Travel for the Soul: Where I Want to Go and What I Might Learn There (Part 1)

I love traveling and I have been fortunate enough to do some of it.  I’m also a complete geography/history nerd who lives reading about random stuff in other countries.  Hence, I will from now on occasionally post about a place in the world I want to spend a decent amount of time.  Why do did I not say live or vacation? Well, because I don’t really want to do either of those things.  I’m enjoying my life and don’t really feel the urge to leave everything I’ve ever known and start over in another country.  On the other hand, it seems very difficult to get a feel for a place when you just pass through for a few days.  This is especially true when it’s a foreign country where talking about here.  Therefore, the cities featured here will be locales where I would like to spend say summer or a few months, learn to appreciate the culture by finding all the hidden gem restaurants and local attractions, and generally get to know the rhythms of life in a different corner of the world.  Furthermore, I believe learning about new cultures has potentially powerful spiritual payoff.  All people and cultures are both good and evil.  There are some aspects of all cultures which are wrong and need to change.  But all people are also “God-breathed” and thus all cultures reflect that origin with some goodness from which others can learn.  So after discussing what attracts me to each place, I want to point out an aspect of that place I perceive to be a piece of the image of God there.

So first up is . . .

The old vikingplaces Lund and Uppåkra in Skane...
The old vikingplaces Lund and Uppåkra in Skane, Sweden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LUND, SWEDEN

Why: 

What?  The birthplace of the inkjet printer isn’t at the top of your list?  Let me explain.  How many places can say they were founded by a Viking lord named King Forkbeard, later served as the headquarters for a Christian archbishop, and later still became a major educational and research hotbed? Answer, Lund.  It is quintessential Europe with cobblestone streets, constant festivals, open air markets, cathedrals, and quaint cottages and farms crammed into one patch of earth.

I feel like this college town of 80,000 in southern Sweden would be a great place to experience all the country and culture have too offer.  Additionally, it is centrally located in the region so quick trips to Copenhagen, Stockholm, and the beaches of Skane and Gotland would be easy.  It’s also not far from several interior lakes, rivers, and mountains where Swedes make use of the 18 hours of summer daylight by partaking enthusiastically in all sorts of outdoor sports and activities.  Lastly, the Swedes consume more coffee per capita than other nation.  It seems in fact to be the basis for human interaction and friendship.  They stop what they’re doing everyday around 3 PM (also 10 AM in some settings) to go meet friends and colleagues in local cafes.  That’s what I’m talking about.

Drawbacks:

Winter.  It’s not as cold as you might think.  However, you get only 6-8 hours of daylight.  Ouch.

Worthy Cultural Trait:

LogamLogam is loosely translated “enough.”  Material excess, boasting, and flaunting anything are strikingly absent from Swedish life and culture.  Swedes strive to be content with what they need and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  Logam is deeply rooted in the Viking psyche.  It goes back to the old days when villagers shared from a common bowl.  Each was expected too take enough to fill the belly, but leave plenty for the group.  Thus, the idea of achieving balance through taking care of everyone permeated culture and remains entrenched today.

Certainly in these times when debt and emotional dissatisfaction choke our society on every level, including in the church, we might be inspired by what seems to be the more holistic example of our Swedish neighbors.  Again, this is not to say they are perfect or better than anyone else, and many criticize Sweden for taking lagom too far.  None of that however precludes us from learning from them.

More places to come.

Peace,

Ben

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