chapter  7
6 Pages

Bridging from the Future to the Past

ByWilliam H. Swatos, Loftur Reimar Gissurarson

Spiritualism is the bridging of life and death, future and past that has characterized Icelandic culture since the saga era, if not its founding days: the midnight sun and the noonday moon. The Durkheimian model, unfortunately, brought the oppositional thinking of Western dualism smack into the middle of the search to understand religion. Why it is that Iceland is significant in unpacking the Durkheimian problematic? The sacred take meaning precisely as it runs in and through the everyday life-world in constant dialogue with the mundane demands of day-to-day existence. The duality of matter and spirit—of this world and the next—is the dynamic that lies close to whatever “essence” one may claim is religious. Religion is not an “issue” in Icelandic society because Icelanders have not been forced by a dominant ideology to make choices between alternatives posed by forced, and perhaps false, oppositions.