Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tingvoll Church, Interior and History

Tingvoll was constructed in the mid 12th Century, including through efforts of builder Gunnar, who wrote in runes on the wall above the altar, :"I pray for God's sake you learned men who are in the charge of this place and everyone who is able to interpret my prayer remember my soul in holy prayers but my name is Gunnar and I made this house. Farewell."  The rush of stave and stone churches constructed in the 12-14th centuries reflected this pragmatism:  that Christianity would only take hold in Norway if  a) as many indigenous religious customs were retained as possible, and  b) only those Christian customs as were absolutely necessary were required.  See Norway by Gerhard Lemmer, google book at page 232. FN 1.  Norway:  reluctant Christians and determined retainers of their own religion, see http://www.burzum.org/eng/library/the_viking_age_and_christianity_in_norway.shtml 

Varg Vikernes, see the Burzum site.  His own ideological beliefs, apparently supremacist:  does that negate other scholarship. See concerns for actions at http://loudwire.com/burzum-varg-vikernes-stand-trial-inciting-racial-hatred/ .  A reading of the research does not raise alarms about arousing hatreds.  Keep watching.

1.  The standing stone at Tingvoll.

The standing stone is clear reference to the indigenous religion, and tolerance of it in the new loose Christianity.  Aside from the standing stone in the churchyard here at Tingvoll, this structure shows religious stages from construction in the mid 1100's; see chronology FN 1 The construction was Romanesque.  Then came Gothic fashion adjustments with older rounded arches remodeled into arches.

2.  Nonideological, decorative wall patterns.  The endless design, as in Celtic weaving motifs.

These wall-patterns on the wooden slats inside repeat and repeat. The original walls were plain, not painted. The acanthus swirls here date from 1738-39, see Lutheran Churches in Early Modern Norway at p. 299. There are no ideological representations, just a lovely, vibrant, series of swirls, sworls, swurles, swerles,  swarles with bird-eyes, and swirls, like impossibly colored clouds and feathers.  No ideology being imposed, just energy.  Looks gnostic to me, a reference perhaps to a past, and not dogmatic.

Acanthus:  used on classical Corinthian columns in architecture, Greek, and also symbolic of the sun in Greek Culture.  The sun also vital symbolically to Norse culture.  Did Norse painters slide this motif, with old Greek "pagan" and Norse "heathen" references, past the Lutheran ideologues.  See http://www.burzum.org/eng/library/the_kingdom_of_the_sun.shtml

3.  Structure of stave roofs:  like a ship upended.

Look up.  See how the Vikings surpassed all in navigational design in their era.  The metal, of course, are supports now, after all the years.  But the stave roof structure is more beautiful than mere iron hold-ups can mar. 

4.  Second-story window, with steps for viewing, and wall cavities for weapons for use in case of attack; or for storage while being pious.

Were these storage cubbies for convenience at worship, or to be prepared for attack? Attack from what?  These are early, original 12th Century and well-used, see indentations, old steps.  Were the construction of all these churches at once really opposed by the indigenous or Celtic-indigenous followers?

Prop up your bows and spears.

5.  Menorah. The symbolism of seven.

I find no reference to a Jewish tradition in stave churches, but do see lists of uses of seven as a powerful number.  Must a menorah have 8 candles? See The Menorah, Pattern for Church Structure at  http://home.hiwaay.net/~aware/pattern.htm/ There is a similarly placed menorah at the Cathedral at Roskilde, DK.

6.  Cubbies; passageways in the walls

The Tingvoll tourist brochure notes that extensive hiding places and walkways were in the walls, and used primarily for parts of the service that required the movement of an officiant, and a desire not to distract.

 7.  Renovation through the years, redecorating.

There is a tolerance of past Christian tradition here, with older Catholic artifacts and paintings not totally destroyed, some stored in the attic and being re-used now in non-ritual ways, and even wall paintings can be uncovered.

8.  The encircled crosses.

The church literature identifies all these (see photo at para 7) as designating that a bishop sanctified the space.  Which? When? Nobody seems interested in pursuing what the earliest church was like, in the 12th Century.  Would that form of Christianity have to be later sanctified against?

The institutional  influence seems to bar giving standing to earlier, missionary-rooted Christianity; and is there another explanation for the encircled crosses, one that does not serve the interests of the institution in power. 

  • Varg Vikernes, iconoclast, musician, independent writer, suggests Templar influences in Norway, a place of refuge after mainland Europe erupted against them in 1313. The conversion of Christian III triggered the Reformation in Norway.  Whether there really was 600 years of Catholicism, however, see http://www.kirken.no/english/engelsk.cfm?artid=5730 is disputed by Varg Vikernes at the burzum.org site above.  Vikernes sees a strong continuance of old rituals and symbols along with the new, in the context of a long-standing Gnostic tradition (including Templars), that only tilted strongly Catholic after the Black Death in 1350, and Catholic priests filling the empty religious slots. Vet.
  •  Is the encircled cross there a Templar sign, that this can be a place of safety, or is it merely a consecration mark, one of many, and just an indication that a bishop at some point consecrated this place? See same cross on walls at Barcelona Templar chapel, see http://spainroadways.blogspot.com/2013/10/barcelona-royal-chapel-minor-interior.htm/ The parish brochure identifies these as consecration marks. 
  • A Templar rite, its history, is a topic of other scholars' interest, see http://www.ntnu.edu/employees/sebastian.salvado/.  Then ask how and why the mass murderer Brevik invoked the Templar history, and an overview of their times and perhaps modern links is found at http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sociopol_masonsknightstemplar05.htm/  Vet, vet. What to believe?
Consecrating:  Catholicism to Lutheran.  Why would that require new consecrating? It looks more like the glove passed from hand A to hand B.

8. The poor box

9.  The King's Seat.  Kongestolen.

Christian V visited this church, see http://www.tingvoll.org/tingvollkirka/del14.htm The heraldry stands for Christian V, 1646-1699, king of Norway 1670-1699.

What are the carvings at the base?  I see a heart on the left, a sunburst, and indecipherable on the right.  Sunburst:  strong indigenous religious roots there.  This Varg Vikernes, burzum.org site comes up with much, including the sun motif in Norse culture -- reliable?  See http://www.burzum.org/eng/library/the_kingdom_of_the_sun.shtml/ 

Vet all, but start somewhere. Varg Vikernes, Norwegian, writer (began writing articles in 2003?), composer. Hear, see, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGA5Q4htkV0/  Far more interesting than encyclopedias and tour guides.

10.  Ceiling pattern, romanesque arch reworked as gothic.

The ceiling is sun and moon patterning, vestiges of the old religion, see http://www.burzum.org/eng/library/the_kingdom_of_the_sun.shtml; and not necessarily signifying a Christian almighty God, as brochures lay out. Does every age have to propagandize and funnel what is taught, at every opportunity? Lay out the choices.

11.  Altar Bible, 1632

Find this and other venerable books at the Tingvoll Church site, http://www.tingvoll.org/tingvollkirka/del9b.htm
FN 1  
Olav Tryggvason, Olav I, 960 or so to 1000, engaged in forcible conversions to Chritianity.  Olaf II Haraldsson 995-1030 followed suit, was forced into exile, returned to fight to regain the throne against the Danish King Canute and was killed in battle against Canute at Stiklestad. Successive Christian kings (long lists at http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/NORWAY.htm/) spread Christianity more widely but with a more benign inclusion of old ways, such as holidays and symbols and heroes melting into new Christian molds. The new "Christianity" was not immediately dogmatic, not Catholic, but rather seems to be a more formal extension of Christian ideas coexisting with the earlier indigenous and gnostic. See ideas at http://www.burzum.org/eng/library/the_viking_age_and_christianity_in_norway.shtml/ and vet.

As to the indigenous religion before Christianity, sources vary. Were the accounts of "heathen" practices really so, or propaganda as happens in any era?  UNICEF Culture Sector lists Northvegr for Northern European Studies texts.

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