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

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Strong Drink

Leaving Laestadianism means questioning and re-examining a lot of the "rules" that one was raised with. Sometimes this is painful, scary, and even funny. Here is the story of my first experience with "strong drink" for your entertainment.*

As I've previously mentioned, I was raised Laestadian. As I haven't mentioned, however, I was very good at following all the rules. I didn't smoke, I didn't drink, I didn't chew tobacco, I didn't swear, I didn't have sex, I didn't listen to rock and roll, I didn't play sports, and most importantly, I didn't approve of those who did. :-)

I mention this not to boast, but only to assure everyone that my credentials were in good order. Like the apostle Paul, who was the perfect Pharisee and was thus was in the perfect position to criticize the Pharisees, I was the perfect Laestadian --nobody can accuse me of justifying giving in to my fleshly desires. I wasn't just drinking and looking for theological justification to do so.

The whole thing started with the woman I was dating. She was also a Laestadian (see, I was even following that rule :-). Despite being a Laestadian, she casually mentioned one day that she didn't see anything wrong with having a margarita every once in awhile. This just floored me, shocked me, offended me in that unique deep seated way that Laestadians get offended over the sin they perceive in others. :-)

I searched the Scriptures in frenzy. Found lots of verses about drunkenness, but none forbidding drinking in moderation. Still, I was very upset. Didn't she see that as a drinker she could become an alcoholic and ruin her life, hopeless addicted to the devilish substance? I very seriously considered breaking up with her.

Then she said something to me that was truly amazing. She said, "You know, drinking or not drinking is not that important to me. It's really a minor thing, and I don't see anything wrong with it. However, if it bothers you that much, I'm fine with not drinking while we're seeing each other."

I was so moved by the grace she extended toward me on this issue that I started to re-examine my fears and concerns with alcohol.

I had a lot of questions. Was drinking really a moral issue? Or was I just ingrained with something as a kid and not wanting to let go? More insidiously, was my attitude toward drinking just a way that I could feel superior to others?

What does drunkenness mean in a biblical context? Does it mean no alcohol at all? Does it mean you can drink, just don't get drunk? Does it mean you can drink moderately and even get a buzz once in awhile as long as you are not a chronic abuser of the substance?

After much soul searching, I decided that I needed real experimental data. :-) So at age 23 I entered a liquor store for the very first time. I was very self-conscious. Did that lady behind the counter think I was some kind of drunk being here? No, she works here, she must be used to seeing customers come in all the time. Heaven forbid I run into anyone I know!!!

I had decided in advance that I was going to purchase a bottle of wine for my experiment. After all, Jesus turned water into wine. But what kind of wine would Jesus drink? After looking at the bewildering array of champagne, whites, reds, domestic, and imports, I finally decided that Jesus would be most likely to consume a five-year-old bottle of domestic red, a cabernet sauvignon priced at $20. No second rate stuff for Jesus, right? ;-) I paid with cash and left in a hurry clutching my brown paper bag and feeling like a wino. I was shocked that I was not asked to display ID.

I brought the wine back to my apartment and attempted to open it. After a major struggle with the corkscrew on my Swiss Army knife I got the bottle un-corked. I didn't have a wine glass, so I filled a ceramic coffee mug half full. I smelled the wine, and swished it around in the mug. The odor seemed evil and boozy.

I remembered reading somewhere that the ancient Romans of Jesus' day would mix water with their wine. I poured some cold water into the coffee mug, filling it. Half wine, and half water. That seemed fitting. Now the odor was not as strong, although the color was still blood red.

I was almost ready to try my wine. I felt that a good precaution would be to move to the bedroom and lay on the bed while I drank the mug of wine. That way if I was to pass out in a drunken stupor I wouldn't hit my head on the floor and get a concussion. :-) I fully expected the room to start spinning, and wasn't sure I would be able to get to the bed in time if I merely stood by the bed while drinking the wine.

Lying on the bed, propped up with a pillow, I took my first sip. I didn't like the taste at all. It tasted like smelly, bitter, sour grapes. How could anyone enjoy drinking this?!? However I was determined to experience drinking, so I forced myself to drink half a mug of the substance. Then I set the mug aside, satisfied that I had consumed enough to feel some effects.

I lay there on the bed for quite some time, waiting for the room to start spinning, or to feel woozy. All I could feel was my heart hammering in my chest.

After awhile I stood up and took a few tentative steps around the room. I didn't feel dizzy, or tipsy. I could smell a bit of wine on my breath, but otherwise the same old me. No demon rising up from the wine bottle to torment me. No irrational and insatiable desires to guzzle the rest of the bottle in an alcoholic, addictive, frenzy. Just me.

As I stood there, I began to feel very deflated. My whole life I had been taught to loathe and fear alcohol. Now that I'd tried some, the reality did not live up to the hype in the slightest. I remembered all the times I had condemned others for choosing to drink. I remembered all the times I declined party invitations and avoided social events when I suspected alcohol would be served. I thought of the love that I was willing to deny myself over the issue.

What a waste. Enough to drive a person to drink. ;-)


*Author's Note: I posted an earlier revision of this story to the XLLL Yahoo Group last February.


  1. I love your story, tomte! My experience was very similar: I took a few sips of a pale ale and waited an hour before driving to make sure I wouldn't be driving drunk, and even then I was afraid I'd get pulled over or someone would notice:)

    One point that was repeated to me from Laestadians was the genetic propensity for Finns to be drunks. I don't know whether it's genetic, but even in Finland, there's a high rate of binge drinking. Perhaps culture has something to do with it: in countries like France, drinking alcohol is something kids grow up with and something done during eating. In Finland, drinking is more often done for the purpose of getting drunk.

    Tips to recent ex-Laestadians:
    Not everyone "in the world" drinks either, so it's really your choice whether to drink or not. Don't do it just due to peer pressure.

    If you choose to take a drink, try doing it the first time with friends you trust (actually, that's not a bad idea for whenever you drink).

    Don't drink on an empty stomach: eat something before and during drinking. Also, make sure you're well hydrated on non-alcoholic beverages: drink water.

    Realize that there's a time lag between drinking and feeling the effects. If you slam down several beers one right after another, you'll likely feel nothing immediately, but you'll start to feel the effects a little later. So pace yourself. One drink an hour will usually not make you drunk. Look up the definition of one drink: beer, wine, and liquor all vary in their alcohol content. Experience will help you learn how alcohol affects you and what your limits are.

    For your first drink, you may want to try a mixed drink instead of a stout or dark or dry drink. The taste will likely be more acceptable to you.

    Don't drink and drive: that's not cool.

  2. Tomte... I loved your story and I'll add mine because it is so different. Being in the OALC with the same prohibition though did not hinder me from trying as a late teen. Unlike you who followed all the rules, I broke all of them including drinking. I knew I was doing wrong and made no attempt to justify it. It seemed to me that that is where the aliveness was.

    At any rate I cut school with a six pack of friends and several six packs and went to a very nice hilly park to have a morning party. There was snow on the ground and we ended up running all through the woods and ten inches of snow with no boots, gloves or hats etc. It was quite a sight and I still wonder how we escaped being detained by the police. Throwing bottles, snowballs and the works at each other and then having the rest of the day to sober up and go home. Quite innocently, I might add.

    I have never had a "problem" with alcohol and today drink quite responsibly. I might suggest that you would have done much better to choose a nice Pinot for your first experience. But at least your cab beats the lousy Manischewitz I tried alone once.

    Reading about Laestadius has made me suspicious of the Biblical roots of the current OALC prohibition. I believe today that the preaching against drink has its roots in the social problems at the time in northern Scandinavia. The bottom line for me was that the doctrine as a whole never worked and I persisted for decades basically living two lives. I never looked for doctrinal justification.

  3. I never considered the use of alcohol to be a sin, it just never made sense to me considering the use of wine in communion, the fact that they drank wine in the Bible, the fact that several other drinks (often home-made) that are considered acceptable and consumed by the Finnish and Swedish oalcers contain a low level of alcohol (in fact even youghurt and other sour milk products have a small percentage of alcohol). I always felt very confused when I heard people talk about alcohol as a sin. Particularly confusing were the preachers who first said that alcohol as such was not a sin, but in the next sentence they said that having a drink made one lose the peace of a good conscience and getting drunk made one fall away from the state of grace.

    In my opinion, teetotalism can be compared with vegetarianism. It is definitely not a sin to abstain from alcohol or meat, and it may even be beneficial, but it should not make one despise others who do not abstain from alcohol or meat.

  4. 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
    5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
    5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
    5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
    5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
    5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
    5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
    5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

  5. Not getting drunk is a good advice because it's easier to fall into sin in a drunken state than when sober. But it should be noted that it takes quite heavy drinking to get drunk. You don't get drunk "accidentally", you must deliberately want to get drunk. A glass of wine or one beer with a meal doesn't make you drunk. In fact, a cup of coffee has a much stronger effect on me.

    Of course people are different, and if someone notices problems in his consumption of alcoholic beverages, it's wise not to drink at all. And the same may apply even to persons who notice that they easily develop addictions to other things than alcohol (e.g. candy), or people who feel they are easily influenced by other people ("peer pressure"). That kind of personality traits (I believe) may make one vulnerable to excess consumption of alcohol, and thus, people with that kind of personalities maybe had better avoid alcohol.

  6. LLLreader: Anyone ever make sima? It's made with water, sugar, hops, yeast, and raisins. I remember somone telling Mom that she always made it, and when the elders came to her house it was their favorite drink. I have always heard that Finns have a low tolerance for alcohol.

  7. This is a true story. My girlfriend and I made sima once when she was left alone at home because her mother went on a 2-week trip.

    We used the recipe in Beatrice Ojakangas's "Finnish Cookbook". We found a plastic, one-gallon distilled water bottle. There was still a little bit of water in the bottle which we poured into the steam iron. We didn't want her mom to think we we'd consider wasting expensive, distilled water, so we found a few blouses and pedal pushers to iron.

    Then we carefully followed the recipe (no hops as I recall) and did, of course, add a couple of raisins. We placed the bottle under the sink (no cupboard) and let the mixture do its work. After some time, I don't recall how long, we could see that the mixture was "working". Bubbles were forming and it looked like things were progressing nicely. Soon we could observe raisin movement. At first they just bounced a little but as time went on they could be seen wildly zooming about inside the bottle which, by the way, was gradually expanding. We continued to keep the brew under the sink until the bottle had grown to such a state that it had "rounded out" and was, if I recall correctly, actually rolling about on the floor. We reread the recipe instructions and decided to just wait. There was nothing in the instructions that addressed this phenomenon. But, when the bottle got even rounder, we played it safe and placed it into the refrigerator. I don't remember if we unscrewed it a little at that time to let the gas escape or not. Anyhow, we let the bottle remain in the refrigerator for the remaining time designated in the recipe.

    Tasting day arrived. We each poured about an inch of the brew into little juice glasses. I don't know if we toasted each other but I know we were quite smug and thought we were really living "on the edge". We each took one sip and thought the stuff was just awful. We were freshmen in college and I don't think either one of us had had liquor beyond communion wine. I know I hadn't. We poured the remaining sima from our glasses into the sink and watched the fruit of our labors go down the drain. But we decided to leave the jug in the fridge and show it to her mom when she returned from her trip. (My friend's family was Finnish American but not Laestadian.)

    Well, my friend's mom came back and we explained what we had done, trying to make it sound like a science experiment rather than an attempt to make home brew. Her mom never blinked an eye and went on to tell us about her trip, drag out the souvenirs, and begin the laundry. My friend and I were a bit puzzled by her mom's reaction but were glad we weren't reprimanded and just let it go.

    As the week went on, my friend's mom and her aunt, who lived in the duplex unit below, drank all of the sima, down to the last drop. No one ever mentioned the incident again.

  8. Yes, 'sima' is one of the beverages I had in mind. The sugar should be brown sugar, and I think most people add also lemon juice.

    The other one I was thinking about is called 'kalja' (a variation of of which is known also in Sweden), it's really home-made beer, made of malt, water and yeast. Maybe sugar too? I never made it myself, so I'm not sure... This home-made beer is typically served even with meals at the prayer house. It happens that visitors from other countries are scandalized when they learn what they are serving there... ;)

    Both of these beverages contain a low, but unknown, level of alcohol. If it's been fermenting for a long time it may contain even more alcohol than some beverages sold in the stores that are classified as alcoholic beverages by the law (the rumor says that some elderly preachers were once scolded by the police for driving too soon after drinking when driving back home from a missionary trip after drinking it at the prayer house, but rumors should be taken with a grain of salt). So, if it's home-made is not sin, but if it's factory-made, then it is sin? Not too logical, in my opinion...

    Many Laestadians in Finland and Sweden also approve of drinking factory-made apple cider that has an alcohol percentage that is lower than the limit defined by the law for beverages that should be classified as alcoholic beverages. So, if it's lower than the limit for alcoholic beverages, as determined by the law, then it's ok, but if it's higher than the limit, then it's sin? What if they change the law? To my knowledge regular beer is not considered an alcoholic beverage by the law of the Russian federation, it's just another "soft drink". So, if a Finnish Laestadian goes to Russia, will he still be under the Finnish law, and will it still be sin to drink beer? Or will he be under the Russian law while in Russia, and thus it will be ok for him to drink beer as long as he remembers to empty the cans well before crossing the border back to Finland?

  9. Interesting discussion! I've mentioned before the phenomenon that I observed in my old home community, about Finns tending to either be teetotalers or twon drunks. However, I doubt this is due to some sort of genetic disposition as it was a result of social and environmental influences. Today, I see a younger generation of Finns, many of whom have been raised outside of any Laestadian church who drink in moderation just like normal people!

    Perhaps those older Finns -- let's say that were born early in the 1900s -- had some sort of deep seated thing going on due to their having been raised in a teetotaler home. Perhaps once they broke away and started drinking there were guilt and resentment and depression and who knows what all
    going on, that drove them to excess.

    I've seen some evidence that indicated the rate of alcoholism in Finland is amongst the highest in the world. In Finland, beautiful as it is, the winters are long and hard and cold, and the kaamus (dark time of winter) lasts a long time. Even in Seattle, the medical community is overwhelmed with cases of depression after several months of rain and cloudy skies. Perhaps those winters lend themselves to a depressive state, which could in turn lead to drinking in excess.

    That all said, I'm certainly no sociologist, so the stuff above is probably just smoke!

    I do know that I enjoy good wine and single malt scotch on occasion but I never get "drunk". I did on an occasional basis in high school and army years, but I discovered the hangovers weren't worth the fun.

    It amuses me to no end because a few of my fundamentalist friends have gotten upset when they visited because I have my bar in plain sight. They know I drink but I guess if I'd hide it in a closet, that would make it less sinful or something. What makes it really funny is some of them have TVs that they hide in a closet when anyone comes over. To me, that seems like adding another sin -- lying -- on top of the first, but what the heck, if it works for them, it works for me.

  10. Many Trails Home8/16/2006 08:31:00 PM

    This item clearly generated a lot of "guy stories" rather than "chick stories", to borrow from cvow once again. It has been very fascinating, in the relative anonymity of this blog, to observe the differences as well as the commonalities in male and female ex-OALC experiences.
    So I have to break this exclusively male thread with my "chick alcohol story". I was 19 years old, newly married myself and attending a wedding reception in Grosse Pointe (Woods or Shores), Mich. Any of you with Detroit connections will recognize this as a very snooty neighborhood (at least it was then) and so the event took place at a very lah-de-dah country club. Waiters were carrying around trays of a sparkly drink, and I helped myself. I got a little giggly and remarked how much I liked this drink, thereby amusing those who knew me, as they realized I had never encountered champagne before and had no idea what I was drinking.
    A year or so later, still a relative virgin, alcohol-wise, I went late to a Christmas party, only to find the bartending hosts the drunkest ones there. I asked for a screwdriver and was puzzled that it was so pale - pale because there was so little OJ in it, as I was to realize the next day as I suffered with my first (and perhaps only) hangover.
    Here's to moderation, and a good, aged red wine! Skol, or "Kips" (is that right, you Finns?) MTH

    PS guess I'm not done yet. I have been THOROUGHLY enjoying the multitudinous trails this blog is taking lately. I enjoyed the "lasagna" description, altho it didn't seem to suggest quite enough layers, so thought I'd propose "a Dagwood" or maybe create a "Dagwood lasagna!" MTH

  11. Theoforos' post confirms what I've thought for years! No wonder there are so many happy OALCers in some congregations --- they're drinking kalja!

  12. I had never heard of sima before today. Guess what I'm going to be making soon! ;-)

    I figure I owe it to my heritage to try this at home. :-)

    Sima recipe from Ideotrope

    Sima recipe from Wiki Cookbook

    Sima recipe from RecipeSource

  13. It seems like I posted my "chick story" on this topic before but I can't find it, and I'll risk boring you with a repeat. I guess I must have been 15 as I was staying with relatives for confirmation classes. One evening, I went along on a babysitting job with another OALC girl (who is still in the church). Once the children were asleep, she offered me a "screwdriver," and proceeded to mix orange juice with a little wine out of a bottle she found in the refrigerator (she topped it up with water, having learned the trick from an older sibling). I've always remembered that wine as "Bonny Doon" but just now I did a web search and that label is actually respectable. This wine wasn't. Smelled like a muskrat. We held our noses and gulped down the cocktail and pretended to be incapacitated, giggling and falling and taking great delight in our brazenness. The memory of that sickly taste put me off experimenting with alcohol for a long time . . . and off of sweet wine forever.

    A few years later, this same girl introduced me to marijuana (during Christmas Meetings, no less). It was an option with perceived advantages, including its similarity to tobacco, which was practically a rite of passage for OALC teens. Neither was it prohibited in the Bible or Postillas, and if we seemed a little red-eyed and passive during services (or ravenous afterward), so much the better.

    Of course, when our supply (a gift from another OALCer) ran out, that ended our spree. It was one thing to smoke it, and quite another to buy it. Especially from a worldly : )

  14. Many Trails Home8/17/2006 10:54:00 AM

    Free, that wine of your "cocktail" was probably Muscat Canelli, a quite respectable dessert wine from Bonny Doon - try it poured over some ripe peaches! (funny that you said it smelled like a "muskrat").
    I was going to share my marijuana story but thought that might be going too far! MTH

  15. Needless to say (or perhaps not, given the youth of some of our readers), I do NOT recommend my adolescent misbehavior, either in the babysitter drinking episode (a trifecta of theft, dereliction of duty, and physical self-abuse), or in the smoking of illegal substances during Christmas Meetings.

    What I do recommend, for anyone using a mind-altering substance for the first time, even if it is prescribed, even if it is coffee or tea, is to: (1) know what you are taking (2) take it in the company of a trusted person who also knows what you are taking (3) go slowly.

    Bodies differ. Metabolisms vary wildly. I can safely drink coffee only in the AM (while many in my family can drink it with DINNER and still get to sleep).

    For most of us, moderation is easy, and we can feel rather superior to those with addictions, whatever they may be. This is unhelpful to say the least. It also teaches kids that addiction is a moral failing rather than an individual's physical response. And since most kids have a strong sense of their own will, they feel invulnerable. "It won't happen to me."

    Instead (in addition to modeling moderation), we should teach kids that bodies vary and that they may be the only one in their peer group that becomes addicted.

    It breaks my heart that some of my friends' and relatives' children have experimented (just as I did) but found themselves addicted, ashamed, and in for a long haul of recovery, relapse, recovery.

    If there is a common (non-biological) denominator among these addicted children, I would say it is in their vulnerability to peer pressure. None of them were active in sports, theater, or other groups that might have given them "team spirit," so to speak.

    Yes, some were OALC. All of them have parents who love them dearly and tried to keep them from harm.

    Those of you who survived your kids' adolescence, please share your advice on how to keep kids safe from addiction.

  16. What is the point of drinking alcohol? I guess I'm confused on that. I have many alcoholic uncles and great-uncles, and one of my cousins just nearly died from liver failure and is still having a rough time. I wonder how many of them started with a screwdriver.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a "sin" per se to drink alcohol. Just don't see the point, and the risks outweigh the positives (which are what, a buzz?) Sort of like jumping off a 40 foot bridge: it won't hurt you if you do it right, and it might even be fun, but there is a risk of harm.

    My dad drank when he was younger. He stopped when he was my age and never touched it again. His uncles on his mom's side all died from complications from alcoholism. Maybe it just affects me closer than you.

  17. Many Trails Home8/17/2006 05:03:00 PM

    Have you ever tried it? It tastes good. It even kind of feels good. I work hard and I find it relaxing, once in a while.

    Do you ever eat hot fudge sundaes, potato chips, candy, cake, cookies, etc, etc? You certainly don't need them, the risks outweigh the positives, you could die from complications of coronary disease from all that fat and sugar, etc, etc. Maybe they're even addicting. One major difference I will acknowledge: they cannot make you drunk.
    Frankly, I like taking some risks. Life would be hopelessly boring if we always took the healthy, beneficial, safe, risk-free path. Yuk! MTH

  18. Clearly addictions can be a major problem and this can apply to anything including going to church, or washing your hands, or looking at your watch, or arranging clothes, or avoiding stepping on the cracks. Alcohol can be severely so because of its mind altering capabilites and because it permits us to live our life without facing reality. It has been said that while we are addicted to a mind altering substance emotional maturing comes to a halt... and therein lies its significant danger. So it goes.

    Having said all that, I very much enjoy the taste of certain alcohol beverages and believe that wine is indeed the "nectar of the Gods". I leave it up to everybody to interpret that however they wish.

    MTH... Exactly correct... It tastes good.

  19. Here's my alcohol story: Several years ago, my husband and I were vacationing in Baja and stopped in a colorful, noisy beach bar for a drink. I ordered sangria. The waiter plopped two stemmed glasses with tops the size of serving bowls in front of me. "Happy Hour," he said.

    My husband, knowing that I get tipsy on a teensy glass of light wine, tasted it and advised, "Better not drink those. They're made with cheap rotgut." I, of course, being the Good Finn who wouldn't waste anything, dutifully drank both. They tasted a little odd, but they were fruity. I love fruit.

    Later that evening while he was enjoying the balmy evening on the deck, I was in the bathroom with my head hanging in the toilet bowl. It's the one and only time I've over-indulged.

    My husband ratted me out to our kids when we got home. They were both shocked and amused, picturing their prissy mom with her head in the loo. I think their image of me changed slightly that day.

  20. Many Trails Home8/18/2006 01:25:00 PM

    Sisu, that was hilarious. I laughed my head off. MTH

  21. Alcohol is not a sin, I agree. But considering the misery it causes the world over, why open the door to it?

    Why do those who drink make those who don't feel like they're "missing" something? There are people who are not Christians who chose not to drink because of the pain it has caused them or their families. Or they just don't care for it. Drinking doesn't make your cool or hip. It's not the "social" thing to do. It tastes awful, I imagine you eventually aquire a taste for it. How many drinks must one taste before it begins to taste good? I've tasted it more than once and can't imagine ever liking it.

  22. Great stories. I tried Sangria for the first time at a Spanish restaurant, served in a huge glass pitcher with slices of lemon and lots of ice. It was pretty wonderful.

    Chacun a son gout, of course. My friend from North Dakota cannot fathom what people see in coffee. She detests it (even with cream and sugar!) and drinks cold Diet Coke for breakfast. Go figure.

    Another friend, who is Mormon, does not drink coffee for religious reasons.

    I would no more try to persuade them to drink my favorite morning beverage than I would try and talk my dad into a midnight thimble of Laphroiag, which tastes most deliciously of peat smoke and cold Scottish moors lit by campfires.

  23. Anonymous, if you choose not to drink, that's great. If you change your mind, that's great. It's up to you.

    We have occasional wine tasting parties and invite a bunch of friends over. Not everyone drinks wine, and I never pressure anyone to do so. I always make sure I've got an assortment of juices and sodas available as well. No one ever gets drunk, and if they did, they wouldn't be invited back.

    I disagree about the social thing. While we do have wine frequently with dinner, the tasting paries are all about socialization. I'd never open several bottles of wine and drink alone as I compared them. I have a collection of single malt scotch (I do like the "water of life" as the Scots put it) that makes afficiandos cry when they see it, and I can't remember when I would have had a drink without friends. Now some of them only come out when special friends are over...

    As far as taste goes, some people don't like the taste. I do.

    I remember coming home while still in high school as the sun was coming up and my Dad was heading out the door to do morning chores and start the farm day. While I'd have a hard time navigating and a headache that made me consider death as a good option, there were never words, spoken or implied, about doing anything but changing clothes and getting to work. I know a couple of those times, some particularily repugnant chores were handed to me. Try cleaning moldy spoilage out of steel grain bins in 100 degree heat for a few hours with a bad head and queasy stomach.

    That was how my folks raised me. My Dad never preached at me, and he never forbade me to do things, but he sure as heck made me realize there were consequences! I don't ever remember my folks saying I shouldn't drink or dance or go to movies or those other "sinful" things. They showed me by example that they didn't do those things, but they let me make my own decisions. I have heeded their example, and still do not dance. :-)

  24. Free, if you like Laphroaig, try Lagavulin. You will never go back. The Islay single malts are sublime!

  25. Oh, Tomte!

    I laughed so hard at your story, I can only respond by relating one of my own:

    When I was seven years old, my parents and my grandmother took a trip to Finland for three weeks. While they were there, I and three of my siblings went and stayed with Grandpa.

    One day, Grandpa decided to grill up some steaks (or maybe it was barbecue a roast -- I don't remember exactly). Of course, he wanted to make them tender, juicy, and tasty so that called for a marinade. Grandpa pulls out the cookbook and looks up "marinade," gets halfway through the recipe and -- uh, oh -- it calls for a bit of white wine.

    So, Grandpa loads up the kids in the Plymouth Duster and trundles us all down to the local Sentry store to pick up some white wine. Well, about the time we get there, Grandpa gets cold feet. Someone might see him buying wine! Not something an upstanding citizen and pastor of our local congregation wants to be seen doing.

    So Grandpa sends my brother in to get the wine. Brother naturally protests, that he won't be allowed to buy wine, being only 12 years old. But he finally relents and goes in, grabs a bottle of wine, goes up to the cash register and asks, "you won't let me buy this, will you?" "Nope."

    Brother goes back out to the car and explains, so Grandpa sneaks into the store, grabs the first bottle of white wine he sees (it could have been $5, it could have been $50. The important thing was to not be seen shopping for wine). He takes it up to the counter to pay for it when who should walk in but one of the upstanding ladies of the church.

    I don't know if that lady from the church saw the wine or not (maybe it was "for communion"). Either way, we got the wine home and made the marinade and the steaks were great.

    The barely-used bottle of wine stayed in the back of the fridge for several years before Grandma finally threw it out.


  26. What makes it really funny is some of them have TVs that they hide in a closet when anyone comes over...

    When I was growing up (in the ALC), we had a TV. It was a black0-and-white twelve-inher.

    About five miles away lived the assistant pastor, Mr. K*. Every so often, the K's would call us up on the phone to see about visiting. Whoever answered the phone would then hang up and yell, "hide the TV! The K's are coming!"

    Some years later, we found out through a neighbor that the K's also had a small black & white TV, and whenever we would go for a visit, the call would go through their house: "hide the TV! The J's are coming!"

    After we found that out, we never bothered hiding the TV anymore.


    * Names changed to protect the guilty.

  27. floater, I loved your story!

    Do all the Laestadian branches use real wine for communion? I know my branch (ALC) did, and I have often wondered about the incongruity of the pastor or some other high ranking offical in the congregation paying a regular visit to the liquor store to purchase the liquid part of the sacrament.

    Looking back on it, I don't know why I was so freaked out about trying wine, since I had had it in communion for many years. All I can say is that in my mind I didn't see the sacrament and something that can be purchased in a liquor store as being at all in the same category. Plus, since we used communion cups instead of a common cup, I never got more than a thimbleful once a month.

    1. Tomte, Not all do. In the FALC, grape juice is used instead. I was told when I was young that it was changed years ago to allow the (recovering) alcoholics in the congregation to have communion without the temptation of alcohol.

  28. Tomte,
    Your post brought to mind something that I've pondered many times, regarding communion. However, I think it deserves a separate topic rather than being lumped in here with "strong drink". I'll work on that.

    To address your question, when growing up, someone from the church would either slip in the back door of the local bar or else get a "worldly" friend to buy a bottle of Mogan David for communion. I don't know what they do these days.

  29. I remember drinking Sami for the only time at an OALC member's house when I was about 15... her mother (also OALC and the wife of a hymn leader) had made it. I guess some forms of alcohol were acceptable in some areas.

    Perhaps I'll have to check out some recipes and try making it myself! I had almost forgotten that it existed.

  30. Just a gratuitious post letting anyone reading this know that my first batch of sima is cooling on the kitchen stove right now. It should be ready in time to be featured as a cool Labor Day cookout beverage. :-)

  31. Sima update: I have tasted Sima, and it is good!

    Especially if it is extremely well chilled!