Climate Change and the Symbol Deficit in the Christian Tradition

Climate Change and the Symbol Deficit in the Christian Tradition Expanding Gendered Sources. Book by Jan-Olav Henriksen on Bloomsbury, 2022.

Exploring how the climate crisis discloses the symbol deficit in the Christian tradition, this book argues that Christianity is rich in symbols that identify and address the failures of humans and the obstacles that prevent humans from doing well, while positive symbols that can engage people in constructive action seem underdeveloped. Henriksen examines the potential of the Christian tradition to develop symbols that can engage peoples in committed and sustained action to prevent further crisis. To do so, he argues that we need symbols that engage both intellectually and emotionally, and which enhance our perception of belonging in relationships with other humans, be it both in the present and in the future. 

According to Henriksen, the deficit can only be obliterated if we can develop symbols that have some root or resonance in the Christian tradition, provide concrete and specified guidance of agency, engage people both emotionally and intellectually, and finally open up to visions for a moral agency that provide positive motivations for caring about environmental conditions as a whole.

Politik i amerikansk evangelikalism och svensk frikyrklighet

Article by Joel Halldorf in Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift.

Evangelical politics in the USA and Sweden Evangelicals in the United States and Sweden are similar in terms of theology and spirituality, but differ widely in political preferences. US evangelicals have supported Donald J. Trump while Swedish evangelicals have rejected the right-wing populism of the Sweden Democrats.

This article explains the development among US evangelics by comparing them to their Swedish counterparts. In the 19th century, Swedish evangelicals associated themselves with the Liberal party, and cooperated with the Social Democrats, in a struggle for democracy against the conservative establishment. In the United States, no such alliance took place. Instead the movement was shaped by the idea that the state is an obstacle to freedom, the anti-socialist propaganda of the Cold war and eventually the culture wars. This moved evanglical voters deep into the Republican ranks.

Three factors have shaped the development of these movements: The view of the state, identification as minority or majority, and political alliances and conflicts.

Pilgrimage, Landscape, and Identity: Reconstucting Sacred Geographies in Norway

Book by Marion Grau on Oxford University Press, 2021.

Pilgrimage, Landscape, and Identity: Reconstructing Sacred Geographies in Norway explores the ritual geography of a pilgrimage system that arose around medieval saints in Norway, a country now being transformed by petroleum riches, neoliberalism, migration and global warming. What it means to be Norwegian and Christian in this changing context is constantly being renegotiated. The contemporary revival of pilgrimage to the burial site of St. Olav at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim is one site where this negotiation takes place. St. Olav played a major role in the unification of regions of Norway into a nation united by Christian law and faith, though most contemporary pilgrims have only a passing interest in the historical background of the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage network comprises a wide variety of participants: individuals, casual groups, guided group pilgrimages, activist pilgrims raising awareness for causes such as climate change and hospice services, as well as increasing numbers of local and foreign pilgrims of various ages, government officials, pilgrimage activists, and pilgrimage priests supplied by the Church of Norway (Lutheran). Part of the study focuses on the Olavsfest, a cultural and music festival that engages the heritage of St. Olav and the Church of Norway through theater, music, lectures, and discussions, and theological and interreligious conversations. This festival offers an opportunity for creative and critical engagement with a difficult historical figure and his contested, violent heritage and constitutes one of the ways in which this pilgrimage network represents a critical Protestant tradition engaging a legacy through ritual creativity. 

This study maps how pilgrims, hosts, church officials, and government officials participate in reshaping narratives of landscape, sacrality, and pilgrimage as a symbol of life journey, nation, identity, Christianity, and Protestant reflections on the durability of medieval Catholic saints.

The Spirit of Populism: Political Theologies in Polarized Times

Anthology edited by Ulrich Schmiedel and Joshua Ralston.

Populism is a buzzword. This compilation explores the significance of religion for the controversies stirred up by populist politics in European and American contexts in order to understand what lies behind the buzz. Engaging Jewish, Christian, and Islamic political thought and theology, contributions by more than twenty established and emerging scholars explore right-wing and left-wing protests, offering critical interpretations and creative interventions for a polarized public square. Both methodologically and thematically, the compilation moves beyond essentialist definitions of religion, encouraging a comparative approach to political theology today. 

Det livssynsåpne samfunn 

Book by Sturla J. Stålsett on Bloomsbury.

«Det livssynsåpne samfunn» er blitt et nøkkelbegrep i diskusjonen om religion og politikk i Norge og ligger til grunn for den nye Lov om tros- og livssynsamfunn, som gjelder fra 2021. Men hva er et livssynsåpent samfunn? 

«Det livssynsåpne samfunn» representerer en bestemt, ny begrunnelse for politisk myndighetsutøvelse overfor tro og livssyn i samfunnet, ifølge forfatteren. I denne boka beskriver han hvordan det livssynsåpne samfunn er blitt til gjennom politisk debatt, utredninger og lovgivning, og han vurderer modellens sterke og svake sider. Han drøfter også prinsippene for et livssynsåpent samfunn i møte med dagsaktuelle utfordringer knyttet til likestilling, menneskerettigheter, symbolbruk og vold.

Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet

Book by Cecilia Wassén and Tobias Hägerland.

In this new English language translation of Den okände Jesus (The Unknown Jesus), Cecilia Wassén and Tobias Hägerland consider Jesus as an apocalyptic prophetic figure within the context of first-century Judaism and reconstruct the life of Jesus from his birth to his death, with a focus on understanding him in the context of his own time and place. Engaging critically with the sources, they examine Jesus’ life in order of events and draw together the threads of scholarly discussion on the history, archaeology and geography of first-century Galilee, forming a complete picture of Jesus’ world suitable for non-specialists and university students.

Wassén and Hägerland provide a strictly historical reconstruction, distinguishing between the rhetorical aims of the New Testament texts and the information about the past that these texts contain. They enhance the texts surrounding Jesus in the context of first-century Galilee with historical and archaeological reflections and discussion, including penetrating insights from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Illustrated throughout with photographs taken by the authors specifically to offer insights into the world of Jesus and the New Testament writings, Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet provides a deeply informed introduction to Jesus in his first-century context.

A World with Many Ends: Eschatology and Perspectivism

Article by Mårten Björk in Humanities 2022, 11(2).

In this article, the relation between crisis, dying, and apocalypse is examined from the vantage point of Franz Rosenzweig’s philosophy of revelation. Following Rosenzweig’s suggestion that truth—for finite and temporal beings like us—can only be found in time, the article suggests that there exists an intrinsic relation between truth and death. Truth is not only or even primarily logical or mathematical truth according to Rosenzweig. Truth is the reality of our finite lives and implies an eschatological understanding of death as that which gives life unity by eternalising it as that which it forever was in the past. Life, Rosenzweig argues, is polytheistic by entailing manifold perspectives and possibilities, while death is monotheistic by endowing living beings with the unity and completion they lack in life. All death, even the most horrid death, is, if not a completion, at least an end, which gives the living the possibility to judge and verify the meaning of the past once and for all. Yet, if we believe Rosenzweig, the dead are not gone in the past but rather the eternal ground that makes present and future time possible. The dead, by literally being the past, reveal that all time exists after itself, as something that already was, and that the world is nothing but a world with many ends by dying away into the “life outside life” that Rosenzweig called God.