Category : Denmark

(CC) Elizabeth Palmer on Stephen Backhouse’s new biography–Kierkegaard and his gifts for the church

The second gift Kierkegaard gives the church is the withering power of his attacks on the established church in Denmark, including its dominant theology, its institutional structure, and its pastors. This stance is the focus of Kierkegaard’s polemical writings in which he became enmeshed during the last years of his life. He was offended by a theology that turned Christianity into a form of philosophical Hegelianism (Kierkegaard’s charge against the popular professor H. L. Martensen), by culturally and politically sanctioned church leaders (embodied for Kierkegaard by Bishop J. P. Mynster), and by anti-institutional populist forms of religion that made an idol of the masses (Kierkegaard’s view of the pastor-educator Nikolai F. S. Grundtvig). As Kierkegaard saw it, these manifestations of bourgeois faith lured Danes away from Jesus’ radical call to discipleship. Caught up in the crowd of a culturally sanctioned faith, Christians were saved from the offensive but necessary movement of throwing themselves as sinners on God’s mercy.

Although Christianity in 21st-century America is far from that of 19th-century Denmark, it is not only in Kierkegaard’s day that pastors were guilty of preaching in a way that “tones down, veils, suppresses, omits some of what is most decisively Christian” (as Kierkegaard put it in an 1854 newspaper article following Mynster’s death). Refusing on his deathbed to receive holy communion from a clergyman, Kierkegaard complained about a church that was beholden to the state, a church in which “the pastors are civil servants of the Crown.” Today the co-opting of the church comes from other directions. Fear of numerical decline, nostalgia for the way things used to be, or adherence to a political agenda exerts its own pressure toward conformity and security.

And clergy are not the only ones Kierkegaard faults. Pews as well as pulpits are filled with religious complacency:

The New Testament is very easy to understand. But we human beings are really a bunch of scheming swindlers; we pretend to be unable to understand it because we understand very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly at once. . . . I open the N.T. and read: “If you want to be perfect, then sell all your goods and give to the poor and come and follow me.” Good God, all the capitalists, the officeholders, and the pensioners, the whole race no less, would be almost beggars.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Church History, Denmark, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Two-wheel takeover: bikes outnumber cars for the first time in Copenhagen

Bicycle sensors in Copenhagen clocked a new record this month: there are now more bikes than cars in the heart of the city. In the last year, 35,080 more bikes have joined the daily roll, bringing the total number to 265,700, compared with 252,600 cars.

Copenhagen municipality has been carrying out manual traffic counts at a number of city centre locations since 1970, when there were 351,133 cars and 100,071 bikes. In 2009, the city installed its first electric bike counter by city hall, with 20 now monitoring traffic across the city.

Copenhagen’s efforts to create a cycling city have paid off: bicycle traffic has risen by 68% in the last 20 years. “What really helped was a very strong political leadership; that was mainly Ritt Bjerregaard [the former lord mayor], who had a dedicated and authentic interest in cycling,” says Klaus Bondam, who was technical and environmental mayor from 2006 to 2009 and is now head of the Danish Cycling Federation. “Plus, a new focus on urbanism and the new sustainability agenda broke the glass roof when it came to cycling.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Denmark, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

Church Times Profiles a Same-sex Marriage of two Anglican laymen by the Lutheran Church in Denmark

Preparing to marry at the Church of Our Lady, the Lutheran cathedral in Copenhagen, this month, Nigel Rowley had felt nervous that its vast space would feel a little empty. When the doors opened, he saw the pews full of people, including many from his church, St Alban’s, there to support him and Mikel Lindbæk, who is now his husband. He felt “ecstatic”, he said this week.

Having attended St Alban’s, the Anglican Church in Copenhagen, for 30 years, he decided to get married in the Church of Denmark, where gay marriages have been solemnised since 2012. A member of both the deanery and diocesan synods, he felt that it was “very important” that he marry in church, “not just a blessing, but . . . the full works”. The service was conducted by the Bishop of Copenhagen, the Rt Revd Peter Skov-Jakobsen, and the choir of St Alban’s sang alongside the cathedral singers.

There is “no doubt” in Mr Rowley’s mind that the Church of England should permit same-sex marriage in its churches.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Denmark, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

For his Feast Day–Medieval Sourcebook: Life of Anskar, the Apostle of the North, 801-865

When one of Anskar’s followers suggested to him that he could work miracles he replied, ” Were I worthy of such a favour from my God, I would ask that He would grant to me this one miracle, that by His grace He would make of me a good man.” No one can read the “Life” written by Rimbert his disciple and successor which, after being lost for five hundred years, was fortunately rediscovered, without feeling moved to thank God for the accomplishment of the miracle for which Anskar had prayed. He was a good man in the best and truest sense of the term. In the character presented to us by his biographer we have a singularly attractive combination of transparent humility, unflinching courage, complete self devotion, and unwavering belief in a loving and overruling providence. The claim to the title Apostle of the North, which was early made on his behalf, rests not upon the immediate outcome of his labours, but upon the inspiring example which he bequeathed to those who were moved to follow in his steps. For whilst the Missions which lie planted in Denmark and Sweden during the thirty-three years of his episcopate were interrupted after his death by the desolating raids of the Northmen, those by whom the work was restarted gratefully recognised him as their pioneer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Denmark, Europe, Sweden

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Anskar

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst send thy servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and dist enable him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep thy Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when thou hast begun a good work thou wilt bring it to a faithful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Denmark, Europe, Spirituality/Prayer, Sweden

Negative Mortgage rates? In Europe, Bond Yields and Interest Rates Go Through the Looking Glass

At first, Eva Christiansen barely noticed the number. Her bank called to say that Ms. Christiansen, a 36-year-old entrepreneur here, had been approved for a small business loan. She whooped. She danced. A friend took pictures.

“I think I was so happy I got the loan, I didn’t hear everything he said,” she recalled.

And then she was told again about her interest rate. It was -0.0172 percent ”” less than zero. While there would be fees to pay, the bank would also pay interest to her. It was just a little over $1 a month. But still.

These are strange times for European borrowers, as if a wormhole has opened up to a parallel universe where the usual rules of financial gravity are suspended.

Read it all from the NYTimes Dealbook.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Denmark, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, History, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(NPR) Banning Traditional Animal Slaughter, Denmark Stokes Religous Ire

In a conflict that pits animal welfare against religious rights, Denmark has ordered that all food animals must be stunned before being killed. The move effectively bans the ritual slaughter methods prescribed in both Muslim and Jewish tradition.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Animals, Denmark, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

From Denmark–Every sixth foetus in late term abosrtion showed signs of life

For the first time ever in Denmark, a survey has shown how many foetuses show signs of life following a late term termination, according to Kristeligt Dagblad.

Previously, conventional wisdom has suggested that 10 per cent of foetuses gasped or showed other signs of life following a late term abortion between the 12th and 22nd week of pregnancy.

But statistics from Denmark’s second largest maternity clinic at the Aarhus University Hospital Skejby show that out of 70 late terminations between August 2011 and November 2012, 11 ”“ or 16 per cent – showed signs of life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, Denmark, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Søren Kierkegaard

Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: Help us to remember that though we walk through the valley of the shadow, thou art always with us, that with thy philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, we may believe what we have not seen and trust where we cannot test, and so come at length to the eternal joy which thou hast prepared for those who love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Denmark, Europe, Spirituality/Prayer

(ENI) Danish Lutheran church proposes same-sex marriage rite

Eight of the ten bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark on June 11 presented a ritual for same-sex marriage to the country’s Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs.

Their action came in response to the Danish Parliament’s decision on June 7 to change the marriage legislation so that from June 15 same-sex couples may be married in a civil ceremony or in the state church, the church’s website Folkekirken.dk reported.

The ritual states that pastors who cannot theologically support same-sex marriage shall be free not to use the rite. Denmark’s sovereign, Queen Margrethe II, is expected to approve the new ritual shortly. A rite for the blessing of civil same-sex marriages was also proposed by the bishops.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Denmark, Europe, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Lutheran, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Anskar

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst send thy servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and dist enable him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep thy Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when thou hast begun a good work thou wilt bring it to a faithful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Denmark, Europe, Spirituality/Prayer, Sweden

The Bishop of Copenhagen’s sermon at C of E General Synod

The Russian writer, Dostoyevsky, was sometimes very critical of western culture, of our attempt to secure ourselves behind our knowledge, behind our technology, and we could add another word, that Dostoyevsky didn’t know: behind our ”˜growth’ ”“ are we planting seeds for growth or merely weeds? He thought that we had lost our feeling for Christ. He claimed that we no longer, as he put it, ’asked the heart for advice’.

Here at the start of the 21st century we should listen to that criticism. There is no doubt that even only 30 years ago many people thought that religion would soon be a thing of the past ”“ we would outgrow it. Like a scorched plant it would wither and die as we moved into a post-secular existence. There are many things on the move at present in the thoughts and lives of modern man. But we must also acknowledge and accept our history ”“ as well as one another’s histories, for then the walls come tumbling down, as we learn to listen and live alongside our neighbours ”“ including our new, strange, neighbours.

Not for one second do I believe that there is any point in going back and finding cover behind the thick walls of dogmatic church teachings. Nor can we further any understanding of faith or the church by hiding behind an anxious defence of the Bible, and outdated view of gender roles or an unrealistic view of freer sexual morals. We must not make faith into a ghetto. We must not withdraw and just sit and talk among ourselves! We must be the seed that falls on fertile ground. not the seed that has no root and lasts only a short time.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Denmark, Europe, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(BBC) Business booms for Danish sperm

In Denmark, sperm donation does not have to come with a name and telephone number – unlike in Britain and in a fast-increasing number of other European countries.

That has made Denmark something of a Mecca for foreign women who want to conceive by artificial insemination, because it has no shortage of officially screened and tested semen.

Danish clinics which provide insemination (often for a fraction of the price of similar treatment in the UK) have three main types of customer: lesbian couples, heterosexual couples and single women. It is the final category which is growing – by far – the fastest.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, Denmark, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

(FT) John Lloyd: The art of darkness

The first page of the first chapter of Henning Mankell’s latest (and apparently last) Wallander novel The Troubled Man is sheer misery. Inspector Kurt Wallander, divorced for 15 years, lives in a flat “where so many unpleasant memories were etched into the walls”; he “reminded himself over and over again of his father’s lonely old age … now it seemed as if his father was taking him over … he had no religious hopes of anything being in store for him … nothing but the same darkness he had once emerged from … he would be dead for such a long time … he had seen far too many dead bodies in his life”.

Wallander novels might be prefaced by the sign Dante imagined above the gates of Hell ”“ “lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’ intrate”: “all hope abandon, ye who enter here”: for in these books, the descent is often through deepening layers of horror. The same could be said for much of rest of the now enormously popular, critically acclaimed school of Scandinavian noir ”“ for noir they are, set in the bleakness of towns and forests, dark for much of the year. The cult BBC hit of the year so far, the Danish-made Copenhagen-set The Killing, which ends this weekend, is shot almost wholly at night….

…the most striking commercial success in novel writing in the past five years has come from Marxists who write of people beset with misery who either commit or must deal with acts of extreme sadistic violence. It is not a development that a publisher or an agent would naturally have arrived at as a formula for success. So what explains its extraordinary appeal?

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Denmark, Europe, Norway, Sexuality, Sweden, Theodicy, Theology, Violence

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Søren Kierkegaard

Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: Help us to remember that though we walk through the valley of the shadow, thou art always with us, that with thy philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, we may believe what we have not seen and trust where we cannot test, and so come at length to the eternal joy which thou hast prepared for those who love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Denmark, Europe, Philosophy, Spirituality/Prayer