Friday, July 25, 2014

Andebu. Hoyjord Stave Church. A Sterilized Christianity

The nearer the stave church to early institutional religious conversion routes, like here, near Skien, near the coast, the more sterilized the church building becomes.  Traces of the vital indigenous heritage get lost, overbuilt, denigrated on the way to the detriment of the faith as a whole. Is that so.

Early churches that represented the beginning convergence of Christian missionaries' ideas, living among those retaining traditional beliefs, had vitality i their very appearance:  dragons retained under rooflines, as at Vik.  There was mutual enrichment as people's faiths converged, entered into dialogue, with mutual respect to forms and ideas, This ended abruptly on the main traffic routes.  Institutional power forces demanded conformity and adherence to a fixed ideology on pain of death.

Hoyjord Stave Church:  No dragons, no heritage. That brief early Christianizing period of cross-pollination, neighbor with neighbor, stopped abruptly closer to the coasts where there was traffic and institutional religious purist busybodies; but lingered longer further north.

Here, instead of a vital amalgam of life forces, Christianity as an institution from afar became neighbor against neighbor, and over time, stripped away the links people earlier had with their heritage There is no gallery outside, no series of rooflines, each reaching up.  The only semblance to the stave churches that truly survived is the shake pattern on the roof, overlapping U's or V's, themselves resembling dragon scales. 

Here, there are no dragons, no forms even representing the isues religions have confronted throughout history: forces against forces, and where to turn.  Ambiguity.  Instead, meet Hoyjord Stave Church. Stripped bare, and looking like, ye gods, New England and its restrictions. Is this what the Christ intended, truncated opportunities for spiritual development?Its evolution from vitality to sterility.  This looks like blinking New England/

 For a slide show of other stave churches, many of which survived better than here as to fostering the life force, see

Find a panoply of Norway's weathervanes, including several like this, at 
Watch for this shape, some say derived from the prows of viking longboats, all over Norway.  A vestige of early energy.

Now:  what is a stave church without its dragons.  A nothing. The heritage indigenous is a rich one, with analogies to the later Christian, an enrichment, not a challenge.  See

Stained glass in a stave church:  jarring.  But is this an anchor in the end window?  Tradition survives?  What is the reference on the story board to 1175.

Was this truncated?  What was its full height, or is this it? Sacred places were often marked in pre-institutional Norway with standing stones.  Is this early?  It looks too symmetrical.

This one looks lopped off, and repurposed.   The inscription, new, says the stone stands for heroes of a recent war.  What? Leave it as a heritage stone, please.

Leave Hoyjord with a sense of sadness at opportunity lost, asceticism imposed that defeats, not fosters, life. Is that so, or did I have a bad morning with insufficient coffee?

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