Winter approaches in the northern hemisphere. This season often feels dark, chilling, and lonely, but it does not have to be so. There is much to be learned from the Nordic lands, where winter is darker, chillier, and lonelier than most of us will ever experience: whose inhabitants have learned to not only endure, but embrace the season by virtue of the values at the core of their being (and their society).
Folklorist and author Dr. Nic Hartmann knits together his love for Nordic cultures with the Orthodox Christian faith in his book Northern Lights of Christ. The book introduces the reader to a handful of values esteemed and practiced by people in Nordic countries. Dr. Hartmann entwines these values with stories from the lives of Orthodox saints, stitching in glimpses of how each value is reflected in Orthodox practice, and breathing in the warmth of stories from his own life.
Northern Lights of Christ takes a look at five Nordic values: Hygge, Koselig, Lagom, Sisu, and Ísbíltúr. The book explains each in its particular cultural context while also demonstrating how beautifully it relates to the Orthodox Faith. Readers will quickly warm up to each value, as they recognize the ways in which it can (and should!) be a beneficial part of our Faith journey.
The first chapter focuses on the Danish concept of hygge, a mindset of pursuing coziness/contentment through embracing light and simplicity, while engaging all of our senses. The second chapter introduces the Norwegian value of koselig, a deep contentment experienced by slowness, creating, and simplicity. The third chapter discusses the Swedish practice of lagom, a pursuit of balance in life, achieved by simplicity and moderation. The fourth chapter considers the Finnish characteristic of sisu, the stamina and resilience that is required of us in adversity. The fifth chapter focuses on the Icelandic practice of ísbíltúr, literally “a drive to get ice cream” that is more about the drive and the companionship on the journey than it is about a destination or even about the ice cream.
This book can be read by an individual, who will certainly learn and grow through reading it. But reading (and processing) Northern Lights of Christ together with a group will add a great dimension to the learning. After all, each of the Nordic values addressed in the book is best practiced in community, as is our Faith. The questions at the end of each chapter will make it easy to discuss the book with others.
Warm your heart and grow in the Faith alongside good friends as you gather around a handful of candles with hot drinks and the Northern Lights of Christ.
Reviewed by Kristina Wenger, educator, podcaster, co-author of Tending the Garden of Our Hearts
You can purchase a copy of Northern Lights of Christ from Park End Books https://parkendbooks.com/shop/northern-lights-of-christ/ . It can also be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.