Monthly Archives: April 2012

10 things I love about Norway

Just before leaving the UK I did a post on 10 things I love about the UK
as well as a post on 10 things I dislike about the UK
and I promised I’d do the same regarding Norway. Though I’m born and raised here, I’ve spent so much time away that even after four months, I feel relatively new to Oslo, but in a good way. It’s nice to rediscover and actually quite enjoy the city I was desperate to leave at the age of 19.

But let’s get to the list!

1. The chocolate! It’s not too sweet an there are so many varieties from the pure milk chocolate to the one with bubbles and the ones with crunchy/biscuit fillings or soft fillings. When I lived in the UK, I made sure to bring a stock of Norwegian chocolate which I hardly shared with my friends because I enjoyed it so much. And as I’ve resettled in Norway, I still can’t get enough. However, I’ll happily share with friends now as I need only walk for 10 minutes to buy more.
2. The nature. As a child, I groaned and moaned when my parents made me go for a Sunday walk in the forest. BORING! But now I really like it. I had a couple of friends from London visiting me earlier this week and on their last day; we went for a walk in the woods near my house. As we sat down on a picnic bench in the sun, listened to the birds sing and the ducks walking close buy, feeling the fresh air and the smell, I was proud of living in a country with such lovely nature. I am by all means a city girl, but a walk in the Norwegian nature, be it forests, mountains or parks, with or without skis on, will always clear my head and lift my spirit.

3. Oslo. I love it especially in the summer when the main street has a market, buskers and other street artists from all over the world doing their thing, the restaurants on board boats down at the port and, well I could go on forever. It also has the multiculturalism I love so much in the form of shops, restaurants, cafes and people from everywhere. There is also a lot to see, so it’s a great place for tourists.

4. The water. It tastes great and it doesn’t have that white stuff in it that London water has, so washing up is easier. The water is so good; I don’t by bottled water unless I want sparkling stuff.

5. Norwegians. My people are not fuzzy, down to earth and honest. You don’t get that oh so annoying British politeness and I find that if I’m ever lost and Norwegians offer help, they do so without all the “I’m ever so sorry if I intrude” or the “are you absolutely sure?” if you decline. If I had any criticism, it has to be that I wish there was more warmth between and towards people like you find in other parts of the world, but Norwegians are generally quite friendly.

6. Everything is very organized. Buying and selling property is very easy here. It took me only 3 weeks from I saw the flat I wanted till it was mine. And it only took that long because we waited to sign the contract on purpose so that it could be done on my birthday. Otherwise the whole thing would have taken less than a week. Also there are not all the middle men involved in buying and selling like there is in Britain.

7. Good quality houses. In the UK, I often got the feeling the houses and flats were not built very well on the inside. I remember my heavy glass shower door falling over me one day I was cleaning without me even moving it. I also think the doors and wood of the walls were bad quality which would need frequent renewing. And carpets! I hate carpets! Rugs that can be moved I like, because they can be cleaned. Here I have a feeling more thought is put in to the building and the quality of what’s inside the houses.

8. Food quality. I’m not really talking about the Norwegian cuisine itself, more that the food usually is nice, clean and of good quality. And I no longer have the 5 extra kilos I seemed to carry in the UK.
9. Beauty. I know this is both biased and boasting, but Norwegians are generally quite pretty and dress well.

10. There is no class divide. Sure we have rich and poor, like anywhere else in the world, but there isn’t quite the working class, upper class thing there is in the UK.

Watch out for my post on the 10 things I dislike which I’ll do my best to put up tomorrow!

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Hands on not required. On faith healings and disability.

Today, I’d like to talk about a topic which I am feeling strongly about. Faith healings and healers.

Being a Christian has been mostly a positive experience for me. Through my faith, I have gained an inner strength, joy and peace I did not have when I wasn’t saved. But the bit I find hard when it comes to my faith, is interacting with Christian strangers. I especially hate joining a new church.

Why?

Because often within the first hour of me being in a church, some well meaning, but clueless person walks up to me and offers prayers of healing. “Being disabled was never part of God’s plan”, or “You should pray for the spirit of blindness to leave you in Jesus name!”

I used to get beyond furious when people like that approached me and if I could, I’d get a rude comment in there, or just turn my back on them.

I still get angry, but as I am maturing, I realise that me turning my back on those ignorant people won’t teach them a thing. In stead, I try reasoning with them in the most Jesus like language I can think of such as “Would you give a rich man a million dollars?” or Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” or simply, “I realise eye sight is practical for many reasons, but I don’t understand how, apart from that my life would improve.”

Some get it. Most don’t. And as a result, I only feel comfortable in churches where people pay me no attention, where I have a friend I can escape with after the service or a church where people know and accept me for who I am.

I know many disabled people of any faith share my opinions. Religious people and I don’t call myself religious by the way, are trying so hard to be compassionate that what they actually end up doing is talking to you like you are some kind of inferior being. They try to comfort us with stories of so and so who lives in a remote village in a country on the other side of the world that got healed. I’ve also heard of the blind man in Scotland who got healed and is now a bus driver. Seriously, wouldn’t he do something a bit more high flying than driving a bus if he got his sight back?

I don’t think these stories are true at all. Do I believe faith miracles can happen? Yes I do. But I find it strange that they only happen in remote places and that there’s no news of them otherwise. Wouldn’t someone who suddenly become sighted or hearing be on the news? I certainly would speak quite publicly about it as I simply wouldn’t be able to keep it from the world. I also think they are exaggerated. One woman in the church I used to go to in London, asked me after pointing out that I’d be a more complete human being if I could see that she got healed from sight loss. I asked her how this could be, and it turned out she’d had cataract or glaucoma, can’t remember, and but that whatever she had got removed by surgery and that now she could see again. I heard of a lame that suddenly started walking. But on asking questions, this was a person who learned this with the help of physio.

These can be called miracles or healings in their own right, but it’s not the kind of laying hands on healing these religious people keep talking about. And healing can also be a mental process. For example, there are people who claim to have lost pain in their bodies by having had hands laid on them, but often, these are the results of believing it will work and then, as a result, they feel better after such a healing meeting.

Fake faith healers unfortunately exists. The greatest example of someone like that is Benny Hin who has been exposed in the media for trickery in making people believe they’ve been healed. And those faith healers are clever. They make those who wish for healing write down their prayer request along with their names and financial details on little cards. Then, the Faith healer’s right hand man or woman communicates with them through a walky-talky device giving out people’s names which the healer then communicates in the audience. “Is there a p, Peter J, I feel a name starting with J, Johnson, Jackson?” AT this point, poor Peter Jackson jumps up, goes to the stage and gets a prayer of healing. He really wants to believe that he’s healed of whichever affliction he suffers from. He doesn’t want to disappoint the healer with a bad result and it would also destroy the great shows those kinds of healing meetings are. So he’ll claim that “Yes I am healed” to which the fake healer responds” In the name of Jesus! He has been healed in the name of Jesus! Glory be to God Almighty for an evil demon has left him” or something very similar.

These people are dangerous. Darren Brown once made a programme about fake faith healers where he got a normal man to pose as one. In the program, we heard of people thinking they had been healed from for example cancer and then stopped taking their medication and treatment. They died of course. Darren Brown successfully put up a service for the fake faith healer and at the point the healers normally ask for donations, this man gave a speech warning the audience of fake healers.

I have also been made to feel awful because I refused healing. A pastor at my London church right out told me I wasn’t brave enough to want to see, or had enough faith. If I was meant to be healed, his faith would have been sufficient according to the bible. So I went up and asked for healing, reluctantly and it was awful.

The worst time though, was at my friend’s mother’s wake. After commemorating her life with worship and a sermon, I went up to the pastor to ask for prayers for my own mum who was in the terminal stage of cancer. I wanted to pray for her peace and for no pain. However, on seeing that I was blind, he turned the attention to me. I may have needed prayers in regards to keeping strong through the difficult times, but none for my sight. I left feeling nothing but disrespect for someone who thought a healthy person’s eye sight was more important than a cancer patient’s well being.

Christianity is simple. So simple that many of us, me included fail to grasp the simplicity of it. Love. Simply love. Loving means accepting people for who they are and not try to change them. If you truly love, you won’t go up to that new wheelchair kid in church assuming they want healing. For by being who you are created to be, you fill some sort of roll in the world. I believe in the resurrection, and when that happens, I will no longer be blind. It will be wonderful, but for now, I am who I am. I have found my place in the world and in Christ and through being blind, I have been given a perspective on things which I believe has made me into a better person. I thank God for the blindness just because of this. Not having a certain physical ability, does not mean you’re not a perfectly healthy and strong human being who doesn’t have a lot to give.

So to you lovers of healing, you’ll do a lot more good and cause more healing in a disabled person’s life by including them in the church. Let your first question b if they’d want another doughnut or what they thought of the service rather than asking if they feel incomplete. If a disabled person wants faith healing, they’ll go to the appropriate person. Someone they trust.