Reconstruction as re-enchantment: on Swedish churches burned and rebuilt
Eva Lofgren (University of Gothenburg)
Paper short abstract:
Starting out from two in-depth case studies of burned and reconstructed church buildings in Sweden, this paper aims at examining the process of reconstruction as an expression of re-enchantment.
Paper long abstract:
In a secular society where rural churches are "managed rather than enchanted" (Partridge 2005), rebuilding a burned church appears as anachronistic. While traditional denominations are struggling to attract worshippers and the number of church-buildings exceeds the depopulated parishes' needs, reconstruction mainly implies using the meagre resources of a diminishing religious community to rebuild a church that was hardly ever used. Starting out from two in-depth case studies of burned and reconstructed church buildings in Sweden, this paper aims at examining the process of reconstruction as an expression of re-enchantment (Partridge 2005, Landy & Saler 2009). The chapel of Skaga that burnt and was rebuilt in year 2000, had been erected forty years earlier as a free interpretation of a medieval stave church that once stood in the same place. The second case, Södra Råda church, was a medieval log-timbered church that burnt in 2001 and is now being reconstructed to enhance traditional craftsmanship. Secularisation has made church buildings loose their sacrality and opened up for new forms of sacredness of church buildings, as cultural heritage, aesthetic monuments and symbols of local community and identity. Through the Weberian notion of disenchantment and its corresponding concept of re-enchantment, the results of these studies show that the process of reconstruction and thus re-formation provide these former heritagized church buildings with new meanings which relate to local identity and history.