Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Soul, en själ

I am currently taking a class to improve my Swedish. Recently in class, we discussed the word själ, "soul" in English. Our instructor first introduced the word by referring to it as something all people have. I don't think the instructor is particularly religious, but it doesn't seem that one needs to be in order to believe in a soul. The concept of a soul has become so ingrained in mainstream culture that many, religious or not, take it for granted as true. Of course, there are many definitions of soul and many interpretations and ideas about the soul pre-date modern religion, but there is no good evidence for what most people mean when they refer to a soul. My instructor referred to it as something other than the body, and yet the only evidence supported interpretation of a soul is brain function. Last time I checked, my brain was a body part. The only concept of a soul that I can get behind is what is at best superfluous.

We were asked to use själ in a sentence. My sentence was: Jag tror inte på en själ för att det finns inga vetenskapliga bevis för den och när man pratar om en själ, beskriver man funktioner av hjärnan. This translates to: I don't believe in a soul because there is no scientific evidence for one and when one speaks of a soul, one describes the functions of the brain. That's as good as I could do on the spot and in Swedish. I never got to read the sentence in class so I don't know how it would have been received, but I just couldn't let that opportunity pass.

To be clear, I have no issue with one using "soul" as a metaphor for person, as in: I looked into the classroom but I was so early that there wasn't another soul to be seen. I don't think that is what my instructor meant, though that usage is acceptable in Swedish.

Woo Norden

This blog may take a slightly new focus soon. Since moving to Sweden, I have heard (in personal conversation) and seen (around the internets) the assumption that living here in the cold north must be like living in an atheist's paradise. Sweden has its own version of the religious right and its fair share of over-zealous fanatics, to be sure. My experience has been, however, that that's not a totally off-base assumption. The problem is when people also assume that because many Swedes have thrown off the reigns of religion, that means that they are perfect skeptics. I've noticed that different types of woo are still pretty pervasive here and I am interested in shedding some light on it. More to come.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

And the number is...

30 lbs, I don't know how many days. I'll write more soon.

Friday, June 3, 2011


48 days, 18 lbs.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Success

I'm trying to lose weight. There. I've said it to the internet. Now I can't take it back. Reaching my goal weight and learning Swedish are my primary goals over the next two years (not including, of course, getting married).

I'm using a particular weight loss website but I am not relying on a special trick. I count calories everyday. I clock in below my calorie limit everyday. I walk, which is necessary where I live, but rarely do any other special exercise. I hope to incorporate more exercising in eventually but I'm in no rush.

The website I use,, seems to be designed to encourage, inspire, and de-mystify weight loss techniques. The sense of self-accomplishment is pervasive. I feel proud whenever I log in. I regularly lurk the "Success Stories" and goggle over before and afters and look forward to the day when I can be a before and after also.

However, though the site claims it will remove all references to what it deems controversial topics like politics and religion, many a member include a Bible verse or another religious reference in their message board signatures. I really am not bothered by the site failing to remove them because I don't like the rule in the first place. I am struck, though, but how counterproductive so many of the quotes seem to be.

Here are some examples:

1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

GOD be with me, lead me, guide me, strengthen me, never leave my side....AMEN

Taking control of what I can and allowing God to handle what's out of my control.

It's depressing to come across people who have accomplished so much and can't take credit for what they've done. It's even more depressing to come across people so willing to cede control or responsibility. I do this for me and have done it with the support of my fiancé, family, and friends, but mostly through my own determination. I feel sorry for you if you think otherwise.

For anyone who's wondering: 40 days, 14 lbs.


I've been silent for many months now. It might have something to do with having been thrust into adulthood and a new country five months ago. Hopefully I can pick things up on here again soon.