Approaching Religion <p><em>Approaching Religion</em> is an academic open access journal published by the Donner Institute for Research in Religion and Culture in Åbo, Finland.</p> The Donner Institute en-US Approaching Religion 1799-3121 <p>The license of the published metadata is Creative Commons CCO 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)</p> Religion: Memory and Innovation <p class="p1">The current issue of <em>Approaching Religion</em> is based on a summer school and conference arranged in Åbo/Turku, Finland, in June 2023, on the theme of “Religion: Memory and Innovation”. The event was organized jointly by the Polin Institute for Theological Research (Åbo Akademi University), the Centre for the Study of Christian Cultures (University of Turku) and the Donner Institute for Research in Religion and Culture. The aim was to bring together doctoral candidates and researchers from various academic fields that engage with the study of religion, such as theology, religious studies, history, philosophy, the arts, social and political sciences, and so forth. At this seminar, papers were presented that engaged with the theme of religion, memory and innovation from both historical and contemporary perspectives, looking also to the future where possible. In the current issue, therefore, we understand memory and innovation both as dramatic breaking points in history and as slowly evolving transformations, and we address past, present and emerging trends and trajectories within culture, society and the scholarly community. The societal relevance and impact of research in this field have also arisen as central themes in the presentations.</p> Tuija Hovi Mika Vähäkangas Ruth Illman Copyright (c) 2024 Tuija Hovi, Mika Vähäkangas, Ruth Illman 2024-02-28 2024-02-28 14 1 1 3 10.30664/ar.143037 The Kalevala and Finland's Atlantean Past <p class="p1">Nationalistic interpretations of history were prevalent in Finland until the Second World War. A unifying past for Finns was sought in antiquity, often influenced by interpretations of the <em>Kalevala</em>, regarded as the Finnish national epic. The <em>Kalevala</em> also inspired writers in the Theosophical Society, who promoted various alternative views of humanity’s past. In this article, I analyse the late 1930s writings of Wilho “Willie” Angervo (1875–1938), a medical colonel and author who had a central role in the Finnish Order of the Star in the East and the Theosophical Society in his time. Inspired by the <em>Kalevala</em>, Angervo traced the origins of the Finns to the lost continent of Atlantis and aimed to revitalize the pre-Christian “faith of the forefathers”. Dialogical narrative analysis is employed to explore how Angervo portrayed the Finns’ past, combining Theosophical and nationalistic ideas to construct an ideal Finnishness. I argue that Angervo utilized the Theosophical timeline and concepts to construct a spiritually oriented national narrative for the Finns that would surpass any polit<span class="s1">-</span>ical quarrels and challenge both the Church and more military-oriented nationalism.</p> Ossi Korpi Copyright (c) 2024 Ossi Korpi 2024-02-28 2024-02-28 14 1 4 20 10.30664/ar.136053 Mapping the Memories of “Living on Light” <p class="p1">In this article a case study of the phenomenon of “living on light” is presented. The interlocutor “Eva” shares her memories from the period when she did not eat material food. Actor-network theory (ANT) is adopted to analyse the interview. This methodological framework sheds light on the connections between interacting human and non-human entities and thus reveals their agency. The phase of living on light appears to Eva as part of her personal spiritual progress. At the same time, relations with the family become ambivalent since Eva does not want to share her true spiritual devotion. Eva’s experiences are demonstrated and re-imagined by mapping them with ANT concepts such as “intermediary” and “centre of calculation”. Eva’s period of living on light is discussed in three different forms of processuality. Characteristic of both the phenomenon of living on light and of ANT reading is the renovative quality of the ongoing processuality.</p> Ilona Raunola Copyright (c) 2024 Ilona Raunola 2024-02-28 2024-02-28 14 1 21 36 10.30664/ar.136073 “My soul must live with the colour” <p class="p1">The article focuses on the transformative potential of colours described by Rudolf Steiner. Steiner’s colour definitions are approached through the aesthetics of religion, investigating religion as a sensory and mediated practice. The goal is to clarify the identifiable features of the anthroposophical use of colour and how the Steinerian conception of colour relates to the anthroposophical worldview. Steiner’s conception of colours was strongly influenced not only by theosophy but also by J. W. von Goethe’s theory of colour and his ideas of metamorphosis. Steiner’s colour definitions are discussed both through his published lectures and through his own drawings and paintings. These pictures were intended to function as models for artists working with anthroposophical art, and they can be understood as specific sensational (i.e. sensory) forms that many later artists have produced variations of. Steiner’s use of colour is approached particularly through his Nature Mood sketches (1922) and his painting <em>New Life </em>(<em>Mother and Child</em>) (1924). The analysis of artworks made in the anthroposophical tradition can deepen our understanding of Steiner’s conception of colours and its transformative potential.</p> Sari Kuuva Copyright (c) 2024 Sari Kuuva 2024-02-28 2024-02-28 14 1 37 54 10.30664/ar.135987 Contexts of Altar Flowers <p class="p1">Flowers are placed on the altar in many Christian churches. However, while many other items on the altar have given rise to a vast body of theological research, this is not the case with altar flowers. In this article the author makes a constructive contribution to the theology of altar flowers and looks at the contexts in which altar flowers are imagined and how these can help to illustrate theological elements. Two initial contexts for altar flowers are assumed: the liturgical and the extra-liturgical, suggesting that altar flowers hold particular meanings both for those who know the Christian story, and equally for those who do not. It is suggested that a role which seems merely decorative is not that after all, as deeper Christian meanings can be offered in both contexts. Moreover, altar flowers as objects of nature have the capacity to speak to new groups of people on urgent contemporary themes. Finally, it is suggested that altar flowers may also bridge a divide between the secular and sacred. Apart from contributing to the construction of a theology of altar flowers, a deeper understanding of the intersections of aesthetics, faith and reason is sought.</p> Heidi Jokinen Copyright (c) 2024 Heidi Jokinen 2024-02-28 2024-02-28 14 1 55 70 10.30664/ar.132078 The Retrieved Altar Cross of the Luther Church Helsinki <p class="p1">The topic of this article is religious materiality in a Finnish, Lutheran setting. Reflecting on the altar cross of the Luther Church Helsinki – and more specifically the elevated role the cross played in the re-opening of the church in 2016 – the article supports the argument of recent scholars that Protestant engagement with materiality is not unambiguously negative but rather ambivalent. Using James Bielo’s concept of “legitimizing frames” – i.e. boundaries or landmarks within which Protestants feel safe enough to deal with things and objects – the article suggests a so-called heritagization frame. Objects or things used within such a frame induce in people a sense of past events and experiences – preferably events in which God has made himself known in this world. This, in turn, enables people’s engagement with the objects.</p> Jakob Dahlbacka Copyright (c) 2024 Jakob Dahlbacka 2024-02-28 2024-02-28 14 1 71 85 10.30664/ar.132089 Suppressed, Adopted and Invented Memories <p class="p1">The Gospel of John reflects several layers of social memory and theological creativity concerning Jesus’s death. In the early material, there seems to be a suppressed awareness of Jesus’s fate and an unwillingness to unfold it in narrative form – something that recalls the hypothetical sayings gospel Q and the <em>Gospel of Thomas</em>. There is also a search for alternative, figurative ways to visualize the endpoint of Jesus’s earthly life. Eventually, the narrative memory of Jesus’s passion, as told in Mark and Matthew, was adopted with some modifications. Among the modifications of the passion storyline is the narrativization of the image of Jesus as a Paschal Lamb, an image already known to Paul. The most remarkable innovation, however, was the figure of the “Beloved Disciple” as an eyewitness to Jesus’s passion and death.</p> Kari Syreeni Copyright (c) 2024 Kari Syreeni 2024-02-28 2024-02-28 14 1 86 98 10.30664/ar.131729 The Innovation of a Master Wonder-worker in the Character of Simon Peter <p class="p1">Simon Peter undergoes a considerable development from his first introduction in the Gospel of Mark to later narratives, where he gains remarkable miraculous abilities. In Mark, he witnesses Jesus performing numerous miracles without himself being named as the performer of a single one, but in Matthew’s Gospel Peter walks on water (Matt 14:22–33), in Acts he heals two paralytics and raises a woman from the dead (Acts 3:1–10; 9:32–42), and in the fourth-century Latin <em>Acts of Peter</em>, also known as <em>Actus Vercellenses</em>, he makes a dog speak (<em>Acts Pet. </em>9.9–15), miraculously restores a shattered marble statue (11.8–23) and revives several people from the dead (27.1–11; 28.63–66). This article examines how Peter’s various miracles contribute to their respective stories, analyses how they reflect the needs of their respective authors, and discusses what they tell us about the use of genre in the narrative tradition about the apostle Peter and his miracles.</p> Carl Johan Berglund Copyright (c) 2024 Carl Johan Berglund 2024-02-28 2024-02-28 14 1 99 114 10.30664/ar.131490