My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Monday, February 28, 2005

Evolution and Creation

Just found this post over at the Wittenberg Gate. It deals with evolution theory versus/and creation. It's very interesting, adressing the problems people have to fit in what they have learned and read about like evolution during millions of years instead of six days, dynosaurs, fossils, etc., and the theories to "fill the gap". Dory also points out the problems those theories pose for some doctrines of faith. Also check out the comments to her post.
I know some of you who read my blog are interested in this or struggle with the Christian view of creation according to the account in Genesis. Hope this is interesting for you (even if it is to sharpen your teeth for further discussions, maybe you'll gain more understanding about the creationist viewpoint).

The international blogger interviews

I’m sitting in my chair and feeling a little bit nervous. In front of me (though a plane ride of more than 20 hours away) sits my host Catez from allthings2all-productions who is staging the international blogger interviews. What will she asks me? Will I really find an answer? I hope you are exited now! Here is my interview:

1. What is the best thing about where you live?I’m living in Bonn, the former capital of Germany. It’s a nice, not very big city, a good place to live in, to have coffee or beer with friends (some great beer gardens :)), kind of cozy – and if you want to party, Cologne is a twenty-minute trainride away. But the best thing? I will go for the Rhine with the walkways along the river, the “Rheinaue” (a park where you can run, relax, have bbqs and where they stage festivals and a huge fleamarket once a month) and the beer gardens where you have a beautiful view on the river.
The best thing about Germany would be even more difficult to answer. I think I choose the diversity in landscape (North and Baltic sea in the north, the Alpes in the south, lots of beautiful scenery in between) and the rich history and cultural heritage. And it’s in the middle of Europe, so you can reach a lot of foreign countries quite easily.

2. What is your favorite book of all time and why?
Catez, those questions are difficult! I love books, so it is incredable hard to settle for one favorite. If it has to be ... the Lord of the Rings trilogy. What a singular answer :). But I really love those books. I like the style, a mixture of novel and poetry (I enjoy poetry lots), the characters in all their depth, and it is an exiting plot. Close followers would be the books by Astrid Lindgren, a Swedish children’s books writer. They accompanied me growing up, so they are very special to me. I am attached to Scandinavia anyway (I grew up in Norway) and I like it that her children characters experience life as it is – joy and sorrow, being courageous and afraid, doing good and making mistakes, fighting evil, helping others, valueing friendship... the list goes on.
And then of course the most important book for me is the Bible, but that is something different than a “favorite book”.

3. What has been your greatest adventure?
Travelling for three weeks in Colombia, South America. I went backpacking with a friend there, travelling by bus, sleeping in cheap hotels, staying in hammoks in national parks, seeing wild animals and beautiful landscape, getting my necklace ripped off my neck, bathing in mud volcanoes, ... It was a great time!

4. What is your pet peeve?
Ok, if this answer doesn’t make sense, it’s because I’m not 100% sure how tp translate pet peeve” into German. So, bear with me here... If I get it right, it means something I always get mad about and it’s my favorite thing to get mad about? But something in me or in others? Well, here is something. My favorite thing to get mad about at the moment is US/Europe-bashing on blogs. I have read quite a variety of posts and comments where all European countries are put together into the term “Europe” and then get bashed really hard for a wide variety of reasons. I know there is a lot of US-bashing going on as well and I don’t approve of that either. Respect, understanding and real interest in other opinions (in all kind of areas) seem to be sadly missing in the blogosphere sometimes...

5. Are you a more logical type person or a more creative artist type person? Can you explain that a bit?
I’m still trying to figure that out myself. My boyfriend said I’m neither. My job (law) requires logical or analytical thinking. And that has influenced my thinking and therefore probably my behavior in other areas of my life. But I am definately not the usual logical type person! My beliefs and my feelings direct a lot of what I say, do and otherwise occupy myself with. I used to be a lot more creative when I was younger and I actually want that back. I enjoy being creative and express myself creatively, but I don’t always take the time. I kind of still try to just live my life and not plan everything ahead. I’m definately not all figures and facts. I’m more songs, poems, nature, photos, faith...

So, now I will turn into your host and interview you in a continuation of the international blogger interviews! If you want to participate, you have to follow the instructions underneath.

1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me." I will interview at least the first five who leave a comment “Interview me”.
2. I will respond by asking you five questions.

3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Trust me, this is fun! And I’m looking forward to find out more about you who read my

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The value of life or: who can decide if someone wants to die?

Terri Schiavo is sentenced to death. She is supposed to die, because her husband decided that she should does not want to live anymore.
Terri suffered brain damage after a heart attack in 1990. She has been awarded a huge sum of money in a medical malpractice trial that is meant for her care and rehabilitation. Terri is in a hospice in Florida, but she is not in a so-called vegetative state nor in coma nor on a life-support system. She tries to communicate with her parents and with visitors, laughs and cries.
But her husband wants her to die since 1993. He declares that she does not want to live like this and so he wants to have her feeding tube removed. Is it clear to you what that means? It means that Terri Schiavo will slowly starve to death!
Maybe it is interesting to note that her husband is living with another woman and their two children...
The day on which Terri’s feeding tube will be removed is TODAY. Her parents have lost their last appeal, but they still try to save Terri’s life. According to other blogs the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, could also intervene on behalf of Terri’s life.

Can you imagine? The danger in giving somebody else the right to decide if someone should live or die is obvious here. Even when the person who takes the decision truly cares about the ill person’s wishes and state, this is an incredible difficult decision. But obviously there are a lot of less uncaring thoughts and wishes that can influence the decision-making process...
Who can decide if someone wants to keep on living? Who can judge from Terri Schiavo’s behavior that she wants to die? Who can decide that disabled or severely ill people do not want the life they have? Who can decide if your life is worth living? Which human can take on the position of a judge over life and death?
In my opinion none.
The value of life seems to deteriorate more and more in our society. We are in the process of creating check-lists if a life is worth having. How will that end? Disability – not worth it? No benefit for society – not worth it? Drug addict – not worth it? Terminally ill – not worth it? This is different from the ill person who decides himself if he does not want life-prolonging treatment any more. And different from the person who is brain-dead and on life-support system. And I do not even want to get into a discussion of what translated from German is called “passive help to die”.
And there are historical parallels lurking in the back of my mind... I don’t want to talk about historical precedents etc. Other bloggers have done that. I just want to bring Terri and her fate before you. What happens to her makes me want to rant and also to curl up and cry. I know this is emotional, but who can keep his emotions at low level here? I cannot...

Check out these other blogs to learn more about Terri Schiavo and what you could do to maybe help save her life: allthings2all, another post at allthings2all, a post by the anchoress and this post at Wittenberg Gate.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Flattering result...

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

There is a test on the net where you can find out which Sci-Fi character you are like. I tried it for fun and actually the result was VERY flattering. I'm supposed to be most like Galadrial from Lord of the Rings. I love the books and she's a really cool character - so how will I deal with that? :)
Wish this flattering comparison was really true ... :)

Friday, February 18, 2005

A firm foundation

The firm foundation of our lives is God. To really be able to live our lives bearing this constantly in mind and guiding us, our faith needs a firm foundation as well.
I grew up in Christian surroundings, salvation army sunday school, kid’s group at church and then confirmation class and confirmation. I never really doubted during those years that God existed (although I couldn’t really fit Jesus in the whole thing). I really started to believe in Jesus and my relationship with him in 1993. And my faith has been growing since then.
But recently I started to question how firm the foundation of my faith was. The problem was not doubts in Jesus or anything like that, but doubts concerning what actually are the things the Christian belief consists of, protestant in this case. What forms faith “besides” believing in God and Jesus and what he did for us (to name a few things the questions do not concern)?
When I was in confirmation class we learned the creed and the catechism. But at that time I did not pay attention like I wish I had :). I love to recite the creed and unfortunately at the church I attend now that does not happen very often. So it’s not that I do not know “the basics”, but I wonder about their meaning. I want to grasp them, have a better understanding, gain a firmer foundation.I feel like this: I know part of the foundation and then I know lots of “other stuff”. I know we can only know in part, but it does leave me wondering. I read and thought and heard sermons about fruits of the spirit, gifts of the spirit, healing, purity, holiness, prophesy, intimate friendship with God, relationships, dating, money, ... Now it feels like a jumble in my head and I feel this needs sorting. These things are important too, but what I momentarily want is a firmer foundation. Clearer understanding. So I’ll start reading dogmatics. I’ll start with Karl Barth’s Dogmatics in Outline (Dogmatik in Grundzügen). (I might follow it up with Bonhoeffers Ethics, but we’ll see. Not too much at once :)). I’m exited to start!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Role Models # 3

It is difficult to come up with a role model regarding character. There are several reasons for that. I do not think that I could come up with a living person whose character is fit to be modeled in every aspect. Everybody is imperfect. Although that should not let me hesitate to decide that such a person is a role model – absolute perfection is not a prerequisite for being a role model! That would be unrealistic and very frustrating.
If it was somebody that I know personally though, it might be kind of difficult to make you understand why that person is a role model, as you have never met them. I know it’s interesting anyway, but I have to think about those persons a bit more first. And I still haven’t decided on some “famous” persons to offer here...
Then there are characters in books. Of course you could ask: why of all “people” would I want someone in a book to be a role model? They are made up, they do not face the same things I do. But still I think that book characters can be very good role models – especially in children’s books. A lot of people identify with the characters in the book they are currently reading. I do so very often. Not always, especially not in some novels considered literature by many. But I remember how I especially as a kid lived in the book I was reading, adored or abhorred characters for how they were and acted, and got inspired on how to live and which character traits to acquire or strengthen. (That's why I think it's extremely important that kids read good - not boring or too moralistic - but good books. And if you think your kid's not old enough for that particular book, maybe you're wrong. Maybe your kid's growing in interests and understanding faster than you think. I used to read quite some things from the library that my parents thought I wasn't old enough for yet. Children's books concerning civil war, holocaust, child labor etc. But kids care lots of what goes on around them. They'll need you, their parents, probably to discuss some things or get some explanations, but that's a great opportunity to talk with your kids. Those "difficult" books might help them to grow into interested, caring or compassionate youths and adults...)
I'll come up with some of my "book heroes" next time. Let me know who were yours!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Falling at Jesus' feet

In our bible in one year readings we recently read the story of the woman who pours perfume over Jesus’ head while He is at dinner. This story made me think of two other gospel events, namely the woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet while He visits her, Martha and Lazarus.
And it struck me again: THAT is what I want. I just want to fall down at Jesus’ feet and worship Him. I just want to be close to Jesus, to sit at His feet and listen. I want to curl up at His feet and be at the best place imaginable (maybe that’s not very theological, but that’s exactly how I feel). Spending time with Jesus...
But what happens again and again in my life is that I get caught up in what I think a Christian should behave like, and what is allowed, and again my prayer life sucked, and how can I put more and better work into church events...
But actually those are not the things (at least not the only ones) that being a follower of Christ is about. It is also about a love relationship with Jesus and it is about spending time with Him and learn from Him.
I just want to fall at Your feet and worship, Lord.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Life on autopilot...

Do you know the feeling that your life is on autopilot? Everything just happens automatically. I get up early, get to work, do whatever should be done (collecting material for my professor, organize a seminar, answer student questions on the phone ...), work on my PhD thesis or an article I have to write, get back home, read or watch some TV, go to bed early cause I'm just soo tired. Enjoy being around Markus though tons! Sarah is in the States, so we haven't had any coffee lately (you're not the only one missing her, Dave :)). Vera's really busy. But Ulrike's coming tomorrow!
But still everything feels kind of stale, the usual, unexiting. I feel like I'm just going through the motions or I could just be a robot.
I love life, but for the moment the passion and the exitement are missing. Lost them somewhere... I wonder if that's how people feel after being in the same job for several years. (Just imagine: 20 years doing the same thing - aaahh!)
It's strange, cause even small special things happening do not really get me out of this feeling. I'm so glad Ulrike is visiting and friends come for dinner on saturday and I'm incredable happy with Markus. But some kind of fog or something is covering everything...
Wonder why? Really want excitement and passion and my big smile back! I'm getting kind of on my own nerves, but this is just how I feel at the moment. Wonder where God's taking me through this.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Who is your role model # 2 - Career

Here is the promised next post about role models. I think everybody has or should have several role models for different areas of life. Most people offer a model in only a certain area of life – character, career, convictions etc. – if any at all. A role model in career questions is someone who should inspire interest in the job and passion for ideas. And make us work harder to reach similar professional areas, expertise, etc.
So I cannot offer a model for everyone – cause a lot will depend on your career plans and interests. There may be general models regarding work ethics, but I’m not writing about those now.
During the last year and a half I have been inspired mainly by two law professors. I do not expect or plan to be a professor of law, but I work as a junior research fellow in law, so it fits anyway. And those two men have done a lot of professional things that seems tremendously interesting to me. Both work in the field of international law, mainly human rights, humanitarian law, international criminal law and transitional justice (my main law interests). They have written extensively and excellently on those topics, but are also great teachers (I’ve had the chance to be taught by both of them at an international academy). But they are not confined to academics, but for example one of them heads an NGO working for the abolition of the death penalty and is a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Sierra Leone. In addition, they are very social and great with grad and undergrad students, which in this context means that they treat you as an equal when they talk to you (or have a beer with you) and are very much fun and interesting outside the classroom too. One of them even told me if he wasn’t a law professor he'd love to start his own orchard.
They inspire me by their writings and their professional achievements. And often (unfortunately not always...) that makes me work harder, but also believe in certain ideas and possibilities for the future.
I’d love to have comments telling me about your career role models!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Some old jokes still make me laugh...

It's been a while again since I lived in Norway. But I still miss it... And this joke, that I've heard ever so often by now, still makes me laugh and miss it even more:

You Know You're Norwegian When....

You assume that a stranger on the street who smiles at or greets you is:
a) drunk.
b) insane.
c) an American.
d) All of the above.

You vigorously defend whaling and enjoy consuming whale meat.

You enjoy the taste of lutefisk (jelly-like, bad-smelling fish) and cod prepared in any way, including fried cod tongues.

You can prepare fish in five different ways without cooking it.

You don't question the habit of always preparing a "matpakke" (sandwich in paper).

You have two cars, a cabin and a boat, if not more.

You think there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

It feels natural to wear sport clothes and backpack everywhere, including the cinema, bowling alley, and to church.

You are think it's weird if a house isn't wooden.

You know at least five different words for describing different textures of snow.

You don't fall when walking on ice.

You earn more than you spend.

You associate Easter with cross-country skiing with friends and family in the familys mountain cabin.

You are shocked if it's not 2 months of snow every year, at least!

You can see mountains and the ocean, no matter where you are.

You expect all dinner parties and meetings to start precisely on time, if not before.

You fall 3 metres, and don't get hurt. If you do, you're not worried at all.

You haven't heard of "fast-food".

You can't understand why foreigners haven't heard about Bjørn Dæhlie.

You're proud to be Norwegian - and you pass these jokes on to all your Norwegian friends!

Get Your Own "You Know You're" Meme Here

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Give me a clear sign?

So often I just want God to give me a clear sign, to practically spell out for me what he wants me to do with my life. And then, I think, I will know for sure and carry it out, make the necessary changes, adjust my will, etc. But I wonder, is that just wishful thinking?
In the course of our "bible in one year" readings, we are now reading Exodus and the story of Moses strengthened my suspicions about the eagerness to follow even "clear" signs. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and told him not just what to do, but even that He would give Moses the words to say and guide his actions. And what does Moses do? According to my expectations - I mean that was a clear sign if there is any such thing! - Moses should have been all for it. At least happy, maybe even eager, "I'll go!", hurrying back to the camp, packing his stuff and off to Egypt. But this is not the way Moses acted. He gets it spelled out by God and then he wants to refuse. He really wants God to get somebody else for the job. And he keeps that argument up for a while.
When I read Moses' story, it really made me wonder. Would I really follow up without hesitation God's call if it came as clearly as I sometimes wish? Or would I too hesitate, maybe even try to get around it?

Lords of the boards

This post title doesn't imply I'm a snow boarder, but I had lots of fun at the snow retreat of our youth groups anyway :).
On saturday 22nd january we left at 8 am for an almost twelve hour bus drive to Bad Gastein, Austria. We took about 34 youth on our annual snow retreat, a time to have fun, hear about God's love, enjoy the snow and ski, ski, ski ... or board, of course. We arrived really late and after having watched "Grease" twice (!), but it was snowing, so that was great. After some pizza and Austrian food, Megen from Surrey talked to us about loving God and loving people - supported by stories, milk and cookies. It was great fun hanging out with Megen again, we met last year at the AICEMEA youth conference.
Sunday morning we did our best to get everybody's skis, boards and boots rented and then we took the gondola up on the top of Stubnerkogel. It was sunshiny and there were 20 cm of powder! We had a great time skiing. I skied with Kevin, Cindy and their daughter Michelle (great skiing buddy) and Sarah. And surprisingly, it went really well. Last years skiing school payed off :).
So, what was great: sunshine, powder snow, hot chocolate and soup, beautiful mountains, speed, watching some of the youth board and ski amazingly, getting warm after skiing (- 15° C), Megen's talks, doing red tracks with almost nobody around so lots of space and fun, tobogganing (das ist Rodeln :)), hot springs on Monday night and a full body massage, talks with some kids, ...
Downside was sharing a dorm with 14 girls! I'm not used to that any more :).
Tuesday it took us another eleven hours to get back to Bonn and "Grease" once more. Anybody interested in my two favorite quotes: "You're cruising for a bruising" and "You look like a beautiful blonde pineapple".
So, Grease is the word!