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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Vikings! Skol!

I am a big-time Scandanavian-American. All 4 of my grandparents were 1st generation Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish, and until my parents came along there was no mixing. My dad's parents were Finnish and Swedish, my mom's Norwegian and Swedish. I grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and I was born when the Minnesota Vikings became our first professional football team.

I grew up with a hodge-podge of Scandanavian traditions that had been part of the heritage of those in the "old country," and childhood memories of lutefisk, Midsommer, and O Store God are part of my life. I even went to a college (Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN) that was founded by Swedish immigrants, and one of the oldest Swedish-American institutions around. In fact, every year, the college holds a "Nobel Conference" which invites scientists from around the globe to convene about current issues, and is the only program outside of Sweden which the Nobel Prize committee authorizes. When I was at GAC, the King of Sweden visited, which, outside of a chance encounter with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993 counts as my only international political experience. I even decorate my kitchen with Dala horses and kitschy tiles that say, Velkommen! I have the street cred for my Scandanavian-Americanness.

Did I mention I have long, blonde hair? I mean, like down to the middle of my back? You can't tell in my pictures because I usually pull it back, but put me in some clothes made out of dead animals, and give me a battle-axe, and your Hollywood stereotype would be fulfilled! Viking! Skol!

"Skol" is a toast word, like "Cheers!" It is also the theme song of the Minnesota Vikings football team. They played well yesterday, and they hadn't done that for a long time. I remember vividly the last time they played good football. I lived in another state, I still had a child in school, and Jared Allen made Tony Romo look silly. (To be honest, Tony Romo often doesn't need any help.) We beat the 49ers out of San Francisco yesterday, and we beat them pretty well. Here's why I am telling you all this...

Never count out a Viking--even one who only gets the name because they got drafted into the NFL. For that matter, always beware the underdog. (The Vikings not only won outright and covered the spread, but the continued the season-long NFL tradition of home dogs covering. This is a good year to bet the home team.) So much of our lives are spent trying to impress front-runners and other sycophants that we lose sight of what life is all about: living. (Or, in the case of the Vikings, playing football.) Underdogs, those who are "supposed to lose," who people often don't care enough about to even try to be part of their lives (think "47%"), are a great story, but they shouldn't be. All players, just like all people who live, should be accorded respect and value as one of God's children. Even if that child has had a bad day, week, or even a decade.

I am proud of my Viking heritage (and my football team), but I am even more proud of the many people who are, have been, and I hope will be part of my life. Because when all is said and done, we are all underdogs, hoc est verum. And that's worth a glass or two. Skol!

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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