It is time for the circus of the century, when the trial against Anders Behring Breivik starts in Oslo this week. His defence is scheduled to begin on Tuesday (April 17), and even though the court has decided that no audio or video recording will be allowed, we can expect a theatre without its parallel in Norwegian juridical history.
European Identity Politics and the Memory of Paganism – a conference panel in Amsterdam, 20 April 2012
Last December I was approached by Markha Valenta, a colleague in the history department of the UvA and an occasional contributor to the OpenDemocracy project, asking if I wanted to organize a panel for the upcoming international conference on “Regimes of Religious Pluralism in 20th-Century Europe”. The invitation was inspired by some of the things I wrote on this blog concerning Behring Breivik and religion last summer, and my role would be to compose a “heterodox” component for the conference. I said yes, and started contacting some people. Now, one month before the conference starts, we have three speakers and a juicy topic: “European Identity Politics and the Memory of Paganism”. Below follows a description of the panel’s theme, and a list of speakers and titles.
Terror in the Mind of Who? A response to Mark Juergensmeyer on Breivik’s Christianity (and much besides)
The question of whether or not, or in what sense, the 22/7 Oslo terrorist Anders Behring Breivik is a “Christian”, and to what extent his Christianity had anything to do with his motivations to kill, has stirred up some debate. In my first post on Breivik I referred to sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne’s refutation of the “Christian Fundamentalist” label, a label that really makes very little sense. More recently, however, other scholars of religion have insisted on emphasising Breivik’s Christianity, although refraining from categorizing it as Fundamentalism. At the University of Chicago the well-known American historian of religion Martin E. Marty writes about Breivik the Protestant. Meanwhile, another American scholar of note, Mark Juergensmeyer, insists that we see Breivik as a “Christian terrorist”.
Heresy Corner has a good post on the Templar theme in Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto. It particularly discusses the author’s ambiguous claim that the whole thing is to be read as “fictional” (scare-quotes in the original). Opening the post with a quote from Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum sets the right tone from the start:
“The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.”
This is not a political blog, but sometimes something happens that gives an urgent feeling to express oneself. The horrible events in Oslo and at Utøya Friday 22 July were of this sort. I happened to have recently returned to Norway for a summer vacation, passing close by the bomb site Friday morning, then to watch the utterly absurd situation unfold on television in Trondheim that afternoon. Like the rest of the country, I have been pretty much glued to the TV screen since then. I have also spent considerable time reading the perpetrator’s 1500 page “manifesto” trying to identify, analyse and dissect motivations and ideological underpinnings, and engaging in long and sometimes heated discussions with friends about all this.