"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Let Me Keep My Mind On What Matters

Friday, September 29, 2006

Let Me Keep My Mind On What Matters

by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.


  1. Hello, just wondering who if you are a previous Laestadian member or a member of that church before the splits? I am new to this website and am fascinated how most of these stories are my story. I quit the Laestadian church 14 years ago, and turned my back on God because I was just so confused. That was wrong, now I am turning to God, and attending another church. Right now I am searching for the truth and it is SO hard. But I am entrusting my faith to God, that HE will give me the answers. The last week has been both awesome and confusing, I have cried so hard. I want to follow God, and it's been SO ingrained in my head from being in the Laestadian church that their way is the ONLY way. I don't think it is, but yet sometimes I get that little "what if" thought in my head.
    Luv Faith

  2. Keep trusting God, He WILL guide you. Their way isn't the only way but Jesus Christ is, and if you seek Him with all you heart, you will find Him and He will reveal himself to you.

  3. Dear Luv
    Some of us are OALC, FALC, ALC and some LLC. There may be even a few other splinter groups represented here. Many of us have a common history of growing to understand the faults of the whole Laestadian teaching and going through a painful separation. In that we join together for strength, understanding and a chance to grow. If you prayerfully seek, God will lead you to your new church home. It may be temporary or you may find the home you will be in the rest of you life. You have to throw out everything you learned about "church" and start as a baby. To ease the discomfort I felt at the oddness of the ways of worship I experienced, I had to go back to basics. This was my stepping stone. If Jesus Christ, in the flesh, came into any Christian house of worship today, the whole ritual and way of service would be totally foreign to Him. Remember, He was raised as a Jew in a synagogue. So go with an open mind and enjoy the new flavor of worship! I find such joy in my current church. Yet if the majority of my family were to come there, they would not even see the joy or hear the message. They would be too busy looking down on how "worldly" it is and being uncomfortable. Worldly means we have a praise band, a choir, a handbell choir, a grand piano, a pipe organ, and orchestra. We say a creed together every week, We pray for our country, our government, our military, our ill, our members having personal problems. We pray in thanks for birthdays, births, wedding anniversaries. We all turn and greet each other before service. No one ever leaves the church with not one person having spoken to them as so often is the case in LLL churches. Newcomers aren't stared at. One can come dressed up or in jean shorts. And thats kind of how I feel about this website. We all "come as we are". And we are all made to feel welcome and wanted as long as we are civil and respectful. We have a brave leader we know as Free2beme who has so lovingly rounded us up. So welcome and know that you are no longer alone! I offer you a cyber hug and a cyber kleenex to try your tears.

  4. Wonderful words, joy and ijumped. I can't tell you how much you all have been ministering to me these past weeks, and how grateful I am. At the memorial service for my friend, her family asked me to help serve communion, which I was honored to do, but I found myself overcome as the mourners came forward, souls seemingly stripped bare, to receive the host. I could only whisper "the blood of Christ, shed for you" as tears overran their banks. I was mortified to be losing it in front of 800 people; the chalice trembled in my hand. But as my dear friend's husband and children and their spouses paused before me to place a comforting hand on my shoulder, to offer a hug, the shame was replaced by -- how can I say this --a profound apprehension of the Eucharist. Bound together in that moment of communion . . . all privileged to give and receive . . . oh, now words fail me.

    Just as well, as I've got to prepare for ten little 8-year olds coming to our son's "pest" birthday party tomorrow after church. (The very same church that ijumped attends, by the sounds of it! Is that you in the last pew with the beehive and "Ride of the Valkyries" on your cell phone?).

    Bless all y'all Luvs.

  5. Free, as mortifying as it seems at first to 'lose it' in from of a bunch of people, wasn't isn't freeing? I, in a not-quite-so-similar circumstance, found it a relief to be real and genuine. And I realized afterwards that in doing so I was used to minister to them in a much more profound way than I could have otherwise.
    BTW, I loved the poem.
    Glad you're posting again, too!

  6. I am really interested in learning more about Lars Laestadius, I have done some research but it's mostly in Finnish. Maybe the library? I am also curious as to what is the difference between the OALC, the LLC and ALC? I was in the LLC, which I believe is now called the ALLC. But I think they all believe only their group is saved. And then the LLC had bans on TV, music, makeup, earrings, sports, dancing, movies. So I'm thinking that probably the main reason they keep splitting is they can't agree on which of these bans are sin and which arent.I was in the LLC. To put it in perspective, so back in the 1800's Laestadius started this religious movement against the church. So everyone else in the world at that time was wrong but him and the few in his flock? It makes me want to laugh, I can't believe I even believed this, its so insane!! Any great ideas to get resources?

  7. LLLreader sez: Hi Faith, go to the Oct. 2005 archives on this blog and read the topic Kalevala, Dream of the Salmon Maiden. I wrote a little outline of LLL's life. I want to know more about Lapp Mary, but haven't found much. Anyone have a source?

  8. LLLreader sez: Faith, I forgot to say that most of my information came from the Finnish teacher Hepokoski. You can get some of his writting on line. Can't remember his first name.

  9. Actually the exclusiveness developed long after Laestadius's time. Laestadius himself never taught that only he and his followers were Christians, in fact he had a more relaxed view on that matter than most other Lutheran priests because he considered even some Baptists his brothers in faith. The exclusiveness came about as a result of the first splits in America around 1880s (Laestadius died in 1860) when John Raattamaa was the "chieftain" of the Laestadian tribe, and gradually developed into the doctrine currently held by almost everyone in the LLC/SRK and most people in the OALC/Firstborn faction. Also many other Laestadian peculiarities in the doctrine developed long after Laestadius. In my opinion, Laestadius was much more sane in his teachings than the contemporary Laestadians, although I wouldn't subscribe to all of his ideas either.

  10. Theoforos is right. Laestadius was more sane. I have done alot of research long before I found this site. He spoke to the Sami people, who were much like our Native Americans. They were at that time being converted to Christianity. When he said there is only one way-he was speaking of Christ.

    I have a question of all...if and when you do go to the OALC
    church, do you still wear the scarf..if you are female? For example.if you are attending a babtism or a wedding? Should the men who have left attend church with a tie, if that is now their new custom.

    I have been told that we should out of respect, follow the churches beliefs, even if they are now not ours.

    Thoughts anyone?

  11. On the rare occasions that I attend an OALC church for a funeral or wedding, I do not wear a tie. I think that would just be a deliberate insult to the belief. If friends are grieving at a funeral or in joy at a wedding, I certainly am not going to put any kind of damper on that if they are kind enough to invite me.

    Of course, I used to wear a tie every day as part of the corporate uniform but pretty much refuse to do so today. As a process improvement guru, I long ago determined that putting my neck in a noose was definitely a no value added step in my dressing process! Hence leaving a tie off is not a sacrifice on my part.

  12. LLLreader sez: I don't wear a scarf, but I do go easy on makeup, and I don't wear jewelry, at OALC events--seems to be the way I am most comfortable. After LLL died, his friend, and fellow preacher, J. Raatamma was the one who kept the faith going. His teachings are way off of what is being taught now. I wrote about this before, but his main issue seemed to be to keep the movement from splitting up. He died in the early 1890's. He was essential to the continuation of the Laestadian movement. BUT, listen to what he wote in 1878!! He writes " I have come from Kittila where we gathered with all of the teachers. The expression that the Holy Spirit does not work by means of the written word outside of the congregation, as some have said, has been ELIMINATED from our teaching. They were satisfied when I told them that the sphere of God's wisdom cannot be measured BY US. Indeed, he led the wise men from the East to Bethleham. God works through the written and preached word, and by his spirit himself. For God's word is unsearchable". What do you think he is saying here? If I read it right, he means that God's wisdom is not found only in the one congrgation and we, as his children, don't have the ability to define where his wisdom will be found. Maybe God's wisdom will be found in a Baptist congregation--who knows? Raatamma says that we can't measure the sphere of God's wisdom. It seems to me that both LLL and Raatamma didn't teach exclusiveness--is that right theoforos? The two men covered about the first 50 years of the church--after that it went in all directions.

  13. LLLReader, I think you are right about John Raattamaa. He did express some exclusive ideas in order to keep the flock together, e.g. he put great emphasis on the concept of the "firstborn" and spoke strongly against those who had cut their ties with the "firstborn". But on the other hand, he wasn't as harsh on non-Laestadians as he was on "disobedient" Laestadians. Some of the things he said seem to indicate he considered many other Christian movements to have the same spirit and wanted all of them to be united.


    In my opinion it's wise to try to follow the customs of the church or religious/cultural group you are visiting if they don't require too much effort from your part, and as long as they are not against your own beliefs. For example, I wouldn't ever wear a tie if I go to a Laestadian prayer house or to a Laestadian wedding, funeral, confirmation anywhere. If I did I'd just risk getting rude remarks from tie haters or at least making many people unhappy.

  14. LLLreader sez: Anonymous, who mentioned that the Sami were in the same situation as the Native Americans, sounds right to me. Alcohol was causing serious problems, in fact importing alcohol to Lappland was illegal. LLL preached strongly against the settlers who sold alcohol to the Sami. That's why you hear so much about the "whisky merchants" in his sermons. He thought that the State church and the political elite, who were centered in the cities, and wanting to modenize, had nothing to offer the suffering Sami. LLL's protest was against the new ways of life. Can anyone add more here?

    Faith--I feel God is a part of me too.

  15. Free
    No, that is not me! At least not "this" me. No beehive on this head. Rats nest sometimes maybe. But if you ever come the midwest, let me know before and if you're coming to my area, I'd be thrilled to meet you and take you to my church. I'd like to do the same with you if I ever come to that coast. Very quiet lately. Are we all busy with our winter preparations? Just a question here...FALC families all celebrate and enjoy Halloween. How about the other apostolic groups? How do you view it? I personally now like the "nice" costumes on children. With the world in the sorry state its in, I'm not so sure encouraging witches and devils is so cool. But yet, I do have a witch I display so who am I to talk.

  16. In the church I went to we were not supposed to celebrate Halloween. Halloween consisted of my family leaving the house dark (in order to not attract trick-or-treaters) at around 6:30 pm and heading for services.

    I remember one of my cousins would somehow always end up with candy after Halloween. I suppose controlling all the children in the church was about as easy as herding cats!

  17. My Mom didn't like Halloween, and I"ve followed her in this. She handled it very nicely by buying candy and hiding it around the house. She gave us each a bread pan to collect our candy. We really looked forward to the evening and didn't miss going door-to-door. We did, however, leave the front porch light on and pass out candy to whoever came by, which quite often was high-school-aged kids.
    I didn't let my kids go out either. I did the Candy Search at home. I'll have to ask my kids if they minded staying home. Well, I recall my husband taking them to a few of the neighbors a couple of years, so they weren't totally deprived.

  18. We were not allowed to go trick or treating. We were told this was worshipping the devil. However, we did get together at the church Halloween night and they had candy and games for us, so we did actually did get to enjoy that part. I agree with ijumped, I don't think I'd want my kids dressing up like evil things. Cute, fun costumes are more my style! When was the FALC formed? I haven't heard of this one. I was in the LLC, now called the ALLC.

  19. The FALC (Finnish Ap Luth Ch) AKA First Ap Luth Ch and the LLC were one until about 1973. The FALC is the group that went with Walter Torola and the LLC people followed the SRK and named themselves the LLC at that time. The LLC (in the US) seems to be centered in Minneapolis area while the FALC seems to be centered in MI Upper Pennisula. I might not have the facts straight on the LLC because I was not of that group. However, I lost many friends because of that split. To age myself, I was a young teen at that time. Hard times for many. Many family splits. Interestingly, both groups claim Heideman as one of the early teachers.
    In response to a question under a different toppic: If I get time I will look for a quote that validates the forgiveness of sins being directly through prayer. Right now I have too much to try and accomplish in the next few days to load my software. Maybe someone out there can beat me to it?

  20. That must have been hard losing your friends like that especially during your teen years. I wasn't born til 74 so I missed all that chaos. But I know we called your group the heretics, and I believe you called our group the heretics. Interesting isn't it. The main reason for the split, from what I understand were "worldly" sins (imagine that!), accepting other heretics as believers, and something about the doctrines. It's beyond me how they can claim to be the only true christians on this planet. I know in time I will understand everything better. I am just trusting the Lord right now and am excited about going to church again after many many years!