We're still floating around the Norwegian fjords on the Queen Mary 2 (such a hardship, ooh, no pun intended). Yesterday we stopped at Stavanger, and the ship was the tallest building in town. Stavanger became wealthy almost overnight in the 1970's due to the discovery of North Sea oil. Americans who dominated the Norwegian oil industry chose Stavanger as their headquarters and the Oil Capital of Norway over Trondheim and Bergen because Stavanger had a golf course! (It's called getting your priorities right.)
Stavanger is also the story of two bishops. The first one was in the 12th century. He was English, and had ambitions to build a fine new cathedral to honor St. Swithin, whose actual arm the bishop had brought from England. (In those days you had to have such an important 'relic.' ) His cathedral, however, would have been small had it not been for the King, who wanted to divorce his wife and marry a younger woman but had been refused by all the other bishops in the country (Norway, like the rest of Europe in the 12th century, was Catholic).
The English bishop, however, managed to find a way to fulfill the King's wish. The result was, aside from a new Queen, the largest cathedral in the kingdom. It seated 800 people despite the population of Stavanger being only 100.
The other bishop is a recent, Lutheran one, whose son cheated and gambled away millions of borrowed money on the Internet. It caused a national scandal and the bishop's resignation because, he said, although he loved his son, he could not forgive him; therefore he could not set the right example to his parishioners. He went to South Africa as a humble missionary.
Well, it's off now to have our fourth meal of the day, and it's only 3 p.m.
NANCY SALES CASH grew up in Murphy, now lives in Murphy and Asheville, and is a member of Netwest. Her short story, 'Talking To Mama,' will be published in Netwest's next anthology, 'Echoes Across The Blue Ridge,' due out soon. She also has a story in Celia Miles' new anthology, due out in October 2009, and was in Celia's 'Christmas Presence' anthology in 2008. She has published two novels, 'Ritual River,' and 'Patterns of the Heart,' available at The Curiosity Shop in Murphy, NC and Andrews, NC and at Phillips and Lloyd in Hayesville, NC.