Enterprising Norway

In contrast to calm Swedes, Norwegians are aggressive!


I suppose if you were raised in the land of fjords where inhabitable land was little, forbidding weather was frequent and opportunity and light were limited, you might become more thrusting than most. Norway’s success is due to an enterprising spirit born of adversity that makes it one of the richest nations per capita in the world ($82K nominal GDP, vs $62K for USA).

Yet few Norwegians live in huge houses or drive fancy Ferraris or own luxury yachts. What do the Norwegians do with all their money? The Norwegian government collects 42% of GDP in taxation compared to 24% in the USA, and everyone’s taxes are public knowledge. Norway’s long tradition is each person contributes as much as possible for the common good, especially for schools. Thus Norway survived trepidations in the past and now affords generous social programs including free higher education. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is valued at $200,000 per citizen and everywhere in Norway you see public projects with the widening of roads, technology upgrades and building improvements.

Gule Sider from Oslo Opera House

Gule Sider from Oslo Opera House

Yet despite this enormous wealth and excellent national stewardship Norway struggles spiritually. There are more dead churches - relics of a bygone era - than live ones. This has not always been the case. In the past Norway has sent out more missionaries per capita than any other country in the world! But in our postmodern era the church struggles to remain relevant to the culture.

The spiritual challenge of postmodernity is global,, particularly evidenced in advanced democracies. This spiritual challenge is to recover the relevance of the Christian faith for postmodern people. It is a challenge we face daily in Silicon Valley, and we have been given a unique opportunity to embrace the challenge on behalf of the global church.