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

Friday, October 05, 2007


One of the few things that I think Laestadians do well is the aesthetic of beauty in plainness. There is a quiet beauty in a plain, white-painted wooden country church adorning a stark prairie landscape. A not-so-quiet, yet equally subtle beauty in seeing a large family of young children sharing a pew on Sunday morning. The beauty of young women with fresh-scrubbed faces and cotton print dresses. Of elders chanting mournfully in Finnish before ambling forward to receive communion.

I was reminded of this luminousness last weekend when my wife and I went to see the movie "Once." Set in Ireland, it captured "a guy" and "a girl" with simple dreams and ordinary challenges. Similar to Sweet Land there is a sub-theme of the immigration experience (in this case "the girl" is a first generation Czech immigrant). Yet throughout the film plainness and ordinariness is suffused by a quiet dignity, basic goodness, humor, and of course great music.

I recommend this film. It is rated "R" solely for language. I don't find this problematic, but if you do this is your warning. :-) Below are links to the film's web site and blog:

Once Official web site
Once Official Blog



  1. Beauty in plainness? I didn't see that in the OALC. I've seen it in some old order Amish.

  2. Plainness-It may look plain on the surface-then look underneath. The competition for the largest home, the toys, the need for the "cutest" clothe. the williness to line up for surplus foods to support the large family. Because the largest number of children wins. This is not the church I went to as a child. We all lose our focus on God's message if we stop thinking about Jesus saying to love one another. Jesus did not say to follow man made rules, he said to love one another. He put no qualifier on this commandment. He did not say to go to the"one and only" congregation. He said to love...
    it is a simple message.

  3. Check out this song:

  4. I can remember the church trying to focus on being "simplistic" With dress, beliefs, minds... (sorry but in my experience it was true)

    I do cherish my childhood memories of a "simple" life. Things like sitting on the porch sipping tea/coffee/lemonade and visiting with the old and young alike into the night, listening to crickets and smelling the breeze.

    Yet after I (allegedly) "grew up" I realized there is always so much more to everything, Being simple was revered to a fault. Which took away from the beauty it could have created. Also, my memories may have indeed been situations encouraged by focusing on the simple life withink the church, but I feel that focus can still be in my life without having anything to do with a church. God definately.

    (its a challange to type with an infant on one's lap :) forgive the broken terminalogy and spelling/ punctuation errors.)

    Its a changing way of life, with and without religions being a part of the equation. Anything, with or without religion, that helps us slow down and take a breath and enjoy a moment is a good thing. What that something is, will be different for each of us. Many can use a religion successfully and I do know many dear people (in and out the OALC) who have this "living in the moment" ability. Does the church help foster it? Possibly. Do "young people" everywhere focus on the exterior? Do some of them not outgrow that? Absolutely. Everywhere. In and out of a church. Its nice to view it as a personal issue, rather than a church issue. Unless one is noticing an instigating factor.

    I think Im rambling now and mixing ideas and sentences. Hope those thoughts came out intelligently..

  5. Appreciation of beauty seems to come with age, and every age seems to create its own ideas of what constitutes beauty.

  6. I agree with the person above that many times there is more appreciation for beauty as someone gets older. That definately has been the case for me. I also agree with the poster who pointed out the competition for clothes and things. Sometimes beyond the simple appearance (hair, makeup) you will notice that many are very materialistic, and more focused on competing about who has the cutest outfit come sunday or who has the best looking house. None of them would actually admit that is how it is. I wonder if some of that competition and materialism stems from the fact that for the ladies a primary form of entertainment is shopping. There aren't very many options when it comes to entertainment. The other thought I have is that maybe it makes people feel worthwhile, or trying to fill their lives with exterior things, because they aren't feeling fulfilled inside. Many just seem to be going through the motions on the do's and don'ts, without giving much thought to why, or the meaning of it all. Just some thoughts.

  7. I also noticed the unspoken competition over clothes, hair, and as they got older, houses and kids' clothes. Heck, I even played the wishful Keep Up With the Jones' game for a time. Can I have six kids and still clothe them all stylishly? If I buy their clothes at the second-hand store, perhaps. Or maybe if I sew their clothes, I can manage.

    Then it got to be, can we afford to feed them? And can we possibly make space in this little house for a seventh? And we are still expected to have more? God will provide? Let's see, my children are now wearing clothes from the free store and we almost qualify for food stamps (and let me tell you, that's not saying much).

    And when I am at the end of my rope with still another pregnancy, nauseated and vomiting all day long for several months (it was a very effective weight loss method, I must say), the only answer I hear is that God will never give me more than I can handle. He will provide.

    And then, when my gas is cut off because I can't afford to pay the bill, and there is no hot water with which to bathe my children, and I look forward to shopping at the food shelf so I can make it till payday, it becomes obvious that something is very wrong with this system.

    Blind faith begins to lose its dazzle. Reality says, STOP having children. And I am sure that there are those who would still disagree.

    Fortunately, those days are long past. But not forgotten. Never forgotten.

  8. Whoops...kinda missed the topic, yes? I got a little sidetracked by another comment.

    Oh, well. A person can get away with that when they get a little older. Ha!

    I started out planning to say that Once sounds like it's worth investing a couple hours in. I loved Sweet Land. I'm looking forward to seeing this one.

  9. After reading the last two posts above I wanted to make this comment: there is nothing godly, admirable, good, etc. about having a huge family in and of itself. I think it is a crime and at the very least poor stewardship to have more children than you can adequately parent. I grew up in the OALC amongst cousins all from large families and we all 'suffered' from the same thing: inadequate parenting also known as neglect. That said, there may be some people out there who can parent a dozen plus kids but I didn't see any when I was growing up.

  10. It always surprises me when I hear LLL people commenting on how we are supporting all these women having children out of wedlock, through the welfare system, and appear annoyed about that fact. They never acknowledge the fact that many LLL are having way more kids than they can afford, so end up on the welfare system, and that it is really no different; it is costing taxpayers just the same. They think it is different because they're doing it for moral reasons, and the out of wedlock are not. Well...I would think that many would argue that having more kids than you can afford or handle is moral.

  11. I should add to my previous comment, that there are many LLL who do a better job parenting, than people who just have a few. They are great parents. There are also some that will not go on the system, even if they qualify, because they are too embarressed to go to the doctors with coupons, and then continue to crank out the kids. They don't want to go to the grocery store with 6 kids, then pull out the food stamps. To them, using birth control is not an option, because they either think they will not be saved if they practice it, or they just don't want to deal with the suspicion from other LLL. They're not a burden to the system, but suffer because of beliefs nonetheless.

  12. True, there are many who do a great job of parenting. My comments referred only to my own experiences and challenges.

    A lot of the LLL moms stay at home to take care of the kids full time. But there are also a lot of moms who can't afford to do so. They work all day at home, and then in the evening when dad gets home, Mom goes to work outside of the house. It's a prescription for exhaustion. I know. I did it.

    But on another note, after I divorced, I married a man with four kids, and we had all eleven of our kids in the house for a while. And the atmosphere was totally different. When everyone is on the same page and everyone helps, what a difference.

    And the up side of all that--I wouldn't give up a single one of the kids! They all bring their own charm and joy to my life. And the grandbabies--uncomparable.

    So in hindsight, even out of all of that...stuff..., great blessings can come.

  13. Congrats Daisy that you were able to do a good job raising 11 kids.

  14. I've been thinking about this one for a while, and thought I'd throw it out for comments. Do you think that lack of parental supervision is part of the reason for the high rate of child sex abuse? I don't know if the high rate is a proven fact, but I've heard many others mention it.

    Even people not from the church have commented about it to me when they find out that I used to go there. Almost everyone that I've talked to who is or was an LLC-er either has been abused or they knew someone else who has been.

    Or do you think it's more like the case of Catholic priests, who have to be celibate? All that repressed sexual energy has to find an outlet, and then what? Sex isn't treated like a natural drive. It comes across as something nasty and not to be talked about. I wonder if one of the reasons parents are happy to see their kids get married early is that they won't be getting pregnant before they get married. Safe sexual practices are not discussed because birth control is a big no-no.

    I'm afraid that since there are so few public consequences (exposure, arrest, etc.), it becomes less of a risk to perpetrate these crimes. Although the abuser may apologize and the victim has to "forgive," the victim is often told to forget about it and not bring it up again.

    If you forgive someone for something, you can get rebuked if you bring that up again. When you forgive someone, you are supposed to act as if the sin and the abuser are as far from each other as the east is from the west and never use it against them again. Ever. So the abuse is covered up and only whispered about as if the shame belonged to the victim rather than the abuser.

    Any other comments/perspectives?

  15. While I agree the abuser should be forgiven, I don't agree with never bringing it up again. I think the child needs to work through it and talk about it. I was abused as a child and it was the same, forgive and forget. My parents never said anything more about it. That made ME feel dirty, cheap, etc. I never learned that it wasn't my fault. I think kids need counseling after being sexually abused. I agree, these type of churches make it a save haven for sexual abusers because they know they won't be paying the consequences for their sin. They will just be forgiven. Yes, I agree, however, I also believe the authorities should be called because it is a crime. The police were placed here for our protection and they should be utilitized in situations such as this. In alot of cases, sexual abusers don't just abuse one child, there are several others as well. Its an illness. And if they don't get help to deal with that illness, well, they are more likely to do it again. Thus more children getting hurt.

  16. Anon 7:47, I agree with you.

    I'm sorry that happened to you. How have you dealt with it?

    If a child is raped by a stranger, I think it would be treated completely differently than it is when it happens within the family or the church. The child needs help, counseling, and protection from that happening again. There also needs to be some justice, some consequences, and yes, in our society, that should mean calling the police.

    I know, as a parent, if I knew of it happening in my family, I would have a hard time getting the police involved simply because I'm wired to protect my kids, not call the police on them. BUT, in that case, I think it is very appropriate. The abuser needs help, too, and unless he (or she) is held accountable, the person probably will not allow themself to recognize the seriousness of what they did.

    I think society in general, not just the Laestadian churches, has had a tough time even acknowledging and discussing such issues as incest, sexual addiction, pornography and rape, simply because it's not comfortable to talk about them. But these things happen in Laestadian families just as often as they happen in non-Laestadian ones, if not more so. It just ISN'T TALKED ABOUT!

    On the flip side, advertisers use sexual attraction to sell almost everything under the sun. Here on the one hand, they are going to use sex to catch our attention for their commercials, but on the other hand, we are shamed for not being able to control it. Ironic, isn't it?

  17. You all really should know what your talking about before implying that the Laestadians accept sexual abuse!! Wrong! Wrong!!! Wrong! There have been several over the years that have commited that and served time which they should for that!! Research and get facts before you say such things! Its terrible that you are all such bitter people!

  18. anon too said,
    And for that "several" who served time (of which I hadn't known-point made), how many, many more have perpetrated this and have not been prosecuted, or even turned in?

    I personally know of five that I can think of without missing a beat. Multiply that by how many more? Because people don't advertise it.

    And I'm not bitter at all. Why is it that stating a fact as I know it is being bitter? Hiding the truth is better?

    Were the altar boys just bitter when they spoke out about being abused by Catholic priests? Should they have kept quiet?

  19. The few who have served time in the oalc had the misfortune of perpetrating against an outsider.

    We are the research.

  20. It is interesting when one of us says a fact about what we experienced, we are accused of just being bitter. So I guess if we kept quiet and didn't tell the truth about what happened to us, then we wouldn't be bitter. Interesting.....

    I think Jesus gave a good example of how one should be. Instead of accusing people that have been hurt, he tried to understand them and he helped them.

  21. It also brings to a point that the person raising the issue is the problem, he is just bitter. Its a way of avoiding the issue and not having to deal with it. Very common in these churches.