"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: My Summer Vacation (Long Version)

Monday, July 31, 2006

My Summer Vacation (Long Version)

It's our first day back and I'm staying up w-a-y too late, so pardon any incoherence or flubs. Our vacation last week was a fine one, alternating between nature and culture, family and friends, rest and activity. On Monday we drove south to Astoria, set up base (a KOA cabin), and ventured the following morning south on Highway 101. Terribly scenic. We stopped in the charming seaside town of Manzanita to enjoy the beach and build sand castles in the marine breezes. We toured the Tillamook factory and watched thick orange blocks being diced into bricks and weighed and wrapped and conveyed in a mesmerizing display of machinery. Further south, we visited my vacationing sisters, dined on homemade shrimp pizza (surprisingly good) and Betty Crocker birthday cake (ditto), then rewound our route on the dark, empty highway, listening to Leo Kottke's 12-string virtuoso while the children pointed out constellations. Actually, just one constellation. Over and over.

The next day, I attended R. Cecil's lecture, arriving a little late (the signage at FinnFest left much to the imagination). Cecil was a warm, engaging personality, eager to share her considerable knowledge of the Saami with her rapt audience. She shared photographs, artifacts, and some recorded yoiking. She described the political history of the Saami and their "disappearance" at U.S. customs, where their country of taxation, rather than their nationality, was recorded.

For Americans wondering if they have Saami ancestry, Cecil provided a list of indicators. Topping it: a family history of Laestadianism.

Given the enormous cultural losses of the Saami, Cecil suggests that part of the appeal of Laestadianism was that it helped them recover a semblance of that prior, simpler life of harmony with each other and nature. This was a novel concept to me. I've read that Laestadius is credited with saving the Saami from alcoholism, and could imagine his legalism as a kind of prophylactic against illness, poverty, neglect, etcetera, but had not considered that his rejection of the state church offered his adherents a return to identity. Perhaps this is a stretch, but could not the new communities of Saami converts be a return to the cooperative siida of their parents and grandparents? Could LLL's legacy of exclusivism be seen in its most positive light: a desire to hold on to the siida?

Cecil also has an idea about the Saami apropos of our depression discussion. Those who are familiar with the history of Holocaust survivors, Native Americans, Hmong hill people (the "sleeping sickness"), and other displaced peoples will recognize the term: intergenerational trauma. She asserts that the Saami continue to suffer from it, having lost their land, livelihood, religion, communities, language, and sense of self.

On hearing this, my thoughts cascaded thusly: Laestadius, depressed himself, forms a sect imbued with negativity, which is taken up by the depressed Saami, for whom it validates a sorrow-full life while also providing the balm of community or "like-mindedness." Peasant farmers sign on for similar reasons. It spreads, attracting in rural America the poorest Finns, for whom it validates a simple life and offers a reward for following its ascetic rules: cooperative community.

Case in point. Two of my Finnish immigrant ancestors apparently had no interest in the church until desparate financial need required that they reach out to Laestadian in-laws for help. Was "repentance" a condition of that help? I would guess so. And it must have seemed a good bargain.

I know of a more recent case in which a Laestadian girl who had left the church as a teen returned, playing the prodigal daughter long enough to get much-needed help in raising her children (she was a single mother) before leaving for good. She is not embarrassed about the bargain she made; it was a matter of survival.

Well, moving on. In addition to Cecil's lecture, I saw the Suomalainen Sisters, a delightful comedic trio in huivis and aprons and luscious UP accents. "One rutabaga shy of a pasty" is one catchy line. "We don't dance with poikas with black shiny shoes" is one of their ditties. Yukking it up afterward, I promised to send them some inoffensive LLL material (not an oxymoron, I hope). Certainly something could be made of hidden radios and TVs? Or smoking outside church?

While wandering around looking for nonexistent signage, I ran into two Gackle sisters I'd met years ago at a family wedding, and decided to join them for a kantele concert. They are in their 70's and very classy ladies, but that didn't keep us from belting Edelweiss and improvising silly lyrics. It was great fun. I think a certain kind of Finn shows up at these cultural events, and it isn't the shy ones. The kantele player, Wilho Saari, was skillful, even though he played a lot of corny unFinnish tunes. His wife quoted from the Kalevela something along the lines of "if the kantele doesn't fill you with joy or put you to sleep, throw it in the fire." Well, there is a third alternative, "make you laugh til you weep," but that could be due to Rogers and Hammerstein.

Thursday afternoon, we went to Fort Stevens to see the shipwreck and I captured this family in a huddle. They were looking at a sea creature or praying, or perhaps both. I half-expected them to greet me, as the girls had long hair and an air of LLL.

Earlier that day, our kids had run in from the playground shouting "our cousins are here!" and sure enough, we discovered OALC relatives camping at the same KOA. The boys, who see each other once a year maximum, bonded instantly and ran all over the campground in high spirits, having a grand time. The girls hung back and watched quietly, already little ladies. (I gave them some M&M's and they disappeared and brought back a bag of hamburger meat and buns. What is potlatch protocol, I wondered. A blanket next? I settled on more M&M's and that seemed to go over well).

I was impressed when our son checked to make sure it was okay to show his cousin a home video on my laptop "because, you know, he can't watch tv?" I assured him that it was not the same as tv, and he looked at me like I was splitting hairs, and I suppose I was. They cackled maniacally while watching, over and over, the kids' "science experiment" with Diet Coke and Menthos, an explosive combo.

That night we went to see "My Only May Amelia" at the River Theater under the lovely Astoria Bridge. We'd just finished the book and the characters were still fresh in our minds, and the kids were rather disappointed that their stage versions did not match up, that there were no dogs or pigs on stage, no log dams, boats, or Naselle River. There was some splitting of kindling, however, and when our son was asked by an actor for his favorite moment, after the show, he said "the axing." He had to repeat himself a few times before it sunk in. I felt kind of sorry for the actor, who had to memorize all that dialogue.

On Friday the whole whizbang moved to Naselle's high school, where we had the guilty pleasure of taking a free, open-sided trolley to and from the parking lot immediately across the street. A matter of a few hundred feet! Methinks we Finns could use a bit less trolley and a lot more walking, if you know what I mean. They otter spend that trolley money on signage next year. We did manage to find the room in which Jennifer Holm, the author of May Amelia, was holding court. She had some Finn-Am aunties with her to help answer questions about the old days and her aunt's journal, on which her novel was based. Per usual, I asked a lot of questions, and Ms. Holm graciously answered all of them, even my thickheaded inquiry about the probability of a farm girl having enough free time to have all those adventures. Ms. Holm said something to the effect that "chores are not very interesting to write about." Oh, yeah, fiction. You'd never know I studied it in college!

Technology was iffy at Finnfest but I lucked out with my cell phone and succeeded in meeting "Anonymous from Minnesota," as she asked to be called on the blog. She is a kind, funny and thoughtful "former" who helped me understand the differences between the OALC and the Federation, and gave me some good pointers on LLL resources on the web, as well as on the hoof, as it were. She pointed out a tall man in the Tori as the professor who had translated LLL's "Fragments" (from Swedish to English), and encouraged me to chat him up.

Which of course I did. Börje Vähämäki has some ideas about Laestadius' psychologically subverted affection for Lapp Mary that would not fly in the OALC (if indeed it could be understood but which to my admittedly inexpert ear ring authentic. Rereading the history around his conversion event is recommended. I'll post it here soon.

I asked the professor how one could reconcile LLL's obvious intelligence with his superstitions (crows, earthquakes, etc.) and got the rather unsatisfactory reply that any book of mythology, whether the Kalevela or the Bible, must be understood symbolically, "as poetry." When I suggested that LLL manipulated (artfully or deviously, you pick) Saami and Christian mythology in his postilla, he wholeheartedly agreed. One cannot underestimate the intelligence of LLL. I haven't verified this yet, but Vähämäki seemed to say that LLL considered himself to be THE apostolic successor to Luther. I had thought this was his adherents' aggrandizement, not his own! Can anyone enlighten me? (If a preacher were to claim such today, would he be called delusional, or a narcissist?)

On our way back from Finnfest, we managed to sneak in lunch with my parents (very pleasant) and an overnight visit to our church's campout at Millersylvania State Park, where we pitched a tent, gathered around the campfire for songs and s'mores, played some mean Scrabble and Uno, washed a ton of dishes, held babies, watched a skit, and slept like logs. After a quiet morning watching sunbeams through the stately firs, we had "church" around the campfire, and a great sense of peace prevailed. As we sang our last hymn, "Shine, Jesus, Shine," there was a sudden shower of rain. That laughter, as we ran around gathering hymnals and kids and taking shelter, felt so right. The siida, the sangha, the body -- what is it but soul food.

That evening, when we returned to the city and bought a newspaper and scanned the headlines with dismay, I was glad we had "come away to a quiet place" and I look forward to going again. Even if it's just to bed. Like right now.


  1. NICE BLOG!!!!


  2. In 1825 Laestadius was ordained as a minister in the Lutheran Church in Härnösand. At first he was appointed as the minister of the nomadic Sami in Piteå Lappland. For about a year he traveled around with them, until he was appointed as the vicar of Karesuando, the northernmost parish in Sweden, where ¾ of the population were Sami, in 1826. In 1827 Laestadius married Brita Kajsa Alstadius who had Sami ancestors in several generations. At first Lestadius did not take his ministry with the same seriousness as later on. Then, in 1832, he fell severely ill; after a year he also lost his three year old son who had been very dear to him. In 1842 he again fell ill and was afraid of dying. Fear of death made him think about the ‘sins’ of his youth; he now thought that he had lead a ‘godless’ life, although he had been admired by many as a truly religious man. This mental turmoil is reflected in Laestadius’ 19 page pastoral thesis Crapula mundi which he defended in 1843. A year later, he met a young Sami woman, Milla Clements’ Daughter, who has come to be known as ‘Mary (Maria) of Lappland,’ who ‘opened her whole heart’ to Laestadius in a conversation and thus brought him into a ‘conversion.’ Laestadius started to preach with new vigor against sinful life, drinking and worldliness, calling things by what he took to be their right names. His style is folksy and he certainly knew how to use irony. In 1845 the first so-called ‘signs of grace’ appeared. Laestadius describes how he, in the early spring, saw that some of his Sami listeners were touched by his sermons and showed signs of ‘waking up’. They lamented that their hearts had been cold and that their minds now were restless. On December the 5th, a certain Sami woman then suddenly felt the amazing grace so vividly that she started to jump high up in the air. According to Laestadius, this was accompanied by nothing more or less than an earthquake that lasted for a few seconds. In due course many others obtained similar experiences, which were subsequently referred to as ‘being moved’ A few descriptions of the revelations seen by his parishioners in a liikutus have been published in Finnish by Laestadius.

  3. Dear Free,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your tales from thr trip. What fun! (But what on earth are you doing up at 3 am??)
    I had assumed, as a teen sitting through all those Laestadian Sermons, that he thought he was the Second Coming of John the Baptist (the Voice Crying in the Wilderness and all) paving the way for the Second Coming of Christ. What's your feeling on this?

    Cvow, are you the one who mentioned that you wouldn't read Meyers? Were you meaning Robin Meyers, the one I just read? I like him because one of his favorite themes is we should be followers of Jesus rather than just worshippers of Christ. That whole WWJD thing.

  4. Yes, Sisu, I was the one -- as I was making the point that I don't read things from either extreme because I prefer unbiased views. Since you had recommended it, I assumed it was some of that far left fringy kind of stuff! I'm teasing! :-)

    The discussion about Laestadius is really interesting. The thing that used to amaze me was the fact that we listened to the same canned set of sermons year after year -- I even was the reader for several years -- and I could never recall having hearing them before (with the possible exception of the Palm Sunday one that was used for communion Sunday each month). I guess that is an indication of how much I was paying attention, even when I was mouthing the words myself! Thinking back, I was probably mentally replaying a round of golf in my head while reading the sermon because I have always liked that multi-tasking thing. I imagine that's why I was on the slippery slope so often.. Has anyone else experienced the same thing -- or did you think to yourself when the Laestadius sermon started "Oh boy! This is one of my favorite sermons! It is so clear and explains the faith so well!"

    I think back on those old sermons and then the ones that followed from the preachers. I seem to recall lots of references to things like two edged swords, and knowing what the 6th devil was doing but not the 7th then surely the 7th would get you -- and I always thought I didn't know even one unless you counted...no let's not go there..., and all sorts of allegorical claptrap that made no more sense to me then than it does now. I do remember hearing about 856 sermons on the Beatitudes -- which while being a fine topic for a sermon, also seemed to be the only thing many of the preachers were confident enough to talk about. I recall preachers claiming that they didn't know what they would speak about on Sunday and wherever the good Lord guided them when they opened the bible was where they'd start. I couldn't figure out why the Lord thought we needed to hear about the Beatitudes Sunday after Sunday...

    Funny, I remember other things with great clarity like if Walfred Simonson was preaching, make sure you sit behind a large person so he couldn't see you, because he would ask unanswerable questions of the congregants -- usually just when you were thinking of other things. I remember the pain of being bilingual and getting a double dose of the evangelization whenever Bill Homola or one of the other old preachers would be speaking in Finnish. I recall William Ericsson starting one evening in Gackle at 7:15 and stopping after 11 and thinking I didn't even have a backside anymore because it had gone numb at about 9 on those hard benches. If that wasn't penance I don't know what was.

    I guess I kinda went off on a bunny trail again, huh?

  5. Many Trails Home8/01/2006 12:30:00 PM

    What a great post, Free. Wish I coulda been there. One Q: what is the translation of siida? I can guess from the context but never heard the term.
    RE LLL: my best-yet resource on the Saami, a 2003 Saami calendar from Duluth, credits LLL with helping to "save" Saami culture (albeit in an altered form) by encouraging resistance to incorporation into the surrounding culture in addition to eschewing alcohol. They also mention the experience of "ecstatic trances" in the congregation at that time, which suggests that all was not grim and sorrowful!

    Frankly, cvow, I love it when you go "off the bunny trail." Puts me in mind of old times. I for one have often wondered (after I actually had read the Bible myself) why the good Lord sent the preachers Sunday after Sunday to the same 3 passages. Maybe the bindings had cracked there! For many of us, one result of sitting there every Sunday bored to death, hearing barely a word, was the development of an overactive imagination. Maybe that's what they mean by an "interior life."
    Thanks for all the LLL info, you guys. MTH

  6. Free... Thanks for the info and I am interested in the cultural aspects of LLL and why his brand of the faith succeeded with the Saami. I, like you, have been aware of the connection to alcohol as this is similar to the "Black Muslim" preaching today in our inner cities. Make the men responsible for their families. Your reference to the "being moved" fits in nicely with my experience. I have subsequently learned that the OALC could be described as a religion of the more mystical sort.

    Now to cvow... I also have had the fortune to do a bit of Sunday reading and I must confess, I recall virtually nothing about the sermons. As a listener I would devise all manner of time consuming fantasies. I would roughly gauge the readers speed by noticing the page turning and then try to extrapolate from there the end time. For me it was all about the finish. I also would consider the wonderful possibility of a stray bullet from a nearby hunter hitting the top window, lodging itself in the ceiling and having the church empty out in a panic. Of course nobody would get hurt and the whole affair would mercifully be over. If brevity is the soul of wit then long sermons must be decidedly free of their subject matter.

  7. I found this post from Theoforos in the archives and thought it was appropriate to repost here:

    The European OALC branch teaches that there is a line of believers going all the way down to the apostles. There are some Christian movements in the past that are generally recognized as having been "living faith" by the European OALC branch: the Waldensians in early middle ages (about 1000 AD I think), the Hussites in later middle ages (14th or 15th century) and the Herrnhutians in the 17th and 18th century. The "reader movement" in Northern Sweden, which the Lapp girl Mary was a member of, is believed to be an offspring of the Herrnhutian movement. And also the Haugians in Norway around the time of Laestadius are considered to have been "living faith".

    It is interesting that all of the mentioned groups, except for the Swedish readers, have survived to this day although the Laestadians often do not consider them "living faith" any more. There are Waldensians in Italy (they just recently merged with the Italian Methodist church), Herrnhutians in Germany and the Baltic countries. Besides, I think the Moravian church in America has Herrnhutian roots, or maybe they are Hussites? I'm not sure about that. And there are still Haugians in Norway and America. I think they are called something like "Lutheran brethren" in America.

    I think their are two views in the Firstborn Laestadian (OALC) movement about Luther's role in the "line". As far as I know all consider Luther to be part of the line of believers, but some are of the opinion that the "living faith" did not come to the Swedish Lapland through Luther but through rather through the Herrnhutians and the earlier representatives of than line, the Hussites, while others are of the opinion that the "living faith" that came to the Swedish Lapland through through Luther and his followers. Buts most of them might not have any specific opinion about which way the "living faith" came.

    (Please note that I'm not expressing my own beliefs or opinions, I'm just trying to give a picture of the Firstborn Laestadian/OALC view on the matters).

  8. As a child, the clear line of reverenced men of faith went like this: Apostle Paul, Augustine, Luther, Laestadius, a certain LLL preacher from the West coast.

  9. Stylux, pretty funny! I never thought of such a scenario as yours about the bullet, but I think it would have worked!

    Of course, as a result of such a misspent youth, I still find my mind wandering if our priest gets too long winded. I do woodwork (build furniture) as a hobby and one Sunday I came out of church and told my wife that I had solved how to make a particularly difficult cut or some such thing. When she told me I should have been listening, I informed her that it was obvious that the "carpenter" had his hand on my shoulder that day! I go wherever the Lord leads me.

    Free, the stuff you're finding about LLL is very interesting. Now I really wish I had bought that book at FinnFest.

    You know Sisu, a couple of years ago, a minister somewhere out east I think started a new twist on the WWJD thing, by asking What would Jesus drive? I suppose he was trying to make the point that the Lord would drive some tiny little efficient car or something. My oldest son (the lawyer) however announced that he knew that the Lord would surely drive a Hummer or Exploration or something because 1) He was a fisherman and those rods are long, 2) He was a carpenter and boards are long, and 3) He had 12 disciples for Pete's sake, not to mention the multitudes!

    OK, I'm getting punchy now and need some sleep...

  10. A comment to this...

    " ‘Mary (Maria) of Lappland,’ who ‘opened her whole heart’ to Laestadius in a conversation and thus brought him into a ‘conversion.’ Laestadius started to preach with new vigor against sinful life, drinking and worldliness, calling things by what he took to be their right names."

    I did not hear that discussion between Mary and Lars-Levi but I think a better description of it would be somethink like: "Mary explained God's mercynes to Lars-Levi and after that he started to preach about it"

    H. Finn

  11. Where is LLLReader? Anyone cracking their postillas to see what LLL said about the meeting?

    FinnJemmy, with all due respect, I don't think your version of LLL's conversion rings true. Remember that LLL was already preaching the gospel. The big change in his preaching was toward law, not mercy, and LLL HIMSELF said it was because it was most effective in arousing shame.

    As I've noted in this blog before, anyone who wonders whether LLL was manipulating myth can ask why we know here as Lapp Mary instead of Lapp Milla.

  12. Both of you guys Postilla readers! And now both on the lam. Oh, this is TOO rich! It made my day.
    Now, I must confess that I was one of those who actually listened to the sermons and readings (well, tried to keep my mind where it belonged, but you know the Devil!), first because I was a good girl and knew I was supposed to, and second, because I tried to figure out how the heck it all related to me/us in our current lives. As hard as I tried, I never figured that one out.

    One thing I didn't understand was where the church name came from. We didn't read Luther's sermons and what was Apostolic about it? So it's a line of succession! Who woulda thunk? (I must have missed that part on some Sunday.) I picked up my "History of the Finns in Michigan" yesterday and will share some of my findings later re Laestadius, Lapps, Finns, etc.

    Cvow, I love your son's joke about the hummer! Seriously, though, Meyers isn't frivolous about his position, not in that showman God-Loves-Rich-People way. He lives very frugally, teaches to supplement their income, and works hard at being true to Jesus. I admire him.

  13. ..."Remember that LLL was already preaching the gospel"...

    Yes, of course he was preaching something, it was his work as a "präst".

    But he did understand what God's mercynes means, when he met the lapp girl (whatever her name was). That chanced his sermons.

    H. Finn
    (boating at Missisippi)

  14. More about the names and the discussion Mary-Milla and Lars-Levi.


    H. Finn, Missisippi boatman

  15. Here's some of the history of the Calumet church from my Finn book: The church was built by Kortetniemi in 1873 with mining company funds.
    "Kortetniemi began to feel resistance and opposition, especially since new preachers who considered themselves to be representatives of a purer Laestadianism were arriving from the old country....Raattamaa sent Johan Takkinen to the CC in 1877. After his arrival, those who objected to Kortetniemi came into confilict with him in an attempt to replace him with Takkinen as the head of the congregation in Calument, which was becoming the headquarters of Laestadianism in America...In 1878, when Takkinen, who was visiting in Sweden, received the blessing of the Congegation of the Firstborn in Lapland, the Calumet congregation installed him as their pastor.
    Equipped with this Laestadian "Apostolic succession," Takkinen went to work...He changed the sname to The Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church...The reason for approval of the work "Apostolic" was that it was meant to differentiate this group clearly from the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was also beginning to be represented by congregations in the CC. Apparently no one in the group knew the actual canonical meaning of the word, but even since that time the term "Apostolic Lutheran" has been used to refer to the American Laestadians."
    I'll type the next two Very Interesting paragraphs later...

  16. H. FInn, I don't question that LLL had a profound experience with Milla. Have fun on the mghty Mississip. Here's a Mark Twain quote for you:
    "I would not interfere with any one's religion, either to strengthen it or to weaken it. I am not able to believe one's religion can affect his hereafter one way or the other, no matter what that religion may be. But it may easily be a great comfort to him in this life--hence it is a valuable possession to him." By the way, Samuel Clemens (aka Twain) was born just 35 years after Laestadius.

    MTH, the siida was a group of Saami families (about 200 to 300, per Cecil) that formed a community and economic cooperative.

    Cvow and Stylux, I completely identify with your sermon-induced ADD and am strongly appealed to by the Quakers for that reason as well as others.

    By the way, someone has warned my OALC family to be careful what they say to me, as it "may wind up on the Internet." What do you think of those apples?

  17. Here's the next paragraph, and then I'm heading out to do errands before I get too caught up in this (I think I am already!):
    Takkinen was a devoted friend of children. He published a primer for them, which involved him in a theological conflict because he had added the word "Gethsemane" to the Creed, making the controversial statement: "In Gethsemane, He descended into Hell." He took a firm stand against church formalities, eliminating the singing of chants, kneeling for the Confession of Sins, standing for the recitation of the Creed, taking oaths, exorcising, making the sign of the cross at baptism, and the churching of women after childbirth, all of which he considered to be superstitions. Raattamaa, who required the observance of church law in Sweden and Finland because Laestadianism in these countries was a revival movement within the state churches, condoned Takkinen's measures in free America. In Takkinen's time the American Laestadian Church became what it has been ever since.

    By this time dissension and separatism had affected Laestadiaanism in Sweden and Finland and were brought to Mich. and Minn. by new immigrants. Takkinen began to examine recent arrivals to find out how thorough their conversion had been, whether they truly loved the elders of Lapland, etc....."
    More later.

  18. In LLL's own words:"I thought: Here now is a Mary who sits at the feet of Jesus. Only now do I see the way leading to life. It had been hidden from me until I could talk with Maria. Her simple account of her travels and experiences made such a deep impression on my heart that the light dawned even for me. On that evening that I spent with Maria I felt a foretaste of the joy of heaven . . . I shall remember poor Maria as long as I live, and I hope to meet her in a brighter world on the other side of the grave."

  19. Sisu...

    Thanks for the info on the Calumet church and OALC history... This is something I am always interested in.

    Free... I agree that one has to be careful what they say to you... blogmaster and grand poobah of the internet and all. Verrrrrry careful.

  20. Norah said..

    oh you guys, this has gotten so interesting! From my reading of LLL and Lapp Mary I've understood that LLL was a priest of the state church, but he did not understand grace. Mary is the one who explained to him what grace was, and that is why it affected him so deeply. After all, it's not the law that draws us to Christ -- but grace. Before that, LLL had 'religion' but not faith, so to say. It became personal to him at that point.

    Interesting conversation -- wish I could have been at FinnFest and attended that seminar.


  21. Norah...

    You wrote the same thing but with better words. thanks.

    I'd like to make a little chance in Your fine text: "After all, it's the law that makes us need Christ's grace.

    How does it sound now?

    Greetings from Missisippi.
    H. Finn

    (free; Mark Twain was quite a pagan when he wrote these words "I am not able to believe one's religion can affect his hereafter one way or the other, no matter what that religion may be")

  22. LLLreader: I have read that before LLL met Lapp Mary she had a terrible life. I can't find the information I had about her. We need to know more about her--who can fill us in?

  23. LLLreader: To H. Finn--I looked up the site you mentioned about Lapp Mary. It's in Finnish (dah!) so would appreciate your interpreting the gist of it for us. One of the things that Mark Twain said that I think is expecially true is "The older a man is, the more like himself he becomes".

  24. I tried to post yesterday, but got a failure notice saying I wasn't a "team member" and couldn't post, but let's see if I'll have better luck today...

    I was wondering about the addition to the creed. Do the preachers nowadays usually omit the "in Gethsemane" part? I haven't heard the creed recited in the OALC too many times, I guess it's mostly used at confirmation, but I think I would have noticed if they actually included Takkinen's addition in it. So, is it something that's up to every preacher or do all of them omit it?

    I've also heard rumors about some relatively recent disagreement in the OALC about the Takkinen addition, like the past ten years or something, but I don't know if it was among the preachers or some other people. Does anyone know more about it?

  25. Hi H.Finn -

    yes, you said it better than I did.. We find ourselves lacking in so many ways, don't we! This is the 'law'. (We each might personalize this in different ways, but in the words of the Bible, all have sinned and fallen short.) This would make us want to pull away from God, and fear Him, or want to do good things to make ourselves acceptable, and yet, over and over again finding that we can't reach that state of perfection that we'd like to achieve from ourselves. But grace -- ah! Grace says you are forgiven for being human, for being such a nasty, impatient, discontented, greedy person - and more. That love and mercy draws us to the one who is so forgiving.. And the Spirit works through us bringing out what is good. This in my own words and the way I've begun to understand it.

    Thanks, H Finn.. it's a hard thing to explain but you've added an important part of the answer!


  26. I was an Apostolic Lutheran from NH and I don't know which "cult" I'm supposed to belong to (just plain ALC I guess) but anyway, I have a question.

    Growing up, I had come to believe (not necessarily from my parents but definately from the pulpit)that the only way that your sins were ever forgiven was when you confessed them to another ALC member and they said, "Believe your sins forgiven in Jesus' name and precious shed blood." I understood that this was the ONLY way to heaven. Later, as I was questioning this, I wondered where it came from because it wasn't actually scriptual. Someone told me that it was connected to Lapp-Mary. I don't remember what exactly it was but basically that someone (LLL?) could not believe that their sins were actually forgiven and then Lapp-Mary laid her hand on them and said those words and then they believed. Has anyone else heard of this or does anyone have any other explanations for this specific rite? One scripture that totally opened my eyes to the cultish nature of the ALC was Matthew 15:8-9 where Jesus said, "These people draw near to Me with their mouth,And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."

  27. Anonymous, that's pretty much what I recall as well -- that you had to ask forgiveness from another Christian. I don't know that the words had to be exact, but the format you describe was the general recipe.

    What I could never understand was how some seemed to think that they had to go to virtually every person in the church and ask forgiveness. Wasn't one time through the wringer enough? I mean if one believes that having received the testimony then all sins were truly forgiven, then why would it take multiple tries to get it right -- or do they really doubt the Lord can get it right in one go? ...Or was the person convinced they had offended everybody (every week?)? ...Or is it that the more carrying on and wailing and gnashing of teeth and tears made one seem more "Christian"? I sort of envied the girls when I was growing up because they seemed to be able to turn on the tear machine on command, and I strolled around dry eyed and obviously unrepentant.

    Sorry, the "bad cvow" was coming out there with the cynicism.

  28. The absolution was taken into use by John Raattamaa who was instituted as a lay preacher by Laestadius and later became his successor as the leader of the Laestadian movement. To begin with Laestadius himself was very sceptical about the use of absolution. He was afraid it might produce "premature spiritual birth". But after studying Luther's writings together with John Raattamaa (and maybe some others, can't remember) they found the use of absolution was very Lutheran indeed, so John Raattamaa got the permission to use it. So, although there is no concrete evidence of what Mary said to Laestadius, we can safely make the conclusion that she didn't use the words of absolution during the meeting with Laestadius because Laestadius later objected to that kind of a practice. If she had used the words of absolution, it's unlikely Laestadius would have been against it.

    So, the absolution was taken into use at a relatively late stage, but gradually developed into an absolute requirement in the Laestadian movement.

  29. Before the absolution was taken into use, the Laestadians relied heavily on "signs of grace", i.e. feelings, visions, dreams, signs in the nature etc. I guess that makes them more "charismatic" at the initial stage and then gradually more "Lutheran" or "traditional" as the absolution was taken into use.