Journal Article

Religion and Spans of Ambiguity on a Danish Island

Andrew Buckser

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 58, issue 3, pages 261-275
Published in print January 1997 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 1997 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712216
Religion and Spans of Ambiguity on a Danish Island

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Over the past half century, northern Europe has seen a striking decline of belief in God and the supernatural. Yet the churches there have not died, and in some cases they remain strong and active. Whence does the vitality of these churches derive, if belief has eroded? This paper examines one such church, an independent Lutheran congregation in northwestern Denmark. It suggests that the church's importance stems from its “span of ambiguity,” the broad range of meanings which it expresses in its local context. Its ability to integrate meanings from a variety of social arenas gives it a powerful role in a rapidly changing society. The paper argues that religious systems generally have an unusual capacity for such expression and integration. It is the extent to which they can maintain their spans of ambiguity, rather than the extent to which they can maintain belief, which accounts for their persistence or decline.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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