Not So Black And White

78% of Finns are Lutheran. Even after the mass resignations resulting from a heated same-sex marriage debate on TV in which the church representatives talked about having sexual interest in the same sex as a disease that can be cured. Finns have always had the assumption that being a Finn equals being a Lutheran, and in fact you don’t have to go further back than 1950s to see that almost everyone (95%) used to belong to the Lutheran church. Why am I telling you this? Well, due to this assumption Finns tend to pour Lutheranism on everyone involved in this culture, and being part of this culture I too have had my share of it this Easter, as always


DIMG_7953-wwwuring the last school day before the Easter Break we had a representative from the church to come and talk to the whole school. He told us about the meaning of Easter and read prayers. He told us that Easter is all about black and white, about sorrow and joy. I’ve been out in the forest much during these black and white Easter days and it really is very black and white out there, in fact it is so black and white that just yesterday I found myself imagining a hint of green shade on the bare trees reaching up to the sky. But still I don’t mind black and white. It makes an interesting pair to study, and it brings a wonderful contrast to images.

As for my own life, black and white does not seem to fit. Teaching in a school in which most groups consist of at least three different religions, trying to focus more on the joy side of life than the sorrow side, bringing out the shades of all the colors in the spectrum, and the different shades of white and black as well, enjoying the moment when the color of snow turns from gold to blue or from blue to gold.


9 thoughts on “Not So Black And White

  1. Lovely!
    I appreciate the depth of your perspective. Your engagement with the winter landscape and your students is touching and true. Black and white, ultimately, exists in the mind and misses the nuances of nature.
    Thank you for the beautiful words and photos.


  2. Beautiful post, beautifully written. Life might be easier, certainly simpler if everything came down to black and white, yes or no, right or wrong–an no one would ever have to think for themselves. But, as in the natural world, there are many shades and hues. Life is much more interesting and colorful and challenging for all that.


  3. I hadn’t heard about the heated debate and mass resignation. Guess it shows how disconnected I am with news from Finland…

    Anyway, very interesting post once again and it reminded me of an Easter celebration I had attended at the Orthodox Church in Turku. After the ceremony (a very interesting experience in itself, very different from celebrations I had seen in Catholic churches), the priest explained us one of the big differences between the Lutheran and Orthodox Christians could be found in Easter celebrations. The Orthodox would first commemorate the death of Jesus in sorrow and then his resurrection in very joyful celebrations. According to him, the Lutherans would stop after the first, sorrowful phase and forget to celebrate the joyful one 😉 Having never witnessed Lutheran Easter celebrations (though I have tasted mämmi, just not in the company of religious people), I don’t know if he was right, but it did resonate with the image I had of (Lutheran) Finns’ taste for melancholy. All stereotypes, of course (just like that guy who confessed to me not being able to chat if he wasn’t drunk ;), but fascinating stuff nonetheless.


    1. Hi Thomas,
      Totally agree with you about the Finnish mentality. And you haven’t probably witnessed Finnish Easter celebrations just because there aren’t any. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by Thomas, really appreciate your thoughtful response.


  4. I find it odd that Finland still has a state church. We’re not a very religious people – the percentages lie, people belong to the church out of habit. They go to church a few times in their lives and don’t consider themselves to be religious. It’s distressing to think of priests visiting our schools, still. I think we’d move forward as a nation if we didn’t teach Christianity as fact in schools (at least that was done back when I was in school… which was the perfect way to separate me, someone who simply never believed any of it, from all the other children who never began to question). Norway recently separated church and state – I can only hope we’ll follow suit.

    Anyway, a thought-provoking post, and your pictures are as well.


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