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

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Good Grief

A reader suggested this topic and I am happy to oblige.

Do tight-knit groups (such as the OALC) handle grief better than the society at large?

What is good grieving? Is it "getting on with life" or "talk therapy"?


  1. Why include the second sentence? Why spend so much time on one group of people? Why oversimplify and generalize a particular group? Is this your "talk therapy"?

  2. I agree with the previous author -

    “Why include the second sentence? Why spend so much time on one group of people? Why oversimplify and generalize a particular group? Is this your "talk therapy"?”

    Stereotypes, scapegoats, prejudices, and discrimination should be condemned, such behavior is inappropriate in a modern, pluralistic society.

  3. Whoa, nelly. I included the second sentence as a conversation-starter. I purposely did not make a value judgment between "getting on with life" and "talk therapy" (in fact, I think both are valuable. Post 9/11 studies have suggested that "getting on with life" is better for some folks than grief therapy.)

    I also think "tight-knit groups" have a real advantage in helping its members grieve. Regular readers of this blog will recall that the amazing social bond is something many of us "exers" miss about our former communities.

    As for why I "spend so much time on one group of people," it is because they are my people and this is my life, my blog, and yes, my talk therapy. You are welcome to ignore all of it, of course.

    But if you are seeking to understand, please consider that if I'd been born into a Muslim community that followed Sharia, this blog would concern such things as the honor killings of women. If I'd been born into a Christian Scientist family, it might focus on the denial of medical care to sick children. If I was an ex-Mormon, it might discuss polygamy, or coffee.

    Our modern, pluralistic society does not require us to abandon our ethics, but to strive toward a common, global ethos based on compassion and justice. This cannot be done in silence.

    Now, a question for my critics. What are YOU here for?

  4. Free, I understand your focus. But it's disturbing when you don't present the facts truthfully. Case in point - Was Laestadius a racist, among other charges. Your focus so often shows a woeful lack on information, which seems to be fine with you, if it suits your predetermined beliefs. And, just suggesting it accomplishes your mission.. regardless of possible factual information that may come forth which shows otherwise. Not that I think anything will change, but poor ole' LLL doesn't quite deserve to be the whipping boy for all that's gone wrong with these churches since he died 150 years ago. THAT's why I'm here from time to time, because MY church began with LLL as well.

    Good Grief!


  5. I don't think tight-knit groups handle grief 'better' than anyone else. Each person handles grief their own way. Some prefer hordes of people surrounding them, some prefer to be alone. It doesn't matter what 'group' you belong to, it's what your personal preference is. Personally, I am thankful for the flock of Christians that surround me and comfort me in my times of grief. But I also need my alone time to think.
    For the most part, I think everyone, OALC or not, needs both "getting on with life" and "talk therapy". Everyone needs someone to love them and care about them, but they are also the only ones that can get on with their own lives.

  6. Anon, my apologies for being tardy with the source for the racism question. In his pastoral thesis Crapula mundi (1843), LLL's twelfth thesis was: "A Lapp is a man of better quality than a new settler or a Non-Lapp." You can read this yourself, as I've already mentioned, in the preface to "Fragments of Mythology."

  7. I’m here to ring a bell –

    "We are called to work with others for justice, freedom and peace,
    with no qualifiers or foreclosures on others * as Christians we begin with the belief in the integrity and value of all human life."

    Your willingness (or lack of) to examine your own possible biases is an important step in understanding the roots of stereotypes and prejudice in our society.

    Categories give order to life, and every day, we group other people into categories based on social and other characteristics. This is the foundation of stereotypes, prejudice and, ultimately, discrimination.

    Try to remember that Religious diversity is God's plan.

    We are free to love - “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16).

  8. "Religious diversity is God's plan" .....how modern, how lovely.

  9. Boy, Free to Be, you are really taking a beating here.

    I don't always agree with your beliefs and statements, but I'm not here to be among people who only believe exactly like I do!

    I love that you have this blog; I love that former LLL members can post to this site about our experiences - there aren't many other places for us to heal.

    Keep up the good work! (And proudly state your beliefs and opinions - I love the back and forth)

    God's Peace to all


  10. Wow – I found this on another thread from last week posting (see below). I think this person is giving analysis of current state of this site. The wonder of the Internet has been tarnished by hundreds of Web sites that spew negative beliefs about a particular group. Using the Net, you can now reach into the room of any child who has a home computer. These sites are often deceptive. Many attempt to disguise their message under a veneer of respectability. They use manipulation of facts to make their ideas sound almost reasonable.

    _________ start of post ________________________________________

    “This site is intended to stimulate dialogue, offer support and provide resources for further study of Laestadianism, the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church…"

    In the pure form:
    “Stimulate dialogue”: To stimulate conversation between two or more people.

    “offer support”: Give aid or encouragement to a person or cause.

    “further study of Laestadianism, the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church, and related sects”: The pursuit of knowledge, as by reading, observation, or research?

    In the current form:
    Stimulate dialogue”: To stimulate conversation between two or more people who have a preconceived or oversimplified generalization usually involving negative beliefs about a particular group.

    “offer support”: Give aid or encouragement to a person or cause, only to the values of one's own group.

    “further study of Laestadianism, the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church, and related sects”: The pursuit of knowledge, as by reading, observation, or research by using preferences or an inclinations based on stereotypes, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment

    full circle
    Back to one's starting point
    ______________________ end of post ___________________________________________

  11. Anonymous (the Michigan one):

    1. With all due respect, you are not a careful reader if you think there is just one point of view represented on this site, or the "values of one group" (what would that group be?).

    2. I tell the truth as a I see it. I allow others to give their 2 cents, and if you find any of it offensive, you are under no obligation to read this blog. Please provide something NEW and SPECIFIC in your posts, okay?

  12. I should have added: the above also applies to the Anonymous from Oregon.

  13. Here’s something new:
    I’m professor (of psychology) at a respected university. My students have studied this site for almost one semester, they (not me) just want to say:

    Hate in America is a dreadful, daily constant. The dragging death of a black man in Jasper, Texas; the crucifixion of a gay man in Laramie, Wyo.; and post-9.11 hate crimes against hundreds of Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and Sikhs are not "isolated incidents." They are eruptions of a nation's intolerance.


    Every hour
    someone commits a hate crime.

    Every day
    at least eight blacks, three whites, three gays, three Jews and one Latino become hate crime victims.

    Every week
    a cross is burned.

    Just because you allow posting of multiple opinions doesn’t signify that YOU are tolerant of these people’s culture. I would suggest at least one university course in diversity (at PSU) should help with this dilemma.

    Best regards,
    The Professor

  14. Dear "professor" (puhleez). This is not a hate site. Your "students'" attempt to equate its "intolerance" of Laestadians with crimes against minorities and gays is not only ludicrous, it is contemptible.

    Please let us know the name of your "respected university," so I can compliment its regents on your fine judgment and perspective.

    As for diversity training, perhaps you meant SPU. Or PLU. Or UPS? Surely as a Seattlite you know our universities, and PSU ain't one of them. In any case, I have had plenty of diversity training. None of it required a lobotomy.

  15. Many Trails Home5/05/2006 04:09:00 PM

    Free, it seems that things have gotten really wierd here lately. I wonder how you're taking it. I reviewed the posts above, and it seems to me that Anons 9:45, 9:55, 12:34 (sarcastic), and especially 2:21 (all the same person?) is/are bent on undermining this site with their negativity, accusing us of negativity! The intention feels really divisive, almost evil even, if you ask me. I sort of wish they'd go away! (I'll probably take heat for this, but at least you can't say I'm hiding behind some stupid platitudes). MTH

  16. Many Trails Home5/05/2006 04:13:00 PM

    To the "Professor": Send your students down to Vancouver just one Sunday to attend the OALC services. You/they have no idea. MTH

  17. Some are saying we should refrain from describing our negative experiences with Laestadian cultures. They say it's wrong to point out cultural traits that harm many. This concept is relativism run amok. It's ridiculous to say it's wrong in all circumstances to point out the effects of certain features prevalent in a culture. Are you going to say it's wrong to condemn sati?

    It's only to be expected that people who've left the Laestadian culture will have many grievances against it. Why do you think they left? Don't cast us in the role of the cultural imperialists condemning the culture of the simple folk. That simple culture was OUR culture. We lived it and we know it. We didn't choose it--it was forced on us from birth. How much PC cultural sensitivity was shown to us when we were condemned for choosing our own culture? How much PC sensitivity was shown to the girl condemned for wearing a fringed dress? How much PC sensitivity was shown to the young man mocked for choosing to pursue higher education? How much PC sensitivity was shown to the young woman abandoned and shunned by her family? Have a little respect for our chosen culture as EX-Laestadians.

    My guess is the people making comments are either current Laestadians lashing out because they feel threatened or outsiders who have little context to understand what we're talking about. Neither voice contributes to constructive dialog for a community of EX-Laestadians.

  18. I guess current Laestadians. But whatever the motive, I hope that future critics will stick to facts (like the CIA agent who quoted Rumsfeld's words back to him regarding the certainty of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) instead of bellowing generalities (like the protestors escorted from the room).

    That said, I'll return to the topic.

    Once when I was in the throes of grief, my friend Annie came over with an apple tree -- a thin sapling -- to plant in our back yard. Now it is a full-grown tree, and every spring when it blooms, I am reminded of her kindness, of the wheel of life and death, of the goodness of creation.

    When Martin Luther was asked what he would do if the world was to end tomorrow, he said "I'd plant a tree." That may be apocryhpal, but I like it.

  19. If you don't want to let this thread go too off topic, feel free to delete this.

    I just wanted to say I found it interesting that the prof's students just happened to compose their message so similar to what the SPLC came up with. Your students channeled it word-for word. Check it out: http://www.tolerance.org/10_ways/index.html

    Plagiarizism is stealing, and stealing is sin.

  20. He he. Perhaps apocryphal (correct spelling this time) students cannot be held responsible.

  21. An apple is an apple.
    An orange is an orange.
    A rock is a rock.
    If I am biased and bigoted for seeing, acknowleding, and discussing what is, then so be it.
    I appreciate this community of ex-LLLs because it helps when you can reach out to someone who somewhat understands your walk. Thank you for being here, my cyberspace friends.

  22. Research Paranoid Personality Disorder.

    stu 1

  23. MTH, I'm 12:51 and that's my only post here.

    Ilmarinen - it's not wrong to speak about experiences, not at all.

    Free - thanks for the source, I'll check it out. There is a reason why I question the statement about LLL and racism, so I'll be sure to follow up on it, just for myself.

    I can just imagine what you all must think I am - the stereotypical Laestadian. Although my religious beliefs are traditional and quite conservative, the way I live my life is not at all stereotypical of LLL peeps, at least I don't think so. (My favorite CD at the moment? Norah Jones. Also like Greg Brown, Emmylou Harris, classical, jazz and hymns. Movies? Sense and Sensibility (anything Jane Austen), along with my Rodgers and Hammerstein collection. Authors? CS Lewis, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Fulton Sheen, Johann Arndt, Johann Gerhard, Anne Tyler, John Grisham, and too many more to mention. That's why I think a dialogue would be so interesting, but I don't think this site is the place that will happen.


  24. Here – I’ll help. Do you know anyone like this?

    "What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?"

    "Quick Summary:
    Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by a
    distrust of others and a constant suspicion that people
    around you have sinister motives. People with this disorder
    tend to have excessive trust in their own knowledge and abilities
    and usually avoid close relationships. They search for hidden
    meanings in everything and read hostile intentions into the
    actions of others. They are quick to challenge the loyalties of
    friends and loved ones and often appear cold and distant. They
    usually shift blame to other people and tend to carry long grudges."

    "Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder:
    - Unwillingness to forgive perceived insults
    - Excessive sensitivity to setbacks
    - Distrustfulness and excessive self-reliance
    - Projection of blame onto others
    - Consumed by anticipation of betrayal
    - Combative and tenacious adherence to personal rights
    - Relentlessly suspicious"


    Best regards,
    The Professor

  25. LOL . . . Know anyone like this?

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder: characterized by self-centeredness. Like histrionic disorder, people with this disorder seek attention and praise. They exaggerate their achievements, expecting others to recongize them as being superior . . . They are generally uninterested in the feelings of others and may take advantage of them.

    Requires excessive praise and admiration
    Takes advantage of others
    Grandiose sense of self-importance
    Lack of empathy
    Lying, to self and others

    Obsessed with fantasies of fame, power, or beauty

    Additional Information:
    Narcissism is most often found in men and is often diagnosed with other mental disorders.

    Source: http://www.4degreez.com/disorder/narcissistic.html

  26. LLLreader: So simple--this site is for those of us who left the OALC and provides us with a place to share our common experience. Freeda has given us an unexpected, and appreciated, platform--for which I am grateful. Got a little clarity in my thinking the other day. I attended the funeral of a much beloved relative not long ago, sharing the grief with my wonderful cousins. I spoke with several kind women who remembered my mother, reminisced with lots of folks, and felt so at home with those people who look like me, sound like me, and show me where I came from. One cousin mentioned a physical characteristic our family has, and as I looked around I saw that she was right. I felt a sort of unease when left. I was at another funeral yesterday at a different church, where the minister was a relative of the deceased. He too talked about a physical family characteristic. He went on to talk about the role their church has played in the lives of the generations of the family. The weddings, baptisms, etc. It dawned on me (finally) what my unease about the OALC still is after all these years. It's the LOSS!!! I don't have a family church. I don't have the opportunity of worshiping together with my large extended family. I can't bring my Grandchildren to Sunday School at the church where my Grandpa preached. I know I don't have to explain it more then that---when we leave, we give up a lot. God leads us to where we are supposed to be, and many of us join another church family---but it's not with people who remember Grandma's pulla.

  27. Thank you, LLL Reader, for that eloquent post. Yesterday I spoke with a non-practicing Jewish friend who said the same thing about her family's synagogue. This community, as ethereal as it is, helps me understand and cope with that loss. I don't expect others to understand, and while I encourage debate, I'm not inclined to provide a forum for nastiness or tedium. To that end, my delete key is fired up and ready.

  28. Just have a couple comments.... First, I am a current member of an Apostolic church. I get REALLY frustrated with people who don't think that our church has any problems, and never needs to be examined. Isn't the church made up of people? People who aren't perfect, who make mistakes, who will examine themselves, so why not the church of which they help make up?? Secondly, I have found that how people were raised, depended a lot on where one lived and which congregation they attended. Don't know if that is the same for the OALC or not. But if some of the anon(s) on here doubt what is being written, ask yourself this "why would they make it up?"
    As far as racism... YES it's there. My own mother made the comment that she wouldn't want a "black" to be her dentist!!! She had never met him, just saw his add in the paper, so it was strictly racist.
    I find it ironic, that those like her would be just as prejudiced against Native Americans, and isn't that what the Sami people are, only in Finland? Correct me if I'm wrong here.

  29. Hi Anotheranon..

    I'm also a member of ALC (raised more liberally no doubt) but by the grace of God have been able to move past those hangups and false traditions and rules over my lifetime.. Grace is in place and fear is gone. I DO see problems within the church, very definitely.. but they don't apply to me any longer. I'm comfortable in my own skin, and I can be an agent of change within my own sphere.

    As far as bringing up racism, you've touched on an important point.. it was the Sami's - the Lapp people - who were victimized by racism by the Norwegians, Swedes, and most likely the Finns also. LLL was their ally. Today he might even be considered a voice for the voiceless. That's my understanding. But yes, many of our people are racist, and I don't think it's because they are Apostolics, it's a cultural thing, just as it is in so much of white America, whether urban, suburban or rural. These attitudes are everywhere, but God calls us to acknowledge that racism is evil. We've taught our own children that all God's people are equal (and being Finnish Aps also puts us in low status in certain parts of the country also!).. my adult children have a variety of races among their dearest friends, and I'm so proud of them.

    All I really know is that change begins with you and with me.

    Anon (also known as Norah Jones :-)

  30. Many Trails Home5/07/2006 01:43:00 PM

    Kudos, LOL. Nuff said. It is too bad that "Comment Moderation" is now required, "Bad Apples" having become a major intrusion.
    Ilmarinen, your comments highly appreciated. Thoughtful, insightful, wise.
    Anon 12:51: I am still puzzled that you feel that "dialogue" is not possible here. What in heaven's name do you call this? And if you want Anon-style dialogue, why don't you start one? What would you say? How would you expect me to respond? Or is "dialogue" something that only you can define and authorize but plan to keep your special secret? Come on, girl (or guy), speak up! MTH

  31. Exmplsllc, llreader, ilmarinen, MTH and the current Ap members who have posted above, thank you for realizing what this site is all about, for posting such interesting comments, and for keeping this dialogue civilized. I'm sorry that "The Professor" has necessitated comment moderation (at least for the time being). Continue to post and let me know if you want a new topic.

    About the race topic, it's a given that a group will change as members marry outside their own race. In our own family, however, the child who married outside the race also left the church, and the resulting biracial children and grandchildren feel no connection to the OALC or their Finnish/Swedish heritage.

    Does anyone know of a Lastadian church with minority members?

  32. There are many Federation churches with people from a diversity of backgrounds, such as the Lake Worth Florida Congregation.

    The Federation also has many missionary activities going on that involve more than just Finns, Swedes, and Norwegians.

  33. Norah said...

    I must simply say Thank You for the above posts. MTH, I think this is really what I was trying to say all along.. that it's possible to remain in LLL based churches but have three dimensional lives.. not bound by ossified beliefs, as I think you described it. No secrets here, just struggling to find a way to express it!! What would I say and how would I expect you to respond? We may come at these issues from different perspectives and backgrounds, but there is still much in common, much to discuss, and many of the same concerns.

    Free.. thanks to you also. Yes, there are several churches with minority members.. through adoption, through extensive mission work outside of the US, and also through outreach to the community. It's sad that the biracial children you mentioned don't feel connected to their Finnish/Swedish heritage..

    Hope to write more at another time. Many blessings..

  34. Hi Freeda. Just wondering if the previous thread is gone for "comment moderation"?

  35. Not sure what you're getting at. Do you want it back? If so, which part?

  36. Norah said: Oh! Probably by marriage also, although I'm not sure if they still attend ALC or not, but I know biracial marriages have been performed by ALC pastors.

  37. Hi Free-- I'm the anon at 6:28AM above-- I hadn't yet read your most recent post to know that you'd deleted the whole thread re: the boys who'd drowned.
    I understand your reasoning and think it was a loving thing to do, but I still think the points that were raised were very important...I sure hope we can discuss them here sometime when someone hasn't so recently experienced such a horrible tragedy. It's such a pertinent concern...
    God's blessings to all.

  38. in reply to this question "Do tight-knit groups (such as the OALC) handle grief better than the society at large?" i'd say yes, at least from my own experiences in my church..i've always been comforted by the fact that the deceased have earned eternal life in heaven