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Book: The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization

Chapter: 7. Re-enchanting Body and Religion in a Secular Society: Touch of an Angel

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30127


Many modern Finnish women recount that angels can touch and enchant their minds, bodies and quotidian lives. Most of these women are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, but find the discourses and practices offered by the church increasingly secular and outdated and, most importantly, emotionally disengaging. Some of them also claim that they are not welcome in church with their newly found enchantment with angels, and instead they are told that their spirituality is too childish, sentimental or magical. Drawing on ethnographic material, this chapter argues that what is often depicted as “the touch of an angel” has become an intimate and both spiritually and bodily enchanting alterity for those engaged. Through such operations as ritual, metaphor and use of the subjunctive, angel enchantments articulate important relational matters of concern. These enchantments reveal intriguing, often transitory and sometimes unsettling dynamics of presence and absence of religious difference in a complex and precarious modern world.

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