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Becoming what you are: faith and freedom in a Danish Lutheran movement

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Based on fieldwork in the Danish protestant movement Tidehverv, this article explores what it means to try to live one's life according to a neo-orthodox Lutheran and explicitly Kierkegaard-inspired theology, whose overarching existential, social and political ideal is always to be true to oneself. Departing from the seemingly paradoxical notion that the essence of living a genuinely Christian life is ‘to become what you are’, as a Tidehverv priest put it, I seek to pin down the distinct concept of character, and wider concepts of personhood and temporality, upon which this ‘fundamentalist existentialist’ theology and ethics rest. This will involve discussing in some detail a number of core Kierkegaardian concepts such as ‘the moment’ (øjeblikket), the ‘decision’ (afgørelsen) and ‘the leap’ (springet), and making a preliminary attempt to contextualise Tidehverv's existentialist project within the wider political, religious and cultural history of the modern Danish nation state. In doing so, the article offers an exploration of the relationships between Lutheran concepts of character and political expression, and between the concept of Christian individual character and Danish national character.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Anthropology
Volume26
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)182-196
Number of pages15
ISSN0964-0282
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

    Research areas

  • Christianity, Denmark, faith, freedom, Kierkegaard

ID: 209836205