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

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Moral Instinct

There is a thought-provoking essay about morality by Stephen Pinker, the Harvard professor of psychology, in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

Here is an excerpt:

People everywhere, at least in some circumstances and with certain other folks in mind, think it’s bad to harm others and good to help them. They have a sense of fairness: that one should reciprocate favors, reward benefactors and punish cheaters. They value loyalty to a group, sharing and solidarity among its members and conformity to its norms. They believe that it is right to defer to legitimate authorities and to respect people with high status. And they exalt purity, cleanliness and sanctity while loathing defilement, contamination and carnality.

My reaction was to ponder how some Laestadians seem to value "loyalty to a group and conformity to norms" above fairness, purity and sanctity. Could this be a minority group's insurance against assimilation?


  1. Hi Free,
    Nice to hear from you again! I think the answer to your question is yes. I've experienced this with some in my own family, the loyalty to the OALC is at the top of the list, above all else.

  2. The LLC is the same way. Loyalty to the church takes priority over loyalty to the family. I have a friend whose parent said to them, "I'd rather you were dead than out of the church." Some families act like the child that leaves the church is to be avoided because they might try to "corrupt" the other kids.

    It's really sad because family relationships can get damaged in the process. When my dad joined the church, he no longer associated with his own family, who was not in the church. When his own brother died, he told me, "Well, you lost an uncle today." I didn't even know I HAD an uncle! He did not go to the funeral, and it was never discussed again.

  3. It is very sad. This high value on loyalty to the church has riven my family for four generations. I too had an uncle I never met. After his death, I spoke to his widow on the phone, who poured out a lifetime of bitterness and grief about their alienation. I think about her bitter tears when I talk to my own children about "mommy's relatives."

    While I can't stop the shunning, I can choose how to react to it. I tell my kids it is unfair, but that my relatives think GOD requires this, and they are trying to be good people.

    In the conclusion of his essay, Pinker says:

    "a recognition that the other guy is acting from moral rather than venal reasons can be a first patch of common ground. One side can acknowledge the other’s concern for community or stability or fairness or dignity, even while arguing that some other value should trump it in that instance."

    Is there a place for common ground conversations with Laestadians? Can nonexclusive, nonshunning Laestadians raise the volume and bring their communities along?

    Does this blog play a role?

  4. I was cut off from financial support when I left the OALC, and I will not be receiving inheritance from my OALC parents. I am less deserving than my siblings who stayed true to the OALC. Even though I have more children (grandchildren) than they do. I have accepted this.

    I am a frequent poster here, under another nickname. But this is such a sensitive topic for me I am posting this anonymous.

  5. Wow, that takes the cake. All my life I heard about the love there, the loving Christianity, the loving Christians. For whom?

  6. For themselves. -Anon 10:14

  7. Disinherited is my fate as well, but I have my integrity, which is the gift that keeps on giving, every day.

    (A new slogan for the OALC: we put the "us" in precious.)

  8. Pathetically sad, don't you think? Many actually think they are doing this out of "love." Where is the love? They think this is love? We love you so much that if you don't come back you will not get an inheritance. We love you so much that unless you think like us about absolutely everything we will have hardly anything to do with you. To think that they actually think that this is the way God would have them behave is unbelievable. There are some nonshunning Laestadians out there, I just don't think they are vocal. They should be making their opinion known. They need to be telling the other Laestadians that this behavior is wrong. But again, I for one should know, that if you don't agree with the majority then......well.....then they whisper about you(do you know what so and so thinks) trying to make you look bad. So even if you are within the church still, and you voice disagreement, it is hardly tolerated.

  9. Many Trails Home1/17/2008 07:27:00 PM

    Shunning is fear-driven. They can´t distinguish love from fear, as motivations. How sad is that? MTH

  10. Speaking of shunning - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120061470848399079.html?mod=fpa_editors_picks

  11. For the most part, I too have been excluded from financial (or other) support from my OALC family. I neither ask nor care, but I will likely be discounted from any inheritance. This is standard OALC policy. I really have no interest or need for the money but it sure makes a clear statement: "You have been disowned."

    I read the article above. I just remember one time a black man drove onto OALC property once, while folks were milling around outside after the service. Apparently he was lost or something and was trying to ask questions. The reaction of OALCers was so crazy. Like a madman was in the midst. Women ran to grab their children. The men elected one of their strong to go field the poor black guy's question. This might have been considered a normal reaction at some place and time in America's history. But it was the 90s when I saw this happen.

  12. That is absolutely stupid that they'd take away an inheritance! And just because of not believing in what they believe...its pathetic! Its sad that they are so blinded by what they believe, that they don't see/realize what they're doing!