Where do ideas come from?

The last blog post I wrote was lame. I knew it was lame, my dh said it was sweet but lame and my mom said it was lame.

It was. She said it was an okay idea but not only are people sick of winter, they’re no doubt sick of even talking about winter.

I told her I wanted to write about writing next, and she said “Where ideas come from?” And I said, exactly!

That’s the reason I write books with my mom. We have an almost symbiotic relationship, not to mention she dazzles at what I’m not good at and I’m an idea person, which has never been her forte she will say.

This works domestically too. She’s lived with us for going on eleven years, and she doesn’t mind loading and unloading the dishwasher, and I have no problem washing the pots and pans. My husband cooks, and mom and I both know how fortunate we are in this department.

But I digress.

Where do ideas come from, for everything from blog posts to books?

For more than ten years, I told my reporting students to avoid question leads if at all possible because that kind of opening is weak and leads the reader to say ‘who cares?

Apparently I’m not quite over the lameness yet.

I’m in a slump.

So stay tuned for ‘Where do ideas come from, part two.’

By then maybe I’ll have some idea besides the ether.

Take a Two-Minute Vacation

My last post was about embracing winter. I was inspired by writer Stephen Regenold’s article, “Valhalla on Skis,” featured in the February issue of Viking. However, I realize this suggestion might be too much for battle-weary readers in northern climes, who have shoveled far too much snow and driven on way too much ice this season. This week I’m offering an easier alternative: check out this gorgeous two-minute video of sunrise in Sunnmøre, Norway. No mittens or boots needed.

Spring is in the air…or not?

March is less than a week away, but it seems an eternity right now.

The mid-Atlantic region of the country got hit a lot harder than we did on the prairie this winter. But it started snowing in October here, completely bypassing fall.

At least my high schooler, Andrew, has only had a handful of snow days. In some areas of West Virginia, where we resided for 15 years, the kids have missed three weeks of school.

Facebook status updates announce gleefully that garbage pickup has finally resumed. I remember those days…watching the cans sit out pitifully at the side of the road, frozen solid into the snow.

It’s not even the lack of sunshine here. We get a lot more wintry blue sky than we ever did in the east, though not as much as in Flagstaff. The sun shone every day there, it seemed like. Except maybe the March when I was a new mom with a three-month-old baby, and it snowed 80 inches that month. Yes, eighty. Eight zero.

That’s a lot of snow.

I wasn’t deterred, however. I’d load Erik into his car seat and maneuver baby and seat into our tiny Chevy Sprint to go to a moms and tots group. Okay he was a little young, but the camaraderie was priceless. When Erik was two-and-a-half, we moved to Morgantown, West Virginia. It rained every single day that fall. Seriously. I used to take my little boy to the park in a drizzly mist, letting him shuffle through the sodden wood chips and hope we’d meet some other moms and tots.

The only other person I ever saw that autumn was a stay-at-home dad with two little boys in tow. When I suggested a play date, he looked like he’d been attacked by a giant anaconda. Apparently, co-ed play dates were verboten.

It was a miserable fall. Somehow Erik and I survived.

He has wonderful friends scattered to colleges near and far and overseas on gap-year adventures. I miss his friends and mine.

After a year and a half in Nebraska, I like the new friends I’ve made too.

One thing we all have in common, is we’re all sick of winter. No matter where we reside in the country, female or male, we’re all weary of winter.

And that, my dear friends, is comforting.

The Norwegian Curling Team: A Story with Legs

Last week I wrote about the hubbub surrounding the Norwegian Olympic curling team's "flashy" trousers. Since then, Norway's athletes have had a great showing at the games. (As I'm writing this, a quick check of my “NBC Vancouver 2010” smart phone app tells me that they have six gold, three silver, and five bronze medals.) But as far as I can tell, nothing about Norway's participation in the 2010 games seems to be garnering as much attention—or global media buzz—as those pants. A Google search for "Norway curling team pants" yields 137,000 results. On Facebook? You can join the nearly 370,000 fans of “The Norwegian Olympic Curling Team’s Pants.” And it's not at all surprising that Norway's King Harald V has weighed in, describing the the harlequin-pattern slacks as "the coolest pants I've ever seen," according to a BBC report issued today.

One can only imagine what's next. A bidding frenzy for a pair of the jester pants on eBay? A team appearance on "The Tonight Show"? Endorsement deals? I sincerely hope for all of the above.

Two left feet

This morning at step class, without really thinking, I put risers under my step. I wondered why it felt like an even more intense workout than usual. Of course when I actually stumbled off the side of it, I didn’t question the height because I know I have two left feet.

Yes, I can chew gum and walk at the same time, stay on a treadmill without falling off and actually cross-country ski. But that’s the extent of it.

In 7th grade, I used to go out night after night in the frosty northern Michigan winter to skate on the makeshift ‘pond’ between our house and the neighbors. Maybe skate isn’t quite the right word for the non-stop, not-graceful back and forth shuffling I’d do in my pristine white figure skates.

My younger sister and brothers became pros on the ice. Both Steve and Mark played hockey, even though they came to the sport ‘late’ (they weren’t toddlers when they started).

It’s winter Olympics time, and for years I watched the figure skating and ice dancing competitions. A huge treat as a kid was doing to an ice show. My favorite haircut to this day is the Dorothy Hamill wedge…I think I’m growing it out again right now….

However, finesse on figure skates has always eluded me. Even now when I bring up wanting to learn my husband recoils in horror. My aging body hitting the ice is too much for the poor man. I haven’t even told him about the step class this morning.

I have similar affection for dancing. My only foray into lessons came at age four when we lived in a Detroit suburb and resulted in an affinity for the little bus that picked me up to take me to the studio. Since I now also avoid public transportation at all costs, unlike dh and older son who revel in it, I guess riding the bus didn’t ‘take’ either.

After a month and a half of zumba at 5:45 a.m. at the local Y, I may have found my outlet. This week I was usually mamboing left when everyone was mamboing right, but it doesn't seem to matter. As long as you keep moving, according to the instructors and the poor women standing next to me, that’s all that counts.

I may have even mastered the salsa step. I’m still better at eating it than dancing it, but it’s a start.

Winter: You can’t beat it. Enjoy it!

As a Minnesotan, I see only two viable options for getting through the long winter each year: Escape it or embrace it. For practical reasons, I’ve always taken the latter approach. I remind myself that winter provides different—but equally gorgeous—scenery, and that February’s lengthening days mean the snow and ice will eventually be giving way to green grass. In the mean time, I count my winter blessings: cozy evenings at home, a break from yard work and plenty of snow for cross-country skiing.

Someone who seems to have perfected the notion of embracing winter is writer Stephen Regenold. Instead of escaping to a warm, exotic destination, he and his friends traveled to Molde, to explore Norway’s Romsdal Alps. Stephen shares his adventures in “Valhalla, on Skis,” in the February issue of Viking. Check it out! I bet it will inspire you to get out there and enjoy the season—no matter where you live.

Another Gold for Norway!

I know, I know, Norway is down 2-0 in the first period, but hey they can make a comeback! In the meantime, here's an Olympic update from Nichole!

Today, Tora Berger won Norway another gold medal (her first!) in the individual biathlon, missing just one shot and completing the course in 40 minutes, 52.8 seconds. In doing so, Berger's win added the 100th medal to Norway's winter Olympics coffer.

Congrats to Berger -- it was a very exciting match to watch. Her concentration during the shooting was such a thing to watch. Can you imagine skiing that hard for 40 minutes and making so few mistakes while being that exhausted? Amazing!

Blades of Steel: The Showdown

In a few hours one of the most anticipated Olympic match-ups is going to bring together two hockey powerhouses who have thus far under-performed in the tournament. But, then again, today is only the second game.

In any case, don't be surprised if you call the HQ this afternoon and hear cheering in the background because at 2 PM the U.S. Hockey Team is facing off against Team Norway. What will set this game apart from any other played by either team is that we'll probably be cheering no matter who has the puck. It's hard to split loyalty, but we find a way to do so equitably every time something like this comes around.

I'm really looking forward to the game because I don't think that the U.S. is going to dominate the way everyone else is expecting. In their first game of the tourney they only beat the luke warm Swiss team 3-1 (and remember, the Swiss version of "miracle on ice" was beating the Canadian team in a non-medal match-up during the 2006 Olympics).

Though Norway did get shellacked by the Canadian team the other day, I think that was a learning experience for our boys in Red. I think I speak for everyone here at HQ when I say we are looking forward to one of those epic games that Olympic hockey is known for.

Norway is Looking Golden...Finally!

In a moment that many around here thought they'd never see in 2010, Norway has finally brought home its first gold medal of the 2010 Olympics! In a stunning victory over a field of amazing skiers, Marit Bjoergen has brought Olympic gold to Norway by winning the Ladies' Individual Sprint Classic yesterday.

Big congrats to Marit Bjoergen who added a gold medal to her collection, which already included a bronze medal in the 10 km free cross country race.

On Writing

It’s Wednesday already? Time for a new blog post, but I got zip, zilch, zippo. Sigh.

One of the reasons I started blogging, in addition to writing about things that have been on my mind for years… or weeks… was to jumpstart my creativity, get the juices flowing, try out something new besides journalistic writing or fiction… yada yada yada.

More sigh.

I think it’s going around. A brilliant writer friend of mine… truly brilliant… feels like writing is becoming ‘old hat.’ Since this person also makes gentle fun of my ‘old lady’ clichés (my husband chides me for my ‘air quotes’…I can’t win!), let’s substitute ‘clichéd.’

I’m rather fond of air quotes. So there.

Since I was about ten there’s nothing I wanted to be more than a writer (well, okay the mother of ten children and a musical comedy star came in a close second and third).

My ‘dream job’ in my early 20s would have been to be a writer on SNL… you go, Tina Fey!

Words are my vocation and my avocation. I love words, books, newspapers, cereal box copy… you name it. And I love wonderful words written by others. It’s like one great big word love fest.

Except of course when the words won’t come, when the ideas stalemate, when the punctuation snarls and growls.


Still we writers persevere. We have to. We sure don’t have any other marketable skills.

So for everyone out there who shares a passion for the written word… whether as reader or writer or often both… don’t let the passion burn out.

Norwegian Films at the Berlinale!

Our very own Nichole is currently spending some time overseas, but that's not stopping her from working/blogging! Here's a great post on some wonderful Norwegian movies!

Greetings from Berlin, where the Berlinale (the Berlin film festival) is celebrating is 60th birthday! Taking some time to take in the sights, I was quite pleased to see a decent representation of Norwegian films in the program. No word yet on how they fared in competition, but a maybe you can hedge your bets with these synopses:

En ganske snill mann (A Somewhat Gentle Man)
Dir. Hans Petter Moland
Ulrik has spent twelve years behind bars for murder. After his release he rents a small basement room. Ulrik doesn’t say much, but everyone he knows thinks he deserves a second chance. His gangster friend welcomes him with a pot plant. They talk about the good old times and about some unfinished business that Ulrik has with Kenny, who was to blame for Ulrik’s spell in prison. Kenny will pay for this with his life. As soon as Ulrik’s mate finds out where Kenny works, Ulrik borrows a car and begins to spy on Kenny. He follows him home. Kenny no longer lives alone. He has a wife. From the backyard Ulrik observes a happy couple. The sight really pulls at Ulrik’s heart strings. He calls up his ex-wife to find out how their son is getting on. His ex is not exactly overjoyed to see Ulrik and insists that he leave their son well alone. Ulrik’s been away for most of the boy’s childhood. The boy is now an adult and is doing just fine. Ulrik promises not to call him but then breaks his promise, visits his son and discovers that he’s about to become a grandfather. Ulrik is a changed man. He has an apartment, a pot plant, a son, and will soon have a grandchild; he also has a woman who likes him. But then he learns that he’s not allowed to see his grandchild because he’s a murderer, his girlfriend suddenly won’t have anything to do with him, and his gangster friend urges him to take his revenge on Kenny. Ulrik discovers that Kenny had nothing to do with his arrest. So why on earth should he kill Kenny? Wouldn’t the world be a better place without his gangster friend?

Bestevenner (Rafiki)
Dir. Christian Lo
Julie, Mette and Naisha are best friends and classmates. They live in a small village in a valley in Norway. At school they are rehearsing for the Christmas play, and Naisha is elected to play Santa Lucia. Julie’s biggest fear is to perform in front of the class. In order to overcome this fear, this year, she has been asked to introduce the Christmas play.

One day Naisha suddenly disappears and nobody knows where she and her mother are. It turns out they have run away from the local home for asylum-seekers and are hiding somewhere in Oslo. Their refugee application has been rejected, and they will be sent back home if the police find them.

Julie and Mette decide they need to find Naisha and her mother and help them. The trouble is that Julie’s dad is a policeman, Julie and Mette are only nine years old, Oslo is a long way from home, and Christmas is approaching.

With a secret address written in invisible ink as their only clue, Julie and Mette sneak off on the night train to the city. This marks the beginning of an unforgettable adventure in an exciting film about friendship and courage.

Knerten (Twigson)
Dir. Aasleik Engmark
Strong? Yes.
Brave? Yes.
A twig? Yes.
Ordinary? No! Because twigs like Twigson don’t grow on trees.
Twigs like Twigson exists in fantasies and play with you in the woods when you find it hard to be with everyone else. Twigs like Twigson don’t like to be left in an anthill, but will join you in the search of golden princesses. Twigs like Twigson don’t mind the fact that father sells underwear and stockings, or that big brother cuts his hair to fit in. Twigs like Twigson aren’t worried about having to fit in. It’s a real shame that there aren’t more Twigsons around.

Twigson is funny. He is animated. And Twigson is Junior’s faithful companion on all his adventures.

Mother and father are worried about how they are going to pay the bills; the roof is collapsing, and Junior even falls through it. It’s not always easy. Luckily, Junior and Twigson are able find solutions for almost everything. To earn some extra cash you can for example bring back the same bottles twice and claim the deposit for them a second time.

Sometimes even a little twig can make all the difference, as this story about an unusual friendship portrays.

Sinna mann (Angry Man)
Dir. Anita Killi
"One day I hope to be like Daddy, my big, kind Daddy! I’ll be good, and quiet, and hope the day will turn out fine,” thinks Boj. But then the Angry Man turns up after all …

SINNA MANN chronicles the heartbreaking story of childhood abuse at the hands of a violent father, and one boy’s brave attempt to seek help from Norway’s King.

I had hoped to take in En ganske snill mann, but it was totally ausverkauft (sold out) long before I arrived. Anyone seen it? Feedback? I'm sad to miss Stellan Skarsgaard's performance, whose work I've enjoyed in everything from National Treasure to Breaking the Waves. Hopefully, you, dear readers, won't think less of me for thinking so fondly of a Swede...

Impersonation 101

Here's members of AZU doing what they do best, impersonating people. They make fake profiles of people and post under their names. Makes you wonder how much stuff that goes on there that is simply made up by AZU. After all, they never truly allow opposing opinions at AZU. Go there and try it out if you don't believe me. It makes me wonder if ANY posts presented at AZU are ever true. Of course, they do they very things they whine about others doing. They embrace the same guy that spent years blasting them and impersonating them; integrity has never been a requirement at AZU. ROFL @ Stitches and TSand. Stitches a "famous anti-pedophile activist?" Famous as a crackpot, maybe! And TSand was just a troll. Eventually he'll get pissed off at AZU and turn on them again.

PS: Jacey needs to work on her math skills. Somehow she believes $300 = $15. Apparently basic math skills are not an AZU requirement, either. I guess that explains why AZU is always misreading statistics.

2010 Olympics: Wherein Norway Shakes Up the International Curling Establishment . With Their Pants!

Winter Olympics fever is running high in my house. We watched the opening ceremonies and my three sons got almost as excited when the Norwegian delegation walked into the stadium as when Team USA did! If you have a smart phone, I highly recommend NBC’s “Vancouver 2010” app.

My family’s favorite feature is “Medal Count,” which updates and ranks each nation’s gold, silver, and bronze medals throughout every day of the games. There’s also video updates, schedules, and Twitter feeds from the likes of Apollo Anton Ohno, and you can set up “Favorites” so that you’re always getting updates on your favorite countries. How else would I know that “Norway’s curlers hope two-time Major golf winner John Daly’s passion for garish, brightly patterned trousers can inspire them to Olympic gold”? Apparently the team trained in blue, grey, white, and red diamond-patterned golf pants from the same company that supplies Daly and is considering shaking up the conservative curling establishment by wearing them for competition.

Sure, it’s trivial—but my boys will be so impressed when I share that inside scoop with them at the dinner table tonight.

Holding on and letting go…in more ways than one….

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon. My friend Susan’s husband was taking their daughter to the airport to fly back to Boston, where she’s a third-year law student. She’d been home to see a cousin’s new baby. My husband was at the office for a couple hours shuffling and tossing papers.

Like me, Susan was just chillin’ and doing laundry so she said to give her a call if I felt like chatting. Chatting with Susan, whether via e-mail or on the phone, is always high on my list of favorite things to do.

Somewhere between talking about the Boston Cream Pie she’d made for Bill, her husband, for Valentine’s Day and fighting fat after fifty (a perennial topic for both of us), the conversation turned to holding on and letting go.

Susan said some things so wise about the importance of letting go of the worry along with the kids that I started taking notes on a napkin. Napkin notes have led to many a published novel in the past so I trust those scribbles.

Except of course I can’t read what I wrote and can’t exactly capture, written-word wise, what my dear friend said. But I can recreate the gist.

It’s not enough just to let your kids go, Susan said, you have to also work on letting go of the worry that lives inside you. After a week at home, Erik took off for Baltimore to see his girlfriend, Morgan. The East Coast has been socked in by snow for what must seem like months now. He flew Omaha to Memphis but missed his connecting flight to Baltimore due to weather delays. The airlines wanted to re-route him to Minneapolis the next day then fly him to Baltimore. Instead he got plane to D.C. and took the train, delayed by electrical difficulties, to Baltimore. But he finally made it.

I worry; it’s what I do. Susan wasn’t telling me to stop doing what is as natural to me as breathing; she was just suggesting that the next step in the letting go process is to step back from some of the worry and anxiety.

Years ago, my husband wrote an excellent column about risk for a Charleston, WV newspaper. He rides a motorcycle and had one when we met in college. He got rid of it but never lost the desire for another one. When he turned forty, he got one again. He wrote the column in reaction to an NFL player’s motorcycle accident. My husband wrote that the most dangerous thing he probably ever did was being a teen detasseling corn under the hot Iowa sun. Fortunately my husband’s melanoma was caught before it was too late.

In 2007, my husband was struck on his motorcycle in a hit-and-run accident. He broke his shoulder, and his beautiful brand-new bike was demolished. When he called me from the ER to tell me, I said the only thing I could. I told him that I had no problem with him getting another one.

Of course I have a problem with it. I also want him happy. Our eldest is an inveterate traveler; travel makes me jittery. But I want him happy, too.

So I need to let go of not only my child but some of the worry too.

Last week, there was a hostage situation at a bank here in town. A man who’d been fired from the local television station held employees at the bank at gunpoint for hours, wanting media attention. The day before Erik had gone to that bank to try to exchange some euros.

Whether it’s a summer job in the sun or a routine trip to the bank, risk exists all around us.

I’ll never stop worrying. But thanks to Susan, maybe I can work on worrying lite.

Basic AZU Cognitive Distortions 102- Do as we say not as we do

It is funny how AZU points accusing fingers at others for supposedly doing what they do themselves. In a previous post I discussed Judy Cornett's son, who was sentenced to 25 years for ATTEMPTED MURDER.



AZU always points an accusing finger at sex offender activists, stating they should "accept responsibility for their actions" and to shut up. Yet, not one AZU member mentioned that their buddy Judy Cornett is trying to solicit funds to overturn her son's conviction. No one at AZU has stated "Judy, man up and accept responsibility and stop lobbying for your criminal son." No one at AZU has said, "Hey Judy, you're justifying and nimimizing your son's bad behavior. You're enabling violent behavior."

Of course not. I wonder where Judy was while her son was turning to a life of crime. Hell, maybe he read enough of the crap AZU writes there to feel justified in trying to take another man's life. And Judy was too busy harassing area sex offenders to care. I wonder if Judy spent any time warning her neighborhood of the gangbangers her son affiliated with.

But if you DO hear a peep out of them, it is to say that Judy's son's a victim. He was a victim of a sex crime years ago. However, does that excuse him from obeying the law years later? AZU certainly thinks so. I suppose they'll claim Judy's son's victim was a sex offender.

PS: As an aside, I think it funny TSand's demanding I put certain disclaimers on my page, while his own Roar For Lies blog has no such disclaimer. Again, another hypocritical statement from AZU.

Sons of Norway's Olympic Connection

So, who caught the women's moguls-freestyle competition last night? I did, and the most memorable part of it was the medal presentation. For those who saw it, the U.S. National Anthem was playing, U.S. skier Hannah Kearney was on the top podium and it was a beautiful moment. But that wasn't the memorable part for me, instead it was what was going on behind Ms. Kearney on the Bronze podium, where a young lady with pink hair, broke into tears as the anthem was played and she sang along with all her heart. That was the memorable part to me.


Because that patriotic, emotional bronze medalist was none other than Sons of Norway member Shannon Bahrke. For those of you who keep past issues of Viking magazine, check out your February 2006 issue for a profile of this amazing woman. Check out some photos from Shannon's huge day here!

In other news, Norway's Olympic team is on the medal board with 3 so far. Congratulations to cross country skier Marit Bjoergen for her Bronze medal, Emil Hegle Svendsen for his silver medal in the 10K sprint biathlon and to Aksel Svindal for silver medal in the Men's Downhill Alpine Skiing event.

What does Sons of Norway membership mean to you? Viking magazine wants to know!

Here’s what my membership means to me: As parents of two grade-schoolers, my husband and I feel that sharing our Norwegian heritage with our children is important. Being members of Sons of Norway helps us tap into a wealth of cultural experiences and resources. Our lodge sponsors Syttende Mai festivities, a community midsummer celebration and a festive Nordic Breakfast in December, all of which my kids look forward to each year.

Last year they received Sons of Norway scholarships to attend Norwegian language camp. My kids are growing up as part of a larger Norwegian-American community, with an appreciation for their heritage, which, I believe, makes them more apt to appreciate other cultures as well.

What does your Sons of Norway membership mean to you? Share your thoughts by emailing us at: vikingeditor@mspcustomcontent.com. Selected responses may be featured in an upcoming issue of Viking!

Why the Ordination of Women is a Tragic Mistake

Some Background.

When I was a seminarian, and well on in my studies, I decided that I could see no objection to the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more reasonable and acceptable it seemed, and I fully expected to see it in my lifetime. I can't remember what I thought about it as I prepared for ordination, and as a newly-ordained priest I had too much to think about as I began life as the curate to a rather difficult parish priest. At some point, I began to think again, and I found the idea uncomfortable. I had no personal objection to women priests, and I could see arguments in favour of them, so why was I now reluctant? The answer lies not in any newly-discovered prejudices but in my Catholic faith. I knew that the Vatican was against the ordination of women, and when the document Inter Insigniores was issued in 1976 (a year or so after my ordination) I knew that I had to rethink the matter. If asked at the time (and I cannot remember being asked) I suppose I would have said that the Vatican has issued a statement and that the "Church" is against it - meaning, by that, the Magisterium. I later read Fr. Manfred Hauke's book (against) but, to be honest, I was disappointed. I suppose I was looking for a clinching argument and, unfortunately, he doesn't provide one. At this point - and I really felt this - the really big argument against the ordination of women was that it was simply not allowed. As a loyal, obedient Catholic priest, that was enough for me. However, I still kept looking for that clinching argument. For some, the fact that Our Lord only chose men is enough, but that argument has been challenged, and keeps being challenged, which means that those in favour of women priests simply do not accept it. Leaving aside their suggestion or belief that Jesus was limited by His cultural background etc (an argument that does not stand in my opinion), there is a reluctance to accept the usual anti arguments, and, in any case, they are often simply dismissed as the arguments of "men".

A Breakthrough?

I was reading St. Matthew's Gospel 20:20-28. Beginning at verse 24 we read;

"When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many' " (Jerusalem Bible)

I was struck by the phrase; "the rulers lord it over them" I remembered reading a very similar phrase in Genesis. After the fall of Adam and Eve, God tells Eve,

"I will multiply your pains in childbearing, you shall give birth to your children in pain. Your yearning will be for your husband, yet he will lord it over you" (3: 16)

Thinking about these two texts and realising that the sometimes scandalous inequality of the sexes is a consequence of original sin, I then looked again at the words of Christ and began to think about the priesthood. Other texts came to mind, especially Ephesians 5:21-33 where St. Paul wrote;

"Husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy"

The headship of the husband is compared to the headship of Christ, but as Jesus says in the Gospel, he came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life. The ministry of the Apostles is a ministry of service. Its model is not the old Adam, but the new Adam. Since Christ's priesthood cannot be separated from any other aspect of his humanity, what we are talking about is the Priesthood of the New Adam. Whereas the old Adam "lorded it over" Eve, the New Adam lays down his life. The Church is seen in Ephesians as the "Bride of Christ". The Christian priest is called to follow Christ in laying down his life for the Church. To maintain this understanding, the Christian priest must be male.

I will try to make it clearer. The renewal of the relationship between men and women, husbands and wives, requires a male priesthood, otherwise an important aspect of the economy of salvation is distorted. In Christ the consequences of the Fall are reversed. In Christ men and women are made equal, but the cost of that is the sacrifice of the New Adam. Sexual identity is key to all this. The male is no longer "lord" over the female. Although Christ is Lord, He lays aside his glory and becomes "like sin" so that we might become "the righteousness of God". St. Paul's theology of the New Adam requires that the ministerial priest be male. In the daily living out of the faith and the exercise of the priesthood of all believers there is need of a sign of this sacrifice of the New Adam. The bread and wine which become the Body and Blood of Christ must be truly identified as the Body and Blood of the New Adam who gave his life for the Church (the "Bride"). To make this clear, the ministerial priest MUST be male.

I cannot see how anyone can put up a convincing argument against this without dismissing the traditional interpretation of the Bible. In fact, one of the consequences of the ordination of women is precisely the reworking of Holy Scripture, even, in some cases, to the point of regarding much of Scripture as optional or quaint, so that its authority is lessened.

Further Points.

Catholics are encouraged to develop a devotion to the Mother of Christ. We need her to help us in our understanding of the priesthood. To begin with, we should note that as in Genesis the order of creation of humanity is man first and woman second, in the order of the Redemption it is the woman who is called first. In fact, as St. Bernard famously noted, so much hangs on Mary's "yes". Where Eve effectively said, "No" to God, the New Eve said "Yes!". This was the beginning. She then became pregnant with the Saviour of the world. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception takes its place in all this. As Eve was the first to sin, so in the human order, the Mother of Jesus was without original sin at her conception. In the order of the Redemption it is woman first and man second. As it is expressed in an old Marian hymn, the Stella Maris, the Archangel's "Ave" is the reversal of "Eva" (Eve). The restoration of humanity in Christ does not come about just through words. The very Word of God himself becomes flesh, and this flesh - male flesh - is given, sacrificed, offered, poured out. The rejection of the sinful lordship is a total rejection. The new Adam is "servant". The ministerial priesthood which is a sign of this, is therefore necessary for the equality of the sexes, and, properly understood and lived, is NOT in any sense a denial of women's rights, but a guarantee of them. For this to work, the ministerial priest MUST be male.

There are other things to say and there are other texts that can be quoted in support of this case, but the basic argument is given above. Enough has been said, I think, to make the case clear. Ultimately the only argument against this is an argument against the analogy of Holy Scripture and a re-reading or rewriting of the Word of God. However we may discuss Genesis, it is either the Word of God or it is not. This is not a fundamentalist position; the case against women's ordination outlined above does not depend on a literalistic interpretation. Genesis, like all Scripture, is inspired by The Holy Spirit. Some may want to write out references to the consequences of original sin; it cannot be done. We are not dealing here with historical accuracy, but with the work of The Holy Spirit, who convicts us of sin. Genesis was written partly from the common experience of humanity and, given the inequalities of the Ancient Middle East, and the inequalities we can still see in the "unredeemed" Arab culture, it would surely be almost unbelievable that Genesis 3 could have been written without divine help.

Arguments referring to ancient Palestinian culture have been used to promote the possibility of women priests. If cultural arguments are to be accepted, then the one I am presenting here is surely worthy of consideration.

Postscript: The Basic Cultural (from Scripture) Argument in Favour of Women Priests

I want to finish with a few remarks about one of the arguments most often advanced by proponents of the ordination of women, namely that Christ would have been unable to choose women at that time because of the cultural background etc. This argument does not stand. St. Paul makes absolutely clear, in 1 Corinthians, that it is the Cross, above all, which is a "stumbling block". This word is scandalon. A scandalon was deadly. It is not just a piece of wood or a stone in your path; it is not like a speed bump or even a fallen tree or a mound of earth that you have to climb over. A scandalon was the kind of obstacle that could kill. It was like the rock that would send you over a cliff or the sharp stick in an animal trap that would very likely cause the death of the victim. This is not just something you step over or walk around. A scandalon is a grave offence, just as the drinking of blood mentioned by Jesus in Chapter 6 of St. John's Gospel caused many to walk away. The idea that the choosing of women to be Apostles would have been seen in this light is a nonsense. As Bouyer pointed out years ago, Palestine was not a totally isolated area without contact with other cultures. Galilee itself had been influenced by the Greeks. The existence of women serving in pagan ttemples was known to some in Israel, and certainly beyond the confines of the borders of Israel there would have been no major problems with women Apostles. No, it is an argument that does not stand. But this is not the only reason for rejecting it. We need to revisit the doctrine of the Incarnation and the fact that Jesus truly was and is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made flesh. Is it really to be considered a serious argument that in matters relating to the establishment of His Church He would have allowed Himself to be limited by cultural concerns? Jesus broke with many customs and cultural taboos. He appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden. She effectively became the first one to announce the Resurrection -BUT - she was not one of the twelve. Christ's meeting with the Samaritan woman is another example. . It is really time that the argument about His supposed cultural limitation with respect the choice of male Apostles was placed where it belongs - in the bin!

Love is in the air…

To celebrate Valentine’s Day week some Facebook users are posting profile pics of themselves and their significant others and updating statuses to reflect how long they’ve been together.

This February 14th marks 27.5 years of marriage for my husband and me. The picture I put up is from our wedding; he has a lot more hair, I actually have less...and it’s a lot darker.

I can’t pinpoint the year I gave up coloring my hair, but I do know a disastrous ‘pixie’ haircut was the impetus. Even though my gray screams ancient apparently (according to a sixth grader at church youth group the other night, who then hastened to tell me later ‘old school’ is still good…), I’m fine with it and so is my spouse.

And isn’t that what marriage is ultimately about? Loving your mate, follicle foibles and all?

Here’s the thing about marriage: sometimes, even though you love your spouse, you don’t always like ‘em. The thing to remember is rules of umpiring apply to marriage. You can tell your husband or wife you don’t like their behavior (their call stinks), but you really don’t want to tell them they stink.

It also helps if you marry your best friend because the starry-eyed stuff gives way to climbing the career ladder, children, occasionally catastrophic illness...all things good and bad that test a relationship over time.

Years ago I was interviewed by a reporter at a college newspaper for a Valentine’s Day feature. My mom/writing partner and I write women’s inspirational fiction, but we are also the authors of 22 romances together (and she authored 19 previous to our partnership).

Who better to do a story on than a romance writer?

Except of course I said the most romantic thing I appreciated about my husband was that he unloaded the dishwasher for me. He took umbrage with that. Despite my writing pedigree, he has a much more romantic nature than I do. Sure I love flowers and candlelit dinners, but the fact he did the late-night feedings with our second son was far more endearing to me.

He’s a wonderful husband and an amazing father. I don’t like that he rides a motorcycle and operates on a triage system whereas I’m a maniacal big- picture multitasker. However, we’ve been together for nearly 30 years and haven’t struck out yet.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my husband, my best friend.

The Nordic Siblings: Rivalry and Respect

In this month’s issue of Viking, I’m especially fond of our “Nordic Sibling Rivalry” feature. Writer Sarah Asp Olson did a great job researching the similarities and differences between the Nordic countries, as well as highlighting a few of the countries’ idiosyncrasies.

Asp’s article also details how the “siblings” work together in the Nordic Council, promoting cooperation and goodwill among the Nordic nations. I saw a wonderful example of this same spirit of cooperation last weekend, when I attended the annual Twin Cities Nordic Ball. The area’s Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish folk dance groups take turns hosting this gala event of music, dance, food and Nordic finery. I know that the Twin Cities Nordic community isn’t unique in this way. One glance at the Viking “Up and Coming” event calendar reminds me these concerts, workshops and festivals, celebrating our shared Nordic heritage, are held routinely throughout the U.S., Canada and the Nordic countries.

It’s gratifying to see people of Nordic heritage working together, following the example set by the nations themselves. As Sarah Asp Olson so aptly reminds us: Ultimately there’s more that unites than divides.

Advanced Cognitive Distortions

Every time I read anything Stitches 77 says while trying to debate facts with anyone, or even discussing anything outside the realm of ad hominem attacks, lame impersonations, blatant lies, and kill em' all chanting, she's as lost as a Brit at an American Football game. The more you read, the more apparent her clueless nature is obvious.
[from: Something About Mary] Stitches again shows her lack of comprehension skills. Stitches forgets we have a little something called PREDATOR PANIC. Stitches denies we are hypersensitive about sex offenders and denies the impact of societal fears.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118782905698506010.html -- We've taught men to be fearful of the sexual predator label.

Or how about THIS article?

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/predator_panic_a_closer_look/ -- Predator Panic: A Closer Look by Benjamin Radford. Of course, since Radford made an appearance of Americans Reality Check, AZU decided to do an article on him, complete with ad hominem attacks and more cognitive distortions than you could shake a stick out.

Stitches is so blind she can't admit the possibility that a person could abuse their position. Surely those in power are NEVER corrupt and NEVER lie to those under their care?

http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local/story/Polk-Mental-Health-Counselor-arrested-for/VXOEMFUTak2li6MYPyxbXg.cspx?rss=794 -- Sex Offender Counselor Extorts sex offender under his care.

Ever heard of a search engine, Stitches? http://current.com/items/89319040_law-enforcement-this-weeks-corrupt-cops-stories.htm

Oh yeah. POs are NEVER corrupt. Whatever. http://www.citizensforaconstitutionalrepublic.com/US_Observer-Munchow10-12-09.html

Then there's comment about "bathing a child." Well, we've had innocent people arrested for "child porn" for taking innocent pictures of their kids in the bathtub. http://archive.salon.com/mwt/feature/2000/01/31/kincaid/index.html

Oh, and now Stitches denies that people teach bathing a child is grooming for sex. Sure a "child victim advocate" as "educated" as Stitches can't possibly be wrong on this one? http://www.protectchildren.ca/pdfs/itsyourbusiness_en.pdf

Stitches makes four key distortions in her tirade. Perhaps her desire to attack Mary made her sloppy. Stitches misquotes a study, as usual, clipping what she thinks backs her up. And of course, since she sees all sex offenders (except Static and TSand) as subhuman, she forgets that she's talking not about a registered sex offender, but someone NOT on a registry.

It's all a simple formula. Target makes statement, Stitches hates target, if Stitches hates Target, then Target must be a liar, which means Target's statement is untrue.

Stitches forgets one important part of her argument. In addition to trying too hard (and failing miserably) to try to prove her wrong, she forgets to do her research. Funny thing is, she accuses Mary of being such a "bad" influence and a red flag, while studies show a primary trigger for relapse is stress caused by-- what else? -- vigilantes like Stitches harassing, threatening, and attacking registrants.

http://ccoso.org/Vilification.pdf "stigmatization of sex offenders is likely to result in disruption of their relationships, loss of or difficulties finding jobs, difficulties finding housing, and decreased
psychological well‐being, all factors that could increase their risk of recidivism."

Of course, Stitches retort will be.... take a wild guess.... ATTACKING THE AUTHOR OF THE ARTICLE! Again, Stitches hates statement, Target makes statement, Stitches hates target, if Stitches hates Target, then Target must be a liar, which means Target's statement is untrue.Then of course, Stitches makes THIS comment, posing as "JTC" for "Julia Tuttle Causeway." The stupidity of the above comment speaks volumes. By this time, Stitches has fully exhausted her pseudo-intellectualism and has reverted back to her infantilism. This side of Stitches is her true side. It comes so naturally, whereas her fake smarts just doesn't cut it. Do us a favor Stitches and hang up your dunce cap, you're not fooling anyone!

Talkin’ ‘bout my generation

On Super Bowl Sunday those eternal bad boys of rock n’ roll played the Super Bowl halftime show. Roger Daltry looked like he was a commercial for Hair Club for Men, and Pete Townshend couldn’t keep his shirt buttoned across his navel.

They didn’t sing their classic line ‘Talkin’ ‘bout my generation’ allegedly so they wouldn’t remind the audience how old we all are.

I know how old I am, I know how old Roger is and I know how old I’m gonna feel at 5:15 tomorrow morning when I get up for Zumba after falling off the dieting ‘wagon’ and indulging in homemade pizza!

All night I’ve been trying to persuade Erik, home from Germany finally, to go to bed early.

He pointed out that for the past few months when I’ve been telling him via Skype to go to bed it’s been three or so in the morning. I don’t make a very compelling ‘mom argument’ at 8:30 at night here.

It’s good to have both sons under the same roof again. When Erik left for Germany the first time when he was 16, none of us quite envisioned the path he would take: early admission to college, another trip to Germany, joining us on the ‘prairie’ to go to school….

Talkin’ ‘bout the next generation.

Ski for Light: Photo Recap

Thanks to some dedicated participants I've got some great photos for you from this year's Ski for Light. Enjoy!

Ski for Light: Larry Showlater

Today's coverage of the 2010 Ski for Light comes to you courtesy of Larry Showalter, the event's immediate past president. I had the pleasure of catching up with Larry in between events on Friday and spoke with him about all manner of Ski for Light topics. We discussed everything from this year's location (a rare repeat from the previous year) to the importance of good communication between guides and visually impaired skiers.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, this year's event is being held in Soldier Hollow for the second year in a row. I didn't think this was a common occurance, so I was glad to get some info from somebody like Larry, who has participated in Ski for Light for 18+ years. According to Larry, its not as rare as it used to be, but it's still not a common practice either. He said it's happened a couple of times in the past 10 years, and before that it was almost unheard of. He told me one the the main factors in returning to Soldier Hollow was that it was very well received by the skiers. “The fact that they get to ski in a venue that was created for the Olympics played a big part in that. It's not usual for an Olympic cross-country venue to be maintained after the international event wraps up.” Also, according to Larry, the weather plays into the decision-making as well, and it looks like they got exactly what they were looking for. Larry told me that they “could not have had five days of better skiing weather. No extreme temps to melt or freeze the tracks makes for great conditions.”

Next I moved the conversation to Larry's experience this year so far. As a veteran Ski for Light skier, I was interested in hearing his thoughts on working with a sighted guide. This year proved to be especially interesting, I think, because Larry was paired with a first-time guide. Apparently, the good folks who plan the event like to cycle guides and skiers in a manner that one year you will be paired with someone with more experience, so the week can be a learning experience for you, then another year it's reversed and you are the more experienced person doing the teaching.

Larry told me that this year he was working a lot on the communication that's needed for a skier and guide to be safe and successful. Larry also explained to me that what you say is only half the equation. How you say it is just as important. Because the skier and guide are constantly in motion, the guide can not waste time or words on “filler,” like uh's and um's. It's important to be very efficient with your use of words. The only thing more imperative to a good experience is to not let the visually impaired skier get surprised or tentative. According to Larry, this can happen easily if the guide isn't communicating well or often. When that happens, the skier gets nervous and doesn't enjoy the experience of being out on the course. Word to the wise, right?

At this point we had to wrap things up, but before we did I asked Larry to share some thoughts on the importance of participating in a worthwhile event like this. He told me “it's a great way to celebrate Norwegian heritage and culture. Participating is a great way to do something fun and spread the word about cross country skiing and Norway.”

Well said, Larry! Ok, check back soon, I should have some photos from this year's event coming shortly!

Fall Blitz Winners

UPDATE: Nichole has a post announcing the winner of the 2009 Fall Recruitment Blitz contest! Take it away, Nichole!

It is absolutely amazing what our lodges can do when they put their mind to it. Why, just this past fall, from September 15th – December 15th, our lodges recruited 1,010 members. What a fantastic growth period – and welcome to all new members that joined during this time.

Both of our winning lodges are from District 3 – Dovre 3-232 (Providence, RI) winning the small lodge category with an impressive 33.33% growth and Gateway to Florida 3-541 (Jacksonville, FL) winning the large lodge category with a fantastic 23.39% growth. They have some great insights to share and you’ll get to benefit from their recruitment and retention know-how when they share their success stories with the Member Matters section in Viking magazine!

For their efforts, both lodges will also receive $500 to spend on their lodge. Next time, this could be your lodge! To get to this point, though, let’s examine what your lodge needs to consider:
  • Recruitment strategies (think FBC sponsored membership dinners, events, asking friends and neighbors)

  • Retention strategies (what do you provide your members? Don’t forget surveys and member satisfaction, combined with great and engaging programs)

  • Resources (what do you need to make this happen)

This is a great time to have these conversations, as lodges welcome new leaders and begin planning for the next year! Take inspiration from Dovre and Gateway to Florida, as well as lodges in your district. Seek out ideas at the upcoming district conventions and adapt them to your lodge.

Congrats again to Dovre and Gateway to Florida, and a job well done to all recruiters during the Fall Blitz!

Ski for Light: The Eikevik Connection

As I mentioned yesterday, I had the opportunity to interview Leif Eikevik, grandson of former Supreme President and Ski for Light Founder Bjarne Eikevik.

Even though the Ski for Light has been a major part of his family, and vice versa, this year was Leif’s first time as attending and being a guide for a visually impaired skier. When we spoke, we discussed a number of different topics, from his family connection to his experience as a guide.

Leif told me that he had heard about Ski for Light for years from his grandparents when he’d stay overnight at their house. His father, who guided skiers until the mid-80’s, also was a huge proponent of the race. He would tell Leif about the ski event and its importance because it helps others gain some amazing experiences.

I asked Leif if this familial connection played a part in his participating this year. His response was overwhelmingly affirmative, in that he wanted to carry on the Eikevik legacy and the long-standing family tradition. In addition, Leif told me that he wanted to participate as a Ski for Light guide this year because he felt it would help him understand his father and grandfather better. Even though they are gone, Leif believed that having a shared or common experience with them was a rare opportunity that many people don’t get.

As for the guiding experience itself, Leif indicated that he had learned a lot, and admitted he had even more to learn, from long-time guides and skiers. His experience so far has included “lots of communication with my skiing partner, learning to say enough without saying too much and working in constant tandem.” Above all, he’s having a great time in Utah with the other participants.

Big thanks to Leif for taking time to chat with me.

Now, tomorrow or Saturday there will be more posts from the 2010 Ski for Light, maybe some photos and video, too, so keep checking back for more!

Ski for Light 2010

It crept up on me this year and surprised me with a phone call from our traveling CEO who is currently 20 miles outside Provo, Utah at a place called Soldier Hollow. Yep, it’s time, once again, for the annual Ski for Light! This year we’ll have a couple interviews with skiers, guides, board members and more!

To kick things off, I had the opportunity to speak with International President, Dan Rude today. Dan had only arrived in Utah on Wednesday afternoon, so he hadn’t had a chance to ski yet, but he did have the opportunity to meet with a number of participants of this year’s event. In his own words “I’m so impressed with everything they are doing. There are members here from all over the country—from as far away as Washington State, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. These are the friendliest people in the world!”

He told me that the plan for today was to spend some more time with members who are taking part in the 2010 Ski for Light. Then, later tonight, Dan and Sons of Norway CEO Eivind Heiberg are planning to head into Salt Lake City to visit with some members from Leif Erikson lodge 6-083. After spending all day outside with little more than “Hot Chocolate” to keep them warm, it’s probably a good idea for them to head inside and warm up a little.

And speaking of Leifs, after Dan and I got off the phone I had the opportunity to interview a young man named Leif Eikevik. Does the last name sound familiar? For some Sons of Norway members it should—you see Leif is the grandson of Ski for Light founder and former Supreme President Bjarne Eikevik. Check back tomorrow for that interview!

Sleep Deprived

Yesterday afternoon I Skyped for the last time with Erik before he comes home from his study abroad in Rostock, Germany. We talked about cars, classes and chairs (I’ve traded his desk chair for my new one which doesn’t have enough lumbar support) among other things.

“My days and nights aren’t mixed up anymore, mom,” he told me, which was a relief to hear.

Usually when we’re chatting via Skype it’s a perfectly civilized hour in the afternoon here and the wee hours of the morning there. Ever since he was a newborn, getting that boy to go to sleep has been a Herculean task.

The previous night I noticed he’d commented at about three a.m. German time on one of his stateside friend’s Facebook updates. I added my own comment: “Go to bed, Erik, and I’m taking your chair.”

My sister-in-law who just gave birth on the weekend told a friend of hers on FB that my new niece has her days and nights mixed up.

May the force be with her.

My teeny-tiny firstborn ate every two hours. I’d sit up in bed feeding him and squinting at reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation because I was too tired to put my glasses on. For years after I harbored a strong attraction to Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Picard. He (Erik, not Jean Luc) got his first ear infection at seven weeks and that led to many a sleepless night.

One of my favorite pictures of my husband and me was taken on our tenth anniversary, with the towering San Francisco Peaks looming in the background. We were headed out to a late dinner and show to celebrate. We knew we were in trouble when we got home about midnight, and our wonderful babysitter, Andrea, was pushing Erik in the stroller.

For the next several months, we averaged about three hours of sleep a night while ear infections raged. Finally he got tubes put in, and the ears cleared up.

Over the years, Erik’s sleep habits alternately improved and worsened.

By contrast his younger brother, Andrew, was a much better sleeper as a baby. There was the week he was one and his daddy was off researching forest fire reporting in Colorado. Andrew stood and screamed every night in his crib. The only one having night terrors was me!

I come from a long line of night owls. My Grandma Rock would stay up til the wee hours of the morning knitting and watching television. My mom likes to stay up late, and so do I.

So I guess Erik comes by this honestly.

For the last three weeks, my neighbor and I have been getting up to go to daily 5:45 a.m. exercise classes at the local Y. This, in addition to my regular walking routine and foregoing French Fries, donuts, and other fattening goodies, makes me hopeful I can lose the “Erik goes to Germany again” pounds and make my fifties fit.

The only problem is I just can’t get to bed early enough to avoid being a zombie at Zumba….

Last night was particularly bad. I couldn’t get to sleep. When I did I tossed and turned, suffered an excruciating foot cramp and looked constantly at the cell phone to check the time.

Today I got a FB message from Erik’s girlfriend, Morgan. I’d asked how school was. She told me and said she was talking to Erik at that moment. Apparently he was in Berlin (his trip home takes him from Rostock to Berlin to London to Chicago to Omaha to Kearney…whew!) but he’d had a rough time getting out of Rostock, whether snow or transportation issues I don’t know. He was going to be in touch with us only if anything changed schedule-wise on his trip.

His father assures me I’ll start sleeping through the night again when Erik is home.

If not, I’m gonna go back to watching reruns of Star Trek: TNG.

A Family Who Barneløpets Together Sticks Together

This July, my three brothers and their families, my mother, and my husband and I and our kids will gather at a northern Minnesota resort for a three-day family reunion. If this reunion is anything like the last one, the highlight of our time together will be “Norwegian Heritage Night.” Each family will be charged with preparing a lesson or activity on some aspect of Norwegian history or culture. When we did this three years ago, Heritage Night included making woven paper hearts and watching a hilarious video on Norwegian geography that was produced by my brother, starred his two pre-teen kids, and used Norwegian rap (who knew?) for the background soundtrack.

This July, inspired by International President Dan Rude’s “Velkommen” letter in the February issue of Viking, we’re going to make a barneløpet (children’s race) a part of our Heritage Night festivities. My oldest brother Mike, a Colorado resident and avid triathlete with several Hawaiian Ironman races under his belt, happily volunteered to organize it—especially once I told him he’d be off the hook for preparing a history lesson. The plan is to have all 10 grandchildren participate in some kind of relay race, details TBD.

For both my personal planning reasons and for possible use in upcoming issues of Viking magazine, I’d love to hear how you’ve celebrated your Norwegian heritage at family get-togethers. Please email vikingeditor@mspcustomcontent.com.