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3.4. The teacher and the bishop

After middle school and graduation in northern Norway, my mother and I moved to Asker, a few miles west of Oslo. I started studying science and mathematics in high school. We also had to learn about Christianity. Forced.

If you opted out of the state church, you could drop out, but I had not come that far. I was practically newly confirmed.

So I sat, listening to a relatively enthusiastic Christian teacher of the inflexible kind, again. That day he talked, not sure why, about manipulation of the masses.

Instead of talking about seduction within the church and Christian sects, he focused on the hippie movement and the Nazis' huge gatherings before and during World War II.

They were the same, the teacher claimed. Both cultures twisted the heads of their followers and led to monstrous things. War, drugs, sex, rock & roll. He forgot to mention love.

Could I do anything but raise my hand?

He had pressed my big red button.

I knew something about flocks of sheep.

I said, clearly, that this was unheard of, unacceptable.

From a position of authority, one could not claim that the hippie movement and Hitler were equally dangerous.

The teacher did not modify his position.

Neither did I.

It took less than five minutes, and I was out in the hallway, on my way up to the principal.

I was not sent to the principal; I went to the principal on my own initiative to complain.

The headmaster, an amiable and wise man, shrugged and could or would not interfere.

A short time later, I was standing in the classroom explaining the matter to my classmates, with no teachers present. I told them that I had resigned from the state church and encouraged everyone who agreed with me to do the same.

As far as I remember, a little over half joined me – about fourteen somewhat confused teenagers. All that was required was to submit a form to the church.

Then a couple of weeks passed before the bishop arrived. He was the bishop of Oslo and some of the surrounding municipalities.

The country's foremost bishop.

He had with him a small entourage of five or six people. The principal. A journalist and photographer from the local newspaper. The teacher was not there. The bishop wanted to reconcile us all and get us back on track.

I have no idea whether my classmates succumbed to the pressure, but my relationship with the church was over. The divorce was a fact. My opposition to dogmatic Christianity was announced with name and image for the whole society – again.

So let me try to round up this story of my relationship with the church. It did not end there.

About a decade later, I fell in love with the daughter of a Japan-missionary. We got pregnant, and the missionary father-in-law immediately took me in for questioning and admonition.

We got married in the church. I had resigned from the state church, but there I was again.

We have two children. The family wanted both to be baptised – in church.

I ended up sitting there on one of the pews, the only one in the family, while the others gathered at the baptismal font to participate in the sacred event.

No alternatives were given. If you are a heretic, then you are a heretic. An outcast.

But my children weren't allowed to escape.

I get angry inside me when I write this because I experienced it as abuse. Every single time – and the church was indifferent. They claimed what they believed was theirs.

Enough about the church now.

So I went to high school.

I mingled with the local anarchists, socialists and communists – some of who experimented with alcohol and hashish. There was also volleyball, house occupation (to get a youth house), and we put on the musical Hair at the school theatre (one-nill to the hippie movement).

I played in a band; we borrowed a bomb shelter at school to rehearse. There were very few concerts, but at one of them, we stood on the same stage and played just before A-ha took over as the main attraction. You know, «Take on me». They were called Bridges at that time.

Sometimes I, too, enjoy bragging. Actually, I was and am a pretty lousy guitarist.

Then I started at the University of Oslo in political science.

My mother wanted me into technical studies, but I saw that nerds like myself are mostly relatively narrow as human beings. I wanted to see things from a broader perspective. It was logical to study more extensive systems: society, political science.

It got too dull.

I simply knew too much technical stuff.

I was good with sound, lighting, radio, stage technology and electronics.

I spoke with gadgets. If something was wrong with a device, I could touch it, communicate with it, and identify the problem.

That is how I still feel.

Give me a device, and it will either start working if it is defective or break down because my presence causes potential technical weaknesses to manifest. That's how I experience it.

Let's move on, for we are going far.

In addition to my studies, I worked with lighting and sound at Chateau Neuf, the students' culture house, where every weekend was packed with concerts and other events. Uriah Heep, The Clash, Weather Report, The Cure, New Order, Ultravox, Simple Minds, Elvis Costello, Eurythmics, The Pretenders, R.E.M., Billy Joel, BB King, The Bangles, Nina Hagen. Everyone came.

The monopoly on broadcasting in Norway had been abolished, and local radio stations appeared.

In 1982, I volunteered to start «the world's first women's radio», RadiOrakel. Building the studio. Training technicians.

I was a man, but I slipped in among these approx. fifty radical, tough girls.

It was a great time. I mention this in passing now because it will be a theme later in the story.

In 1981, at the age of twenty, I dropped out of my studies and stage work and began a two-year education as a production technician for the national broadcasting corporation NRK, akin to BBC.

In 1983, I graduated, lost the internal lottery for the most attractive jobs, and started in «Daily Operation», the unit that took care of the day-to-day radio production.

It posed no challenge. It was boring, to put it bluntly.

Besides, I was still a lone wolf, in sheep's clothing, with complex PTSD and more inside me than outside – with strong analytical skills and intuition in combination.


We have come to 1985, the year she arrived.