"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: The Age of Reason and Religion

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Age of Reason and Religion

Most people know of Isaac Newton, the great 17th century revolutionary thinker. He is, of course, credited with helping to usher in the age of science with his co-development of the calculus and his laws of gravitational attraction. What is not so well known is that he was intensely interested in religion and spent nearly all of this life reading scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments. Is this a contradiction? The “age of reason” is often portrayed as a battle against religion.

Rodney Stark in his insightful book “The Victory of Reason” makes the following case. “ The rise of the West was based on four primary victories of reason. The first was the development of faith in progress within Christian theology, the second… …faith in progress (as) translated into technical and organizational innovations.” The third that reason, thanks to Christian theology, caused responsive states to appear in medieval Europe. The fourth “involved the application of reason to commerce.” In other words we in western culture became advanced in large measure due to the specific characteristics of a theological doctrine, Christianity, that encouraged thinking.

Now, this is completely opposite of how I was taught to think about faith in the OALC. Realizing this fact was like a door opening and letting in the fresh breezes of knowledge and understanding. Christianity in all of its manifestations was actually a religion to be understood by thought and not simply by acceptance of dogma. On a larger level, I could celebrate the religion as a faith of progress rather than one of introversion. This concept appears to be paradox to the tenets of the OALC but also to the elitism present in our culture with respect to religion in general. It is my belief that faith is an important component to not only individual lives but also to society in general and that our educational system would be well advised to support this view because it is a tradition with a positive legacy. Your comments would interest me.


  1. Are religion and reason forever locked in a death struggle? Often this debate becomes reduced to the question, "Can religion and science, especially the theory of biological evolution, be reconciled?" Daniel Dennett says No!, but Ken Miller, a devout Roman Catholic and biology professor, says Yes!. In his book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Dennett argues that evolution is a "universal acid" that eats its way through the mindset that allows for traditional religious belief. Ken Miller vigorously counters that notion with his book Finding Darwin's God, in which he argues that evolution is a beautiful theory that is indeed reconcilable with traditional Christian faith.

    My position is both yes and no. Reason and science are not reconcilable with Southern Baptist Convention- or strict Laestadian-style Christian fundamentalism. There are so many key points in conflict between these two positions that one must give way. On the other hand, there are many forms of faith, including Christian faith, that are compatible with reason and science. These forms of faith do not try to claim they are more effective than science in finding explanations for natural phenomena and do not subscribe to the weak and poorly reason apologetics of Ray Comfort and Josh McDowell.

    Although faith and reason can live together peaceably, many fields of higher education do seem to be correlated with lower levels of faith. One reason for this state of affairs could be the more cosmopolitan outlook associated with higher education. Once you've learned about all the different forms of religion devoutly being practiced every day around the world, your own form of religion may seem to be just one of many and not so special. Further, upon finding rational explanations for mysteries you once submitted to miracles, you may find your God of the Gaps shrinking, perhaps even to nothing.

    Is Christianity necessary for civilization to progress? While some forms of Christianity may have helped spur progress in the West, I think Christianity could be a sufficient but not necessary prerequisite for progress. Japan appears to have succeeded in reaching high level of development with low direct influence of Christianity. Yes, Japan benefitted from Western progress, but the West likewise benefitted from the progress of the Chinese and the ancient Greeks. The same line of reasoning applies to societal order.

    Has the tradition of promoting faith in schools truly had a positive legacy? Why did the Roman Catholics establish their parochial schools? If I remember correctly, it was partly because they didn't want their children being indoctrinated with the specific Protestant forms of faith being taught in the public schools of the day. How exactly would you promote faith within public schools while still respecting the rights of the multitude of different approaches to faith within our society today (I'm assuming you're from the US)? If you think that some diluted form of majority faith is acceptable, then kids will be educated in Roman Catholicism or Mormonism in many parts of the US, a situation which would cause an uproar among Protestants. If you want to promote a generic sense of faith in general, you'll have problems with fundamentalists who don't want their kids exposed to that wishy-washy treacle: they want full-on Hellfire and Brimstone! I honestly don't see how you'd succesfully create a "faith instructional curriculum" that would be acceptable to the many elements of US society. We have enough trouble deciding on school lunches, much less school religions!

  2. Ilmarinen:

    Thanks for your considered response.

    I believe that Starks point is not that every tenet of a faith can be reconciled by scientific research but that the philosophical doctrine called Christianity encouraged people to think differently. This is as compared to paganism, the predominate faith at the time, which required unthinking ritual. Furthermore at the time of its inception Christianity was unique in that it placed all people equal in the sight of God as compared to faiths which considered women, slaves and others on a lesser plain than say emperors. It can be argued that it was the most liberating move in history for women.

    As for evolution and Darwin, I have never understood the conflict as I believe that the two are non-contradictory and exist quite nicely in my mind. When I use the term “educational system”, I am not referring specifically to public schools and am not advocating specific religion classes be taught say in the fourth grade. Rather, I am referring to an elimination of the hostility which exists in the US with regard to faith and a recognition on the part of the cognoscenti that faith has played a valuable role in our evolution. It is the larger picture that concerns me. The current situation is one that desires to eliminate all references to religion on the grounds that Darwin effectively proved the nonexistence of God. I believe this to be based on naiveté of the first order and a lack of understanding of history.

  3. ilmarinen, it is interesting that you mention Josh McDowell. His poorly reasoned apolegetics probably did as much as anything to propel me out of the traditional understanding of faith. :-)

    Growing up, secular humanism and Christianity were seen as polar opposites. But now (tying in with what Stylux is saying in his post), I see that secular humanism is in some respects the culmination and universalization of Christian values.

  4. Great discussion. Stylux, I'm solidly with you in that I have no conflict whatsoever between science and my faith. I don't understand all of the connections or explanations for seeming contradictions yet, but that's ok. Someday I will!

    A good friend of mine in England -- who is both a surgeon and a deacon in the Catholic Church -- said he had been searching for a contradiction all his life as a serious scientist and a devout Catholic, and was never able to find one.

    Ilmarinen, your discussion of religion in the schools was thought provoking. I'm not always sure where I stand on this issue, because I struggle with it at times. First and foremeost, I don't think we should have anything of a religious nature that would be mandatory, in a public school. God does not do well with mandates, methinks. Secondly, I think any activity of this kind must be tolerant of all positions and faiths. But....I also ascribe to this country being founded as a place to have freedom of worship, not freedom from worship. Hence I found it appaling some years ago when an elemntary teacher in Mukilteo, WA was fired at Christmas because he put up a display in his room. He had a creche, Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus, and a Menorah in the display, trying to give equal time and show that different people celebrated the season differently. Unfortunately the ACLU, collective box of rocks that they are, brought suit over it. Have I mentioned before that I have no use for the ACLU? If I have, that's ok, it bears repeating. But I digress...

    In a discussion about this with a devout Southern Baptist friend of mine (in Atlanta where being a devout Baptist is almost as serious as football!) he said he did not want to ever see prayer in public schools. That sort of surprised me, knowing how devout he is, so I questioned him about it. He, being a very fair person, said that the only way it would be fair is if every faith was free to make itself manifest, and he did not want his children exposed to everything under the sun without his knowledge. Now this same family has asked and accompanied our family to Catholic Mass, so it is not that they do not want their boys to know about other faiths, just perhaps not every permutation. I think he is a wise man.

  5. tomte...

    Your observation of the similarities between secular humanism and Christianity is a good one. I would like to think more on this and respond in greater detail later. However it is well established that Platonism played a large role in the development of the Christian doctrine. (Many of the early writers and interpreters of what became the gospels were known as Christian Platonists.) They were looking at life through the lens of what Plato called the "Idea of the Good". The "Age of Reason" posited that we didn't need the existence of a transcendent to establish a moral order... it was already in us biologically or we had a natural reason to adopt it. It isn't surprising that we still discuss this after all the hard work of the materialists and the empiricists and the incessant declarations that religion is declining etc. We seem to come full circle... philosophy, religion, philosophy, religion... and each era comes up with their own "enlightenment".

  6. Stylux, who specifically makes up this cognoscenti? The political elite expresses its religious devotion to the point of theatre, so I don't think you're referring to that elite. If you mean the academic elite, all I can say is that the reputation of the atheist professor knocking religion is greatly overblown. My experience with professors, religious and non-religious alike, is that they all tend to step very carefully around religion in order to avoid offending anyone, especially devout believers. The few blowhards out there are the ones who gather all the media attention.

    CVOW, I don't really care about cultural exhibits, but I'm very leery of bringing religion into the school because I know based on my own experiences (as well as reading others experiences) that some people will take a chance like that to start promoting the supremacy of their own religion. If the world were made up of our extoots community, I would be less worried about this issue, but some people cannot accept that we will never all be on the same page as far as religion and will take any chance to start forcing their views on anyone within reach. I cannot stand mind-numbed troglodytes like that! Being vigilant in defending the separation between church and state is the best means of keeping religious minorities protected as well as keeping both church and state healthy.

  7. For a beginning here is a traditional and optimistic finnish poem to all us reason and science believers!

    Oi mutsi, mutsi,
    tokkaa lamppuun eldis.
    Kohta, kohta mä skolaan vek.
    Valkoisen frigin
    kai slumppaat mulle,
    kun galsaan skrabariin
    mut slebataan.

    And to question what is wise and what is foolish...

    25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
    25:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
    25:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
    25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
    25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
    25:7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
    25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

    Please, notice the connection between this text and the poem.

    Värssyssä vain vielä tulta lamppuun pyydethän ja sopivaa vaatetta viimeisellen matkallen...

    H. Finn

  8. A Catholic priest had a discussion with me regarding this issue. His premise is that someone (God) had to start the big bang. To say that God only worked for seven days to create the earth and then just left it to chance is to say that he is lazy. He believed that God moved evolution along.

    And as for prayer in school...

    Anyone who has a faith will pray in school from teachers, to students, to the administration.
    We don't have to mandate it.
    School do have religion classes. It is just not mandated.

  9. Ilmarinen...

    It is not hard to find "cognoscenti" that are hostile to religious faith. Start with the editors of the NY Times and work from there. It amuses me that words such as "fundamentalism", "troglodytes" and etc. are used for the religious right and there are no such words for the secular left. This is the very faction that is hard at work at identifying small crosses and any other miniscule item that reminds them that there are religous people in their midst. Broad minded... ??? I don't think so.

  10. There is no such thing as a religionless person, society or educational system. There is always a god on the throne of a man's heart. It may be the God of the Bible, I AM, who created the universe or it may be Buddah, $$$, Allah, another person, angels, science, a golden calf, self, or even the belief that there is no god. Every person, society and educational system operates with some type of religion.
    [religion - a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith]
    So those who are constanstly working to purge schools, and courthouses, and society of all traces of religion are just fooling themselves. They are in fact, simply trying to push their own religion on everyone else!

  11. "cognoscenti","fundamentalism", "troglodytes"
    hmmmm -somehow sounds like just an educated way of calling names

  12. stylux,
    Did you read what my troglodytes did? I know many who would identify as belonging to the religious right but would be horrified to witness such vile Christian supremacism as was visited upon the Dobriches. Even if one believes that conservative Christianity is the only way to heaven, one must still admit the biblical truth that not all will be conservative Christians. In this society, we need to follow some guidelines to get along, despite our differences. The religious wars of Europe sound a lot worse than letting the government remain neutral in matters of religion.

    As far as the cognoscenti, I can assure you liberals would trade the New York Times for all three branches of government any day. Do you think Fox News is "Fair and Balanced"?

    Joy, if atheism is a religion, is bald a hair color and not-stamp-collecting a hobby? Definitions need to have some boundaries to be worth using. Using your definition, is anything not a religion? Other than a few loonies like Michael Newdow, who is really pushing for anything more than simple respect for your Jewish neighbor and Hindu coworker? What's the point in spitting in minorities faces just to establish Christian supremacy? Doing that isn't going to save their souls.

  13. Another thought:
    "It amuses me that words such as 'fundamentalism', 'troglodytes' and etc. are used for the religious right and there are no such words for the secular left."

    Have you heard of Ann Coulter?

    If you're talking about my posts specifically, I'm only speaking of what I've experienced. I've had little experience with new-age Berkeley liberals, but when they achieve the same level of power as the Christian supremacists, I'll start denouncing woo and the replacing of all air craft carriers with patchouli-powered paddle-boats.

  14. It's not my definition, Ilmarinen, it's from the dictionary.
    "if atheism is a religion,is bald a hair color and not-stamp-collecting a hobby"; no comparison there sir!

    Do you know anyone has no cause, principle, or system of beliefs they hold to with ardor and faith?

    Whoa sir, I am not one of those who spit in people's faces, nor do I think Christians are supreme; in fact I think many of us have very deservedly earned a bad name for Christianity by our un-Christ-like conduct.

  15. Katherine Harris, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Florida, told a Baptist newspaper that "if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin."

    Troglodyte is too mild.

    As for those "working to remove all traces of religion" from the public arena, I think many Christians would not join them in a flash if those symbols were not of the dominant religion but, say Wiccan, or Zoroastrian.

    Or even non-Protestant Christian. Imagine a crucifix on the ten-dollar bill. Hail Mary's at the next Superbowl. Confessionals in public courtrooms.

    Pat Robertson would be apoplectic.

    "When being right provides comfort, when the sensation of it is pleasant, when it allays anxiety or lends security, then it seems to being doing the job of ignorance." Charles D'Ambrosio

  16. There are many symbols on the money, in courtrooms, monuments, state capitals, etc, that are not Christian in origin and in fact are connected with Satanism and pagan religions. The shape of the Washington monument for example.

  17. Joy, can you explain exactly how my analogy between not-stamp-collecting and not-believing-in-god is invalid? Knowing someone is an atheist tells me little about their ethical framework and life-organizing principles. An atheist could be a secular humanist, a Randian, a Buddhist, Stalinist, a Confucionist... Actually, let's drop the subject because arguing definitions is boring.

    The reason you wouldn't spit in the face of non-Christians is because you're a respectful, sensible person. As we can see from what free said, not everyone is like you. There is a strong Christian supremacist movement in this country that would love to remake the US into a conservative, Protestant quasi-theocracy. Jews, Hindus, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists--they would all be second-class citizens. That is not my vision for America, and I certainly hope it isn't yours.

    The Dobriches were driven from their homes, and local crowds jeered.

    The Air Force Academy in Colorado was a hostile environment to Jews.

    Robert Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?

    George H.W. Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

    It's the responsibility of the majority to self-examine itself to ensure it's treating the minority with equity. Christians are the overwhelming majority in the US.

  18. Satanic symbolism pervasive in US public currency and establishments? Joy, I'm really sorry, but I don't think we're going to be able to discuss anymore. We're in different worlds, and discussion will not bridge that gap.

    And to think I just called you sensible. Ooh boy.

  19. As a Christian who would be considered conservative, I'm not comfortable with the conservative right in this country. I'm not comfortable with prayer in schools - I ask, whose prayer would it be? And I'm not comfortable with political movements which seem to be heading toward mandating Christianity or any other religion. All you have to do is read about life in the Middle East to find out what happens when politics and religion mix. That said, I believe that our religious liberty based on Biblical principles and freedom is what has kept us together for over 200 years.. under a 'big umbrella' so to speak. No voice or right of worship should be diminished. What we need to do though, is be informed and know what and why we ourselves believe, and not be content to just allow ourselves to be swept along with the culture.

    Cal Thomas in his book "Blinded by Right" has been vilified by the Christian right for his stand on this issue, but I do agree with him. Politics and religion do not mix.

    "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton

  20. Thanks, Norah -- I hadn't heard of that book. Here is a quote from a review on amazon:

    Two Evangelical authors hit the nail on the head as to why religion and politics cannot mix. Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson paint a picture as to organizations like the Christian Coalition and the Moral Majority.
    Thomas and Dobson (not to be confused with Dr. James Dobson) deftly point out the different roles Church and State play in society. The Church is to create a spiritual renewal in individuals and families, while the government is to create an orderly society.
    Dobson and Thomas help the reader realize that the Christian Right has been trying to ursurp government to institute morality. In other words, they hope "trickle-down" morality will transform society.
    They carefully analyze through history and contemporary times that when the Church takes on such power, it cannot survive. In the end, such an entity becomes an oppressor. As usual, power corrupts.
    Moreover, when Christians intermix with politics, a strange dichotomy emerges. Religious principles (no matter where they come from) rely on uncompromised principles. Politics, on the other hand, relies on compromise to get anything done. Therefore, the two worldviews become mutually exclusive.
    This is not to say Christians should retreat from politics. I wished there was another chapter to call in Christians in political office to realize they not only represent Christians, but also people who do not share the same belief system or principles. That is key for being a good politician, as well as a good Christian.
    I noticed one critique suggests that Thomas and Dobson are suggesting a retreat from society, which would lead Christians to not work with people like Dr. Martin Luther King in his quest for racial equality. However, segregation and racism were social problems that not only applied to Christians, but everyone.
    Dobson and Thomas do not call for a retreat, but simply for the church to take on its role. During the Civil Rights Era, some Churches did take its proper role in changing peoples' hearts. Sure, government can order busing and pass a Voting Rights Amendment, but only the Church can really change hearts.
    I just wish more "Christian" pundits, preachers, and politicians would stop to read this book before they try to implement a Theocracy in America.

  21. I didn't say pervasive, Ilmarinen. Please don't put words in my mouth. I was simply pointing out the fact that they are there.

  22. Masonic, maybe. Satanic, meh. If the male reproductive organ represents Satan, woe is me.

  23. The Washington monument in an obelisk which symbolizes the ancient Egyptian god Ra. Just for the sake of clarity here, I did not say that it was Satanic(if that is what you were thinking, Free); it falls under the category of pagan in my previous post.

  24. Joy, they may have originally been Pagan, but weren't they more recently symbols of the Masonic Fraternity, to which many, many of the founding fathers belonged?

  25. All in the eyes of the beholder, isn't it?

    The pre-Christian history of the fish symbol:

    The fish symbol has been used for millennia worldwide as a religious symbol associated with the Pagan Great Mother Goddess. It is the outline of her vulva. The fish symbol was often drawn by overlapping two very thin crescent moons. One represented the crescent shortly before the new moon; the other shortly after, when the moon is just visible. The Moon is the heavenly body that has long been associated with the Goddess, just as the sun is a symbol of the God.

    The link between the Goddess and fish was found in various areas of the ancient world:

    In China, Great Mother Kwan-yin often portrayed in the shape of a fish
    In India, the Goddess Kali was called the "fish-eyed one"
    In Egypt, Isis was called the Great Fish of the Abyss
    In Greece the Greek word "delphos" meant both fish and womb. The word is derived from the location of the ancient Oracle at Delphi who worshipped the original fish goddess, Themis. The later fish Goddess, Aphrodite Salacia, was worshipped by her followers on her sacred day, Friday. They ate fish and engaging in orgies. From her name comes the English word "salacious" which means lustful or obscene. Also from her name comes the name of our fourth month, April. In later centuries, the Christian church adsorbed this tradition by requiring the faithful to eat fish on Friday - a tradition that was only recently abandoned.
    In ancient Rome Friday is called "dies veneris" or Day of Venus, the Pagan Goddess of Love.
    Throughout the Mediterranean, mystery religions used fish, wine and bread for their sacramental meal.
    In Scandinavia, the Great Goddess was named Freya; fish were eaten in her honor. The 6th day of the week was named "Friday" after her.
    In the Middle East, the Great Goddess of Ephesus was portrayed as a woman with a fish amulet over her genitals.
    The fish symbol "was so revered throughout the Roman empire that Christian authorities insisted on taking it over, with extensive revision of myths to deny its earlier female-genital meanings...Sometimes the Christ child was portrayed inside the vesica, which was superimposed on Mary's belly and obviously represented her womb, just as in the ancient symbolism of the Goddess." Another author writes: "The fish headdress of the priests of Ea [a Sumero-Semitic God] later became the miter of the Christian bishops.

    The symbol itself, the eating of fish on Friday and the association of the symbol with deity were all taken over by the early Church from Pagan sources. Only the sexual component was deleted."

    (from religioustolerance.org)

  26. Indeed they have been used more recently as Masonic symbols. (And also used in some occult symbols as well) Like the example I used previously: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obelisk Here's what some Mason's say about it; http://www.masonicinfo.com/obelisk.htm
    Perhaps it is mostly "in the eyes of the beholder" like Free suggests. Take the six pointed star for example; it is used by Jews, Mason's, Satanists, Hindu's.

  27. Did the Roman Catholic church really "require" people to eat fish on Fridays? I always thought it was "allowed" to eat fish (instead of meat) on Fridays but not obligatory.

    In the Orthodox church we have had Wednesday and Friday as fasting days ever since the first century AD in remembrance of the day when Christ was betrayed (Wednesday) and the day when he was crucified (Friday). I'm not sure what the fast meant to begin with, did they eat at all or what did they eat if they ate something? But now, the Wednesday and Friday fast in the Orthodox church means that only vegan food should be eaten (also no alcohol at all or no strong alcoholic beverages, depending on the local church traditions). So, in the Orthodox church fish is normally not eaten on Wednesdays and Fridays because fish is not a vegetable. Because of this, I always thought what I said above that the Roman Catholic church just gradually relaxed the norms and quitted fasting on Wednesdays and allowed eating fish on Fridays, but still refrained from meat. I can't imagine eating fish was actually required, it wouldn't make sense.

  28. RE: Reason vs Faith

    How can you argue with reason
    a religous faith which is an
    experience beyound rational
    thought ?

    All the dissenting opinions,
    experiences and revelations
    based on Bibical interpretations
    are just that.

    Leaps-of-faith can never be
    proven by endlessly quoting
    the Bible or any other Sacred

  29. Theo, I'm not a cradle Catholic, so the meatless Fridays thing was before my joining the RC, but I think I know the pertinent facts. Prior to Vatican II, Roman Catholics observed "meatless" Fridays. Because fish was allowed, perhaps that was interpreted as warm blooded meat, or perhaps fish was allowed for some other reason -- I don't know that. Fish certainly was not "required", but it was allowed.

    After Vatican II, the meatless Fridays were no longer required, although many mainstream Catholics still observe the custom, perhaps just because it helps them focus and recall that tradition of their faith.

    Today, at least some Dioceses mandate fishless Fridays during lent, but I do not know whether the worldwide church does or not or whether it's left to the individual Bishops and Archbishops to decide.

    Many an old Catholic who lived where fresh fish was not always available will tell you just how much they hate things like "salmon loaf" to this day! (I can sympathize with them because whenever I think of canned salmon, I think of "läx lödä" -- if that's spelled anywhere near correctly. I doubt it really was a Finnish dish and was foisted upon the unsuspecting Finns by those darned Swedes -- but the bottom line is I hated it.)

  30. A little Cliff Clavinesque comment about fish on Fridays.

    I believe that fish was not considered meat nor was fish considered an animal under ancient taxonomies --which is why it is an exception to the no meat rule. :)

  31. Love it, Cliff errr.. Tomte.

    vewy intewesting :-)

  32. LLLreader sez: OH NO!! To think, cvow, that all along I have enjoyed and respected your views--and now to learn you hate the scalloped potato and salmon dish that that I grew up loving--well I'm just really taken aback.

  33. LLLreader, I remember really not liking it at all when I was a kid and one time I was sort of fussing over having it. My Dad leaned over and whispered in my ear that he didn't like it any better than I did, but my mother put a lot of good food on the table for us, and she really liked it, and therefore we would eat it without complaint!

    He passed away almost thirty years to the day before my Mother, and until the day she died, she vowed Daddy really used to like it and she couldn't figure out why I didn't.

    I had to agree with him though about the good food. To this day I really miss my Mother's hienoleipää and leipääjuusto. She never made a loaf of hienoleipää without putting the hole in the middle as well, even though she never had one of those old style bread racks in the pantry where they would hang the bread loaves.

  34. Thanks for the explanation cvow!

    I think Tomte might be right about the reason why fish was allowed. In the Orthodox church I've discerned a way of thinking in which animals are placed in a hierachical structure, some animals being "lower animals" and thus closer to vegetables and some animals being "higher animals". For example shrimp and mussels are so low in the hierarchy that they are considered more like vegetables than animals, and thus edible on fast days, while fish has a higher rank, closer to meat and is normally not eaten on fast days, except on certain feast days that happen to take place on fast days. Monks and nuns are sort of on a continuous fast, they never eat meat but they do eat fish on special occasions.

    As for 'laxlåda' (=Swedish), or 'lohilaatikko' or 'lohikiusaus' as it is called in Finnish (btw 'kiusaus' means 'temptation'), it is a very common dish in Finland. It is easy to make in large quantities and it is often served in weddings, funerals, Laestadian meetings. It's maybe not my favorite, but I like it better than a similar dish made with ham instead of salmon.

  35. Also "Temptation of Mr Johnson", that is "Janssons frästelse" with anchovy tastes good. I am allowed to eat it every day without any restrictions. Only concern is if my fish vendor is ablo to provide enough of anchovy.

    H. Finne igen.

  36. Huck, I had not heard of that one before. When I was in Finland last, my cousins were trying to describe some kind of a fish "sandwich" that is made from a dough folded over with fish and other things inside and then sealed around the edges. Supposedly it dated back to old times when everyone walked everywhere and a person could slip one of those in their pocket. It was supposed to take you a long way down the road, although my cousins vowed that was because it tasted so bad you didn't want to stop for lunch!

    Do you know what that might have been? I can't remember the name.

  37. cvow... "some kind of a fish sandwich"... that must be "kalakukko". They eat this traditional dish in Savo and it tastes (and looks) like old shoe.

    H. Finn

  38. Kalakukko is like a Finnish version of the yooper "pasty", except the crust is made mostly of rye instead of wheat and the filling usually consists of fish and meat (sometimes just fish). The fish is small lake fish, and I think they just cut off the head and take out the intestines before putting in the fishes. They say the skin and the bones are a good source of various useful nutrients... :)

    In my opinion kalakukko tastes okay (especially if it's made without meat), but I guess I'd prefer a yooper pasty if I had to choose.