"The Way of The Cross Leads us to Each Other" - Religion in Social Connectedness of Finnish Older Adults
Practical Theology University of Helsinki Kotka, Finland
Different social, economical and technological developments could make generation a dividing line in the European societies. Different generations might have very different values, norms, attitudes and aspirations, resulting in difficulties in understanding possibilities and problems of the old and the young. Reacting to the changing demographic situation in larger part of Europe requires examining the ways older adults are connected to the society. Religious activities and spirituality have been noted to be of importance to a relatively high proportion of elderly persons in many parts of Europe. As well as being a personal or mental resource, religion could also work in linking the older persons to the society in various ways.
In this paper this phenomenon is made visible by analysing religious poems, prayers and aphorisms of Finnish older writers. Through religious forms of expression the writers were found to build connections with social groups both far away and near them, in past as well as present and future. These connections also stretch over generations to enable negotiating, updating and preserving values and norms between generations.
This finding suggests that religion could play a central role in binding older adults to the society. In addition the religious connecting could promote the social cohesion in the society. Thus the religiousness and spirituality of the older adults should be further examined in research to find out and support the ways the elders live a meaningful life as members of the society. This could also result to new ways of valuing the later life through its particular ways of participating and creating social cohesion.