Thirty-four years ago today, I found myself wandering the streets of Bergen, Norway. In those days, it was my job to travel to cold and dark places where I would spend hours watching the Aurora Borealis. I had just spent four weeks, mostly alone, at the Northern Lights Station near Longyearbyen, Svalbard—about 600 miles north of Norway.
I grew up at the tail end of the Baby Boom. In school we learned foundational American principles such as being endowed with inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We learned about the rights accorded to us by that very important part of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights.
In conversation with a friend about my forthcoming book, he mentioned something that really got me thinking. He said:
For 30 years it has been a rights oriented theology from the majority of the churches, and when Christians embrace rights as dogma, the secular community will also, with horrific consequences.
The other day, a friend was telling me about his frustration with some policy decisions that his government had made. Policy that would likely lead to ungodly results. And in that context, he expressed the need to fight against the direction his government is taking.
That might be a good thing. But I believe it depends a lot on what is meant by fighting...
At the end of time, in C.S. Lewis's fantasy world of Narnia, a tragic thing happens. Actually, there are many tragedies in that story (The Last Battle), but this one is different.
My favorite epic tale is J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I have read it several times, and even read the whole of it aloud (twice) to my children. It is a well-crafted tale of the conflict between good and evil; of power, corruption, valor and honor.
The first book I ever read in Norwegian has greatly impacted my life for the past 25 years or so. It's an unassuming book with a bland cover and set in a monospaced font (which is terrible for long reads). Even though it was a struggle to consume so much of a language in which I was far from fluent, it was worth it. The book? Korsets Prinsipp (The Principle of the Cross) by Swedish pastor Pelle Karlsson.
So what is the Principle of the Cross? In a nutshell: To lose is to win.