I am a 35 (almost 36) year old Lutheran priest from the Church of Norway, brought up about 50 kilometres to the northeast of Bergen, in a fairly active church going family. I have always been interested in theology and philosophy, two disciplines I am now able to combine.
My project in Durham has as its working title “Participatio actuosa and participatio Christi: A dogmatic, ecumenical and contemporary discussion of the notion of active participation in the liturgy, with emphasis on the relation between divine and human agency.”
The project takes as its starting the statement that “all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14), studying its metaphysical implications, asking whether this merely concerns practical involvement or if it also, or primarily, a participation in God. I will engage various theological traditions all of which have an emphasis on participation; thomism, ressourcement, and radical orthodoxy.
My hope is to gain a better understanding of the metaphysics of liturgical participation and to make use of this to discuss the current liturgies, and (ongoing) liturgical reforms, of the Church of Norway (in which I am a priest), the Church of England, and the Roman Catholic Church, interpreting the liturgies themselves and seeing if, or to what extent, the reforms have treated the metaphysical underpinnings of participation and how they may relate this to the involvement of the people in worship.
I was made aware of the CCS through my supervisor, Simon Oliver, and I am very grateful for the funding that has been given. I have only been here since October but it’d already starting to feel a bit like a family. And I’m also glad to be in a milieu where there are more (in fact most) people my age.
My plans for the future are not that thought out. My immediate plan is to go back to ministry after finishing my PhD, as I am convinced that the churches need priests with this kind of expertise, and I hope that my contributions will have implications of how I work as a priest. But I might stay in academia, or maybe do a combination of both. Only the future will tell.
I also hope that my project will have implications not just for liturgy and for theology in general. As we come to understand better what it means to participate, and what it means to participate in Church, we can also grow in our understanding of what it means to participate in society at large, and how we can better engage people not just liturgically but also culturally and politically. And in order to obtain a deeper understanding of the liturgical act we also need a deeper understanding of its actor(s), and how to relate everything to God, who creates us and sustains us.
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