At dusk on a chilly October day, I get on the metro train at Oberkampf, a trendy street on the east side of Paris. A mustached man in his 40s sits in front of me, sets his briefcase down, pulls out a yellow brochure from his jacket, and begins to read it.
"Scientific Proof" says the arguably apt title in French. I know what's inside—an argument that humans' meticulous design points to the existence of a loving God; and that he wants us to live in union with him for eternity. If the reader wants to know more, he can fill out a contact form and send it to Jews for Jesus.
I wait for the commuter to do something stereotypically French, like crumple the pamphlet and cuss. But he studies it for about five minutes, which allows for a slow and thorough read. He sighs, and for a while appears to be deep in thought. He then folds the brochure and puts it in his pocket.
I don't pretend to know this man's religious background, but to me his curiosity represents a renewed openness to the gospel in France.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the postmodern French have deconstructed deconstructionism, seen through the utopia of socialism, and realized that wine and other sensual delights only go so far in filling what French philosopher Blaise Pascal described as the "God-shaped void." According to France Mission, an opinion poll conducted in March 2003 showed that 32 percent of those who call themselves Christians have recently returned to the faith. In 1994, only 13 percent said so.
You see this trend in the writings of French intellectuals and philosophers who are products of the 1960s sexual revolution when "it was forbidden to forbid," says Mark Farmer, former pastor of a Baptist church ...1