"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Links Round-up

Greetings, readers, hope you are staying well. What a weird time to be alive, eh?

When I was hit with Omicron over Christmas, it helped me let go of expectations around tradition and justify a long, slow recovery. I took a lot of baths, watched movies, read books, learned to crochet and bake macarons, etc. 

This formed some habits that are hard to break. I am still moving like molasses in January.

An email from a reader reminded me of just how badly I had neglected this blog. 

In penance, I offer you a post with juicy links, and a warning: if you are likewise susceptible to sloth, click away now!

But say hi in the comments first. Isolation is awful.



Swedish Game Show Takes On Religion

Ällt for Sverige, the popular TV show in which 10 Americans vie for a family reunion (while learning history lessons and enjoying the beauty of a Swedish summer) is back in production post-Covid.

Among the contestants this season is a gay ex-Mormon, a former evangelical youth minister, and a Lutheran PK. They visit Sweden's "Bible Belt" -- Småland, not Norrbotten, to my surprise. (Perhaps there are two Bible Belts in Sweden, one evangelical and one Laestadian? Filming the latter could be a challenge.)

All the Sins

This award-winning crime show directed by Mika Ronkainen features a fictional Laestadian village and explores themes that will resonate with anyone familiar with the faith. One reviewer said: "Unlike other popular Finnish television series such as Bordertown (Sorjonen) and Deadwind (Karppi), All the Sins bears a substantial social dimension and tackles many important themes such as religious fanaticism, family relationships and their effect on the individual, homosexuality, infidelity, and many more. Merja Aakko and Mika Ronkainen both did a tremendous job as far as the screenplay is concerned while Ronkainen is also the director and the man responsible for the spectacular optics of the show. This is a must-see for all those who crave something more than a simple whodunit or a fast-paced, action-packed story that the viewer forgets a few days after watching. It is one of the most unique Nordic television productions of the last few years and it is worthy of our full commitment."

The NYT review: "As portrayed in the series, the sect's strictness combined with its belief in the absolute power of forgiveness make it a good match for a story involving ritualistic murders and church-enforced cover-ups


Ex-Laestadian Humor on Insta

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Poem: En Pointe by Karen Tolkkinen

Published by permission from the poet, Karen Tolkkinen, a former member of the Laestadian Lutheran Church, who lives and writes in Minnesota. 


Photo: Grace in Winter 2, by Jeff, Creative Commons 2.0

En Pointe

Karen Tolkkinen

Who am I?

Who am I?

Who am I?

What do I want?

What do I want?

What do I want?

Once upon a time, I wanted to dance

en pointe, en chaine, entendu.

But they said dancing was sin.

And I hated myself for wanting it.

Once upon a time, I wanted to act in

plays and movies.

But they said no, acting is sin.

Plays are sin. Movies are sin.

And I found myself most wretched for wanting it.

I might have enjoyed watching a Twins game

But that was sin.

I might have enjoyed your company

But I wasn't allowed friends outside church.

I might have enjoyed debate, or speech, or National Honor Society

But they would draw me away from church friends.

So when I moped around the house


My mom would grow impatient.

Read a book, she'd say.

So I would.

Books about ballet. 

And actors.

And normal kids befriending other normal kids.

And no-one to tell them they were wrong.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Notable Extoots: Johanna Hurtig

Johanna Hurtig

(Google Translation to English)

11/29/2018 1:40 PM - Meri Toivanen | Homeland
Johanna Hurtig

Last Sunday the inauguration of the priesthood and diaconia took place at Tampere Cathedral. Among the initiates was the familiar name of many who followed ecclesiastical and religious debate.

Dr. Johanna Hurtig, Doctor of Social Sciences, is known for her research in raising early childhood sexual abuse in the Laestadianism..

Hurtig received a priestly ordination as a temporary expert in social ethics and human rights at the Church Council. Her employment will last until the end of 2020.

The Church Board is located in Helsinki, but Hurtig participated in the inauguration in Tampere based on his home town of Hollola. The area will move to the Diocese of Mikkeli early next year. However, as Hurtig does not hold a parish office, she remains a priest in Tampere.

- The ordination was significant, Hurtig says a few days after the inauguration by telephone from her home in Kärkölä.

- Particularly at the fair was how people queued up for us when we shared a communion with another ordained priest in the hallway of the cathedral.

But how did this come about?

Johanna Hurtig says.

Master of Social Ethics in Moral Activity of Conservative Lestadian Adults

Some years ago, Hurtig began to feel more and more called to be called. She noticed that the priesthood seemed an interesting idea.

Could I go on a new one at this point? Hurtig asked herself. Born in 1960, she felt she had gained a lot in the academic world. Most recently, Hurtig worked as an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Lapland. In 2014, she received the State Information Disclosure Award for her research on abuse.

On the other hand, the fire for academic work had become fragile. The university world started to feel like a stranger.

In 2017, Hurtig applied for a postgraduate program at the University of Helsinki, based on her previous studies. The studies have been rated for two years, but Hurtig completed them in one and a half years. After graduation, she applied for a year's job and during that time returned to her former job at the university.

Hurtig's Master of Social Ethics was based on material she had collected during her earlier research. In Graduate, she looked at the moral authority of adults in the Conservative Lestadian revival movement and the importance of the religious community to it.

Hurtig stated in her thesis that the Conservative-Laestadian movement as a community does not seem to recognize the ethical potential of its membership. Unused or underutilized individuals' moral capital cannot grow or develop.

The encounter of dishonesty led to the priesthood

Johanna Hurtig says she has repeatedly asked herself why? Why did she still want to be a priest at this age and at this stage in his life?

There are many reasons, Hurtig says.

- But somehow they connect with my research years 2009-2013.

For Hurtig, investigating sexual abuse in her own revival movement was not just an academic process. It affected her spiritually. She says she understands that something she encountered in those years deeply upset her.

According to Hurtig, it was not so much about people doing bad things to each other, nor about how ugly things can be.

- It wasn't new. I wasn't young then.

Hurtig says she was shocked by the dishonesty she faced during her research years.

- Those who believe in themselves did not recognize dishonesty in themselves, in one another or in the community, even though the signs were clear and easily visible.

People are mistaken, weak, and make mistakes, Hurtig says.

- Then the conscience tells you that that was not true, that act was wrong. There must be responsibility, repentance. It was somehow terribly sad to watch for so long that truth, light, compassion, and honesty disappeared, and hid somewhere in the community I was researching.

Hurtig disassociates herself from the Conservative Lestadism and approaches "Church Faith"

After the investigation, the sadness deepened. According to Hurtig, it aroused a kind of longing, the expectation of counterattack.

- I missed goodness, love and honesty. I felt that nothing else was strong enough to counteract the darkness I encountered except God.

Hurtig says she has come closer to "believing in the church." She attended the fair and became a steward in her home church. She had already exited the Conservative Laestadian movement.

- I value knowledge and research, but now I am delighted to be able to serve God as a priest, to share His miracles, love, and goodness. Only He has the power to turn evil into good and darkness into light.

"The movement has begun to understand that criticism cannot be completely superseded"

Johanna Hurtig calls Conservative Laestadianism a breeding ground. She now sees her relationship with the movement as straightforward. In recent years, she has repeatedly attended a summer event for the Conservative Laestadians in the Summer Clubs.

- I wouldn't be here without that background. Spiritually, I have moved to the common church. I'm not in the sect, but there are a lot of people I love there.

Other women consecrated to the priesthood from a conservative Laestadian background are close friends with Hurtig.

In recent years, Hurtig has followed the development of the Conservative Laestadian movement as a whole. She notes that the crises of the movement have been a big issue for many for whom the movement is a refuge.

Within a short period of time, a number of issues that were difficult for the revival movement were addressed in public: the role of women and their relationship to pregnancy prevention, women's priesthood, abuse scandals.

Johanna Hurtig says she can't say how far the business has gone or whether everything is behind her.

- But it seems like something has happened. The revival movement has begun to realize that the criticism of those who left it cannot be completely ignored.

Photo: Diocese of Tampere / Jussi Valkeajoki

Read also archived stories:

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Notable Extoots: Mari Boine (Get Your Tickets Now!)

"Free, you still there?" 

Yup, still here! 

Just busy with life. While I always have time for email chats (and meeting up in person), when it comes to composing blog posts, other priorities keep winning. But today, I am ignoring my Saturday chores to tell you, you must get tickets to Mari Boine.YES. That Mari Boine.

She is coming in October, on a rare tour of North America and her first of the West Coast. Mari was my first introduction to joik, the traditional Sámi music forbidden by Christian missionaries. Raised by Laestadian parents in Karasjok, she defied the ban on music to use her gifts, and has been a courage-giver, wayfinder, and mentor for several decades and to hundreds of musicians and other artists. Her latest album, See the Woman, is in English. 

The tour:

10/2/2019 - Scandinavia Haus / NYC
10/3/2019 - The Cedar / Minneapolis

10/5/2019 - Chan Centre / Vancouver
Tickets: https://tickets.ubc.ca/online/mapSelect.asp...

10/82019 - Nordic Museum / Seattle

10/10/2019 - Old Church / Portland
Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/.../mari-boine-of-norway...

10/15/2019 - Lensic - Santa Fe
Tickets: https://tickets.ticketssantafe.org/6114

10/172019 - Red Rocks - Denver 
Tickets: https://www.axs.com/events/370532/wardruna-tickets?q=Freaky

I will be attending in Seattle and Portland, and would love to meet up. Who knows, maybe Mari could be persuaded to say hello to some fellow extoots?

Here's a link to NRK's documentary. If you don't understand Norwegian, take the time to add Google Translate extension to your Chrome browser, and when you open the video, click on the "translate" icon in your toolbar. Tell it to "translate this page" and you will get English subtitles (imperfect but intelligible).

AFTENLANDET (the Evening Land) by Erik Poppe. (1994) Music by Jan Garbarek and Mari Boine. from Erik Poppe on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Notable Extoots: Sara Ranta-Rönnlund

Sara Ranta-Rönnlund ©Norrbottens-Kuriren. Fotograf okänd.
I'm fairly certain that when the first crop of Laestadian babies reached marrying age, they looked around, had a think, and all the nonconformers voted with their feet. They emigrated, if not to a new country, to a new community. They left for school and neglected to return. They took temporary jobs that turned permanent, vacations that lasted years and then forever. They left in anger, in joy, in pain, in doubt, in love, in pieces, intact. They waited, procrastinated, debated, heeded bad advice. They took a spouse, a child, a parent, a heresy, a harem. They left shame behind or brought it along, vanished, made the news, made mistakes, made bail, made good.

A few made history.

I'll call them Notable Extoots. Encountering them in my reading, I felt compelled to share a few with you. I think you'll relate, even to those who lived generations and continents apart.

Sara Ranta-Rönnlund, Swedish Sámi Author, 1903 - 1979

Born to a wealthy Talma Sámi reindeer herding family near Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, Sara Ranta-Rönnlund (shortened to Ranta for this profile) had only sporadic schooling, partly because of the Swedish policy restricting Sámi education, and partly because her mother wanted her home, to help with sewing. Ranta's family spoke Sámi, and she taught herself to read and write Swedish. She also knew Tornedalen Finnish (Meankieli), the majority language of the area and of Laestadian services.

Ranta's parents were devout Western (Firstborn/OALC) Laestadians, and her grandfather often hosted Laestadian meetings. In spite of this, and her godparents being "three great Laestadian preachers," she reported that even at a young age, she found the religion intolerant and restrictive. Ranta was critical of the double standards of the preachers and their power over people.