Fifty years ago this month the city of Paris was in a turmoil. Almost everything solid melted down. Students forced schools and universities to close; 11 million factory workers went on strike; and public transportation ground to a halt. President de Gaulle dissolved the National Assembly, and then fled the country, to the French military base in Germany where General Massu encouraged him to return. Events might have become seriously worse. Total chaos was right around the corner. And then... things calmed down almost as quickly as they had begun. Yet the upheaval of mai ‘68 is forever grafted into the French mindset.
Some of my friends even today are proud of their participation in the strikes. They call themselves “soixante-huitards” (sixty eighters). Like most revolutions, what the people were against was clearer than what they were for. Anti-authoritarian slogans echoed all over, which bespoke the general mentality: “il est interdit d’interdire” (it is forbidden to forbid); “jouissez sans entraves” (rejoice without limits), “Je suis Marxist – tendance Groucho” (I am a Marxist of the Groucho type); “CRS = SS (the National Guard is the S.S.). And yet, like most revolutions, it was not enough to be against the perceived abuses.
To be sure there were issues in need of change. The Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence opened its doors shortly after this mini-revolt. It boldly asserted a need not for revolution but reformation. The difference is crucial. We wanted to acknowledge the real needs for change but within a biblical worldview. We rejected the feverish tide of revolutionary fire which still plagues the French mindset, while we sincerely recognized the deep need for a true reformation.
If you would like to know more about the history and present influence of Jean Calvin Seminary, then, as you are able, come to our Soirée, October 12, 2018, in the Carriage House at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. We are hoping our featured guest will be Rodrigo De Sousa, professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Aix. Rodrigo holds the PhD from Cambridge University, and is an expert on Isaiah. Most important, he is passionate about the Gospel in modern Europe and will articulate the spiritual state of the union as he sees it.
Very Truly Yours,