Navigating ethics in a pandemic—Contempt for the weak versus love of neighbor in a Swedish lens

Article by Sigurd Bergmann in Dialog.

The article draws on the author’s observations and reflections about Sweden’s pandemic management from February 2020 to June 2021. It does not simply interpret the lessons one can learn from the Swedish biopolitical experiment, but focuses on some central ethical challenges that every nation had to face in an accelerating pandemic. The intention with such a sharp critical discussion of the Swedish experience is to clarify some of the crucial ethical dilemmas and abysses in pandemic ethics. One article cannot possibly cover the wide and deep agenda for all complex ethical dimensions in a pandemic. This contribution in particular explores why the method of natural herd immunization is unethical, and what kind of legal and ethical aspects are relevant in international law and the WHO’s ethical codex for a pandemic. In a Christian perspective it seems not at all strange to approach the theme of pandemic ethic also with theological arguments. A creator God who became flesh is deeply involved in our bodily world and life. What counts as health therefore appears to be a central issue for believers and faith communities, as is faith in a God who bodily cares for and liberates God’s creation in all its dimensions. The exploration of Sweden’s pandemic experiment flows into a plea for to apply the triple command of love sharpened by the command of love of the poor and vulnerable, and concludes with a short meta-ethical reflection on the need of aesth/ethical imagination of the other.

Samvete i Sverige. Om frihet och lydnad från medeltid till idag

Anthology edited by Lindkvist & Ljungberg, Nordic Academic Press.

We live in a time when thoughts of conscience and freedom of conscience are increasingly seen in the Swedish public in national politics, on the newspapers’ editorial pages and in social media. Historically, both concepts have been used to mark a certain degree of freedom or a protected position in moral, political and legal conflicts. References to an individual’s conscience and differences between an internal and an external court have been able to legitimize exemption from religious and state coercive mechanisms and justified, for example, the refusal of arms or abortion. A group of researchers in history, human rights, jurisprudence, ethics and sociology of religion take a common approach here to some of the most burning conflicts around conscience and freedom of conscience in Sweden from the Middle Ages to today. A picture emerges of complex concepts that even today bear clear traces of older distinctions and historical conflicts.

Authors: Biörn Tjällén, Anna Nilsson Hammar, Joachim Östlund, Göran Gunner, Kavot Zillén, Linnea Jensdotter, Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson, Leif Ericsson, Johannes Ljungberg, and Linde Lindkvist.

Ecophilosophy and the Ambivalence of Nature: Kierkegaard and Knausgård on Lilies, Birds and Being

Article by Marius Gunnar Timmann Mjaaland in Kierkegaard Studies.

In The Lily in the Field and the Bird of the Air (1849), Kierkegaard presents a succinct critique of Romantic aesthetics, in line with contemporary critiques of ecocriticism and ecophilosophy, e.g. by Timothy Morton. Whereas Romantic poets see nature as a mirror of their inner thoughts and pathos, thereby divinising themselves and their creativity, Kierkegaard emphasises the authority of the Creator and the exteriority of nature. He identifies the consequences of such Romantic self-infatuation on all levels of discourse: aesthetics, ethics, epistemology and ontology, and seeks to formulate an alternative. I argue that the discourses thus represent an alternative philosophy of nature, revealing an immediate joy for the gift of being-there. Being human thus means being dependent on and embedded in nature. This makes Kierkegaard a highly relevant interlocutor for contemporary ecophilosophy and ecocriticism, as revealed by Knausgård’s novel Morgenstjernen (2020).

Resonans seminar: God Hidden and Revealed: Political Theology and Metaphysics in Luther and Protestantism

We are pleased to introduce our second Resonans seminar this autumn:

‘God Hidden and Revealed: Political Theology and Metaphysics in Luther and Protestantism’

7 desember 14.00-16.00

The paper will be presented by Marius Timmann Mjaaland, Professor of Philosophy of Religion, Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo

Respondent t.b.a.

Chaired by Jeppe Bach Nikolajsen (MF)

Zoom info:

Meeting ID: 649 6265 5868

Passcode: 158915

Church, State, and Pluralistic Society: Reforming Lutheran Teaching on the Two Regiments

Article by Jeppe Bach Nikolajsen in International Journal of Public Theology.


This article demonstrates that Lutheran teaching on the two regiments can be drawn in different directions and how it was drawn in a particular direction for centuries so that it could provide a theoretical framework for mono-confessional Lutheran societies. It argues that the Lutheran two regiments theory can be developed along a different path, regaining some emphases in Luther’s early reflections: it can thereby contribute to an improved understanding of the role not only of the church but also of the state. While a number of Lutheran theologians believe that Lutheran teaching on the two regiments is particularly difficult to apply today, with some even contending that it should simply be abandoned, this article argues that Lutheran teaching on the two regiments could present a potential for a relevant understanding of the relationship between church, state, and society, and its ethical implications in a contemporary pluralistic society.