lördag, september 27, 2008

A Rather Quiet Affair

Today I went to the Cathedral in Stockholm, the Nicolai Big Church, the one where the Reformation started in Sweden in 1525. There was to be a celebration. 50 years ago on the 17th of September 1958 the priestly Ministry was opened to women. As they used to say. The Ministry (with a tremor).

It was a rather quiet affair today, though. Perhaps due to a severe cold on the part of our Bishop Caroline, who was preaching. She painted a painting of 7 Biblical women of the Kerygma, the Message. Mary, Elizabeth, Hannah the Prophetess, the Woman by the well, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, the Woman anointing Jesus in Luke. We were also in the picture, she said.

All – men and women – who join in the call of Mary Magdalene: He is risen! Yea, He is indeed risen!

I personally, wouldn’t have minded a few trumpets and a kettle drum, for celebration’s sake, but it was rather quiet. It was not even very full, only about half. But there were even more women than usual in church. However the tension seems to have subsided. It’s not the way it was in Gothenburg when I was young. And thanks be to God for that! But it is rather interesting as a phenomenon.

I still remember when the first priest who was a woman came to Gothenburg around 1975, or so. What a row! In the 1980ies I sang for a few years in the church where she was Rector. She was really very nice, the only militancy about her being her old soldier’s name: Strid, which means Struggle. She also had a rare integrity, few approached uncalled. But what a fate…

When I came to Lund to study theology in 1993 I saw a young fellow in a corridor. Scanian fellow. Tall, loud… angry sounding (to non Scanians ; = ). His mother was a Rector further to the North, he told me one day. But Cecilia, another student was worse; her Grandmother’s sister was a priest. In Denmark. They had their first women priests in 1948.

At Lund in 1993 this non-issue was still somewhat controversial. The students studying for certain Dioceses (and their wives) were still upset.

Oddly enough I don’t remember being given any actual reasons, either in Gothenburg in the 1970ies, or later. It was simply un-thinkable. Period. But why? Anti Modernism I’d say. For over a century the church was the receptacle of various lost causes, having become more and more isolated… Socially, politically.

Klick on the Headline for pictures from this weeks Synod at Upsala featuring Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

4 kommentarer:

Leonardo Ricardo sa...

Thank you Göran for the lovely narration.



Wonder Woman sa...

I had no idea about how far back women have been apart of the church; other than cooking that is ;-)

Thanks for the enlightenment!

WW :)

Göran Koch-Swahne sa...

And even more WW, it was a question of identity, identity with what was right and proper, just as the different varieties of shawl is in (some, not all) Islamic countries.

Indeed, were I live in the summers, the women in the village, who belonged to the Church wore shawls, and their clothes were all black not only in church, but all days, all year around, all homespun, homemade.

Free church women in the Fisherman’s locality a couple of kilometres away by the sea (Pentecostal, since about 1920), wore hats (which used to be a sign of social grandeur, in the 19th century) and clothes bought in the city. But they were not allowed to go to the movies…

The two communities didn’t get along well. The children had to be in separate classes even. So the house built for the teacher(s) was double. It had two porches (such as those in Dalecarlia 500 miles to the North). In the beginning of the 20th century, Dalecarlia was the epitome, the symbol of “Swedish” and the “good old days” of yore.

But this was on the west coast in an area considered a “relict” area in Ethnography.

Anonym sa...
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