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Old Paths and New Ways

Negotiating Tradition and Relevance in Liturgy


Robert Lilleaasen

The relationship between tradition and relevance is a core feature in religious practice in general and public worship in particular. On the one hand, worship is a bearer of religious traditions, i.e. traditions are maintained in the practice of public worship, and the worship enables individuals to connect with these traditions. On the other hand, it is a quest for relevance in public worship. In order to maintain existing worshippers and attract new participants, congregations have to consider their ability to connect their core values to the needs and expectations of existing and potential participants. This dual purpose of the worship causes a need for negotiation, and it is this negotiation between tradition and relevance that this book investigates. Old Paths and New Ways is a case study of the negotiation between tradition and the quest for relevance in liturgy.

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Many people have helped shepherding this project along its way, and it is a joy to publicly thank them for their help. I am grateful to Peter Lang Publishing, and a particular thanks to acquisition editor Meagan K. Simpson.

This book began as a doctoral dissertation at MF Norwegian School of Theology, and I am indebted to my supervisor Harald Hegstad, who more than anyone has helped realize this project. Thank you for guiding me, for wise ideas, crucial inputs, and insightful comments on the many drafts. I also wish to thank Geir Afdal, Lars Johan Danbolt, Pete Ward, Martin D. Stringer and Bernice Sundkvist for important comments and feedback.

A further acknowledgement goes to Fjellhaug International University College. I am grateful to the board and management; thank you for the trust, opportunity and facilitation. I would like to thank my colleagues at Fjellhaug for stimulating conversations and kind encouragements.

A special thanks to Revetal Menighet and Misjonssalen Aalesund for allowing me to study your congregations. I truly enjoyed visiting your worship practices and getting to know you, I also appreciate the interest you took in the project. I am grateful to the informants who took time to share their thoughts on my questions and their worship, the congregational leaders that in addition answered e-mails, and provided various documents and information. A further thank you to my two outside informants Hanna and Elin. ← xiii | xiv →

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