Wednesday, September 15, 2010

[Norway] Princess upsets bishops (and so does her husband)

Princess Martha Louise has once again become a source of provocation. This time it’s Norway’s bishops and religious experts who are upset over her claims that she not only can communicate with angels, but with the dead as well.

One leading professor of theology at the University of Oslo told Norwegian Broadcating (NRK) on the prime-time national newscast Monday evening that Princess Martha Louise’s claims are “a major problem for the Norwegian royal family and for the state church.”

He was supported by Laila Rikaasen Dahl, a Norwegian bishop speaking on behalf of her fellow bishops. Dahl also assailed Princess Martha Louise’s claims that “it’s not difficult” to contact the dead.
“We don’t known enough about the status of the dead, but they belong to God and should be allowed to rest in peace,” Bishop Dahl told NRK. “We should remember the dead, not try to get in touch with them.”

‘Very unhealthy’
Dahl was reacting to an interview with the princess, daughter of King Harald V and Queen Sonja, in newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad, in which she said that “it’s not difficult to come in contact with the dead, in the same way with angels. We can also make contact whenever we want, when we want to.”
The bishops believe that goes against the teachings of Christianity in Norway, as practiced by the evangelical Lutheran church which is presided over by King Harald. Efforts to contact the dead “can open up for powers of the occult, which we have no overview of,” said Dahl.
Erling Pettersen, Norway’s bishop in Stavanger, also warned the princess against trying to contact the dead, calling such efforts “very unhealthy.”
The bishops went public with their unusual criticism of a member of the Norwegian royal family because the princess claims she’s a Christian herself. “We must say that this (contacting the dead) is not part of the Christian teachings,” Dahl said.

The secretary general of Norway’s missionary organization NMS also was upset by the princess’ claims she can contact the dead, and made it clear he didn’t want any such activity inside the NMS offices that the princess was using for a course in connection with her so-called “angel school.”
Neither the princess, her parents or any palace spokespersons would comment on the bishops’ and missionaries’ warnings and criticism, or on the princess’ latest claims of psychic powers. She’s been at the center of controversy before, not least since she launched a business that aims to help clients get in touch with their own angels, for a fee.
NMS Secretary General Kjetil Aano told that he had talked to her on the phone, though, and received assurances she would not engage in any attempts at communication with the dead. He said she also claimed her comments about how easy it was to contact the dead had been taken out of context.
“That’s of no interest to me,” Aano said. “The important thing is that no one tries contacting the dead on missionary property.”

Ari grabbing more attention, too
The princess’ husband, author and artist Ari Behn, has also been stirring up controversy again, first by publicly appearing in women’s clothing and then by appearing in fashion ads for a Swedish apparel maker that claimed it was getting “a royal visit” in its fall collections.
Behn has no royal title himself and is not officially a member of the royal family, since he merely married into it. The royals also have a long tradition of refraining from commercial ventures, but Behn seems to have ignored it, calling the clothes “hip” and claiming that working on the ad campaign was “very amusing.”
Behn is technically exempted from the commercial restrictions placed on the royal family, but royal commentator Carl-Erik Grimstad nonetheless called Behn’s latest activity “offensive” and “problematic.