Frontpage Summary Full text (free) Audiobook (free) Buy the book Videos Podcasts

3.3. The church

Then it was time for confirmation.

I did not want to this time either.

I could not surrender everything I knew to a two-thousand-year-old rule book, a mystery story, an incomprehensible jumble of spirit and sinful matter ... and the Holy Spirit?

In the church on Lyngseidet, as in Eriksen's classroom, the rule book, the Ten Commandments, was central.

I had seen Jesus Christ Superstar.

I had thought things through.

I said it loud and clear.

My will was to not participate in the confirmation.

It lasted for a few weeks.

My mother's colleagues at school, the teachers from the south, supported me. They cheered me on a bit, I remember. Especially Mrs Vonen, a beautiful, weaver, energetic, luminous person, divorced and living alone, who let me repair her Bang and Olufsen turntable on which she played Jim Reeves.
I love you because you understand, dear. Every single thing I try to do.
We understood each other.

She became ill with cancer, so I occasionally helped her retrieve a half, frozen reindeer (of the minor variety), which I returned to her home on my kicksled.

Another time it was a small box with red wine bottles that were specially ordered at The Wine Monopoly in Tromsø and had to be picked up as discreetly as possible in the storage room of the local COOP. I had to use my kicksled again.

Here we are talking winter.

I did not want to be confirmed, but it didn't work.

One afternoon, the mother of my best friend Roger came and rang the doorbell. She never did that otherwise.

My mother and I stood there and heard her tell of the village's concern.

She was sent to us because she was a native and the closest of the locals to take responsibility. With my denial, I would be the first and only one who had ever refused to be confirmed.

It just did not work.

Oh, it must have been a process.

Priest Flokkmann must have gone through the list of this year's fourteen-year-olds at the school and compared it with his list of registered confirmands.

My name shone with its absence.

The priest himself did not come. Roger's mother arrived.

We are talking about social control among the immigrants of our time. That is nothing new.

I was forcibly confirmed.

On the day we sat there. It was a stiff, formal, deadly boring and fake session.

The main attraction was that Flokkmann was to interrogate one of his disciples so that the congregation could hear with their own ears that the young flock (sheep) had learned what they were supposed to. Luther's explanations of the Ten Commandments. The pietistic clarification of the seriousness of God's warnings about earthly justice.

Who did he choose as a victim?

So there I stood. In a white cloak, annoyed and vengeful, exposed to the village and my circle of friends. On display for people I did not even belong to because I was not born on the spot and because I floated on top of everything and everyone socially.

But I was the strongest, I thought.

Flockman was trying to curb me, give me to God's judgement with a triumphant smile.

Flockman was a friendly man, but forgive him, for he did not know what he was doing.

I was confirmed.

And I left the church again with great fanfare not so long after.