30 July 2015

on modern science, spirituality and what holds communities together

opening the ANSA e.V. Conference 2014 in Lingen

Modern Science and Spirituality: Implications for development in Africa and Europe
is what the October 2015 ANSA e.V. conference is supposed to be about.

It is funny how the titles of these conferences are rather easy at hand - and then there is this vast intangible space of possibilities on what it actually means. And what it does not mean. And what it does not mean at all. Mostly leading to dismissing any thought before it could even find its way to the paper.

I like to fill these spaces with experiences of my own. 
It makes it easier for me to grasp. 
It makes it more concrete.
It allows me to adopt my thoughts and put them down on paper.
So here they come ...

Modern Science and Spirituality: Implications for development in Africa and Europe 
- sounds like dichotomies, right? 
I like to mess with dichotomies and stereotypes. In the two days of the conference we will hear many great academic works and will have high-level academic debates. 
So why not start this conference with a little story.
With my story.

I grew up in a village. A small village - 20 houses, 100 people. All farmers, in a farming region. Wealthy people in one of the riches regions in Germany - the SüdOldenburger Land. 
Benefiting from the advancements of modern science and technology for farming, processing, packaging - the entire production chain basically. 

So I grew up seeing when Mercedes-Benz would have a new model as surely one of the people in that village would get it. Unlike today where I live in Berlin, Germany's capital city and I look at poor but sexy people (as the former berlin major coined it) in public transport systems. 

Conservative to the bone were these quite wealthy farmers. Christian catholic. Black through and through, like the entire region - as my green party electing mother who had migrated to the village used to explain to me, with black being the color of the conservative Christian Democratic Party (I think Angela Merkel is trying to change it as she always wears red, right?). 

And yet, what held these people together - and this is curious as each and everyone of them would shun you off when you would mention the world spirituality what held them together - what held these people together, what holds us together up to date and what created community, was not church, christianity or debates around modern science. 

It was the celebration of Karneval, of Schützenfest in full traditional gears, the celebration of easter fires, of setting first may trees, of celebrating new years, the darkest night of the year. 
Pagen festivals, traditional festivities, cultural practices. Which despite the looting and burning of the pagan practices remain. Alive. In everyday life. As unquestionable/self evident practices. Of course also granting beautiful excuses to enjoy alcohol in rauen Mengen so I was trained early, don’t dare me on that one ;-) No I am kidding, I don’t drink alcohol again.

There are some points I derived from this. 
In practical everyday life, spirituality and modern since are not that far apart. Are not mutually exclusive. Rather go hand in hand as it serves to the people. In the practical life of the people they can each find their space and place. They can be accommodated and do not in every case have to be mutually exclusive. 

Sure they change over time and some things are given up for new things to come. But they are accommodated and do not exclude one other. And secondly - Spirituality is certainly not something inherent to the African continent. Just that the African continent had the opportunity to exercise it some centuries longer before the looting and burning of christianity would come ;-)  

Wow, I love these thoughts.
Having thought all this tough, I am realising that both, pagan and christian believes are probably understood as traditional and that the dichotomy is about those two to the modern science. But I shall look into that as my next step.