"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Walking the Talk

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Walking the Talk

Veni, vidi, amici. We came, we saw, we made friends. Lovely friends. Our visit to Walla Walla (the town so nice they named it twice) could not have been better. Whether from familial recognition or my cousin's considerable charisma, our 4-year old threw her arms around him within minutes of our meeting. We spent many enjoyable hours sharing stories, going to the county fair, visiting the old family farm, touring a winery, feasting on home-cooked meals, singing around the piano, poring over photographs of ancestors, kibbutzing with more cousins, and on Sunday, attending church.

Looking at the barn that was put together without nails, peering into the root cellar where the summer's fruits were stored for the cold winters, surveying the wide swaths of farmland that was once plowed by horse, I felt such respect for my Finnish forebears. Their lives were wicked hard, and often short. It is no wonder that some considered this earth a vale of tears, and clung to a religion that emphasized earthly suffering and heavenly rewards. But how was it that some of them taught their children grace and generosity and tolerance?

Our visit was over too soon.

I teased my cousin about his horns, and joked that I would make sets of them to wear to an OALC function. He was surprised but good-humored about his OAL status as a "worldly" . . . his only memories of "apostolic" relatives are good ones. (Meeting his mother, who radiates warmth and acceptance, I saw the source of his generosity. Being well-loved makes one loving. Isn't that really the heart of Christianity?)

As I listened to their pastor encourage aid to the hurricane victims last Sunday, I wondered what OALC preachers were saying about this tragedy. Tonight a former member phoned and shared some rather disheartening reactions she'd heard from OALC kin. I hope they aren't true.

We can all afford to be loving.


  1. Yes, I have been wondering about the reaction to the disaster from the OALC. I know the church won't do anything about sending supplies or any of that, but I guess it's the emotional reaction I have thought about--I hope members are at least feeling sympathy for the victims. How wonderful it is that you have connected with your extended family--it's a "far piece" from that scared lonely girl in Seattle isn't it? God Bless---

  2. Thanks, LLreader. I found it ironic when an OALC member told me "I don't know why they live there," referring to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Last time I checked, there was an active volcano in an OALC neighborhood.

  3. I guess what we should remind them of is that even if you have an "why do they live there" attitude, there are still victims....children especially.
    And it had effects farther inland than most do, so what can be said about that?

  4. It is good that You keep this site in the United States (in a liberal, democratic and free nation) because in Finland it would be illegal...

    8 § (21.4.1995/578) Kiihottaminen kansanryhmää vastaan. Joka yleisön keskuuteen levittää lausuntoja tai muita tiedonantoja, joissa uhataan, panetellaan tai solvataan jotakin kansallista, rodullista, etnistä tai uskonnollista ryhmää taikka niihin rinnastettavaa kansanryhmää, on tuomittava kiihottamisesta kansanryhmää vastaan sakkoon tai vankeuteen enintään kahdeksi vuodeksi.

    (Finnish Law)

  5. Hi, it's me, sorry to have been away so long. The Summer weather and free time with my family called so loudly and often that I nearly forgot my computer. I now have more time online and will post more often. Hope you all are well. Let's continue to offer our prayers and assistance to those in need. Bless us all.

  6. Hi Dharma, I'm glad you're back. Yesterday the kids and I went to the beach after school (a good thing as today it is raining). They splashed in the waves and then coated themselves in sand (look, mom, sand clothes). I sat in my chair and read magazines. It was a slice of heaven.

    Can someone translate that Finnish law for us monoglots?

  7. Regarding the rather callous remarks about the plight of the victims of Katrina, I believe ignorance and self-absorbtion play a huge role. Higher education provides us with insight to mankind's response and reaction to disaster. Historically, when a population is thrown into chaos, whether political, economic, or by a natural disaster, the potential for upheaval increases. Basically, people are thrown into "desperate times call for desperate measures" mode. Throughout history and across the globe, when people's basic needs are not being met, the potential for violence and chaos rises greatly. IF we love our country and the freedoms it affords us, we will take care of one another in times of need. Because higher education is considered wordly and generally discouraged in the church, most are dependent upon the opinions of the elders. The "God's will" catch-all excuses apathy and inactivity. The lack of "wordly" knowledge leaves one unaware of the fact that active participation in both humanitarian aid and politics threatens the very foundation of our country and society worldwide. Potentially, the chaos and desperation in the aftermath of Katrina (or other natural disasters) opens the door for government overthrow. Examples: Hitler and Stalin stepped up to lead countries which were in chaos. If the door is open, it is easy for an opportunistic, charismatic person to walk on in and offer the solutions needed. It may seem far-fetched, but conditions are ripe. Accusations are flying. The President and other leaders are blamed for their slow response to Katrina.
    I think it would be wise of us all the examine ourselves and yes, the leadership of our governing body. It is OK and good to question authority. But I digress. My point is if the OALCs would like to continue to enjoy the freedom to worship as they please within this country, they should fulfill the civic and social duties required to keep this country a Democracy. Besides, first and foremost, it's just plain nice to help someone else.
    Have great weekend. God Bless.

  8. Dharma brings up some good
    points about education.

    The religous freedom of such
    groups as the Amish and OALC
    would not be,if education was
    discouraged by the worldlies,
    especially in technical fields
    such as science and engineering.

    Consider life under Hitler,
    Stalin, Japan and the terror-
    ists today if it had not been
    for the USA leading in technol-
    ogy. Think of where we would be
    now if the atomic bomb was
    developed first by any of these

    Freedom of religion?

    I thnk not!

    I was told at one time that 6th
    grade education was considered
    adequate in some Leastadian
    Can anyone verify this?

    If so,not many atomic scientists
    came out of those classes!


  9. You are completely right Troll. Our freedom of religion, and our other rights, were won, not only on the battlefield, but also with our technology. What's the story about a site like this being illegal in Finland?

  10. 8 § (21.4.1995/578) Agitation against a group of people. Anyone who disseminates statements to the public, in which any national, racial, ethnic or religious or other such groups of people are threatened, slandered or defamed, must be sentenced for agitation against a group of people and fined, or serve up to two years in prison.


    Sounds like a nice law, but in practice it severely restricts the freedom of speech and unfortunately there are signs visible indicating that it might soon limit also the freedom of religion. I'm afraid that certain groups, e.g. sexual minorities, may try to exploit the law to prevent churches from defining their life style as sin.

  11. The U.S. has libel laws, too. I'm having a hard time seeing how they would apply to (1) this site and (2) churches, as noted by Theoforos. Libel is by definition speech that is malicious or untrue. I don't see that here. If you do, please specify where.

    As to churches -- if a church wants to declare nailbiting as unnatural and sinful, it can do that. What it can't do is maliciously harm the reputation of an individual . . . or prevent others from pointing out that nailbiting has been practiced by human and other animals throughout history without ill effect and can be considered a normal variant. He he.

    Looking forward to your response(s).

  12. The Finnish wording does not say that the things being said need to be untrue. I don't think the clause is implemented too often, but I still think it is a potential threat to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion because it is used everyday on different discussion boards to threaten Christians.

    I never thought it would apply to this site, but after the anonymous reader brought it up, I can't see any reason why it wouldn't. In practice, I don't think you would have any problem having your site in Finland (there are numerous other sites in Finland that would fall under the same category), but I'm afraid there would be the potential risk of someone suing you.

  13. Wow. It seems other folks -- such as the EU Court of Human Rights -- are concerned, too, about Finland repressing speech. I found this article online (http://www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english/article/1076154555654).

    Here in the U.S., it is inconceivable that a journalist would be sued for reporting about a drunk surgeon and his dead patient (a story based on police investigation material), unless the story were untrue. I'm baffled by the Finnish Courts' logic here.

  14. The above comment doesn't appear very loving.
    Don't use this is a platform for hate.

  15. Ok, is that a nerve I tripped upon? Perhaps I should clarify that the points I mentioned above are not aimed solely at the OALC. I feel everyone has a civic duty and moral responsibility to be an active participant. In general, I feel apathy is rampant in our country and society as we have become complacent and lazy. I was merely pointing out that perhaps the promotion of higher education along with teaching children to help one another would promote selfless thinking and actions. I do not hate OALC.
    Yes, I vote, I attend council meetings, PTA meetings, volunteer my time and donate to worthy causes, but I always feel I should do more. I am not standing on a pedestal looking down, rather I am right here with the rest of you. That's the thing, we're all in this together.
    Bless us all.

  16. Dharma, your comments were perfectly reasonable. It seems the blog has attracted a prankster, trying to stir up trouble. Ignore him and he'll go away.

  17. Dharma,
    You're adorable.
    I was referring to the ignoramus after you.

  18. Well, it is so good to know...I had to go back and read what I had written, was a bit puzzled. I think you are adorable also. ;)

  19. Many Trails Home9/13/2005 09:20:00 PM

    Testing. I posted some comments which disappeared. MTH

  20. Many Trails Home9/13/2005 09:38:00 PM

    Free, I am glad that you removed the comment above. It was mean-spirited, for sure.
    RE OALC response to Katrina, this is my observation: The OALC (like other insular groups such as Mormons, Amish, gypsies and the like) divides the world into "Us" and "Them," and only those who belong to the OALC are considered "neighbors." Frankly, I don't think it would occur to them to lend a hand, as those outside the OALC really don't count, in their world view. Sad, as we are all children of God, all part of the larger "we." We diminish ourselves if we descend into exclusivity, denying the humanity and the child-of-Godness of ALL our neighbors. Many prayers for the suffering ones in Katrina's wake. MTH

  21. MTH, was this message full of love?

    ...this is my observation: The OALC ... gypsies and the like ... Frankly, I don't think it would occur to them to lend a hand...

    Sorry but this sounds very, very racistic to me. Just this was explained in that token part of the Finnish Law. You did not get it? Have You heard that there was one well-known man here in Europe in 1930'es also strongly against some racial, ethnic and religious groups? Including gypsies. Scaring, isnt it!


  22. Good grief. MTH is not being racist or fascist in her generalization about insular groups, but quite the opposite, by appealing to our common humanity.

    Criticism of a group's practices (whether it is exclusion or polygamy or genital mutilation) is ESSENTIAL to democracy and the advancement of human rights.

    Being loving doesn't being mute.

    Play fair, okay?

  23. Many Trails Home9/14/2005 10:43:00 AM

    The comment by "Afro-Gypsy-Huckleberry-Finn" was wierd, for sure, and I certainly do not intend to take it personally. I for one also intend to see the "child-of-Godness" in:
    1. OALCers
    2. Amish (I find their culture if not their religion fascinating)
    3. Mormons (I find Joseph Smith's vision intriguing)
    4. gypsies (I find their culture also fascinating, and the fact that they don't have a religion per se)
    5. the "fanatics" who perished in Waco, the ones following the comet, and the Jones followers who drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid.
    6. Afro-Gypsy-Huckleberry-Finn.
    And I still think I'm essentially correct in my assessment of OALC. Does anyone know of any main-stream OALCer who voluntarily left on any kind of mission to help a non-OALC group in trouble? Or that the preachers ever encouraged them to donate to a non-OALC cause? I just don't recall ever hearing of any such thing but I hope I am just out of touch.
    May we all grown in wisdom, understanding, clear-sightedness, COURAGE, and loving-kindness.
    Thanks, Free, for all you do for this site. MTH

  24. Voi Voi. I never knew bashing was so loving.

  25. anonymous above me,

    I'm not sure who you are referring to as being bashed, but if you are referring to the OALCers, you are mistaken. This site is not a site of bashing, but it's a loving site trying to awaken people to see unhealthy behaviors and ideas for what they are. There is a difference between bashing on the one hand and firmly but lovingly expressing concern over unhealthy systems. Judging, shunning, and fear-mongering are never just lifestyle choices that should be accepted as right and healthy.

  26. ...this is my observation: The OALC ... gypsies and the like ... Frankly, I don't think it would occur to them to lend a hand...

    This in NOT criticism of a group's practices. It is a wrong generalization about one group and a racistic opinion. How could the writer know how much somebody donates or helps othervise somewhere?

    Play fair, okay?

  27. I personally know an OALC member who chooses to donate their change to help the hurricane victims.

    Having said that, I think it's a fair generalization to say that none would ever donate their time and energy to help out.

  28. Anonymous,

    I'm not necessarily defending the statement made that gypsies (or as some prefer to be called, Roma) would not lend a helping hand. Even though I have Roma ancestors, I don't have any personal experience to base observations on how the Roma would react if their neighbors needed help. I do recognize that the Roma are one of the worlds most demonized and oppressed groups, and that many stereotypes and wrong are hurtful.

    On the other hand, I can speak from experience regarding the specific conservative Laestadian-heritage congregation I grew up in. This congregation did not have any official programs to help the needy outside the church. At times, collections were taken to help someone in need, but the collections were invariably for someone _in_ the church. Perhaps some people individually helped the needy outside the church, but in my experience, there was absolutely _no_ official church program to help the needy in the community, EVER! I was not the only one concerned about this lack of public charity.

    It is good to be careful of generalizations, because they often are too broad. For example, after the tragedy of Katrina, I heard two different comments from ALCers. The first was a vile comment saying it was to be expected that God would smite New Orleans, for did they not have many queers [sic.] down there? That comment in vile on so many levels. First, "queers" was a word intentionally used to degrade other people, which is a hurtful thing to do regardless of their sexual orientation. Second, if God really has a problem with gays and lesbians, why did He express his hang-up by smiting a bunch of poor black people? A God like that sounds sadistic and incapable, like a twisted God deserving of our scorn rather than worship.

    The second comment from an ALCer was from a sermon last Sunday. The preacher clearly stated that Katrina was not sent by God as a punishment for specific sins of New Orleans, and he reference what Jesus said regarding the Tower of Siloam.

    Futher, I know that there are ALC programs that are at least intended to help the needy, including those outside the church. As such, we cannot generalize these statements to all Laestadians.

    (PS: If we want to get picky, the church I grew up in did do this: some of the members joined with other groups around Christmas time to make dinners to distribute with caroling to elderly people, not all of whom were necessarily from the church. So we have perhaps five meals a year. That's IT, and even that was not really a church-sanctioned program but more of an ad-hoc effort by individual members in conjuntion with members of other churches.)

  29. It is true that the ALC has many outreach programs.
    A wonderful ALC woman I know owns an orphanage in India.
    Another is going with the Red Cross to the disaster site.
    The ALC is really not included in this observation, although there may be some who hold to the same narrow-focused view...

  30. http://www.legacy.com/duluthsuperior/LegacySubPage2.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonId=15088061

    Here is an obituary of an apostolic lutheran who died and the family requested that memorials be directed to the victims of Hurricane Katrin. I am not sure what laestadian branch he is from.

  31. To avoid being called unloving, a basher, or a racist, I'll list some facts in a very non-judgmental way. 1. Members of the OALC do not donate to global, national, or community needs with either resorces or energy, in any organized fashion. Possibly, some individuals do make contributions, but in a very low-key way, in order to avoid criticism. 2. The OALC does not promote higher education by providing scholarships or sponsorship of any sort for young people. 3. Very few OALC members have advanced degrees. 4. Other branches of the ALC do have various levels of out-reach programs. 5. One of the basic beliefs of the OALC is that they are the only saved souls. Now, have I bashed, have I slandered, have I been racist, have I lied? I don't think so--! I am just stating some facts, and the reader can decide how they feel about them. In fact, I could be a believing member of the OALC and write this post in exactly the same way. Oh Muchas Voi!

  32. Many Trails Home9/15/2005 05:24:00 PM

    I had no idea I'd create such a ruckus. Regarding higher education, "Oh Muchas Voi", you have understated the OALC position substantially: the OALC not only "does not promote higher education," it is outright discouraged. When I was planning to go to the University, I went thru the entire application process without telling my parents (until my dad had to sign some financial need form); I was afraid they would block it. I invited them to my medical school graduation (offering to send tickets) and they would not come. They don't FORBID higher education but it is definitely discouraged and usually tolerated only for some clearly-defined practical goal such as nursing, teaching, engineering and the like.
    And they are right in this, of course, in that people who choose to or are encouraged to THINK are more likely to leave the fold.

  33. Comment to this info:
    "Anonymous said...
    Here is an obituary of an apostolic lutheran who died and the family requested that memorials be directed to the victims of Hurricane Katrin. I am not sure what laestadian branch he is from."

    This Apostolic Lutheran belonged to the Independent Apostolic Lutherans/Pollarites/Riitinmattilaiset

  34. Why are Archie Comics so acceptible?
    Do the OALCers realize that when the "world" sees their dress, hair and many kids, and no tv and no jewelry etc. that they AREN'T thinking there goes a Christian, but there goes an Apostolic? I've tried to explain this to my mom, but I don't think she "gets" it.

  35. Just want to add that I should include SOME of the ALC in the above comment.

  36. This is in response to Anonymous 5:02 pm. 1. No, OALC does not have organized charities. Because they do not want praise and recognition for what they do. However, please note that many of our men are down there helping clean up, and women here are putting money into other organized charities. If that isn't helping, I don't know what is. 2. No, the OALC does not provide scholarships 3. Every one of the eight children in out family, including my father, most of his family, and friends have graduated from college. Even if we didn't, why's it matter? Higher education is a choice. 5. We do not believe we are the only saved souls. I do not know where all you people are pulling that from. NEVER have we been taught that we are the only saved ones.
    Check on your statistics before stating 'facts'. The go against you, and you become a liar.

  37. I was told personall by an OALC member that my laestadian-heritage church was not recognized by God and that if I did not join the OALC I would go to hell. This is the reason why I and many people have gone on this site to learn more information.

  38. Anon 10:03 pm - I'm sorry someone from the OALC said that to you. It's a shame when they think they're better than another. They, nor anyone else, can judge who is saved. I want you, and everyone else that it has happened to, that the OALC does not teach that. I also want you to know that all of us who don't think that people from other churches are going to hell, it embarrasses us when other OALC members say that to you. I'm not quite sure why they think they have the power to say what your soul condition is; maybe it's insecurity, or maybe they just don't know how to reach out to you. Whatever it is, it is none of us down here that can say who's saved. If someone ever says that to you again, ask them how they know every person's soul condition and how they can judge. I will pray that they can realize what they said and make it right with you. What an embarrassment for the church.

  39. Dear Anonymous 6:42,

    I'm going to weigh in here in support of those posters above who said OALC says anyone other than their members go to hell. We heard it all the time when I was growing up. I can't imagine what OALC church you are referring to since I assumed all teach along those lines. How would they dare NOT to, what with the Elders looking over their shoulder for some possible discrepancy in doctrine?

  40. Sisu,
    I'm sorry. Let me clarify what I meant. The OALC is one church and they do preach the same thing at each locality. The people that tell you you're going to hell because you don't attend the OALC may still be members of the OALC, but they somehow think they have the right to say who's going where. Perhaps they're looking for a new church, or perhaps they think they are better than you. Whatever the case is, the OALC doesn't preach that at all.
    When I hear someone say something like that, it makes me angry. I do not think you will all go to hell because you don't come to the OALC. I do not know your heart, so I cannot say. Nor do I want to.
    I'm sorry that it happened to you, over and over again, but please understand that it isn't the purpose of the OALC, nor do all the members think that.

  41. Dear Anonymous,

    Well, you have me stumped! I have never, and I mean NEVER, heard it stated in sermons or discussions at homes that anyone other than OALC members will go to heaven. That was the hook that kept, and still keep, people locked into that belief. How could I DARE allow myself to think slightly differently and risk going to hell? Many of us have had a very long "Dark Night of the Soul" because of this. I recall some message (don't recall the words at all, just the feeling) that very few people get into Heaven, and just because you go to the OALC church doesn't mean you are one of them...We all have one foot in the grave and one hanging precipitously over hell-fire..Look to you left and right; no guarantee that either of those people, or you, will get into Heaven. THAT'S the message that I received growing up. And, believe me, my mother still does not hesitate to use this argument to try to get her children back into the fold.
    So, I ask again, please, where on earth did (do) you go to church where you hear(d) an entirely different message?
    I'm sorry it happened to me,too. Leaving the Faith does not make for an easier life, contrary to common belief within the church.
    Thank you so much for your comments. Those kind words mean a lot, even from a stranger!

  42. Many Trails Home10/28/2005 08:56:00 PM

    Dear Anonymous OALCer above who says that the OALC does not preach that only OALCers go to heaven: What OALC are you talking about??? This is an absolutely fundamental tenet of the faith, and how you could possibly say it is not, makes me completely dumbfounded!! I am a (step)granddaughter of Axel Uskoski, for God's sake, with a family loaded with preachers. Our father helped translate the Postilla. They all clubbed us with that same threat: EVERY church that is not OALC is "dead faith," if it is faith at all. People in "dead faith" go to hell. Period. No slack; no exceptions; period, period, period. Your comments strike me as so bizarrely reasonable, they cannot possibly derive from a true OALCer. Bless you for having these bizarrely reasonable beliefs. But don't imply that your thinking is representative of the OALC, as that is misleading; it is not. MTH

  43. Dear Anonymous 8:15,

    Where have you gone? You can't just make statements like that and then disappear! I really do want to have a conversation/discussion with you so I can better understand where you're coming from, theologically speaking. That has the possiblity of being a great help to me.
    Hoping to hear from you soon,

  44. I'm glad my words meant a lot to you, Sisu.
    I go to the OALC,always have, hopefully always will. I think you may be interpreting the message wrong that I'm trying to convey.
    The preachers say over and over (obviously you've never heard it) how the best Christians may never hear of, or be near, the OALC. This is because nobody knows anyone else's soul condition.
    Of course we believe the OALC is a living faith. Probably I wouldn't be going there if I didn't. However, a true member of the OALC can feel their belief, whereas members that feel nothing (such as those who left) see only the physical, or material parts of the religion. It's what we call the grace to believe. This is exactly why it is so hard to explain to you that have so many questions. You cannot explain feelings that someone else simply cannot feel.

  45. Many Trails Home10/31/2005 01:20:00 PM

    Of course nobody knows anyone else's soul condition. But can you actually quote a preacher who said that the "best Christians may never hear of, or be near, the OALC?" Can you give me the name of one preacher who said / believes that? By name? I regret having to say this, but I don't believe you. I would require substantiation, because I am absolutely sure my very OALC family believes nothing of the kind. And they are right at the core, not on the fringe. MTH

  46. MTH, no that's not the exact quote. And no, I won't give you any names, because it will just be removed by the Admin anyways. What I can tell you is that I heard it in Michigan, Delaware, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana. You may start your search there if you really want to know the names.
    I know who your family is, MTH, and I don't think they firmly say you'll go straight to hell. LISTEN to them. You hear it all wrong.

  47. One sign of exclusivity is how people from your former church react when they find out you've left.

  48. Many Trails Home11/01/2005 04:54:00 PM

    Dear Non-Exclusive Anonymous: This is clearly pointless, but I will send out one last volley. If the OALC does not teach exclusivity:
    (1) Why would any of us be involved in this blog? If it were possible to be accepted as possibly "saved," my family might consider accepting me as I am.
    (2) Why would any of us lovers of Christ and God be shunned?
    (3) Why would nobody but you have gotten the message you did?
    (4) Why can't you name a single preacher who supposedly said this? Is this some kind of "secret" doctrine to which only you are privy? I don't get it.
    (5) How could you possibly know what my family says, and I DO listen to them. No, my mother did not say to me, "You are going to hell," she said, "You sold your soul for a mess of pottage." And she said that I did not communicate with God, it was the devil. She did tell my 10-year-old daughter (who was visiting her in advance of our arrival) that she was going to hell because she had her ears pierced. Etc, etc, etc. Why I bother to reply, I have no idea. Why you persist in spreading "false OALC teachings," I have no idea either. Adios, in disgust. MTH

  49. Dear Anonymous OALer,

    Oh dear, you seem to be kind-hearted and yet not realize that your words are a slap in the face for some of us. We HAVE been listening; if we hadn't, I suspect many of us would never have left the church. Don't you think it would be easier not to listen and think and just go along with all of it? You also don't seem to realize that your message says that our experiences have no legitimacy, and I beg to differ. We HAVE had soul-damaging words flung at us, and, I might add, by people who profess that the "world does not understand them", as if they are the only misunderstood people on this planet! Of course, this gives them (and perhaps you) the right to feel separate and apart and, thereby, very special. As you most likely picked up from MTH's response to you, this is where so much of our frustration comes from: maybe this chasm can never be crossed. I pray that someday it will.
    We see the world not as it is but as we are.

  50. You know, I've been thinking about this business of 'shunning' and I realized I've never experienced it the way many of you have written about here. My family, however, was somewhat untraditional.. there were the churched and there were also many unchurched in my parents generation and among my cousins. It was a fact of life. My grandparents were very conservative in the ways you speak of here, but I cannot imagine and never witnessed a turning away from the children. Yes, there were stern admonitions and I'm sure there were many prayers said for the prodigal children, many of whom were truly prodigals. Alcoholism was rampant. But there were strong bonds among the sisters and brothers and their parents, my grandparents, even though their lives took different paths. It's sad to think that parents would actually turn away from their children. Among my own siblings, some have stayed in the ALC and some left to join their spouses churches. My mom loved all of us the same. AnonyMouse

  51. Boy, MTH, I sure don't feel any love radiating from you. Where's all the love you people brag about all the time?
    You seem to know the OALC teachings very well. That's pretty impressive for someone who's disgusted with it. Makes me wonder why you're so obsessed with it if it gags you so. But, of course, that's none of my business, nor do I really want to make it mine.
    You have a wise mother, may she continue her truthful advice.
    (If you think really hard, you'll figure out who I am. Then you'll understand how I know what your family says)

  52. Many Trails Home11/04/2005 05:28:00 PM

    Dear Anonymous Distorting-Baiting-Non-exclusive OALCer: When I said "Adios," I meant it. MTH

  53. Many Trails Home11/15/2005 12:11:00 AM

    Dear Sisu, I hope that you see this, even tho' it is now in the archives, but I feel compelled to write as it feels unfinished, as so many of these posts do. It may be that I write this only for myself, or that we have a little private conversation. It seems that you and I are the only ones who took on "Non-Exclusive," so I am hoping to get your take on it. Also, I said "Adios" to Non-Exclusive, and try to keep my word!

    First, I was a bit harsh, I suppose, as I tend to get outspoken when I am trying to get to the truth of something. "The truth shall make you free" is, of course, true, but humans see an infinite variety of "truths." So it is possible that Non_Exclusive got that "portion" from the preachers somehow and / or things are loosening up, theologically speaking. That there should be anyone in the OALC who believes anyone else but them goes to heaven is news to me, but I suppose it is possible and I certainly am out of touch. I think I shall ask some other relatives, besides my mother, who clearly believes nothing of the kind.

    Second, you are the more "loving' one in your expression and I am glad that you are. If at any point you think that I am unreasonable or actually cruel, I would like you to point it out to me: this blog appears quite open, and that is one of the prices I for one will pay to get to Truth. May God forgive me if at any point my intention is other than loving him, his son, and his creation, including all humans, including Non-Exclusive. There are innumerable ways to serve the Lord, including searching for Truth, however God reveals that.

    Third, that Non-Exclusive should say that my mother, in her condemnation, is "wise" really hurt. Parental condemnation is the same hurt as shunning: it never heals. You would think that Non-Exclusive would (1) have compassion for me, if I left because I COULD NOT believe what they believe and had to face the prospect of hell, and (2) have some respect for me, that I would dare to leave and take my chances with hell rather than stay there in pretense (as I suspect many do). That I was accused of being "disgusted" and "gaggged" by OALC teachings is, of course, a mis-representation, but I'll let that go. I will always be fascinated by the OALC; how could I not, having been weaned on it and threatened by it. It had a most profound influence on who I am, and will to the day I die. And I do not resent it in the least. Without that influence, I would not have developed such a passion for "glasnost," passion for truth.
    Many blessings to you, gentle SISU. MTH

  54. Dear MTH,
    I came across your letter while surfing through these archives. Thank you for your kind words. Perhaps if we knew one another, we could meet and discuss these things.
    I am happy to see that, upon reflection, you realize that your words perhaps also hurt. Written words are just that: words. It is only when we read them through the prism of our own experiences that they acquire power to move us, through joy or pain.
    We all must walk through life on our individual paths, and everyone's is different. (But you know thia already: your moniker says it all!) So one person's Truth has another one questioning. I can see that you are passionate about seeking the Truth, but don't you see that Anonymous AOLCer feels that he/she has already found it and perhaps feels resentful that you are calling their Truth into question? Why would anyone question their faith when they KNOW it to be the Truth? That blip wouldn't even BE on their radar screen! Anonymous, I am sure, is as passionate about his/her beliefs as you are about yours.
    So, as I said in an earlier posting, that chasm will most likely never be crossed.
    We are all God's children, as YOU said. God directs us to love one another, regardless of,and in spite of, our differences, and not just those who think like us.
    So, much love and God's Peace, Anonymous. And God Bless you, MTH, and continue being a Seeker of Truth.