ADVERTISING
 
Wednesday, May 24   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Freedoms
Should all religious groups in your country be legal?




SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



José de Segovia
 

What would happen if Islam came to power in France?

Rather than being a book against Islam, Michel Houellebecq’s “Submission” shines a light on the moral agony of Western cultural decline.

BETWEEN THE LINES AUTHOR José de Segovia TRANSLATOR Esther Barrett 25 NOVEMBER 2015 17:38 h GMT+1
houellebecq sumisión Houellebecq nos muestra la confusión de esta Europa en crisis.

In Houellebecq’s last novel “Submission”, France has a Muslim president. The book was released on the day of the attacks against “Charlie Hebdo”. However, if there is something that the author cannot be accused of, it is of being an opportunist. Michel Houellebecq is the least politically correct author in Europe. You either love him or you hate him, but he could never be described as predictable – he is always a surprise!



Michel Houellebecq, born in Saint-Pierre (Reunion, France) in 1959, is an indomitable trouble maker. He has so many enemies that he is always accompanied by a bodyguard. Since 7 January 2015, the French Government has ordered that he be accompanied by two plainclothes policemen. There has been so much debate surrounding his book that the prime minister talks about it as if it were a matter of state. You can imagine how many people have thought about it since the recent attacks in Paris.



The book is set in 2022, at a time when France is dominated by fear. The country is immersed in continuous episodes of urban violence that are deliberately hidden from the media. Right and left-wing parties have been overtaken by a new party, the Muslim Brotherhood, led by the young and charismatic Mohammed Ben Abbes, who succeeds in entering into an alliance with the socialist to form a government. Politics and the economy are controlled by secular leaders, but education and values are laid down by Islamists, on the strength of anti-racist arguments.



After one round of elections, cancelled due to electoral fraud, Ben Abbes is elected president. He takes a moderate and tolerant position. He commits himself to protect the three “religions of the Book”, being pretty generous with the Catholic Church. He does however defend patriarchy. He accepts polygamy and requires teachers to teach the Islam. He promotes employment for men and crime begins to disappear. That is the stage on which the Houellebecq’s novel opens.



 



A COMEBACK FOR RELIGION?



The book’s protagonist, François, is a harmless Sorbonne literature professor, who converts to Catholicism following the example of Huysmans, the nineteenth century author in which he specializes. Like him, he retires to Ligugé Abbey, following a life of dissipation, in which he has tried to bear the tedium of existence with his sexual adventures. Inspired by the Virgin of Rocamadour, he stops having affairs with his students to take up the pilgrimage of faith.



 



Submission portrays France under the influence of Islam.



His deacon, Rober Rediger, who was a defender of the Palestinian cause, converts to Islam, going on to become the dean of the university and then minister in Ben Abbes’ government. He finds himself a teenager to be his second wife and lives in a small palace, where the erotic classic “The Story of O” was written. In that novel, the author finds the pleasure of submission portrayed by the Grey novels, while Islam here is portrayed as offering the total submission referred to in the title.



In an interview with The Paris Review, Houellebecq said that the original title of the Novel was “Conversion”. As Auguste Comte argued, part of the author’s conviction is that society cannot live without religion. The author believes that “there is a real need for God and that the return of religion is not a slogan but a reality, and that it is very much on the rise”. Although he flirts with Catholicism, he observes that “in North and South America, Islam has benefited less than the evangelicals”, but “in Africa…you have the two great religious powers on the rise – evangelical Christianity and Islam”.



 



A WESTERN CRISIS



More than a book against Islam, “Submission” shines a light on the moral agony of Western cultural decline. It provides a mirror image of the existential emptiness of Western decadence. Its ending is heart-breaking because the protagonist fails to find any hope in Catholicism. Houellebecq says that the key scene in the book is the moment when he looks up at the black virgin of Rocamadour and feels her spiritual power for a moment, but then this fades as he walks back to the car park disheartened.



This also appears to have been the authors’ own experience, similar to another French left-winger, Emanuel Carrère, who has also spoken about his disappointment with “the Kingdom”. It is said that the previous pope, Benedict XVI, became a conservative when he saw the revolutionary fervour of the 1968 student protests in Paris, the echoes of which were felt in his Tübengen. By contrast, he admired the confidence in Christianity of European medieval culture, before the Enlightenment separated reason from faith. The question is whether the answer to the West’s crisis is simply to pile on more religion.



Houellebecq represents the confusion felt in Europe today, especially regarding that strange combination in French culture of intellectualism and eroticism. His message is scientific, but just like Carrère, he is also very closely linked to the rock scene. He is passionate about religion, but his novels are full of explicit sex, he gives interviews in a partner-swapping club and his TV appearances are a mixture of long silences and abrupt insults.



 



THE ATTRACTION OF FAITH



The author of “Submission” says that “I tend to believe when I go to mass, but as soon as I leave, it’s over. So now I avoid it, because the anti-climax is unpleasant. But mass in itself is very convincing; it is one of the most perfect things I know. Funerals are even better, because people talk a lot about life after death and seem to be totally convinced. The truth is that my atheism was not left unscathed by the death of my parents and my dog Clément.”



 



 



The book was released on the day of the attacks against Charlie Hebdo



Despite his scientific education he believes that “in reality, reason is not so clearly opposed to faith. If we look at the scientific community, there are many atheists among biologists but astronomers can be Christians without great difficulty. The reason for this is that the universe is well organized. In the case of living beings, things aren’t quite so clear. They aren’t well organized, and they are a bit repulsive. A mathematician doesn’t have any particular difficulty in believing in God. On the contrary, working with equations goes well with the idea of an order, and therefore of a creator of order.”



However, what interests him is eternal life: “Saint Paul makes this very clear: if Christ is not risen, then our faith is in vain. So that was why Christ came. To promise us that death had been conquered. Love isn’t specific to Christianity. And as for the forgiveness of sin, it is a subject of greater importance for Protestants. In Catholicism, the forgiveness of sin is something more or less automatic. Ego te absolvo, and you are all set.”



 



LOVE THAT DRIVES OUT FEAR



Houellebecq shows us that religion is not the solution to Man’s problems. Man wants the benefits of faith, without the love and the forgiveness on which it is based. That is why the West’s answer to the threat of Islam cannot be a return to Christendom. We should not fool ourselves. Religion has brought much violence to the world. That is however also the case for atheism and not only Islam produces fanatics. You only need to listen to how some Christians talk about sound doctrine on the subject of sin, family values and homosexuality. Some of them are frankly frightening.



If terrorism shows us a religion of hate and violence, the answer isn’t to indulge in even more resentment and intolerance. Christians have already suffered a lot from fanaticism. Martin Luther King reacted to Afro-American Muslim groups, in favour of violence, with a call for the “creative force of love”. Given that “returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”



Faced with the strategy of terror, we need the hope that only the love and God can give us in Jesus Christ. John says in his first letter that “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).



As Tim Keller observes, when he encountered racism, Martin Luther King did not call on the churches in the southern States to become more secular, but to return to God’s justice, as seen in the Bible’s prophets. As Keller argues: “Fanatics are not so because they are too committed to the gospel but not committed enough”. That is why we don’t need more religion but more gospel. Nothing else has the power to save us.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - What would happen if Islam came to power in France?
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

 
Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict

Shira Sorko-Ram, pastor and journalist in Israel, shares her views and a historical and biblical context on the latest events.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ” Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ”

Evangelical Focus asked the well-known Pentecostal pastor about his “open” approach to Roman Catholicism. Traettino defended his position about ecumenism during the Italian Evangelical Alliance 2016 assembly (8-9 April, Rome).

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA

Influence in society, evangelical identity and projects in Europe. An interview with Thomas Bucher, secretary general of the European Evangelical Alliance.

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
The Bible in Spain’s history The Bible in Spain’s history

An exhibition in the region of Galicia shows the impact of the Bible despite many obstacles. Photos: Marina Acuña.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

 
WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues

A selection of pictures of World Press Photo 2017.

 
The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

 
Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

 
“Spain, we pray for you” “Spain, we pray for you”

Hundreds of evangelical Christians from many denominations marched in Madrid (Spain) to pray for their city, the authorities and asking God to bring hope to its society. Many gathered in other cities on June, 11.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Mangalwadi: Education and the Reformation Mangalwadi: Education and the Reformation

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi talks about how a renwed view of the Bible changed education systems in Europe.

 
What role does the Church have in Europe? What role does the Church have in Europe?

Evi Rodemann (Germany) talks about the unique contributions to society that only the Church can make. 

 
Students in Europe: “We are present” Students in Europe: “We are present”

A summary video of the IFES Europe conference which brought together 1,700 students from many countries in Aschaffenburg (Germany) to reflect on God's mission in society.

 
What does the story of Job teach us about suffering? What does the story of Job teach us about suffering?

By Jelena Sivulka, psychologist and Director of Hana's Hope.

 
Proverbs 31 Proverbs 31

A powerful video recites Proverbs 31:10-31, from the Bible. Produced by World Relief. 

 
You-To live-How? You-To live-How?

The Roldan Camacho are a Spanish couple with deafness. They tell us how the whole family experiences everyday life through sign language. A video report by Gabriela Pérez.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.