Walls, Weather, and the Spirit in-between – Exercises in Border Thinking

Öffentlicher Abend in englischer Sprache im Rahmen der Akademietagung "Borders and Boundaries"
Termin: 14.06.2023
Beginn: 19:00 Uhr
Ort: Katholische Akademie in Berlin, Hannoversche Str. 5, 10115 Berlin

Without doubt Paul Tillich hits the nail right on the head, stating: “The boundary is the best place [eigentlich fruchtbare Ort/intrinsically fruitful place] for acquiring knowledge.” But what do we see and learn at this place?


Late modern globalisation, the process of modernity deterritorializing belongings and thereby provoking re-territorializing them, technofutures of space-transcending modes of mobility, global injustices between the many who are bound and others who are free to move in illusions of eternal capitalist growth, all in a steadily growing global warming driving life worlds into weathered disasters accelerate this urgency. How to imagine, take a deep breath between earth and sky, and construct borders that are life-enhancing in contrast to those that are life destroying? How to differ between those to be respected and those to be transgressed? How to cope with the border’s complex ambiguity? How to delimit ourselves without delimiting the force of good life within others and us?


My contribution starts with an excursion to selected thinkers in the history of philosophy

  1. a) the architecture of making-oneself-at-home (Heimat) through walls,
  2. b) the dynamic of boundless and localised weather, and
  3. c) faith in the unbounded life-giving Spirit taking place.


From architects we can learn how to build walls for shelter and comfort, and to differentiate between on the one hand constructing invisible borders that give rise to social and urban inequalities, and on the other hand setting boundaries that contribute to balanced coexistence of humanity. Walls can serve the community as cultural, social ecological and weather-regulating tools for the best of all living.


From weather wisdom and vernacular architecture we can learn to build with or against weather. From weather alterations we learn that these certainly take place within fronts of predictable demarcation but nevertheless in the atmosphere’s nearby boundless ways of impacting on life worlds demand humbleness and respect for planetary processes and boundaries.


From classical theology and ecopneumatology we can learn that faith in the God in between and the unbound Spirit taking place as Liberator of the Here and Now at earth can offer us important tools of re-negotiating borders and replacing life-threatening fetishism with life-enhancing practices of bordering. In such practices in synergy with the Spirit given and constructed borders converge for a common future at our common earth as home.



Sigurd Bergmann is Emeritus Professor in Religious Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, affiliated to Uppsala university, Lund university and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich.

His previous studies have investigated the relationship between the image of God and the view of nature in late antiquity, the methodology of contextual theology, and visual arts in the indigenous Arctic and Australia, as well as visual arts, architecture and religion, mobility studies, and religion in climate change. He is the founder of the European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment, and among his many publications are God in Context (2003), Creation Set Free (2005), In the Beginning Is the Icon (2009), Raum und Geist (2010), Religion, Space & the Environment (2014), Weather, Religion & Climate Change (2020) (forthcoming in a Korean edition),

Theology in Built Environments (ed. 2009), Religion in Global Environmental and Climate Change (2011 ed.), Religion in the Anthropocene (ed. 2017), Arts, Religion and the Environment: Exploring Nature’s Texture (ed. 2018), and Sweden’s Pandemic Experiment (ed. 2023).








Prof. Sigurd Bergmann
Dr. Stephan Steiner
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