Friday, March 28, 2008

Familiar Much?

Hmm, why does this cartoon make me laugh so much?

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Hmm, not sure why this cartoon was ever drawn. It surely can't be true. Maybe I need to do some more internet research to figure out why this cartoon resonates so.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter Dress

Some people get a new dress for Easter. A pretty little number, sometimes with bows, sometimes with lace, sometimes with a matching hat. Others of us 'get' to wear the same clothes 4 days in a row. This grand fashion event culminates on Easter, when you would so much rather wear something besides the clerical collar, but well, this is a calling, and its not always up to you. And so you put on the clergy shirt again (I only have 2 to choose from) and off you go, not a tough choice.

So, while others buy the new Easter dress, others of us, well, we buy something else new for Easter. My seminary roommate suggested a snazzy new pair of paints. But as a tall, non-stick figure woman, I don't like buying pants. They never fit. So, that would not be Easter fun.

Instead, I purchased a 'Do It Yourself' garmet. Yes, that is correct, I bought some more knitting stuff. I actually bought a knitting kit, even though kits make me feel constrained and uncreative. But, this particular knitwear designer only sells her patterns as kits, with the yarn included. Once I did some research and learned that these kits are cheaper here than in the US (they come from Denmark), and are not too expensive considering the amount of yarn required, I decided that this, named 'Promenade' would be my new Easter Dress.

No, I haven't yet finished that fancy Norwegian mitten. But, I decided that for Holy Week, I would need something simple, yet fun to take away some of my stress and to help me relax without a complicated pattern. And I quite enjoyed it. A woman I met at Husfleiden, the handcrafts store where I purchased my garmet, told me that she had purchased the same kit a couple years ago. She knit the back panel last year and is now working on one of the front panels. We'll see if I get this garmet finished before leaving Norway!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Good Friday Reflections

Our Good Friday service was a joint service with St. Edmund's Anglican Church. We journeyed through Eight Stations of the Cross as part of a traditional Way of the Cross' devotion and meditation service.

I meditated on Station 3 and Station 8. For those of you who are still working through Good Friday, or who are like Thomas (who I get to preach on this coming Sunday) and can't quite yet believe the resurrection, or need to stay at the tomb for a bit longer, I've posted my reflections below.

The Third Station: The Cross is Laid on Simon of Cyrene

As they led Jesus away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from teh country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

“If any want to become my followers…” But who said that Simon wanted to follow Jesus? It seems like he was really just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A bystander, a gawker, who must’ve looked like easy prey for the guards. Simon didn’t volunteer to carry Jesus’ cross. Who would? Dressed in his finest clothes to come into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, surely Simon did not want to follow Jesus to the cross that day. This is no eager to please disciple.

But still, his nice clothes got dirty, not to mention bloody from Jesus’ wounds. His hands became full of splinters, his pride trampled on by the crowd laughing, pointing, spitting. Simon didn’t volunteer, but he still became a follower, a disciple of Christ. He even became like Christ, carrying the very cross Jesus would be crucified on, a helper in the redemption of the world, of you and me. Simon didn’t volunteer, but God choose him anyway. God placed the cross of Christ on Simon when Jesus had become too weak, too near to death. And even though the cross was heavy, cumbersome, different, it was strangely easy, strangely light, as if Jesus was still carrying the cross for Simon.

And so too do we watch Jesus struggle by us, and we watch from the side. We are at once afraid and ashamed. Afraid that someone will seize us, like Simon was seized. Afraid that we will suffer like Christ, laughed at, spit on, the lowliest of the low. Afraid that if we pick up our cross, like Jesus, that our lives will no longer be our own, that we will lose precious control. A sense of shame makes our fear even worse. Ashamed that we do not really want to be like Christ, that we do not really want to lose control of our lives. Ashamed that we don’t want to stand out or be different. It’s become so much easier to just watch with the crowd, to blend in.

But maybe, just maybe God will chose us. God will give us the nudge to get over our fear, get over our shame. And so we are. We are claimed by God, pulled from the crowd like Simon. Called to follow this one who carries our cross. We are called to carry the cross with him. Called to follow behind this Messiah who is so weak, yet so powerful. So burdened, yet so light. A Savior, yet condemned to die on the cross. On his cross. On our cross.

And we are saved, even though we didn’t volunteer. But God volunteered for us. God is carrying our cross. Amen.

The Eighth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joesph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tom, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.

It’s quiet. It’s too quiet. The crowds have all gone away. The other disciples, they too have fled. Everyone is gone. The spectacle is over. Even Pilate seemed subdued, easily handing Jesus over to be properly buried. And he’s dead. Jesus, the one who was supposed to free us, who promised life, and justice, and peace. Who knew me like no other. He’s dead. And it’s so quiet.

He lies there even now, in the tomb I made for myself. The tomb I was supposed to lie in, but now he is there, dead and gone. But I would rather be in that tomb instead of Jesus. I would give all my riches, all I have to be in that tomb instead of Jesus.

It’s so quite. Life seems so empty now, so hopeless. No one to follow. No one promising life, and justice, and peace, and redemption. No one.

It was the least I could do, to give Jesus a proper burial, especially after he died in such a horrible way. Laughed at by the crowds, his last breath taken in the garbage dump, on a cross. It was the least I could do. But now he is gone and I do not know what to do or how to be or how to live. I am lost. It’s like I too am dead. Life has left us. God has left us. We’re alone. And it’s so quiet. So quiet. So quiet.

*A little note: Oslo becomes deserted during Holy Week, as most people go to the mountains or elsewhere for vacation.

'Christ is Helped with the Cross' by Geoff Todd
'Jesus is Laid in the Tomb': Through Nomadic Eyes: Stations of the Cross, Turkana Artists, Kenya

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

For Real

There's a new movie out in Norway called "Lange Flate Baller II" - yes it translates to what you think, but actually means 'Playing Wide'. But, its not the title that has gotten me, its the trailer or advertisement for the film that cracks me up. The trailer is actually a series of three trailers, but the first one gets the most play. Trailer #2 is quite funny too.

The main trailer stars George W. Bush sitting at his desk, presumably speaking to the Norwegian people - telling them to go see the film, or he will invade their country. This caught me quite off guard and in disbelief. I'm not sure why though. I keep waiting for the film studio to yank the trailer off the air, citing some offended person or political correctness.

I have actually heard Norwegians say almost the same thing as Bush in this trailer - oh, you better do what Bush wants or he will invade you. It seems that many Norwegians have a love / hate relationship with the US. Many people who I have met are intrigued with the US, have visited the US, and are very friendly to you as a person. But, most Norwegians don't tend to like US foreign policy. I can't say this is true in every aspect, but is my experience.

I'm continually amazed how much coverage US politics and events receives here in Norway. Every move of the primary campaigns is reported. Most weather events - snow storm, tornado, etc. Celebrity news. And more. We even get John Stewart - both on CNN international and on one of the Norwegian broadcasting stations.

I'm still not sure what to make of the United States from the perspective of Norway. I have learned that much of US media is watched not just in the US, but in other countries around the world. I have also learned that this makes for some great comedy and funny funny movie trailers!!

In case you are bored this Holy Week, you can see all three movie trailers for Lange Flate Ballaer II at Enjoy!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lenten Internship

I've decided that internship is like lent. For those of you who are wondering what internship is like, just reflect on your own lenten journey (or the cartoon).

First, you are all excited and wait in eager anticipation for lent / internship to begin. Oh, those ashes on Ash Wednesday. I love those! Finally, a chance to be with others and remember our mortality in this world that tries to tell us we will be immortal if we buy more, be more, more more more!
The same with internship. I'm going to Norway! Yeah! I'll get to find out what it feels like, what life is like as a pastoral person. Finally, no more grades, no more tests. Oh, and the added bonus of getting feedback on one's ministry and even personhood from so many sources. Oh, this will be great, I'm sure.

And then we move into week 1 of lent: This is still great. We're starting a rhythm. Weekly worship gatherings that are a bit smaller and provide time for reflection, and maybe a communal meal. This is nice, it feels slower.
And the first quarter of internship: this is great! I get to schedule my own day. I'm meeting so many interesting people, who are sharing their lives with me. This internship thing should be a piece of cake.

And then the weeks start to blend together: week 2? week 4? what week are we in? Shouldn't Easter be coming soon. I think someone got the calendar wrong. We're tired of carrying the cross. Can't we celebrate. Uff-da, this lenten discipline is hard! How is this drawing me closer to God anyway. Yuck, who likes reflection anyway. Let's party!
And so too do the weeks of internship blur together, but in strange ways. This year that once stretched out in front of me like waving prairie grass, now seems like a muddy field. I am enjoying internship, but this middle time is so strange. So much left to learn, and be, and do. Yet, this time is already and not yet. I am viewed as a pastoral person, with responsibilities, with abilities, with trust. Yet, I am not yet a pastor. I am not yet given full responsibility. I am still developing my abilities. And I'm still not quite sure what this call is all about.

Time is blurring. This learning experience of internship is becoming heavy, just as lent is becoming heavy. Easter is just around the corner, but its not yet here. But, the big secret is that we know it is coming, Jesus has already died and risen again. We hope and trust in this.
The same for internship. Even though I have not yet been ordained - I don't even know for sure that I will be ordained - I hope that I will be ordained. I trust that this call from God is true. I hope and trust that my internship will be successful. In order for internship to be a success I must hope and trust.

Jesus has already died and and has already been resurrected. But, each year I wonder if we will get to Easter again or if we will be engulfed in lent. This is my first time through internship, but others have been through it before. I am surviving and thriving, but its not easy. I suppose its not supposed to be easy. But, like lent, it is true, it is good, it has reminded me that I am not God, but am called by God to live faithfully and truthfully. Yes, this is lent. Yes, this is internship.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Royal Wear

Living in Norway, I've gotten a bit more insight into the role of the royal family in a country that continues to support royalty. Yet, my independent roots from the rebellious United States continue to cringe at the thought and concept of royalty. It baffles and frustrates me that a family, just because they are born into a certain lineage, are supported monetarily by the taxpayers just for showing up to events.

Yes, I have heard the argument that with a royal family attending public events, the government officials / President / Prime Minister have more time and energy to do their jobs. But, the fact that one's tax dollars go to support one family just because they have been identified as special urks me. Not to mention that at several royal family events, the Prime Minister is also present. Now, I'm not a fan of celebrities in general either, but at least they act or do something (hopefully, but not always true) to gain that strange and unnecessary status of celebrity - not that I agree with the notion of celebrity in the first place.

But, I do have a bit more respect for the Norwegian family because they seem to be at least a little more normal, with somewhat 'real people' head's on their shoulders. At least this is the image they give off and is how the Norwegian people seem to perceive of the Norwegian royal family.

To illustrate, here is a picture of King Harald and his granddaughter, Princess Ingrid Alexandra leaving the World Cup ski jump competition at Holmenkollen, the ski jump in Oslo.

I like that he has big clunky boots on and a ski jacket that I could presumably buy in a sporting goods store, based on the brand. But, they do still get to live in the big house on the hill and are paid a salary by the state.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The housing situation

A certain someone (yes, my mother again) recently suggested to me that she would like to see more of my daily life - the interesting spots in Oslo I stumble across, my favorite Norwegian something, you get the picture. I was a bit reluctant at first because she will be visiting me in Oslo, so I didn't want to spoil the adventure of new discovery. But, oh well, I can never capture all the fun of Oslo. Plus, then the rest of you would lose out on the fun of my life in Oslo.

So, I've outed myself as the tourist, or just strange person taking pictures of strange things so that ya'll can see the little highlights of my life here in Oslo. I can't tell you all the strange looks I've gotten, especially from older women, as I take pictures of random houses!

To be honest, most of these pictures don't capture the beauty and joy that these little places bring me. Guess that's part of the beauty though, that there is life in these places and spaces beyond what might appear.

As I've started looking through my pictures, I think this will be the housing post, of all those norwegian houses that I think are quite fun.Really its the inside of this house that I love. The outside is typical Norwegian, but inside there are pictures all over and just seems like the place where some great Norwegian grandparents live. There's even a good size fountain on the side.

Right across the street from the yellow house is this building. I don't think its a house any more, not really sure what goes on here. But, it looks a little bit creepy and a little bit regal. Plus, the address is 'Professor Dahl's Gate'. I just love the name of that street!

Not so much a home as a hotel, but itsn't it grand? Looks like an urban castle to me.

I have absolutely no idea what this is. Is it a fancy garage? A former fortress? I don't know. Cars drive under the little archway, but I don't know if they go in this thing. Behind it, you can see an apt. building, but they are of completly different styles. Any thoughts what this could be? Oh, another mystery for my day.

I know you're thinking, what in the world is that. Well, its one of my favorite nighttime homes, at night - obviously. But, obviosly, it doesn't show up very well in a picture. But, oh well. Many of my favorite houses in my neighborhood look much more spectacular at night than by day. I think its the sparkly factor. But, this one reminds me of the glow of a fireplace at night. Wish you could see it!

I've also posted more pics on my Picassa site, if you want to see more! Next, I think I'll post one of my favorite things in Oslo - the blomster!