"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: No More Christians!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

No More Christians!

I ran across something many of you might find interesting.

There is more at Metafilter.


  1. Thats funny. I have seen the cars with the bumper stickers plastered all over.I don't think people are turned on by that.
    Did anyone see The Outsiders on Primetime last night? There is a Puerto Rican guy claiming to be Christ. He said he had a vision of two angels and the angels told him he was the second coming of Christ. And people are believing it, lots of them. Hes an ex criminal! He's been in jail. He's got the idea that there is no sin anymore. Anything goes. A crime is a crime, not a sin. I can't believe people are falling for it. I know the bible says people will come and claim to be Christ. Boy is that true!

  2. What's the "Christian no more" mean at the end of the clip?

  3. I have a couple of brief comments about this spoof:

    First, I think some of its humor is a little oddly misplaced. It makes fun of a Christian carrying around books. I see nothing worthy of mockery in that, speaking personally. In my opinion, it's a very good thing for people to be reading, the Bible inclusive, and especially books of moral philosophy, which is one kind of book specifically mentioned. I believe yesterday, today, and tomorrow are good times to do a lot more serious reading, rather than watching mindless network sitcoms, game shows, reality shows, sports, or even the endless river of dumbed-down documentaries that swarm cable TV like a plague of cranial locusts.

    Second, I don't personally object to bumper stickers ot tee-shirts or almost any other way that Christians use to indicate that they are Christians. I don't personally understand why people find this so objectionable and worthy of mockery. Frankly, and again personally speaking, because I am not a Christian but once was, I WANT Christians to say that they are Christians and to show me what KIND of Christian they take themselves to be. I'd rather know who it is I'm talking to or dealing with on such serious matters as metaphysical or religious truth than staying in the dark about some guy or gal who is trying to show how loving he is in obedience to Jesus's commands. I'll always take loving treatment, certainly, but I want Christians to reveal themselves for what they are and not use subterfuge to get in my good graces.

    Further, for many millions of Christians this practice of evangelizing in one way or another and of confessing their faith before other people are deemed duties. The Bible is their sacred book, and there are passages in it that call on Christians to spread the Good News of Christ and to show that they believe. Though I do not share the duty of evangelism or sanction its purpose, I have no objection to someone trying to persuade me to come to know the truth and be saved -- out of concern and love for me. If I don't want to hear it, I can walk away or tell them that I do not wish to hear it at this time. But I believe that letting Christians openly be Christians is important and liberating for those who have left the faith. It is hard sometimes, but we who have left must be mature and strong in saying that we are grateful for the concern for us, but stating calmly and confidently that their faith is wrong or that the evangelizing is not now needed. But to mock Christians for adhering to what they see as a command of their savior, the person whom they believe to be the God of the Universe, I consider that in itself objectionable.

    Preaching the good news makes sense, too, for as Paul sensibly wrote, how shall they know unless the Word is preached? Though we unbelievers don't agree with what is being preached and don't like it, that position makes perfectly good sense. And even further, there are plenty of misconceptions about Christianity that its adherents must -- and have a right to try to -- counteract. But I'm one of those people who would deny to no one the chance to "convert" me to his passionately held faith, even astrology or numerology. I enjoy hearing about faiths of all kinds. I think it's part of growing up spiritually. That's how the Toots tried to keep me a child: prevent me from hearing about any other faith.

    Finally, for me, again speaking personally, I have been much, much more hurt in my life from being shunned by Christians of the faith I once shared with them (the Toots in particular, but not exclusively) than from Christians who have tried to persuade me to bow my knee to Christ in the years since I converted away from Christianity.

    Still, I thought the satire was mildly amusing.

  4. A little background info: this is produced by the Community Christian Church. They are trying to send out a message of the difference between what they call Christians and Christ-followers. As far as I could tell, the message boils down to this: our faith should be made manifest in our actions and our lives rather than in labels we apply to ourselves or cultural "markers" we adhere to. This message seemed applicable to the Laestadian community because, in my experience, that community tended to prize outward cultural markers and self-applied labels more than genuine works of charity. Check out the links in the Metafilter post to learn more.

    The overall point seemed sound to me, although there are plenty of details I could take issue with.

  5. I just happen to think its a bit much when there are stickers everywhere, signs on the windows of the car. Just my opinion. I find one sticker to say more than 50. Anyhow, each to their own! We can appreciate all kinds.

  6. Hi, Faith and Ilmarinen. Thanks for the comments. As to Ilmarinen's comment, I would note that there are a number of Christian groups, often the liberal ones it appears, who wish to distance themselves from the more aggressive evangelizing practices of other Christian groups, which the more liberal ones often consider of lesser value. In this case the distancing is being accomplished by mockery. That would seem to be the purpose of the spoof, making a guess from what you have told us. In this context, my reaction remains almost the same, as I have babbled on about at length in a previous comment.

    It's interesting to note that in my adult experience, from outside the Toot world, I have seen very little effort among the many Toots I know and know of to mark themselves as anything other than good, continuously-consuming Americans (a subject worth delving into). To remind you, I grew up in and left the Heidemannian branch, to which I have all my connections. I can't speak to other branches of Tootdom. And, regardless, I'd still rather have Christians wear their cultural markers as they see fit and all of us, Christian and non-Christian, be a lot more loving. It's not such a bad thing to wear or display markers, in my opinion. Indeed, it's a common practice across the world and in all ages of humankind. My kids see it every day in their schools, where almost every kid tries hard to observe the current fashion rules to keep from being marked as an outsider. We all use surface tags to display or to hide who we are all tghe time. I say, let Christians have theirs.

    As to Faith, I can see your point. But I care very little about the amount of parading. In fact, I enjoy it. To take an example, here in Okemos, Michigan (a mostly rather well-to-do suburban community near Michigan State University), right after the start of the Iraq War, a Muslim father of a large family living in a slightly ramshackle and oddly painted house on a prominent corner in Okemos placarded the front of his house, which faced a busy intersection with a traffic light, with signs and announcements opposing the war and denouncing Dubya, his policies, and the US in general. I didn't have any problem at all with the fellow's brand of evangelism, which (I stopped to read many times) included a few calls on us heathens to submit to Allah before it's too late. I was rather glad to have him out there with his views rather than secretly brooding on his rage. I learned a few things, too. They've left town, and I've missed the running commentary.

  7. Ben, the FALCers seem to have the least emphasis on external markers of group membership of all the Laestadian groups, with the exceptions of the IALC and some ALC groups. The OALC, as well as some ALC groups and the LLC to some extent, has a much stronger emphasis on markers, especially for women. For example, FALC women are generally allowed to dress in a mainstream fashion while OALC women are more likely to be prohibited from cutting their hair or otherwise following fashions "of the world." FALC kids are allowed to play sports in high school, but OALC kids generally are not.

    I fully support people's right to identify themselves as belonging to a group, but when the focus seems to be mostly on external signs of identification, the phenomenon appears cloying, narcissistic, or claustrophobic to me. When those signs of group membership become mandatory at the penalty of rebuking or shunning, it seems we've crossed into unhealthy territory.

  8. Wed Mar 07, 01:26:00 PM PST

    daisyaday said...
    I see the videos trying to communicate that if a person is so focused on having or reading the "right" books, wearing the right clothes for church, having the right bumper stickers, listening to the "right" music, whatever...if that is what they are focused on rather than having a heart like Christ, they have missed the mark. It wasn't so much that he was funny because he had all that stuff, or that he had the books, but that he seemed critical or slightly judgemental, maybe even unaware that there was another way to be a Christian.

    Like when the second guy said U2--the first guy was so involved in the outward "things" of being a Christian that U2 went completely over his head.

    He could talk the talk, but did he know how to walk the walk?

    I can see what you mean, Ben, by saying that he was being mocked, but I thought it was more about his sttitude rather than for openly being a Christian. I guess they are still open for interpretation. JMHO.

  9. Thanks, Ilmarinen, for the further comments. I will be pondering them with care, as I hope and trust you will ponder mine. We aren't so far apart, from my view, perhaps no more than putting the emphasis differently. I would say, trying to be brief (which can be difficult for me), that the wearing of markers among OALC women appears to me little more claustrophobic than the wearing of certain au courant markers among Michigan high school girls, such as the tightly enforced insistence on tight, hip-hugging jeans and tee-shirts that bare the midriff. Violate the rules and one will pay with diminishing "popularity," all girls unconsciously, but with perfect certainty, understand to their social peril. But, again, I will think carefully about your points.

    One more comment: it has always been most fascinating to me that Heidemannians so cleanly separate their "worldly" lives from their "church" lives. They seem to oscillate back and forth with such ease and nary a worry.

  10. backtothefuturecc3/07/2007 04:44:00 PM

    their was this very evangilistic guy at my work who who spend his free time reading the bible and checking out porn sites. He couldnt do it at home because he thought the computer should be in the family room as he didnt trust the sites hsi kids would visit. Just a bit of transferance, hey?

  11. backtothefuturecc3/07/2007 04:48:00 PM

    I know that comment had to be somehow related ....in other words I dont think you have to wear christianity on your sleeve. People will know you are a christian by your everyday actions. I think people who have to show it off have an underlying problem.

  12. backtothefuturecc3/07/2007 05:17:00 PM

    I always steer clear of showy "christians" , I just dont trust them, I grew up with very religious people, but i'm not sure they were christians, christ like, they never treated me very christ like.

  13. Satire is obviously lost on some people.

    Everything can be mocked for comedic value. There are no sacred cows.

    Sure, humans beings will always use some sort of symbol or identifier in order to show there social status or affiliation. If we did not we would all wear plain nondescript clothing like sacks.

    Everyday when I wake up, or every time I am going to go someplace, I consciously think of my clothing choice and what effect it will have on my interactions with others. If I have mechanics clothes on and i am only going to the autostore, I won'c change. But what if I have to go to the grocery store also? Well then I change to something a little more decent. What if it is the gourmet store in the nice part of town, then even better clothes. BBQ in the hood, nice but not too nice. Work today, I have a meeting so I am going to dandy it up a little. We all make these decisions everyday.

    But when you start to become sactimonious about what you where, or how what you where, or put on your car, you think shows to the world how you are a good person, is open to mocking.

    College kid in a coffee shop reading kafka and wearing all black, begging to be mocked. Guys in Los Angeles (myself included) wearing $150 jeans, dress shirts and sportcoats with too much product in their hair? Begging to be mocked. Last but not least, "Chistians" who have 5 bumper stickers on their car, carry there religious books, everywhere, and always let you know that they are christian at any chance they get? Begging to be mocked.

    I golf, and you see guys out there on the course who have every name brand in the world on their clothing and equipment and can't hit a ball. Begging to be mocked.

    The videos have a point, quit trying to be so arche-typicaly christian, and just be a christian.

  14. Aargh. My dog just unplugged the computer and *poof* went my painstakingly-crafted, erudite comment. So you'll get this one instead.

    First I want to say to Ben, I'd like to read an update on your journal of doubt sometime. How did you arrive where you're at? Next I want to disagree with you. The OALC markers are not at all like coed markers, from the diversity thereof to their power. Whatever one thinks of modern fashion (often appalling, IMO), there lots of choices for women now. Choices: the whole point of feminism, a movement yet to reach the OALC.

    Ben, you wish folks would be more open about their beliefs. I wish folks would have fewer beliefs, and hold the ones they have in humility, being open to adjustment with new information. One can only hope that a new Enlightenment will dawn, in which cultural diversity is respected while philosophical provincialism and denseness wanes.

    In an interview on NPR today, an eloquent "former creationist" turned "evolutionary evangelical" named Michael Dowd was optimistic about the future of man (and religions in general), which he sees as primarily "making sense of our world" with the tools at hand. Naturally, 1st century tools were different than ours.

    The universe is like a set of nesting dolls, he says. We reside in God, belief or no belief. "God's language" is nature: the facts of the universe. We discover this language through personal revelation (our sacred stories) and through shared revelation (science).

    He thinks it is a great time to be alive in the history of the humanity, because as we grow in accumulated facts and understanding of them, we will increase in harmony / sustainability, and "religions will flower."

    It's his mission to urge us along that path. You can check out his site at www.thegreatstory.org

    He also mentioned that once he had a bumper sticker that showed a Darwin fish kissing a Jesus fish. A friend said "now you can piss off everybody." Or be misunderstood by everybody, at least.

    I think all markers have that power, and I avoid them like I do cliches and logos on clothes -- recognizing that whatever one says or wears or buys or drives is a marker for folks looking for a shortcut, but to heck with 'em.

    I see the video (and recent TV ads by the Church of Christ with the "comma" and gay couples -- ads that were rejected by mainstream media!) as an effort to reclaim Christianity from televangelists. Not sure how effective they'll be, but I say: godspeed.

  15. The Metafilter link had some good comments.. None of us is exempt from scrutiny, which is a good reason to live authentic lives, and if we say we stand for something then our lives should show it! "By their fruits ye shall know them" And if we are still mocked, then so be it. Can't please everyone lol.

    (neither the Mac nor the PC took the high road though, in this satire. If the Mac would have been holding a Bible his point would have been stronger, IMHO)

  16. So, the video is produced by the CCC church, and when you read about them, you find that, wonder of wonders, they have a new book for sale, to tell us all what a Christian should be.
    I am very suspect of any church group that is selling things!
    No thanks. I'll read my Bible and decide for myself.

  17. Wonderful! This is something that I am starting to hear more often from some ALC pastors. It seems as though there is more courage to say it the way it is, and high time! Bless you for posting this, 4eyes!

  18. After reading 4eyes post I am stunned to hear about the treatment of women and level of anti-intellectualism in other AL churches. In the IALC church, it was very much expected that both male and female would go to college, or at least a trade school. I would say the actual numbers of people that attended a 4 year university and did not would be relatively consistent of, if not a little higher then the national norms.

    Anti-Intellectualism exists in the IALC, but not at such a high level. Sure, people still get married very young, but many women definitely go to school. Interestingly though, it was very much encouraged (for both sexes) to stay with engineering, science, or something that was more of a trade. Intellectual persuits like philosophy etc... were definitly NOT encouraged. If you were studying something outside the realm of acceptability, you kept it pretty hush hush.

  19. Something that I would like to see discussed is the role of baptism as a means of new birth. It seems as though in mainstream Lutheranism (following the teachings of Luther), baptism is the means by which we are born again. In the LLL churches and other denominations, new birth is something which occurs apart from baptism. Recently I've begun to see baptism as critical, something that we can trust in to ensure that we are in God's kingdom..as per Luther's own words and explanations in his catechism. Thoughts?

  20. LLLreader to Ben: Wonderful post! You know that Raattamaa battled alcoholism. LLL continued to support and forgive him even as they were preaching together, and eventually Juhani was able to quit drinking. Do you think their relationship influenced LLL's uderstanding that it took a powerful force to overcome sin and to become a new man? I knew that Raattamaa was a powerful force in the development of the Apostolic Church, but this is the first time I have thought that his recovery may have had a huge influence. Also want to mention your take on why so many rules are given to the various branches. Of course, if WE have certain rules and YOUR church doesn't have the same rules then we must be right--so new and better rules have to be made all along the way. Kind of like the OALC taking some songs out of the Hymn Book--like Amazing Grace for goodness sake! Take THAT you other dead faith Apostolic churches!!!!! Thanks Ben


    There is no god.

  22. Just some comments from my experiences. In the church I went to women were not encouraged to go to college except for something medical. Women are encouraged to not work if they have kids, that their greatest honor is to be a mother. One friend of mine who had thought she was unable to have kids said it is the greatest honor to be a mother but the way it was said hurt her because she felt like her life was worth less than a woman who could have children.

  23. Mr. Smith, your perspective is interesting to me. As a female who did well in school, I felt increasingly out of place at the IALC the older I got -- mostly due to the attitudes (even if unspoken) towards intellectualism and career women.

    Yeah, a lot of the young women went to college, but from my perspective one *never* heard about what women *did* with their lives. Couple that with the omnipresent young marriages and (relatively) young mothers, and I really started to feel like that was supposed to be the route I was expected to take. Get a degree if you want, but be sure to do your duty by quitting your job and breeding! It was a route I was not at all interested in, for as long as I can remember -- in first grade I wanted to be an archeologist, for crying out loud! So as my friends were getting married and having kids, I was delving into my college studies. We simply had less and less to talk about.

    I have also been told by IALC members on more than one occasion that "you better be careful about thinking too hard." I think now what they really meant is "don't tell me about the history of this church. I have to believe that this faith has not changed since day one or I'm doomed." So anti-intellectualism in the IALC? I know *I* saw it, and felt it intensely. It may be due to the lines of thought that interested me, or because I was born female, but it was clearly there.

    Is it worse in other ALC's?

  24. I left the OALC more than two decades ago. I was born and raised there. I can't remember ever seeing a woman who was a college graduate there. Men, yes. Women, no. What you described in the IALC was pretty much the way I saw it in the OALC.

  25. My 2 cents on education and the IALC. Keep in mind, I was not part of the "mainstream" groups in the UP, WI and MN. We only went to the big services there during labor day, memorial day and maybe a couple of other times. This kind of made me an outsider. Our congregation had at most 30 people; mostly over 40 years of age.

    I remember a specific speaker who died around 10 years ago that was a prof at U of M in Ann Arbor. His son ended up a doctor and I believe is still in the church. I also recall doctors, engineers, teachers and some other professions. However, I dont remember one lawyer or restaurant owner; or businessmen in general and definitely not politicians.

    For me personally and if I was still in the church, I believe that the career concept would be as follows: A "believer" needs to interact with the world and follow the world's laws. We don't interact or get involved in politics because "worldly" politics really do not matter, only faith matters. Therefore, one must work to maintain a family and tithe to the church. While working, one must not partake in worldly things: go to restaurants with bars, dance, gamble, play cards etc. You also must confess your beliefs if asked by a non believer. If you can follow all those basic rules, any career is ok.

    I will admit that this seems to mostly go with the men in the church. I agree that women were expected to raise kids as a priority and were looked down on a bit for pursuing a career. Sucked to be women with the IALC. My mom who is still active is a very stubborn sisu-ish Finn and that aspect drives her nuts. But she only mentions it to my dad and very close friends. And she did get her masters degree while catching flack from church goers.

    On the other note: I will also agree that the history of the church was never discussed with me. The only thing I remember was maybe one speaker quoting another "brother" from years past.

    Good stuff on this site.

    Take care all.

  26. Thanks for sharing, both of you.

    Rebel, your summary of "career concept" is pretty much spot on. The only notes I'd make is that during confirmation our class was specifically told that being a lawyer would go against the faith (presumably because being involved in lawsuits is seen as wrong?). From context I have gathered that options such as paleontology (requiring belief in dinosaurs/evolution) and ballet (requiring dancing) would be right out as well. Interesting that you mention politicians...I can't think of anyone ever specifically saying that was off-limits, but there never seemed to be people with aspirations in that direction in the first place. I guess it may be sort of like how I saw the field of acting when I was in the church -- seemed like it was too much "of the world" to get involved with, and anyone who wanted to be involved in such things was suspect.

  27. There is a huge diversity of perspectives in the ALC (Federation) on education. About twenty years ago, people from the NH area would ask college students why they were wasting time in college when they could work in construction, make money, get a cool car, and get a boyfriend or girlfriend. At the same time, other people questioned whether going to college was just a means of making a whole pile of money, which was wrong. They were surprised to hear that some people go to college because the careers that meet their interests and abilities require a college education. Not everyone is cut out for handling lumber.

    These days, more people go to college, although construction still seems to be the dominant career choice for men and homemaker for women. My extended family is more into education than the average ALCer, and the majority of the college students I know from the ALC are still my first cousins from my generation. My grandpa encourages people to get a college education, while others are still very suspicious of academia--that corrupting liberal den of iniquity.

    My opinion: everyone is different and there is no path that works for all. We just need to follow our own interests and abilities. Whatever path that leads us down is respectable and should not be mocked, whether it is construction worker or engineer, biologist or machinist, farmer or accountant. (I still don't understand how some people go to college for something like dance or English, but I support their choice as long as they are aware of the career prospects.)

  28. Koivutar,
    Mr. Smith mentioned you when I first joined a week ago. Nice to kind of meet you.

    I never heard the no law thing in confirmation (I was confirmed in minneapolis around 1984; give or take a year). But I can't deny extensive day dreaming during confirmation and church; I may have missed a few points. What can I say? I was a weak believer. ;)

    Ballet? Kind of sad that basically the arts (acting and dance specifically) are not even an option. Don't even think of getting enjoyment from life unless it is with our preselected believers.

    Although I do know of one active speaker (still active today and a big player in the scene) that has a granddaughter that was a very good gymnast. So good, in fact, that she studied with that famous coach in Texas; the name escapes me but we all saw him hold up that injured gold medalist in the olympics. Anyway, I am sure there was plenty of whispering regarding that. This would seem controversial because gymnast kind of dance. This would definitely present a gray area and some controversy. You may even know the family; not that it matters.

    As for politics, I actually kind of agree with IALC. I am not against politicians or even lawyers. We can't operate without them. But, I do kind of like the way the IALC does not like to get involved in politics like many other churches do. I don't even remember people talking about presidential elections casually.

  29. Good discussion. My Grandfather -- who was more than a thorn in the side of the OALC church fathers on more than one occasion -- was a strong proponent of education. He came to America with little education, but saw to it that his two children got through the 8th grade (the norm back in the 1920s in rural America), and while my Dad chose to farm, Grandpa saw to it that his daughter got additional education, including business school. He served on the local school board for many years, and even set money aside so that all three of his grandchildren would get at least a good start in college.

    Ilmarinen, I'm surprised at you -- you don't understand someone going to school for English or dance? How old school! I chose to go into engineering for economic reasons, but have always said there's a frustrated English major inside me! My daughter in law was an English major who got her Master's in education, and is an exceptional teacher -- of English! She's one of those people who try hard to combat the "I are an engineer" types...

  30. CVOW, maybe it's old school, but I've met too many people who went for degrees that don't turn into decent jobs. They struggle with debt and poverty, and the situation just doesn't lure me to follow it. But I realize some people want to go that route, so I support their idealism and wish them the best. Maybe someone can explain to me why a person would go to college, put themself $75,000 in debt, and once graduated, only have career prospects of POSSIBLY getting a $28,000/yr job?

    To be honest, there's a little bit of a frustrated psychologist or anthropologist in me.

  31. Many Trails Home3/11/2007 12:34:00 PM

    Ilmarinene, some people are hopelessly impractical, that's all there is to it. Usually they have a safety net under them (well-off parents, etc.)
    I'm OALC and started off in the 9th grade in the commercial curriculum, as that is what one did as a female OALCer in those days, but I also took the courses that were required for college prep. After 2 years, I had to make a decision, as there was not enough time to take both, so I dropped the shorthand etc and took physics, chemistry, algebra and trig. As graduation approached, I applied to a university downstate (without telling my parents) and was accepted, but to get aid I had to have Dad fill out some financial forms. I had great anxiety about that as I thought he might refuse but he filled them out and off I went - his total contribution to my education was about $25 and I felt guilty taking it as I thought they needed it more than I did. At that time there was not a single female college grad in our OALC community, altho I did have a "fringy" aunt who was a nurse and an aunt-in-law who was a Home Ec teacher. Those were the only "role models."
    I matriculated in math - clearly impractical, Ilmarinen, but we didn't have much guidance then (or now). I fortunately got into computers on the ground floor, more or less, and then went back to school for an unrelated advanced degree - 4 more years and then some. My parents would not come to my graduation, even tho I offered to send tickets. They never asked about anything, why I went back, what I was doing, what my plans were, etc., but I never expected them to - this was not something they valued and it was undoubtedly clear that my "eternal salvation" was, shall we say, in jeopardy. We never (or rarely) talked about that either.
    Families are sure strange, as is life, but I would not change a thing. MTH

  32. Ilmarinen, I hear what you're saying, and I agree that someone who plans that poorly for college probably deserves their problems! Too many people view college as a four year, have lots of fun, vacation, and money planning would only get in the way! ...but there's another way...

    When I went back to college -- pretty much broke and with a young family in tow -- I rejoined the National Guard because that not only gave me about $150 a month, it also gave me half tuition at a state school. I worked 15 hours a week in a mindless work-study job to give us a little eating and walking around money, and we watched every penny we spent. I took 20 and 21 hour semesters and finished an engineering degree in just over 3 years, but I guess I was motivated! I came out with minimal loans in spite of all that.

    So then we fast forward a few years to our children who may have been paying attention after all... :-) Our oldest son, immediately grabbed a dorm resident job during undergrad (all of the kids did that eventually) because that gave him a small stipend plus free room and board. He also took out the minimum in school loans. It meant he spent some holidays at the school because he was on duty. He then headed off to law school where he grabbed a work study job as a computer help desk person, and before the semester was out was offered full time work at the school if he would be willing to go to school nights (which spread law school out to 4 years). The up side was a modest salary and free tuition. He graduated after four years of basically no life outside of school and with no additional student loans. So here was a lawyer with eight years of college and less than $10K in loans. Lucky? Maybe, but I think he "made" a lot of his own luck. It can be done.

    One of the things that really gets up my nose about a lot of OALC families is that the kids are told they cannot afford to go to school. (My own nieces and nephews were told that.) I don't know that college is the answer to every person, but it really upsets me that kids are told something like that, essentially never giving them a chance. I know there a lots of folks other than the OALC that say that, but in my experience, it is a common theme there.

    So yes, there has to be fiscal responsibility. However, as long as the bill does get paid, some people are willing to do something they really love, knowing they'll never make much money at it. I'm seeing quite few really well paid professionals these days who are chucking those high dollar jobs in order to regain a more laid back lifestyle -- but I think it is easier to be idealistic once the retirement account is funded!

  33. I think it depends on who your relatives and friends are with what kind of feedback you might get over your chosen profession. I have these for examples of people in the IALC who have had "non-traditional" careers.

    1. One woman in the Minneapolis congregation who holds a Ph.D. in History and teaches at a community college. She in her late 30s, married, and has no children but recently adopted a baby from Vietnam.
    2. Another woman in Minneapolis with a Ph.D. in kinesthetics. She married into the church, actually to a minister's son. Her husband left her and their 4 children and married a Jewish woman and converted to Judiasm. She stayed in the church.
    3. A woman in the New England congregation who has a Ph.D. (I can't remember in what) and is married to, I believe, a Harvard Ph.D. in Physics. They belong to a New Hampshire congregation.
    4. A young man in the Minneapolis congregation who received an MFA in Art concentrating on sculpture. They recently left to go to Missouri after he received a faculty position.
    5. Of course, the dearly departed minster formerly of Ann Arobr, not Finnish and who had the reputation before he converted as an alcoholic, who was a minister. He had all kinds of modern art in his house, including a nude statue of a woman. He was not particularly exclusivist in his preaching.
    6. A current minister who has Ph.D. in chemistry, retired from a position as CTO of a major medical Fortune 500 Company.
    7. A woman from the Aunes Salmela group who is a practicing attorney who works in immigration reform.
    8. A man from a small northern Minnesota congregation, who acted in a number of plays and who once ran for state legislature. His daughter performs in many local productions and is a good amateur actress.

    There must be more people that I don't know of, but this is a good snapshot of some "non-traditional" vocations and avocations of perfectly acceptable members of the IALC.

    There is always someone who will tell you NOT to do something.

    It is your choice about whether to listen or not. What is right for one person, may be "wrong" or too tempting for another. This concept has been preached by more than one minister. If it feels wrong to you and might lead you astray, don't do it.

    There have been choices I have made that my family has not liked either. How did I solve it? By telling them that was my choice and not open for discussion. I continued going to church and it has been some time since anyone brought it up. I won't elaborate over what this "non-traditional" activity is, but it is something that most people in society would not bat an eyelash at but has been considered "taboo" among many church members.

  34. More "non-traditional" IALC careers:

    (1) A couple of cops/state troopers

    (2) At least three restaurant-owning families, one bakery owner

    (3) One young woman who tried her luck acting in movies in Hollywood. Her parents supported this endeavor, but most others looked a bit cross-eyed at it. She came back and still goes to church.

    (4) A paralegal (about the closest you can get to a lawyer)

    (5) A country western musician who heads a band (who won't play in bars)

  35. Stranger, thanks for posting these examples. I know or know of a couple of the people you mention -- the actress was the person I referred to in my example earlier of things that weren't explicitly frowned upon but still seemed out of place.

    I think part of the problem in my case may be that my immediate family failed to broach the topic. I guess if I had thought to specifically ask about what people did for a living, I would have been told, but that never occurred to me. On the one hand it was nice because I never had any explicit pressure from my parents to do anything in particular. Yet I also kind of feel like I missed out because all these friends and relatives were presented as IALCers above all and people-with-careers only if asked. Considering how much time people actually spend working, I think it's a particular disservice to youngsters not to encourage them to think about their future just because "the world might end tomorrow". Even for people who believe that, you still have to find something to do while you wait!

  36. Koivutar, I know what you mean. When I first moved to the big metropolis, all starry-eyed and wet underneath the ears (had been in another "congregation" of sorts without an actual church, I made the mistake of asking a guy a little older than me at a get-together. I guess I didn't know the social niceities being brought up like I did. I was just trying to make conversation and fit in, as opposed to sitting there like a lump in the living room. He rather ridiculed me for asking. So yeah, I know what you mean. It would have been handy to have some career advice, but it was hard to find out how to ask without feeling worldly. My mother got through high school and that was all that was expected as a woman during her time. I would say probably only 5% of the girls went on to any sort of college, though some got their degrees a bit later. Now I'd probably say about 70% of the girls go on to tech school or university, and the boys about roughly the same.

    It did not seem that having "high" careers necessarily boosted a person's status at church, at least for the dating game. If anything, blue-collared guys had the nicer cars and more free time and seemed to date more than the college guys, who were poorer and had to study and couldn't carouse all over the countryside every weekend keeping up with the social scene. Reports now are that the social scene is a little less lively among the young people of today, and I wonder if its because more of them are spending their time studying and have to stick close to home.

    And yes, I've seen those young marriages, but sometimes the babies don't come along for 5-10 years afterward.

    It definitely was stressful as a young person since it was stressed to marry within the church. If you weren't one of the girls being asked, you felt quite like a wallflower. I always felt like if I was dumb and giggled a lot more I would have gone out more than I did.

  37. Oh by the way, just realized this was unclear.

    I asked the guy what he did for a living and got ridiculed.

    Later when I re-read it it was unclear what I was asking him for, but it wasn't a date.

  38. Two comments

    1) My sisters and I were all pretty gifted kids, but our encouragement was to be average, maybe a little above, but not exemplary. We were told we would go to the U of M, get a four year degree, then get married, and raise a family. Were expected to have nice middle class jobs like a nurse, engineer, teacher etc... It took my sisters and I a years to struggle with that mindset, with all of us going back to school in our middle to late twenties, even thirties to further advance ourselves and truly reach our potential. I made peace with this when my Father realized the mistake he had made and told my sister that he was sorry that he had not helped/encouraged her to become a doctor since she obviously could have done it. That was a nice day. Since then he (and Mom) has really supported our ambitions. My sisters and I still have minor resentment towards the church for that.

    2)If you did not get married immediately during or after college, you definetly got stranger and stranger looks. To be crude, everybody is getting there sex from some place, and if you are not actively dating a church girl/guy everybody "knows" you are probably out sinning with a worldly girl/guy (which of course I was). Not everybody cared, but enough do to make it very uncomfortable.

  39. I've been reading your comments with interest, especially the last few.. Mr Smith, it seems as though your parents did have good goals for you, but I more fully realized what you meant after reading your entire post.

    I think we need to realize how unique each individual is, and what may be right for one is not necessarily right for another. And encourage them to prayerfully consider what God-given gifts they may possess.. I think the person who is doing what he loves every day must be the happiest person on earth! The trick is to find out what that 'something' is!

    I don't know if these attitudes have as much to do with the church (at least in my experience) as much as what the cultural norms happen to be at the time. In the 50's young women were 'normally' expected to stay home and raise families after they were married, for example.

    What the LLL churches have encouraged, I think, is a strong home life. Size of the family should be determined by the couples involved.. there are many instances where large families just are not the best for certain people (ME!) lol. When I grew up, it was 'normal' to have several children but it was very rare for families I knew to have 10 or more kids (and they were most likely to be Catholic). I admire the large families so much, I'm just fascinated by how well they are able to do with the financial, physical, and emotional resources they have!

    And then the topic of education.. I think education of children is so important not only because they might be able to continue their educations and obtain careers or professions, but because it gives them choices. Without a good education, their choices once out of school are so limited.

    And.. along with education, a stable home life where values like a positive attitude toward working for goals so that kids will be independant one day and able to support themselves.. in fact, that's equally important as education.. cuz I've seen plenty of kids with all of the best opportunities provided to them throw it all away because of ..may I say it.. laziness, or addictions, or.. maybe it could be called an inability to dedicate themselves to something or someone for the long term.

    Oh, I'm going on too long now.. but then there's the issue of money. It's not all about the money.. there is such richess to life itself I hope for all kids to know how special and unique and loved they are, just because they exist.

    end of book for now :-)

  40. Stranger,
    Great listing of careers people have in the IALC. Since I was in a little no church congregation, I didn't realize there was that much diversity. I am surprised there are police and lawyers out there and especially a country musician; even if he does not play in bars.

    As for marriage, I will agree there seemed to be some pressure to marry early. I didn't feel it so much because I wasn't part of one of the large church groups; I was in the Southeast Michigan group. But, during the big services, I noticed the serious relationships developing with teenagers and quick weddings.

    I think in the back of my mind I always dreaded the thought of a IALC wedding. I ended up leaving the church before I got married.

    I left the IALC shortly after I moved to Chicago in '97. My mom was so excited because I was expected to join the Kenosha group. My mom was already arranging girls for me to meet and people to meet. Heck, I was on my way to a great new life; at least in her mind.

    My parents came to visit me in Chicago with the idea of heading to Kenosha for services. I broke the news the morning we were to go. They took it much better than I thought and we just hung out in town for the weekend. I admit I still have the guilt. But, I thought that there was no reason to fake my way into people's lives while knowing my heart wasn't in it. The writing was on the wall.

    I was never really interested in the IALC girls. I think, for the most part, that I really didn't have that much in common. I am sure that had I grown up in the Kenosha or Minneapolis church things would have worked out much diferently.

    PS - Apparently you know of the Ann Arbor speaker; as any IALCer probably does over the age of 30. He was a very nice and incredibly intelligent man. A wonderful artist himself. My parents have some beautiful woodwork (reindeers and a bowl) and I believe a couple of paintings. I always had the feeling he could see right through my facade.

    I am rambling again. Until my next post...

  41. As laestadians (or those who grew up in the apostolic lutheran church) our heritage is shared: we also have come from a peasant Finnish class. Suspicion of education falls was common amongst the Finnish and Sami peasantry from whence we came, did you know that?

    So Mr. Smith, laestadianism isn't all to blame. A close friend of mine started out his life in the Kainuu province of Finland, known historically to be the poorest most backwater area of Finland. Incidentally, his mother's home village was just a stone's throw away from my great-grandmother's village. Tar-making was their primary industry and that industry collapsed in the 1960's. The soil was none too good and the growing season was short. His family was smart, but neither of his parents even went to high school. He had an unmarried aunt who became a school teacher, but otherwise, there were no educated people in his family, only loggers and farmers and laborers. In the 1970's their poor farm was not doing so well and jobs were so sporadic that his family was not able to get by. He and his brothers were eating pieces of stone from the fireplace because they were not getting adequate nourishment to the point that they had mineral deficiencies. Now in the old days, the family would have gone to America or Canada, but immigration to these countries was closed by then, and Sweden was a better choice. Their industries were booming and they were readily hiring the hard-working Finns there in industrial jobs. The whole family relocated to South Sweden, leaving Finland behind. Sweden was a paradise compared to old Finland, but the Finns there really stuck together. There was some degree of prejudice against the Finnish workers and their children, but those who learned to speak good Swedish were fully accepted in Swedish society. But on the other hand, that meant "leaving behind" ones Finnish roots. Those who went to hire education were often ridiculed. Why would one want to spend x amount of years in school when there were perfectly good logging or factory jobs that paid the same amount of money? There was even a term for it. Finns who became too engrossed in Swedish society were called a "hurri" which is equivalent to calling a white-acting black person an "oreo." Finnish on the outside, Swedish on the inside.
    There was generally suspicion against anyone getting too high of an education, and they were encouraged to marry early and settle down and have kids. The irony, however, is his family was not Laestadian. His mother was nominally Lutheran but never went to church, and his father was a card-carrying Communist!

  42. Stranger,
    Interesting callout....hmmmmmmm....some hints for you please.

    Maybe I will check it out too. I just looked at it on amazon and it seems a little dry but with good reviews. Is it a good read?

    By the way, oreo isn't exactly what you describe; generally a derogatory term for a person with a black and white parent. I think "Uncle Tom" is the term you were searching. Not that I want to point out my unPC knowledge.

  43. Rebel,
    I think you are wrong in your correction of Stranger in your definition of the term "oreo".

    A black person would use that term to describe another black person who was acting too white, ie:getting good grades, dressing conservatively, avoiding drugs, etc. etc. I have never seen it used to describe a person with a black and white parent.

    The term "Uncle Tom", is used by a black person to describe another black person who is not standing up against a white person, or "sucking up" so to speak.

    Just my .02 .

  44. Rebel:

    I just realized I called you out by name. I did not mean to do that, and I apologize. That being said, it was not difficult for me to figure out who you were, just by the descriptions of the locality and the Mpls confirmation reference. I'm sure if there are IALC "lurkers" out there I'd be pretty easy to nab, too by my postings. But I know that, and I'm not saying anything I've not already said to my family and some friends and I'm okay with that. I did not mean to "out" you. Free, if there is any way you can edit my prior post, please do so, or just erase it. Again, I'm sorry.

  45. I removed the comment. Here it is reposted and redacted:

    stranger on my soapbox again said...

    I can't believe I said "hire" education instead of higher education.

    But my point was just to illustrate how deep this anti-education bias has ran in our heritage.

    There is a scene from "Popular Music from Vittula" (Mr. Smith, you gotta read this, and rebel, read it too) in which the father takes the young boy into the sauna to give him the "facts of life" talk. Amonst the normal topics this conjures, you know avoid unclean women and other canned fatherly advice, he recommends his son avoid books as much as he can, because "too much education" or "thinking too much" only leads to deep unhappiness/depression. Somehow, Michael Niemi makes it hilarious, and you'll recognize the roots of our culture in MUCH of this too-short novel.

    Wed Mar 14, 02:59:00 PM PDT

  46. Stranger and ilmarinen,
    Thanks for doing that for me. I thought you threw my name out there on purpose or to get a reaction. Also, I wasn't 100% sure my name was visible some way thru the profile.

    I really don't care if I am outed. I suppose there is a small chance someone could pick up on the name and start rumors. I don't want my family to endure any rumors on my account. Obviously, my references narrowed it down for any member to figure out. So I am not that concerned. But, I am surprised anyone picked up on it though.

    Well if I know you then hello and I hope things are going well for you. Did you leave the IALC? If so, before or after me. I have no idea who you are but am curious if you are still a member.

    I will look back thru your posts too.

  47. I like the new look here, very nice and easy to read!

  48. Friends, I have an oddball question to ask here. Today I flew across country and for lack ofreading material, tossed on my headphones and watched the animated movie "Happy Feet". Have any of you seen it? Did it make any kind of an impression on you?

    That's all I'm gonna say...

  49. Matti Vanhanen is in! How do you like them apples?

  50. Finns, may you never lament thusly (written by a Methodist minister):

    Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.
    He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.
    He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
    He restoreth my fears.
    He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace
    for his ego's sake.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war, I will find no exit, for thou art in office.
    Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they
    discomfort me.
    Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence
    of thy religion.
    Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.
    My health insurance runneth out.
    Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow
    me all the days of thy term,
    And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement

  51. I don't know if i should laugh or cry over this one!!!!

  52. Rebel:

    No, I don't believe I know you but I did know your brother and some of my cousins knew your sister. And if I can remember correctly, even when you were confirmed you weren't sure about the whole thing, so its surprising you lasted 15 more years!

    Yes, I still go to church. It's a bit complicated to explain why I am here. I've been very interested in the laestadian movement and our heritage, because none of this was ever explained to us, and dismissed as unimportant. Part of the heritage that was hidden was our "saami" heritage, and in fact, many of us are as much "saami" as Finnish. There were things that were never explained to my satisfaction, like the anti-education bias, for example, and why in the past there seemed to be a bias against people of color. Which seems to have cleared up more now, judging by the interracial adoptions and marriages that have happened over the years, some to close personal friends of mine too. There have been other improvements. I have never, however, been able to wrap my head around the exclusivity issue and maybe I'm still working on that, because I really don't want to leave. But its comforting for me to have this site because I can talk about these things and vent some with people who understand, even if they're not IALC.

  53. with him


  54. Fun at the Finnish Idols. What a talented group they have this year:

    A song of Lapland


  55. I seen Happy Feet cvow. It reminded me of myself, and lots of people leaving the LLL churches. Great movie to watch!

  56. I just saw Happy Feet too, wow was it amusing coming from an LLL background. Whew! Also encouraging. I do have to admit though, the musical lyrics made me quite uncomfortable in light of the fact I was watching the movie with my 8 and 4 year old. Hopefully they were enjoying the beat without hearing or understanding the words? (famous last words of parents eh?)

  57. Just wanted to clarify something I read above....the ads you speak of are from the UNITED Church of Christ (UCC) not the Church of Christ....day & night difference between the two. The church of Christ (of which I am a member) is very conservitive, the united church of Christ is a liberal charismatic church that is not affiliated in any way, shape, form or doctrine. Although the names are close, they are not related at all. The differences are day & night....unfortunatly ads such as these & other attempts by the UCC reflect negativly on the coC...a lot of people think we are one in the same. The UCC is a denomination in & of itself. The coC is autonomous non- denominational.

  58. Are you saying that the UCC is intentionally targeting the CoC with these ads, or that the UCC is shaming itself with the ads and because of the similar names is also harming the reputation of the CoC? If it's the latter, I beg to differ. For me, the harming of reputation is going in the opposite direction than what you think, based on what I've read about certain CoC groups. If those websites accurately describe 20% of the CoC, extoots is probably not the best group in which to evangelize for the CoC. We've already been harmed by groups like that and are moving on.

  59. I can assure you that there are splits within the coC that are no different than your own churches. There is a branch that is very legalistic (one cup brethern)& that would not be the branch I attend. Matter of fact that is what lead me to your website to begin with was being raised in the other legalistic branch. Very similar to the OALC. I wasnt saying anything derogatory about the ads themselves, just was trying to clarify that it is not from the coc (either branch) but the united coc. All are welcome in my church. Funny how it states you want comments on this blog, but when I try to make a minor correction that doesnt even give an opinion, I am attacked. I am sure if I started a blog & said that my info was from the OALC & you knew it was from the ELCA, you would not hesitate to inform me that they are two different churches.
    I did enjoy reading your blog, but since I am now accused of evangilizing my church (for making a correction) I will remove it from my favorites. If you dont want comments to your blog that disagree with your writings, make sure your information is correct.
    Have a nice day & I hope God continues to work on softening your heart.

  60. Do whatever works for you. I apologize for saying you were evangelizing, because you weren't.

    "unfortunatly ads such as these & other attempts by the UCC reflect negativly on the coC"

    This is wrong. Don't knock the UCC just because it's from the progressive end of Christianity.

  61. Correction, anon: you were not simply providing a fact. But even if you were, disagreement is the price of participation in a forum like this.

    A soft heart is good, and so is a thick skin. And a razor wit, a sharp mind, the curiosity of a cat, a pilgrim soul . . .

    Take care.