Nav: Home

Eager yet humble bishop candidates

June 21, 2010

A new doctoral thesis in history from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, concludes that a person interested in becoming a Swedish bishop in the 1900s had to be careful not to appear too anxious. Instead, candidates had to express an attitude of humility and a desire to serve others.

'Behind the veil of humility and unselfishness, there was an informal competition for power void of references to the concepts of career, power, elite and strategy. Most people who took on the challenge were extremely motivated, but still had to clearly communicate awe and a sense of calling with respect to the office', says author of the thesis Ulrika Lagerlöf Nilsson, who has studied all bishops within the Church of Sweden in the 20th century.

Lagerlöf Nilsson's research shows that a candidate had to have several assets in place to be able to advance in the church hierarchy and become part of the elite. The environment in which one grew up, support from the 'right' people and education seem to have been very important. While bishops were technically recruited from all social classes, most of them evidently belonged to a relatively high social stratum. Moreover, several of the bishops grew up in a pastor's family.

'I expected to find a broadening of the recruitment base in 1963 when the electorate was expanded, but did not', says Lagerlöf Nilsson.

Highly educated

There were generally three possible paths to the office of bishop: via clergy leadership, via academia and theological research, and via administrative leadership at a church institution. This means that all available career paths were church related in one way or another. The group of bishops was therefore very homogenous, consisting of only people with a solid church background. In other words, candidates had better start planning a winning strategy far in advance.

'Many bishops-to-be were encouraged to further their education as part of their careers, since this was necessary to have a fair shot at the top positions. The group of bishops is characterised by a very high level of education compared to other elite groups. In fact, most of them were doctors of theology', says Lagerlöf Nilsson.

By combining studies of correspondence and interviews, Lagerlöf Nilsson has been able to show that unofficial contacts were crucial to one's career within the Church of Sweden - no connections, no office of bishop.

The ideal bishop changed with gender

In the 20th century, all male bishops were married while the two female ones were not. Lagerlöf Nilsson concludes that the description of an ideal bishop differed and that for long the role, which implied spiritual authority, was reserved for males. A male bishop was expected to have a woman by his side, while having a husband and a family was seen as a professional obstacle for female bishops.

'Studying the problem complex of church, power and gender has turned out to be both important and fruitful. There is plenty of reason to continue exploring the recruitment pattern after the separation between the Church of Sweden and the State of Sweden at the turn of the millennium. All aspects of society must be willing to accept critical investigation in order to remain trustworthy. This is also why our country's elite must always be subject to scrutiny', says Lagerlöf Nilsson.

University of Gothenburg

Related Education Articles:

Education a top priority
Various studies have revealed that a majority of Western European populations support increased investment in education.
Dementia on the downslide, especially among people with more education
In a hopeful sign for the health of the nation's brains, the percentage of American seniors with dementia is dropping, a new study finds.
A vision for revamping neuroscience education
The expanding scope and growing number of tools used for neuroscience is moving beyond what is taught in traditional graduate programs, say leaders in American neuroscience education, funding, and policy.
Scientific education through films?
Magic swords, wands, cauldrons and cloaks of invisibility do not exist in reality.
What should be the role of computer games in education?
Game advocates are calling for a sweeping transformation of conventional education to replace traditional curricula with game-based instruction.
Up, up and away, in the name of science education
US researchers extol the virtues of high-altitude balloons for science education in a research paper published in the International Journal of Learning Technology.
Minorities underrepresented in US special education classrooms
Although minority children are frequently reported to be overrepresented in special education classrooms, a team of researchers suggests that minority children are less likely than otherwise similar white children to receive help for disabilities.
Accentuate the positive when it comes to nutrition education
If you want people to choose healthier foods, emphasize the positive, says a new Cornell University study.
How do students use video in higher education?
A new SAGE white paper out today reveals the types of educational videos that appeal to students and where they go to find them.

Related Education Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...