This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 12 -- Feast of Saint Nathan Söderblom

One of the reasons this blog has been a little more reliable lately is that I have banked posts.  A few days ago, I spent a couple hours on this post, but then encountered one of the more frustrating limitations of the iPad and lost (or scrapped, I guess) the entire thing.  It is probably for the best, since  I had written a series of the Swedish Church going back to King Gustaf V had the final say on who got to be Archbishop of Uppsala and thereby the Primate of Sweden.

Sidenote:  My son was commenting some weeks ago on the comic image evoked by the title Primate. Although he is not notably religious these days (one may hope for the future), he said that he would consider leading a sect if it allowed him to call himself the Primate of North America.

Second Sidenote:  Since the Church of Sweden was disestablished in 2000, I am not sure that His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden (may God's blessing be upon him) has the same authority over the See of Uppsala.

The list of nominees for the archbishop of Uppsala was formed from the top three choices among the sixteen ecclesiastical-electoral districts.  By tradition, the king selected (confirmed) really the top voter-getter.  The two senior bishops presented to Gustav V had eighty-two percent of the votes between them, but His Majesty skipped them to the third choice, a language and theology prof.

Actually, Lars Olof Jonathan Söderblom -- Nathan was short for Jonathan -- was a little more than that. He was the leading proponent of ecumenicalism, the movement of free unity among the various Christian denominations.  Several of the reformed Protestant church leaders joined him in this.  His movement gained some traction with Anglican clergy, though the Archbishop of Canterbury was skeptical.  Rome would take a couple decades to come around, and the Eastern Orthodox had other worries in the 1920s and 1930s.  But all in all, it was a powerful idea which continues to grow and blossom.  

Archbishop Söderblom was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1930, a choice that might seem odd in our age.  Then again, with priests and nuns directly executed regularly from Russia to Spain to Mexico, with rising rising religious persecution throughout Europe, with the KKK resurgence focusing on Catholics and Jews as well as African-Americans in the US, and of course with the unending Troubles in Ireland, a bright spot in the religious world might have seem quite a tonic.  

Third Sidenote:  Although Alfred Nobel, who died in 1896, had no hand in Söderblom's selection for the prize, it is one of fortune's nice touches that the good archbishop had served as his parish priest for a a few years early in his career.  Or perhaps the old man's emphasis on peace and progress in some way contributed to the young man's formation.  Either way, the prize has probably never had such a personal impact as it did that year.  

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