How does your faith help you in times of struggle, change, and new beginnings?
My faith is directed to the “Inner Light” that enlightens the way that is true and right for me, given who I am, what I can manage, and what is needed of me to make a better world. If we are unsure what to do, we Quakers use a method called “meetings for clearness”, which helps us discern what is of the Light. My faith is not a doctrine, nor a set of principles, it is a way and a practice. That of God within guides me closer to who I am in what is to come, so I am never lost; it is the inner compass that always shows me the direction where to go, if I am silent, open, and apt to listen. And if I answer the call, my experience is that doors are opening to new beginnings and a new world. It is already unfolding.
How does your faith describe the relationship between all living things, the Earth, and the Divine?
Quakers believe there is something of God in everyone. This has been extended by early Quakers also to include non-humans. We are, in other words, in a spiritual kinship with all of creation. In my book, titled “Himmeljorden: Det av Gud i Naturen” (HeavenEarth: That of God in Nature, 2010), now in translation from Norwegian to English, I elaborate on this topic from the Quaker tradition.
What does your faith tradition teach about material consumption and simplicity?
My faith tradition has several testimonies, one being simplicity. This gets at the way we live and how we practice our faith. We do not need anything else but silence to open for the Inner Light. Quakers witness also about how a life with simple means can create rich ends. You can be poor, but feel rich. It is part of the deep ecology approach that I have been active with over the last 30 years.
In what ways does your community provide you with a guide to life?
My Quaker faith in that of God in all living beings, and the quest to bridge faith and practice, inspire my commitment, not only in my own life, but also coming together with others in my community to create a sustainable and nature-friendly future.
Are there particular texts that inspire you to act for change?
The strongest inspiration is not in the text, but in the Holy Spirit within – that “Inner Light” that enlightens us to bond with all of creation, and that shows us the truth and what is right and wrong in the way we relate to our fellow creatures. We have to give ourselves over to this inner guide and spirit, and one place in the scripture that sums this up is when Jesus says: “Not as I want, but only as you want” (Mark 14:36). In my opinion, this speaks to that of God within.
What have you done to improve the sustainability of your diet, transportation, and/or energy use?
One change that I would like to share is the establishment of a transition town initiative in our small community in Bø in Telemark, Norway. It is a town of about 6000 people, which my wife and I established in order to “be the change that we sought” where we live. In this initiative, we have five topics that we seek transition in: (1) housing, (2) food, (3) transportation, (4) consumption and (5) inner transition. We try to change things in a greener direction in each of these areas, which we highlight on our website. Please visit bliv.no or transitionnetwork.org to learn more.
How would you describe the experience of making these lifestyle changes?
The key to this work is joy and making it social. The difficult part is to break habits, since we are so embedded in habits that undermine what we want. But the rewarding part is that simply starting with one small step is a movement in the right direction. And since the steps are joyful, not fearful, more people have been inclined to join. It is the community that upholds our engagement, and also works smarter by making it easier for people to join.What are others doing?