HELSINKI – Museovirasto, the Finnish Heritage Agency (FHA, previously the National Board of Antiquities) and part of the Ministry of Education, has announced that it will be conducting a new countrywide field inspection of ancient monuments protected by the Finnish government. The project began this June and will continue for the next three years creating an extensive directory of Finland’s ancient monuments. It will cover both known sites and new areas, while updating existing surveys. The FHA is responsible for preserving Finland’s cultural heritage. The agency serves as a both as a cultural resource and a research institution.
There is no denying that the north has always played an important role in the worldview of Europe and the Western world in general. From the Romantics that sung the praise of the wild, Nordic nature at the turn of the 19th century to the current popular entertainment craze spawned by media franchises such as Frozen, Vikings and the like, the north is as relevant as it has ever been. This influence is even more noticeable in regards to the world of contemporary Paganism. Not only has Heathenism experienced a noticeable revival and growth in the past couple decades, but Nordic deities, practices and iconography are routinely found within more eclectic movements as well. However, all things considered, the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and the Faroe Islands) are all relatively small and somewhat isolated.
While I may live in a relatively tiny city by most standards, my Norwegian hometown of Tromsø, with just over 70,000 inhabitants, still has all the characteristics of a much larger metropolis, including a unique architectural heritage. While some of the town’s most famed constructions are old wooden wharfs and shoddy fishermen’s cabins, the one building that is maybe the most closely associated with the image of the city is, as it is often the case with other cities in Europe, its church: the Arctic Cathedral. Designed and built in 1965 by the Norwegian architect Jon Inge Hovig, the church, which is in fact not a cathedral but a “mere” parish church, was thought of from the start as a symbolic focal point for the town. Located across the bridge leading to the mainland, the church, which can be seen from any point in the city center, attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year who come to gaze at its inspired architecture or attend one of the numerous concerts organized daily in its main hall. The Arctic Cathedral is, by all means, a beautiful building.
A couple recent news items gives us a glance into what a multi-religious and post-Christian America could look like. First, in honor of Women’s History Month, the Pew Forum re-analyzes data from their U.S. Religious Landscape Survey and came up with some interesting results. “March is Women’s History Month. A new analysis of data from the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that women are more religious than men on a variety of measures.” What does that mean?