Branches and Conversions, How and Why
- 4th-6th Centuries. Celtic missionaries in Norway; Gnostic. See http://ivarfjeld.com/2013/09/26/new-norwegian-think-tank-on-celtic-roots/
- 10th Century. The Latin, Roman Church, had moved north with Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire (Otto I, 912-973) as a violent enterprise, forcing conversion and conformity, felling Denmark's autonomous kings and other rulers, and the Baltic states, with threatened invasions, and then with crusades. Norway's Olav I, Olav Tryggvason (960's-1000), who had been converted in England (ruled by Danes) began the formal policy of Christianization. See http://www.dokpro.uio.no/umk_eng/myntherr/ot.html. He was opposed, was killed, and Norway divided between the kings of Denmark and Sweden.
- Stave church era 1150-1350 or so
Vik, Norway, Hopperstad stave church, 12th Century Celtic- Christian era, Gnostic, predating the more formalized Catholicism of 1350 ff.)
Theory: Fair use from Varg Vikernes, The Viking Age and Christianity in Norway
"These stave churches were Gnostic churches, built to honour the dragon, the serpent in the garden of Eden, that in the Gnostic Christianity was seen as a symbol of Jesus/Lucifer rebelling against the tyrant we know as Jehovah (or Allah or Yahweh or "God"), the demiurge. The true "God" in their point of view was Abraxas. For that reason the architecture of these churches was so different from Catholic churches; the roofs of the stave churches were covered with something that looked like the skin of a dragon, the crosses were Celtic crosses instead of Catholic crosses, and the stave churches were decorated with serpent-heads! They were temples of the dragon!"Hove stone church, also at Vik, and also 12th Century, and stave in construction inside.
Vik, Norway. Hove Stone Church, 12th Century Gnostic Christianity, Celtic Christianity era., dragon detail under eaves.
- 11th Century. Olav Haraldsson (Saint Olav) 995-1030; people converted largely because they had to, but to a diluted Catholic Christianity. Newly built churches accommodate, extend the gnostic.Era of stave churches. Olav II, Olav Haraldsson (1015-1030), "Saint Olav". He took the next step: as king of the regions of Norway, he set Christianity as the official religion in all regions, and forced it. See http://www.dokpro.uio.no/umk_eng/myntherr/oh.html/ and used brute force to accomplish conversions. See http://www.examiner.com/article/the-two-olafs-of-norway-viking-christian-kings/. His fortunes turned, he fled, and returned to fight Knut of Denmark who claimed Norway as his dominion in 1028. Olav was killed at Stiklestad and was canonized. Christianity, however, was not Catholic. Both Olavs had been baptized in England, not part of the Holy Roman Empire. Was that distinction important?
- 1349 -- Black Plague decimates Norway, leaving vacuum in religious life -- and more fully institutional Catholic priests entered in with little resistance. Only when Norway was hit with the 1350 Black Plague, and populations were suddenly destroyed, did the Catholic priests come into power in the local churches -- filling the vacuum
- 1450 -- Then Norway became part of Catholic Denmark in 1450.
- 1536, --Lutheran Reformation, ordered in Norway by Christian III of Denmark who also ruled Norway, supplanted Catholicism with Lutheranism as the new state church. See The Reformation in Norway at http://www.zum.de/whkmla/period/reformation/norref.html
- 2012 -- No state church. See http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article.cfm?article_id=10662
- A son of Charlemagne, and ultimately the heir, Louis the Pious, combined the separate ethnic groups subdued by Charlemagne, and herded them into a Christian-identified totality, at least in ideology. See http://www.medievalists.net/2013/05/17/louis-the-pious-and-the-conversion-of-the-danes/
834 -- Oseberg, Norway. Viking culture prospers on trade. For example, two women buried in vast ship, with artifacts, indicating high status, even queen for one, and extensive and wealthy trading society, discovery unearthed 2008, 9th Century Timeline
860 -- Vikings attack Constantinople, success in attacking for loot, 9th Century Timeline
885 -- Saint Methodius, Eastern Orthodox Christian missionary to the Slavic countries (with Saint Cyril) dies
Sts. Cyril and Methodius did not reach Norway.
900 -- Norway united (or 850-870?) by Harald Fairhair, see http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/europe/norway/notimeln.htm;
958 -- King Harald of Denmark, Harald Bluetooth, converts to Christianity (to what degree Latin, to what degree Celtic or Gnostic?)
1030-1450 -- Norwegian Kings, who were not Catholic at all and were disobeying no law applicable to them, "canonized people and gave people bishop titles" and so infuriated the pope who wanted that power for himself and his church. Priests in Norway also could marry and reproduce, and there is a female saint from Great Britain, Saint Sunniva, see http://www.academia.edu/199816/Constructing_a_Saint_The_Legend_of_St_Sunniva_in_Twelfth-Century_Norway/; Anglo Saxon and Norse, further irritating the pope.
1150's ff. Building boom for stave churches, 1150's - 1349. These churches were, however, according to http://www.burzum.org/eng/library/the_viking_age_and_christianity_in_norway.shtml, Gnostic, Celtic Christian, and all predated the Catholic era that commenced after the Black Death decimated Norwegian populations; and after Norway became part of Catholic Denmark in 1350 or so.
The theory so far:
- So, why were all the stave churches built before 1349? First, they were built until the Black Death destroyed the builder and other communities needed to construct the churches; and the Catholics who came after the plague did not build stave churches. Fair use snippet, burzum site, parsed out here for emphasis of each part. Recall that even the early stone churches had stave supports, stave roofs, but were built somewhat later when the old wooden ones began to rot at the foundations. Stone lasts, and carried more prestige by that time.
1537 -- Catholicism, 900-1537 says this site, http://www.kirken.no/english/engelsk.cfm?artid=5730;
but that leaves out consideration of the Celtic-Gnostic underlying the era to 1350, see http://www.burzum.org/eng/library/the_viking_age_and_christianity_in_norway.shtml
1700's -- Witch burnings, Finnmark at northernmost part of Norway, at Vardo, see Remembering Norway's Darkest Hour, Witch-Burning/
2012 -- Norway no longer has a state church. See http://www.torontosun.com/2012/05/15/no-more-official-religion-for-norway FN 1
Still, the 17th Century sundial still watches time pass. See history of it at http://www.tingvoll.org/tingvollkirka/del4b.htm
Track a chronology of religious influences impinging on Norway, and vet the theory. It explains the vitality of the stave churches, the creativity, before the imposition of dogma, rules, hierarchy. Is that so? One flag replaces another.
Numbers and their meaning. Twenty-eight. Magic number 28. That is all that remain of the thousands of stave churches built in the 12-13th Centuries in Norway. Why so many built at once? Why so few left? Tourists click away.
Why care? Find the stave church construction details at http://www.ingebretsens.com/culture/history/the-stavekirke-norwegian-stave-churches/ Did the Holy Spirit suddenly descend on Norway, that these were built all at once, virtually? Perhaps, in the culmination of centuries of benign, Celtic missionary Christianity, nonjudgmental, coexisting with older beliefs.
Even after WWII when a stave church was rebuilt at Kvam, Norway, after devastating bombing, look closely and see the dragon-serpent back up top. The Gnostic, Celtic touch.
Compare the Celtic tradition, with the Latin. The power structure in mainstream Europe comprised two elements:
A. Holy Roman Emperors, who were designated supposedly to deal with temporal matters; and
B. Popes, who were supposed to deal with spiritual matters, themselves became enemies.
See The Story of Mankind -- Pope vs. Emperor at http://www.authorama.com/story-of-mankind-34.html
This trumped the autonomy of the Norse. Medieval declarations of allegiance decided whether you lived, or your people had a chance to their own lives, or they or you died. With those shallow roots of religion really powered by force, power-monger against power-monger, is it any wonder that Christianity did not "take" among the Norse once the old church-state power-brokers were minimized in influence. Does the institutional church allow humans to exercise their free will, their moral capacity to make difficult decisions.
- Chronology, Culture and Christianity in Norway, selected dates beginning with outline at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17746861.