Mattias Irving
was @Sweden (2014-07-28 to 2014-08-04)

Let’s get down to the basics. I am Mattias Irving, and I’m 33 years old, born in Stockholm and finally returned here after some ten odd years as a vagabond academic and bohemian across Sweden and beyond. I’m currently employed by the largest church in Sweden (the former state church, working as editor-in-chief at a small but feisty feministic and antiracist newspaper for the web, These are the things you expect me to tell you.

Now, for a few things you didn’t see coming. Pine trees. They’re gorgeous in the late summer sun. Yet, you can’t really convey their beauty without resorting to trite, romanticized phrases of which there are thirteen in a dozen, all of them only slightly younger than Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s first ABC book. Pine trees are at their best when not spoken of.

I live with a rare physical disability (That is Klippel-Feil syndrome. Now go, wield the powers of Google!), and it gives plenty of food for thought every day. Count on some reflections on ability and availability in our society during this week. Don’t count on all of those thoughts to make an awful lot of sense if you’ve never experienced disability in your life. But then I suppose we all have, at some point.

I’d like to flatter myself by saying some kind of standard phrase like, ”it’s hard to really get to know me”, but that would be quite untrue. On the contrary, I’ll begrudgingly admit that I am in all respects probably pretty exactly what you’d expect of a philosophical, cat loving, poetry challenged, art struggling, armchair radical renaissance man brony.

(Oh, and otherwise you find me tweeting it up at @nonemo – strictly in swedish though. (And some french, because it sounds awesome))

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 23:30

It’s just like when Jesus says ”let not your left mandible know what your right mandible is doing”. It’s a mildly unsettling thought.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 23:28

Today I learned that most insects have their brain distributed across their body, different centres controlling different limbs.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 16:23

Are we absolutely sure that US scout wasn’t just here to try and sell us cookies before the Swedish election?

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 15:42

Yesterday I made fun of pastries. Today Swedish aerospace was violated by a US scout plane. Coincidence? I think not!

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:49

I’ll abstain from giving my personal view on the actions of the police that day. But the story in itself says something about Sweden today.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:44

Then I was arrested by the police for not moving when they tried to make way for the Nazis. Trial to be held in sept. Quite a story. :)

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:42

That was one reason for the church acting and tolling the bells. Me, I sat in a streetcorner singing psalms about peace.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:41

For a while, the police even went so far as to recommend people to stay inside, on May the first, just to let the Nazis march in peace.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:39

Back in 1993, racist party Sweden democrats weren’t allowed to demonstrate if it could cause unrest.This year, Nazis could march on May day!

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:37

Unlike some other countries, Sweden doesn’t have a law banning Nazi demonstrations altogether, but some yrs ago, police could refuse demos.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:21

Best thing about churches? The bells! When Nazis marched through Jönköping town on 1st may, the bells rang constantly, as warning of danger.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:16

So my own view is: get rid of all the disused churches. Let them become something new and wonderful. God will find new ways.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:11

Ironically, in such a big building there isn’t really any space for other parts of the Christian experience, especially vulnerability.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:09

Me, I’ve never been very fond of churches. They make people feel small, and some priests feel the need to somehow fill all that empty space.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:07

I’m being corrected by a lot of fellow Swedes now! They think it’s neither solidarity or conservatism keeping people in church.It’s inertia.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:01

People still want to get married in church, but they often ask the priest to skip the part about marriage vows before God. Which is weird…

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 13:00

And that is really nice of them, in a way. But is it a form of solidarity with us Christians, or is it just conservative thinking?

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 12:58

However, only maybe 10% or so actually attend church. Why are all the others still paying members? Mainly because they really like churches.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 12:56

Soooo, we’re like the most secular country in the world, right? Wrong! Two thirds of all Swedes are paying members of the church.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 10:29

And of course there’s the antisemitic mob latching on to any critique of Israel as an excuse to spread their bile. Anti-Semitism is a virus.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 10:09

Meanwhile, Israel is becoming more and more marginalized in the eyes of the world, and in its own vicinity. Dangerous development.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 10:02

Seeing the people of Gaza butchered by the nation occupying them is even worse. Words fall short to describe the atrocity, the injustice.

@Sweden juli 31, 2014 10:00

I have friends both in Israel and in Gaza. Seeing Israel turning their beautiful nation into a murderous rogue state is heartbreaking.

@Sweden juli 30, 2014 11:03

In conclusion: The line between ”parties” and ”pastries” is very thin. But perhaps that’s not a bad thing? We can have the cake, and eat it.

@Sweden juli 30, 2014 09:46

In spring 2001 the finance minister was pied at the annual ”budget walk”. Media back then didn’t bat an eye. They published cake recipes.

@Sweden juli 30, 2014 09:42

The cake attack caused an uproar. Everybody and their dog condemned the attack. It wasn’t considered ”harmless”, but bordering on terrorism.

@Sweden juli 30, 2014 09:40

Last year, the leader of the far-right racist party received a cake to his face at a book signing event. Maybe that started the cake boom.

@Sweden juli 30, 2014 08:58

I am also shocked to find out that neither side has told us that the other cake is a lie. Come on, the jokes write themselves at this point.

@Sweden juli 30, 2014 08:56

I’m waiting eagerly for either side to adopt the campaign slogan ”cake or death”. Politics has never been yummier.

@Sweden juli 30, 2014 08:52

I don’t rightly know how to tell you this without sounding ridiculous, but we’re having elections in 6 weeks. And all we talk about is cake.

@Sweden juli 29, 2014 19:16

So, those’re replies from Austria, Netherlands (great country btw! :) and the US. I’m starting to see a trend here.

@Sweden juli 29, 2014 19:08

Here’s a shoutout to y’all. Do you think that society where you live takes hate and threats online seriously? Or is it just here in Sweden?

@Sweden juli 29, 2014 19:06

Night be going out on a limb here, but from what I’ve read the same holds true for many other countries. Online threats aren’t taken srsly?

@Sweden juli 29, 2014 19:04

Sweden today:Actual death threats are becoming comme-il-faut for politically active ppl. But literature and songs on death are frowned upon.

@Sweden juli 29, 2014 18:57

@mthld Hear, hear. And not to mention the ”fine arts”. I have yet to see an opera where the strong female character lives until the end.

@Sweden juli 29, 2014 18:54

When the book was adapted for the theatre, some actresses actually received death threats. For performing a play! So much for equality…

@Sweden juli 29, 2014 18:51

Sure, some ppl took it literally (the book advocates killing men) and thought it should be banned and whatnot. That added to the satire.

@Sweden juli 29, 2014 18:49

I read this great book once, called the SCUM manifesto. It inverted patriarchy and treated men the way history has treated women. Good read.

@Sweden juli 29, 2014 18:47

Patriarchy is all over the place in Sweden. If we’re in the top spot for gender equality, oh boy does humanity have some homework to do.

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 20:40

My take is the opposite: If you have a conviction, there’s no way you’re going to manage to keep it to yourself. Better be open with it.

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 20:38

For some reason, people believe that you can’t, as a Christian, have a view on politics too. That these spheres should be kept separate.

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 20:36

More often than not, the judgment comes from other Christians, not atheists, judging what is really ”Christian” and not.

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 20:34

Some people wonder, what’s it like being a Christian in atheist Sweden? I say, it’s great! Sure, sometimes you’re viewed as a little exotic.

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 10:05

Well, that was a first rant, more or less coherent. And I haven’t even had my coffee yet. This will be a fun week. :)

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 10:04

The big city gaze on small town life is, otoh, something I believe many Swedes are familiar with. You tend to apologize for your rural past.

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 10:03

It’s like when you come from a small town and are asked about your past. Oftenly, you take the big-city perspective. That’s power at work.

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 10:01

Then you start tweeting about oddities in Sweden and think that you’re repping something unique and odd. I don’t think that’s true.

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 09:59

It’s easy to exotize yourself in the eyes of others. That’s what happens when you borrow someone else’s gaze. You yourself become curious.

@Sweden juli 28, 2014 09:50

I’m editor-in-chief for a small but feisty Christian newspaper, writing about feminism, anti-racism and power in a rapidly changing Sweden.