When I this autumn visited Assisi, it struck me that the themes in the public debate in Denmark in 2008, also were burning issues at the time of Francis of Assisi in th 13th century. We are discussing the climate crisis and ecology, while Frans was very concerned about our harmonious interaction with the creation of God. We still discuss how we as church and society should relate to Muslims, while Frans distanced himself from the prevailing crusading mentality of his time and dared to go to dialogue with the Muslim leader in Egypt. This year we are experiencing the beginning of a deep economic recession that exposes our material greed, while Frans also had to struggle with the materialism of his time and felt that he had to live in poverty to attain to freedom.
These three themes have also affected my work in Intercultural.dk during 2008.
• In May I was involved in a study and dialogue tour for Christians and Muslims to Istanbul, and in October we organised the third national conference for Christian and Muslim leaders; this year the theme was ”Religion in Freedom – Freedom in Religion”. Earlier this year I published the book ”From Cartoon Crisis to Headscarf Row. Two Conflicts Changing Multireligious Denmark”.
• At the council meeting of The Lutheran World Federation in Arusha, Tanzania,close to the highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, whose snow is now melting, the focus was on the climate crisis. In the Danish Mission Council we decided that the next issue of our book series, “New Mission”, which we are working on right now, should be ”Church, Mission and Climate Crisis”. Now we are preparing ourselves for the very crucial climate summit in Denmark in 2010.
• In January and February my wife and I went on a study tour to India, Thailand and Vietnam in order to study the religions and cultures of the East. This was a great inspiration for our the work, in which I am involved, of interviewing representatives of groups inspired by Eastern religiousities and spiritualities and of pastors and others who have spent years trying to be in dialogue with them. I thas become clear to me that a significant meeting point between New Agers and others and the church is Christian spirituality. I wonder if the present economic crisis will open the eyes also of ordinary Danes for the limitations and dangers of materialism and the need for a spiritual life.
About these and other themes you may read more in the English section of my website www.intercultural.dk, which will be reopened in a new version on the 1st of January.
I want to express my gratitude to all business associates, colleagues and co-workers for time spent together, for conversations and sharing and for cooperation during the year, which is now coming to an end. I hope the see and work together with you also in 2009. I wish all of you a happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
Mogens S. Mogensen