Archive for February 2007

The Holy Spirit

A slow day today, cleaning day. Our house looks like a bomb exploded in it, due to all the travelling and sick children, sick parents etc…

I thought I’d share the paper I wrote on the Holy Spirit as part of the Assessment conference, I got a rather high grading on the paper and while I didn’t think it was all that much the comment left on it was that it was thought provoking, so maybe I can provoke someone else with it…..

Here it is The holy spirit

Oh how the great have fallen….

A little more than a year ago I was present at Dataphones (A swedish [[ISP]] where I used to be a System Administrator) anniversary party. The secret guestspeaker was Christer Sturmark who spoke eloquently and with great panache about the information society and how we have arrived where we are today. I was impressed not only with his communication skill but also with his insight into history and socio-economic trends. Christer sturmark then landed high on the list of people I would like to spend an afternoon with and discuss life the universe and everything.

Yesterday when I read his blog, and I was so dissapointed. I have no problems with the fact that Sturmark does not believe in God or that he prefers humanism and a scientific aproach, I would have suspected as much. No I have great respect for his command of language and his strong ideological stance but the way he puts it across is petty and with no compassion or respect. It hurts when someone you respect and see as a rolemodel turn around and not only become a normal human with faults like the rest of us but also show pettiness and a total disregard for other peoples human rights.

It is interesting to read how Sturmark critizes the church for being narrowminded, dead wrong and uninformed but then proves to be exactly that himself by how he presents it.

One shining example is where he points out that the archbishop of Sweden has been forced to appologize to “Humanisterna” (Sturmarks society of humanist belief, advocating belief in human ethics and scientific method without having to fall back on a higher power or religious text) because the archbishop did not realize that some comments was in fact not made by the society but by a single person not representing “Humanisterna”. Then without second thought Sturmark throws away the moral highground he has gained by retorting: If this is how badly they research their source material I understand how they can believe the Bible. By this Sturmark proves that he has done no research himself (since the Bible is the most researched and proven historically accurate document) and that whatever human ethics without God contains there is clearly no room for grace, humility or even common courtesy.

Sturmark claims to be a champion of the new modern secular society. If this is his idea of a secular society ruled by synicism, sarcasm, cheap shots and with no room for the higher virtues of goodness, kindness, love, patience, forgiveness. It is a society I will have no part in.

Furthermore Sturmark seems to have it in for the Christian church, while that certanly certanly doesn’t make him unique in any way he seems to have missed the fact that all forms of persecution historically has always made the church stronger. He also seems to have missed the fact that when you ridicule and belittle someone or their beliefs you only look small yourself.

So Christer Sturmark, while I applaud your eagerness to see society transformed. And I agree that there should be fairness and logic in the way the government relate to the church and vice versa, I urge you to reconsider the tone and the way you try to bring that about. Why throwing pies when we could instead unite in our belief that society needs to change for the better, that the broad public needs to be educated so they can choose what they believe in themselves not based on superstition but based on facts and perhaps an experience of the divine.

You claim to be the champion of freedom and clear thought, yet you seem to want everyone to think exactly like you, I do not see how that makes you any different from the nightmare image oif Christianity that you paint with your words.

Much grace

Patrik

The non uniform-uniformity

In reply to my article yesterday Emanuel Karlsten, High profile Youth leader in the Swedish Salvation army wrote this reply (I appologize to those of you who do not speak English). In short he says that he would not wear the uniform as it looks today (on account of todays uniform looking geeky) but would wear it if he like the founder (William Booth) could make it personal.

While I whole heartedly agree with emanuel that the uniform desperately nees to be updated to reflect modern times as William Booth did and I also agree with the fact that we today wear a parade or office uniform instead of a field uniform fit for battle.

But to go so far as to personalize the uniform, reshape and recolor it, I believe is missing the point. If we personalize the uniform or make the “field uniform” into any piece of clothing with the shield on it (which is the direction many territories are taking) Then we do not have a uniform but brand clothing, which in itself is not a bad thing, it puts our brandname and our logo “Out there”, it advertises the existance of the Salvation Army and it makes it “easy” to wear the SA clothing in a very non intrusive way.

{{The formal uniform is more like a fist in the eye. It states boldly and clearly that we are here on official buissness as ambassadors of Christ}} ( 2 Cor 5:20 ) and that we mean buissnes. The SA T-shirt with the shield comes in any color and or shape and therefore is no longer a uniform. We don’t look the same anymore. When a group of soldiers walk down the street it will not catch your eye, it will not make you ask yourself, what is this? It’s merely a bunch of people wearing the same brand (of some thrift store or the other).

Being unique and personal however is an important part of being a Christian, so the real dilemma is to find a way to express that and not break the uniformity. In the Guardian Angels we solved this by letting everyone put pins on the beret. Some volonteers wore a plain beret, some only thecrest of the Angels but some berets where literal works of art, with pins, brooches, patches and other adornments expressing the individuality of the uniformed Angel. We also had the choice of different BDU (battle dress uniform) trousers, some wore the plain black that where recomended while some others wore city camoflage or some other flavors of the BDU trousers.

Still walking down the street, there was no question that this was a uniform patrol of Guardian Angels. The red beret, the white T-shirt with the red crest, the red bomber jacket with the white crest, tied all the expressions of personality into a uniform whole.

I believe that the Salvation Army can change the uniform to make people like Emanuel feel individual and still make people like me feel that we are uniform. Without loosing the military metaphor or the fist in your eye bold statement of Faith as we stride down the street ready to win the world for Jesus!

A matter of uniform

The Salvation army uniform is obviously an issue that has been debated to the bitter end and back again and previously on this blog I have posted one or two articles about uniform issues as well. Either way I have some new experiences that I would like to share.

As I was in Malmö last weekend I walked the entire city in full uniform (including the hat) and got various different reactions. The most notable reaction was from any and all people older than 60 that smiled and seemed comforted by the presence of a “young” salvationist. Once I reached “Möllan” I met a few immigrants of various nationalities that seemed to be irritaded or disturbed by the uniform (I do not know whether this was due to their muslim faith or the fact that they come from countries where war is a very real thing, and the military is cruel and ruthless, I suspect the latter). At the funeral the uniform simply fit in as formal wear and a fitting tribute to my grandmother. It also seemed that it had a comforting and reassuring effect on the rest of the family. The oddest reaction however was that of my brother. He said:

{{“WOW, what a cool hat, clearly the coolest hat I have ever seen, can I have one to?”}}

After this he wanted me to wear the uniform as we visited with his various friends who also seemed to think that the salvation army uniform was not only ok but “cool” and deserving of respect. This coming from the hipp and in crowd in Malmö, the ones that hold the V.I.P. passes to all the nightclubs and are considered the people to be with if you are anywhere between 16 and 26 years old.

Isn’t it odd that the same group of young people IN the Salvation army are the ones aeguing that the salvation army uniform is outdated and a reason for ridicule. But as you look at other similar uniformed professions they don’t look ridiculous, pilots, air stewardesses etc.

I also found myself wishing we had been in the salvation army uniform as we stopped the assault in kingston as that had been a great witness to all the people who where standing around not daring to interfere with these heinous acts of violence. Having said that, I do get Hannas point, How would I ever have been able to do anything with high heels and a skirt?

While I percieve that the uniform still is a great witnessing tool and the trademark of the Salvation Army, there is a lot to be said about its practicality. And a pair of navy BDU’s with a navy pullover and a beret would promote the military metaphor but offer the practicality needed out inb the streets actually reaching out to the the poorest of the poor. What we would loose was the image of the SA soldier that has been worked in as our trademark for so many generations.

Recommended

So here we are back in Riga after a long, hard but extremely rewarding weekend. The girls are glad to be home and it will be nice to sleep in our own bed tonight.

Today we also received the result from the assesment conference. Here is the report sent to the Swedish candidates unit.

” I am pleased to advise that at the UKT Assessment Conference this weekend Patrik and Hanna were RECOMMENDED for training in the United Kingdom Territory. They did extremely well in the assesment and we would be honoured to work with your territory in preparing them for Officership.”

Now we wait until the candidates board meet on the 21st of march to make the final decision based on our application and the recommendation from the assessment conference

Adventures in Kingston town.

Hanna and I went to Kingston with Frank and Elsebeth Jakshoj to relax after a very demanding weekend. We visited the Disney store to Angelinas delight. After that we had a delicious mocha at Starbucks and then we went to get some takeout at a nearby japanese restaurant.

As I am placing our order I here screams right outside, I come out to see two girls kicking a third girl on the floor in the head, without thinking I go straight in and pull the one girl of. Hanna come in right after me and take the second girl.  The girl whois being attacked is screaming for somebody to help her. She is bleeding and we later see that she wet herself during the attack. As we are intervening them there are more than six people standing by the side watching.  Nobody does anything not even calling the police.

The girl who’s face is being kicked in gets up and  yells for people to call the police just before getting jumped again by the second girl who managed to sneak around Hannas back. As we go in the second time to separate them I see the security guards arriving and I think that finally they will take charge of the situation and detain these violent girls.

NOT! The security guards stand by the side and watch us struggle to keep these wild girls of each other. When we finally get the aggressors of  the poor girl they idly watch the two girls who mugged and assaulted someone while they where watching walk out of the mall.

Thankfully Frank and Elsebeth took care of Angelina and Anja and managed to shield them from the overt violence, even so Angelina seemed to be a bit shaken when we came back to the restaurant to pick up our food.

Frank and Elsebeth looked at us and said, well it’s certanly never booring when you are around.

In retrospect I regret not making a citizens arrest and assuming that the security guards would do their job but at the same time it was good to see that both Hanna and I still got it and that we still work perfectly together in a tight spot.

Assessment conference, London

I managed to sneak of to a computer with internet connection. The whole family are right now at Sunbury Court in London being assessed for officership. Not a minute is wasted as we are ushered from interview to interview and having to write several papers on theological subjects. It feels rather like an exam week to wich we have come totally unprepared and with two demanding children, who are being fantastic no matter the stress and wierdness going on around them.

Hanna is practically blossoming as she is finding out her strengths and taking charge of her situation,  not that anyone who knows Hanna would ever argue this, but I don’t think anyone who have been with her this weekend could argue that she is her in her own right and no metter how good speaker I might be I can never match the exhuberance and power that she carries when she is walking one with the spirit!

We spent the first day at William Booth college, and it felt like walking across a little piece of heaven in the midst of the busy London around, rather like Harry Potter (This one is for you Neil) would have felt stepping from the busy street into Diagon Alley, a completely different world in the middle of London. 

It was awe inspiring to step into the assembly hall and look at the proud flags boasting the session names of the cadet rings that have gone before, the memory and legacy of 10.000 movers and shakers, the officers whom have gone before us.

Please pray for us as we are embarking on this journey starting with this weekend wich might very well be one of the most important weekends of our life.

Aj Loba yoo!

Going down to the sword training last night, I said bye, bye Angelina and she replied bye, bye daddy, Aj loba yoo!

It is a moment I will never forget!

One night in Malmö

It has been a hysterical weekend as it always is when I am with my brother Hampi. We where supposed to take it easy and have a relaxing saturday evening, watching the Swedish eurovision contest and eat some snacks.

The night started well as we crammed into the sofa in front of the schlager fest on TV. As we started nibbling our schlager chips and schlager drinks (Sprite for me, beer for the rest) it suddenly became interactive TV as the The ARK placed a video conference call to my brother to show of their glamourous looks before strutting their stuff on National TV. Are you nervous? Yes I am very nervous my brother replied as he nervously stuffed more chips into his mouth.

[gv data="http://www.youtube.com/v/6oKXIAqwujo"][/gv]

The Ark obviously won the contest as they where supposed to and we did our bit as loyal friends (well most of us friends and some of us brothers to friends, me, if you have to ask) we voted for The Ark and trashed everyone else.

After the crushing victory it was time to tour the town, or rather the towns clubs and pubs. starting out at Zaratustra and then ending up at KB via Inkonst I was paraded through the nightlife of what used to be my town.

It is no longer my town, I used to not be able to walk one block in Malmö without meeting friends, now I made it a whole night out and about without encountering anyone I knew (or anyone my own age, gasp!) I had fun though, I made new friends and danced like it was 2007.

It struck me how empty the whole clubbing concept is, while some people are actually enjoyng the moment most of them seem to be lost in the mists of varying degrees of drunkedness, swaying uncontrollably to thye beat of the non descript pounding techno music. The sadder group however are the once who are not even enjoying the now but chasing after some future moment that might or might not come to pass. Looking for that right girl or right guy, willing to do anything just to be near someone who will acknowledge their existance. Ande when these people are then ignored by the object of their search they plummet into an alcohol induced depression that knows no limits.

It is so sad to see how people get robbed of the joy they are looking for by the very tools they think they need to find it. I wish that we could reclaim the clubs and make them houses where Joy abounds and people truly come to relax laugh and to dance like david danced on the mountain!

Places where life is celebrated and joy will rule.

A heartfelt farewell.

As we where sitting in the little church in Limhamn, listening to the fairy like sound of the flute carrying the celtic prayers up to God in heaven, the sun kissed the church as wave after wave of sunshine rolled over us like a tide. We where enveloped in the love of God as he bathed us in heavenly light making the notes of the music pluck the strings of our hearts and our spirits sared in a final farewell of our beloved grandmother.

We remembered, laughed and we cried. She would have loved every minute of it.

Fare thee well Marian, I hope we meet again!

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