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The Church of Sweden emphasises Learning at Book Fair

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The programme for the Göteborg Book Fair 2017 is being released today. The Church of Sweden has principal responsibility for this year’s theme “Learning”. Besides its long-established Meet the author stage, the Church of Sweden will be conducting programmes on two additional stages, promoting a range of perspectives on the concept of learning.

At this year’s Book Fair, besides its long-established Meet the author stage, the Church of Sweden will be conducting programmes on two additional stages. Photo: Mikael Ringlander
 

The theme Learning relates to Reformation Year 2017, and that this year it is 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg.

“Because the reformationists stressed issues such as the right to be able to read the Bible and build one’s own understanding in spiritual matters, that has had a major impact on our views on enlightenment and education,” says Archbishop Antje Jackelén.

In seminars and on a special theme stage named Om: bildning (About: learning), the concept of learning will be illuminated from a number of different angles: the historical perspective, the rights perspective, through personal stories, and in relation to current phenomena such as filter bubbles, the post-truth era, and faktaresistens (resistance to and denial of factual knowledge).

“Learning is about more than just knowledge – it is ultimately an existential issue about growing as an individual, developing a moral sense, and the capacity to make judicious, discerning decisions, and thus also be part of building the good society. It is therefore obvious and timely that the Church of Sweden should be taking responsibility for the Learning theme at this year’s Book Fair,” says Antje Jackelén.
Former President of Germany and Lutheran priest Joachim Gauck is the Church of Sweden’s guest at the Book Fair this year. In his home country, he has known as a defender of civil rights in the former DDR, and as a strong moral voice in the global arena. He will be meeting Archbishop Antje Jackelén in conversation on faith, politics, integrity, and hope for the future.

Historian Heinz Schilling, he is considered one of the world’s leading researchers in Luther and the Reformation, will also be visiting from Germany. Mark Levengood will discuss with him and Antje Jackelén how the legacy of the Reformation lives on, and whether it might still be ongoing.

The concept of learning and the legacy of the Reformation will also be problematized in various ways. Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism and its impact on Nazism will be explored in a seminar by historian of ideas Stéphane Bruchfeld, theologian Jesper Svartvik, and Professor of Ethics Elisabeth Gerle.

The seminar entitled “Humbolt versus Hitler” will have a similar theme, exploring how Germany and Austria, the two countries in which the ideal of learning was held in perhaps the highest regard in the century prior to World War I, could also be the countries in which Nazism grew and gained broad popular support. Participants in this seminar will be authors Lena Andersson, Per Svensson and Johan Östling.

Other topics of the 17 major seminars for which the Church of Sweden is a co-organiser include women’s place in the Christian tradition, the limits of tolerance in a democratic society, and how efficiency demands are impacting research and education at universities.
This year, the Church of Sweden is also collaborating specifically with the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (UR) on the Friday stage. There, 14 seminars on the theme Learning, courage and resistance will be recorded by UR’s contemporary issues programme and broadcast on SVT’s knowledge channel during the autumn.

As usual, there will be a rich and diverse programme on the Church of Sweden’s regular Meet the author stage, where around 60 authors will meet in conversation about literature and vital questions.

“Working with the theme Learning has been very stimulating and enjoyable. It’s about the intrinsic desire in all of us to discover new things, but it’s also a concept that is very useful in the critical analysis of a range of phenomena,” say project managers for the Church of Sweden’s participation in the Book Fair, Erika Hedenström and Mikael Ringlander.

They both concede that the many withdrawals from this year’s Book Fair have also affected the Church of Sweden’s programme.

“In total, 109 authors will be participating on our stages. But many who we had wanted to participate in order to emphasise important perspectives have chosen not to attend. This has impacted what we are able to do, although we fully respect their decisions.”

The Church of Swedens participation at the Göteborg Book Fair 2017
17 major seminars
About: Learning stage– authors in conversation, seminars, personal stories, etc., on the theme of Learning.
Friday stage– 14 mini-seminars that will be recorded by UR for broadcast later in the autumn.
Meet the author stage– conversations with authors on literature and vital questions.
Literary divine service– with the participation of authors Eva Susso, Anna Höglund and Astrid Seeberger, along with Bishop Emeritus Martin Lind. The service will be conducted by Pastor Ludvig Lindelöf.
Photography walk– photography exhibitions including Sweden’s Image of the Year 2016.
The musical Luthers ungar (Luthers children)– by Karin Runow. Performed in Gothenburg Cathedral.
Opening concert in Gothenburg Cathedral– with the Irish choir Anúna and violinist Linda Lampenius. This concert will focus on the two sub-themes of the Book Fair: “Finland 100 years” and “Voices from Ireland”.

The Göteborg Book Fair 2017 will run from 28 September to 1 October.

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