With my partner off on a yoga teacher training workshop in Berlin for the next five days, I had to return to Stockholm from our recent trip to Germany as a solo-parent. Two girls, three suitcases, numerous dolls and various stuffed animals, one week’s worth of stuff, meant that our front hallway was so correspondingly jammed with unpacked detritus and overflow that I quite literally could not reach the front door without tripping over something:


With two hungry kids and such a disaster-zone for an apartment, there was no time to prepare anything elaborate or very nice for dinner. I broke down and resorted to using some pre-made köttbullar (Swedish meatballs) we had in the freezer, accompanied with the requisite simple lingonberry sauce, and some potatis  (boiled potatoes):

cheating on cooking Swedish food, Ikea-style

It’s a small apartment that somehow acts as a centrifuge for mess — collecting and amplifying, concentrating the piles of disorganization — but, as I worked on the potatoes for dinner, I could look out the window and see this as the sun went down to the west, behind the island of Kungsholmen, and it put things into perspective:

View outside the kitchen window
View outside the kitchen window

Next week, it is back to work in the Kungliga Biblioteket: I have an overdue review of a German book on Islam and acculturation in Turkey and Germany, which is coincidentally tying in to some of my thinking and reading around the Swedenborg and Ivan Agueli project which I’ve written about here (this book I am reviewing, though it has now been over a year since it was published, provides some trenchant thoughts and perspectives for the current wave of Islamophobia accompanying the present European refugee crisis). More thoughts on this later, but in addition to Swedenborgian theology playing a role in Agueli’s fascinating conversion in the early 20th century, I am becoming intrigued by Swedenborg’s own peculiar representations of Islam (or mis-representations, one should say, as Swedenborg makes several statements about Muslims that are categorically untrue), and the ways that Swedenborg’s own work–once it was outed that he was the author–became attacked as showing heretical elements of “Mohammedanism.”

Written by devinzuber

Associate Professor for American Studies, Religion, and Literature at the Center for Swedenborgian Studies, an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) at Berkeley, California.

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