Havnar Kirkja of the Faroes.

Havnar Kirkja Dom Kirkan eystara prestagjald of the Faroes is the Cathedral of Torshavn. It was there that I first attended the Evangelical Lutheran Sunday service of Faroese hymns and prayers ... the choir was a sheer delight to me even though I could not understand a word of Faroese. Yet the hymns seemed so oddly Anglican and I could almost hum the hymn tunes, if not to sing the actual words with the choir itself of which I was only just feet away from them so assembled at the upper balcony of the cathedral. While the church dates back to 1788, it has only become a cathedral in its own right of rather recent times ... However, the Faroese church was an ecclesiastic diocese from the year 1000 until around the rise of the Reformation. Such was then transferred to the Church of Norway and later to the Danish diocese of Copenhagen. Some 45 years ago, the then rural dean of the Faroe Islands and the parson of the Church of Torshavn was elected Lutheran Vicebishop. I surmise that the rank of Vicebishop -- and a church term that I have never seen used before -- really means a Suffragan Bishop. Such is an assistant bishop in the Anglican Church that aids the Diocesan Bishop within the full diocese. So I would think a Vicebishop is much the same in the Lutheran tradition ... Lutheranism and Anglicanism aren't that much apart in liturgy and in the upholding of protestant and sacramental rites.

Today, the Havnar Kirkja is very much alive and well. About 300 worshippers arrived and sat
in rows of cream painted pews that had small gates that opened and closed as parishioners took their pews ... At one time, Sunday fees were paid for the use of the pews by church members.
I guess such prevented the poorest from showing their riff-raff faces to the richest at the church. So much then for true Christianity and gospel love!! I did notice that no collection took place at the Cathedral service, which is atypical of Churches in America and England that always seem to have collection plates very handy to gather whatever money is available from their captured congregation ... As for the Lutheran pastor, when he arrived at the pulpit to given his Faroese sermon, the senior church warden opened the gate to the pulpit and closed it behind the pastor as he climbed the steps ... at the end of his sermon, the warden did the same. Much of the service was seated with only the congregation standing briefly for prayers. They sat very comfy
in their pews while the choir stood up and did much of the hymn singing next to the organist
with his back to them ...

After the service, the pastor warmly greeted me and introduced his wife and a grandchild of his to me. Yet just the week before at Copenhagen's St. Alban Anglican Church the rector there -- Rev'd Mark Oakley -- showed no such affection or courtesy to such church "outsiders" as me and other Anglican visitors to the Diocese of Europe ...

What I liked about the Evangelical Lutheran service was its honesty and simplicity of purpose
and with no artifice of spirit or Christian love ... It would perhaps be best described as "Low Church" as opposed to "High Church" with all its ritualistic fanfare and ceremony ...
Best of all, I shall fondly remember my visit to the Torshavn Cathedral of the Faroe Islands not as a visitor per se, but rather as an Anglican openly welcomed to share their Sunday service without any question from anybody from laity to clergy ...

On the darker side of Torshavn, which is considered one of the world's smallest capitals of around only 48.500 folkz, a stroll along the alleys and shortcuts of the tiny city revealed graffiti
here and there of the kind one would expect to find in large urban capitals like Rome, Beijing, and London. In Torshavn, the Faroese graffiti was not artistic or pictorial. Rather I found such to express a desperation and anger in ''F*** PRIVATBILISME!,'' followed by in English ''GOD IS GAY.'' Elsewhere on the walls, ''QUEERPOWER,'' ''F*** ALL THE POLICE,'' along with one final stab at the local establishment that declared it suffered from ''HOMOFOBIA." Whoever did the
graffiti spelled ''homophobia'' in his own special way ... I figure, too, he has tried to create more havoc in half an hour than a whole platoon of pathetic punks would try to do in a whole year of graffiti's mayhem. Much of the graffiti was near the Barna oj Ungdomshusid on Margarinfabrikkin or the local youth club with pinball machines that looked more like something out of the 1950's to me ... Many of the local youth get out of the Faroes and go to Copenhagen, Berlin, Malmo, Oslo, and, of course, to London, to find work or to study for a college degree or to simply get away from the ''smallness'' of attitude and outlook of many of the grown-ups on the islands.

On the dark question of tourists getting ripped-off by taking Auto Taxi 3-1-1-2-3-4, which is based at North Finsensgota St., in Torshavan, be very CAREFUL and WARNED they'll take you to the cleaners by charging 500 Faroese or Danish Kroners or 70 Euro or 50 quid for a ride from the airport to your hotel or youth hostel in the capital. Our taxi driver called ''Jacky'' of Auto Taxi tried at first to get 90 Euro out of us!! He wasn't satisfied when offered 45 Euro for our 30- minute ride, but finally he settled for 70 Euro that was broad day robbery. Sadly he and Auto
Taxi always got away with it ... Take the local bus instead and it'll cost you a mere 90 Kroner or 9 quid or take the airport shuttle at 150 Kroner or 15 quid. Avoid using the local taxis if you don't want to get ripped off by such jackasses as ''Jacky'' who is a master of tourist trickery ...

On the good side, crime is of little or no concern or fear to those who visit The Faroe Islands ...
Unlike my visit to South Africa's Johannesburg at last Advent, where I was robbed openly in front of crowds looking on. o such case exists for the Faroese -- period. Jo'burg is nothing more than a lawless and dangerous place for locals and especially so for white foreign visitors like me
who clearly found the place hostile and violent and thus it lived-up to its legend as South Africa's New York ... Yet, the real New York City itself is far safer now than vile Johannesburg ... the crime figures from both cities bare out that Jo'burg is a place to boycott on any visit to an otherwise lovely South Africa ... Capetown is just the place to visit, but again do be careful of street thugz and criminal predators there, too ... Cheers, Monty ... +Edvard Grieg, 2oo7.

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