Har det andliga en samhällelig betydelse? Laestadius’ tidiga predikningar i sin koloniala kontext


  • Mika Vähäkangas


Lars Levi Laestadius (1800-1861) was a priest of the Established Lutheran Church of Sweden and the founder of the largest revival movement in the Nordic region. He served in the very north of Sweden, an area inhabited by Sami and Finns, both groups being culturally and linguistically clearly distinct from the Swedes, considered both culturally and racially superior. Laestadius’ background was mixed Swedish and Sami but most of his preaching took place in Finnish. Laestadius is here analyzed as a cultural hybrid in a colonial situation. He was not a political figure but typically a revivalist preacher with strong emphasis on the transcendent realities. However, his sermons contain a good amount of social analysis and critique, yet not exhorting any political action. In spite of this, the resulting revival movement caused major changes in the social, cultural and political patterns of the northernmost corner of Europe. This was probably due to the fact that Laestadius did not himself become a politician and did not participate in the game according to the rules of the status quo. By directly referring to the authority of God, he created an alternative symbolic universe as an interspace where the oppressed peoples of the north could construct subversive cultural, social and political structures. In the resulting revival, by becoming patriarchal and Finnish, these structures, however, turned oppressive towards women and the Sami, quite unlike Laestadius’ theology which regarded God predominantly as feminine and gave space to Sami cultural expressions.