forgiving when it’s clear a huge effort was made to get as much right as possible, which is obviously what director Alfonso Cuarón did (an interview at Collect Space confirms all this). The attention to some details was staggering.

So, let me push my glasses up my nose, hike up my flood pants, and blow my nose stentoriously. Let’s get to the glavin.

Orbital Mechanical Breakdown

The overall villain in the movie is not a human and not even the eponymous gravity. Not directly, at least: The true antagonist is orbital mechanics. It comes into play when the satellite debris first swarms past the astronauts and rears its Newtonian head again and again throughout the movie when the astronauts make their way to the ISS and then push on to the Chinese space station Tiangong.

The thing is, well … this won’t work. The problem is that most folks think of space as just having no gravity, so you can jet off to wherever you need to go by aiming yourself at your target and pushing off, like someone sliding on ice. But it doesn’t work that way.

The reason is that there is gravity in orbit! The Earth’s. And objects orbiting the Earth are moving at high velocity, many kilometers per second, to stay in orbit. If you want to get from Point A to Point B you can’t just be at the right place at the right time; you need to match velocities as well. If the two objects are in different orbits, that gets a lot harder. Orbital velocity depends on altitude, so objects at different heights move at vastly different speeds, adding up to many hundreds if not thousands of kilometers per hour. The orbits can be tilted with respect to one another, making it hard to match direction. The shapes of the orbits can be different, too, again complicating a rendezvous.

And in fact, Hubble and the ISS have very different orbits; Hubble orbits the Earth roughly 200 kilometers (125 miles) higher up than the station. A rough calculation shows it orbits about 110 meters per second slower, then—250 miles per hour. Clooney would have a pretty hard time putting the pedal to the metal to get up to that kind of speed in his Manned Maneuvering Unit. (The “jet pack” he has in the movie—I’ll note the MMU is a real device but has nowhere near that kind of oomph; it can only accelerate one person to about 25 meters per second, and remember Clooney was dragging Bullock along for the ride as well.)

Also, the two objects have orbits tipped at wildly different angles (Hubble is 28.5 degrees, while ISS is at 51.6 degrees). Think of it this way: Two cars can be going at the same speed, but if they are at an angle to each other, jumping from one to another is hard, especially if one’s heading east while the other is heading northeast (and you have to jump off an overpass at the same time). At a relative speed of 250 mph, that’s suicide.

Same for Tiangong: The orbital height of the Chinese station is about the same as that of ISS, but the orbits are inclined by about 10 degrees. Matching orbits using just the soft landing rockets on the Soyuz (again, a real thing!) wouldn’t work.

But to be clear, without these plot points, we’d have no movie. It’s fun to think about afterward, but during the movie I’m OK with it.

Let It Go, Man

Another significant plot point happens when Clooney and Bullock reach ISS. Still attached by a tether, they have a hard time finding a grip on the station to stop themselves. Eventually, Bullock’s leg gets tangled in the parachute shroud line from the Soyuz escape capsule. Its hold is tenuous, and she struggles to hold on to Clooney as he is pulled away from her. As her leg starts to slip, Clooney unclips his tether and falls away to his doom, saving her in the process.

Except, well, not so much. The thing is, they very clearly show that when Bullock’s leg got tangled up in the shroud line, both her and Clooney’s velocity relative to the space station was zero. They had stopped.

On Earth, if one person is hanging by a rope and holding on to a second person, yeah, gravity is pulling them both down, the upper person bearing the weight of the lower one. If the upper person lets go, the other falls away. But in orbit, they’re in free-fall. Gravity wasn’t pulling Clooney away from Bullock; there were essentially no forces on him at all, so he had no weight for Bullock to bear! All she had to do was give the tether a gentle tug and Clooney would’ve been safely pulled toward her. Literally an ounce of force applied for a few seconds would’ve been enough. They could’ve both then used the shroud lines to pull themselves to the station.

This is a case where our “common sense” doesn’t work, because we live immersed in gravity, pulled toward the center of the Earth, supported by the ground. In space, things are different. During that scene, knowing what I know, all I could do was scream in my head “CLOONEY DOESN’T HAVE TO DIE!” but it was to no avail. My publicly admitted man-crush on Clooney plus my not-so-inner physics nerd made that scene hard to watch.

Ad Absurdum

Of course, there were lots of other things, most too trivial to spend time on.

We see the bodies of the dead shuttle crew, frozen, when in reality that would take hours to happen. (Think about it: How long does it take a steak to even get frost on it when you put it in the freezer?)

When Bullock’s decelerating in Earth’s atmosphere, her helmet is still floating in the capsule, when there would’ve been a healthy force pinning it to the back wall.

Her antics using the fire extinguisher to match velocities with Tiangong were probably impossible; holding it too far from her center of mass meant it would’ve sent her rapidly tumbling every time she used it—plus she had to face away from the station, making it impossible to see her target while she was thrusting. (On the other hand, her not bracing herself to put out the fire and subsequently flying around was a great touch.)

The cascade effect of orbital debris slamming into other satellites and making more debris is correct, but the debris will stay on roughly the same orbit it started on. That means the satellites making the debris would have to have orbits that intersect that of Hubble and ISS, and that sort of thing is specifically avoided in real life, for this very reason.

Speaking of which, I’m not sure shrapnel hitting the robot arm would cause it to go flying and spinning off. The impact is very high speed, and I’m not sure much momentum would transfer from the debris to the arm. Hypervelocity impacts are difficult to predict, though, and I could be wrong here.

But again, this is all really nitpicky. And the movie got so much right. The sets were spot-on: the cramped Soyuz; the long, narrow ISS corridors; the appearance of essentially all the space hardware. I’ll note it was important to the plot that the Chinese Shenzhou re-entry vehicle was similar in design to the Soyuz, and in real life it is. When she hit the button to separate the crew module from the forward and rear modules, I practically cheered. That was accurate, and very cool.

And the scenery, well, wow. And how about this: I noticed pretty quickly that the stars were portrayed accurately! I saw the Pleiades float by, next to the horns of Taurus, and a glimpse of Orion. Other constellations came into view as well. Happily, this means Neil Tyson won’t have to confront Cuarón.

I can’t leave you without mentioning this, too: Ed Harris was the voice of Mission Control. Talk about a nice touch: He played Flight Director Gene Kranz in Apollo 13. When I saw his name in the credits, my heart grew three sizes.

Dénouement

Obviously, there’s a lot to love and a lot to gnaw over in this movie. But the bottom line is clear: Go see this flick. The science errors won’t bug you, and if they do, you need to pull your head out of your assumptions of what a movie should be. As a demonstration of craftsmanship, and as a viewing experience, Gravity is astonishing. I loved it, and I’ll be going to see it again.

A final note: If this massive verbiage spewing wasn’t enough for you, lots of other people have reviewed the movie as well. I won’t vouch for how accurate their reviews are, but you may enjoy reading them.

How realistic is "Gravity"?

Jean-Luc Margot

UCLA

2013 Sep 28

From the production notes

Gravity is a 2013 American 3D film co-written, co-produced, co-edited and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as surviving astronauts in a damaged space shuttle.

Medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone is on her first Space Shuttle mission accompanied by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky, who is commanding his final expedition. During a spacewalk, debris from a satellite crashes into the space shuttle Explorer, leaving it mostly destroyed, and stranding them in space with limited air. Without means of communication with Earth, they must cooperate to survive.

Overall impression

There are many things to like about the movie, including an engaging story of adversity and survival, brilliant performances by talented actors, high-quality sound and 3D imagery, and full immersion in a superb space simulator. The film makers based their story on realistic premises and clearly made an attempt to conform to many physical principles.

Realism of movie premises

The plot is based on a space shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) (there have been five such servicing missions).

The plot invokes the voluntary destruction of an artificial satellite (China did this in 2007, and the USA did this in 2008).

The destruction of the satellite generates thousands of pieces of orbital debris (the Chinese event did this).

The risk of orbital debris colliding with spacecraft is very real (this is a significant concern actively studied by federal agencies).

Realism of movie physics

The following physical principles were honored to a large extent:

Sound does not propagate in space.

Drops of liquid are spherical, not teardrop-shape, in a weightless environment.

Conservation of momentum (but see below for exceptions). When Stone and Kowalsky collide with each other, they bounce off each other with appropriate velocities.

Lighting that obeys the laws of optics (reflection/refraction/absorption).

Appropriate orbital period (~90 min) for orbital height (~560 km) of Hubble Space Telescope.

Realism of oceans/landmasses.

Inaccuracies

There are some minor inaccuracies in the movie:

Tools for space instrumentation are very carefully calibrated to provide the correct amount of torque. An astronaut would not screw parts together with her bare hands.

Electronics are sensitive to radiation and would normally be carefully protected in a chassis, not exposed to the space environment.

The movie places the space shuttle, the HST, and the International Space Station (ISS) in an orbit at 600 km above the surface of the Earth. While that is approximately correct for the HST, the ISS orbits at a height of 370 km above the surface of the Earth.

Exaggerations

There are some instances in which the movie exaggerates or departs from reality, but that is probably needed at some level to sustain the narrative:

Many of the maneuvers during space walks are executed much too fast (approaches would purposefully be very gentle in reality).

Communication blackouts were much more severe and extended than they would be in reality.

The diffusion of the cloud of orbital debris was much more rapid than it would be in reality (it would take weeks, months, or years, depending on the mass-to-area ratio and altitude of the debris).

Collision scenes have much more devastating consequences in the movie than would be expected from the impact of pieces of orbital debris.

Problematic scene

Perhaps the most unrealistic scene in the movie occurs when the space shuttle starts to roll rapidly as a result of a collision with orbital debris. It would take the entire (undestroyed) satellite (about 1,000 kg) to hit the wing of the shuttle at the most favorable location (the tip) with a relative velocity of about 1 km/s to produce that much rotation (assuming that the shuttle remained structurally intact after that impact, which is in itself rather unlikely). Any piece of debris would be much lighter and would travel at much smaller relative velocity, so the effect on the shuttle would be nowhere near what is portrayed in the movie. It would puncture the structure for sure, but it would not dramatically affect the spin state of the shuttle.

Conclusion

There are a few inaccuracies and exaggerations in "Gravity", but the movie premises are sound and many physical principles are honored, which greatly enhances the quality of the movie experience. I highly recommend the movie. Short of watching actual astronaut footage, this is as close to space as you are likely to get in the next few years. It may even prompt you to investigate the promise of space tourism.

CNN interview

The above thoughts were condensed into a 2-minute CNN video.

Contact:

Jean-Luc Margot

Dept. of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences

Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

University of California, Los Angeles

595 Charles Young Drive East

5642 Geology Building

Los Angeles, CA 90095

310 206 8345

jlm@ess.ucla.edu

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Fact-Checks Gravity on Twitter

Angela Watercutter

Wired

10.07.13

Director Alfonso Cuarón’s film Gravity just had an amazing weekend, raking in a record-breaking $55.6 million at the box office. There was just one little snag: Beloved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson showed up on social media to poke some scientific holes in the story about astronauts stranded in space.

The internet’s favorite astrophysicist took to Twitter last night with a string of fact-checks of Cuarón’s film, questioning everything from why the movie’s space debris orbited from East to West to why the hair on Sandra Bullock’s head didn’t float as freely as it should have in the weightlessness of space.

“The film #Gravity should be renamed ‘Zero Gravity,’” wrote Tyson, who will be hosting the Fox documentary Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey next year. His other nitpicks, which he called “Mysteries of #Gravity,” included why “satellite communications were disrupted at 230 mi up, but communications satellites orbit 100x higher” and “how Hubble (350mi up) ISS (230mi up) & a Chinese Space Station are all in sight lines of one another.” Tyson did, however, give the film credit for drawing attention to the very real Kessler syndrome (aka the problem caused by all the debris floating in space that causes Gravity’s big bang) by tweeting “the film #Gravity depicts a scenario of catastrophic satellite destruction that can actually happen.” (Check out more of Tyson’s tweets above.)

Last year, the astrophysicist offered a similar critique for Titanic, which he took to task for misplacing the stars above Rose’s head near the end of the film.

“Neil deGrasse Tyson sent me quite a snarky email saying that, at that time of year, in that position in the Atlantic in 1912, when Rose is lying on the piece of driftwood and staring up at the stars, that is not the star field she would have seen,” director James Cameron said after reshooting to correct the mistake. It seems as though it would be difficult for Cuarón to reshoot to correct the issues Tyson brought up, but it’ll be interesting to see if he responds to the critique.

Of course, as soon as Tyson’s tweets began hitting the web, many users responded to remind him that, Gravity is, in fact, just a movie. “Quick. Someone tell @neiltyson what science fiction means,” read one @ reply. Another reminded the vocal science advocate that “for all it’s bullshit I bet Gravity creates some future NASA staffers in a generation.”

But in the end, even Tyson was won over by the film. “My tweets hardly ever convey opinion,” he said in another tweet. “Mostly perspectives on the world. But if you must know, I enjoyed #Gravity very much.”

La pollution spatiale risque d’entraver l’activité orbitale

Hervé Morin

LE MONDE SCIENCE ET TECHNO

25.04.2013

L’orbite géostationnaire (35 785 km) est moins peuplée. La majorité des objets excentrés au-dessus de l’hémisphère Nord sont d’origine russe.

Il y a quelques années, c’était un peu une réunion entre initiés. Aujourd’hui, elle rassemble 350 chercheurs venus de trente pays." Christophe Bonnal, expert senior à la direction technique du Centre national des études spatiales (CNES), se réjouit du succès de la 6e conférence européenne sur les débris spatiaux, qui s’est tenue du 22 au 25 avril à Darmstadt (Allemagne) sous l’égide de l’Agence spatiale européenne (ESA).

Les spécialistes des débris spatiaux ont en effet longtemps été vus comme des empêcheurs de lancer en rond fusées et satellites : ils insistaient sur la nécessité de prévoir la fin de vie des engins, de les purger pour éviter les explosions intempestives et d’assurer leur bonne retombée sur Terre, pour éviter de polluer notre banlieue spatiale. Une règle dite "des 25 ans" prévoyant une désorbitation en fin de vie a bien été admise, mais elle n’est pas toujours respectée : ces contraintes sont synonymes de surcoûts pour les industriels et les opérateurs.

"ÉCOLOS" SPATIAUX

Aujourd’hui, ces "écolos" spatiaux sont plus écoutés. Précisément depuis 2007, quand les Chinois ont amorcé une réaction en chaîne en tirant sur un de leurs satellites pour prouver leurs capacités spatiales militaires. L’opération a engendré 3 000 débris spatiaux et enclenché le "syndrome de Kessler", du nom d’un chercheur de la NASA qui, à la fin des années 1970, avait prédit que l’accumulation d’engins spatiaux et les collisions qui en résulteraient immanquablement allaient produire toujours plus de débris.

Après la "démonstration" chinoise, les Américains ont répliqué en 2008 en abattant au missile un de leurs satellites en orbite basse, mais plus proprement – tous les débris sont désormais retombés. Ce n’est pas le cas de ceux produits en 2009 par la collision accidentelle entre un satellite de la constellation Iridium et un satellite russe Cosmos désactivé. Les 2 000 débris produits se sont ajoutés aux 170 millions d’objets de plus de 1 millimètre en orbite, dont 20 000, d’une taille supérieure à 10 cm, peuvent faire l’objet d’une surveillance depuis la Terre. Le pouvoir de destruction de ces bolides croisant à plusieurs kilomètres par seconde est potentiellement dévastateur pour les activités spatiales.

"ACCÉLÉRATION DE LA PRISE DE CONSCIENCE"

Ces dernières années, les agences spatiales ont fait tourner divers modèles pour apprécier la vitesse de multiplication prévisible de ces débris au fil des accidents. "Ces modèles convergent vers la nécessité d’aller chercher cinq à dix gros objets par an dès aujourd’hui pour pouvoir continuer à exploiter l’espace, note Christophe Bonnal. Si rien n’est fait, entre 2050 et 2100, l’orbite basse, en particulier entre 700 et 1 100 km d’altitude, la plus utile, ne sera plus accessible." Les "études de survivabilité" indique-t-il, montrent que pour Spot 5, par exemple, la probabilité de perte de la mission est de 5 %. Quel taux les Etats et les industriels sont-ils prêts à tolérer avant d’agir ?

Un paramètre économique est déjà à l’oeuvre : la multiplication des alertes et des manoeuvres d’évitement pour échapper à la course fatale de "zombies" incontrôlés, coûteuses en carburant et en durée de vie des satellites. "Cela a accéléré la prise de conscience", note Luisa Innocenti, chef du Clean Space Office de l’ESA.

MISSION D’ÉBOUAGE SPATIAL

Ce bureau a lancé un programme de recherche pour les prochaines années, avec 30 millions d’euros investis en 2013-2014. Un montant "significatif", indique Luisa Innocenti, même si les investissements militaires américains, à travers la Darpa, l’agence de financement de la recherche et développement de l’armée américaine, sont bien plus ambitieux.

"L’idée, à ce stade, est de préparer un dossier technique et programmatique qui serait adopté par les Etats membres en 2015", explique-t-elle. C’est-à-dire de décider quelles technologies développer, pour quelles cibles – satellites gros ou petits, étages de fusées -, avant de décider d’un investissement beaucoup plus conséquent pour une mission d’ébouage spatial qui ne verrait pas le jour avant 2020. "Cela n’a jamais été fait, il ne faut pas rêver, ce n’est pas pour demain", relève-t-elle.

Pour l’ESA, le péril principal vient de son satellite Envisat, lancé en 2002. Depuis avril 2012, ses 8 tonnes sont hors contrôle à 800 km d’altitude, après une perte de contact irrémédiable. Impossible de l’autodésorbiter proprement, ou même d’éviter un accident, alors que l’année précédant sa mort il avait fait l’objet de plus de 60 alertes anticollision. Entre 2009 et 2011, il avait dû effectuer neuf manoeuvres d’évitement, contre trois seulement auparavant, un signe tangible de la mise en branle du syndrome de Kessler.

UN ÉNORME MARCHÉ

Envisat peut donc se désintégrer d’un instant à l’autre. Mais c’est aussi le cas de nombre de gros objets avec lesquels l’Europe n’a rien à voir, fait-on valoir à l’ESA. A raison : dans son dernier bulletin, le Bureau du programme des débris spatiaux de la NASA indique que l’ESA ne totalise que 88 satellites et restes de fusées en orbite parmi les 16 649 suivis par le réseau de surveillance spatial américain. Les plus gros pollueurs sont d’abord la Russie (6 257), les Etats-Unis (4 938), la Chine (3 752), et la France (498).

A Darmstadt, face à l’ampleur des enjeux techniques et financiers, Christophe Bonnal a "prôné la coopération internationale". Le CNES anime ainsi deux consortiums publics-privés sur le sujet, au sein desquels les grands industriels du secteur sont fort actifs. Car le nettoyage spatial, très onéreux – le désorbitage d’Envisat se chiffrera en centaines de millions d’euros – sera aussi un énorme marché.

Les ingénieurs rivalisent donc d’idées pour traiter les débris. Les plus petits pourraient être déroutés par des tirs laser. Les plus gros seraient la proie de satellites chasseurs armés d’un bras, d’un harpon, d’un grappin ou d’un filet. Des kits de désorbitation dotés de petits moteurs, de ballons ou de fils conducteurs ralentissant leur course seraient couplés aux débris pour les attirer dans la haute atmosphère, où ils se consumeraient. Mais aucune de ces techniques, si ingénieuse fût-elle, n’a encore été testée in situ.

L’ingénierie juridique et financière suscitée par les débris spatiaux n’est pas moins inventive. Qui est responsable et comptable des débris ? Qui blâmer en cas de suraccident pendant une intervention ? Qui paiera ? Les Etats ou les opérateurs spatiaux, sur leurs fonds propres ou à travers une taxe pollueur-payeur ? Qui la collecterait ? Autant de questions encore sans réponse.

Le satellite espion qui embarrasse les Etats-Unis

 J.B.

Le Figaro avec AFP

15/02/2008

Dans un scénario digne d’Hollywood, Washington a ordonné la destruction de l’engin qui menace de s’écraser sur Terre. Raison officielle : le risque de pollution.

Les Etats-Unis ont décidé d’abattre avec un missile un satellite espion devenu incontrôlable et qui devait s’écraser sur Terre avec des réservoirs remplis d’une substance toxique. Le satellite en question pèse 1,1 tonne environ. Il a décroché de son orbite voici plusieurs semaines.

L’annonce de cette destruction a été faite jeudi par le conseiller adjoint à la Sécurité nationale James Jeffries. Selon ce dernier, le président George W. Bush «a ordonné au département de la Défense de procéder à l’interception» du missile. La décision a été prise en raison du risque pour la vie humaine de la rentrée dans l’atmosphère terrestre de ce satellite encore porteur de près de 500 kilos d’un carburant toxique appelé hydrazine. L’hydrazine est une substance chimique hautement toxique est le carburant de choix pour les moteurs des satellites classiques. Extrêmement irritante, elle attaque le système nerveux central et peut être mortelle à forte dose. Heureusement, elle se dégrade rapidement sous l’effet de la chaleur et des rayons ultra-violets, relève un rapport de l’agence française de sécurité INERIS.

Le missile, qui sera tiré sur le satellite depuis un bâtiment de la marine américaine, «est conçu évidemment pour d’autres missions mais nous avons conclu que nous pourrions reconfigurer à la fois le missile et les autres systèmes associés, de façon réversible et juste pour effectuer le tir», a précisé le conseiller à la sécurité. Les autorités américaines n’ont encore fourni aucune estimation sur la date de la destruction du satellite.

Des satellites placés en basse orbite

Les Etats-Unis disposent du réseau de satellites espions le plus dense au monde. Les caractéristiques de ces satellites, dont le prix unitaire dépasse le milliard de dollars, sont couvertes par le secret-défense. Pour répondre aux besoins des militaires, les satellites espions sont amenés à faire de fréquentes corrections d’orbite, ce qui implique des réserves d’énergie plus importantes que pour la plupart des engins civils spatiaux. Les satellites espions sont placés en orbite basse afin de détecter le plus de détails possibles à la surface de notre planète.

Plusieurs satellites espions sont déjà sortis de leurs orbites au cours de ces dernières années. En février 1983 notamment, un satellite espion russe (Cosmos 1402), s’était désintégré dans l’atmosphère en au dessus de l’océan Indien, mais des traces du plutonium qu’il contenait avaient été détectées jusque que dans la neige tombée sur l’Arkansas, au sud des Etats-Unis.

PHOTOS. "Gravity": pourquoi le film est un véritable choc visuel

Alexis Ferenczi

Le HuffPost

23/10/2013

CINÉMA – Non Gravity n’a pas été tourné dans l’espace. La question malicieuse posée à Alfonso Cuaron en conférence de presse n’est pas anodine. Le thriller galactique qui fait de Sandra Bullock et George Clooney les seuls survivants d’un accident dévastateur au beau milieu de l’espace interpelle par sa beauté plastique.

Le film qui sort en France ce mercredi 23 octobre a déjà remporté la bataille du coeur. Conquis, critiques, cinéastes et personnels navigants de la NASA ont unanimement salué ce premier candidat sérieux aux prochains Oscars. Gravity est le résultat d’une longue et minutieuse gestation dont voici quelques détails.

Bande-annonce:

Richard Branson et son Virgin Galactic peuvent aller se rhabiller. Pour le Hollywood Reporter, Gravity est "sensationnel et donne l’impression d’être dans l’espace plus que nous ne le pourrons jamais". Visuellement époustouflant et en 3D, le film détonne par son réalisme, se parant d’atours qu’on ne trouve que dans les documentaires léchés de National Geographic.

Caméra en apesanteur

Son réalisateur, Alfonso Cuaron, explique avoir délibérément cherché ce cachet, convaincu de l’intérêt d’utiliser des images de synthèses après avoir vu Avatar en 2009 – le film de James Cameron sert depuis de point de comparaison en termes de box-office.

L’intense odyssée spatiale, écrite par le cinéaste mexicain et son fils, multiplie les prouesses techniques, des longs plans-séquences aux chorégraphies spatiales, en passant par la reproduction visuelle de l’état d’apesanteur, techniquement impossible à reproduire sur Terre.

Interrogé par Isabelle Regnier dans Le Monde, le cinéaste mexicain décrit les transformations apportées à la caméra pour obtenir ces images renforcées par la 3D: "Nous voulions donner aux spectateurs l’impression qu’ils flottaient avec les personnages. Nous avons soumis aux principes de la micro-gravité non seulement les acteurs, mais aussi la caméra qui porte le point de vue du spectateur."

"En rotation permanente, elle avait sa propre inertie. Nous l’avons programmée pour qu’elle se comporte comme si elle flottait dans l’espace, délestée de son poids, ne bougeant qu’en raison des mouvements et des impulsions de l’opérateur."

Parmi les plans proposés, le spectateur passe de l’intérieur du casque de chacun des cosmonautes à l’extérieur, dans l’espace intersidéral. Le réalisateur réussit ainsi à recréer les sensations d’étouffement et l’angoisse ressentis par les protagonistes.

Simulation

"Cela a été le plus grand défi", déclarait Cuaron lors d’une récente conférence de presse à Beverly Hills à propos de cette dérive des corps. "Quand nous imaginions la chorégraphie, nos cerveaux fonctionnaient du point de vue de la gravité, en termes de poids et d’horizon. Nous avons dû tout réapprendre car c’était complètement contre-intuitif".

Le cinéaste y est parvenu en mêlant prises de vue réelles et effets spéciaux conçus par ordinateur, notamment pour les combinaisons spatiales, soulignant ne jamais avoir filmé sur fond vert mais toujours avec une image de la Terre.

Pour donner l’impression que les acteurs se déplaçaient en apesanteur -sans donner l’impression qu’ils étaient équipés de harnais, comme c’est normalement le cas- les techniciens ont créé une plateforme depuis laquelle des marionnettistes faisaient bouger et "flotter" Sandra Bullock et George Clooney.

Le directeur de la photographie, le Mexicain Emmanuel Lubezki, a pour sa part créé une "boîte de lumière" dont les parois internes étaient couvertes de milliers de petites ampoules LED pour simuler les étoiles.

Unanimité

À quelques rares exceptions, le spectacle est salué comme une réussite. Côté cinéma, le film fait consensus. Quentin Tarantino l’a glissé dans sa liste des meilleurs films de 2013 alors que James Cameron, le papa d’Avatar, l’a décrit comme le "meilleur film tourné dans l’espace de tous les temps".

Voir aussi:

"Gravity" : le somptueux enfer céleste d’Alfonso Cuaron

♥♥ Guillaume Loison

Le Nouvel Observateur

22 octobre 2013

Le cinéaste réussit un thriller saisissant mais manque (de peu) le chef d’oeuvre.

"A couper le souffle", "Allo Houston, on tient un chef d’œuvre", "Epoustouflant" on en passe et des meilleurs. "Gravity" ce futur aspirateur à oscars qui a-t-on lu, va bouleverser dans les mois à venir l’ADN du blockbuster de série, mérite-il une telle déferlante de louanges, un si chatoyant gratin de mots clé à faire se pâmer les pythies du référencement Google ? La question mérite en guise en réponse un bon vieux "oui et non" des familles, moins explosif et glamour on vous le concède que la succession de catastrophes spatiales qu’affrontent George Clooney et Sandra Bullock dans le film d’Alfonso Cuaron, astronautes en rade de navette, et privés en sus, d’un contact radio avec la terre.

Pourquoi oui ? D’abord pour la beauté graphique qui frappe dès la première image de "Gravity" : du noir profond de l’espace aux structures métalliques des équipements de la NASA qui se découpent sur les rondeurs gracieuses d’une terre écrasante mais lointaine, le film remporte haut la main le défi d’un hypra-réalisme nimbé de merveilleux. Le récit a beau basculer rapidement dans le survival pur et dur, rien ne vient perturber cet équilibre gracieux entre terreur cotonneuse, sidération et ébahissements charriés par le cosmos. Cette réussite n’est pas seulement plastique, Cuaron concoctant un traité de mise en scène proche de la perfection : ses mouvements d’appareils prodigieux, sa manière alerte de passer d’un point de vue général aux visions terrifiées de Bullock dans son scaphandre (et tout cela au sein d’un même plan séquence !) attestent d’une science aiguisée, rarement vue à ce niveau, des lois de la physique appliquées à l’art du grand spectacle hollywoodien.

Comment cadrer l’espace, générer de la vitesse, exploiter au maximum les potentialités de la 3D, articuler des mouvements régis par l’apesanteur, injecter de la sensualité dans la quintessence de la froideur et du néant, autant de questions que "Gravity" pose et résout avec une insolente dextérité. Le tout en insufflant une amplitude incroyable à un scénario qui filmé par un tâcheron honnête laisserait voir sa nature profonde : celle d’une série B maligne mais gentiment aberrante où l’on envisage sans problème de visiter en quelques heures (et en majeure partie à la "nage") tout ce que la stratosphère compte de stations spatiales…

Qu’est ce qui empêche alors "Gravity" de prétendre au chef d’œuvre ? Pas ce côté super série B en tout cas, bien au contraire, mais la propension de Cuaron à une patapouferie consubstantielle à sa virtuosité technique, qu’on retrouve hélas aux entournures du film. On se souvenait du pompiérisme politique de lycéen lyrique qui polluait la réussite du "Fils de l’homme" son long métragee précédent qui du même coup, glissait du côté d’un sous Barjavel, alors que le cinéaste visait Orwell. Ici, c’est le spectre d’un mélo dégoulinant lardée d’une poignées de considérations philosophico-new age (proférées par une Sandra Bullock parfois à la lisière de la becassinerie) qui lubrifient à gros bouillons la mécanique infernale d’un récit pourtant dévolu à l’âpreté la plus totale. Conséquence : ces relents de niaisierie un peu lourdingues détournent "Gravity" sur le terrain plus convenu, mais paradoxalement plus carnavalesque (et nettement moins exigeant) du film à oscars.

On vous donne un exemple. En préambule, Cuaron rappelle que l’espace est dénué du moindre son pour cause d’absence d’oxygène. On se dit alors qu’il s’agit pour lui d’un enjeu de mise en scène (faire du silence une pièce maitresse de thriller), relevé notamment par Kubrick dans "2001", d’une annonce pour le spectateur qu’il s’évertuera à honorer. Et pourtant, le cinéaste fait l’inverse, dillue les subtilités de sa bande sonore (chocs et autres commotions étouffées que perçoit Bullock emmitoufflée dans sa combinaison) en nappant l’action d’une musique assourdissante bourrée de flonflons. Fort heureusement, ces travers ne gâchent pas tout, mais ils lestent assez "Gravity" pour l’empêcher d’atteindre le firmament des blockbusters. Mais du sixième ciel, la vue reste néanmoins imprenable.

Voir également:

Gravity : pourquoi le film est un chef-d’oeuvre

Hervé Ratel

Sciences et Avenir

22-10-2013

Étourdissant, original, d’une maestria sans faille, le dernier film d’Alfonso Cuarón convoque le meilleur du cinéma d’action à taille humaine.

AVENTURE HUMAINE. Depuis combien de temps, Hollywood ne nous avait-il pas proposé un film à grand spectacle sans robots géants, extraterrestres belliqueux ou super-héros tout puissants ? Jusqu’à quand est-il besoin de remonter pour avoir un blockbuster qui raconte une simple aventure humaine dans laquelle l’émotion ne se retrouve pas emportée par un déluge d’actions sans queue ni tête et une débauche d’explosions défiant toute logique ?

La mémoire du spectateur aurait peut-être besoin de revenir à l’alpha et l’oméga du film d’action moderne, aux « Dents de la mer » de Steven Spielberg quatre décennies plus tôt. Des hommes, l’océan, un requin, pour une fable ontologique qui plaçait l’humain face à ses peurs les plus ancestrales, confronté à ses propres démons intérieurs fut-ce via l’artifice d’un squale géant. Basique et diablement efficace. Aujourd’hui, le réalisateur mexicain Alfonso Cuarón, déjà responsable de l’un des meilleurs films d’anticipation de ces dix dernières années, « les fils de l’homme », tente le pari fou, en ces temps de surenchère pyrotechnique, de revenir à la matrice du genre. Deux astronautes, l’espace infini, des débris spatiaux mortels.

Et c’est tout bonnement grandiose, probablement le plus beau spectacle que vous pourrez voir au cinéma cette année. Un film qui redonne ses lettres de noblesse à l’expérience incomparable de la salle obscure par la grâce d’une 3D immersive et d’une bande son qui décoiffe.

DÉBRIS SPATIAUX. L’histoire démarre 598 kilomètres au-dessus de la surface de la Terre au moment où l’équipage d’une navette Explorer est en train de réparer le télescope spatial Hubble. George Clooney en vieux routard de l’espace assiste une experte en ingénierie médicale dans sa première mission spatiale interprétée par Sandra Bullock qui trouve là son plus beau rôle. Le drame ne tarde pas à arriver sous la forme d’une pluie torrentielle de débris spatiaux issus de la destruction d’un satellite russe. Désormais, il va s’agir pour les deux astronautes de survivre.

Simplement survivre, en même temps que de trouver en eux des raisons de le faire quand tout espoir semble perdu.

HUIT-CLOS. Dans ce huis-clos où l’action se déroule paradoxalement dans l’espace le plus grand qu’il se puisse trouver, le réalisateur mexicain déploie une réalisation en totale osmose avec son propos. Car Alfonso Cuarón ne se contente pas de défricher un terrain de jeu totalement neuf pour le cinéma, il en redéfinit également les règles. Jetant aux orties la grammaire classique en vigueur depuis un siècle, il réinvente un langage pour sa caméra. Entrées et sorties de champ, travellings, panoramiques, champs-contre champs, dramaturgie en trois actes, tout cela n’a plus cours dans l’espace et n’a plus aucune raison d’être.

Révolution sur le fond, dans la forme, les prochains films hollywoodiens vont nous paraître bien fades… « Gravity » vous laissera la tête dans les étoiles, le coeur en apesanteur. Chef-d’oeuvre.

Voir encore:

C’est quoi, la singularité de "Gravity" ?

Aurélien Ferenczi

Cinécure

Télérama

Le 23/10/2013

Qu’est-ce qui n’a pas encore été dit sur Gravity, d’Alfonso Cuarón ? Peut-être simplement que c’est un petit film, une expédition cinématographique courte mais intense, qui déjoue – David Heyman l’expliquait bien hier dans Libération – les codes du grand spectacle hollywoodien d’aujourd’hui, qui doit sans cesse caracoler et tonitruer. Le fait est qu’un film intimiste, quoique singulier, peut provoquer chez son spectateur une impression plus forte que, disons, un combat de nains et de hobbits contre des goblins déchaînés, saisi par un caméraman épileptique, Howard Shore à pleine puissance dans les bafles. Voir des films est désormais un passe-temps presque banalisé. Il faut un plus pour que s’impose durablement le désir de voir un titre plutôt qu’un autre : soit la promesse de trois heures d’hyperréalisme (Adèle, es-tu là ?), ou une expérience plus singulière encore, et c’est celle-ci qu’offre Gravity.

Même si le son Atmos en met plein les oreilles, même si la 3D abolit les bordures de l’écran – merci Alfonso, j’ai bien vu le film au Pathé Wepler – la singularité de Gravity est à mes yeux de mêler avancées technologiques remarquables et classicisme total du récit. Y aura-t-il assez d’oxygène dans la combinaison ? Assez de carburant dans la capsule ? De temps avant le retour des débris tueurs ? Seront-ils tous assez habiles pour accrocher l’élément de métal qui saura faire freiner les corps propulsés dans l’espace ? Super dur de s’arrêter, là-haut… Ces questions simples, basiques, rivent l’attention du spectateur : aussi vieilles que le cinéma, elles participent à 50% au moins du sentiment d’immersion qu’augmentent relief et spatialisation sonore. Et même davantage encore. Car peut-être la technologie ne sert-elle qu’à augmenter l’empathie pour les personnages – donc le suspense. Apesanteur aidant, Gravity est l’un des rares films où le spectateur est quasiment dans la position de ceux qu’ils voient à l’écran.

Gravity est-il un film de science-fiction ? Techniquement, je dirais que non. Tout ce qui s’y passe pourrait, je crois, se passer vraiment dans un cas similaire de panique dans l’espace. La métaphysique n’intéresse pas Cuaron et c’est son droit. Il nous épargne même panthéisme, déisme, mysticisme – je n’ose imaginer comment Malick aurait boursouflé Gravity (oups, cette phrase ne va pas me faire que des amis). On n’échappe pas à une certaine sensiblerie (c’est ma réserve , avec une musique que je juge un peu superfétatoire), mais rien de l’habituelle religiosité attendue dans le cinéma américain. L’espace est-il la métaphore du monde virtuel ? Je me pose la question. Plus de carburant, plus de transmission : c’est un peu comme une batterie à plat, la 3G qui fout le camp, la livebox qui crame et vous laisse à votre solitude réelle. Cuaron nous dit vers la fin qu’il faut goûter au plaisir du concret – l’eau, la terre. Mais on a bien compris auparavant qu’il était super dangereux de traverser une autoroute de l’information sans regarder longuement des deux côtés…

P-S : Le premier qui dit du mal de Sandra Bullock, qui parle de chirurgie esthétique ou quoi que ce soit, je l’anéantis. Sandra est juste parfaite dans Gravity.


Baptême princier: Attention, un rituel peut en cacher un autre ! (Brits christen their prince while former genocidal Europe seeks to criminalize circumcision)

24 octobre, 2013
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/CirconcisionRothenburg.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/6ff16-1752b-2bthe2bbaptism2bof2bjesus.gifhttp://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/10/23/1382539023487/William-Kate-and-Prince-G-009.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8e/Botticelli_Scenes_from_the_Life_of_Moses.jpg
http://www.aubergemontsegur.com/Nouvelles/2011/Noel/Tentaciones_de_Cristo_(Botticelli)web.jpgC’est ici mon alliance, que vous garderez entre moi et vous, et ta postérité après toi: tout mâle parmi vous sera circoncis.Vous vous circoncirez; et ce sera un signe d’alliance entre moi et vous. A l’âge de huit jours, tout mâle parmi vous sera circoncis, selon vos générations, qu’il soit né dans la maison, ou qu’il soit acquis à prix d’argent de tout fils d’étranger, sans appartenir à ta race. Genèse 10: 12-17
Pendant le voyage, en un lieu où Moïse passa la nuit, l’Éternel l’attaqua et voulut le faire mourir. Séphora prit une pierre aiguë, coupa le prépuce de son fils, et le jeta aux pieds (euphémisme pour les organes génitaux) de Moïse, en disant: Tu es pour moi un époux de sang! Et l’Éternel le laissa. Exode 4: 24-26
Vous circoncirez donc votre coeur … Deutéronome 10: 16
L’Éternel, ton Dieu, circoncira ton coeur et le coeur de ta postérité, et tu aimeras l’Éternel, ton Dieu, de tout ton coeur et de toute ton âme, afin que tu vives. Deutéronome 30: 6
Il ne faut donc point que les Juifs s’imaginent aujourd’hui avoir eu quelque avantage sur le reste des nations. Quant à leur longue dispersion, il n’est point surprenant qu’ils aient subsisté si longtemps depuis la ruine de leur empire, puisqu’ils se sont séquestrés des autres peuples et se sont attiré leur haine, non-seulement par des coutumes entièrement contraires, mais par le signe de la circoncision qu’ils observent très-religieusement. Or, que la haine des nations soit pour les juifs un principe de conservation, c’est ce que nous avons vu par expérience. Un roi d’Espagne les ayant autrefois contraints ou de quitter son royaume ou d’en embrasser la religion, il y en eut une infinité qui prirent ce dernier parti. Et comme en se faisant chrétiens ils devenaient capables de tous les privilèges des autres citoyens et dignes de tous les honneurs, ils se mêlèrent si étroitement aux Espagnols qu’il ne reste plus d’eux aucune trace ni aucun souvenir. En Portugal il en a été tout autrement : car étant forcés d’embrasser le christianisme sans être admis aux privilèges et aux dignités de l’État, ils ont toujours vécu, quoique convertis, dans un état d’isolement par rapport aux autres Portugais. Le signe de la circoncision me paraît ici d’une telle conséquence que je le crois capable d’être à lui tout seul le principe de la conservation du peuple juif. Je dirai plus : si l’esprit de leur religion n’efféminait leurs âmes, je suis convaincu qu’une occasion favorable venant à se présenter, les Juifs pourraient (tant les choses humaines sont variables) reconstituer leur empire et devenir ainsi l’objet d’une seconde élection de Dieu. (…)  Au reste, si quelqu’un persiste à soutenir pour telle ou telle raison que l’élection des Juifs est une élection éternelle, je n’y veux pas contredire, pourvu qu’il demeure d’accord que cette élection, de quelque durée qu’elle soit, en tant qu’elle est particulière aux Juifs, ne regarde que les avantages temporels et l’établissement de leur empire (puisqu’il n’y a que ce seul point par où les nations se distinguent les unes des autres), mais qu’à l’égard de l’intelligence et de la vertu véritable, toutes les nations sont égales, Dieu n’ayant sur ce point aucune sorte de préférence ni d’élection pour personne. Baruch Spinoza
Dieu est mort! (…) Et c’est nous qui l’avons tué ! (…) Quelles solennités expiatoires, quels jeux sacrés nous faudra-t-il inventer? Nietzsche
A l’époque de la peste noire, on tua des étrangers, on massacra des Juifs et, deux siècles plus tard, on fit brûler des sorcières, et cela pour des raisons parfaitement identiques à celles qu’on a rencontrées dans nos mythes. Tous ces malheureux se retrouvèrent indirectement victimes des tensions internes engendrées par les épidémies de peste et autres catastrophes collectives dont ils étaient tenus responsables par leurs persécuteurs. Les crimes imaginaires et les châtiments réels de ces victimes ne sont autres que les crimes et châtiments qu’on trouve dans la mythologie. Pourquoi donc, dans le cas de la seule mythologie, faudrait-il croire que, si les crimes sont imaginaires, les punitions et les victimes ne sauraient elles-mêmes être réelles ? Tout indique que le contraire est vrai. Les textes qui témoignent d’atrocités historiques, les archives judiciaires relatives à la chasse aux sorcières, par exemple, comportent les mêmes accusations extravagantes que les mythes, la même indifférence aux preuves matérielles et le même sentiment massif et irréfléchi que tout est exact, sentiment souvent exprimé, même s’il n’est pas effectivement partagé, par les boucs émissaires eux-mêmes. Tous les indices trahissant la victimisation d’individus imparfaitement assimilés – étrangers, handicapés physiques ou mentaux – sont présents dans ces documents, tout comme ils le sont dans la mythologie, pour autant qu’on puisse le vérifier ; à nous, observateurs d’aujourd’hui, ils livrent la vraie nature de ce qui s’est passé. (…) Je suis convaincu que la plupart des données d’ordre culturel sont pertinentes pour l’étude du sacrifice, y compris dans une société comme la nôtre qui ne pratique pas d’immolations sacrificielles. Le premier exemple qui me vient à l’esprit est notre propre interrogation du sacrifice ici même. Il y a forcément un rapport entre cette interrogation et le fait que les sacrifices sanglants sont de nos jours perçus comme odieux, non seulement par une petite élite, mais par l’ensemble de notre société, laquelle est désormais en voie de mondialisation rapide. Malgré ce sentiment d’horreur, une grande part de nos coutumes et pratiques et une bonne part de notre pensée peuvent encore être reliées au sacrifice d’une façon que nous ne soupçonnons pas. J’estime que notre histoire fourmille de phénomènes si clairs de ce point de vue qu’on ne saurait les exclure d’une enquête sur le sujet. C’est le cas, par exemple, de notre attitude envers certaines formes de persécution collective, de la façon dont nous comprenons et condamnons les préjugés collectifs et toutes les pratiques d’exclusion. Je crois également à la pertinence de nombreux textes littéraires, comme la tragédie grecque ou le théâtre de Shakespeare. Je pense aussi que la Bible et surtout le Nouveau Testament ont joué un rôle important dans tous les progrès que nous avons déjà faits, et que nous ferons demain, dans la recherche d’une meilleure compréhension du sacrifice. René Girard
La même force culturelle et spirituelle qui a joué un rôle si décisif dans la disparition du sacrifice humain est aujourd’hui en train de provoquer la disparition des rituels de sacrifice humain qui l’ont jadis remplacé. Tout cela semble être une bonne nouvelle, mais à condition que ceux qui comptaient sur ces ressources rituelles soient en mesure de les remplacer par des ressources religieuses durables d’un autre genre. Priver une société des ressources sacrificielles rudimentaires dont elle dépend sans lui proposer d’alternatives, c’est la plonger dans une crise qui la conduira presque certainement à la violence. Gil Bailie
Mais pourquoi donc le christianisme est-il devenu une religion non-juive ?  Gilles Bernheim
Si la loi du sabbat appartient au cérémoniel et n’est plus obligatoire, pourquoi remplacer le sabbat par un autre jour? (…) Si la grâce chrétienne a mis fin à la loi juive, si le dimanche chrétien a abrogé le sabbat juif, si la notion d’un Dieu invisible indéfiniment suspendu à une croix a remplacé la notion du Tout-puissant invisible, si le salut et son emphase sur le spirituel l’a emporté sur la création, sur a nature et sur le corps, si le Nouveau Testament a supprimé l’Ancien, si les païens ont remplacé Israël; alors les juifs ont eu théologiquement raison, et ont encore raison aujourd’hui, de rejeter la religion chrétienne. Jacques Doukhan
All babies are unbelievably special, not only royal babies. But Prince George’s christening does carry an extra significance. As a nation we are celebrating the birth of someone who in due course will be the head of state. That’s extraordinary. It gives you this sense of forward looking, of the forwardness of history as well as the backwardness of history, and what a gift to have this new life and to look forward. Rev. Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury)
As with any other infant’s baptism, Welby marked the Prince with the sign of the cross on his forehead and splash water on his head. The silver font used for George’s baptism has been used for every royal christening since 1841 and will be filled with water from the River Jordan. CNN
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and B’nai B’rith International condemned a resolution and report of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strsbourg, which calls the Jewish ritual circumcision a “violation of children’s physical integrity,” undermining the religious freedom to perform circumcision on newborn boys. … Circumcision is not discretionary, but rather central, in Jewish life and practice throughout history,” added B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “It must be made clear what those who support the criminalizing of circumcision in Europe are proposing: Discrimination against the Jewish community in Europe. EPL

Attention: un rituel peut en cacher un autre !

En ce lendemain du baptême du petit prince George qui, à travers l’Archévêque de Canterbury, nous rappelle nos indissolubles liens à notre passé judéochrétien …

Au moment même où, après la  dimanchisation du sabbat, l’Europe du génocide juif envisage de criminaliser la circoncision

Et où, retour à la fureur primitive sur les plages malgaches, on lynche et immole des hommes par le feu …

Pendant que les meutes de nos cours de recréation ou de nos réseaux sociaux peuvent pousser nos enfants au suicide …

Comment ne pas repenser à ce passé commun de l’humanité …

Dont demeurent les traces transfigurées …

Tant la circoncision (cette mutilation protectrice de la partie pour le tout, comme semble le rappeler le mystérieux épisode de Séphora préservant de la violence divine son époux comme son fils) …

Que le baptême (dont l’immersion primitive rejouait à la fois, via la noyade simulée, la mise à  mort et la résurrection du Christ)  …

A savoir le sacrifice humain en général et le sacrifice d’enfants en particulier?

LE SACRIFICE HUMAIN

Anne Stamm

Pourquoi ai-je choisi de vous entretenir du sacrifice humain, un sujet en quelque sorte tabou ? Tout simplement parce que j’ai lu l’été dernier l’ouvrage d’un universitaire américain: "L’autel le plus haut " (Patrick Tierney), qui m’ a incité à réfléchir, à entreprendre des recherches bibliographiques, à interroger de s collègues ethnologues.

En 1954, un groupe d’archéologues andin se constitue après la découverte du Mt Plomo (5 400 m) par 2 mineurs à la recherche d’un trésor inca du corps d’un jeune enfant en parures d e cérémonies inca. Il n e s’agit pas d’une momie, mais d’un petit garçon placé dans un caveau vivant et que les conditions climatologiques ont conservé dans un état de souplesse , de flexibilité tout à fait étonnant .

Transféré à Santiago, au Muséum national le corps a été soumis à de nombreuses analyses et conservé en congélateur.

Le costume de l’enfant montrait de toute évidence qu’il appartenait à une famille princière et que son sacrifice remontait à 1470-1480 .

Depuis lors ce groupe d’archéologues a découvert de très nombreux corps d’enfants enterrés ou inhumés dan s des fosses ou dans des tours à des altitudes pouvant atteindre 6 500 m . Il s’agissait toujours d e jeunes et beaux enfants dont le visage était parfaitement calme . Bien entendu ces  trouvailles posèrent d’innombrables questions :

On connaissait les sacrifices humains des Aztèques immolant des prisonniers de guerre dont le sang et la chair devaient nourrir le soleil et lui permettre de revenir éclairer la terre.

Ceux qu’au Bénin, on accomplissait à la mort d’un souverain, on savait moins que lors d e son intronisation le nouveau roi devait tuer un esclave .

On savait qu’aux Indes les veuves devaient se jeter dans le bûcher consumant le corps de leur mari, mais aussi que les victimes humaines procuraient la richesse et l’immortalité , accomplissaient des vœux, étaient indispensables à l’érection de certains bâtiments, et ce jusqu’ à l’interdiction par les Britanniques vers le milieu du XIX e siècle. O n avai t dans l’esprit le meurtre d’Iphigènie par son père Agamemnon et celui que faillit accomplir Abraham sur son fils Isaac .

On n’avait pas assimilé l’exécution de Remus par Romulus à un sacrifice humain et les corps retrouvés dans les marais danois posaient de nombreuses questions.

Les historiens avaient tendance à penser que ces pratiques étaient le fait de peuplades arriérées et quand ils en avaient connaissance en Grèce, c’était, croyaient-ils, dans l’antiquité la plus lointaine. Pausanias (l’historien grec du 2 e siècle après J.C. ) refusa lui-même de divulguer les détails du sacrifice accompli a u sommet du Mt Lycée e n Arcadie et qui comportait la mort et le dépeçage d’un enfant mangé collectivement chaque année : "Je ne voyais aucun plaisir à étudier ces sacrifices, disait Pausanias, laissons les tels qu’ils sont et tels qu’ils ont été depuis les origines" .

Quant aux ethnologues et aux ethnographes, ils ont la plupart du temps été très discrets sur des pratiques qui les gênaient beaucoup : o u bien ils avaient très peu de renseignements, car bien entendu on se cachait des blancs, sauf dans les débuts de la pénétration européenne (mais alors ils n’étaient guère en état de faire des observations correctes), o u bien on leur disait que la chose n’avait plus cours : un dogon interrogé par Griaule racontait qu’autrefois on immolait un albinos pour emporter un message à Dieu mais que cela ne se faisait plus : "ils sont comptés maintenant " affirmait-i l ou bien ils avaient peur que l’évocation de ces sacrifices ne nuise à l a réputation de la population, objet de leurs études et à laquelle ils s’étaient le plus souvent sentimentalement attachés .

Et puis il y avait les professionnels de la mauvaise conscience et qui mélangeaient tout :

- les vaincus passés au fil de l’épée par le vainqueur afin de manifester sa puissance, afin d’intimider les agresseurs éventuels et dissuader des attaques toujours possibles,

- les condamnés à mort dont l’exécution était tout à la fois châtiment de leur crime et élimination d’un danger futur, danger qui d’ailleurs peut-être moral, qu’on songe à Socrate ( + 399 avant J.C.) considéré com e opposant à la cité et corrupteur de la jeunesse,

- les victimes des innombrables vendettas qui se déroulaient ou se déroulent encore dans le monde, ainsi la guerre du chien chez les Mongo dans le s années 1920 fit des milliers de victimes;

- les serviteurs ou les femmes tués ou enterrés vivants dans ou à côté de la tombe de leur maître afin d’aller le servir dans l’autre monde ;

- l’immolation de martyrs qu’ils soient religieux ou politiques et le plus souvent politico-religieux par exemple :

- Husay , petit-fils de Mahomet massacré à Karbala e n Irak , en 680 , car il ne voulait pas reconnaître Yazid comme iman. Cette mort est commémorée par les Chiites lors des fêtes de l’Achura (les Chiite s sont le s partisans de l a succession du prophète par les Alides (descendants de Fatima) ;

- les martyrs chrétiens de l’empire romain qui représentaient plus un danger politique que religieux, par leur refus de rendre un culte aux empereurs; – toutes le s victimes de toutes les guerres "saintes" ;

- le meurtre d’empoisonneurs supposés avoir tué réellement ou par magie: dans de nombreuses populations, en effet , i l n’ y a pa s d e "mort naturelle" , il y a toujours un ou des responsables qu’on découvre le plus souvent par divination;

- la mort programmée des rois sacrés africains à qui l’on présentait le poison ou bien que l’on étouffait (car il ne fallait pas répandre le sang), aux premiers signes de faiblesse ou de vieillissement.

Tous ces morts, tous ces exécutés ne sont pas victimes de sacrifices humains bien que dans certaines sociétés il n’est pas de situation critique à laquelle on ne réponde par le sacrifice, et où dans le cas où le groupe est menacé on n’envisage l’immolation d’un humain, immolation qui clôt le cycle des vengeances…

Nous avions oublié les dangers des désirs de vengeance, nous les voyons ressurgir autour de nous aussitôt que s’affaiblit le système judiciaire : ainsi en est-i l aujourd’hui en Yougoslavie. Il nous faut donc examiner la notion même de sacrifice : sacrifier quelque chose ou quelqu’un c’est rendre la chose ou la personne sacrée , c’est-à-dire la séparer de soi, la séparer du monde profan , la donner à Dieu, aux dieux ou aux déesses.

Le bien offert devenant propriété du ou des dieux devient inaliénable, il peut être détruit, mais il peut aussi devenir seulement intouchable – qu’on songe aux vierges consacrées dans tant de religions .

Sacrifier c’est être dans la logique d’un échange : l’homme donne ce qu’il a, et au maximum quelqu’un de son espèce, voire de sa famille – pour obtenir de la divinité des biens que seule la puissance créatrice peut distribuer : la santé, l a purification, la fertilité de la terre, la fécondité du bétail ou des épouses…

Toute la vertu du sacrifice réside dans l’idée que l’on peut agi r sur les forces spirituelles par l’offrande de biens matériels, offrande, bien entendu assortie de prières, d’incantations, de suppliques. Le sacrifice passe même pour être un meilleur moyen que la prière souvent ignorée…

Il faut que le Transcendant soit puissant pour qu’on lui offre le bien suprême qui est si souvent un enfant c’est-à-dire l’espoir et l’avenir du groupe, l’objet des soins et de l’amour de ses parents. Il est vrai que nous avons de la peine à comprendre les formes que peut prendre cet amour. C’es t l’anthropologue Johan Reinhard qui explique : "Les Incas faisaient une faveur à ces enfants puisqu’il s devenaient des dieux après leur mort" . "Il s étaient même célébrés comme des demi-dieux pendant les dix jours de fête précédant leur mise à mort ":

Deux fois par an, aux solstices d’été et d’hiver, les meilleures récoltes, les plus beaux animaux, les plus fins vêtements, les plus précieuses œuvres d’art et les plus joli s enfants étaient rassemblés (de l’Equateur jusqu’au Chili) et amenés à Cuzco , la capitale inca perchée à 3 650 m d’altitude en 4 grandes processions convergentes, chacune venant d’une province… Cuzco n’était pas seulement une capitale politique, c’était le mandala qui maintenait la cohésion de l’empire.

Après une purification rituelle les enfants écoutaient le grand prêtre leur expliquer les bienfaits que leur sacrifice apporterait à l’Empire et à eux-mêmes. Accompagnés de leur mère ils processionnaient autour des statues des principaux dieux : Viracocha , l e Dieu d u Soleil , l e Die u de s Eclairs , ou celui de la Lune. L’inca ordonnait alors aux prêtres d’emporter leur part des offrande s et de s sacrifiés à immoler aux plus grands autels de leur région.

De nouveaux grands défilés se dirigeaient vers les provinces et finalement montaient à ces autels situés très haut dans les montagnes .

Avan t d e procéde r a u sacrific e le s prêtre s disaien t un e prière , pa r exempl e à Viracoch a l e créateu r : "Dispensateu r d e vie , to i qu i décide s d u jou r e t d e l a nuit , to i qu i engendre s l’auror e e t l a lumièr e di s à to n fil s l e solei l d e brille r e n pai x e t e n sérénité , d e brille r a u dessu s d e ceu x qu i l’attendent , d e le s protége r contr e le s maladie s etc.. "

A e n croir e l a légend e d e Tant a Carhua , un e fillett e sacrifié e à 1 0 ans , le s festivité s inca s préparaien t parfaitemen t le s victime s à leu r sor t : "vou s pouve z e n fini r ave c moi , maintenant , aurait-ell e dit , j e n e pourrai s pa s êtr e plu s honoré e qu e pa r le s fête s qu’o n a célébrée s pou r mo i à Cuzco" .

Le s victime s étaien t de s ambassadeur s auprè s de s dieux . Elle s devaien t mouri r heureuse s ca r u n représentan t e n colèr e e t rempl i d e mauvais e volont é n’aurai t pa s ét é u n bo n défenseu r de s intérêt s d e se s mandants .

L e sacrific e humai n engendr e auss i 3 sorte s d e demi-dieu x : l a victi – m e qu i dispens e dorénavan t santé , travail , fertilit é etc. . s a tomb e étan t centr e d’u n pouvoi r magique , deuxièm e demi-die u l e commanditair e qu i profit e a u mieu x d u sacrific e consent i o u payé.. . qu i es t considér é comm e invincibl e à caus e de s pouvoir s conféré s pa r le s pacte s scellé s pa r leur s sacrifices . Enfi n l e sacrificateu r lu i même , ca r observan t de s pacte s ave c le s puissance s surnaturelles , i l n e peu t qu’e n recevoi r succès , richess e e t considération .

Pou r profite r de s bienfait s d u sacrific e i l convien t d e s’associe r à l a victim e : soi t e n mangean t s a chair , soi t e n procuran t l e sacrifié , e n l e parant , l e nourrissan t etc. .

Mai s peu t s’établi r un e relatio n contradictoir e entr e l e sacrifi é e t se s sacrificateurs . S i l a victim e n’es t pa s consentante , o n pense , a u Pérou , qu e so n âm e devien t l’esclav e de s "tius " (esprit s d e l a montagne ) e t peu t tue r à leu r place . Ains i a-t-o n peu r qu e l e mor t n e s e libèr e e t n e vienn e s e venger . Auss i o n tach e d e s e concilie r so n espri t pa r de s prière s e t de s culte s o ù s e marquen t le s influence s chrétienne s : o n le s appell e d’ailleur s de s "misses" . I l sembl e bie n qu e le s sacrifice s humain s s e pratiquen t aujourd’hui , encore , dan s le s Audes , Patric k Tierne y a recueill i d e nombreu x témoi – gnage s e t fai t éta t d’article s d e journau x d e l a Pa z o u d e Santiago .

E n 196 0 u n orpheli n aurai t ét é sacrifi é a u Lag o Bud i (a u su d d e Santiago ) pou r fair e cesse r u n ra z d e marée , e n 198 6 u n paysa n aurai t ét é sacrifi é pou r calme r l a colèr e d e l a natur e qu i faisai t monte r le s eau x d u La c Titicaca , e n 198 3 u n homm e aurai t ét é pend u dan s l a mêm e régio n (côt é Pérou ) pou r lutte r contr a l a sécheresse . O n accus e d e ce s crime s le s chamane s qu i "parlen t a u diable" , le s narcotrafiquant s o u le s commer – çant s qu i veulen t réussir .

Dan s notr e sphèr e culturell e Eschyl e narr e l e sacrific e d’Iphigéni e :

Le s Dieux , e t e n particulie r Artémi s (don t l e cult e comprenai t parfoi s de s sacrifice s humains ) avaien t immobilis é le s vaisseau x d’Agamenno n – Artémi s avai t pri s parti e pou r Troi e – dan s l e Golf e d’Argos . Le s Dieu x avaien t avert i Agamenno n qu’il s lu i accorderaien t u n ven t favorabl e seulemen t s’i l leu r immolai t s a fill e Iphigénie . Longtemp s Agamenno n hésit a pui s i l immol a Iphigénie . A u mêm e instan t le s vent s s e levèren t mai s l e desti n tomb a su r l a nuqu e d’Agamenno n : i l ser a tu é pa r l’aman t d e s a femm e Chytemnestre , leque l ser a tu é pa r Orest e qu i poignarder a auss i s a mèr e pou r l a puni r ains i qu e so n aman t d’avoi r tu é so n père.

Pou r comprendr e c e geste , c e sacrific e innommabl e – c e qu i n e veu t pa s dir e l’approuve r – nou s allon s fair e un e sort e d’inventair e de s mobile s qu i l e provoquen t : Fondation s d e ville s Nou s avon s déj à évoqu é l e meurtr e d e Remu s pa r Romulus , pou r n e pa s multiplie r le s exemple s j e m e born e à cite r l a fondatio n d e l’un e de s cité s Kotok o (su r le s cour s inférieur s d u Char i e t d u Logone ) : Logon e Birn i exige a l e sacrific e d e l a fill e d e l’u n de s groupe s e t d u garço n d e l’autr e muré s vivant s dan s l’épaisseu r d u mu r d’enceinte , Madam e Lebeu f qu i étudi a ce s principauté s expliqu e : "l e sacrific e d’u n de s fondateur s o u d e s a progénitur e es t u n act e essentiel . I l scell e l’unio n d e l’homm e ave c l e so l d e l’espac e réserv é mai s l’unio n de s groupe s étranger s entr e eux" . Intronisatio n d e Roi s L a traditio n Yoroub a voulai t qu e l e jou r d e l’intronisatio n d e l’on i d’If é (If é es t l’antiqu e capital e d’o ù son t parti s le s yoroub a don t l a tradi – tion , no n écrite , a ét é évoqué e pa r d e nombreu x informateur s don t l’u n de s dernier s es t mor t e n 1930) , qu e l e jou r d e cett e intronisation , u n esclav e étai t amen é a u palai s richemen t habill é e t coiff é d’un e couronn e d e cauris . Ce t esclav e (ro i d’u n jour ) recevai t le s dignitaire s d e l a cour , dan s diffé – rente s partie s d u palai s assi s su r u n trône , pui s i l quittai t l e palai s e t l a vill e d’If é pou r toujours . Comm e o n n e doi t jamai s dir e qu e l e ro i es t mor t mai s qu’i l es t parti , o n peu t suppose r qu e c e ro i d’u n jou r étai t exécuté .

Mort des Roi s

A l a fi n d u XVIII e siècl e (1778-1786 ) J.-F . Landolph e décri t le s funéraille s d e l’Ob a (ro i d u Bénin) .

O n creus e un e tomb e dan s l’un e de s cour s d u palais . C’es t u n tro u larg e d e 4 pied s carré s e t profon d d e 30 . O n y descen d l e cadavr e roya l ains i qu e se s premier s ministre s vivants . L’ouvertur e es t fermé e pa r un e grand e trapp e d e bois . Tou s le s jour s o n apport e de s vivre s e t o n demand e s i l e ro i es t mort . Le s survivant s réponden t qu’i l es t bie n malade . O n agi t ains i jusqu’ à c e qu e l’o n n’obtienn e plu s d e réponses . Pendan t c e temp s l’anarchi e es t instauré e dan s l a ville , de s homme s masqué s parcouren t le s rue s d e l a vill e e t fon t vole r l a têt e d e ceu x qu’il s rencontren t d’u n cou p d e coupe-coupe . L e san g es t recueill i dan s de s bassine s e t i l es t vers é su r l e tombea u de s rois .

Plu s tar d le s corp s son t sorti s d e l a foss e e t ceu x de s ministre s rendu s à leu r famill e tandi s qu e l e ro i es t inhum é dan s un e vast e cou r sou s l e portiqu e don t le s pilier s son t sculptés . C e lieu , di t l’auteur , étai t couver t d e san g humai n e t u n énorm e serpen t sculpt é dan s de s dent s d’éléphan t emboîtée s l’un e dan s l’autr e semblai t descendr e d u toi t e t pénétre r dan s l a tombe . N’oublion s pa s qu e l e serpen t es t symbol e d’éternit é e t plu s encor e d’éterne l retour .

Mai s le s sacrifice s n’e n étaien t pa s terminé s pou r autant .Deu x foi s pa r a n avaien t lie u d’important s rituel s qu i comportaien t de s offrandes , notammen t celle s d e 1 2 victime s humaine s ains i qu e 1 2 chiens , vaches , moutons , boucs , poulet s e t u n poisson . Ce s rituel s d e commémoratio n étaien t organisé s pa r l e ro i régnan t e n l’honneu r d e so n pèr e décédé , l’Ob a allai t voi r le s victime s humaine s ligotée s e t assise s e t le s chargeait , à voi x haut e d e message s pou r so n père . Alor s avai t lie u l’exécutio n : l a victim e s’avançai t bâillonné e ell e étai t assommé e pa r devan t e t pa r derrière . Allongé e alor s à terr e ell e étai t égorgé e e t so n san g recueill i arrosai t le s tombeau x de s rois .

Un e autr e grand e fêt e honorai t l e ro i régnan t lui-mêm e e t comportai t égalemen t de s sacrifices .

E n pay s Kotok o (Tchad , frontièr e Nigeria ) à Makari , l a traditio n assur e qu’ à chaqu e intronisatio n l e cora n étai t recouver t d e l a pea u d e l a mèr e d u M e (prince ) e t d e cell e d’u n bœu f immol é e n mêm e temp s qu’elle , qu’i l étai t ensuit e plac é dan s u n étu i d e cui r multicolor e e t soustrai t au x regards .

Obtentio n d e faveur s importante s

L’immolatio n d e victime s humaine s n e s’impos e qu e lorsqu e le s faveur s sollicitée s d e l’au-del à son t importantes . Nou s avon s évoqu é l e sacrific e d’Iphigéni e pa r so n père , sacrific e auque l devai t consenti r l a victim e elle-mêm e : Racin e me t dan s l a bouch e d e so n héroïn e : "i l fau t de s Dieu x apaise r l a colère " avan t qu’ell e n e s e voi t substitue r un e jeun e captiv e Eriphèle , fill e caché e d’Hélèn e e t d e Thésée , don c ell e auss i d u san g d’Hélène .

A u Pérou , d e même , l a victim e devai t êtr e consentante . Alor s ell e devenai t Die u e t sourc e d e félicit é e t d e pouvoi r pou r celu i qu i e n faisai t l’offrande . L a fillett e don t nou s avon s parl é e t qu i es t révéré e sou s l’appellatio n d e "Tant a Carhua" , valu t à so n pèr e nommé e che f d e l a communaut é dan s le s jour s qu i suiviren t l’emmuremen t d e s a fill e consa – cré e a u soleil .

Su r l’îl e mélanésienn e d e Malekul a u n homm e qu i sacrifi e u n jeun e garçon , e n mêm e temp s qu’u n sanglie r particulier , devien t seigneu r de s enfer s e t possèd e u n pouvoi r su r l’ensembl e d e l a tribu .

O n gagn e pourrait-o n dir e u n pouvoi r magiqu e à l a mesur e d u sacri – fic e consenti .

C’es t c e pouvoi r qu’o n recherchait , e n Afrique , e n entran t dan s le s société s secrète s dite s de s hommes-lions , de s hommes-léopard s o u croco – diles . Pou r y entre r i l fallai t "offrir " quelqu e membr e d e s a famille , don t un e parti e (o u l a totalité ) d u corp s étein t partagé e e t mangé e pa r le s membre s d e l a confrérie . Le s faveur s demandée s peuven t êtr e moin s importante s à no s yeu x :

Che z le s Peu l d u Foulado u (Ht e Casamance ) o n célèbr e encor e aujourd’hu i u n importan t ritue l e n l’honneu r de s vaches . Le s vache s c’es t l a vi e mêm e pou r ce s pasteurs.. . auss i pou r e n obteni r n’hésitait – (n’hésite ) o n pa s à passe r u n pact e ave c Gaari-Jinn e (l e génie-taureau) ? Celu i qu i veu t avoi r u n troupea u peu t offri r secrètemen t s a femme , so n enfan t – autrefoi s san s dout e de s esclave s – . Alor s l a victim e tomb e devan t l e troupea u d e vache s d e l a communaut é qu i arriv e e n galopan t pou r partici – pe r a u rituel . Ell e tomb e e t meur t – parfoi s piétinée , parfoi s d e maladi e dan s le s jour s suivant s – . Implore r l e pardo n C’es t u n autr e moti f pou r sacrifie r u n humai n e t e n particulie r u n enfant . Lor s d e terrible s ra z d e maré e : E n 196 0 eu t lie u l’exécutio n d’u n peti t garço n orpheli n (enviro n 6 ans) , prè s d u lag o Bud i a u Chili . O n lu i arrach a l e cœu r e t le s intestin s qu’o n jet a à l’eau . C’es t pou r montre r so n obéissanc e à Die u qu’Abraha m failli t bie n immole r so n fil s Isaa c (XIX e siècl e avan t J.-C) . Mai s c’étai t e n l’honneu r d e Moloch , Dieu x de s cananéen s e t de s phénicien s qu’étaien t immolé s d e nombreu x enfant s qu’o n brûlai t dan s de s "Tophets" . Manassé , fil s d’Ezéchias , "fi t passe r so n fil s pa r l e feu , pratiqu a l’astrologi e e t l a magie , institu a nécromanci e e t devins " ( 2 roi s 2/16) . Acha z 12 e ro i d e Juda , ro i d e Jérusalem , e n avai t fai t autan t "i l fi t fume r l’encen s dan s l a vill e d e Be n Hinno m e t brûl a se s fil s pa r l e feu" , selo n le s abomination s de s nation s qu’avaien t dépossédée s Yahw e devan t le s fil s d’Israë l ( 2 chronique s 28/3) . L a rein e Dido n d e Ty r ayan t emport é à Carthag e – qu’ell e aurai t fond é a u IX e siècl e avan t J.-C . – le s Dieu x d e Phénicie , o n trouvait , e n Tunisi e u n "tophet " ave c de s stèle s sacrificielle s e n l’honneu r d e Baal – Hammo n e t d e Tarit-Astart é (déess e d e l a fécondité) . Renouvellemen t d u mond e L e mond e vieillissant , le s organisation s s e dégradan t i l convien t d e l e renouvele r comm e d e refair e le s force s d’u n souverain . E n Crète , l e roi-prêtr e qu i portai t l e no m d e Mino s régnai t pendan t un e périod e d e 9 ans , A u bou t d e c e temp s l a puissanc e divin e qu i lu i avai t ét é insufflé e étai t considéré e comm e épuisée . I l s e rendai t alor s dan s l’antr e d e l a Montagn e Id a (o ù Zeu s enfan t avai t ét é élev é pa r 3 nymphes) . I l y apprenai t toute s le s faute s qu’i l avai t commises . Pendan t so n séjou r tout e l’îl e vivai t dan s l’angoiss e e t sacrifiai t jusqu’ à de s hommes . Te l étai t l e sor t de s 7 jeune s gen s e t 7 jeune s filles , tribu t qu e tou s le s neu f an s le s peuple s devaien t offri r a u Minotaure , hôt e d e l a grott e labyrinthiqu e d e l’Ida . Rappelon s qu e l e "monstre " fu t vainc u pa r Thésé e qu i deviendr a ro i à so n tour . Tou s le s 9 an s égalemen t le s tribu s venan t d u pay s entie r s e réunis – saien t à Uppsal a pou r renouvele r le s pouvoir s d u roi . Chacu n devai t apporte r 9 offrande s : chevaux , chien s e t hommes . Le s victime s étaien t pendue s mai s auss i atteinte s d’u n cou p d e lance . De s exécution s d u mêm e genr e s e pratiquaien t a u Danemar k e t e n Norvège .

A l a fi n d u 1 e r siècl e d e notr e èr e Tacit e décri t l e sanctuair e d’u n peupl e germaniqu e : le s Semnome s qu i occupaien t u n vast e territoir e entr e Elbe , Odes , Varth a e t Vistule . I l assur e qu’ à de s époque s déterminée s de s députation s de s peuple s se retrouvaien t pou r pratique r de s "rite s barbares " e t immolaien t u n homm e (a u moins) . L’affair e de s 9 an s es t extrêmemen t intéressant e ca r c e cycl e est , dan s l’antiquité , ressent i comm e à pe u prè s capabl e d e mettr e e n accor d l e cour s d u solei l ave c celu i d e l a lune , c’es t à dir e l a vi e social e d u ro i ( = soleil ) ave c l a natur e ( = lune) . Assure r l’ordr e d u Mond e Enfi n l e principa l mobil e d e l’exécutio n d e victime s humaine s es t d’assure r l’ordr e d u monde . E n méso-amérique , avan t l a dominatio n de s Aztèques , l e débu t d e l’anné e étai t marqué e pa r de s sacrifice s d’enfant s su r l e somme t de s montagne s ; lor s d e l a fêt e de s Dieu x e t Déesses , de s homm e o u de s femme s ayan t jou é pendan t quelque s jour s o u quelque s heure s l e rôl e d e leu r "patron" , étaien t immolé s a u somme t d e pyramide s pa r u n prêtr e portan t parfoi s lu i auss i l e costum e e t l e masqu e d u Die u o u d e l a Déesse . O n l e voi t bie n i l y a l à symbolism e d e l a Mor t e t d e l a résurrectio n d u Dieu . Parfoi s u n homme , prêtr e o u non , revêtai t l a pea u d u o u d e l a suppli – ciée , imag e d u Dieu , av e l e mêm e symbolisme . Le s Aztèque s ayan t développ é u n nouvea u myticism e e t décri t l e solei l comm e devan t recevoi r d e grande s quantité s d e san g pou r survivre , i l leu r fallu t s’empare r d e nombreu x prisonnier s d e guerr e afi n d e pouvoi r e n immole r chaqu e mati n : o n arrachai t leu r cœu r encor e palpitan t a u moye n d’u n coutea u d’obsidienn e e t o n l’élevai t pou r l’offri r a u soleil . Avan t le s Incas , le s indien s de s Ande s rendaien t de s culte s au x eau x e t au x montagnes , e t san s dout e à u n coupl e formé e de s une s e t de s autre s (la c d e haut e montagn e coupl é ave c u n hau t sommet , pa r exemple ) le s Inca s on t assum é ce s ancien s culte s e n le s réorientan t ver s l e soleil , seu l capabl e d e surpasse r le s Dieu x de s montagnes . Elue s d u solei l le s victime s humaine s auraien t jou é u n autr e rôle . O n aurait , dan s le s Andes , pratiqu é de s sacrifice s pou r apaise r de s conflit s internes , pou r renforce r l’harmoni e entr e classe s sociale s e n cimentan t le s relation s ave c l’Inca . Telle s es t l a thès e d e Abbo t Cristoba l d e Molin a (XVIe ) qui , e n bo n observateur , avai t not é qu e l a redistributio n de s victime s à parti r d e l a capital e aurai t apais é le s rancœur s qu e l’inégalit é de s peuple s pouvai t développer .

O n retrouv e dan s c e réci t d u jésuit e c e qu’assur e Ren é Girar d : l e sacrific e qu i es t un e violenc e es t un e manièr e d’arrête r l e cycl e intermi – nabl e de s vendetta s individuelle s o u d e groupe . L a violenc e sacrificiell e s’opposerai t à l a violenc e "naturelle " Le s humain s sacrifié s étaient , dan s tou s le s ca s de s messager s choisi s e t chargé s d’u n rôl e d e médiatio n entr e le s homme s e t le s Dieux . Cett e théologi e d e l a médiatio n perme t d e comprendr e (no n d’approuver ) l e cannibalism e ritue l qu i associ e à l a victim e l’ensembl e de s participants . C e n’es t pa s pa r goû t n i pa r instinc t qu e l’homm e es t cannibale , mai s à l a suit e d’un e théologi e e t d’un e mythologie . L’homm e sai t qu’i l doi t tue r de s animau x pou r vivre.. . i l extrapol e e t pens e qu’i l doi t tue r de s homme s pou r fair e vivr e l’au-delà , répétan t rituellemen t u n premie r meurtr e qu i eu t lie u dan s l e mond e de s Dieu x o u dan s celu i de s ancêtres . L e démembremen t d’u n Die u serai t l e modèl e d u sacrific e humain . L’Egypt e a fai t d’Osiri s l e Die u mor t e t ressuscit é : épou x d e s a sœu r Isis , fil s d u die u terr e Ge b e t d e l a déess e cie l Nout , frèr e d e Seth , Osiri s étai t – selo n le s récit s mythologique s – u n Dieu-ro i for t aimé . So n frèr e Seth , jaloux , fi t fair e u n coffr e superbemen t décor é et , a u cour s d’u n banquet , promi t d e l’offri r à celu i qu i pourrai t l e rempli r exactement . Comm e i l avai t ét é fai t au x mesure s d’Osiris , seu l celui-c i pu t s’ y couche r exactement . Aussitô t l e couvercl e rabatt u e t scellé , l e coffr e es t jet é a u Nil . Isi s l e recherch e e t l e retrouv e à Byblos . Ell e ramèn e l e corp s d’Osiri s e n Egypt e mai s Set h réussi t à s’e n empare r à nouvea u e t à démembre r l e corps . I l e n répan d le s morceau x à traver s l’Egypte . Isi s recherch e ce s morceaux , le s recoll e à l’exceptio n d u péni s qu i rest e introuvable . Selo n un e autr e versio n ell e inhum e chaqu e morcea u à l’endroi t o ù i l a ét é retrouv é e t à qu i es t ains i apporté e l a fertilit é e t l a résurrectio n es t antérieure . Quoiqu’i l e n soi t Isi s a u n enfan t posthum e d’u n épou x mor t e t ressuscité . C’es t enfan t c’es t Horu s – die u Fauco n – . E n Mésopotamie , selo n l e myth e babylonie n d e créatio n d e l’Univer s qu i étai t déclam é lor s de s fête s d u nouve l a n : a u commencemen t i l n’ y avai t qu e le s eau x douce s (Apsû ) e t le s eau x salée s Tiamat) . D e c e coupl e naissen t de s génération s d e Dieux , don t l’u n tu e Aps û e t l e remplac e comm e roi . I l engendr e Mardu k qu i attaqu e l a terribl e Tiamat . A lie u u n terribl e comba t don t Mardu k sor t vainqueur . I l fen d e n 2 l e cadavr e d e Tiama t e t d’un e moiti é form e l e cie l e t le s étoile s (e t auss i l a lune ) don t l’autr e form e l a Terr e o ù coulen t l e Tigr e e t l’Euphrat e issue s de s yeu x d e Tiamat.. . L’épou x d e Tiama t : King u es t alor s sacrifi é pou r qu e naiss e l’homm e ( à l’aid e don c d u san g d’u n Dieu ) o n compren d dè s lor s qu e l e servic e de s Dieu x ser a l e lo t d e l’humanité . I l fau t don c le s nourri r pa r de s offrande s : pains , viandes , mai s auss i légume s e t fruits . I l n e sembl e pa s y avoi r e u d e sacrific e humain , cependan t dan s le s tombe s royale s d’U r o n a trouv é le s squelette s d e nombreuse s personne s venue s (volontairemen t o u non ) prendr e plac e auprè s d e leu r maîtr e o u maîtresse . C’es t a u sacrific e d’u n Die u o u à so n auto-sacrific e qu’es t du e l a naissanc e d u mond e e n Grèc e comm e che z le s May a e t le s Dogon . Dionyso s es t u n die u énigmatiqu e don t l e no m signifi e " 2 foi s né" , u n die u qu i meur t e t qu i renaît . I l es t san s dout e un e divinit é trè s archaïque , peut-êtr e originair e d’Anatolie , e n tou s ca s attesté e e n Crèt e o ù avai t lie u u n cult e d e Dionyso s enfan t s e confondan t ave c l e Zagreu s d e Mt-Ida . Zagreus-Dionyso s es t fil s d e Perséphon e déess e infernal e e t d e Zeu s (sou s form e d e serpent) . I l es t don c li é au x puissance s chtonniennes , i l évoqu e l e cycl e hive r (mort ) / printemp s (retou r de s force s d e vie) . Zagreu s a ét é déchir é e t dévor é enfant , sou s form e d e taureau , pa r de s Titans . A l’imitatio n d u sacrific e d e Zagreu s – Dionyso s qu i es t réput é favorise r l a renaissanc e e t l a croissanc e d e l a végétation , u n jeun e garço n étai t immol é e n Crète . Cett e victim e humain e avai t régn é pendan t un e journée . I l avai t alor s exécut é un e dans e illustran t le s 5 saisons , miman t l e lion , l a chèvre , l e cheval , l e serpen t e t l e veau . Aprè s quo i i l étai t sacrifi é e t mangé . Marsya s étai t am i d e l a déess e Cybèle , i l jouai t d e l a flût e pou r l a charmer . C’étai t dit-o n u n "satyre " (o u silène ) d e Phrygie , Marsya s os a provoque r Apollo n e n comparan t s a flût e à l a lyr e d e celui-ci . Apollo n vainqui t Marsyas , pa r ruse , e n défian t so n adversair e d e fair e c e qu’i l faisai t c’est-à-dir e joue r à l’envers , c e qu’o n pouvai t ave c l a lyr e e t no n à l a flûte . Apollon , pou r s e venger , écorch a vi f Marsya s e t clou a s a pea u à u n pin , arbr e d e Cybèle , so n corp s démembr é fu t répand u dan s le s champ s pou r le s fertilisés . Ce s exemple s montren t bie n qu e l e sacrific e d’u n Die u cré e o u entre – tien t l e monde , lu i procur e l a fécondité .

Dan s l e Popo l Vuh , l e gran d text e May a écri t ver s 155 0 pa r u n lettr é quiche , le s Dieu x son t présenté s comm e de s humain s géant s comm e d e trè s grand s magicien s don t le s acte s e t le s création s furen t l e résulta t d e parole s magiques . Un e guerr e inexpiabl e éclat a entr e de s Dieu x lumineu x e t bienfaisant s e t le s Dieu x ténébreu x e t malfaisants . Cett e bataill e pri t figur e d e parti e d e je u d e paum e e t le s Dieu x lumineu x duren t feindr e d e s e laisse r tue r : rit e obligatoir e pou r passe r d u pay s d e l a Xibalb a (mort ) a u pay s d e l a vie . Ayan t remport é l a victoir e le s 2 magicien s montèren t a u cie l e t y devinren t solei l e t lune . A l’imag e d e l a lutt e de s Dieux , le s ancêtre s entamèren t un e lutt e a u je u d e paume . U n héro s ancestra l fu t décapit é e t s a têt e abandonné e su r l a plac e d u je u d e balle . Ell e y donn a naissanc e à de s fruit s e t engendr a un e descendance . O n voi t don c o ù s’ancr e l’idé e d u sacrific e humai n fécondateur . O n voi t auss i naîtr e l a nécessit é d u sacrific e pou r qu e viv e l e monde : le s Dieu x on t fai t coule r leu r san g pou r l e créer , le s homme s doiven t fair e coule r l e leu r pou r l e maintenir . Lor s don c le s cité s may a entrèren t e n guerr e no n afi n d e s’asservi r mai s d e fair e de s prisonnier s qu e l’o n puiss e immole r a u somme t de s pyramide s o u plu s souven t encor e a u cour s d’u n je u d e balle . L e ro i étai t guerrie r e t i l sacrifiai t le s prisonnier s mai s i l étai t auss i demi-Die u e t lor s de s cérémonie s rituelle s i l faisai t coule r so n propr e san g e n s e lacéran t notammen t l e lob e d e l’oreille , l a langu e e t l e péni s (l a rein e faisai t d e mêm e e n tiran t un e cord e à épine s à traver s s a langu e perforée) . C e faisan t le s souverain s répétaien t l e myth e créateu r e t l e reproduisan t assuraien t l a continuit é d e l a vie . L e san g étai t recueill i su r de s bande s d e papie r qu e de s acolyte s brûlaien t : l a fumé e l’emportai t a u ciel . Su r terr e le s souverain s étaien t alor s san s dout e e n proi e à de s phéno – mène s hallucinatoire s qu i leu r donnaien t un e versio n d e l’autr e monde . Le s Aztèque s venu s d u nor d d u Mexiqu e poussèren t jusqu’au x extrême s cett e nécessit é d u san g pou r qu e viv e leu r Die u l e solei l e t l’Univers , s a création . Che z le s Dogon , l e die u suprêm e Amm a ayan t cré é l e mond e pui s le s végétau x voulu t forme r 4 paire s d e jumeaux . I l procéd a pa r dédouble – ment s successif s créan t d’abor d le s mâle s pui s élaboran t dan s l e placent a le s jumelles . L e 4 e mâl e Og o s’impatientan t vol a l e morcea u d e placent a d’o ù devai t naîtr e s a jumelle . S e révoltan t contr e Amma , i l vol a auss i l a premièr e grain e créée.

Og o es t bie n évidemmen t l e perturbateur , l e désordonnateu r d u monde . Le s Dogo n l e décriven t comm e l e renar d pâl e (chacal) . Pou r remettr e d e l’ordr e dan s l e monde , Amm a transform a l e morcea u d e placent a e n terre . Pui s i l sacrifi a l e Nomm o (jumea u mâl e d’Og o e t don c participan t à l a responsabilit é d’Ogo , d u fai t mêm e d e cett e gémellité) . Ains i Nomm o fut-i l démembr é e t le s morceau x e n furent-il s lancé s au x 4 angle s cardinau x d e l’espace . D u sex e d e Nomm o naqui t l’étoil e Sirius , l a trac e d u san g créan t Vénus . C e sacrific e scell a l’éche c d u 1 e r mond e voul u pa r Amma , i l l e réorganis a don c pa r l a souffrance . Amm a rassembl a ensuit e l e corp s d e Nomm o e t l e ressuscit a sou s form e d e jumeau x mixte s humains . U n sacrific e commémorati f à lie u a u momen t d e l a fêt e de s semailles . Nou s penson s qu’autrefoi s avai t lie u u n sacrific e humain , aujourd’hu i remplac é pa r un e victim e animal e qu i es t mangé e pa r l a communaut é totémique . Mirce a Eliade , l e gran d ethnologu e roumai n qu i enseign a au x USA , soulignai t qu e cett e conceptio n d u sacrific e donnan t naissanc e o u régéné – ran t l e monde , proclam e qu e l a vi e es t assuré e pa r u n meurtre . Comm e l e di t Do n Eduardo , l’u n de s spécialiste s d u chamanism e andi n : l e sacrific e d’u n homm e c’es t l e sacrific e d u microcosm e a u macrocosm e qu’es t l’Univers . C’es t u n pon t e t s i l’âm e d u sacrific e es t consentant e c e peu t êtr e u n pon t cosmique . O n peu t alor s se pose r l a questio n : l a crucifixio n d e Jésus-Chris t est – ell e u n sacrific e ? J e n e veu x pa s examine r l a questio n e n théologie n – c e qu e j e n e sui s pa s – mai s e n anthropologue , sacrific e ? Certainemen t pa s ca r le s autorité s pensèren t sanctionne r un e conduit e susceptibl e d’amene r de s trouble s politiques , ca r l e peuple , qu i suivai t Jésu s quelque s jour s aupara – vant , l’abandonnèren t pa r peu r : peu r de s prêtre s qu i détestaien t l e Nazaréen , peu r d e l’occupan t qu i pourrai t sévi r contr e le s ami s d’u n rebelle . I l n’ y a pa s d e sacrific e offer t pou r l’un e de s raison s qu e nou s avon s signalée s : purification , envo i d’u n messager , etc. . S’agit-i l d’u n auto-sacrific e ? L’évangil e di t pa r exempl e : "l e fil s d e l’homm e n’es t pa s ven u pou r êtr e serv i mai s pou r servi r e t donne r s a vie , e n rançon , pou r beaucoup " Mathie u 2 0 (28 ) e t Mar c 1 0 (32-34) . Dan s l’épîtr e au x Hébreu x 9 (26 )

Paul dit de Jésus : "Il s’est manifesté une seule fois à la fin des âges pour abolir le péché par son sacrifice. Je crois qu’il ne faut pas oublier la mentalité sacrificielle qui régnait dans le monde – rappelons-nous les taureaux immolés en l’honneur de Mithra – et qui n’est sans doute, pas abolie si l’on songe aux jeunes garçons iraniens se lançant dans les champs de mines irakiens, la clef du Paradis au cou. Mais il me semble que pour les Chrétiens il y a l à quelque chose d’unique puisque Dieu est à l a fois objet du sacrifice et destinataire du sacrifice car il est Dieu et non un Dieu, qu’ll est à la fois message, messager et récepteur du message. D’autres dieux, par exemple Odin, chez les Germains, se sacrifièrent , acceptèrent une mort rituelle, initiatique pour acquérir la connaissance suprême : de dieu des guerriers, Odin devint ainsi maître de la connaissance occulte. Mais n’oublions pas qu’il périt, englouti par le loup Fenrir et que la plupart des dieux disparurent avec lui, dans le crépuscule des dieu . Dans les auto-sacrifices que j’ai rencontrés dans les mythologies, les victimes ne se confondent pas avec le destinataire. Alors d’autres sacrifices devaient et pouvaient avoir lieu.  Je ne crois pas que l’Eucharistie chrétienn e soit un sacrifice renouvelé, le sacrifice de la croix demeurant unique mais étant présent et présenté dans le sacrement.

Je voudrais terminer cette causerie en posant une question: les archétypes sacrificiels nous quittent-ils ? En 1969, marchant sur la lune et contemplant l a sphère bleue de la terre, l’astronaute Armstrong se demandait comment une tribu primitive aurait réagi à ce magnifique spectacle: "combien de vierges lui aurait-on immolé ?" . L e psychologue Steven Kull signale que l’archétype d e l’Armageddon [montagne de rassemblement (Ap o 16,6) ] séduit des groupes religieux qui voient dans l’anéantissement du monde un ultime sacrifice purificateur : le rite de la destruction du monde.

Pétition – Non à l’interdiction de la circoncision !

CRIF

Le mardi 1er octobre 2013, l’Assemblée parlementaire du Conseil de l’Europe a adopté une résolution invitant les 47 États membres à prendre des mesures contre les "violations de l’intégrité physique des enfants" ; l’une de ces violations serait la circoncision, au même titre que la mutilation génitale féminine des enfants. Nous vous appelons à une grande mobilisation citoyenne contre ce projet injuste qui bafoue notre identité et nos libertés individuelles. Signez cette pétition initiée par le CRIF et faites-la circuler autour de vous !

Cette décision est une remise en cause inacceptable de la liberté religieuse garantie par l’article 9 de la Convention Européenne des Droits de l’Homme. Elle porte atteinte à l’essence même du judaïsme et des traditions qui ont accompagné l’histoire du peuple juif de par le monde. Elle agresse les communautés juives d’Europe déjà exposées à une résurgence sans précédent de l’antisémitisme. Elle est insultante quand elle met sur un pied d’égalité la circoncision et à l’excision. Elle est dangereuse car elle stigmatise les Juifs et ouvre de nouveau la porte à toutes les formes de caricatures. Elle est inconcevable pour tous ceux qui ont vécu la Shoah. Nous vous appelons à résister pour que cette décision ne soit jamais mise en application en France comme ailleurs en Europe.

Ces baptêmes royaux qui sont restés dans les mémoires

Constance Jamet

Le Figaro

20/10/2013

La famille royale lors du baptème d’Elizabeth II en 1926. Depuis 1841, soixante-dix bébés se sont fait baptiser dans la robe de dentelle et de satin portée par la fille aînée de Victoria. Depuis 2008, on utilise une reproduction. Les fonts baptismaux, en forme de lys, remontent aussi à Victoria tandis que l’eau bénite vient du Jourdain.

Lions, cérémonie secrète, bannissement, certains baptêmes à la Cour d’Angleterre ont fait des vagues. Alors que le prince William et Kate prévoient une cérémonie intime mercredi, retour sur les coups d’éclat de leurs prédécesseurs.

Après sa présentation à la presse le lendemain de sa naissance en juillet, le prince George va connaitre mercredi sa deuxième «cérémonie officielle». Le prince William et Kate baptisent mercredi leur fils dans l’intimité au Palais Saint-James. Des fuites supposées sur l’absence de certains membres de la famille royale comme la princesse Anne et Sophie de Wessex ont attisé les spéculations. Mais ceci est peu de chose comparé aux destins extraordinaires de certains baptêmes. Voyage dans le temps commenté par l’historienne canadienne Carolyn Harris, spécialiste des monarchies européennes.

• Le baptême mauvais présage. La palme revient au bien nommé mais oublié souverain Æthelred II le malavisé (968-1016). Le bébé s’oublie dans les fonts baptismaux. Furieux l’archevêque de Canterburry prédit «Par dieu et sa mère, ce sera un individu bien déplorable». Æthelred II fut détrôné par le roi du Danemark Sweyn Forkbeard. Il est resté dans l’Histoire comme un des rois les plus inefficaces de l’Angleterre saxonne.

Elizabeth I.

• Le baptême le plus rabat-joie. Elizabeth Ière (1533-1603) vient au monde dans un contexte politique tendu. Elle est le premier monarque à être baptisée dans la toute nouvelle Eglise anglicane. Pour épouser sa mère Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII a divorcé de Catherine d’Aragon, et rompu avec le Pape. Pour la frange de la population restée catholique et fidèle à Rome, il n’y a donc aucune raison de célébrer. «Ce baptême a été, comme le couronnement d’Anne Boleyn, froid et désagréable. Personne à la cour ou à Londres n’a songé à allumer les traditionnels feux de joie», se gausse un chroniqueur de l’époque, pro-Catherine d’Aragon.

• La marraine la plus généreuse. Pour la naissance en 1566 du fils de la reine d’Ecosse Mary Stuart, le futur Jacques Ier d’Angleterre, Elizabeth Ière envoie des fonts baptismaux en or. Cette bienveillance ne durera pas, la reine fera exécuter sa cousine 11 ans plus tard.

• Le baptême qui rugit. Le roi d’Ecosse Jacques VI, futur roi d’Angleterre sous le nom de Jacques Ier, veut pour son fils Henry Frederick né en 1594 une cérémonie qui surpasse toutes les précédentes. Le souverain demande comme clou de son banquet un carrosse tiré par un lion. Mais au dernier moment, le plan est abandonné, de peur que la bête ne salisse le sol. Les invités sont conviés à contempler de loin les fauves qui demeurent dans leur enclos.

Mary de Modène avec son fils.

• Le baptême clandestin. Dans une Angleterre protestante, le choix du futur Jacques II et de sa seconde femme Mary de Modène, catholiques convaincus, de baptiser clandestinement en 1675 leur aînée Catherine selon leur religion, ne peut qu’outrager la cour et le frère de Jacques, le roi Charles II chef de l’Eglise anglicane. Quand Charles II l’apprend, il arrange aussitôt un baptême anglican pour la fillette. La petite princesse meurt à neuf mois de convulsions. Aucun des enfants catholiques de Jacques II ne montera sur le trône, la lignée des Stuart s’éteint à la mort des deux filles du premier mariage de Jacques II, les reines Marie et Anne, élevées dans la foi protestante.

• Le baptême qui vire à l’affaire d’Etat. Premier monarque issue de la dynastie des Hanovre, George Ier entretient des relations détestables avec son fils, le prince de Galles bien plus populaire que lui. Celles-ci arrivent à leur point de rupture lors du baptême du cadet du prince en 1717. Tout est matière à désaccord et George Ier impose ses choix. Ulcéré que le roi ait nommé le duc de Newcastle, Lord Chambellan, parrain, le prince lance au noble honni «vous êtes un vaurien et je vous démasquerai». Sauf que le prince parlant avec un fort accent allemand, le duc comprend qu’on le provoque en duel. Scandale, George Ier bannit son fils et sa belle-fille de la cour et leur confisque la garde de leurs enfants. Le petit George William meurt à trois mois, le prince de Galles ne pardonnera jamais à son père cette séparation.

Victoria enfant.

• Le baptême suspense. En 1819, l’atmosphère est encore à la querelle familiale lorsqu’il faut prénommer la future reine Victoria. Le prince Régent et futur George IV , refuse toutes les suggestions de son frère et père de la petite fille, le duc de Kent. Vient le jour de la cérémonie, l’archevêque de Canterburry tient le nourrisson et attend la décision du prince. Celui-ci tergiverse avant de proposer Alexandrina en l’honneur du Tsar, un des parrains de l’enfant. Le duc de Kent demande le droit de donner comme deuxième prénom, Elizabeth. Le prince Régent s’y oppose mais accepte Victoria, comme la mère de l’enfant, «du moment que son nom ne précède pas celui du Tsar». Peine perdue, en montant sur le trône en 1837, la jeune femme se fera appeler Victoria.

La famille royale lors du baptème d’Elizabeth II en 1926. Depuis 1841, soixante-dix bébés se sont fait baptiser dans la robe de dentelle et de satin portée par la fille aînée de Victoria. Depuis 2008, on utilise une reproduction. Les fonts baptismaux, en forme de lys, remontent aussi à Victoria tandis que l’eau bénite vient du Jourdain.

• Une génération de baptêmes insolites. «Grand-mère» des familles royales européennes, la reine Victoria a eu des dizaines de petits-enfants. Certains ont eu droit à des baptêmes atypiques. Victoria-Melita fut une des rares membres de la famille royale à être baptisée hors du Royaume-Uni, à Malte, où son père officier de la Navy était affecté en 1877. Sa sœur cadette Batrice fut baptisée 7 ans plus tard dans la bibliothèque familiale du Kent.

• Le recordman des bonnes fées. Si les bébés royaux ont de nos jours cinq ou six parrains, Edward VIII né en 1894 en avait douze: la reine Victoria (son arrière-grand-mère), ses autres arrières grands-parents le roi et la reine de Danemark, le roi de Württemberg (un lointain cousin de sa mère), sa grand-tante la reine de Grèce, son grand-oncle le duc de Saxe-Coburg et Gotha, ses grands-parents le prince et la princesse de Galles, le cousin de son père le Tsarévitch, le duc de Cambridge (le cousin de Victoria), et ses grands-parents maternels le duc et la duchesse de Teck.


Fête des Cabanes: Les sionistes ont même inventé Thanksgiving ! (Sukkot 2013: Looking back at the original Thanksgiving)

19 septembre, 2013
Chagall-Tabernacles-1916The first Thanksgiving (JLG Ferris)Vous demeurerez pendant sept jours sous des tentes … afin que vos descendants sachent que j’ai fait habiter sous des tentes les enfants d’Israël, après les avoir fait sortir du pays d’Égypte. Je suis l’Éternel, votre Dieu. Lévitique 23: 42-43
Tous ceux qui resteront de toutes les nations venues contre Jérusalem monteront chaque année Pour se prosterner devant le roi, l’Éternel des armées, Et pour célébrer la fête des tabernacles. Zacharie 14: 16
Much has been written about the rejection of socialism by major powers like China and the former Soviet Union. But nowhere is the failure of socialism clearer than in the radical transformation of the Israeli kibbutz. The kibbutz movement started in the early twentieth century in what was then Palestine by Zionist émigrés from Europe who were idealistic and utopian. Capitalism, industrialization, and the conventional family repelled these émigrés. Kibbutzniks, as they were called, replaced these fundamental aspects of modern societies with collective agriculture where all property was owned by the kibbutz, where adults were treated equally regardless of productivity, and they were rotated every few months among the various tasks that had to be performed on a farm, such as milking cows, planting crops, serving meals, and so forth. They considered the close-knit family to be a creation of capitalism, and substituted for that family structure communal dining, a fair amount of promiscuity, and separate communal living for all children, who were allowed only brief visits with their parents each day. (..) The kibbutz movement was motivated in part by the Marxian dictum of "from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs". By abolishing capitalistic organization, the founders expected members to live in contentment and harmony, and to work for the common good. However, from what I was told and could observe during my brief visit, there was not much harmony-jealousies abounded of those who were only a little better off, including my host because he was allowed to spend some time working at his profession off the kibbutz. Anger was also felt toward those who were considered slackers since they clearly lived off the labor of others. Since everyone ate, worked, and socialized together, small differences were magnified, and became festering sores. Nor were the family arrangements any more satisfactory since parents missed their children, and visa versa. The kibbutz movement was very important in the creation of Israel, and in its early days of independence. Many military leaders came from the Kibbutz, perhaps because they were accustomed to communal living. A disproportionate number of the early political leaders and intellectuals also had a kibbutz background. But as the New York Times recognized in an article this past week, the socialist zeal that propelled the kibbutz movement in its early days has largely now disappeared. A trend that began more than 40 years ago accelerated in the 1980′s as kibbutzim lost many young members, and they failed to attract enough new members. Many of them were forced into bankruptcy, and the future of this movement was exceedingly dim if they continued with their old ways. The vast majority of the kibbutz that remained survived because they changed their ways. They expanded into industry and even real estate, they allowed a substantial degree of private ownership and private enterprise on the kibbutz, pay is no longer equal and is now significantly related to productivity, and parents and children live and eat together privately in their own homes. These changes may have prevented the Kibbutz movement from disappearing along with the many past Utopian experiments, but they did not prevent the kibbutz from becoming of little importance in the Israeli economy as Israel shifted toward privately owned high tech industry, and also toward privately owned farms, including cooperatives, for its much less important agricultural output. The transformation of the kibbutz movement from avowedly socialist to mainly capitalist shows clearly in microcosm what happened in socialist countries. Although even in their most extreme moments these countries were never as radical as the kibbutzim since children continued to live and eat with parents, socialist countries too tried to divorce individual productivity from individual rewards. They also believed that self-interest was a relic of capitalism, and that they could change human behavior to produce "a new socialist man" by abolishing private property and reorganizing society. Instead of the small scale of a kibbutz, countries like China and the Soviet Union tried to created socialism on an enormous scale. Moreover, and this is crucial, while members of any kibbutz voluntarily joined and could leave at will, Russians and Chinese had no choice about whether they wanted to work on collective farms or in government run enterprises, and they could leave only with extreme difficulty and at personal risk. Utopian socialistic experiments like the kibbutz movement, and countries that tried to create large-scale efficient socialism, all failed for the same reasons. They did not realize that while the zeal of pioneers, and the result of revolutions, could sustain a collectivist and other-serving mentality for a short while, these could not be maintained as the pioneers died off or became disillusioned, and as circumstances became less revolutionary. Basically, they ignored the evidence of history that self interest and family orientation is not the product of capitalism, but is human nature due to selection from evolutionary pressure over billions of years. Sure, there is abundant altruism toward one’s family, and some altruism toward others, and the latter might sustain a society for a brief time. But it shows a depressing ignorance of history to believe that a little propaganda and the enthusiasm of some leaders can organize an effective long-term society on the basis of any altruism and desires of mostl persons to help institutions, such as a kibbutz or a country, rather than themselves and those close to them. Gary Becker
Tant le critique que l’aficionado du communisme commettent une erreur. Une expérimentation à assez grande échelle du collectivisme volontaire le plus intégriste a existé. Et l’échec de cette expérience apporte bel et bien la preuve ultime de l’impraticabilité per se du socialisme originel, sous toute ses formes. Un socialisme "idéal" ne peut en aucun cas exister dans le monde réel. L’expérience dont il est question est le développement des Kibboutz en Israël, depuis le début du XXème siècle et plus encore après l’indépendance de 1947. Le prix Nobel d’économie 1992 Gary Becker (photo), sur son blog à 4 mains, nous gratifie d’une remarquable analyse historique et économique des Kibbutzim, qui naquirent dès le début du XXème siècle sous l’impulsion de juifs utopistes. Son compère Richard Posner, spécialiste majeur de l’analyse économique du droit, y ajoute, comme toujours, des compléments d’information pertinents. Selon Becker, nowhere is the failure of socialism clearer than in the radical transformation of the Israeli kibbutz.
Dans la plupart des Kibboutz, les parents habitaient une maison modeste appartenant à la communauté. Les enfants en étaient séparés, et dormaient dans un dortoir. Il s’agissait d’éviter que certains enfants ne soient avantagés par l’énergie ou le savoir que tentent de leur transmettre les parents les plus motivés et cultivés… Quelles qu’aient été ses compétences initiales, chacun devait contribuer aux travaux des champs, quand bien même il aurait eu une qualification qui aurait apporté plus à la communauté, et chacun recevait la même part du produit du travail commun. Lorsqu’un membre gagnait de l’argent grâce à une activité en dehors du Kibboutz, il devait le partager avec la communauté, et ne devait rien garder pour lui. La rotation des tâches agricoles était la règle. La promiscuité aussi. Dans les premiers temps, La cohésion des kibboutz fut maintenue à la fois par le sentiment de communauté religieuse, par l’engagement idéologique de leurs premiers membres, et par l’environnement hostile de nations islamiques qui ont déclenché contre l’état Hébreu 4 guerres d’agression en 25 ans, soudant la communauté autour des nécessités défensives. Mais même cette pression extérieure ne put compenser le désamour des membres du Kibboutz vis à vis de l’utopie collectiviste. Très vite, de nombreux Kibboutz connurent des difficultés. Les jeunes, notamment, voulaient quitter cet environnement – ce qu’ils étaient libres de faire, contrairement à un russe ou un chinois, soviétisé de force – dès qu’ils en avaient les moyens, ce qui n’était pas toujours le cas, car leurs parents n’accumulaient pas de capital, et à l’extérieur du Kibboutz, le blocage des loyers introduits par l’état d’Israël (qui fut d’ailleurs fondé sur des bases très socialisantes) avait détruit le marché locatif, là bas aussi. Aussi beaucoup parmi eux se sentaient-ils plus prisonniers économiques du Kibboutz que participants enthousiastes. Les problèmes de jalousie entre membres, de tirage au flanc et de parasitage – problème connu par les économistes sous le nom de "passager clandestin" ou "free rider" : pourquoi se tuer à la tâche si vous recevez autant que celui qui travaille ? -, l’inefficacité du système productif dûe à l’absence de spécialisation des tâches et à la mauvaise utilisation des compétences, le stress né de la séparation des familles, ont provoqué la disparition de certains Kibboutz, et la transformation de la plus grande partie d’entre eux en entreprises de type privée, où les familles vivent réunies, où le marché détermine les rémunérations, où l’immobilier est privé, et où l’initiative individuelle permet de développer des activités autres que l’agriculture, permettant à chacun de se spécialiser. Bref, plus de 70% des Kibboutz sont devenus des entreprises de type capitaliste, dont l’aspect social se limite à la constitution de sociétés de secours mutuel des membres. Les Kibboutz, au nombre d’environ 250, ne représentèrent jamais plus de 7% de la société Israélienne, au temps de leur splendeur. Les quelques kibboutz qui conservent une structure collectiviste (il reste des utopiste croyants…) ne représentent quasiment plus rien, et ne survivent que parce qu’ils appartiennent à un ensemble largement capitaliste qui assure à leurs productions ou leurs actifs fonciers la possibilité d’intégrer un système d’échange libéral, en toute protection du droit de propriété. Bref, l’échec du Kibboutz socialiste est l’argument ultime contre les illusions des derniers zélotes du collectivisme qui ne veulent pas voir dans les échecs de l’URSS et autres pays comparables la preuve de l’absence de viabilité intrinsèque des sociétés communistes sous toutes leurs formes. Même volontairement souscrit par des communautés idéologiquement conquises et initialement très motivées, le communisme ne peut apporter ni satisfaction, ni prospérité aux individus. Vincent Bénard
The Puritans did not believe in fixed holidays. If it was a good season, they would announce a thanksgiving, but it’s not like the Jewish holiday which occurs on the 15th of the month of Tishrei (Sukkot). They did not believe in that. So in that respect it’s different.  In terms of thanking God for a bountiful harvest, the Puritans did learn that from the Bible. They knew what they called the Old Testament, what we call the Hebrew Bible, they knew it, and they were influenced by it. Now they didn’t go out and build huts, obviously. But the notion that one would be thankful for a bountiful harvest was certainly one they would have learned from the Hebrew Bible. Sarna (Brandeis University)
The Separatists at Plymouth did not create an annual holiday. Rather, a holiday that grew in popularity and stabilized into an annual celebration over the course of several decades was later traced back to an event that took place at Plymouth in December 1621. The thesis of my book on Thanksgiving is that it is a holiday rooted in the deeply held convictions of the New England settlers, and in the human love of a holiday. Diana Muir Applebaum
Applebaum explained that the Puritans separated the laws of the Hebrew Bible into two categories. “Some were deemed moral commandments, these applied to all men, at all times,” she said. “The others were regarded as ceremonial or temporal commandments, which applied only to Jews, or only to the olden days, but not to Christians.” For Puritans, the Sabbath was an eternal, moral commandment applying to Christians, but they considered Sukkot, Passover, Shavout, kashruth, and other laws to be ceremonial or temporal commandments, not intended by God to apply to the children of the new covenant, Christians. Puritan theology “supported the proclamation of special days of prayer when unusual events occurred,” Applebaum said. “In the event, for example, of an epidemic, drought, or famine, it was appropriate to call a special day of prayer and fasting in the hope that if the people repented, God would grant relief,” she said. “In the event that God did grant a special providence, such as the lifting of a drought or famine, a special day of prayer and thanksgiving would be proclaimed.” “[People feared that] proclaiming a day of thanksgiving every autumn might ‘harden the people in their carnal confidence’ of God’s grace, and people might begin to take God’s gifts for granted,” Applebaum said. “If a proclamation was expected every year, how was it different from the unbiblical Catholic error of creating fixed annual holidays? On the other hand, [some thought] God’s great bounty in sending the harvest was surely worthy of thanksgiving. And people like holidays. In years when the General Court (the Massachusetts legislature) failed to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, individual congregations sometimes did.” After 1676 in Connecticut, and by the 1690s in Massachusetts, the government of each of those colonies proclaimed a special day of prayer and thanksgiving every autumn. It was celebrated by families returning home to celebrate, with special dishes (mince pie and plum pudding) eaten at Christmas in old England, and with events like ballgames on the village green that would have been inappropriate violations of a Sabbath day. (…) Applebaum said that by the 1700s, Thanksgiving was a holiday throughout New England, and that it spread west with the migration of New Englanders. Settlers from New England largely populated the top third of the states, starting with Ohio and rolling west, she explained. “Because New England had a precocious public school system, it also disproportionately supplied schoolteachers, ministers, lawyers, journalists, and shopkeepers to the entire country, north, south and west,” Applebaum said. “This helped spread the popularity of Thanksgiving when these New England-born thought leaders backed the early 19th century campaign led by Sarah Hale to make Thanksgiving a national holiday,” she said. “Thanksgiving proclamations were issued by state governors.” During the Civil War era, southerners associated the concept of a thanksgiving holiday with Yankee abolitionists, and therefore the holiday “did not become popular in the South until the end of the 19th century,” according to Applebaum. JNS
While we cannot be certain about what motivated those Pilgrim settlers to initiate a feast of thanksgiving, it is likely that they consciously drew on a model well-known to them from the Bible they cherished.“Seeing themselves as new Israelites in a new ‘promised land,’ the Pilgrims surely found inspiration in the Bible, in the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, in which God commands the ancient Israelites to observe the Feast of Booths—in Hebrew, Sukkot, ‘To rejoice before Adonai your God’ at the time of the fall harvest.” (…) Both of these splendid holidays encourage us to stop and acknowledge the manifold blessings God bestows upon us each and every day,” Lieberman said. “Whether we accomplish that stock-taking over a slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie or beneath the leafy branches of a sukkah roof—or both—we understand and embrace the impulse which inspired our Pilgrim and our Israelite ancestors. Rabbi Elias Lieberman (Falmouth Jewish Congregation in Massachusetts)

Attention: un Thanksgiving peut en cacher un autre !

En ce jour où à l’occasion de leur fête des récoltes (dite Fête des Cabanes) …

Nos amis juifs qui eux aussi ont tiré les leçons oubliées de Soukkot

Se remémorent la protection divine dont ils avaient bénéficié durant leur longue traversée du désert après leur expulsion du goulag égyptien …

Comment ne pas y voir les prémices d’une autre fête des récoltes d’un autre groupe de "Pères pèlerins"

Reconnaissants eux aussi d’avoir survécu la plus éprouvante des quêtes de leur Terre promise ?

Is Thanksgiving Rooted in a Biblical Festival?

Mario Seiglie [2]

Historians and Jewish sources point out that America’s Thanksgiving holiday may not have been a totally new celebration—but that its roots may go back thousands of years to the biblical Feast of Tabernacles.

Is Thanksgiving Rooted in a Biblical Festival?

Source: Painting by Jennie Brownscombe, Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that the first Thanksgiving in the United States has some strong similarities to the biblical Feast of Tabernacles? Although the pilgrims did not consciously observe this biblical feast, it is interesting to study the parallels between these two celebrations that share the common spiri