Ten Questions for Anne Kari


1. How did you happen to become Executive Wise Queen of the Norwegian-Narnian Friendship Society (NNFS)?

This goes back eleven years. I don't remember what we had been talking about, but my boyfriend must have said something about this being a case for The Norwegian Narnian Friendship Society. I just pounced on the idea and said, That society is just what we need, let's make it! So we got together with another couple, and, being two Kings and two Queens, we founded the Society. Most of the time it has been up to me to make things happen (specially with the other royal couple having moved away from Oslo) - if things have happened at all. Other societies have Executive Vice Presidents, so why not?

2. Tell us about this society - how many members are there (in this world), do you have any activities, what does being a member involve?

The Society has a Leontocratic system of government and mode of operations. (...) The aim of the Society is to promote Narnian ideals, and to work for an increase in the contact and cultural exchange between the two countries (from the Claws and Regulations).

One of the means to achieve this goal is to have gatherings of like-minded people. But we never wanted to make this a strain on the schedules of busy people, so we haven't had a lot of such gatherings. On a couple of occasions we've arranged meetings together with another literary society, and on one of those we watched BBC's video of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

We've got about thirty members (but nothing has happened for so long now that I'm afraid my address list is quite outdated). Being a member requires that you sign the oath of allegiance to the Great Lion. When you've paid the membership fee, you're entitled to have a membership card and to name yourself a member. This goes for physical members - now that we've got a website, we've got to work out some kind of virtual membership as well. The best way to promote Narnian ideals, is to get people to read the Narnian Chronicles. So that is what everything else leads up to.

photo of lamppost 3. How did you get the idea of making a web page (Abroad Page) about Narnia?

When I started making my personal web page, I wanted to contribute something, not just tell the world Now I've learnt how to write web pages! The Norwegian Narnian Friendship Society was an obvious thing to contribute then, since I really want to share these lovely books with others. There is still more to come on this Abroad Page (the Home Page will have to be in Narnia itself, if they've got an Internet there), specially in the way of information about membership, and there will also be links to other Narnian or C.S. Lewis-related sites. Mine is not the only one, although I don't get the impression that there are hundreds and hundreds. Perhaps I can add some membership activities as well, in due course?

4. How did you first get interested in C.S. Lewis' works, and why?

This goes back thirty-five years! I was a child of eight (yes, you are allowed to add that up), and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had just been translated into Norwegian and was running as a serial in a children's magazine I subscribed to. I just fell in love with it, and it has been my favorite book ever since (now strongly competing with The Silver Chair, though). It ends by saying, And that is the very end of the adventure of the wardrobe. But if the professor was right it was only the beginning of the adventures of Narnia. How sincerely I wished that he was right, and that there would be more adventures of Narnia!

At secondary school I came across Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, so I definitely started my interest in C.S. Lewis through his fiction - reading his apologetics books came later.

After some years I heard that more Narnia books actually did exist. When I went to teacher training college I got hold of an English copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - and it had the names of the other books! Soon after that I went to England for the first time, and I wanted to try just one of the books to see if it really was as good as the first one. I read it overnight and went and bought the others the next day! A couple of years later they all got translated into Norwegian, and I was pleased that now Norwegian children could have access to them as well.

Why do I enjoy The Narnian Chronicles so much? I think it is firstly because they are good fairy-tales for children, and I like children's literature. They tell a story - and Lewis is a good story-teller - about a beautiful country with friendly animal people, a world where good is stronger than evil and is able to win over it, like in a classical fairy-tale.

Then into this setting Lewis manages to retell bits of the Bible story in such a way that it is possible to see it with fresh eyes. He doesn't write just in order to be able to do so, the books are stories in their own right. It is just a natural development of how his books came to be written. He is rather thinking, If the Easter story had happened in a different setting, what would it have been like? And he then goes on to suggest one possibility - and gives me a picture of someone giving his life for others, without my automatically pulling my blinds down, because I've heard all this before in school bible history classes or at Sunday School. He makes me let those blinds stay up - and lets me see the Easter story from a new angle.

5. You work in two places that may seem unusual to many people: the Institute of Christian Education (Institutt for Kristen Oppseding - IKO) and Norsk Pro Vita (NPV), the Norwegian branch of the World Federation of Doctors who respect Human Life. Tell us about why you were interested in working there.

[Edmund] had become his real old self again and could look you in the face. And there on the field of battle Aslan made him a knight.
'Does he know,' whispered Lucy to Susan, 'what Aslan did for him? Does he know what the arrangement with the Witch really was?'
'Hush! No. Of course not,' said Susan.
'Oughtn't he to be told?' said Lucy.
'Oh, surely not,' said Susan. 'It would be too awful for him. Think how you'd feel if you were he.'
'All the same I think he ought to know,' said Lucy. But at that moment they were interrupted.

(From "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe".)

I'm glad I know what Christ did for me at Easter. And I would like others to know, too, since it means so much to me. (Basically, it means that I'm never left to be lonely, there is always someone there who knows me - but who still wants to be around.)

This is the knowledge part, and then there is the question of the daily bread:
Material necessity dictates us to submit our loyalties to something greater than ourselves, whether in the secular or the religious regime. (If you leave the world to get civilized on its own, you'll need a few billion years to get it done - if you give the task to religious organizations, it should only take a few million years.) Thus I can serve in a religious institution with peace of mind.

NPV is a secular, yet idealistic organisation, and I support its ideals, which are to promote the right to life for every person, born or unborn - because every person is unique and therefore irreplaceable.

6. What are your other interests, and why?

Books, reading and literature - because they are fascinating. (Then I've recently got a new hobby which takes up a great deal of my time, because it's so interesting: computers and writing web-pages.)

7. How did you first get interested in the theater?

Through reading Ibsen's plays - I'm still most interested in being a member of the audience. I did some Shakespeare plays as part of my university course in England, and I got fascinated.

8. How did you first hear about The Oslo Players?

I met Richard Caffyn once (at some meeting about C.S. Lewis, actually), and later heard that he was involved with The Oslo Players.

9. How did you get involved in The Oslo Players?

I wanted to see what Richard was up to, and came along to an info meeting. I became a Friend and read The Player for a couple of years. Then you were about to do a Shakespeare play (The Tempest), and I wanted to be in that somehow - I ended up by prompting it, by becoming a full Member, and by joining the TOP committee.

10. What do you enjoy most about The Oslo Players?

It gives me a chance to speak English - and there are such friendly people to speak to!

Copyright © 1998 Anne Kari Sorknes
First published in The Player, the newsletter of The Oslo Players.


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