The Silence(d) Schoolmaster

Somewhere in the archives of the Danish Royal Library exist fourteen books, all that is left of a five-volume print run of Enevold Ewald’s sermons. There are no digital copies of the material, nor is there any detailed research on his words. Yet for twenty-seven years, Ewald was the priest and daily leader of Det Kongelige Vajsenhus- an organization that ran the orphanage in Copenhagen and which eventually became the printer of both the authorized Danish Bible and the official hymnal of the Church of Denmark. Purely in terms of printing output, the organization’s work touched all the far reaches of the Danish Empire during the 18th century. Still, despite this legacy of leadership, Ewald’s philosophy of education and his theological thought have remained relatively undisturbed. He exists as a poisonous figure for the historical theology research world in Denmark, tainted forever by his association with Moravians and Separatists. While his fellow Pietists, Hans Adolph Brorson and Erik Pontoppidan, have literary legacies that stretch well past their deaths, Ewald’s name no longer is connected to his vast and varied literary output. His work exists on the brink of burial in the vaults of books too old to be touched or read.

Enevold_Ewald_1696-1754My research is a project of historical theology that sees to resurrect the writings of Ewald through the lens of theological anthropology and spiritual development. The specter of polemic historiography has shunned this figure, but I will treat him as a pathway into a deeper cultural understanding of eighteenth-century religious practice and belief. Continue reading

Networks and Non-sense

TL;DR You know those cool graphs of people’s Facebook friend connections? I’m making one of those, but of dead theologians and philosophers. It might end up telling me something about them and how ideas are passed from person to person or community to community, but more likely than not it will just give me some pretty pictures.

Merged Network

Network theory and Theology

I am using social network theory and analysis exploring how the social imaginary of ‘freedom’ changes in the mid-twentieth century in response to two intersecting cultural movements: the secularization of the West, and the disruption of structuralism by post-modernity. These are certainly not exclusive categories, but they are also not coterminous. As such it will be important to take them on their own terms as somewhat independent interrelated fields of understanding, ‘life-worlds’, in which the average contemporary westerner is being conditioned by and participating in. The secularization thesis presented by Taylor in A Secular Age (2007) will be vital to this study, as well as the work of Talal Asad in Formations of the Secular (2003). Both these authors understand secularization through the interactions of material and ideological forces in given times and places that variously produce ­the epistemological approach, the political activity, the social theory, and the self-conceptions, and it is these that also condition how freedom is understood in the concomitant theological contexts.

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