Owe Wikström
 

Alla inlägg i Texter 1999

rec Anders Persson

Anders Persson, Den levande närvaron av Ordet. Åtta essäer
om bilden av den rosenianska och den laestadianska väckelsen
i norrländsk skönlitteratur [‘The living presence of the Word.
Eight essays on the image of the Rosenian and Laestadian
revival movement in northern Swedish fiction’], Skellefteå:
Norma 2018, ISBN 9789172171138, 175 pp.
In the northern Swedish regions of Västerbotten and Norrbotten, a strong religious revival movement arose in the late nineteenth century, driven by preachers such as Carl
Olof Rosenius and Lars Levi Læstadius. Large numbers of people gathered in villages
and towns to listen for hours to their great preachers. The meetings in crowded prayer
houses were filled with lamentations and weeping, alternated with bright euphoria and
joyous dancing. This revival was a Low Church movement. Sin was described, as well as
the various steps leading to Conversion: from the joy of the calling, via the demands of
God’s word, to the bliss experienced in the appropriation of forgiveness.
The revival spread like wildfire across the realm of desolate forests. The Word was at
the centre of the revival. The Word of God. By listening to it and taking it to heart, man
was guided through a spiritual struggle. The preaching of the Word led to a bitter realisation of man’s lack of trust. This deep-felt grief came from a kind of heavy, self-critical
and often depressive longing. The explosive joy resulting from having received forgiveness was expressed in tongue-speech or crying. Christ was seen as the Great Forgiver. The
Low Church evangelism was spread by great revivalist preachers.
By the early 2000s, this form of Christianity had by and large withered away, and has
now more or less disappeared from the mental arena. In the same region, but a hundred
years after the emergence of the revival movement, three excellent and internationally known writers emerged, PO Enquist, Torgny Lindgren and Sara Lidman, all three of
whom experienced the revival tradition in their childhoods. They all lived in the core
area of the popular revival and used the northern dialects in their texts. They have attracted a large readership, who—at some distance—are acquainted with strongly personal
and intimate descriptions of the longing for God, the struggle against sin and the joy of
forgiveness, with the harsh northern landscape creating a backdrop to the pious struggle.
In a recently published book, Anders Persson, senior lecturer in Literary Studies at
Umeå University, presents a close reading of these novelists focused on how the locally
spoken rustic dialect (Swedish bondska) features in their respective writings. He does not
pay much attention to the authors’ lives but reads their texts closely. Initially, he shows
how Jack London’s idealising wilderness motifs entered Bernard Nord’s writing, and also,
to an even greater extent, that of the preacher and author Tore Nilsson. Nilsson, however,
differs from London in that he tries to describe conversion in more positive terms. Here,
Anders Persson, by skilfully closing in on the texts, shows how Tore Nilsson approaches
the concept of doubt, a feeling of being abandoned by God, an expression of his hidden
remoteness. This is interpreted by the author as the central idea of the revival movement.
In the second chapter, the view of doubt is deepened. It is seen as a kind of inner suffering shifting between, on the one hand, a strong feeling of emptiness or abandonment
and on the other a quiet and gracious trust. Sara Lidman’s writing is presented in this
chapter. She has a more descriptive and partly critical way of presenting the struggle as
a kind of religious claim to power, and individual and collective distrust is at the centre
of her writing. Her texts contain both sharp and satirical criticism of the harshness and 107
REVIEWS
JOURNAL OF NORTHERN STUDIES VOL. 14 • NO. 2 • 2020, pp. 98–113
intolerance of the revival, and at the same time a trust in grace and forgiveness which is
strongly influenced by Rosenius.
A central chapter in the book presents a kind of close reading focused on the importance of the spoken word in the revival movement. The listening to the preachers’ words
was a central element of the movement. Not least, the sermons were interpreted by the
listeners through their own strong roots, not only in the word of the Bible, but equally
in the local dialects. Anders Persson calls this “the preacher anecdote,” i.e. short personal
characteristics:
We children never got tired of listening to our favourite preacher Gabriel Andersson, the philosopher Zakrisson, the rascal Hällgren or the district’s loudest speaker,
Viklund. When Anders Viklund cried out during his sermons, most people woke up.
[…] He began by speaking softly but raised his voice gradually until he roared like
thunder. (pp. 68–69)
He did so in his zeal and desire to be taken seriously and to wake up the listeners from
their sinful sleep. Even other preachers were moved to tears. Gabriel Andersson’s role
model, Berglund, was known as Skråljanne [‘Bawling Janne’]. He preached and cried, and
read from the Bible with tears flowing down his cheeks. The preacher’s nickname became the bearer of the Rosenian mentality. Another preacher, who smiled a lot, was given
the name Fliir-Janne, from the local dialectal word fliir [‘smile’].
Another often recurring motif in the authors’ texts is dancing. All of the above writers have an ambivalent attitude to this frightening and at the same time fascinating phenomenon that the children of sin engaged in, and which the preachers saw as deeply
suspicious. A dawning sexuality was removed from consciousness, but was nevertheless
included in the authors’ narratives. Here, Anders Persson addresses a phenomenon that
existed in the background, enticing and forbidden, not least in Sara Lidman’s texts but
also in PO Enquist’s—the partly erotic secret. Distancing themselves from dancing became a sign that the listeners had taken a significant step and defined themselves as
converts. Relapsing into erotic or sensual movements was apostasy. Being attracted to
dancing was the beginning of a life beyond grace. So, watch your step!
Anders Persson’s book is extraordinarily original. He moves skilfully between literary science and theology, and the book is full of observations of how the solemn biblical
world of ideas lived in symbiosis with the popular, festive and merry world. Persson’s
research makes the book an important source of information for those who want to
learn about how a religious folk culture was manifested in seemingly simple prayer house
environments.
Owe Wikström
Dept. of Theology
Uppsala University
Sweden
owe.wikstrom44@gmail.com

anders persson rec. av V-bottenförf

Anders Persson, Den levande närvaron av Ordet. Åtta essäer om bilden av den rosenianska och den laestadianska väckelsen i norrländsk skönlitteratur, (The Living Presence of the Word. Eight essays on the image of the Rosenian and Laestadian revival movement in northern Swedish fiction) Skellefteå. Norma 2018, ISBN 9789172171138, 175 p.

In the northern Swedish regions of Västerbotten and Norrbotten, a strong religious revival movement arose in the late nineteenth century, driven by preachers such as Carl Olof Rosenius and Lars Levi Laestadius. Large numbers of people gathered in villages and towns to listen for hours to their great preachers. The meetings in crowded prayer houses were filled with lamentations and weeping, alternated with bright euphoria and joyous dancing. This revival was a Low Church movement. Sin was described, as well as the various steps leading to Conversion: from the joy of the calling, via the demands of God’s word, to the bliss experienced in the appropriation of forgiveness.

The revival spread like wildfire across the realm of desolate forests. The Word was at the centre of the revival. The Word of God. By listening to it and taking it to heart, man was guided through a spiritual struggle. The preaching of the Word led to a bitter realisation of man’s lack of trust. This deep-felt grief came from a kind of heavy, self-critical and often depressive longing. The explosive joy resulting from having received forgiveness was expressed in tongue-speech or crying. Christ was seen as the Great Forgiver. The Low Church evangelism was spread by great revivalist preachers.

By the early 2000s, this form of Christianity had by and large withered away, and has now more or less disappeared from the mental arena. In the same region, but a hundred years after the emergence of the revival movement, three excellent and internationally known writers emerged, PO Enquist, Torgny Lindgren and Sara Lidman, all three of whom experienced the revival tradition in their childhoods. They all lived in the core area of the popular revival and used the northern dialects in their texts. They have attracted a large readership, who—at some distance—are acquainted with strongly personal and intimate descriptions of the longing for God, the struggle against sin and the joy of forgiveness, with the harsh northern landscape creating a backdrop to the pious struggle.

In a recently published book, Anders Persson, senior lecturer in Literary Studies at Umeå University, presents a close reading of these novelists focused on how the locally spoken rustic dialect (Swedish bondska) features in their respective writings. He does not pay much attention to the authors’ lives but reads their texts closely. Initially, he shows how Jack London’s idealising wilderness motifs entered Bernard Nord’s writing, and also, to an even greater extent, that of the preacher and author Tore Nilsson. Nilsson, however, differs from London in that he tries to describe conversion in more positive terms. Here, Anders Persson, by skilfully closing in on the texts, shows how Tore Nilsson approaches the concept of doubt, a feeling of being abandoned by God, an expression of his hidden remoteness. This is interpreted by the author as the central idea of the revival movement.

In the second chapter, the view of doubt is deepened. It is seen as a kind of inner suffering shifting between, on the one hand, a strong feeling of emptiness or abandonment and on the other a quiet and gracious trust. Sara Lidman’s writing is presented in this chapter. She has a more descriptive and partly critical way of presenting the struggle as a kind of religious claim to power, and individual and collective distrust is at the centre of her writing. Her texts contain both sharp and satirical criticism of the harshness and intolerance of the revival, and at the same time a trust in grace and forgiveness which is strongly influenced by Rosenius.

A central chapter in the book presents a kind of close reading focused on the importance of the spoken word in the revival movement. The listening to the preachers’

words was a central element of the movement. Not least, the sermons were interpreted by the listeners through their own strong roots, not only in the word of the Bible, but equally in the local rustic dialects. Anders Persson calls this “the preacher anecdote,” i.e. short personal characteristics:

We children never got tired of listening to our favourite preacher Gabriel Andersson, the philosopher Zakrisson, the rascal Hällgren or the district’s loudest speaker, Viklund. When Anders Viklund cried out during his sermons, most people woke up. […] He began by speaking softly but raised his voice gradually until he roared like thunder. (pp. 68–69)

He did so in his zeal and desire to be taken seriously and to wake up the listeners from their sinful sleep. Even other preachers were moved to tears. Gabriel Andersson’s role model, Berglund, was known as Skråljanne. He preached and cried, and read from the Bible with tears flowing down his cheeks. The preacher’s nickname became the bearer of the Rosenian mentality. Another preacher, who smiled a lot, was given the name Fliir-Janne, from the local dialectal word fliir [‘smile’].

Another often recurring motif in the authors’ texts is dancing. All of the above writers have an ambivalent attitude to this frightening and at the same time fascinating phenomenon that the children of sin engaged in, and which the preachers saw as deeply suspicious. A dawning sexuality was removed from consciousness, but was nevertheless included in the authors’ narratives. Here, Anders Persson addresses a phenomenon that existed in the background, enticing and forbidden, not least in Sara Lidman’s texts but also in PO Enquist’s—the partly erotic secret. Distancing themselves from dancing became a sign that the listeners had taken a significant step and defined themselves as converts. Relapsing into erotic or sensual movements was apostasy. Being attracted to dancing was the beginning of a life beyond grace. So, watch your step!

Anders Persson’s book is extraordinarily original. He moves skilfully between literary science and theology, and the book is full of observations of how the solemn biblical world of ideas lived in symbiosis with the popular, festive and merry world. Persson’s research makes the book an important source of information for those who want to learn about how a religious folk culture was manifested in seemingly simple prayer house environments.

Owe Wikström

Dept. of Theology

Uppsala University

Sweden

owe.wikstrom@teol.uu.se

Ambivalensen inför kyrkan

Kluvenheten är tydlig. Men vad beror denna ambivalens på? Polerna tycks vara två. Å ena sidan ignorans, som ibland är stegrad till arrogans, blandad med militant avståndstagande från kristen tro som livshållning och/eller kyrkan som institution. Å andra sidan ett lika starkt andligt intresse eller längtan efter heliga rum, stämningar, allvar och stram skönhet. Inte minst gäller detta kyrkorummen, de tända ljusen, riterna, pelarnas höga majestät. Varför finns denna starka skepsis kombinerad med lika starkt existentiellt intresse i ett så frigjort och väl utvecklat land som Sverige? Om detta har det skrivits böcker och forskningsrapporter.

Sverige är – globalt sett – det stora undantaget; med viss reservation för någon av de tidigare programmatiskt ateistiskt socialistiska länderna. Kanske har det att göra med statskyrkosystemet som skapat en kultur där alla ”borde” eller måste vara kristna. Från detta reste redan Kristina och Karl- Oskar i Vilhelm Mobergs Utvandrarna, allt för att slippa en påtvingad överhets tro. Protesten mot den monolitiska överhöghetskyrkan lever kanske kvar

Till detta kommer ett missnöje mot kyrkornas yttre organisation, bråk och konflikter – inte minst bland kyrkligt engagerade aktörer och lekmän. Decennielånga diskussioner om kvinnofrågor, (homo-) sexualitet, ämbetssyn, liksom strukturella frågor om samfundens organisationer– allt sådant bidrar till att det skapas en polarisead bild av religion som tråkig och konfliktfylld. Den medialt konsturerade föreställning av religion eller kristen tro blir ett slags filter. Det färgar i sin tur människors förutfattade uppfattningar av kyrkor, präster och kristna.!”.

Mentala föreställningar om hur kristna människor påstås tänka eller vara ligger som tolkningsraster. Var kommer ordet präst ifrån i följande utsaga, rätt vanlig i samtiden. ”Våran präst är jattetrevlig han är inte alls som en präst!”. Stereotypa bilder blir effektiva hinder för fördjupande seriösa existentiella samtal. Polariserade schabonbilder och kyrkors byråkratisering bidrar sannolikt till att personligt engagerade resonemang om kristen tro sällan kommer till stånd.

Själva lärorna förorsakar inte sällan förvåning bland kritiker – hur kan någon vara så infantil att man tror på en gammal bok, Luther eller Påven? För att inte tala om hur religion förvandlats till att i stort sett enbart uppfattas som medel och politiska slagträn, legitimera våld, etnicitet och övergrepp. Då osynliggörs kyrkornas roll i tredje världen, kamp mot orättvisa och korrumperade regimer.

Ovanpå sådana hinder för existentiella samtal kommer en bråte av hierarkier och institutioner. Just de inrättningar som i århundraden kanaliserat människors längtan efter och erfarenhet av ”de osynliga” – kyrkorna – tycks för många bli till ett hinder för vad de skulle förmedla, ett slags ”sekularisering inifrån”. Med det menas att kyrkor och samfund inte blir offer för avkristning utan snarare aktiva agenter i det spelet – kyrkorum och gudstjänster upplevs för tråkiga, hurtiga eller allvarliga. Det banaliserade, trivialiserade eller sönderpratade andligheten gör att en eventuell längtan efter att få ge sig hän nästan omöjliggörs. Kyrkorna fylls mer av kulturella konserter och musikuppträdanden medan det vanliga gudstjänstdeltagandet avtar. Eller gör de det?

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Skönheten skall frälsa världen – om Proust estetik (txt på väg)

Förord  – prel

Det är juldagarna sent 2017. Man firar Ingmar Bergman och jag sitter ensam och ser storögd på hans gigantiska Fanny och Alexander. Plötsligt åker jag hiss genom ett par decennier ned till det tidiga 1980 talets Paris.Fortfarande minns jag det som igår. Jag kommer ut ur den dunkla filmsalongen på västra stranden.. Lätt sunkig låg den på en tvärgata inte så långt från Place Michelle. Jag hade just sett den långa versionen. Alla talade svenska. Jag ignorerar den franska textremsan.

Men en scen bet sig fast. Den gör lika stort intryck när jag nu – trettifem år senare – ser den nära nog fem timmar långa filmen. Denna gång liggande i en soffa. Julborden avklarade, Barnbarnen sprungit runt i huset. Nu är här lugnt. Men – mitt i filmen reser sig Adolf Ekdal (Jarl Kulle) reser sig och håller ett tal.

Vi älskar det fattbara, vi Ekdalare gillar våra undanflykter” Det är ni mina kära konstnärer som skall ge oss de inomvärldsliga rysningar och det utomvärldsliga. Vi älskar det fattbara. Beröva en människa hans så börjar han slå omkring sig”.

Min avsikt med denna bok se närmare på en ordkonstnär som själv ( och/eller hans fiktiva romangestalter) berättat om en mängd rysningar av såväl inom som utomvärldsligt slag. I den gigantiska bokverket På spaning efter den tid som flytt – sju delar med tillsammans tre tusen sidor har han på olika sätt diskuterat konstens innehåll och inte minst försökt kvalificera såväl vad skönheten är liksom den funktion – vad den gör; erbjuder tröst mot intigheten existentiell oro.

 Jag tackar Centre Culturel Suedois i Paris för berikande studieuppehåll.

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Nåt tror jag på, men jag vet inte riktigt vad”.- om sekularisering och teknisk socialitet.


Andliga behov
Finns det fundamentala behov som ett liberalt och sekulariserat samhälle inte kan tillfredsställa?” frågades häromåret i en serie i Svenska Dagbladet. Diskussionen handlade huvudsakligen om ett eventuellt värdemässigt och ideologiskt tomrum, dess socialt/politiska förutsättningar och följder.Men hur skall man egentligen förstå de  fundamentala existentiella “behov” som inte självklart låter sig besvaras av politisk ideologi, tekniska framsteg eller i termer av teorier om välfärdsstaten och dess strategier?  Vi minns hur det gick för Lars Ahlins Tåbb med Manifestet. Kvarstår det ett “behov” av att  inte bara finna kollektiv konsensus kring grundläggande värderingar utan också att som individ finna en livshållning där gåtor av typen lidande, ondska, Gud, mening eller död tas på stort allvar?  Sådana livsfrågor tycks ju varken vara vetenskapligt-empiriskt eller logiskt besvarbara (om man inte är vetenskapstroende) därav deras gåtfulla karaktär. De är av både emotionell och rationell natur. Hur  förändras dessa frågor och religionens svar genom teknikens framfart? Vad sker inne i   millenieskiftets rymdskepp Aniara  när asteroider närmar sig och Mimans internet tycks allt viktigare? Var tog väntans kategori vägen?Verkligheten tycks allt mer massmedialt konstruerad. Den allmänna rörligheten, det oavbrutna och allt snabbare och billigare resandet gör att det stillastående samhällets relativt få och stabila värden nu ständigt ifrågasätts helt enkelt som en konsekvens av social och geografisk mobilitet.  Ficktelefonernas nåbarhetsfälla tycks göra att väntans kategori snart försvinner. Både långsamhetens kultur och den självvalda tystnaden – zoner där de existentiella undringar trivs bäst – är på väg att bli bristvaror.I denna essay vill jag först ge en övergripande bild av hur man kan förstå religionens generella funktion i  relativt homogena samhällen. Därefter vill jag visa vad som sker när de tekniken har skapat förutsättningar  för en helt annat slags socialitet. En relativismens yrsel uppträder och två strategier kan urskiljas. Min tanke är att det huvudsakligen  uppträder en “resa inåt“ – ett sökande efter autenticitet och icke blott övertagen livshållning. Men vid sidan av den anar vi även en dragning in mot totalitära svar – ett slags flykt från friheten. Läs vidare →