Lagom: "just right, not too much, not too little"
This can be taken to extreme:
You don't even need to love your neighbor, as long as you can be nice, fake it, or cover up the tension that may be between you. Our cardinal sin may well be the sin of not being nice.
Jesus was not lagom.
In the next weeks you will have the opportunity to see two powerful films about women and men who were not preoccupied with being 'nice,' and getting along.
The women in Suffragette were at their wit's end. They had tried for decades to gain the vote by using gentle, nice tactics. But no one even listened to them, much less gave due consideration to their cause. So they moved on to plan B. I do not condone their violence. And it is tragic that history can only render the facts in one way: that an escalation of their tactics finally gained women the vote. I rather strongly doubt that I could have been a part of that militant wing of the movement. But you come away thinking: so this, this, violence! , it took this!
The second film, Spotlight, I urge caution: to prepare your spirit, to guard your soul, when you see it. It is, from all I've read, a truly excellent film. I will go. But not alone. It is a battle between overwhelming power and intransigence on the one side, to cover up terrible things, against another powerful force that accompanies those who seek to unmask such evil deeds. That sexual abuse is evil is not a question.
If the movie is as good and as true to events as I've heard it is, there is the chance that we will all find ourselves becoming impatient and irritated with those who relentlessly seek to unmask the violence (abuse is violence). Because they are so relentless. Because they seek to expose and make transparent that which even we -- in spite of ourselves, knowing that truth will set us free -- wish not to know about. It is ugly and we would rather not confront it. Yet it is so important that we do, that the secrets do find the light of day, the healing light and spotlight of truth that sears out the wound and begins to heal it, from the inside out. It will test your spirit.
The abuse, and even the careless misuse of power by officials who have the added cachet of 'representing God' is unbelievably soul-scorching to see. Those who seek to expose it cannot be lagom.
It was never my job to go 'on a tear' as these reporters and editors must. But I did have the responsibility for responding to clergy sexual abuse in the ELCA for almost ten years. It was an agony, soul-scorching in every way.
We did not go hunting down perpetrators. There were no witch hunts. We simply responded to victims. And sought to care for them, and then to remove from the 'field of play' those who could not be entrusted with the power that is conferred by identity as a "Man of God."
And we sought to do whatever seemed possible to deter and make it harder for perpetrators to use their wiles to create more victims. One of the strategies was to be transparent about what had happened, what does happen when power is abused.
So. When I am asked, even now, why go public with concerns, even different concerns, about power and its use or misuse, I can only respond that light is good, transparency is important, and healing is possible when the light gets in.
This is not lagom. This is not 'me,' the Swedish up past my eyeballs, me. I would rather go on field trips and find the Aurora Borealis and eat raclette and play in the leaves and serve runaway, abused teen-agers their Thanksgiving dinner.
But for some reason, that is beyond my understanding, God has chosen to entrust me -- that is what 'call' means, in part, -- with this thankless and very painful task of carrying a flashlight.
I ask you not to judge what I do, but to ask why it is necessary.
And I ask you to do what is within your power to do, to stop the abuse from continuing.
It is ultimately not a flashlight, or two, or ten that is needed, but, within the church, a bathing cleansing flood of light that shines in the whole system.
Pray for those who have power, to use it for good alone. And pray for light to shine throughout the system so those of us with candles and flashlights can put them down.
Pray for us too. This is terrible work. Because I really don't like doing this. Nor does any victim of injustice. They/we need to be bathed in light.
Not just carry a torch.