Presenting the Recovira project at the joint conference of religious studies and theology

Katriina Hulkkonen and Linda Annunen, Åbo Akademi University

The biannual Research Conference in Theology and Religion was held in Turku on May 22–24. The conference was organized this year for the third time under the theme “Traditions and transitions. Milestones and continuities”. The conference brings together mainly Finnish researchers of religion who are interested in a wide variety of topics. We presented our Recovira research in the session “Seven keys in understanding lived religion”, chaired by Björn Vikström, Professor of Theology and Tomas Ray, University Teacher at Åbo Akademi University.

During the lived religion session, Ilona Blumgrund and Iiris Nikanne used interview materials to discuss the conversion of asylum seekers to Christianity. Both of their presentations raised questions in the audience about authenticity and the relationship between researcher and interlocutors. In her paper, Martina Björkander discussed what it is like to study lived theology in the case of the Pentecostal community. In addition, she challenged the audience to discuss what theological research is like or could be. Tomas Ray analysed Lutheran identity in multicultural Malaysia from the perspective of Nancy Ammerman’s characteristics of lived religion, and Anoo Niskanen examined identity motives in her own study on the Laestadian community. First, interest in themes related to belonging and everyday practices united all these presentations. Second, these papers highlighted certain kinds of creativity, such as the diversity of belonging or the creativity of theology and religious studies.

Our presentation “COVID-19 pandemic and ritual renewal in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland – digital solutions and improvisation” concluded this session. In our paper, we addressed creativity – in the case of institutional religion and ritual. We discussed the ritual renewal caused by the pandemic from the perspective of improvisation. Our analysis focused on Facebook nightly hymn singing sessions that one urban congregation launched during the pandemic. With the help of this example, we examined the development of digital ritual, and the reasons for its popularity, such as accessibility and homespun style. Finally, we discussed the aspects that limit the renewal of digital rituals. According to this evening broadcast case, the ritual renewal initiated by the pandemic was a process of improvisation that took place especially in relation to digital tools, religious traditions, different spaces, and resources, and gave rise to a ritual culture of mundanity and permissiveness.

The presentations of the session offered an interesting setting for the study of contemporary everyday religiosity. Afterwards, we reflected, for example, on how conference presentations could be built in a more conversational direction, and how the researcher’s own childhood experiences could in some cases provide a starting point for analysis. In addition, the session raised questions about the benefits and shortcomings of the concept of lived religion and the need for longer-term follow-up studies on some research topics.

Islam and Covid on UK Twitter in early 2020

Dr Sean Durbin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Manchester Metropolitan University

In addition to the ethnographic fieldwork that we are conducting across different communities in Europe for this project, we have also been working on a social media strand, aimed at helping us understand how people online were discussing religion in relation to the restrictions imposed in the early months of the pandemic from March to June 2020.

To do this we have been using a social listening platform that allows us to scrape publicly available data off the web and analyse it, making it useful to conduct discourse analysis of large amounts of naturally occurring data. In this context, scraping refers to a technique for the automated collection of online data. Scrapers are essentially bits of software code that enable researchers to automatically download data from the web, which can then be classified and modelled in different ways. 

Using boolean search terms related to Islam, Christianity and other religious traditions in conjunction with pandemic related keywords such as lockdown, COVID-19, etc, we originally hoped to see how different communities talked about what they were doing to adapt their practices to a the sudden requirement to stay indoors. However, in an effort at cross-country comparability, as well as other practical considerations, we opted instead to focus on the public discussion that was occurring online about religion/religious communities, and related issues (e.g. religious freedom).

What we have found in the UK, is that Muslims and Islam were vastly overrepresented in this online discussion. Although Muslims represent roughly 6% of the population in the UK they made up roughly 75% of the online discussion of religious groups in our data scrape. Christians and Christianity on the other hand made up only 19% of mentions online.

What accounts for this over representation? Based on our analysis of the most engaged tweets, much of the conversation around Muslims online was driven in some way by claims or beliefs that Muslims would not abide by lockdown rules, especially over the Ramadan period, and therefore would contribute to the spread of COVID-19. This topic was then spread further by other Twitter users who would mock or rebuke these claims, all of which contributed to the over-representation of Muslims in public Twitter discourse during our period of focus.

Digitalization and the Catholic community

Dr Ewa Stachowska, Institute of Social Prevention and Resocialization, University of Warsaw.

In the springtime the Polish team is focused on work in two main areas. The first one is to prepare an article entitled Digitalization and the Catholic religious community in Poland, which revolves around the role and meaning of the process of digitalization in the Catholic community. The article includes an analysis of the preliminary results of the qualitative research conducted in this community. The Catholic Church is the largest denomination in Poland, hence the first of the articles presents results concerning this community. The process of digitalization is widespread in our times, and although in the Catholic community in Poland it is noticeable that not only the direct contact is approved of, the popularity of traditional media (such as the radio and TV) is also more visible, as it performed a crucial role in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital tools have been (and still are) a form of facilitating communication and information flow in the Catholic community. However, they are identified by the respondents as an instrument shaping the “digital sacred” to a smaller degree. It is worth noting that the aforementioned direction of perceiving digital tools is more noticeable among the older generations than among the young. What is more, the Catholic community in Poland is successively becoming a “senior community”, as secularization is accelerating especially among young people (which is shown in numerous research, e.g. carried out by PEW Research Center, CBOS – Public Opinion Research Center, ESS). An interesting thread emerging from the conducted research, which will undergo a broader analysis, is the fact that on the linguistic level the respondents perceive taking part in media rituals as “viewing”. This indicates a specific “oversimplification”, or even “trivialization” (cf. N. Postman) of participation in the media liturgy.

The second area of work undertaken by the Polish team concerns the preparation of papers for the 7th International Congress of Religious Studies, which will be held in Gdynia (Poland) from 19th-21st June 2024.[1] The Congress is a cyclical event in the circle of specialists of religious studies in Poland. This year its subject is: Religions. Tradition and Modernity. The engagement of the team during the Congress involves: participating in the scientific committee, coordinating the section of: Transformations of Religiosity and Non-religiosity in Sociological Research by Ewa Stachowska, delivering a paper entitled Minority Religious Communities and Digitalization in Poland. Moreover, arrangements are being made concerning the organization of a discussion panel Religion and Digitalization during the Congress.


Technology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Alexandra Berg, Åbo Akademi University

Alexandra Berg, first year student at Åbo Akademi University, has assisted the Finnish Recovira-team with participant observations for the projects’ aesthetic analysis. Here you can read about her observations and experiences when visiting the Jehovah’s Witnesses last winter.

Last year, in the gloomy midwinter, we went to visit the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were a well-dressed group of people, who treated us with warmth and consideration. We attended an event set in the Kingdom Hall’s main lecture hall; a large and bright room filled with dozens of people. I was excited and a bit nervous. I had never been to a Jehovah’s Witness event before. My nervousness proved to be unnecessary, because when we arrived everyone was hospitable and did their best to make us feel welcome.

I found it very interesting to notice how highly digitised the gathering was. There were two large TV screens in the front of the hall, angled downwards, so the audience could easily see them. The TVs were actively used during the sermon, displaying text or pictures relevant to the topic. At one point, everyone who was able to, stood up and sang together, and the lyrics were shown on the TV screens. The atmosphere in the room was relaxed. I got the impression that everyone was comfortable singing, and the songs were familiar to them.  There was a separate desk in the room with computer monitors. Towards the end of the sermon, the congregation watched videos portraying scenarios one might encounter when doing mission work, and how to navigate certain situations. 

The usage of mobile phones was highly encouraged during the lecture. Almost everyone had an app containing material and resources related to the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The event’s schedule and program were available in the app, as well as reading materials, such as Bible verses, think-pieces about life and faith, and issues of Watchtower. In an interactive section during the sermon, people received prompts on their apps, and they could answer questions posed in the app.

Various speakers spoke into microphones. There were microphones located by the individual seats. Many members of the audience took their turns to answer questions or give their insights. The sound was loud enough to be clearly heard, but at a comfortable volume suited to the hall’s size and acoustic capabilities. 

I really enjoyed the event and meeting all the people. They were very friendly and happy to converse with me. I was surprised at the smooth incorporation of technology, and it was very intriguing to meet so many new people.

-Alexandra Berg

Researchers of Religion, Digital Media, and Rituals Met in Helsinki

Katriina Hulkkonen, Linda Annunen and Ruth Illman, Åbo Akademi University

An international group of researchers interested in religion, digital media, rituals, and death gathered at the University of Helsinki on 13–15 March 2024. The seminar was jointly organized by the research projects Recovira and Digital Death, DiDe.

The seminar was opened on Wednesday 13 March by a keynote lecture delivered by Professor Douglas Davies of Durham University. His theme was “Death rites online and absent. Death ritual through virtual presence and literal absence: the paradox of live-streaming funerals and the absence of ritual in ‘direct cremation”. Davies’ presentation highlighted a ludic, or playful, attention to death and funerals. Play bends the rules in order to create something new, which becomes apparent especially in two funeral trends: the “no-fuss-funerals”, which are stripped of typical funeral aesthetics and traditions, and funerals carried out as a celebration of life. In this sense, rituals in times of change might bring forth ludicity that in turn allows for changes in funeral rituals.

Prof. Douglas Davies opened the seminar with a keynote lecture on the theme of death rituals in digital age. Prof. Joshua Edelman, PI of the Recovira team, responded with reflections on performativity and play. Image credit – Ruth Illman

The following day was reserved for a roundtable seminar where the researchers of Recovira and DiDe discussed their preliminary results in-depth. In the first roundtable session “Religious communities in digital contexts: Trends and transformations”, Henrik Reintoft Christensen and Alana Vincent talked about the current state of our Recovira project as well as the benefits and challenges of using survey data and social media materials. The presentations sparked discussion on how technology shapes religion and religious communities and how a critical approach could be formed within the Recovira project. In other words, how could our research better consider and critically examine the negative aspects of digitalization and the power structures that relate to it? The participants asked very interesting questions, for example: What is the position of commercial technology companies in the field of religion? What opportunities do religious communities have to respond to or resist increasing digitalization? 

The second roundtable session of the afternoon focused on ritual changes, death, and grief. First, Dorthe Christensen discussed the perspective offered by the autoethnographic method to study digital death practices and grief. Terhi Utriainen then talked about various perspectives for examining death rituals. At the same time, she presented the forthcoming Handbook on Contemporary Death Rituals in Europe. The presentations gave rise to a lively discussion, where for example the definition and use of the concept of ritual was scrutinized. Is there an end to a ritual? Are classics, like the ritual theories of Victor Turner or Catherine Bell, still relevant today? Moreover, what kind of new theoretical tools do we need to study death rituals?

The day continued with an open panel discussion led by Professor Johanna Sumiala, PI of the DiDe team. The speakers were the author, columnist and pastor Hilkka Olkinuora, the funeral home entrepreneur Kyllikki Forsius, the director Hannu Mäkelä from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, the researcher Maija Butters from the University of Helsinkiand the Vantaa-based Imam Sharmarke Said Aw-Musse.

Death in Finland Today: the public panel discussion at the Think Corner drew a large audience both on-site and online. From left: Johanna Sumiala, Hilkka Olkinuora, Kyllikki Forsius, Hannu Mäkelä, Maija Butters and Sharmarke Said Aw-Musse.

During the conversation, the panelists offered different viewpoints on practices and attitudes toward death. They largely agreed that nowadays, the silent and natural death of an individual is hidden while the violence of death has received a lot of attention in the media, especially due to wars. The discussion highlighted the importance of funeral homes, bureaucracy, and the role of relatives in practical matters related to death. The panelists presented their views on the change in funeral customs in Finland. Based on the discussion, funerals have become more individual. The panelists’ views also resonate with our Finnish Recovira data, according to which in the case of the Lutheran Church, people want to arrange smaller funerals than before. However, the discussion also revealed that funerals are often large in the Muslim community. For example, community members not close to the deceased may also come to pray at the funeral. In addition, the panelists pondered, what kind of a place social media is for dealing with grief, how the fear of death is visible today’s Finland, and whether there should be more education related to death. Based on the discussion, death rituals are still important for communities, relatives and loved ones, as well as for the dying person her- or himself in dealing with death and grief. The panel discussion ended with the wish that people would be present for the dying person and talk more about mortality in general.

On Friday, both projects continued with internal project meetings. For the Recovira-team, this included planning a book that will focus on overlappings and differences expressed in the research data from all project countries. In addition to these more concrete plans for the Recovira project, for us members of the Finnish team, this three-day seminar offered interesting and different topics for reflection concerning, among other things, creativity, critical research on digitalisation and religion, the limits of the use of the concept of ritual, and people’s somewhat changed relationship with death.

Diving into the data and sensing the importance of senses

Anne Lundahl Mauritsen, Postdoctoral Researcher, Aarhus University

As the RECOVIRA project proceeds, we are still in the process of analyzing the data in both Denmark and in the other participating countries. In our former Danish blogpost, we emphasized to clear trends in the data: First, that all the Danish religious communities we have visited have returned to meeting physically and second, that resources are highly conditional for how the groups adapt digitally. As we plan the articles we will write this spring, out interest in understanding the community aspect has only increased. What is it about community which is so hard to replicate online and which makes people go back to meeting face to face rather than digitally? To near an answer to this question, we will present just a few quotes from informants in the study. Interestingly, both informants in their quotes mention the importance of the senses:

 “I mean, the many, many smells are an important element. I have – on a regular Sunday – counted the many, between 8-12 nationalities at a regular Sunday service (…) The sensual, the sensual means something, I mean in my lecture this Sunday I will touch upon Grundtvig’s thesis of how we’re human first and then Christians, there is something about how being human opens for the sensual which then becomes an opening towards the divine”

“Well, if I should tie this up, then I would say that what is essential to me is the community where we look each other in the eyes and sense each other, it has been the smells, it can be different things, and that can never be replaced by digital, by a digital presence”

Clearly, to both informants the senses which come into play in the presence of other community members are an important part of feeling connected and clearly this is lacking in a digital service. It seems as if smelling each other and gaining eye contact are key factors in feeling part of the group, which could potentially have interesting explanations founded in theories from the fields of psychology and evolutionary biology as well as aesthetic studies. There is much more to unpack in terms of what constitutes community, but we have a strong feeling of this being an important starting point, which we will pursue over the next few months of analysis.

Alustavia tutkimushavaintoja: tuttavallisuutta, turvaa ja turhautumista

Linda Annunen, Project Researcher, Åbo Akademi University

Tämä blogikirjoitus käsittelee keskeisiä havaintoja kenttätyössämme Suomen evankelis-luterilaisen kirkon tapaustutkimukseen liittyen. Tutkimuksessa haastateltiin ja havainnointiin elämää koronan jälkeen erityisesti kahdessa seurakunnassa turun alueella.

Molemmat seurakunnat siirtyivät suuremmitta ongelmitta ripeästi virtuaaliseen ympäristöön heti pandemian ensimmäisestä aallosta lähtien. Virtuaalisten jumalanpalvelusten rinnalle, otettiin nopeasti mukaan myös sosiaalisen median tarjoamat mahdollisuudet. Virtuaalisia jumalanpalveluksia täydennettiin muun muassa verkossa katseltavissa olevilla keskusteluohjelmilla, virtuaalisilla pyhiinvaelluksilla, tai online-kahvitilaisuuksilla. Myös suurempia siirtymäriittejä, kuten rippileirejä, -kouluja ja hautajaisia toteutettiin verkon välityksellä.

Erityiseen asemaan nousivat haastateltavien kertomuksissa myös sosiaalisen median ns. uudet rituaalit, eli sellaiset rituaalit joita ei ennen pandemiaa harjoitettu yhdessä. Yksi tällainen suuren suosion saanut ”some-rituaali”, joka on jäänyt elämään korona-ajan jälkeen yhdessä seurakunnista, on iltavirsi ja -rukoustuokio Facebookissa. Kyseinen some-rituaali tarjosi seurakunnalle tilaisuuden luoda ja muokata toimintoja, joiden toivottiin myös vaikuttavan seurakuntaelämän identiteettiin ja muotoon, ja kokemukseen.

Facebook-liven kautta streamattavissa iltavirsi-tapahtumissa seurakuntalaiset laulavat yhden ennakkoon valitun virren ja rukoilevat iltarukouksen yhdessä. Tapahtumaa vetää yleensä yksi tai kaksi seurakunnan työntekijöistä, jonka lisäksi yksi vapaa-ehtoinen avustaja käy läpi ja vastaa tapahtuman aikana tuleviin kommentteihin. Iltavirsitapahtumat otettiin seurakunnassa suurella innolla vastaa ja ne ovat vakiinnuttaneet paikkansa joka torstai-iltaisena aktiviteettina.

Mitä tämän kaltaisen toiminnan seuraaminen voi kertoa meille pandemian vaikutuksista rituaaliseen elämään? Keskusteluissani seurakunnan työntekijöiden ja muiden jäsenten kanssa on selvää, että iltavirsien suureksi eduksi koettiin ennen kaikkea niiden mahdollistama kotoisuus ja tuttavallisuus. Seurakunnan työntekijät tekivät (erityisesti pandemia-aikana) iltavirsilähetyksiä usein omasta kodistaan, jolloin mukaan saattoi eksyä myös puolisoja, lapsia, tai lemmikkejä. Koska tilaisuudet olivat live-lähetyksiä, ilmassa oli erään haastateltavan sanoin aina sopivasti ”vaaran tuntua”. Mokaamista tai nuotinvierestä laulamista ei koettu uhkana, vaan ne olivat tärkeä osa tapahtuman luonnetta. Näin pandemia mahdollisti uudenlaisen epämuodollisen some-rituaalin muodostumisen, jossa keskiössä oli tuttavallisuus ja kotoisuus. Facebook-iltavirsien avulla seurakunnan päättävissä tehtävissä olevat, kuten kirkkoherra ja papit, loivat ja saivat uuden ”pehmeämmän auktoriteetin”. Tämän haastateltavat tulkitsivat yhdeksi syyksi iltavirsien suurelle suosiolle.

Toinen tärkeä haastatteluissa esiin noussut merkitys, joka tämän kaltaisilla matalan kynnyksen some-toiminnoilla kuvailtiin olevan, oli niiden helppo saavutettavuus. Koska tilaisuudet olivat käytännössä kenen tahansa ulottuvilla verkossa, ne nähtiin helposti lähestyttävinä ja helppona mahdollisuutena tutustua seurakunnan toimintaan. Tilaisuuden avoimuutta ei koettu huonona tai uhkaavana seurakunnalle. Monet seurakuntalaiset kertoivat tapahtuman suurista seuraajanumeroista ja siitä, kuinka chat-kommentit paljastivat ihmisten seuraavan lähetyksiä monista eri paikkakunnista ja ulkomailta. Näin seurakunnalle muodostui eräänlainen some-seurakunta, joka seurasi toimintaa aktiivisesti netissä, mutta syystä tai toisesta ei paikan päällä. Tilaisuudet tavoittivat myös erilaisia ryhmiä, joiden muuten olisi ollut hankalaa, mahdotonta tai pelottavaa osallistua toimintaan paikalla. Erityisesti vanhukset, joille kotoa poistuminen oli hankalaa löysivät some-toiminnan. Yksi seksuaalivähemmistöön kuuluva haastateltava kertoi some-rituaalien tarjonneen hänelle turvallisen tilan tutustua seurakunnan toimintaan ja saada vastuutehtäviä.

Voidaan siis todeta, että iltavirsi-tapahtumien kaltaiset uudet some-rituaalit koettiin selvästi positiivisena lisänä uskonnolliseen elämään. Erityisesti sen mahdollistamat uudenlaiset auktoriteetti käsitykset ja suhteet, sekä saavutettavuus saivat paljon kiitosta. Iltavirsi-tapahtumia ei kuitenkaan yksinomaan kuvailtu positiivisessa valossa. Osa haastateltavista huomautti, että sosiaalisen median ympäristössä harjoitettavat rituaalit eivät tavoittaneet nuorempia seurakuntalaisia, joiden koettiin toivovan kanssakäymistä kasvotusten. Tämän lisäksi osa seurakuntalaisista ilmaisivat turhautumista siitä, ettei korona-ajan sosiaaliseen mediaan siirtymisen jälkeen palattu yhtä toimivaan kanssakäymiseen kasvotusten, kuin ennen pandemiaa. Näissä kertomuksissa seurakuntatyöntekijöiden koettiin osittain ”piiloutuvan ruudun taakse”, kasvotusten kanssakäymisen kustannuksella. Lähes kaikki haastateltavat kertoivat korona-ajan jälkeen kaipaavansa kanssakäymistä kasvotusten. Kolmeen sanaan tiivistäen, voidaan todeta korona-ajan käynnistämien some-rituaalien tuovat tutkimuksen seurakuntalaisille tuttavallisuutta, turvaa ja turhautumista.

Image credit – Linda Annunen

Et indblik i digital religion blandt unge i Danmark

Anne Lundahl Mauritsen, Postdoctoral Researcher, Aarhus University

Dataindsamlingen i den danske del af RECOVIRA-projektet er stadig undervejs, og vi har nu vendt blikket mod to religionsgrupper, der primært har både unge medlemmer og unge ledere. I dette blogpost giver vi en smagsprøve på de første fund fra feltarbejdet i disse to grupper og relaterer det til tidligere præsenterede pointer og temaer i det forrige danske blogpost.

Det fremstår forholdsvist tydeligt, at de yngre grupper bruger digitale værktøjer og sociale medier i højere grad end grupper med ældre medlemmer og ledere. I den ene gruppe ser vi således en helt specifik grafisk vision og en gennemtænkt strategi for brugen af særligt Facebook og Instagram samt en professionel ansat til at varetage blandt andet denne kommunikation. Her anvendes Facebook særligt i to henseender; for det første som et kalenderredskab, hvor ’begivenheds ’-funktionen bruges til at skabe overblik over de mange events, gruppen har; for det andet har gruppen en række mindre, kreative fællesskaber, og disse fællesskaber har typisk en selvstændig Facebook-gruppe, som anvendes til intern kommunikation, og som dermed er fællesskabsunderstøttende. Instagram bruges i stedet til at give løbende, levende updates fra de daglige arrangementer i gruppen, særligt via ’story ’-formatet, og gruppen er desuden bevist om, at den ungegruppe, de rækker ud til generelt, bruger Instagram mere end Facebook, hvorfor de lægger en vedvarende indsats i at være nærværende på Instagram.

Den anden religionsgruppe er mindre organiseret og mere frivilligt drevet, hvorfor helhedsindtrykket er lidt mindre organiseret. I denne religionsgruppe bruges også både Facebook og Instagram, i mange henseender på samme måde som i førstnævnte gruppe; til at dele ud af fællesskabets aktiviteter og koordinere disse samt til at give et løbende indblik i gruppens daglige liv. Grupperne har derfor en række fællestræk i forhold til deres inddragelse af det digitale, men hvad der er særligt interessant er at vi selv i disse grupper, som så aktivt inddrager det digitale, ser, at den digitale indsats ikke kan stå for sig selv, men i stedet anvendes til at få brugerne til at komme til de fysiske aktiviteter. Endnu en gang virker det således tydeligt, at der er elementer ved dét at skabe et autentisk, meningsfuldt, sammenhængende religiøst fællesskab, som skal skabes i det fysiske fremfor det digitale samvær.

Vi kan også forsigtigt konkludere, i tråd med en pointe fremsat i den sidste danske blogpost, at den digitale indsats konkret ofte er betinget af hvilke konkrete ressourcer, der er til rådighed i religionsgrupperne. Er der finansielle og/eller menneskelige ressourcer til at varetage den digitale indsats, bliver denne typisk mere konsekvent, hvorimod grupper med mangel på disse ressourcer ofte får en mere fragmenteret digitalt præsens på sociale medier. Den danske dataindsamling går nu ind i den mere afsluttende proces. Over de næste par måneder er det således vores ambition at runde det fysiske og digitale feltarbejde af samt foretage de sidste interviews, for dernæst at påbegynde en dybere analyse af materialet.

An initial analysis of the Danish data

Anne Lundahl Mauritsen, Postdoctoral Researcher, Aarhus University

RECOVIRA-projektet skrider fremad, og i denne blogpost – det første af sin slags på dansk – giver vi et indblik i de fund, vi indtil videre har identificeret i de danske data. I vores sidste blogpost var vi i det første stadie af feltarbejdet og havde indsamlet data primært i den buddhistiske gruppe. Siden da har vi gennemført dataindsamling i en af kirkerne samt interviewet forskellige repræsentanter for andre religiøse grupper. Grupperne, som disse repræsentanter tilhører, bliver ikke genstand for feltarbejde, men disse mere fritstående interviews har alligevel givet en større bredde til projektet, i det flere grupper får en stemme. Vi har nu etableret kontakt til den næste kirke, hvor der skal indsamles data. Desværre har det vist sig svært at få en muslimsk gruppe til at deltage i projektet, men vi forsøger via forskellige netværk at se, om ikke det alligevel kan lade sig gøre.

For nu har vi altså indsamlet lidt over halvdelen af data, og vi kan således begynde at se nogle trends i materialet, om end vi ikke endnu har lavet en dybdegående analyse. Vi vil her præsentere to tendenser.

For det første er det en gennemgående tendens, at grupperne er vendt tilbage til at møde fysisk til deres praksisser. Mange informanter fremhæver, at dét at mødes fysisk og være nærværende sammen i samme rum ikke kan erstattes digitalt, fordi følelsen af fællesskab og sammenhørighed ikke på samme måde kan genskabes igennem det digitale. Dét at få øjenkontakt med et andet medlem eller med lederen eller at dufte og sanse rummet og at mærke stemningen fremhæves af mange som absolut essentielt og meningsgivende for dem i deres religiøse liv. Videre har flere informanter også pointeret at forskellige ritualer, såsom nadvere eller belæringer, virker mest autentiske og virkelige, når den religiøse leder er fysisk present. 

For det andet kan vi se, at håndteringen af pandemien og den digitale omstilling, grupperne har gennemført eller forsøgt at gennemføre, er stærkt afhængig af de lokale ressourcer, gruppen har til rådighed. Disse ressourcer relaterer sig blandt andet til de generationer, der er repræsenteret i gruppen, de digitale ressourcer og udstyr, der har været adgang til og diversiteten i gruppen. Grupper med yngre medlemmer, medlemmer, der har digitale kompetencer og generelt grupper med flere medlemmer er lykkedes bedre med at omstille sig til det digitale end mindre grupper med ældre og færre medlemmer.

Vi ser frem til at have det samlede materiale indsamlet og til at påbegynde en dybere analyse, både på den danske såvel som på de andre landes data, men for nu kan ovenstående give et første indblik i projektets fund.

Image credit: image provided by the author

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