"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Laestadianism and Sami Culture

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Laestadianism and Sami Culture

I recently had an email exchange with Nathan Muus of BÁIKI, The International Sámi Journal, and he gave me permission to post the following:
Yes my friend grew up in, and still is involved in the Firstborn . . . some of my ancestors participated in "like minded" religious movements in the 19th century in Norway. Home meetings, lay pastors, singing hymns with a one string instrument, suspicion of the Swedish/Norwegian state church and not wanting to pledge allegience to the king- the Laestedian movement was one of a number of such movements, not alone. People forget that.

However, the Laestedian movement was Sami led, and there are a number of "positives" to the movement at the time. Some of them are reflected in the Kautokeino revolt, which was Laestedian led also. Sami men were going to the city markets with a year worth of hides, crafts, goods to sell/trade. They were returning back to camp with nothing, no money, drunk..so is said. They were sold alcohol and cheated, taken advantage of. Sami languages were considered worthless, so was Finnish somewhat, by the way. The state church service was in Swedish, or Norwegian, with Latin flourishes. Laestedius deemed that Sami and Finnish were worthy languages to preach in. He deemed that simple was good, hence many people in a village dressing alike in traditional Sami clothing was ok. A simple Sami home or tent, not extravegantly adorned, was normal and was uplifted. I can understand why the movement had such a pull. The Sami traditional spiritual world had been battered for some centuries. This movement gave people an outlet.

I continue to be saddened that denial of Sami cultural heritage/identity today is still there. And I do know it is there. Yet some of the same people will often in their own ways, keep their Sami spirit and identity. I do not for a minute believe academically or otherwise, that traditional Sami spiritual beliefs and practices all were wiped out and went away. Evidence points otherwise to that. However, perhaps some people cannot reconcile the two religious worldviews well, hence continuing denial.

Popular misconceptions do not help either, ie."witches drum"; since when were those using a Sami drum a European style witch? The colonizers had many things wrong. Unfortunately some/a lot of that got transmitted into the various Lutheran church movements also. It's up to all of us to help sort it out. Blessings on your journey! Nathan

You may want to read this fascinating exploration of the impact of Laestadianism on Sami culture. (Among other things, it includes details about "Lapp Mary" that are new to me.)

Does Laestadianism keep Sami culture alive in some way? If so, how?


  1. my mommy is sami1/28/2007 07:55:00 PM

    Funny how many Laestadians clearly of Sami descent claim to be of Finnish descent, no?

    It's not like its hard to tell the difference between Sami and Finn. Sami are short, with little body hair, and top-heavy. Finns are tall and skinny.

  2. I don't consider myself an expert on Sami questions, but I think Laestadianism has had a positive contribution to the preservation of the Sami language because it has been used and is still used at Laestadian meetings. Among the Lyngen faction it is still more a rule than an exception that the sermons are translated into Sami, and it is not unheard that the sermon in fact is in Sami and it's translated into Norwegian. The use of the Sami language is fairly common also in some areas within the Firstborn. However, the Laestadianism may have contributed to the destruction of some other elements of the Sami culture that are considered "worldly" or "pagan".


    "My mommy is sami" had a very typical generalization of the appearance of the Finns and the Sami, but it's not always like that. There are Finns who'd fit the description of a typical Sami and Sami who'd fit the description of a typical Finn. Besides, there's some difference between the different geographical areas. But in general, I think it can be said that the Sami have preserved more of the original "Asian" features while the Finns have intermarried more with "Europeans", which makes the "Asian" features less distinct among the Finns. However, it's still relatively easy to recognize Finnish tourists when you are travelling by paying attention to their high cheek bones and slanted eyes. :)

  3. stranger in a strange land1/29/2007 06:59:00 AM

    I think the lines are blurred, and many of us of laestadian heritage are indeed, "mixed" like Laestadius was himself. In my family, there are many of us who fit a "Saami" profile and those of us who fit a "Finn" profile. My European relatives have told me that my son, however, looks like a typical "Swede" or "Dane"--of which to my knowledge we're neither. I fit more of a Saami profile, however.

    This is my favorite "Saami" stereotype, written by Willa Cather in My Antonia, which in my humble opinion, was her best novel:

    My father's father was smart, too, but he was wild. He married a Lapp. I guess that's what's the matter with me; they say Lapp blood will out.'

    `A real Lapp, Lena?' I exclaimed. `The kind that wear skins?'

    `I don't know if she wore skins, but she was a Lapps all right, and his folks felt dreadful about it. He was sent up North on some government job he had, and fell in with her. He would marry her.'

    `But I thought Lapland women were fat and ugly, and had squint eyes, like Chinese?' I objected.

    `I don't know, maybe. There must be something mighty taking about the Lapp girls, though; mother says the Norwegians up North are always afraid their boys will run after them.'

  4. We could debate all day, every day. It is interesting that those that have left the OALC seem to focus on the "can do and cannot do." The only thing we have to do is face Lord Jesus when our time comes. At that time, nothing else will matter except the judgement of our soul (and yes we will be judged). I am a faithful member of the OALC and I do believe the Lord Jesus died for my sins. That is ALL that matters! I am shocked by most of what I have read on here because life in the OALC is totally different that what is talked about here. The preachers do not hold themselves highly. They are humble, God fearing, and sinners themselves. They give all praise and thanks to God. Do they warn us of the dangers on lifes way? Absolutely! Do priests in other churches? NO WAY! (maybe some might try) They need to be paid. I read an interesting article in Newsweek a few years ago. There was a priest that was being interviewed and he explained that churches have become monopolies and that he cannot speak what he would like to because he wants his congregation to pay him. If you do not believe in the OALC by all means that is your choice. We all have our own experiences and it is unfortunate that some of the folks on this site have had so many negative ones. I have many co-workers, colleages, neighbors, and friends that do not attend and I pray that they can find peace for their soul. As for me, I have found peace for mine in my faith. It is not in the name of OALC, or LLL, or the elders. It is in the name of Lord Jesus which they (LLL, elders, and preachers) have taught.

  5. How do you know people haven't found peace in their souls just because they don't belong to your church? Have you visited other churches or talked to other Christians other than OALC? I would be interested in hearing your answer. Thanks!

  6. Anon 8:21.. I like what you have said here. We sang this song yesterday in church, and I think it's one of the most beautiful hymns about our true unity. It isn't about LLL or Luther or any other person, our unity is in the risen Christ:

    The Church's one Foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; she is His new creation by water and the word: from heaven He came and sought her to be His holy Bride; with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.

    Elect from ev'ry nation yet one o'er all the earth, Her charter of salvation One Lord, one faith, one birth; One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses, with every grace endued.

    Mid toil and tribulation and tumult of her war, she waits the consummation of peace for evermore; Till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blessed, And the great Church victorious shall be the Church at rest.

    Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One, and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won: O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we, like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with Thee.

    God's Peace to you, Anon...

  7. Stranger in a strange land, and other posters on Sami 'type'... I smiled when reading those posts because I can relate to all of those descriptions.. And Willa Cather, love that bit of dialogue there! lol

    My step-grandfather was a Norwegian Sami and had all of those distinguishing features.. easily evident by his appearance. My grandmother and grandfather also may have had some Sami blood as all of their children were very dark, high cheekbones, and many were top-heavy. I never knew that to be a distinguishing characteristic. Some of the relatives do look positively Asian, very beautiful.

    anyway, all of this is very interesting!

    Thanks for those links, Free!

  8. I have visited many people outside of OALC who claim that they have found peace for their soul. I can only take their word for it. My only thought (which I am not trying to debate) is if they have found peace then would they want to debate and pick apart someone elses religion. I certainly do not pick apart the way others believe and I expect the same.

  9. My only thought (which I am not trying to debate) is if they have found peace then would they want to debate and pick apart someone elses religion. I certainly do not pick apart the way others believe and I expect the same.

    Do they warn us of the dangers on lifes way? Absolutely! Do priests in other churches? NO WAY! (maybe some might try) They need to be paid.


  10. Isn't calling someone elses faith in God "dead faith" alot more than picking apart someones faith? Do you feel its appropriate to discuss issues that are of concern?What is your response to that? I do not want to debate either. I am just interested, thats all.

  11. stranger in a strange land1/29/2007 10:36:00 AM

    Some fodder for thought:

    "The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other Cultures Are Not Failed Attempts at Being You; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit." --unknown author

    When I first read this quote, from an unnamed source, I thought of Laestadianism.

  12. To anon 8:21
    So you believe as an OALCer all you have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross for you? Are you saying that you can cut and color your hair, wear makeup, and wear pants to church (women), or wear a tie and grow a mustache, and an earring (men), and still be held as a faithful Christian in the OALC.
    Do you not also have to ask forgiveness from the preachers regularly, attend church every Sunday, attend gatherings and socialize only with other OALCers, in order to be a "good solid Christian"?
    And do your preachers not regularly rail against the wordly churches, with their "hireling" preachers, and their sinful "allowances"?
    I have spent most of my life in the OALC, so I speak from experience, not to pick or tear apart, but to inform/share my life in the OALC with others having similar thoughts.
    You may be happy there, and if so, that's fine. To each his own. But to those of us who left after years of struggle, please don't deny things that we have personally experienced.

  13. Many Trails Home1/29/2007 11:57:00 AM

    You go, oalc-doubter. You speak for me as well. MTH

  14. Also Laestadian preachers get paid, it's just done more discretely, by putting money in their pockets instead of using a bank transfer... Besides, there are non-Laestadian pastors who don't get paid anything.

  15. Many Trails Home1/29/2007 01:00:00 PM

    Theo, as a Finn (from Finland), how do you know American terms like "bashing?" Your exceptional mastery of English puzzles me mightily. (You don't need to reply, I am just expressing my puzzlement.) MTH

  16. Why does it even matter if they get paid of not?

  17. oops, or, not of

  18. oalcdoubter-I am not here to debate customs and/or teachings of the Bible. The Bible is very clear of how a Christian should live their life. Could it be that people want to ignore those teachings? As for the pants....I believe that one should show honor and glory to God and wear their best when they worship him.(it is a custom for women to wear dresses in the OALC. No one is asking for buy in, it is just the way it is and when one has that child-like faith there is no need to question) As for the hair and earrings.....the Bible is very clear about vanity, hair, and conforming to the customs of the world. The Bible does not change (even when we do not agree with it). One more thought: how does any of this pertain to me believing that Lord Jesus died for me? When he was hanging on the cross I do not believe that any of this was even on his mind. We are so fortunate that his word has been passed on in the Bible! I also believe that if we say we believe in the Bible then we must believe in the entire Bible, not just the things we choose to follow. For myself, I would love to find any easy way to Heaven but Jesus spells it out very cleary that it is a straight and narrow gate. I know that people on this website do not agree with what I have just said but this is the way I believe and I certainly am not here to debate or argue.

  19. Anon, I think I know what you are trying to say. I don't want to speak for you, but as to priests not speaking the truth because they need to get paid? I would venture to say that this is not uncommon in any denomination - to keep your job maybe there are times you must not say what you would like to say. You must not offend anyone in the congregation or on the church board - ha! As if that's likely, seems someone is always going to be offended at one time or another. I think there are many constraints on preachers/ministers/priests/speakers/pastors. It's not easy. We need to pray for those who aren't in it just as a job, but as a calling.. and there are many!

    my 2 cents :-/

  20. Anon, I respect the courage you have to speak of what you believe in. You are right, this is a straight and narrow way. If you are convicted to live and believe as you do, then by all means please know that you should follow Jesus that way. Although I would not agree with you about the outward appearance and probably some other things, yet in spirit I do agree with you. Spiritually we are 'strangers in a strange land', not becoming too attached to the here and now. Hebrews 11 speaks of those saints of old who did not see the promise here on earth but traveled to a 'better country'... We need to always keep that in mind and live lightly on the earth..

    well, make that 4 cents lol

  21. Knowing the history and the roots of our Laestadian heritage has not driven me AWAY from my church and my faith. For me, this blog has made me grown closer to my church and has made me more resolute to STAY. I now see some of its peculiarities and imperfections as manifestations of our collective culture. It has made me feel more forgiving of some of its faults. For me, this blog has been the tipping point in FAVOR of my staying IN my church. It's important for me to believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins, not necessarily following the unique manifestations of our Laestadian practices and our northern roots, now that I am more aware from whence and where these practices originated.

  22. Faith and piety belong not to the person who has the most rational argument for the existence of God or the most thorough philosophical understanding of his attributes, but to the person "who best displays works of justice and charity".

    Baruch Spinoza (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
    Steven Nadler

  23. To the OALCer, your post is almost to the letter what I heard when leaving the church. First I was told that I must have "childlike faith" (defined as unquestioning, although Laestadius was hardly an example. What natural child does not question?! Only those who are punished out of it.)

    Then I was told I must not ask why some Biblical commands were followed (covering of the hair) and others were not (no plaiting of the hair). No, I must rest on the understanding of the preachers.

    Why? Who died and made them king, as my son would say?

    Oh dear, oh dear. I know you are earnest, and your sincerity is touching, but you are blind (willingly or not?) to the very real physical, emotional, psychological, an dspiritual consequences of OALC doctrine.

    Don't you see the fallacy in using logic and reason to decry the use of logic and reason? The error in claiming to be free of the law while insisting upon it? The contradiction in claiming that faith alone saves, while shunning your sons and daughters?

    I'm a lover by nature. I would dearly like to be magnanimous about the OALC, and to forgive those who do not know what they do. Most days, I'm there.

    But when I see how my beautiful children suffer from the loss of extended family, I must condemn the blindness and the narrowness of heart beneath its doctrine.

    It would benefit the OALC greatly to have Jesus's one commandment displayed prominently above the altar, and tattooed on its preachers' foreheads.

  24. Anonymous, thank you for sharing honestly with us what your beliefs are. The fact that this blog has made you more steadfast in wanting to remain and believe in the teachings of the OALC is perfectly fine. That's what all of us are trying to do -- to figure out how we can best follow the Lord, to the best of our understanding, and in a prayerful and thoughtful way. I absolutely agree with you that the way to heaven lies in belief in Jesus Christ and that he has redeemed us through the cross.

    Most of the writers on this and other similar blogs have left the various Laestadian faiths because they did not fulfill the needs of our hearts. Perhaps there was particular customs or tenets of belief that we did not agree with, or perhaps there had been hurtful treatment of some kind, or a myriad of other reasons. For many, this leaving has been extremely difficult because of the consequences, when family and friends have shunned the person leaving, and because there is a good deal of anguish in leaving something that has been such an important part of our lives for so long. If you have not left yourself, I maintain that you cannot begin to understand what it is like.

    Many of us have found that peace you speak of in different places, whether in organized mainstream churches or in some other way. While the path is narrow, I believe that those who found their belief and prayer in Jesus, the Christ and Saviour, are all walking that narrow path -- even if the building and denomination are different.

    You made the claim that priests (or I suppose any pastor, preacher, rabbi, or whatever) do not warn of the dangers of the world. I wonder whether you have ever experienced that yourself, or whether that's just what you've been told and you accepted it as truth. I can tell you, having explored and experienced a good many different approaches to faith that by all means warnings, admonitions, and yes even rules, are there to help guide. I am a Roman Catholic and can certainly tell you that the catechism we follow contains a great deal of guidance, that is founded in scripture.

    You made the comment also about "priests" being paid. Again speaking from the Roman Catholic side, priests take a vow of poverty when they enter the priesthood. Most of them take that vow so firmly to heart that they -- out of the meager salary they are given -- often give a good portion of that back to the church. These men are full time and do not have any other income or job. They usually are provided with housing and a car because they do not have the resources to provide those in any other way. Looking elsewhere I have to say that while I know quite few clergymen from various faiths, none that I know are wealthy. Of course I don't know any televangelists personally, but that's another topic.


  25. I should interject here that the "tipping point" comment was not from an OALC member but a Pollarite who does not adhere to her church's doctrine of exclusivity (she told me).

  26. Free-it sounds as if you left on your own will and have chosen a different path in life. Your family did not change, you did. I have no idea who you are or where you were raised but I am certain that your family loves you very much and has concern for you soul. The OALC is a family and they do believe that there is 1 faith, you cannot change that about them as well as they cannot change how you believe. As far as your children, it is sad that they see the difference. The reason they see it is because there is a difference, one in which you chose. They did not choose that nor did your family. You did. I would not choose to socialize with people that believe different than I. It does not mean that I do not love them or their soul. It is human nature. People chose to hang with those that are like themselves no matter what they believe. It is sad that you view the OALC preachers in the way that you do. I am sure if they knew you they would only have love for you soul.

  27. awesome picture! I have heard there are some dark-skinned Sami's and some light-skinned Sami's. The Sami's in this picture appear to be dark-skinned.

  28. another exoalc1/29/2007 05:35:00 PM

    So, anon, you think it's okay for grandparents to shun their grandkids because they go to a different church? Shun means not acknowledge as a part of the family. Yes, that IS what happens if you leave the OALC and your kids' grandparents are in the OALC.

    Regarding the Sami discussion, recently I learned something about my Lapp/Sami heritage. This knowledge answered a question that I didn't know I had! The Sami are the Northern European native/aboriginal people. We are relatives of the Alaska Natives/American Indian. How cool is that?

  29. On the subject if oalc preachers get paid, have you ever seen a poor one? It's customary to give them cards with money for any services they perform or holidays birthdays,etc. Don't tell me their not hirelings!

  30. the_phyllomath1/29/2007 06:44:00 PM

    I must say I feel bad for OALCers. All of their arguments are based on the same tired speech heard every Sunday. Here's how the sermon goes:
    "It's so hard to open the mouth....would've been nice to hear one of the other brothers...want to be obedient...pray for me...'text taken'...familiar text has been read...tv bad...internet dangerous...must believe or there will be no testimony...I sin a lot...please forgive me" Movement ensues.
    This goes on every single Sunday!!!
    It used to drive me so crazy!
    Are their lives so bankrupt that this sermon can be uplifting on a weekly basis? Please do not tell me this is the word of God and the preachers are there to provide lip-service. Pure garbage. Pure garbage. I applaud free's answer and sense the frustration that we all feel when trying to pin down an OALCer.

    Every question is deflected
    Every inquiry rejected.
    "Go and look there"
    as they point and I stare.
    The man sits there numbly
    and I hear him mumbling
    "Girls don't cut yer hair"

    Sorry, I made up on the spot and I'm in a 'flaky' mood tonight.

  31. So true phyllomath
    Also- asking forgiveness is usualy the same batch of sins."Can you forgive me for my poor example, evil thoughts, lusts, and desires. Such a cold and dry heart. Effects of self righteousness, love of this world, I take this christianity so lightly."
    This should be timed to end roughly the same time as the one who you are confessing to says that all sins forgiven in Jesus name..........etc. After that, you reverse roles and forgive the other person who has the same sins!! "pray for me and us"---
    "as much as God gives strength," is the accepted response to a "prayer request." All prayers are the Lord`s prayer, Except for the longer text read during services.
    Drives me up the wall!
    "you go north or south?"
    "who spoke?"
    "Bud, it was a precious sermon.
    You go north?"
    "who spoke?"
    "Russell, it was a precious

    It is generally known, although reletively unspoken that precious sermons are followed by a huge movement (lots of asking forgiveness)

    Also, take note of how they keep saying they are not wanting to debate and that oalcer pops in to say he is here and reads posts but is much to busy to post. I dont get it!

  32. One of the emotions I deal with a lot is that of betryal. That most everything I was raised to believe as truth (simply, childishly trusting) is FALSE. Sometimes a spinoff of truth (somewhere back there with the white elephant on the telephone) and more often just a blatent falshood. I have had so much grief to process. No wonder heaad knowledge is considered evil. It can cause a lot of pain.

  33. I think Laestadianism is a culture. Its a way of living. Just like the Amish, its their way of living. Now for the Amish and Laestadians to say that this is the ONLY way of living, I highly disagree. If avoiding certain objects or behaviors helps you in your walk of faith, then thats a personal choice. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. And don't all Christians worship and trust God? I think so. I feel God speaks to us individually. And I choose to follow what he tells me in my heart. My life is his. Why he led me out of the LLC, I am not sure yet. All I know is that my seed was definetely not growing there. He has a reason and purpose for every person. For someone to tell me that what God has shown me is wrong, that his purpose for me is not his, well, I think people will have to answer to him on judgement day.
    OALC poster: The LLC is the same. They just have less "rules". Do you realize that you are able to just look at someone and say, They are not going to be saved. Just because they are wearing makeup or earrings. Because obviously if they were in the "true" church, they wouldn't be wearing them. Don't you think that is so sad, that you can judge people by their appearance. Do you really think God cares if we have purple or blue hair? Is that really so important? I feel he looks into our hearts. The greatest commandment he had was love the lord with all your heart. Love your neighbors as yourself. Jesus himself ate and drank with the "sinners" of his day. He just doesn't want us partaking in their sinful activities, gossip, lieing, stealing, etc. How will others get to know God if we are not to associate with anyone outside our church. Isn't it our job to spead the gospel and to love and serve others. Jesus came to save the world, not to judge it.
    Ok, just my 2 cents! =)

  34. I think everyone wants to look nice. Just because I like to wear makeup or highlight my hair, I don't think that is being vain. I think its much more about how you feel. Do you think you are superior to others? Do you feel you are more attractive and more gifted than others?
    I for one do not. I just like to wear makeup and highlight my hair. Just like you choose which clothes you want to wear. So because you choose a cute pair of jeans, does that make you vain?

  35. Back when I was attending the OALC, I used to hear the same folks Sunday after Sunday, year after year, asking forgiveness for listening to the radio. Is that not a willful act? If a person truly believed that listening to the radio was a sin to be forgiven, why would they continually turn the radio on? Why not get rid of their radios, rip them out of their cars?

    Or, swearing. Is that not also a willful act? If a person truly believed that swearing was a sin to be forgiven, why would they continually swear? Swearing is a choice that one makes.

    Forgiveness has its place, but it has its flaws in the OALC. There's more to forgiveness than repeating awful behaviors, then being freed from it on Sundays.

  36. So much to think about and say...

    First to give some thoughts on the question... Does Laestadianism keep Sami culture alive today? If Sami culture is what was originally imported to The UP of Michigan, then I would say yes to some degree. But I am not savvy enough yet to differentiate between the Finnish and Sami.

    My Grandfather (My Mothers Father or Grandfather), I have been told, was considered a "Black Finn" because he came from an area of Finland that was so close to the Russian border, there was question among other Finns of there bloodlines. Also Dark Haired and Featured. Just an interesting aside.

    I know that my Mother and many others at her church all participate in the Finnish Cultural Festivals, they are sending there kids to the Finnish Language and culture camp run by Concordia up in Bemidji, MN. We properly know how to say the word "Sauna", and properly know how to take a Sauna. Instead of Jacuzzis or Spas, my friends Families would install a Sauna when they had the money or chance. I took communal Saunas with my friends long past the time it would have been considered weird for non Finns. We knew how to speak Finnish words, and I was surprised when I got older that Muccada (sic) was actually summer sausage. Simple stringed Finnish instruments can be found in most homes. Also jokes like these continue to get past along "Two Finns are hunting in the woods on a two week hunting trip, on the first day they walk past a dead animal carcass, one of the Hunters says 'Rabbit', Two weeks later when they are walking back past the same spot, the other Hunter says "Yah".

    That is not remotely funny unless you grew up around that Culture.

    Second item, I am facinated that the OALC or LLL has "Preachers" with such authority. The IALC has speakers, and they really are kind of a collective mouth piece. Some of the history of the IALC's split came from the diagreement about the authority of the preachers/speakers to try and explain the bible, IALC much more interested in the spirit. You believe because you believe, if you think about it too much it of course doesn't make a lot of sense, and that is Gods miracle, only God can understand and explain. Jesus's only commandment was that you believe in him and love him. Period. Wash away yours sins with belief and Holy Communion. No need for public confession, God knows and you know and it is up to you to reconcile that with God and be pure of Heart.

    I always though that that Church's message was beautiful and could have been so helpful to everybody. But the chirch culture had to go an mess it up, the community in the Church LIKES to be exclusive and special, hence the Handshake greeting, nobody else is saved, etc... makes those churches grow only through childbirth and the rare married convert. I always imagined being up there as a speaker and giving the exact same message, but doing it with an openness that would be inclusive, and explain the few restrictions against gambling, drinking, and dancing in way (another diatribe for another time), or push away social contacts from outside, that wouldn't make you feel like an alienated freak from the rest of the world. That message would spread like wild fire and more people could be saved.

    But alas, here I am, as frustrated as the rest of you.

    Mr. Smith

  37. Free, you are so eloquent it's almost scary.

    Oh, how I wish I could express my feelings about the OALC, without the bitterness coming to the surface. My spouse and I have talked about our leaving and how we refuse to allow ourselves to become bitter. There are many wonderful people in the OALC, and the last thing we want to do is burn our bridges, however, the hurtful, mean spirited things we have experienced over the years makes it difficult to take the high road.

    Like Free said, most days we are there, but other days the old feelings surface.

    Well, life goes on......

  38. When the bitterness (I don't really care for the word; The appropriate stage of grief is anger)is repressed, it simply simmers and causes stagnation.
    When it is allowed to come to the surface and be expressed in a healthy way, you can then heal and become soft and vulnerable.
    There are some valid things to be mad about. Hp3 expressed the feelings of betrayal, of being lied to as a pure, innocent child. The Bible says be angry, and sin not. There are a lot of things that warrant our anger. When a child is hurt, we should be angry. If we learn how to express that in healthy way, only then can we work it through and not let it become bitterness.
    Just my two cents.

  39. cvow,
    "Most of the writers on this and other similar blogs have left the various Laestadian faiths because they did not fulfill the needs of our hearts."

    Golly, that is putting it lightly- from my experience they leave because they realize thay are being abused in subtle or not so subtle ways, they are being taught lies and intolerance even for christians, preachers have hid crimes like child abuse to keep it within the church (you are owed forgiveness after all),they are discouraged fron studying God's word....and on and on

  40. anon,
    You have the beginnings of actual understanding... I hope you keep on your path and follow through with the thinking.

    " I do believe the Lord Jesus died for my sins. That is ALL that matters!"

    Exactly- and you need to STOP there and not take a deep breath and launch into how earings, hair etc, is "vanity" I don't recall the Bible talking about earings as vanity or mentioning the sin in wearing pants. You just said we should were our best to church- but the OALC defines what "best" and "non-vain" happen to be. If you want to stick with tradition, maybe you should actually wear Sami outfits to be authentic. Or perhaps traditional garb from the middle east around 20AD? Clothing is all "worldly" as are all styles of clothing from differant cultures. there is nothing "Godly" about wearing long dresses from 19th century Europe or America. It is reasonable to say you should not wear revealing or provocative clothes to church (by the standards of a RELEVANT culture), but to say a particular cultures clothing ideas are more godly is well, just plain silly. Unless you believe Jesus dressed like a Swede in 1850....

  41. On the note of email, I apologize to anyone who has tried to get ahold of me from the other site in the last while. I found out that email was not working.
    So the new account is helena at oldapostoliclutheran dot com.
    If you want to send hate mail, don't bother. I've gotten enough to last for the next four years. When I'm ready for some more, I'll let you know.
    And one of these days, I'll update the site.

  42. Never Forget, some days I try really hard to be gentle and diplomatic -- and even succeed. Other days I let the grumpy old Finn out of the box and rip skin off in thin strips...but most of the time I am not proud of that afterwards. :-)

    True Phyllomath, thanks for the "flaky" chuckle. ...and Mr Smith, I liked your joke, too. You know that two Finns are the only people in the world who will sit for a half hour in a room , not saying a word, and both think they had a fine visit?

    Perhaps that last is one of the inherent traits to being Finnish that allows unreasonable things to become truth, or to be held as agreement. What I mean is that many Finns are so stoic that they simply won't offer an opinion (unlike yours truly) and as a result are thought to be in full accord with what's being said. A trait of Finnish culture is that silence -- think time -- in a conversation is perfectly OK, unlike Americans who feel a burning need to fill even a two second gap with noise!

    My Dad fit the stoic Finn model very well, as I'm pretty sure there were days when he didn't say twelve words from sunup to sundown. If there was something he disagreed with, he was much more likely to dismiss the speaker as an idiot than he would have been to get into an argument -- sort of a "he's so stupid I'm not going to waste my breath trying to educate him." I do not remember him ever raising his voice with me, but I sure remember quite a few days when I was the recipient of the silent treatment! However, it wasn't always anger by any means -- there were simply some times when he didn't feel there was anything worth saying. Our middle son has always exhibited the same behavior -- and he did not grow up in that kind of environment or ever know my Dad as he passed away before our kids were born. Son has always treated everyone on a "need to know" basis.

    Do you think this hereditary trait engenders what is viewed as agreement to the views put forward by a minority? I think we heard the same fire and brimstone sermons when I was growing up, but it seemed that in that community many of us ignored that which seemed silly -- we just didn't publicly debate it! Is it "right" to have decorations and photos in our home? Silly! Is it wrong to play cards if they have "faces" on them rather than just numbers? Absurd! Is it fit to drive a "fancy" car? Ridiculous! Is it a sin to have wine with a meal? C'mon, Jesus did it!

  43. did Jesus ever say "follow and dress like me" ?

    I think there are a lot of interesting ideas here about mixing (confusing) traditions and faith.
    I was talking with a preacher from one of the godless, heathan LLL break-away churches and he used Luther's Small Catechism to explain their core beliefs. Pretty standard stuff (I grew up Catholic). However, when I asked about their emphasis on preaching about never drinking he explained that because some people become alcoholics if they drink at all, we should never drink as WE will lead them astray.
    I know LLL was concerned about alcohol in his time, at its bad effects on his people and this is also where they are coming from, as well as personal experience with family and friends.
    I think it is reasonable to discourage anything that is bad for society as a whole, like excessive drinking, (and the Bible talks about this excess specificly) but to preach as if that complete abstinance from alcohol is the word of God, and a core belief of the faith is dishonest.
    The same goes for music, and for womens clothes. If people were having drunken wild parties with scantily clad girls and lots of drinking to the detriment of work,family,and country- if the only way to convince them to stop was to preach that any of it in any way was against God and placing you on the road to hell, that might might be understandable. But is that a core of your faith?

    I think if religion is not relevant in current culture it dies off eventually. Why preach against drinking and church music in long, boring, crude sermons to old tradition bound people who wouldn't have a glass a wine, dance the shotish, or wear a low cut belly shirt ever in a zillion years. It is a waste of time.... and if you do not reach out to the younger people who actually have to live in the modern culture , and make the church relevant to them in language they understand... what a waste of oportunity to spread the Word.
    Another problem with worrying about silly extremes is that we need to be responsible to make the right choices and take the right stands when living here in the world. You can not avoid everything that could possibly lead you astray if done in excess. That is apparent from the comments above about preachers repeatedly asking for forgiveness for the same sins.
    Maybe preachers should ask for forgiveness for their actual sins, like lying or hiding criminal activities, or watching TV : ) A canned list of "sins" makes me think they do not truly believe they have any actual ones to ask forgiveness for.

  44. CVOW,

    I am sorry for criticizing your being diplomatic and gentle. Sometimes that IS difficult....

  45. Oh Never Forget, I didn't take it as criticism. Thanks for your input -- you've raised some very good thoughts!

  46. exoalc,

    Why don't you post some of that hate mail on your site. It would be interesting to read.

  47. (I already posted this but on the wrong conversation, and dont know how to delete, so sorry for the duplication)

    I am so thankful for everyones input and I love the opportunity to have things to consider and pray about... It is so helpful in the growing process, of moving past the bitterenss towards love and understanding... to have some of it make sense.

    oalcer -I truly appreciate your well thought out and articulate posts.

    Regarding your conclusion that in mans search for truth what has been found is that there is no truth: I can understand and even agree with many of your points, however I would like to expand further on what this "truth" vs "lack of truth" means to me. (FYI I was raised 10 generation oalc so I have the experience and history)

    In my search for truth, I had the hardest time with other PEOPLE defining truth for me... My research into the bible (ie just reading it even though that was discouraged) led me to discover that what I grew up hearing as "the truth" could not be substantiated by the bible. I do not believe that there is simply "truth" OR "untruth" but that one needs to be very careful what one believes is the truth.

    For example: The bible states that the women of old did not adorn themselves with outward apparal and plaiting of the hair, but in the inward, hidden manner of the heart.

    So I take that to be truth.

    However, what is "adorning?" Is it "wearing" or perhaps "how one wears?" That would be an intent of the heart, which only God can truly know and/or judge.

    What is "apparal" and "plaiting of the hair"?

    The bible doesnt give a defination to any of these words. I guarantee you that over the course of 2000 years, all across this vast globe, the meanings have changed multiple times...

    So I consider what the bible states to be truth, yet the interpretation to be opinion, and 'there is no truth in it'

    For example "apparal" could simply be clothes. Are clothes a sin? Could be, depending on your intent/adornment of them. In some countries its considered normal to wear nothing and at the opposite extreme, in other countries, its considered normal for a woman to show only her eyes. So what is this "apparal" that the bible says is NOT the way for women to adorn themselves?

    That answer I believe should be left up to the individual... and the individual that has a Christ centered life as thier goal, that prays for guidance from the Heavenly Father, will recieve the answer that is right for them through the Holy Spirit. After all, God knows our every weakness; He knows my every intention.

    The same arguement applies regarding "plaiting of the hair" Does anyone know what plaiting meant 2000 years ago in Greek or Hebrew? Is it braids? A string of pearls worn as a crown? A bun with decorative bobby pins holding it in place? Fancy hats or scarves? Who knows???????? (I guarantee you the proud-to-be-simple-in-childlike-faith-and-uneducated-folk of the oalc dont)

    So who can interpret these things for its entire current generation of congration members worldwide??

    For some preachers somewhere along the line to define a dress code for its congration of 10,000 people and state thier interpretaion of "apparal" and "plaiting of the hair" is indeed a law, (which has indeed changed over the years and geographic proximity, dispite thier claims otherwise) and a deciding factor of ones soul condition, so if you have an obedient (to them) heart, this will show because you will willingly follow thier interpretations... is, well, beyond ludicrus.

    I definately seperate the truth coming directly from the bible, vs the untruth of mans interpretation.

    I for one will focus on the TRUTH that the bible STATES, and yes, consider the rest "untruth" The bible is the truth, as for the rest.... there is no truth.

  48. I just came back after a few days absence. Holy Cow! It took me over an hour to catch up. Now I know why I am so happy in quiet company. Must be my Sami/Finn/Lapp blood. Even my own family can be too much for me. 'Course, when you have 30 zillion cousins, immediate family can be overwhelming. I totally get the "good visit" with no talk! And All this time I thought I was somehow defective.

  49. daisyaday says:
    I received a daily devotion from purposedrivenlife.com, and in light of the comments about witnessing to the LLC and/or OALC members, I thought it was very relevant. If you'll humor me, I'll just post it here since he says it much better than I could paraphrase it.

    Friends first
    by John Fischer

    The Great Commission is all about making friends. Now I know Jesus said, “Therefore, go and make disciples …” (Matthew 28:19 NLT), but Jesus himself showed that you can’t make a disciple until you first make a friend. “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” (John 15:15 NLT)

    So what Christians have called “witnessing” for some time really should be more like building relationships. It’s what you do over the long haul of a relationship that counts so much more than door-to-door canvassing of the neighborhood.

    In the movie The Big Kahuna starring Danny DeVito and Kevin Spacey, a young salesman fresh out of Baptist college goes on his first business trip to a convention with a couple seasoned veterans from his company. In an attempt to land a CEO (“The Big Kahuna”) of a very large account as a new client, the young Baptist, played surprisingly close to a real Baptist by Peter Tarrantino, ends up the unlikely one of the three who has the best shot at talking with the CEO.

    But instead of talking about the company he represents and setting up his partners with a meeting, the Baptist ends up spending the whole conversation witnessing to the man about Jesus. When his co-workers find out about this, Spacey goes ballistic. A hot-headed argument ensues between Spacey and the rookie salesman over the place of religion in business, and Danny DeVito, the oldest and wisest of the three, tries to calm them both down and provides some very sensible advice. What he says to the young Baptist should be heard and considered by all Christians. It goes something like this:

    “The minute you lay hold of a conversation in order to steer it in a certain direction, it ceases to be a conversation, it’s a sales pitch; and you aren’t a human being anymore, you’re a marketing rep. If you really care about the man, ask him about his kids … his wife … his dreams ...”

    It’s the difference between pushing an agenda and truly caring for somebody. If you care about somebody, you want to know what he or she is thinking, what is the person’s hopes and dreams, joys and disappointments – in other words, what are the things that make that person human. Friendship is all about finding common ground, and it is out of this common ground that what is shared will have credibility.

  50. Absolutely, Daisyaday. Great passage there...!

  51. daisyaday: Thanks for the link to purposedrivenlife.com I signed up to receive the daily devotional. I have read the book, its very good!

  52. Re; Stoic Finns

    I saw some years ago on 60 Minutes
    a special segment by Morley Safer
    on the subject, which I took as
    a serious look but from my back-
    ground found very humorous !

    The reporter noted several
    aspects of same.

    On a bus ride he noted nobody was
    talking and all had a somber look
    on their face.

    He attended a Tango Dance Hall,
    { the latest craze at that time,
    believe it or not!}where the
    females upon entering just threw
    purses into a common pile.This
    trust of the honesty of your
    fellow man and women amazed the

    What I thought was particularly
    humorous and sad {because of
    my own experience }was the comment
    from the Finn interviewed that
    male Finns have extreme difficulty
    telling their wives "I love you"
    even on her death bed !

    OK I can now hear a chorus from
    the wives!

    P.S. Seen on a T-Shirt:

    " Made in America
    With Finnish Parts"

    Now should be added:

    " With Sami Overtones."

  53. One thing that is interesting to note about Finnish culture... they do not want you to say you are Finnish if you are not originally from there, regardless of your ancestry. Most other cultures accept you saying you are Italian, African American, etc. but Finns have a problem with me saying I am Finnish even though my mom is from Finland and it was my first language.

  54. exoalc, I find that interesting because I've never been told by my friends and relatives from Finland that I shouldn't declare myself a Finn. As a matter of fact, the opposite has seemed to be true -- that they were somewhat proud that I maintained that identity and can sling the lingo.

    BTW, that does not mean that I am not a tried and true and extremely patriotic American -- but I am a Finnish American!

  55. exoalc:

    I am so very sorry you have been receiving so much hate mail. Regardless of our particular sect of Christianity each of us follows, I am still unaware of any that advocate hate. It saddens me greatly; for you, the underserving recipient, as well as those being hateful in thier efforts to follow Christ. It is so very much against the Christ's teachings and ways.

    I want to encourage you to update your site if you wish, but definately keep it up; and thank you for having it.

    I am not personally scandinavian decent, that Im aware of, or at least not predominantly so. I always wished I knew WHAT we were and where we came from, but my grandmother just always said "heinz57" and that was the most I could get out of anyone. It makes me sad to not know.

    But even so, it has been a fascinating concept to distinguish culteral traditions and beliefs from spiritual ones. It explains why I always "felt Finnish" and can act like it, even though Im probably not, and why I still practice many of the oalc traditions while not believing in thier doctrine of faith. It has helped me tremendously in sorting out the problems I do have with the church (spiritual issues) vs the things I dont have a problem with (culteral)

    In these past few weeks I have been able to realize that the many things I have missed about growing up in that church, are indeed culteral. That has helped me stop doubting and feeling guilty; like I was betraying God's leading me out of the church by missing some aspects of it. I also feel like I have a much better response to my family when they say "dont you miss the Christians love?"

    BTW on that note of 'the christians love' has anyone seen "Meet the Parents" and understand the reference to the rediculous "inside the circle of love" concept? (no I dont like the movie)

  56. "Whenever God Closes One Door He Always Opens Another, Even Though Sometimes It's Hell in the Hallway"

    I just got this today from a friend. I thought many here would say ahha (in that Finnish way) like I did. Maybe we spend (or spent) too much time in the hallway?

  57. Theoforos, could you post the discussion boards that discuss the OALC that you have talked about?

  58. There might be discussion going on also on some other Finnish boards, but I was primarily thinking about the following two:

    1. Suomi24, which includes dozens of different discussion boards in Finnish about all imaginable topics, but it hosts also three discussion boards about Laestadianism. The following link is to the board that is supposed to be about Laestadianism in general, but in practice it's mostly about the OALC (there's another one for the SRK/LLC, which is the biggest Laestadian group in Finland).


    2. Ruukku, which is the site of a Christian magazine established about 10 years ago by some young Finnish OALCers who thought there was a need for a more liberal magazine than Rauhan Side, the official magazine of the Finnish OALC. The web site has a discussion area (Keskustelu), which is open only for the subscribers of the magazine, and a Bible study area, which open for everyone. Only the subscribers can contribute, though.


  59. Re; Photo

    Say cheese!

    I noticed that no one is smiling
    in tne photo not even the kids.

    Also the two dogs were shown in
    the photo as part of the family.
    How American is that !

    Were they used to help herd the

  60. Regarding the picture, I agree it sure looks like a solemn bunch!

    But if you consider their living conditions, teepees for shelter, bundled up from the cold like a Polar Bear, no modern convenieces, I don't suppose they have much to smile about.

    It truly must be a hard existance!

  61. Yah its just too bad they think they still HAVE to live that way...

  62. Yah its just too bad they think they still HAVE to live that way...

    Fri Feb 02, 12:01:00 PM PST

    I'm assuming that you know more about the current Sami existence than most of the people on this blog. Could you explain your comment?

    From your comment it sounds like there is clash of cultures that still exists between the Sami and the neighboring cultures. Is this true?

  63. I apologize that I didnt clarify my comment... I was referring to the Sami decendants, culturally, not neccessarily genetically. Many of the Laestadias churches seem proud of what they percieve as thier Laestandian's people's heritage/roots (without actually knowing too many details) Especially the simple and hard working aspects: (which are good things to be proud of, dont get me wrong there) yet when a simple yet very difficult life becomes a criteria for spiritual guidelines... Im not sure how they successfully do that because it doesnt make sense to me... yet its what I have seen in some the current Laestadias churches. It can almost be a point of very prideful sacrifices, to continue to have such a difficult life with so many, many hardships; 'just like the old days from wence we came...' and 'lightmindedness' is considered sinful by some.

    I was simply noticing some of the histoy and how it seems to be distorted by some current followers, by taking a few aspects out of context. I actually know little regarding the Sami, just noticing some paralell's with the present.

    I think some of the past Sami clashes with thier culture is also a prideful point in some current Laestadian churches... some seem to think continuing to help create this clash is also a spiritual requirement.

    I was thinking how interesting it is what some aspects of our history, be it culteral or genetic, that people chose to keep, either knowingly or ignorantly.

  64. If I can speak for my own experience, that post above struck a nerve. Not because I don't agree with the poster, but because, as a young mother who had three babies in two and a half years, I always felt the pressure to be a "morning person", to be organized and to be wonder woman. There was not one person who showed me compassion as I threw up with my pregnancies and was on bedrest. Instead they expected me to cater to my husband and keep a spotless household.
    The work ethic is taken to extreme. I am getting an upset stomach just thinking about it.

  65. yes exoalc that thier expectations of the women is just one example I had in mind, and Im sorry. I also can relate and that is one of the reasons I wrote as such.

  66. Troll, maybe they weren't smiling because those old pictures took so long to take. You can't hold a steady smile for a full minute or more.

  67. Anon 8:04, you have touched on what to me is very abstract and which I have a hard time wrapping my mind around these days (drat this mind of mine), but nevertheless contains much truth: "when a simple yet very difficult life becomes a criteria for spiritual guidelines", "It can almost be a point of very prideful sacrifices, to continue to have such a difficult life with so many, many hardships; 'just like the old days from wence we came...' and 'lightmindedness' is considered sinful by some"

    Well said.

  68. I always wondered about that myself. When you look at they pictures that are published on the church websites or in their publications, it's almost as if the joy has been sucked out. It's all so serious. I know they must have some fun sometimes, but from my personal experience, they are one of the most serious bunches of people I've ever met. Much humor comes from ridiculing others. I know I'm stereotyping, and there are families who aren't that way, but I think it's a case of the bad apples giving the others a bad reputation. God has a sense of humor, too. Why else would he have given it to us?