Approaching Religion <p><em>Approaching Religion</em> is an academic open access journal published by the Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History in Åbo, Finland.</p> en-US <p>The license of the published metadata is Creative Commons CCO 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)</p> (Donner Institute) (Maria Vasenkari) Fri, 01 Sep 2023 10:09:02 +0300 OJS 60 Heritigization and foreign diplomacy <p class="p1">The article investigates the complex negotiation process regarding the renovation of St Catherine’s church in St Petersburg. Additionally, the goal is to gain novel understanding of how former religious spaces can be transformed and highlight the various significances these structures may possess in different contexts, particularly at the junction of religion and cultural heritage. Built in 1865, the church served as a place of worship for the Swedish-speaking congregation for nearly eighty years before being repurposed as a sports school. Recently, Sweden has aimed to restore the church and utilize it as a centre for Swedish–Russian relations. The article examines the reasons and arguments for renovation, as well as the progress that has been made to date. Additionally, it explores the role of Sweden in Russia through the perspectives of various stakeholders, including members of the congregation, diplomats, politicians, architects and priests.</p> Gunilla Gunner, Carola Nordbäck Copyright (c) 2023 Gunilla Gunner, Carola Nordbäck Fri, 01 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0300 From ignis mundi to the world’s first oil-tanker <p class="p1">This article analyses mechanisms of heritagisation that transformed oil from a natural to a cultural resource through the case study of the Branobel corporation, which operated in Azerbaijan from the late nineteenth century, and by reflecting on the role of the Branobel corporate narrative in heritagisation of oil and in justification of the world order based on fossil fuels. The narratives developed by the Branobel corporation introduced their business legacy as a part of global heritage. In the article I refer to the ‘The Thirty Years of Activity of the Oil Production Association of the Brothers Nobel. 1879–1909’ published in 1909, that not only reports on Branobel’s industrial achievements, but promotes the history of oil, propagating its civilisational importance, while describing the company as an evolutionary part of this history. In their branding strategy, Branobel referred to the ancient religious cults and mythologies of Azerbaijan, for example in the case of the world’s first oil-tanker ‘Zoroaster’, designed by Ludvig Nobel. The images of Ateshgah, ‘The Fire Temple of Baku’, were used on the company’s emblems to connect symbolically the industrial oil mining with the ‘eternal fires’ worshipped at the Absheron Peninsula as ‘the lights of life’.</p> Irina Seits Copyright (c) 2023 Irina Seits Fri, 01 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0300 The Reformation and the university church in Leipzig <p class="p1">The purpose of this article is to investigate how memory activists from 2008 onwards used the past in their advocacy work for the restoration of the university church in Leipzig. The Paulinerkirche was built as a Dominican monastery church in the first half of the thirteenth century. In 1545, shortly after the Reformation had reached Leipzig, it was reconsecrated by Martin Luther and became the first Protestant university church in Germany. Following the demands of the GDR state, it was destroyed in 1968. In writings, demonstrations and speeches, advocates of church rebuilding made use of the Reformation, but also of other tropes in the local history to draw attention to their cause. The goal was not to create a new Reformation site; rather, the aim was to compel the university leadership to abandon its goal to build a multi-purpose value-neutral assembly hall and instead honour its cultural and religious heritage, undo some of the damage done in 1968 and allow the return of the university church.</p> Kim Groop Copyright (c) 2023 Kim Groop Sun, 03 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0300 When Magnus Johanson turned fifty <p class="p1">This article examines birthday party decorations as a way of understanding the materiality and religious place-making of an expanding Baptist congregation in central Sweden in the early twentieth century. The fiftieth birthday party for Magnus Johanson, held at Salem Chapel in Falun, Dalarna county, in 1906, was decorated with birch branches, large Swedish flags and bunting and an elaborately laid table featuring coffee cups and refreshments. From an analysis of these material elements and a deeper investigation into the lives of Johanson and his wife Kristina, it can be seen that evangelicals had a flexible approach to their ‘sacred’ spaces. Social activities and the act of decorating them created not only a sense of congregational fellowship and belonging but also the opportunity for congregations to display their connection to external cultural and political identities. Through the construction of chapel buildings and their subsequent decoration, male and female members were able to demonstrate a complementary creativity. Together they contributed to the cre-ation of Salem as a multi-purpose, comfortable and accepted place within Falun’s evolving religious landscape.</p> Janice Holmes Copyright (c) 2023 Janice Holmes Fri, 01 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0300 From church to museum and back again <p class="p1">In the small village of Kinnarumma in western Sweden an old wooden church was replaced by a new church buildning in the early twentieth century. The old church was de-sacralized by being moved to an open-air museum in Borås and used there for exhibitions and the storage of museum objects. The need for more church premises in the city led to the re-sacralization of the old church in 1930. The transition of Kinnarumma’s old wooden church to museum object, its museumification, was an expression of change in religious heritage, and its re-sacralization expressed an unchanged part of the same heritage.</p> Erik J. Andersson Copyright (c) 2023 Erik J. Andersson Fri, 01 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0300 Wind of change <p class="p1">The value of diaconia is difficult to measure, its immaterial assets not easily grasped. In this article, I contribute to the area in analysing the perspective of 22 deacons on what is most important in their job and what could potentially be of greatest value if there were no restrictions of money and other resources. Data were collected in the midst of the Corona crisis in 2021 in the Porvoo diocese in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The timing of data collection therefore coincides with a unique chance to rethink ways of doing things. International research shows that the religious heritage of diaconia has changed from merely supporting people in need to also advocating marginalized groups and building bridges to other actors. This intangible heritage is sensitive to changes in society, whereby latent sources of value creation may be traced. Key contributions are identifying new areas of development of this religious heritage and assessing the value creation taking place – now and in a potential future. For this, understanding the changed role of diaconia in society and in the church are central.</p> Lise-Lotte Hellöre Copyright (c) 2023 Lise-Lotte Hellöre Fri, 01 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0300 Religious heritage in the North <p class="p1">The article takes as its point of departure the notion that the Scandinavian countries have been dominated by a monocultural Lutheranism. This notion is nuanced by focusing on everyday life and oppositional voices. In the nineteenth century, the Lutheran state churches began to interpret their past as religious cultural heritage. Focusing especially on Norway, it is argued that this monocultural perspective has been replaced by a multicultural one with emphasis on ethnic minorities and indigenous religious heritage, dialogue and tolerance.</p> Arne Bugge Amundsen Copyright (c) 2023 Arne Bugge Amundsen Fri, 01 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0300 The making of religious heritage <p class="p1">The proliferation of religious heritage seems to flow self-evidently from the processes of de-churching and secularization taking place in many European societies. Although having become redundant or outdated, certain religious buildings, objects or practices may be revalued as religious heritage. This selective setting apart of religious places or practices considered ‘redundant’ as heritage – a value-adding process – involves a form of sacralization. Such processual perspective helps religious heritage to be seen as not just ‘existing’, but, like all heritage, as made. Importantly, the sacredness of religious heritage diverges from the sacredness of religion. With multiple sacralites attributed to it, religious heritage may speak to much larger and diverse audiences as global, national or cultural heritage.</p> Irene Stengs Copyright (c) 2023 Irene Stengs Fri, 01 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0300 Religious heritage and change in the North <p class="p1">The current issue of <em>Approaching Religion </em>is based on a conference arranged in Åbo/Turku, Finland, in November 2022, with the theme ‘Religious Heritage and Change in the North’. The conference was organized jointly by the research network Religious History of the North (REHN, Umeå University), and the research project ‘Changing Spaces: Ritual Buildings, Sacred Objects, and Human Sensemaking’ (Inez and Julius Polin Institute for Theological Research/Åbo Akademi University).</p> Kim Groop, Jakob Dahlbacka Copyright (c) 2023 Kim Groop, Jakob Dahlbacka Fri, 01 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0300