Väidetavalt ilmalikustunud põhja-Euroopa rahvaste spirituaalsed kogemused on enamasti mingitpidi seotud loodusega. Looduses kohtutakse millegi üleva, transtsendentsega. Projekti eesmärgiks ongi looduse sakraliseerimise kui kultuurifenomeni uurimine. Meie lähtepunktiks on arusaam, et transtsendentne ja sakraalne, mida varem otsiti kirikust, on nüüd liikunud väljapoole linnapiire, loodusesse. Sama tendents on märgatav ka kirikliku raamistuses, kus keskkonnateadlikkus ja -kaitse on saanud osaks teoloogilisest agendast. Samal ajal ei ole see ümberpaiknemine selgelt sõnastatud. Transtsendentse kogemus näib peamiselt toimuvat vaikuses ja seda kogemust on väga raske sõnadesse panna. Seetõttu uurime, mida tähendab see pöördumine vaikuse poole. Miks otsitakse seost kõiksusega väljaspool kogukonda? Mida see ütleb ilmalikustumise kohta neis maades ja kuidas see on seotud tänapäevase üha suureneva keskkonnareostusega?
If Danes, Swedes and Estonians ascribe a quality of sacredness to anything these days, it is to nature. Nature – forests, coasts, mountains, parks and archipelagos – it seems, serves as the foremost location for the aesthetic, existential and recreational experiences of these people. When allegedly secularised northern Europeans claim to have had spiritual experiences, it is most often in nature that these have taken place. A brief look at references to spirituality in popular culture provides a good illustration to this phenomenon. Nature is a place where one experiences something sublime, a feeling of transcendence. We will in this project approach this cultural phenomenon as a sacralisation of nature. We hypothesise that the transcendence and existential depth that before was sought and believed to be present in the Christian church, has been relocated to the nature outside the urban centres. The change is also observable within the framework of the national churches, where environmentalism becomes a part of the theological agenda, retreats are getting more common, and altarpieces are changed for windows opening up to wild nature. Although this relocation is observable, it is also - it seems - conspiciously unarticulated. The experiences of transcendence in nature that we have come across in our previous research often occur in silence and it takes an effort for the involved to describe their experiences in words and even more to convey an impression of the intensity, depth and potential consequences that these experiences are felt to have. What we will do in this project, therefore, is to approach an area of silence. This is in itself a promising indication that we are dealing with what is felt to be a sacred ground, but also a methodological and conceptual challenge for an interdisciplinary social scientific study. What does this silent turn towards nature stand for? Why is it away from the community and not in the middle of the village – as in the traditional Christian religion – that experiences of interconnectedness are sought? What does it say about secularisation and transcendence among the people of these countries? And, how does the sacralisation of nature combine with the increasing environmental crisis of our time? These are the questions that we will approach in this project.