"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Juletomte to the Rescue

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Juletomte to the Rescue

Hi friends! Thanks to Tomte, who may in fact be Juletomte, I am back to blogging. No sooner did I kvetch about my computer loss than he mailed me a little Dell that happened to be "gathering dust" around his um, workshop. (Apparently reindeer prefer Apples?) My Powerbook is in California somewhere getting data extracted, and when it returns, my warranty will recover its replacement. After which, I pledge to be a good citizen and back up regularly. One very expensive lesson learned.

Nonetheless, I am feeling very grateful these days, to Tomte (who also gifted us with "recent comments" and the Label CLoud and the new search box) and to all you regulars and newcomers, who have made for some exciting catch-up reading. Wow. You are doing such a great job of welcoming new voices and respectfully asking and answering questions. This feels like a true community, doesn't it? Who'd a thunk?

Recently a cousin in the OALC phoned me and asked if I was "free2bme." I confessed. She had heard rumors about this site and they were personal and derogatory, to put it mildly. This saddened me. I hope that she is comforted by the fact that we are not slandering people here. I welcome anyone to post comments. I expect others' experiences to be different than mine (my cousin's family does not, for example, practice shunning). But I will continue to publicly reject a doctrine that I consider false and harmful.

And sometimes just unsavory. I was tempted to hit the delete button when I read OALCer's post with the "breast" Laestadianisms, but decided it is better to leave it all on here. Readers can weigh the tone and content of all the various messages, and draw their own conclusions.

Now, as for searching the archives, doesn't the search box work for this? I will try it and report back.


  1. free2bme,
    Welcome back. It appears that searching works for post but not comments. If I type IALC and search nothing comes up. But, I have been just reviewing all the comments and I am finding many references.

    Not sure if you can put a more thorough search tool on this site or if anyone else even wants one. I figure from here on out I will just check in every so often to make sure I catch everything.

    Thanks for the site. I am sure it took a lot of guts to do it.

    PS - As I am sure you are aware, it doesn't matter what the others think. If you are still a religious person, you know only God can judge you.


  2. Welcome back. Yes, this does feel like a great community. Interesting that your cousins don't practice shunning. I've been coming to realize that much of the worst Laestadianism didn't come from my immediate family. Matter of fact, my immediate family and even much of my extended family doesn't agree with the legalism and cult-ish aspects of Laestadianism. There are many in my family who are precious travelers (had to use a Laestadian word without irony for once).

  3. LLLreader sez: ilmarinen I was thinking about my extended family within the OALC last night. I have such a deep love for them. They have always been so kind to me--I look like them and sound like them, I just can't BE like them. I am one of the fortunate ones who hasn't been rejected by family. Freeda--so glad you are back--salutations.

  4. stranger in a strange land3/05/2007 10:07:00 AM

    I am not really aware of any case where the IALC practices shunning. I come from a large and extended family, some of whom are from a previous split, some who don't go to any church at all, and the majority who still go to the IALC. At family gatherings, it seems, everyone is welcome. Though our dear grandparents are gone, they treated their grandchildren who don't go to church the same as the others. Maybe there are those in the IALC who practice some form of shunning but I have not heard much about this. Maybe there is the discomfort of those who left combined with those who still go not knowing what to say. There are those who leave angry and those who do not. One particular case I know about involved a mother with four or five grown and nearly-grown children who left her marriage when she "came out" as a lesbian. She now has a female partner who she introduces as her wife, I believe. The ex-wife and her partner have attended her children's weddings together in the church. And she reportedly has kept up some of her friendships with church members, stating that when she met her husband and converted that she thought she believed just because the people were the nicest and kindest people she had ever met, but that she never quite accepted it for herself. She appears to harbor no ill will against the church. Her husband, a physician, has remarried and he and his new wife go to church.

    She even has been known to make jokes about her sexual identity. She ran into a female acquaintence from the church , and said, _________, you sure are looking good! The friend replied that she was not sure if she looked good, since she had gained a few pounds. The reply back was, "No, you look HOT, and I should KNOW!!!

    Could it be the difference in attitude? If you leave angry and bitter, perhaps the anger and the bitterness get mirrored back?

    I am sure its different with every case of leaving and with each individual family. Not all OALC'ers or FALC'ers, or IALC'ers practice shunning.

    On the other hand, I have a friend at work who was brought up Catholic, and was shunned by her family years ago when she married a Jewish man. The reconciliation did not happen until their children were already grown!

  5. Many Trails Home3/05/2007 10:33:00 AM

    Stranger, there might be something in what you say. We are ex-OALC and of the 3 of us sisters who left, none has experienced shunning. But on the other hand, we don't rub anyone's nose in our ex-OALC status either. In fact, we don't say anything so they would have the option to believe we still "believe" if they wanted to. It's an off-limits subject, more or less, for the sake of harmony, I guess. My dad was much more open-minded, having grown up on the fringes of the OALC, but even he suggested that we no longer had any contact with Uncle X (his brother) because he left "the Christianity." That's the only shunning reference I ever personally experienced. MTH

  6. Stranger,
    For IALC, shunning is probably too harsh of a word. The only people I can think of who would actually shun people are some of the backwoods families. But many of them were peculiar anyway.

    I remember other people who were leaving or borderline and how some people in the congregation would purposefully ignore them in order to make the person feel ostracized, almost to force them into staying, like if they stayed then they would be nice again. Of course it had the exact opposite effect and hastened their leaving.

    I would say it is more of an extreme uncomfortableness, I made the point on a previous post that it is closely related to provincialism. That when you reject the teachings of the Church, you make people who stay examine why they stay, and that is hard. Easy to never have to question or think about what is being spoken.

    I was overtly told that I was not welcome with my friends if I did not toe the line. But my leaving was a real betrayal to them, especially giving my status in our social group. I am sure now that some years have passed I could play Golf or Tennis with some of the guys, but it would be kept on the down low from other church members I am sure.

    I love that story you told about the Dr. and his Lesbian Wife. I was pretty good friends with the kids, it was really weird all around. I had other really good friends whos mother quit coming to Church when I was 10 or 11, I remember the rumor mongering was vicious. My aunts and uncles are really the only contact I have with Church people besides my parents, and they always find a way to take jabs, but I think that is more there personality then anything institutionally mandated.

    I guess in any organization you always have the jerks. But organizations always have some jerks to carry out the dirty work for the others so they can not get there hands dirty.

  7. When I left the LLC, I wouldn't say I was shunned, but I was treated like an outsider. My mother did not want my younger siblings going places with me. I guess I would have influenced them or something? And friends, well forget about it. They don't stick around. Your not one of them anymore, your an unbeliever in their eyes. So you are not able to get close to them, the walls go up.

  8. Yes free, it has been quite a lively rapport lateley, hasnt it? I greatly appreciate the many voices of reasonable and loving input.

    I have previously shared some of my painful leaving experiences and dont really want to redo them again... but for now, I was thinking about all those who "left the church" when I was young and still "in" Several of my cousins that I used to be close to for example. I remeber asking about them and I would hear one of two replies: one) mean gossip -they were bitter and wanted to sin etc, or two) nobody knew anything about them -since they chose to leave, they were gone and unimportant. No further contact, no ideas how or what they were doing. Our oalc world was literally flat and others simply fell off.

    I would love to find out where they are and what they are doing. I wonder where to start since no one seems to know? It feels like an empty spot, and I wonder how they thought I may have treated them?

    I am sometimes uncomfortable and scared that someone might recognize me. Not sure why though. Ive been truthful about myself, my beliefs and experiences. I havent been "around" for several years, and the truths about myself Ive exposed here are much nicer and simpler than the gossip Ive heard about myself... I would be honest with anyone who confronted me also (although Ive not had that happen, its all been behind my back and relayed to me via the grapevine) I think others that are willing to listen to me for who I am, maybe that have left (or not) I wouldnt mind losing the anonimity, but current members who dont understand (or dont want to) scare me still.

    My grandmother asked me once, if I felt I would ever set foot in the church again. Well, I answered that I didnt have any hard feelings and would have no problems going back. (I didnt elaborate that I meant if I happened to be in town or visiting family etc, but never on a regular basis) I just didnt want to get into it. I was worried I let my grandma down by not discussing Christ' love and the bible, yet I didnt want her to die with us on "bad terms" either. Its very confusing.

    It is almost easier to just let them think what they want about me, rather than getting into a "brick wall" discussion with only one of us really listening to the other with an open mind and heart. And Im guilty of that too. I have been working on trying to listen to them and explain myself with patience and love, rather then frustration... It still have a ways to go too.

  9. backtothefuturecc3/05/2007 04:58:00 PM

    Just to let you know I felt shunned and I attended twice a sunday, tried my darndest to fit in,but always felt like an outsider. O course my last name did not sound finnish, it was in fact swedish. I had no cousins in the flock and my parents only had 2 kids. Doesnt fit the general picture of a church person does it?

  10. When I first found these sites, my husband and I were trying figure out how much contact to have with my family that still attends the church (as they were having the same discussions about us) I wrote much about how many hard feelings there seem to be, on both sides, and how sad it made everyone, again both sides. The situation has still not resolved itself (it has been only 6 short months after all) Yet I find myself again thinking of them. Trying to think of anything I can do to try and make ammends, without compromising who we are and how we now believe and live our lives.

    My husband and I decided to try a discussion involving everyone, whereby we said we wanted to address the issue because we are family and we love them so much. Our terms are simple; accept us and love us as we are and we will do the same with them. Agree to disagree and leave the children out of it. (The examples set by each could be good for the other as they are still small) If that cant be done, than we have to move on, and love from a distance.

    I dont know why I feel compelled to try something like this, especially since they are the ones who initiated the no contact and told us they refused to associate with us (yet then proceeded to invite just me to thier home) I cant let them exclude just my husband, or let them think I am somehow like them and not like him. We are a couple and joined together in our life and spiritual goals (or else I wouldnt have married him)

    I have stopped in a couple times, but its so shallow and Im bothered the entire time we dont talk about things that really matter to me, and my husband feels rejected.

    Just get it out of the way so I can know thier stance and move on with my life? I feel they've made it clear to us, and maybe the "invitation" is simply a "christian act" so they are "not guilty of shunning" me. (does he count?)

    I know its hard for them to not judge me and think they already know me (and him) and Im finding it just as hard for me to not judge them and think I already know them, because I grew up with them.

    Especially with the kids now that I think of it. Our little girl has short bobbed hair and loves to paint her nails (we have 20 different colors, one for every finger and toe) We would need to address how these issues are talked about without put downs or judgement, yet thats contradictory to everything I grew up with.

    There is no date in the near future for contact, (we live several hours away) but if anyone has any suggestions, I am interested.

  11. I have recently tried to reach out to my parents in love. I just have desired a deeper, more intimate relationship with them since I found Christ in my heart. It only left me in very much pain and heartache. I was told they are the sheep and need to stick together. They can't get too close to the "unbelievers" since the wolf might get them. When I told them about my desires to know them more from the heart, it was ignored. I told them my heart was open to them, I am always willing to talk about faith issues if they are willing. I hit the brick wall pretty hard and fell apart.

    Not saying you can't try hp3, just telling you my experience with it. Now I am just trying to accept that I am probably never going to have that relationship with my family that I desire, they won't allow me to get too close. It has to be from more of a distance. Its hard to accept, but there isn't anything I can do but just be myself and love them anyhow. Its painful.

  12. One thing I worry about is my future children. My neices and nephews now, as young as 5-7, tell me I am not a Christian, I am an unbeliever. What are they going to tell my children? The same? I worry about that. My children won't even understand because I will refuse to teach them about who is a Christian or not. They are too young at that age, I think, to truly understand what it even really means.

  13. hp3, it sounds like your family loves you and wants to remain close. That's wonderful. Is it possible to tell them that and also kindly, firmly communicate your expectations for them: that you, your husband and children will not only be welcomed but treated with love and respect? Would you consider making faith "off limits" for discussion? (This is what I asked of my parents.) When your actions do the speaking, sometimes the message is much clearer.

    Your daughter sounds like mine, with the bobbed hair and love of "rainbow colors." Darling! Don't change a thing -- just teach her how to handle criticism -- a skill she will use her life long.

    Before we see our OALC relatives, I remind my kids about their beliefs just as I would if we were visiting a mosque, hoping to protect everyone involved from awkwardness. A little role-playing helps them practice "sticking up for themselves."

    So far, though, the biggest issue has been my kids' objection to being ignored by their OALC relatives. No music is find, but no conversation? Unbearable!

  14. It makes me sick how people are. Did Jesus not die on the cross so that we ALL have a chance to make it to heaven? Thank God he is the one who judges us and not man because on one would make it to heaven.
    I grew up in the ALC and am still going. We have many family members who go to many diffenert churches and we do not treat them any diffenert then the ones who go to ALC.
    I know many men who are so called Christains, yet there out there screwing people in the work place for the almighyt dollar and then are stricties everwhere else in life. Well, people that's a SIN!!

  15. "In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."

  16. “the fact that we are not slandering people here.”...
    "Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."