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ELCD has become prime time entertainment

New drama series about the church sparks broader discussion about faith and Christianity

The story centers on a family of priests: Johannes, Elisabeth and their sons August and Christian. Johannes' favoritism for August (left) and his disappointment with Christian (right) forces both into making desperate choices in order to either gain his love or break free from him. Photo: Danmarks Radio press photo. 

Last autumn the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark (ELCD) was the big talking point. ELCD became a recurring subject of attention on the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (Danmarks Radio) because the channel premiered its new TV-series, Herrens Veje (eng. Ride upon the Storm). The show was screened from September till November – and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation has already announced that Season 2 will premiere in the autumn of 2018. The dramatic lives of dean Johannes Krogh and his family could be followed every Sunday during primetime by the entire nation and thus the TV show gave an impression of everyday life in the ELCD.

The Krogh family have been priests for more than 250 years. Johannes, the current head of the family, runs for the bishopric of Copenhagen but narrowly loses the final vote. With this event as its point of departure, the family drama takes up existential themes such as grief, forgiveness, evil, love, hope, charity and faith. The milieu of the ELCD is central to the story but it is in a heavily dramatized form. Hence, there has been much debate whether the series provided a realistic portrayal of the ELCD. Could churchgoers and employees recognize themselves in the series? Either way, Herrens Veje has undeniably facilitated a broader discussion in society about faith, church and Christianity.

Lars Mikkelsen, who has performed in international TV-series such as The Team, Sherlock and House of Cards, says that portraying the protagonist, dean Johannes Krogh, had a great impact on his own faith and emboldened him to be more open about his faith.

 “Now I have the courage to say that I am a believer. All my life I was afraid to say it, because in a way it requires a certain degree of simplicity for modern man to say: “I believe.” And by saying so you write off your chances of being part of this highly intellectualized social setting that you are a part of when you are an actor or an artist,” Mikkelsen says to DR.