Alesund, Norway is one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever seen.
It sits on a peninsula among a number of islands connected by tunnels under the water.
Apparently they did not want the eyesore of bridges obscuring the natural beauty of the islands and water.
The desire for beauty above mere functionality is a Kingdom impulse.
“Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food” Gen. 2:9 (emphasis added). The place God created for Adam and Eve was beautiful first and then functional. We have it backwards. We build for functionality and beauty is often an afterthought, if even that.
We took an excursion out to Giske island this morning in search of Rollo the Viking. Rollo (c. 860-c. 930 A.D.) , like most Vikings of his age, was a pagan raider, raiding villages in Europe and England and looting churches. He even attacked Paris via the Seine (885-886 A.D.).
His bad behavior continued until Charles the Simple–grandson of Charlemagne, the focus of our Carolingian and Crusader Study Tour––persuaded him in 911 A.D. to become a Christian and then allowed him to keep the area of France known as Normandy in exchange for defending the realm against the Vikings. Rollo’s great, great, great, grandson was William (the Conqueror), of Battle of Hastings fame.
We went to Giske because the Norwegians (and others) contend it was the birthplace of Rollo. If there was anything here to commemorate that we didn’t see it. Apparently there is a statue of Rollo in Alesund, but apart from that we could find nothing else.
What we did hear much about in Alesund was the fire of 1904 that destroyed 850 homes and displaced 10,000 people. Most of the town had to be rebuilt. Most interesting though was the story of a Christian man named Nord, who said he was visited by an angel the night before the fire and was warned about the fire but told not to leave his home and that he would be protected. He did as the angel said, and his house was not touched by the fire, even though every other building in the district burned to the ground.
We went to Alesund to find Rollo, and instead we found beauty and a miracle. I can live with that. GS