"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: A Time to Weep, a Time to Act

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Time to Weep, a Time to Act

I hesitate to write this. With two young children, I know that a minute's inattention can result in an accident. Once our infant daughter's "vibrating" childseat vibrated right off a table while I was chatting with a friend. Thankfully she was unhurt, but I learned a lesson.

In my experience as a parent coach, most parents are doing their utmost to learn about the life that is now theirs to protect, to "learn" the child who comes without instruction and who requires mind-numbing, round-the-clock care.

So when tragedies happen, how can we respect the grief of the family while learning from their loss? We must talk. At this distance and without many details, it seems there is a pattern to some of the deaths of OALC children.

Examples: A 14-year old is killed when a the tractor he is driving rolls over on him. A toddler in a church parking lot is killed when hit by a car. A baby suffocates when a playpen collapses on its neck, outside of earshot of any adult who can help.

We can ask: why was a 14-year old operating heavy equipment? Why was a toddler loose in a parking lot? Why was a baby placed in an unsafe playpen (the kind that collapse were recalled years ago), outside of earshot of an adult?

Perhaps the 14-year old didn't ask permission. Perhaps the toddler bolted away from a parent. Perhaps the faulty playpen was all the mother could afford.

I don't know. But it won't protect any child to leave these issues undiscussed.


  1. I've seen a lot of unruly children at the Laestadian church I was brought up in. I think its due partly to the fact that many of these women are having more children than they can handle, physically and emotionally. It starts taking its toll.

  2. There is lot of antidepressant use in the OALC by both men and women. IS it any wonder? They should stand up to the old ways and refuse to have more kids than they can keep their eyes on and take good care of. A lot of those kids are being raised by kids and it isnt right.

  3. Keep in mind that God chooses when someone dies. Whether the 14 year old was on the tractor or not, the 2 year old inside the church, or the infant on the couch, they all would've died at their chosen time.
    There are a lot of people, OALC and elsewhere, that do not watch their children. But keeping eagle eyes out for them cannot stop God from taking his children when he wants to.
    For anon above me who seems to use anything he/she can to find fault, a lot of people are on antidepressants, including people OUTSIDE the OALC. I'm not from the OALC, but sometimes you people are pathetic.

  4. Regarding your "perhaps" on the 14 year old, I personally know about that accident. This particular accident would have happened with or without permission. This particular youth was of highest character and I'm not sure we can say a 14 year-old should not be operating a tractor. It was a freak accident, and yes, maybe inexperience played into it as to how a tractor could react in a certain incidence, but I am just the same disappointed to see this kind of food for thought regarding a very hurtful accident which took such a wonderful young man's life.

  5. I think you've brought up a very good topic. For myself, I know I get too complacent. (I think that's the word I want) At church I am relaxed, because people are careful when they drive. The parking lot has children from one end to the next. BUT, I realize that while the church pk lot is safer than most, my child is still MY responsibility.
    I do think though there needs to be a balance bewteen kids having not enough supervision, or being allowed to do things not age appropriate, and being completely protected like I see in some families today. An example... The mother of one of my son's classmates wouldn't let her 3rd grade daughter blow up balloons.(She might choke) Personally I think most 14 yr olds are capable of driving a tractor. I know I did and was. But, it depends on the child. I think that is one mistake easily made.... Keeping the rules the same for all the kids, rather than treating each one as an individual. I have boys that are very active, but very athletic. They are the type to enjoy extreme sports, and while they aren't old enough to go bungee jumping, they do their best to make most of their playing time an experience!! So trying to keep them with 2 feet on the ground isn't reasonable. I would rather that they learn to use judgement, and weigh the consequences. Getting hurt occasionally (not seriously of course) helps them learn.
    Please don't think that I am going to let them do obviously dangerous things. I am talking about normal kid fun, just done with more "gusto".

    Hope I didn't get off the subject too much.


  6. Well, you can see why I hesitated to post on this subject. My apologies for offending anyone. I do not know the details of these accidents.

    As a society we continually re-evaluate practices and laws to protect our vulnerable, as we learn, through science and experience, the consequences of our past actions.

    Case in point: 40 years ago when my father smoked cigars around us kids, we would have scoffed at the idea that second-hand smoke was harmful. I loved the smell and the little gold paper rings.

    We know better now. As I tell my kids when they make mistakes: when we know better, we do better.

  7. I think many accidents can be prevented if people think rationally. I do not think the OALC'ers act rationally in all ways. They take one verse in the bible (about being fruitful and multiplying) and take it to the extreme, having way too many kids. Having lots of kids was RATIONAL in days when the mortality rate was high and lots of work needed to be done. Is is RATIONAL today? Acting on common sense and acting on faith are two different things.

  8. This is a topic that will offend people. I'm not sure why topics can't be discussed without some becoming defensive and offended. I have observed parents at church who I felt were far too complacent. At many churches, there are children running all over. It's understandable in one way, as there just isn't anything for them to do before and after church, and some children spend hours and hours there. I've always hoped and prayed that no one would get hurt. But it's not understandable in another way, as parents are supposed to be responsible and watch and protect their children. The church meetings are one big social function, with lots of visiting and coffee-drinking, smoking, eating, etc., and many parents don't worry too much while their children are off on their own.

  9. Genesis 1:28 - KJV
    "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

    In other versions, it says to increase in number. Yet it does not say how many children to have. Also, it says to "replenish the earth". I think that earth has been replenished.
    Also in the Bible, we are instructed to take care of what God gives us. I wonder about some parents are how they are taking care of their children. Some mothers seem to have their nose in everyone's business, save not their own children.
    And the Apostle Paul says it is better to remain single than to marry. Why, because one can then devote more time to the Lord. It follows that fewer children are better, giving that parents more time for the Lord.
    Also, look at a few families with 15 or more children. It seems to me that those children are the wildest, especially the younger ones.
    I heard a story about a large family. One child walked around with a broken arm for two days. The parents were too busy with the other children to notice the child with a broken arm.
    Now did not misunderstood me, there is nothing wrong with have a big family. However those with big families should not push others to have big families.
    Interestingly, those from the church(of which I no longer attend) are asking, "When are you going to have another child?" While friends at work are asking, "Are you done?"
    Having children is very demanding and stressful. I personally can not imagine having a lot of children.

  10. Re; Raising children

    I read sometime ago in a Socio-
    logy book about the comparison
    between various cultures on
    raising children.

    The author cited the Finnish
    culture as one where self-reliant
    children are raised .For instance
    as soon as children become 18
    they are expected to quickly
    either go to college, attend
    technical training or get a job.

    He also noted that the children
    fully expect this and they
    themselves are eager to do just
    that,to get out on their own.

    That was exactly the way I was

    There is always a fine line al-
    lowing your children (age re-
    stricted of course )to venture
    out on their own ,make their own
    mistakes ,solve problems them-
    selves without much or no super-

    As teenagers with my 2 brothers
    (I was 14)we frequently ventured
    out on back-packing trips to
    wilderness lakes miles from the
    nearest road for days at a time.
    Any problems we encountered we
    had to solve ourselves with no
    cell phones or vehicles to rescue
    us. Broken bones, getting lost or
    sick were all possibilities.

    Did our parents act irresponsalby
    or were they developing selfreli-
    ance in us ?

    P.S.What exactly is the official
    doctrine of the L churchs on
    birth contol ? Do the women
    even have choice ?

  11. Hi.. Just to clarify (I'm amom 10:59 AM) I wasn't in any way offended. :-)I was just giving my point of view.

    I like how Troll put it, about there being a fine line... I think there is too.

    What I also see in parents is over protection in the physical side.... don't climb this, don't ride that etc., but hardly any rules with computer games, toys or tv programs. I know that's their choice, but I really wonder what's worse for the kids.

    I do understand why you asked those questions, and really if I was offended, then maybe it's because I need to change??!!


  12. amom, I appreciate your point of view, and agree that overprotection in any area isn't helpful. It was the poster above you that seemed to take offense and to whom I was apologizing. By the way, I also drove a tractor as a teen. My first (it would be my last) trip took me pellmell down a slope and smack into a tree. I was one of the those teens you do NOT want operating heavy machinery.

  13. Should have learned in the Dakotas, No trees and no slopes! :-)

  14. Many Trails Home1/14/2006 08:06:00 AM

    Referring to Anon 7:35 above: I can't help getting my dander up when anyone refers to us ex-OALCers as "pathetic" (this was not the first time). It is always a non-OALCer who does so. Which always tells me that they don't know what they are talking about. Furthermore, they are usually the black-and-white judgmental ones who make these statements. Blessings to all you other posters for ignoring her/them. It's been a big lesson to me to learn how to deal with this stuff - still learning.

    Here is a story from my youth: there was a large family from Minneapolis that lost 3 children in separate, unrelated incidents: One "fell out of a stroller" having previously fallen out of a crib, and died. One infant had a cold, was left in its enclosed crib with a vaporizer going while the family went visiting next door and they came home to find the baby dead. I can't remember what befell the third. (If anyone recognizes this family, they may want to clarify the details but this is as I remember it). At the time, everyone said, "Oh, this poor unfortunate family," etc, etc., invoking God's will.

    Maybe it was God's will, but maybe it was God's intention to scream at this family, in the loudest voice possible, to take better care of its children - no matter who the family and its religious affiliation. Or maybe it was God's intention to tell them they had too many children already and should listen to Him and stop, not blindly follow someone else's instructions. Or maybe it was something else. But there was no way I thought, even then as a young teen, that this was either just "bad luck" or "God's will." MTH

  15. LLLreader: This is a difficult topic. I do know that once a family loses a child, nothing is ever the same again. That pain never goes away. I know that in the OALC there are wonderful women who can manage big families--and there are wonderful women who simply can't do it without serious problems. However, accidents happen in both large and small families. What really bothers me is the the pressure some young women feel to keep having kids, even when they know it's too much for them.

  16. I am an SRK/LLC believer myself and do not have any special sympathies for OALC or its sister organisation here in Finland. However, in this question I strongly feel that I must post my comments.

    Before going to my actual topic, let me begin by telling that through my work, I am meeting a lot of parents with young kids.

    There are and always will be a small number of people who do not seem to care about their kids. I have seen this in Laestadian families as well as in non-Laestadian families, but have not really noticed any correlation to the number of kids the family has got. In my neighbourhood, however, the great majority of families (Laestadian or not) really take their kids safety seriously.

    There is also another identifiable group of people, which I am seeing much more often among the non-Laestadians. It is the Good Parents. They have very carefully planned their life: they have finished their studies, created a nice career and bought a couple of houses before "making" the kids, their family fits nicely into a standard sized car and their life is often very comfortable. They have made the Right Choices (they think). This, however, often seems to create a false feeling of really being in full control of their and their kids wellbeing. (Yes, to some extent that is so, I do not disagree). Unfortunately, this is not the whole truth and a momentary lapse in looking after your kid can cause an accident.

    Based on what you have written in your blog, I would hesitate to place you in this category. I just want to give you some feedback on what thoughts your text gave to me. Sorry to say, but when you state that you have "learned your lesson" but then however blame a group of people for basically not taking care of their kids, I do get the feeling that you might still have the illusion that you can control things which in fact cannot be controlled. By acting wisely, you certainly can reduce the likelihood of accidents, but not more.

    Free2bme! It is so very easy to see problems in families whose life-style is not that of yours. Aren't you, however, doing exactly the same thing you are blaming OALCers for?

  17. Thank you for your feedback and heartfelt concern. Let me assure you I have few delusions of control and am thankful to God for the blessing of each day.

    While I did not explicitly "blame the OALC" for parental neglect, you are correct in making that leap. I do blame that culture for accepting a high degree of neglect of its children -- and in some ways, promoting it. Not just physical neglect, but emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

    I have the right and responsibility to talk about this. I CAME from that culture. I experienced the neglect, and it was painful. I saw the people I love suffer, too . . . not only children but parents.

    If I had come from a family of Hell's Angels, I might be posting about bike helmets. But I didn't. I am talking about "my people."

    And of course accidents can happen to anyone. But some things make them more likely, and we have an obligation to talk about those things, to educate others. I hope you understand.

  18. Talk about these things we did
    and I hope we are all more
    tolerant and wise !

  19. I agree with you especially on the subject of emotional and spiritual neglect. Most of the Laestadian based churches do not promote spiritual growth. They promote keeping up with how everyone else looks and following all the rules.

  20. Anonymous - what group of people doesn't?

    Free2beme - I agree you must have the right to discuss these things. What I was also thinking about when writing my posting yesterday, but didn't write anyway (because I felt it would confuse my yesterday's message), was that as far as my experience counts, I would often associate "child neglect" with lower socioeconomical groups. Still in citation marks because I don't think we're really discussing that here. In families with non-educated parents, smoking is much more common. With more education, people are more likely to teach their kids to wear seat belts etc.

    Could it be that the OALCers might, not because they belong to that church, but because they're mostly not very highly educated, just be a bit behind in the attitude change in these questions?

    How did you compare "others" to OALC, by the way. You certainly aren't comparing your university educated non-Oalc friends with a bunch of people who are earning their living doing physical work, or are you?

  21. An apostolic family I knew only ad one child. Soon, that child was 5 or 6 years old, and fellow congregation members kept asking the family, "Isn't it time to have more children." Without missing a beat, the mother looked the questioner right in the eye and replied, "We've just come back from the doctor and I am in the process of having another miscarriage right now. Any more questions?"

    You can bet that story went around and pretty soon no one dared to ask them again!

    Seriously, I think even among the more liberal factions, there is an ideal "apostolic" family. Dad working, mom at home, at least 3-5 children. Among the more conservative, it seems no less than 6-7 is acceptable. It would be nice if all families could afford one parent at home and to live that lifestyle. I really have not heard of a lot of accidents due to neglect more than other families. In many apostolic families, younger children form a very close bond to the older siblings who take care of them and those bonds last a lifetime. I think those laestadian big families who suffer most are those in which the parents do not have a respectful cooperative relationship. My mother's large family had two well-matched caring parents who set an example for their children and they grew up to be very well-adjusted adults and the family remains close and loving. My father's parents were always fighting and pitting the children against oneanother and the household had an atmosphere of stress and confusion. The results were not so good. No one died in an accident but they all seemed to suffer emotionally.

  22. I'm going to weigh in here about OALC families.
    MTH, I think the family you referred to earlier also had a daughter who died when the father, I believe, ran over her in the driveway. That's how I remember it. I remember how gruesome it sounded when I heard about it.

    I agree with many of you who feel that so many OALC children run around unsupervised. I've seen it at several of the churches: two-year-olds and maybe younger playing in the parking lot along with lots of elementary aged children. One would have to tiptoe one's car out of there and hope you didn't hit someone.
    When this was brought up at one locality, shoulders were shrugged with a "what can we do?" attitude and a suggestion that parents watch their kids.
    I'm not blaming the mothers here. I don't think I could remain sane with ten kids, oldest nine years old. I would think many of them have to turn off some of that caring just to survive. Go on auto-pilot and leave the rest to God. Or husband, if he's the attentive sort. I notice that many are not. God Bless those who are.

  23. I agree that education is a factor in reducing child neglect, in more ways than one. Many anti-poverty experts have concluded that educating girls and women is the most effective way of raising the standard of living not only for their families but for entire communities. Educated women have fewer children and can take better care of those they have. That does not mean that uneducated women are bad.

    It means when they know better, they DO better. As disciples of Jesus, our commission is to actively serve "the least of these" -- all those who lack power in the world.

    (MTH & Sisu, I think the family you are talking about had a child who wandered off and froze to death in a snowbank.)

  24. I am a member of the OALC and come from a rather large family. I remember growing up with little food and no toys. However, we did not lack unconditional love and discipline from Mother and Dad. The spankings, tears, and hugs of my childhood made me who I am today: an honest, hard-working adult with a college degree and wonderful job.
    Although I was an exception to the 'rule' that OALC girls get married young, I would've traded my college years for several children. I want as many children as I can have because my love is not only small enough for one or two children. I want to watch them grow, play together, help each other. Most of all, I want to teach them to love the way Mother and Dad loved us.
    I can see what others see when they look at large families with a frazzled mother. However, that doesn't always mean her children are neglected. What you see and what really goes on may be two different things.
    I do agree, however, that the children running around with no supervision isn't always the best thing. But I also think that children should be allowed to run and play with the other children. Accidents do happen, and not only to the OALC members.
    If you don't like people having a lot of kids, then don't have a lot.
    Free - I don't agree 100% with your education spiel. First, it depends on what type of education you mean. Two, how do you want the children raised.

    I don't mean any offense to anyone. I just want you to know that there are families full of love and happiness.

  25. Dear 1:15pm Anonymous,

    No one is disputing your comment, Dear. What we ARE concerned about is the seeming REQUIREMENT to have large families, whether or not one is emotionally capable of handling a brood.
    I recall hearing the comment at home that God gives as many children as He thinks you can handle and hopefully you will be able to love them all. That didn't instill a lot of confidence in me that I was loved or that I would be able to love my future children!

  26. Sisu-
    I'm anon above you. I think the main reason for the 'requirement' is the fact that we don't practice birth control. I'm sorry you didn't feel loved in your childhood; some of those older generations were harsh with their children. (I'm not saying you're old!)
    My mother always said, "If you don't feel cabable of handling children, don't get married."
    I do believe that God doesn't give any more than one can handle. He is in charge with my life, and knows better than anyone what I need. If I need 15 children, He'll give me 15 children. If I don't need any, I won't get any. I don't believe it's what I want, but it's what He wants. And I have to pray to Him that He will give me the patience and acceptance for whatever He decides.
    I understand your 'concerns', but we don't decide. God does.
    For those with large families, which child do you suppose they should get rid of?

  27. What a completely ridiculous question - "which child do you suppose they should get rid of?"

    How do you explain asking someone such a question?

    If you enjoy leaving all of your decisions and life's direction up to God, go at it. God gave us the ability to reason. How about using it and taking responsibility yourself.

    And by the way, there's plenty of people in that church who practice birth control.

  28. I find it puzzling that people who regularly and eagerly use science to enhance their enjoyment of living, to prevent illness, and to prolong their lives (by eliminating cancer cells, for example) do not consider themselves as tampering with God's plan, while drawing an imaginary circle around a woman's reproductive organs.

    If God (rather than giving us reason and free will) orchestrates each life, surely God also gives us the illnesses we need?

    My dear child, remember this when you pop your multivitamin, schedule your appendectomy or radiation treatment.

    If you cannot see the illogic in this philosophy, then education has sadly failed you.

  29. I think part of the problem is that people are programed to not even pray about that area. (having children) Unless of course you can't have them, or don't have as many as one would wish. All I remember is .... You take what God gives. Easy to see the double standard there Huh.
    mom of 4

  30. Now that we're talking about reproduction, is it true that their in inbreeding within the OALC(1st cousins or 2nd cousins marrying)? It wouldn't shock me since the church is so closed off to everyone else. Any cases of serious genetic diseases like the Amish are dealing with?

  31. Yes' first cousins are marrying. However, I haven't heard of any genetics anomilies yet. According to some scientific response I heard recently, that should not be a problem. However, I personally have a problem with that, ethically speaking.

  32. As a child I witnessed many varied instances of child abuse and neglect. When I was about 5, I saved a drowning toddler who was left unattended lakeside. I still shudder when I think about it. This is only one of many incidents. I believe many tragic deaths or injuries could have been prevented if children had been properly supervised. I completely dismiss the idea of predestination, that is, only God controls our fate. I believe this is an easy way out of personal responsibility and accountability. In other words, it's easier to forgive neglience and/or abuse by justifying it as being "God's Will".
    He did not give us the gift of intelligence and expect us not to use it to its fullest extent. Any person who is blessed wiht children must take on the full responsibility of nurturing the child in mind and spirit and protecting it in body. It is only natural to guard your child from harm and preserve its life to the extent of sacrificing your own. Not every OALC parent is abusive or negligent, but it seems to be a huge issue in the church.
    I pray for these and all children that they may be loved and nurtured so they, too will go on to love and nurture their children. God Bless us all.

  33. I haven't heard of 1st cousins marrying, but I know 2nd and 3rd etc. do. Sometimes double 2nd also. Genetic abnormalities?? Well how would one know for sure? Do doctors always remember to ask if the parents are related? And do all problems from being related to your spouse come out as genetic? Wouldn't it make some things like asthma, allergies etc worse?
    Not sure here, just thinking outloud and wondering.

  34. Their is a direct link between genetic problems and marrying close or distance relatives. Interbreeding can cause serious health problems. Check out this link about the Amish and their genetic issues. I think the OALC could face this problem soon. What do you think? Are OALC'ers generally accepting of these marriages?


  35. WAY TOO much. And that includes the ALC.

    This is sort of "tongue in cheek".... Earlier the conversation was about kids and being vigilant etc. ONe thing I've noticed among society in general, is that when an happens, people lobby for laws to try to prevent the same thing happening again. Soooo.... Is it time to lobby to make 1st and at least 2nd cousin marriages illegal? Or require tests?

    Thinking again...

  36. The Orthodox church prohibits marriages as far as to 4th and 5th cousins (don't remember exactly). I don't know if that's exaggerated, but safe is safe...

  37. What I know about the Orthodox church, it also prohibits marriages of priests totally. Maybe the priests are all cousins?

    God created us men and women but getting married in not OK, I dont understand it at all.

    H. Finn

  38. Huckleberry, you couldn't be more wrong on that one. In the Orthodox church the priests MUST be married. Only in special cases unmarried men can be allowed to be ordained as priests, mainly in monasteries.

    You are probably thinking about the Roman Catholic church. They don't allow their priests to be married. However, the Roman Catholic church doesn't have anything to do with the Orthodox church. They separated themselves officially from the Orthodox church in 1054.

  39. Does being able to marry cousins depend on each state's law? I know when we were signing for our marriage license, first cousins or step family weren't allowed to marry.
    I know a few people married to cousins now, and am hoping that their children stay away from any relation! I personally wouldn't even think of being interested in someone that was any closer than 4th cousins.
    Most OALCers don't approve of cousins marrying. However, they can accept it since it's out of their control. If two adults want to marry, who can stop them? Until there're laws against it, it probably won't stop.

  40. Theo, I was not thinking about Popes group. Maybe my antipathy towards orthodox priest raise from meeting personally this below mentioned guy. (Unmarried, not living in monastry!)

    Maybe its stupid to judge after meeting one priest but so it sometimes happens.

    H. Finn

    Isä Mitro asuu äitinsä kanssa syntymäpappilassaan Kruununhaassa. Hän on sinkku, ja tulee aina olemaan.

    "Jos olisi ollut tarvetta ja halua, niin naimisiin olisi pitänyt mennä ennen papiksi vihkimistä. Sen jälkeen avioliittoon ei voi enää astua. Mutta se on fair play. Tiedetään‚ mikä on systeemi. Samaa peräänkuuluttaisin poliitikoiltakin, sisäsyntyistä eettisyyttä ja suoraselkäisyyttä."

    Selibaatissa eläminen on melkoinen uhraus. Tietääkö isä Mitro, mistä hän jää paitsi?

    "Mitä seksiin tulee niin kokemattomuuskin voi olla kokemus."

    Muilta maallisilta kiusauksilta ei pappikaan välty.

    "Olen nautinnonhaluinen. Ajelen täysin siemauksin vastikään hankitulla viininpunaisella Alfa Romeollani."

  41. Huckleberry, Fr. Mitro is one of the few "special cases". As far as I know there are 4-5 such "special cases" - unmarried Orthodox priests outside of monasteries - in Finland. Since the Apostolic time, the tradition of the church has been to ordain married men to the priesthood. Evidence of this tradition can be found also in the Bible, which says that a priest should be "a man of one wife" (leaving out also the remarried ones). However, the bishops view each case separately and there is no absolute rule.

    Well, everyone has their shortcomings, no doubt Fr. Mitro also has them. He's doing a good job by exposing himself to the mass media and making his church visible, but he's also taking a big risk. The mass media doesn't always deliver the message in the intended way, it's often distorted along the way. And as other priests are not so visible in the media, he's also taking the risk that the outsiders identify the Orthodox church with his personality, like you have done. This might not be such a good thing at all because the Orthodox church is not a single person but rather a consensus of the millions of Orthodox Christians throughout the history of the church.

  42. Theo, comments/questions...

    First; Is it true what was written Mitro to say: "You cant get married after been ordained as priest". If this is true, why?

    Second: My image of him in firsthand comes of meeting him personally maybe a year ago, media has nothing to do in that.

    Third: I think exactly same with you that a priest (also preachers) should be "a man of one wife".

    Fourth: Why Mr Mitro is called father? For me he is not father, not even stepfather. (Somebody might call him dirty old man) I have only two fathers: my own daddy and the God in heaven. Have you heard about M. Luthers writings about congregation-mother and God-father in heaven? In this case I feel me 100% lutheran.

    Sorry if this sounds hard, but I feel sad for these things happening. You are much more clever than me, so dont say that its media that makes Mitro look like he looks.

    H. Finn

  43. Everyone should care more about their own shortcomings than they do about other people's shortcomings, so I prefer not to discuss Fr. Mitro's personal characteristics any further.

    Priests are called fathers because they are seen as spiritual fathers, sort of "educators". By the way, Laestadians and other Lutherans also talk about "rippi-isä".

    Seeing God as the Father in heaven and the Church as the Mother on earth is nothing new, the idea doesn't originate from Luther. It's much older than that and it is shared also by the Orthodox church. I think one of the early church fathers was the first one to use that expression, but I can't remember which one.

    It is true that the Orthodox priests can't get married after their ordination, as the articla about Fr. Mitro says. To understand the reason why it is so it is necessary to take a look at the historical background. For the first, the main idea is that the priest should be a man of one woman -> married once. But the monasteries also need priests, and they of course can't be married. So, the thing is that all the unmarried priests are sort of seen as monks, which means that they can't get married. However, neither this is an absolute rule, I know at least one case in which a former monk was given back the right to function as a priest after his marriage.

    Now you are maybe wondering why the widowed priests can't get married. Well, the Orthodox church, in general, sees one marriage as an ideal for all Christians. Second marriages are tolerated only as a concession to human weakness. And priests being examples to other people, they should act accordingly and remain unmarried if their spouse dies. Traditionally widowed priests often went to monasteries, but that's not so common any more.

  44. Huckleberry, I forgot something very important concerning the priests.

    The priests act also as spiritual fathers for women, hear their confessions etc., and that's why it is seen as important that the priests can't be considered to be in the "marriage market" any more. It would interfere with their ministry as priests. So, they have to have taken either matrimonial vows (=married) or monastic vows (=celibate).