exc-5a23fbb6343a9bd737479e06 Religiously motivated missions are part of a long historical tradition in various world religions. Missions are usually regarded as undertakings to prop agate, spread and communicate religious beliefs, values…
In a series of publication projects I focus on the question of how optimization and standardization of ‘others’ and foreigners takes place (or is supposed to take place) in the context of missionary strategies of religious persuasion. Missionary goals are inseparably connected to the Christian imagination of ‘the renewed man’. This concept of man can be characterized best by a range of elements – like e.g. improvisation by cultural adjustment, self-abandonment, willingness to make sacrifices under the banner of selfless service to the neighbor, directive or non-directive persuasive communication, self-alteration of the ‘others’ by assertion of one’s own ‘self’ – that are required to accomplish one’s own aspirations to change and optimize the others.The described strategies of persuasion and change are findings of an empirical study about the intercultural practice of Protestant missionaries. Missionary action represents a mode of purpose and goal-oriented, intentional and strategic action aiming at the ‘improvement’ and ‘perfection’ of others. Finally, the findings and reflections should lead to a ‘prototypical’ abstraction, so that a special type of action can be conceived which aims at optimization and standardization of the humane.
This unique exhibition project (co-authored with Alexander-Kenneth Nagel, Ruhr University of Bochum) combines science, religion, and fine arts took place on September 16-17, 2011 in Essen, Germany, and was funded by the fellowship program of the Global Young Faculty (Stiftung Mercator, Essen).
Abstract: Making visible religious diversity and plurality in the immigration country Germany and highlighting the connective resources and potentials of religion, these have been the principle object of the exhibition and art project ‘Sondernutzung – Religious Diversity in the Public Sphere.’ The project addressed the question of how the perception of religious diversity does change when different religious groups were relegated for a moment from the ‘margins’ of our cities’ backyards and neighborhood communities, business parks and industrial area to the urban centers in the Metropolis Ruhr. An ‘interfaith pavilion’ was at the heart of a temporary exhibition that took place in the inner city of Essen, Germany, on September 16-17, 2010. A menacing-looking barbed wire fence surrounded a high tower constructed of bright and yellow concrete-timber panels with six square meters of area. The interior of the pavilion invited visitors to contemplate, rest, and tranquilize. On the inner surfaces, the visitors could post and share their impressions and experiences of religious diversity as well as their opinions about religion, posterity, etc. The space between the fence and the pavilion created an exhibition platform for the presentation of multimedia based student research projects. The exhibition served both to raise the awareness of ‘hidden’ aspects of religious diversity in familiar surroundings and to stimulate discussions about religious traditions of immigrants and minorities and their public validity claims. Finally, a ten-minute documentary recorded the reactions to exhibition and art project.
My current postdoc research (during Visiting Fellowshop at the Jagiellonian University and Goethe Institut in Kraków in March and April 2011) is dedicated to the critical reconsideration of the process of secularization in Europe, with special regard to the religious changes and developments in Poland.
Abstract: Secularization in Europe has become on the one hand an undeniable socio-cultural, historical and societal matter of fact. On the other hand, it is dangerous to talk of a universal development, although studies can show empirical evidence and validity for some regions and countries in Europe. In various theories of secularization it is assumed that irreligious social developments can be attributed to processes of modernization, transformation and functional differentiation as well as to rationalization and individualization of cultural life worlds (Davie, 2000). This (often ideologically disguised) hypothesis is associated with the critical wing of the European Enlightenment. As José Casanova (2003: 60) emphasized, however, the hypothesis of a secularized Europe needs to be confronted with various special cases of ‘over secularization’ (e.g. East Germany, Czech Republic and Scandinavian countries) and ‘sub-secularization’ (such as Ireland and Poland). Nevertheless, the ‘causa Polonia semper fidelis’ is exposed as an exception amongst the so-called Eastern European transition countries. In Casanova’s opinion, the secularization in Europe could be regarded as a ‘self-fulfilling prophec’ (2003: 61) that serves both as cause and consequence of the process of (religious) profanation. This means that religion becomes redundant not in itself or by losing its explicatory power, but by the conversion to the new belief of a decline of religion in human daily life and the whole of society. Since the normative theory of secularization cannot ultimately provide a general or a viable explanation for the special historical and religious developments in Poland other approaches may be imperative. Therefore, this paper aims at focusing on the question of how and what cultural, historical, socio-cultural and religious changes have resulted in today’s high percentage of committed Roman Catholic believers. It will also be necessary to undertake a re-reading (discussed in Casanova, 2003: 58) of the argument adduced by Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek (former secretary-general of the Polish bishops’ conference and rector of the Pontifical Academy in Krakow) – namely that the European integration of the ‘Catholic Poland’ is an essential ‘great apostolic assignment for the Church’ (Stadtmüller, 2000: 36).(more…)
It seems obvious that the Christian religion is intrinsically intertwined with the missionary assignment and that the gradual and strategic alterations of the others initiated by missionaries are based on…