Church of Norway says “no” to gay marriage

Surprisingly, the state church of Norway–unlike that of Sweden–has rejected same-sex marriage.  Pastors will also not be allowed to bless “civil unions.” [Read more...]

The biggest bestseller in Norway is the Bible

Norway is considered a hyper-secularized country, but its biggest bestselling book today is a new translation of the Bible. [Read more...]

Norway disestablishes the state Lutheran church

The Norwegian parliament has voted to do away with the state church.  The measure, which was passed unanimously and which also seems to have the approval of church officials, will still provide some church funding, though extending that to other groups, including “humanists.”  Though all Norwegians have been enrolled in the church upon their baptism, only 2% of the population attend regularly and 72% do not believe in a personal God.  Religion remains important, according to polls, for 20% of the population.  From the atheist site at Patheos:

The separation of church and state, such as it is, will involve the following:

  • The Lutheran Church of Norway will be renamed The People’s Church
  • Norway will no longer have an official national religion
  • The government will no longer participate in the appointment of bishops and deans
  • There will no longer be a requirement for parliamentary officials to be members of the Lutheran Church

The following things will not be changed:

  • The church tax will remain in place (although a small portion will be going to humanist organizations)
  • A church office will remain in the government, headed up by a minister

After reading through kirken.no (the former Church of Norway’s official site) it sounds like it was an amiable split. The fact that the state is still funding the church is justified as follows:

“… The Committee notes that the constitutional changes resulting from the settlement the church intends to clarify the Norwegian churches free position as religious communities. This means that the religious activities of the church will no longer be the state’s task. However, it is government’s task to support the church as a religious community, and to support other religious and philosophical alike. The Committee endorses the understanding that the changes represent a new basis for the development of the Norwegian Church as an independent religious communities. The Committee would also emphasize the importance of establishing security for the changes contribute to the preservation of the Norwegian Church’s mission to be an open, inclusive and democratic national church.”

via Norway Abolishes National Church.

“The People’s Church”!  Could it be that the liberal theology of the established church is a major reason that the population consists largely of non-believers?

Is the concept of a Lutheran state church an intrinsic violation of Luther’s Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, a historical accident that has actually undermined Lutheranism?

Could disestablishment help the cause of Christianity in Norway?

Or should we embrace antidisestablishmentarianism?  (Not often do I get a chance to use that word!)

HT:  Mary J. Moerbe

He murdered 77 “out of good, not evil”

Few people do bad things out of a desire to do something evil.  Rather, they convince themselves that what they are doing is “good.”  And the spirit of self-righteousness, ironically, can lead to the most horrible of sins.  An example is the testimony of the Norwegian mass-murderer, of whose 77 victims, 69 were young people at a youth camp:

The Norwegian far-right activist who killed 77 people last year has told a court that he was fighting a battle against multi-culturalism and acted out of “goodness, not evil”.

Reading from a 13-page document that he wrote in custody, Anders Behring Breivik defended his massacre and called it the most “spectacular attack by a nationalist militant since World War Two”.

He said he would repeat his actions again, if he could.

“Yes, I would do it again,” he said, adding that life in prison or dying for “his people” would be “the biggest honour”.

The 33-year-old lashed out at the Norwegian and other European governments for embracing immigration and multi-culturalism and claimed he was a “second-rate citizen”.

He said the aim of the killings was for “racial purity” and to “change the direction of multi-cultural drift to avoid greater confrontation and civil war”.

He claimed the only way he could “protect the white native Norwegian” was through violence. . . .

Journalist Trygve Sorvaag, who is tweeting inside the court for Sky News, said: “For many people, it was very surprising to hear how soft, almost nasal, his voice was. He didn’t appear dangerous in any way.

“It was very hard to see that this softly spoken man is actually the person who murdered 77 people.”

via Norway Killer: Trial Of Anders Behring Breivik – Far-Right Utoya Island Shootings And Oslo Explosion | World News | Sky News.

Can you think of other cases in which “goodness” becomes a cover for “evil”?

Lars Walker’s new novel

Lars Walker is someone who hangs out at this blog fairly often.  He is also an accomplished novelist.   He has a new novel out entitled  Troll Valley.

Lars specializes in tales about Norway, especially the ancient Vikings in their transition from paganism to Christianity.  (See West Oversea.)  But this one is about Norwegians in Minnesota, settlers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on the farms and in the small towns that would give us the Lake Woebegone cliches.  But there is much more to these people than that.

Lars also specializes in hard-hitting Christian critiques of modernity.  (See Wolf Time.)  For all of the Little House on the Prairie charm of watching the main character Chris Andersen and his family ply their customs in the New World, we see change a-brewing.  His father invents a better farm device, leaves the farm for town where he builds a factory and makes a fortune–embodying the industrial revolution with both its good sides and its down sides.  I was most taken, though, with his mother, who shows how a certain kind of Pietism can turn to moralism, which can then turn to progressivism, which can then turn against the very Christianity that inspired its beginnings.  Mrs. Andersen’s do-gooderism turns her into a crusader for prohibition and then for the women’s suffrage and then for a “moral progress” that has no room for the Bible and that wreaks havoc in her family.

And Lars also specializes in writing about the strange denizens of Scandinavian myth, legend, and folklore.  (See The Year of the Warrior.)  The thing about Chris Anderson is that, as he struggles with his withered arm and his self-doubts, he sees elvish creatures from a parallel world.  And he is regularly visited by his fairy godmother, who herself yearns for baptism and the Christian faith.  All of these fantasy elements are going on at the same time as the realistic story and as a sort of commentary on what is happening.  One critic has called what Lars is doing “Christian magical realism,” which is a good description, a reference to the quite interesting style pioneered by Latin American authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  (And it’s about time that contemporary Christian authors go beyond formula fiction to experiment with more sophisticated styles and literary effects.)

Another contemporary feature of this novel is that it is being published solely as an e-book, which means too that it costs a mere $2.99.  So if you have a Kindle or the equivalent, download   Troll Valley.

Horror in Norway

A 32-year-old Norwegian described as “a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing connections” bombed a government building in Oslo, killing seven, and then went to a Labor Party youth camp and shot to death 84 young people! See Norway Shooting and Bomb Attack Leaves at Least 91 Dead – NYTimes.com.

We’ll learn what they mean by “right-wing fundamentalist.”  At any rate, get ready for yet more discrediting of conservative Christians and conservative politics.  In the meantime, we must feel for Norway, which is going through what Oklahoma City did, as well as the United States as a whole on 9/11.

 


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