Most people like to travel during their vacation, and traveling often helps us see familiar things from a distance. I sent my grandmother a picture postcard from a place of cods and mountains.
Grandma likes to hear that I travel. I wrote to her about the good things I had experienced, the way we usually write on postcards, about nice outward appearances. I did not write about the night spent in a tightly packed car, though that was also a very good experience, nor about what I had learnt of myself.
I knew grandma would be happy about the card. Sometimes a couple of lines may make a world of difference, to bring great joy or great sorrow. Texts are powerful in that way. They do things and act. Different texts are used to make contracts, inform people, claim knowledge, and share memories. Texts organize and retain things and also remind us. Texts can be used to involve or exclude people. Some texts can make visible phenomena that are only just emerging or have remained hidden. New words are made up all the time for such purposes, such as ‘cyberbully’ or ‘road rage’. Words are not “just words”, they are what they are, though different people may understand words differently.
I am grateful for an email that recently commented on the power that these blog texts may have. Do they merely replicate a given way of living and experiencing things? Do they show us only the outward appearance, or do they tell us about real life in contrast with that appearance? Should Päivämies blogs pick out negative things, because there are negative things wherever there are people? Who actually holds the power of texts? The writer, the publisher, or the reader?
In my opinion, blog texts fall diagonally between factual and fictional texts. They may take the form of an expert article, a short story, a review, or something else. Blogs are part of the textual world of the 2010s, where it is possible to write however you want and mix up things however much you want. This opens up completely new prospects for communication. And I guess the responsibility of words clicked for publication simultaneously increases.
I think that, at their best, these sprawling and meandering new text types – such as blogs, tweets, written extracts of dialogue, video and audio clips – promote live openness. When you write, it is sometimes easier to start from a text produced by someone else than from your own thoughts, and there may even be genuine dialogue between texts. At their worst, these new text types may destroy real landscapes, or only describe smelly dried cods rather than snow-capped mountains. Of course you can also describe cods, why not, if it is appropriate. They exist just like all the other fishes, and they are just as real as the snow-capped mountains sparkling in the sun.
Often, however, it is good and beautiful to speak about what we all see and appreciate in the landscape, the sea. When we have a shared view of something, it is easier to focus on details that are seen differently by each of us. This was the wise thought of a friend who believes differently from me. Thank you!
These blog texts written by individual people, each with their own personal style, can be seen as blocks that build up the public image of the Laestadian Lutheran movement and also as part of mission work. And I am sure there are also other aspects to them – why did you want to read this? And although these texts have found their place as part of the movement’s public communication, nothing will replace live encounters and discussions. I think the most important and most real representatives and spokespersons of our faith are the individual Laestadian people in different parts of the world. These individuals also possess and use the gospel.
By chance, I and my two wonderful fellow travelers came across a young man with a violin on his back who was hitch-hiking on the Lofoten Islands. We had dinner with him on a landing stage in the shadow of large ships and wished him a safe trip down the Norwegian coast. This young man was traveling on his own, an individual representing those who share his faith. I could have written my grandma about this and some other fun encounters, but the card was too small, and there is not really space for that even here. :/
P.S. I wish rewarding encounters, attitudes, and landscapes to all travelers! If you go on the Lofoten Islands, watch out for foxes – they eat plates.
Translation: S.-L. Leinonen
Kesän 2020 Suviseurat järjestetään 26.–29. kesäkuuta radiossa ja netissä. Seuravieraat eivät kohtaa toisiaan nyt kenttäolosuhteissa, mutta kaikki voivat kuunnella Jumalan sanaa ja Kesäseuraradion ohjelmaa yksin tai läheistensä kanssa. Ohjelma lähetetään pääosin SRK:n toimistolta Oulusta.