Thursday, 28 November 2013

Hello from Oslo - part 1

 We - at least most of us - made it to the Norwegian capital and today (well, actually 'yesterday') we had our first lectures in the Contemporary course. Among others our professor for Judaism showed a small part of the Hanukkah ritual, as today is the start of the Jewish feast - never a dull moment in RRE classes!

The evening brought a visit to Minhaj Ul Quran, an Islamic center here in Oslo. Our very own student Nasir gave us a tour through the center and we were treated to a yummy (and spicy) dinner. A great night! Now the light is going out in the girls' hostel room - tomorrow we'll study Christianity and (more) Islam. Good night! 

A modern proverb on the wall.

Our guide Nasir

The Imam of the center at the lovely dinner.

RRE students in dialogue with the Imam

Nasir presenting a book by the founder of the Minhaj Ul Quran - a fatwa condemning suicide bombings and terrorism

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Heia Oslo!

As I’m for the moment the only writer for the blog, this blog’s focus will be on the fourth RRE cycle, as that’s my study year. (Fifth cycle, do something about this! Let me know if you want to write for the blog, even if it’s just four times a year or so.)

So, what’s up with the fourth cycle? Well, most of us are preparing for a trip towards Norway’s capital, Oslo. From Wednesday to Saturday, we will have lectures in our compulsory course ‘The Three Religions in Contemporary Perspective’. Apart from work in the classroom, we will also visit a mosque and a synagogue – that is verily a contemporary perspective! 

It will also be our last official compact seminar, which could be a good moment for nostalgic reflections on how time has the awful tendency to fly…but let’s leave that for another blog. Sigh.

Instead, hereby a few ‘did-you-know-that’s’ about our destination and the RRE seminar for the coming week. Thanks be to Wikipedia.

Did you know that…

-          Oslo was founded around 1000 CE? (Alas, too late to be a study subject for RRE.)
-          Oslo was known by the beautiful name of Kristiania from the 17th century until 1925?
-          Everybody has been telling me that Norway is so extremely expensive that I have already bought instant noodles to take with me?
-          You can see ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch in Oslo’s Munch Museum?
-          Norway’s capital has about 620.000 inhabitants?
-          There is one (brave) student in the 4th cycle in Oslo?
-          Norwegian and Swedish are so similar that it works to send a mail to the hostel where we will stay in Swedish?  
-          You might then actually have to read the mail three times to understand it?
-          Oslo yearly gives away large Christmas trees to several big cities in the world? A fun tradition, I think!
-          Oslo houses the National Theater, which is Norway’s largest theater?
-          The weather might bring anything from -2 to 7 Celsius during our stay? (


Monday, 11 November 2013

Last Open Lecture of the Term!

On Wednesday November 20th, the RRE Lund program will host its last RRE Open Lecture of this term. Within the theme – ‘Fearing the Other’ – fear for Judaism and Christianity have already been considered, so now it is time for Islamophobia.
The Lecture is titled "The Swedish Political Construction of a Contested Concept" and will be given by Johan Cato, PhD, who recently finished his dissertation ('When Islam Became Swedish'
) on the way in which Islam and Muslims have been discussed an presented within Swedish media and politics in the past decades. 

A highly actual and relevant topic!

Time: 6.15 PM, room 118. Like last time, the discussion might be continued in some pub, while enjoying a beer or a plate of nachos...

Come all! 


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Three Lundanean students on their way to the compact seminar

What does an RRE student do on a Wednesday morning? Packing for the Compact seminar...

Taking the train from Lund Station...

Crossing the bridge...

Ending up in the silent coupe in the S-Tog to Nörreport...

Almost there...

We made it!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Copenhagen here we come!

While a heavy storm from Great Brittain is heading towards the Öresund area, all fifth cycle RRE students are currently making their way to Copenhagen for the first Compact Seminar of this term!
For readers who wonder what that means: twice a semester students from all the six host universities get together at one of the institutions to get some real-life lectures next to all the distance learning and the local tutorials. Needless to say that this is not only an intellectual, but also a social peak for us RRE-ers. (I.e. I think four out of five nights dinner parties have already been planned.)
From Monday afternoon to Wednesday morning, the fifth cycle will have classes in their compulsory course ‘Emergence of the Three Religions’. On Wednesday afternoon, most fourth cycle students will arrive too and four elective courses (Women in the Three Religions, Philosophy and Wisdom Traditions, Quran (Arabic text course) and Early Christian Martyrdom (Latin text course)) will head off until Friday afternoon.
I will make the trip to Köpenhamn (less than one hour over the bridge from Lund) on Wednesday morning and I can’t wait to catch up with many friends! Hopefully, I’ll manage to give an update of how things are going later during the week.

Stay safe during the storm!


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Back (and possibly better than ever?) - Questions to the Teacher

If you dig deeply into our archives, you'll find a very nice series of small interviews with our professors. (Or just go the tab on the right and choose 'students interviewing professors'.)

In some ancient era (okay, about two years ago), my predecessors convinced all professors that were in some way connected to the RRE program, to answer five short questions. In the mean time, several new people have become involved in RRE and I thought it would be good to catch up.

So - we're back! And today's answers come from our very coordinator (and general trouble shooter, oracle in case of stupid questions and Open lecture planner, for all of us her in Lund): Andreas Westergren. Thanks for your answers! Surprise of the day: Andreas doesn't want to be Spiderman.

1. Please state your name, age, university and connection to the RREprogram
Andreas Westergren, 39, Lund University, coordinator and teacher in Lund.

2. What is your area of expertise? And which courses do you teach in the RREprogram?
History of Early Christianity, especially Hagiography. Right now I am part of an exciting project investigating the connections between Early Monasticism and Classical Paideia ( I used to teach Holy men and women.

3. How do you think of this way of teaching, which is not regular university courses but neither distance learning?
Generally, I think that it has a lot of potential, both because there is much more writing (and arguing) involved than in "regular university courses", which I think is good, and because the students still know each other much better than in normal distance learning (and many university courses, for that matter). This combination of academic training and social networking is very important, I think.

4. What do you expect from your students?
That they make their full share of work - and engage.

5. If you could have any superhuman power, what would it be and why?
Climbing walls, like Spiderman, sounds too much like a stressed out academic… To have claws, like Wolverine, and an adamantium skeleton which makes you practically invulnerable, is perhaps better for someone trying to survive in the academy… Still, I think that the blind attorney Matt Murdock's (asa Daredevil) hyperactive senses - while fumbling in the dark - is to prefer. Sometimes it would be convenient with bilocation, to be in two places at the same time, as Padre Pio, but most of the time I am just happy if I can stay enough focused to be where I actually am. 

Is there a teacher, coordinator or someone else connected to the program who hasn't been interviewed yet? Let me know and I'll send of him/her the questions as well.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Second Open Lecture in Lund

Fall has arrived. The weather gets more fresh everyday here in Scandinavia, the fifth cycle has just returned from warm and cozy Rome - I hope to be able to publish some pictures soon - and the first deadlines are coming close, especially for the new students.


Yes, dear students, there is, at least if you study in Lund or Copenhagen. (Or are prepared to travel quite a time.) To avoid an autumn depression and 24/7-studying, RRE organises this terms' second Open Lecture on Tuesday October 15th. Within the theme 'Fearing the Other', Rupert Shortt (Religion Editor of Times Literary Supplement and Former Visiting Fellow at Oxford), will talk about Christianophobia.

The lecture is open for everyone; starting time is 6.15, room 118 at CTR. Most probably, the Q&A-session that ends the lecture will be continued in some cafe or restaurant in Lund, at least by the students.

Fight that autumn dip - come!

More information about the Open Lectures:


Friday, 13 September 2013

Must-dos in Rome

In a little more than a week, the new 5th cycle students will leave for their one and only RRE initiation: the trip to Rome! Sharing a dinner, me and some other 4th cyclist went on a nostalgia trip, while thinking of last year. Although we would rather join again, having good memories is also valuable. Moreover, we could thus create a very arbitrary and personal list of everything we think one should do when being on the RRE Rome trip. Anna, Thomas and Ivana, thanks for the inspiration! ;-) 

When in Rome with RRE, one should: 

- Arrive after 11 PM at the Lebanese sisters or at least have to run to make it in time once
- Sit on the roof of the Norwegian Institute with self-cooked dinner.
- Get awesome pizza for lunch at That One Pizzeria that is close to the Institute.
- Get lost. Somewhere.
- Enter the Vatican. Either decide not to enter the St. Peter because of the long line or stand in line for two hours and be eventually not allowed in because of too short pants/skirt.
- Find a topic for both of your papers.
- Go to a Conference on an exciting Coptic fragment.
- Pet the Norwegian-Institute cat. Be careful, she can be mean.
- Get into an academic discussion with Einar Thomassen
- Eat at least one of the following: tiramisu, lasagne, risotto, crostini. Or all, that's even better. 
- Curse the stairs (You'll know what I mean)
- Learn all the names of your fellow students. 
- Conclude that Einar Thomassen was probably right.
- Find out the Coptic fragment is a fraud.
- Found a Facebook group with your classmates. (If there's none yet.)
- Eat seven ice creams. That's once every other day and we have concluded that this should be the minimum.
- Study
- if you still have time for that...

Any additions are welcome, fellow students!


Thursday, 5 September 2013

First Open Lecture Lund Fall 13

Every term, Lund's University organises a series of three-open lectures, linked to the RRE program. The theme of this term is 'fearing the other', so the three lectures will be about judeophobia, christianophobia and islamophobia.
The first one will be coming Tuesday, September 10th and the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies in Lund.  Time: 4.15 PM. Professor Jesper Svartvik will give the lecture about judeophobia.

I'm quite sure that many of us Lund students will come, which might lead to some nice socializing, drinks and possibly dinner afterwards. So if you're in the neighborhood, please come!! :-)


Monday, 2 September 2013

Remember remember - the first of September

Hooray, it’s the first Monday of September. I guess it’s the start of the Academic Year at all of the six RRE institutions. Well, at least it is in Lund. So, it took me some effort to come out of bed at an early time this morning. (And I can tell you that I consider everything before 9 AM ‘early’ after quite a long holiday…)

I started with reading a book for my course on the Religions in Contemporary Perspective: ‘Abraham’s Children – Jewish Christians and Muslims in Conversation’ by Solomon, Harries and Winter. (T&T Clark, 2005.) The concept of the book is special: it was born out of the so-called ‘ Oxford Abrahamic Group’. In this group, Jewish, Christian and Islamic scholars came together twice a year. Three scholars would present a paper on an aspect of one of the three religions, followed by a discussion. Because of the personal beliefs of the scholars, the discussions did not only have an academic, but also a personal dimension and contributed to mutual understanding, even if the discussions were sometimes heated. This book is a collection of the presented papers and the discussion that took place in this group.

Personally, I think that this is very interesting approach and it provides definitely for different reading than other academic books I have read before. When read that Harries thanked his wife Jo “who has provided hospitality for the group, with its variety of dietary requirements”, I had to smile. However – out of the 15 contributors to the book only two are women and that made my smile a little smaller.

So, fourth cycle – what do you think about the concept of this book? And what about the ‘lack’ of female contributors? Am I making fuss about nothing? ;-)

I guess I should get back to reading in the meantime…

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Re-starting up!

A renewed welcome, I think one could say! For several reasons, this blog has been down for more than half a year (we apologize!), but we have the solid intention to start this up again and continue throughout the year with blogs about anything (slightly) related to the RRE program, which could be both be very academic entries, but also just fun little posts.
A warm welcome especially to the new 5th cycle students, who will officially begin their studies next week, but in most places probably already have had a welcome meeting. We’re happy to have you here!
Writer of the above is Paula, a 4th cycle student (that means I started in Fall 2012) in Lund. For now, I am the only one of my cycle writing blogs, but if someone – either 4th or 5th cycle – feels inspired to join, that would be very great. Just send a mail to

Not only this blog is starting up again, also summer is coming to an end and a new term is almost there! The new students will, like every year, start with two smaller courses: ‘Method and Theory’ and ‘Religion and Society’. Teaching for this course will be given in Rome, to which they will leave in a few weeks. (No, we are not jealous, it only seems so. J)

Me and the other third-semester students will take two compulsory courses: ‘The Three Religions in Contemporary Perspective’ and the thesis colloquium, which should prepare us for the real work in the last semester. Apart from that, we can still choose one course. In my case that’ll be a course about the role of women in the three traditions – I’m curious.

I’m looking forward to the new semester and hope you too!