Five ‘P’ words

In an article on Lutheran World website, Archbishop Antje Jackelén (head of the Church of Sweden for 8 years), reflected on ‘five Ps’.

Archbishop Antje Jackelén

Patriarchy is one of the destructive ‘five Ps’ that you often speak about [alongside populism, polarization, protectionism and post-truth]. Which of these worries you most and what can the church do to combat them?

It is the destructive synergies of these five together that is most worrying, but I think there is a lot that the church can contribute to counteract and challenge them.

To combat polarization, we need a healthy culture of dissent. The opposite of polarization is not unity or uniformity, but a healthy way of dealing with differences and we need to foster that culture.

Populism works by provoking negative emotions and so we must insist on being more matter of fact.

We can also stand against protectionism by being a global communion, by fostering ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, by showing a multifaith response of solidarity to those in need.

We know that speaking the truth to power in complex situations requires a lot of work and courage, but we have a lot to offer with our tradition of interpreting scripture.

As for patriarchy, our beliefs are grounded in God creating all humans in equal dignity and we have many examples of the way Jesus interacts with women. Take the story of the Syrophoenician woman asking Jesus to heal her daughter, a request he initially refuses, saying he has only come to heal the people of Israel, that it is not right to take their food and throw it to the dogs. When she insists that even the dogs have a right to the crumbs that fall from the master’s table, she helps Jesus to realize that his mission is not local but global. We can say that she changes the course of history, that she is the first champion of a ‘glocal’ theology. We have so many narratives like this to encourage and empower us, to foster that hope that leads to action.

Pope Francis and Archbishop Jackelén embrace during the joint communion of the Reformation in Lund Cathedral, Sweden.