A lot of Swedish middle-class kids get sent to confirmation camp when they’re 14. It’s basically a crash course in Christianity and ends with first communion. My brother went through his course and then refused the wafer & wine. This actually endeared him to the priest, as it showed him to have taken the issue seriously.
But I went through with it all. I was basically agnostic at the time, but one of the camp counselors imparted a piece of non-standard theology that tipped the scales for me. His name was Roland, and he said “It’s the world’s best deal. Accept communion and get saved. You don’t have to believe.” I’ve got to hand it to the guy, he was really pushing an all-benevolent god.
But in retrospective, I’ve been wondering about other non-standard aspects to Roland. Frankly, he seemed weird. Bushy-bearded and bespectacled, in an old Nazareth tee-shirt, he had an obtuse air of social ineptitude. Speaking in a monotone, he didn’t quite seem to know when to laugh or how to interact. He must have been about 30, but the priest who headed the camp appeared to keep an eye on him as if he weren’t quite grown up. Once, after a lesson where I had been my usual talkative self, Roland came up to me and suggested that he and I might continue the discussion on our own. Feeling uncomfortable, I excused myself and ran off with the other kids.
This may just be my imagination. I know nothing about Roland apart from what I saw that week or two in 1986. Maybe he was just a nerdy Christian guy who really liked to talk about religion. Maybe he felt that it was his job to talk to us kids about God. But I remember the priest’s vaguely watchful demeanour around Roland. And I wonder if he should really have been a teen camp counselor.