Sign in a dry cleaner's in Rome

Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time. 

MadPriest on the final questions

People who excuse their actions by claiming that "the real world" is too complicated to always tell the truth or to always act with complete integrity, are the ones who make things complicated in the first place. The final questions we will all have to answer one day will be very simple, requiring only the reply, "yes" or "no."

Keller on faith

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.
- Helen Keller
as quoted on QuoteFame.com

Sign in a tailor's shop on Rhodes

Order your summer suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict order. 

Italian proverb

After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.
- Italian proverb
as quoted on QuoteFame.com

King on transforming an enemy

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

Uganda: Susan Ithungu

Susan Ithungu, a 14-year-old girl in western Uganda, was hospitalized in October 2010 after neighbours with police help rescued her from her muslim father, Beya Baluku, who had locked her in a room with almost no food or water for months. He was arrested shortly afterward but quickly released, sources said. Ten months later, she was still unable to walk.

Susan and her younger brother lived alone with their father after he divorced their mother. In March 2010 an evangelist spoke at Susan’s school, and she decided to trust Christ for her salvation.
After a month, news reached her father that she had converted to Christianity. He warned his children not to attend church or listen to the gospel message. He also threatened them with a sharp knife that he was ready to kill them in broad daylight in case we converted.
He then locked Susan up in a room for six months without seeing sunlight. Her brother was warned not to tell anyone that Susan was locked up in a room and not being given any food. When their father was away, the brother roasted bananas for his sister and dug a hole under the door to pour water through. Susan could drink the water using her tongue, but most days she could only feed on mud.

Neighbours became concerned after not seeing Susan for several months. After they reported the case, the police went to the house, broke down the door, and took Susan to hospital. Her hair had turned yellow, she had long fingernails and sunken eyes, and weighed less than 20 kg. It is unknown when she will be released. Though she can’t walk, she can now talk. She is still feeding on soft foods, but is still strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. She needs prayers and support, so that she can resume her education soon.

Girl in Uganda Loses Use of Legs after Leaving Islam for Christ (CDN 11.8.11)


A UN enquiry

The UN sent out an enquiry:
WOULD YOU PLEASE GIVE YOUR HONEST OPINION ABOUT SOLUTIONS TO THE FOOD SHORTAGE IN THE REST OF THE WORLD?

It was a fiasco:
Eastern Europe didn't know what “honest” meant.
Western Europe didn't know what “shortage” meant.
Africa didn't know what “food” meant.
China didn't know what “opinion” meant.
The Middle East didn't know what “solution” meant.
The USA didn't know what “the rest of the world” meant. 
Found it on Facebook.
Thank you, Karin!

Justice and the Kingdom of God

Justice is like the Kingdom of God - it is not without us as a fact, it is within us as a great yearning.
- George Eliot
in Romola
as quoted on God's Politics

God loves heterosexuals, too

The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision.
- Lynn Lavner
as quoted in a comment on CBC News

MadPriest on animal and human characteristics

To believe that animals have the same characteristics as human beings is anthropomorphism. To believe that human beings have the same characteristics as animals is just plain common sense.

Someday...

Someday they'll give a war and nobody will come.
- Carl Sandburg
as quoted on God's Politics

Tech support call

Tech support: Good day. How may I help you?
Male customer: Hello… I can’t print.
Tech support: Would you click on “start” for me and…
Customer: Listen pal; don’t start getting technical on me! I’m not Bill Gates.


Every day, light your small candle

It is so important not to let ourselves off the hook or to become apathetic or cynical by telling ourselves that nothing works or makes a difference. Every day, light your small candle. ...
The inaction and actions of many human beings over a long time contributed to the crises our children face, and it is the action and struggle of many human beings over time that will solve them — with God's help. So every day, light your small candle.
- Marian Wright Edelman
in Guide My Feet
as quoted on God's Politics

Interdependent love

Knowing one's self, finding one's self, and expending one's self for another are intertwined activities. Love of self, love of God, and love of neighbor are interdependent.
- Sidney Callahan
in With All Our Heart and Mind
as quoted on God's Politics

Punny humour

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress. 
Thanks to Bailey's Buddy!

That's bad!

In just two days from now, tomorrow will be yesterday.
Thanks to Wounded Bird!

King on waging war

It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

Digging for truth

On August 8, 2011, the Huffington Post published an article by Levi Ben-Shmuel, entitled Digging for Truth: How Deep Are You Willing to Go? Starting from the archaeological dig of the City of David in Jerusalem, the author challenges us to seek the truth, spiritual or otherwise, regardless of our preconceptions. An exerpt:
As archaeologists dig deeper into the earth to uncover new truths about the past, their findings have the potential to upend our understanding of religion and the role of God in its unfolding. Their search for truth mirrors our personal search for it. To reach a deeper level of truth, we need to dig into our own "debris." As we do our personal excavations and new information is revealed, the willingness to let go of beliefs that no longer serve us is crucial to personal and spiritual growth.
It is easy to find reasons not to begin the digging. For many, letting go of what is known and comfortable is a daunting task. The fear of what might be found in the darkness can be profound. It is easier to hold on to what is "truth" and forgo the dirty business of exploration.
Finding the courage to put cherished beliefs up for examination is the hallmark of true inquiry, whether it is scientific or spiritual. One quality that makes this kind of inquiry possible is humility. Being humble does not mean erasing one's opinions or submitting to another's will. The essence of humility is knowing one's rightful place in life. True humility recognizes the limits inherent in the human mind in the face of the awesomeness of a universe that is expanding, filled with mystery and might be infinite.
The article is not very long, but well worth reading - and pondering!

Einstein on miracles

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.
- Albert Einstein
as quoted on Facebook

The church is not a nurse

The church ... cannot be content to play the part of a nurse looking after the casualties of the system. It must play an active part both in challenging the present unjust structures and in pioneering alternatives.
- Donald Dorr
Catholic missionary priest
as quoted on God's Politics

Eviction notice recieved

In Porvoo, chaplains (second pastors, curates, whatever we're called in your tradition) have been living in Kaplansgården (Chaplain's House) since 1763. Four years ago, I became the latest in the series. Little did I suspect that I would also be the last.
The parishes of Porvoo have decided to break this tradition just before it would celebrate its quarter millennium in 2013. Last week, we recieved our eviction notice and have to move out before the end of March, 2012.

This is, of course, sad news on a personal level. Where will we move? Should we buy a house or go on renting? How about the children's school? There are many questions and problems to be considered.
The way the eviction was handled also shows little regard for the human side of the story. I knew that the decision was coming on October 5, but last week the leading bureaucrats all of a sudden were in a great hurry to present the eviction notice. Since we have a legal six month period of grace starting from the end of the calender month in which the notice is presented, they wanted it done in September rather that October, so we'd be out in March rather than April. This in spite of the fact that the decision itself hadn't been made yet.
I think this is very poor personnel management, and am now thinking seriously about whether or not I can remain in the employ of such a "firm" or whether I should start looking elsewhere. One problem there is my vociferous engagement for the rights of sexual minorities within the ELCF, which has made me persona non grata in many circles, and which might affect my job seeking negatively. We'll have to see how it goes.

But what saddens me the most, I think, is the lack of historical sensibility that the bureaucrats and the Church Council displays in this matter. It seems to be enough that our Cathedral stems from the XIII Century - other historically valuable buildings don't count (Kaplansgården is not the only object to be sold). What counts is their economical value. Yes, by selling Kaplansgården, the parishes would probably net a round million Euros to be used for many good things, but a million is not that much money, after all. In a few years (if that!) it will be gone, and so will a bit of the city's and the church's history.

"A people who forgets its history has no past - and no future."
- Robert A. Heinlein


See previous blogs in Swedish here and here.

Estonia - the world's 'least religious' country

I love Estonia, Finland's neighbour to the south.
We have no land border, but are separated by the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea that I have lived by all my life. Estonia is closer to Helsinki and Porvoo than most of the rest of Finland, as a matter of fact - the city of Tampere is some 200 km to the north, which isn't so much, but Tallinn is even closer, only some 70 km to the south. Of course, in travel time the difference isn't so big, as Tampere is two hours by train from Helsinki, while Tallinn is two hours by ferry. But Lapland is so, so far away. The distance from Porvoo to the north of Lapland is equal to the distance to, say, Berlin.

For some years now, I have been engaged in S:t John Aid in Estonia (Johanniitide Abi Eestis), and this summer I got fed up with only knowing a bit of Estonian, so I have promised myself to learn the language properly. Which isn't too hard, since it is a fairly close relative to Finnish. You just have to be wary of the pitfalls - words that sound similar but have entirely different meaning. "Pulma" means problem in Finnish, but "pulmad" means wedding in Estonian, for instance. Not that the meaning is so different there, perhaps...

But our modern history separates us. While Finland was able to stay out of the Soviet Union after WWII, Estonia and the other Baltic states, Latvia and Lithuania, were annexed. This has had far-reaching consequences, of course, both economically and culturally.
One consequence is on the religious front. The Soviet anti-religious propaganda struck hard in many parts of the union. In Finland, some 80% of the population belongs to the Lutheran church. In modern-day Estonia, only 13% do, and yet the Lutheran church is the country's largest. A colleague in Tallinn said that he avoids wearing ecclesiastical garb in public because of the negative reactions he gets. I use it myself, since it often gives people an opportunity to contact the pastor and talk a bit. But that is at home in Finland, of course.

This does naturally not mean that Estonians are unspiritual. It only means that they now seek their answers outside of the churches. Which is their right, but it also shows that half a century of violent propaganda can have an effect on a good people. It is sad.

Spirituality in Estonia - the world's 'least religious' country (BBC News 26.8.11)
The Least Religious Country in the World (Aqurette 26.8.11)
Estonia: "We do not tolerate homosexuality" (Karl's comments 6.9.11)

Sunshine and smiles

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.
- Joseph Addison
as quoted on QuoteFame.com

King on stronger right

Right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

Israel: Serge and Naama Kogen

A hard-line Jewish ultra-Orthodox group in Israel, Yad L’Achim, that singles out Jewish Christians known as Messianic Jews for harassment and abuse is taking aim at a couple it claims is manipulating minors into becoming Christians.
In late June, 2011, the group placed leaflets around the home of Serge and Naama Kogen, 37 and 42 respectively, in Mevasseret Zion, a suburban community located just west of Jerusalem. The same week someone took out a full-page ad in a local newspaper giving the couple’s address and telling residents they were part of a missionary group “targeting” the community. The Kogens are native Israelis and hence not part of any missionary group.
The advertisement invited the public to a protest planned against the Kogens, and on Sunday, June 26, about 20 of the group’s supporters demonstrated outside the couple’s home, where they denounced them over megaphones for 90 minutes.
The protests came after Yad L’Achim lost a court case against the Kogens and their congregational leader, Asher Intrater. The group had accused them of “proselytizing” minors.
During the protest, a distraught 16-year-old girl, the alleged target of the couple’s “missionary” efforts, said all of Yad L’Achim’s claims were false. Donna Lubofsky maintains that she has never converted to Christianity. She wanted to speak at the protest to give her side of what happened, but the organizers wouldn’t let her, she said.
“They are all liars, all liars! Ask them, why won’t they let me speak?” Donna said at the protest. “They won’t let me speak because what they are saying is untrue. They [the Kogens] never tried to get me to believe. They are just good people.”

Read more: Messianic Christian Couple in Israel Accused of Converting Minor (CDN 2.7.11)


We worked to heal the world

Great social forces are the mere accumulation of individual actions. Let the future say of our generation that we sent forth mighty currents of hope, and that we worked together to heal the world.
- Jeffrey Sachs
in The End of Poverty
as quoted on God's Politics

Tech support call

Customer: Hi, this is Celine. I can’t get my diskette out.
Tech support: Have you tried pushing the button?
Customer: Yes, sure, it’s really stuck.
Tech support: That doesn’t sound good; I’ll make a note.
Customer: No, wait a minute… I hadn’t inserted it yet… it’s still on my desk… sorry…