Daily Archives: June 12, 2008

Secularization revisited – the Swedish perspective

The Christian Daily Dagen addressed a study conducted by Anna Kiefer from The Kairos Future institute about how “Soft values and money go hand in hand”.

The institute concludes as they compared a world wide study done among 22 500 persons from 17 countries in the ages 16-29 and 30-50. Among the ones born in the 1980ties in Sweden they found how few believed in God and how religion played a small roll in their life in regards to their values. Only 38% believe in God in comparison with 75% in the USA.

This is nothing new to me, I wrote about similar things in a blog in April called “World Values Survey – another way of looking at cultures!” When you check the blog and the diagram you will find that Sweden is the most individualized and secular nation in the world.

However, we need to make a couple of observations: religion in the USA is closely interwoven with culture (as it is in many other nations as well). When people call themselves believers in God this may mean many different things. Coming from a Roman Catholic background myself I knew of NOT ONE true believer in God throughout my upbringing. (Read part of my story)

Many people whom I know from many different cultures and backgrounds might more easily then Swedish people use words of faith, believe, beliefs, God and other “religious” expressions in comparison to others. This does not necessarily mean much to them; it is part of their culture heritage rather than having faith in God as a person.

At the same time I can encourage you to check out The Kairos Institute website because they do provide a lot of good, well researched information which we need to take consider as we effectively and relevantly want to make a case for Christian faith in out nation!

A subjective observation from my side makes me believe that many young people in Sweden are searching for the purpose of their life and that they do not dismiss God as potential answer to their quest. In day to day, face to face contacts many give indications that they want to experience God in their life and that they long for finding the roots of their existence.

That’s the Way I see it!

John

The confirmation of a vision – breaking down racism and xenophobia!

New Life Church received on Tuesday June 11 a prize for their ministry against racism and xenophobia from Stockholms Landsting (county council). The Stockholm county is comprised of 1.9 million people and 26 municipalities.

As representative of the church, I went together with four other members to the meeting of the county council where close to 150 political representatives were gathered for their monthly meeting. Here we were honored together with two other individuals and one other organization for our ministry against racism and xenophobia.

The terms “xenophobia” and “racism” are often used interchangeably, though they can have wholly different meanings (xenophobia can be based on various aspects, racism being based solely on race and ancestry). To understand the more in depth meaning of the term “xenophobia” read the explanation below the article.

I wrote in the heading: “The confirmation of a vision – breaking down racism and xenophobia!” for me this prize is an acknowledgement of a deep commitment that we have had as church to break down barriers between individuals and groups in our society through the power which is found in Jesus Christ. Part of our mission statement as church reads: “We see… a church that in tangible ways fulfill the unity in Christ by breaking down barriers and building bridges between different ethnic groups, cultures, languages, gender, social background, generations and personalities”.

Today people from over 40 different nations consider New Life their home while the majority remains Swedish. There is a deep commitment to Sweden and the city of Stockholm. For a more in-depth study on this subject I encourage you to listen to some of the sermons which are freely available on line:

(Check: 2004-02-15 – John van Dinther – A mind blowing urban theology for relationships, 2006-10-15 – John van Dinther – Working for the shalom of the city, 2006-09-17 – John van Dinther – Back to our roots)

Anyway, I just wanted you to know about our thankfulness and excitement to have received this prize; it is an encouragement to the whole church and it spurs us on to continue to be focused on one of our foundational values of being a multi-cultural church deeply rooted in Swedish society!

I hope to hear from you, and feel free to visit us!

God bless you,

John

For xenophobia there are two main objects of the phobia. The first is a population group present within a society that is not considered part of that society. Often they are recent immigrants, but xenophobia may be directed against a group which has been present for centuries. This form of xenophobia can elicit or facilitate hostile and violent reactions, such as mass expulsion of immigrants, or in the worst case, genocide.

The second form of xenophobia is primarily cultural, and the objects of the phobia are cultural elements which are considered alien. All cultures are subject to external influences, but cultural xenophobia is often narrowly directed, for instance at foreign loan words in a national language. It rarely leads to aggression against individual persons, but can result in political campaigns for cultural or linguistic purification. Isolationism, a general aversion of foreign affairs, is not accurately described as xenophobia. (According to Wikipedia)