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

Monday, February 11, 2008

Finger Pointing

When you point your finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back at you.


Laestadian version:

When you point one finger at yourself, three fingers are pointing at someone else.


  1. A devout Catholic lady was running late to Church slipped and fell, skinning her elbows and knees, and splitting her skirt. Dazed and confused, she glanced up a saw a man staring at her from the Church steps.

    "Are you OK ?" he asked.

    "Yes, but is Mass out?" she asked.

    "No ma'am," he replied, "but your hat is on crooked."

  2. Hey at least we Catholics can take the criticism, and no one will go to hell for it. We have had a recent epidemic of pedophile priests and subsequent cover ups by Church administrations. I dont think you can get much worse than that. I will say that we have put a bunch of resources into "safe environment" training, victim releif programs, putting "checks and balances" in the church administration policies, and we have a "Catholics Come Home" program specifically for people who have "been hurt by the Catholic Church." We are at least trying to learn from our mistakes. I haven't gone out looking but there are probably a million ex-Catholic recovery blog sites for every ex-Laestadian site.

    But you know I would not say these are "hate" pages. The vast majority of posters here consider LLL groups and members to be sincere and well meaning people. It is the LLL church theology, doctrine and culture that we are criticizing. And since LLL groups do not allow members to even "think" critical or questioning thoughts about their churches, how can such groups possibly grow?

  3. I'm not sure anyone can say who's going or not going to hell for molesting little boys and then not properly repenting of it. I believe there were many attempts at paying people off to keep this quiet before the floodgates opened up on this...then they had to admit it was happening and had been happening for many years. There was such a monumental effort to cover this up before it was realized that you can't cover up or wipe away a mountain with a with a washcloth. Of course, as with anything there is foregiveness for anything, but a punishment must still be served according to the laws of the land. That punishment is what we as a nation and people will judge and decide upon if the truth is allowed to come out on this side. God will stand in judgement on the other side.

  4. Amen to that. I agree!!!!!

  5. What? I never knew Catholics went to church. At least not regularly anyway.

  6. Good one! Just to clarify my earlier comment when I said "no one is going to hell for it" I was referring to those criticizing the Church, not the child molesters! Say anything bad you want about the Catholic Church. We have heard it all and acknowledge the faults. In fact we are probably the only Church on the planet that you can condemn without breaking any political correctness rules.

    The distinction I was trying to make is that you can leave the Catholic Church, badger and comdemn the teachings, question the Pope and Church doctrine, all you wish. We will NEVER tell you you are going to hell for it. But do this to an OALC community (or other LLL branch) and you are committing the only sin they consider to be unforgivable. They will shun you, shame you, disinherit you, and tell you you will perish in hell. They just cant take the criticism. It really is like the opening remark on this thread... point one finger at myself (acknowledge I am a sinner) and the other 3 fingers are pointing back at you (you are the worse sinner).

  7. "But do this to an OALC community (or other LLL branch) and you are committing the only sin they consider to be unforgivable. They will shun you, shame you, disinherit you, and tell you you will perish in hell. They just cant take the criticism."

    But Bunless, how is it that you know every person in every LLL branch. Isn't that a generalization?

  8. Tomte, Tomte, Tomte. Did you make that one up yourself? lol

  9. I am so puzzled over the perception that we (OALC) tell people they are going to hell. I have heard many sermons spoken and I have not heard it spoken that we should shun, shame, disinherit, etc. Maybe this is in accordance with Romans 16:17...I could be way off here, but it's an interesting verse related to this.

    This may have happened to you and maybe that's a human response to disagreement, but it's never been spoken that way and it would be necessary to lay aside that sin that so easily besets us. (Heb. 12:1). I'm sure you've read Luke 15 and understand it. That is what I have heard spoken and practiced. You have experienced something different apparently. I would invite all of you that haven't had that experience in the OALC (maybe you have had it at other churches) to come and see for yourself. Maybe you perceive these things to be happening because you want to live a life free of the reminder of human nature and the many sins that we fall into. That's OK with me...I won't try to convince you otherwise, but don't try to deceive anyone that is looking as is addressed by Matthew 18:2, Mark 9:42, and Luke 17:2.

    Luther was told he would be burned for disagreeing with the Catholic church. In another conversation one time I asked a Catholic how Luther is held by the Catholic church and he said Luther was "right down there with the devil himself". He was taught in Catholic schools until he was 16 years old and attended the Catholic church for over 60 years at that point. I then asked how the pope was held and he said "right up there with Christ himself". In my experience Catholics are no better than anyone else at inclusion and acceptance of others beliefs and exclusion is practiced where the lines are defined well enough to discern which side of it you are on. In so many cases there is this huge grayish area that is not in accordance with many places in the Bible like Luke 13:23-28.

    No doubt I will point a finger at myself as a sinner and I am guilty of pointing at others...who isn't? That's why I go to church and listen. I need to here that two edged word of God. The law (no this does not save us) to keep the sin as sin and to awaken sinners to see themselves as they are. The gospel of peace and forgiveness of sins to show that repentant sinners can believe with a free and clean conscience that they are a child of God.

    I know we disagree on many things here and I am not going to try to convince any of you that you are
    wrong. I don't know if you are right/wrong or if that's a label you can put on it. I just know what is right/wrong for me and that there is only one road for me and I believe it is the best road for me. I just want to offset some of the misconceptions in case there is someone out there searching and they come upon this site. In reading it they would probably form the opinion that we are into mind control, oppressing women, and damning people to hell. That is simply not the case. We are simple people following what we believe is the truth. I can't sell that to anyone. I can't give that to anyone. I can defend what I believe to be the truth and that is what I will do here so that no one that is searching is deceived or "tossed to and fro" as in Ephesians 4:14.

  10. Norah isn't claiming to know everyone in every LLL branch. She is making a comment on the general culture of the branches. I think she is right. I come from the LLC and for the most part she is spot on about the fact that if you question teachings you're told you are sinning, and need to ask for forgiveness and pray for an accepting heart. You are not condemed if you say that you don't understand a particular LLC teaching, then they just say not everyone understands everything, then expect you to accept that too. If you downright disagree with an LLC teaching, then you're told you are in the wrong and need to ask forgiveness to be heaven acceptable. Disagreeing with LLC teaching is equivalent to disagreeing with God himself. At that point, many LLC would discontinue feeling "comfortable" with someone they know disagrees with some LLC doctrine. They start to treat the person different than before, even if they havn't left the church, hence, the shunning. Of course, not everyone in the LLC church is like that, but in general I don't think I am wrong in saying that is the general atmosphere of the church.

  11. Yes, I can see where Bunless is making a general statement. But I am from a Laestadian church (ALC)and I don't see these things happening in such a strict way, or maybe it's there but I just don't see it. So that would be the exeption.

    If those things are happening, where there is that much control, where people are afraid to question and are even afraid to study these things for themselves then there is something definitely wrong. Please do question and don't be afraid!

    "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7.

  12. Norah I apologize for the generalization. That's not what I intended to imply but it came out that way. Bad choice of words on my part. Yes rwb, I was exaggerating. I have a tendency to do that in my posts. Given the sensitivity of readers, probably not wise to do on this site.

    To clarify, myself and others who post here have experienced serious personal and family hardship as a result of leaving an LLL community. We have been treated poorly and deliberately excluded from the lives of loved ones soley because of our choice to pursue a different variety of faith. Many of us are still Christians, following our concience as best we can. Yet we are treated like heathens. Often not with words directly but with omitted words and gestures. We are why this site exists.

    rwb - You seem like you have a healthy attitude about your faith and your community. Many OALC do not. Your miguided Catholic friend clearly does not. Just the fact that you are willing to post here means you have a heart that extends beyond OALC membership.

    You are fortunate to have found a Church community and faith you can stand by. Many of us did not have that experience in the OALC, so we left.

    But I agree, "mind control", "opression of women" and "damning people to hell" are a bit over-the-top descriptors.

    Sidenote: how much worse are these comments than what I have heard said on this blog about my own Catholic church? I get slaughtered here regularly. I can take it.

  13. Bunless, I thought that might be the case, that it just came out that way. Yes, you have been a trooper here.

    I came across this poem by Max Lucado and thought it would fit for all of us seekers and searchers:

    ...It may be difficult
    for you
    to believe that
    GOD knows your name...
    but He does.
    Written on His hand.
    Spoken by His mouth.
    Whispered by His lips.
    Your Name.

    "I have written your name on My hand." - Isaiah 49:16

    You have captured
    the heart of GOD.
    He cannot bear to live
    without you.
    GOD's dream is
    to make you right
    with HIM.
    And the path to the cross
    tell us exactly how far
    GOD will go to call us back.

    "It is not our love for GOD;
    it is GOD's love for us
    in sending HIS Son
    to be the way
    to take away our sins." - 1 John 4:10

    If you want
    to touch GOD's heart,
    use the name HE loves to hear.
    Call him "FATHER."
    He thinks you're wonderfull

    --- Excerpts from the book, GOD thinks you're Wonderful!, by America's best selling inspirational author, Max Lucado

    Happy VALENTINES Day!

  14. Sorry rwb, you got my dander up. Brace yourself.

    I sat in an OALC church Sunday after Sunday for more than 30 years. There were several people in that congregation who faithfully came to church with their spouses, even though they were not OALC themselves. Every single one of those people -- without exception -- were the nicest, most decent, most caring people anyone could ever meet. Sunday after Sunday, I heard the "preacher" tell them they were going to hell if they did not repent. One of the spouses finally stopped coming because she got tired of the abuse. My wife came a few times and then quit because she was Catholic and in virtually every single sermon, the Catholics were roundly blasted and sent to hell as Papists than danced in the aisles of the church, gambled, drank, and whatever else was on the "sin du jour" for the day.

    My mother was raised in the Apostolic Lutheran Church, and came faithfully to the OALC as soon as she was married to my Father, "repented" and worked as hard and faithfully as anyone in the service of the church, and then took a good hit when she was nearly 80 years old, when the"preacher" condemned her entire family -- dead and living -- (who were still ALC) straight to hell. To her credit and incredible courage, at her age, she never went back. I heard her frustration and saw her tears over than many times.

    Do not tell me the OALC does not practice and condone this kind of damning. I heard it and saw it and experienced it for more than 30 years before God finally opened my eyes and showed me how wrong that was.

    I have stood outside the OALC church in Brush Prairie and heard esteemed men of the church laughing and joking about the "niggers" in the community, and I've heard the same thing in Minneapolis and other localities as well. Don't tell me there is no prejudice in the OALC. It is not only present, it is rampant and encouraged. The "curse of Ham" has been and probably still is preached from behind the altar.

    No oppression of women? How many women in the OALC are on the church boards and committees (other than lunch)? How many of them would dare to open their mouths and express their views about faith without being told they should leave such things to the men? How many of them have been sexually abused? Of course, I guess none of that is oppression -- it's just keeping women in their "rightful place".

    If the OALC works for you, so be it -- but do not dare to pretend that the above described actions don't happen. I saw them. I heard them. I lived them.

  15. Thanks CVOW for setting the record straight - I was worried I was being too harsh and might offend well-meaning people. Would love to know what the "curse of Ham" is when you get a chance. Either I haven't heard that one or forgot it or blocked it from memory.

  16. bunless,
    The curse of Ham can be found in Genesis, Chapter 9, verses 20-27.(Note that the curse is actually placed on Canaan, the son of Ham.)

    20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
    21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
    22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
    24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
    25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
    26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
    27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

    Ham is traditionally held to have moved to Africa, as in Psalms there is reference to Egypt being the "land of Ham". Hence tradition holds that black Africans descended from Ham. This curse was the basis of the old fundamentalists justifying slavery of blacks, as Noah had said that Canaan would serve his brethren and Shem and Japheth. Most of even the most fundamentalist religions have long abandoned this theory, but has the OALC? They certainly know about it and talk about it, so I think it still lurks there in the minds of some.

  17. CVOW - Thanks for that disturbing tidbit of information. Amazing how Biblical passages can be twisted like that. Hey you mentioned that you married your wife, a Catholic, yet still attended the OALC for a time. You even had friends in the same boat. How did you pull that off? In my youth growing up OALC I didn't dare consider dating a "worldy." Not to mention my parents would have been mortified. Dating a Catholic would have been the worst, probably even worse even than if I brought home a same-sex partner! (OK, no that would have been far worse..) Anyways, I have known of very few OALC that married outsiders. I occasionally heard hushed gossip about such things. I am not sure if the weddings were celebrated in the OALC church. I seem to recall one that was. The few mixed marriages I knew of the non-OALC spouse finally "broke" and the couple ultimately either divorced or both left the Church. It was as if the OALC spouse had to make a choice... the marriage or the church.
    - Bunless

  18. Two of my dad's brothers married "worldlies" and still continued their OALC attendance without their wives. I recall it often mentioned that when a person Made Repentance, the devil that had lived inside them had to find somewhere else to reside and usually entered the person nearest the repentant one, in these cases the spouse. Therefore, both wives were full of hatred for the Christians and would not come to church.

    One of those wives WAS rather witchy, but the other one, still living in the same house, is the dearest, sweetest person you'd ever want to meet.

    It's these kinds of stories, repeated rather nonchalantly and as The Truth, that still upset me. It was SO unfair to those poor wives. I wouldn't have wanted to be in their shoes.

    I think this arrogant attitude is so ingrained in the OALC because they take it as Truth, not Viewpoint.


  19. CVOW, isn't it interesting that in the Ham story, no mention is made in church about the fact that Noah was falling-down drunk. This, in spite of the fact that they constantly preach again the awful sin of drunkenness. Go figure.


  20. RWB here....

    SISU....I guess I'm missing the point of your drunkenness comment...are you saying drunkenness is acceptable?

    As far as marriage goes: Yes it is preached in the OALC that we should look amongst members for a husband/wife. It is NOT preached to be sin to look outside the church and I know many couples of this nature. It only makes sense..very very good sense that you would look for someone with whom you are compatible in every facet if possible...most importantly your faith and beliefs. Even Dr. Laura and Dr. Phil will tell you this only makes sense.

    CVOW: I've heard esteemed men (if there truly is such a thing) in general laughing and joking in a racist manner in front of the gas stations, at work, and other places. This does not make anything you experienced right. To say that racism is "rampant and encouraged" in the OALC is a highly excessive overstatement and is indicative of the types of statements made here. Just stick to the facts and don't embellish...you can get your point across without making everything so sensational. I won't say that there aren't any racist undertones from the people as a group....again I said people as a group...this is not spoken or taught in Sunday school like you make it sound. We are not perfect people and we make mistakes just like everybody else. This Curse of Ham business is NOT currently taught and I can't say I have ever heard that it was taught. The only likely explaination I could see in reference to this passage is that the African nation as a whole has not experienced any widespread form of Christianity and maybe in this way it could be seen a curse.....I don't know.

    As far as repentance goes...are you saying that does not have to occur or just in the format that the OALC adheres to? What if you were Catholic and you didn't agree that going to Confession was something that was necessary? The following passages from the Bible seem pretty clear on this:

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.


    2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

    Also see: Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32, Luke 15:7 and many other places I'm sure.

    What do the passages from Peter and Corinthians above mean?

    I addressed the issue of oppression in another post and I'm sure you will find it there and respond accordingly.


  21. RWB, No, I am not condoning drunkenness. I am simply pointing out that part of the story is conveniently overlooked for the sake of keeping their argument/belief nice-and-tidy. And, for that matter, why is the grandsons' seeing Noah in this state and taking steps to correct it worse than his being drunk? And it was SO much worse that a whole continent of people are forever cursed? I need this explained to me. I think I missed some important point in the story.


  22. If people are aware that racist comments are being made, and nothing is said about it in church or Sunday school, it is obviously tolerated and implicitly approved by default.

    Just because the preachers don't outright speak about it on Sundays to say that it is okay does not mean that it is not condoned. If an unmarried couple is seen caressing each other in a very intimate way in the church parking lot, you can bet your bottom dollar that there is going to be some words said about that: in AND out of the pulpit, to them and to everyone else.

    I'll paraphrase here, "The only thing a good person has to do to promote evil is to say nothing."

    mia from the LLC

  23. RWB,

    I was told by an OALC preacher twenty odd years ago that " there will never be a black Christian". I was told this in responce to my question about the lack of blacks in the church. The African Nation curse, ie: Curse of Ham, was the reason.

    It wasn't preached about much, but was one of those things that was quietly talked about in small gatherings. I think because they knew the ramifications to the church if that belief ever got out to the general public.

    RWB, you sound like a reasonable person, and I believe you are sincere in your defense of the OALC. However you sound somewhat naive and you must learn not to deny a person's personal experiences. Many of us here are long time ex-OALC members, and we have family and friends still in the church, and we know of what we speak.

    I hope God will continue to encourage you to seek and find.

  24. RWB,
    Are there currently any African-Americans who regularly attend the OALC?

  25. Sisu, I was looking at that passage about Noah in Genesis. It seems as though the curse came about because instead of covering Noah, his grandson told his two brothers about it, and they went in and covered Noah without looking at his nakedness. There is a reference in my Bible to Deuteronomy 27:16: "Cursed be he that 'setteth light' by his father or his mother". "Setteth light" is interpreted as "treats with contempt". So perhaps the grandson's actions demonstrated his contempt for his grandfather and therefore cause for the curse. That's all I come up with for now...

  26. Bunless, (catching up on some old posts): First, re cvow, they were awfully loose for OALCers out there on the plains. They participated in high-school sports (gasp) and other frivolities that were most definitely forbidden to us.
    I personally don't think you were exaggerating all that much when you said OALCers "condemn people to hell," "oppress women" etc. Sorry, rwb, but that was my experience, in spades. Maybe they don't get "in your face noisy" about it (very often) but it was certainly the underlying theme and no exaggeration. I can't help wondering what community you are in, and what family. Of course I do not expect a response. MTH

  27. RWB - I only have time for a quick post. The Catholic Church and most Christian churches distinguish between theology and culture. Theology is faith-related doctrine that is timeless and unchanging. Cultures change, and should. My church explains Biblical restrictions on women - silence in church, submissiveness, hairstyle and headcovering restrictions - as cultural, not theological. In such cases we are to seek the intent of the passage, not the literal interpretation. For example, the headcovering women wore in church during the time and place those passages were written are the same headcoverings they were expected to wear at all other times. Every culture has an expectation for appropriate dress. We are to take the meaning from this to be that women should dress appropriately, according to the customs of our culture, when in Church or elsewhere. This is what these Biblical passages mean for us today. 50 years ago the Catholic church required women to have their heads covered in church - this was at a time when a hat or scarf was considered necessary to appropriately complete a womans wardrobe - for any occasion not just church. This "requirement" has since been lifted from most parishes since this is no longer customary or expected in todays culture.

    My observation is that the OALC has confused culture and theology on many issues. Culture does not define who is evil and who is not. Yes, it can be difficult to know where to draw the line. Women make great homemakers and are comfortable in domestic roles. This should be embraced and celebrated. But discouraging womens education, restricting their participation in church or other activities - this is culture, not theology. These kinds of policies are simply outdated.

  28. You know culture vs theology is a very interesting and valid point. I just had this discussion with a (non oalc) preacher who used to live by Brush Prairie; in his opinion they were a grear group of people, to thier own people, and thier way of living was a fantistic culture (he has 9 children) yet they mistook their culture for theology. A valid point from one outside the church -it took me years to figure that out! Yet it has also brought me so much peace as I finally figured out what I missed after leaving and was able to integrate some of it back into my life without feeling like I was back to practicing false theology. Embrace where I came from and let it be part of where I am going.

  29. sorry - a great group of people.

  30. Bunless and HP3,

    I totally agree on the culture vs theology idea. Most of the OALC members are really not religious, they are just into following the rules and watching others to see if they step out of line.

    I think you have hit the nail on the head!