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

Friday, May 02, 2008


Hannah Arendt wrote in 1957, that for the first time in history, “all peoples on earth have a common present. . . . Every country has become the almost immediate neighbor of every other country, and every man feels the shock of events which take place at the other end of the globe.”

That was before the internet, mind you. In 2008, it seems we are shocked anew, every morning.

Arendt feared that this new “unity of the world” would be a largely negative phenomenon if it wasn’t accompanied by the “renunciation, not of one’s own tradition and national past, but of the binding authority and universal validity which tradition and past have always claimed.”

Arendt called for "a process of mutual understanding and progressing self-clarification on a gigantic scale."

Is it happening?

I'll admit that I am usually pessimistic about the potential for mutual understanding among religions. But recently, I've been challenged to look at the progress we've made.

When the Dalai Lama visited Seattle, he asked listeners to go to the essence of their own traditions.

That was not surprising. What surprised me was his statement that we are progressing as a human race toward universal human rights. It is easy to forget -- with daily news of war, torture, crime, abuse, human slavery, and hatred -- that we have made progress as a species.

Evils that were once tolerated are now publicly condemned.

Of course, we have a long way to go. The Dalai Lama called for this to be a century of dialogue. Dialogue is the first and essential step in mutual understanding. I hope his own efforts in the human rights arena (with the Chinese, about Tibet) are successful.

Meanwhile, in our own, individual spheres of influence, how are we doing? What is the purpose of our dialogue here, on this blog?


  1. You ask "What is the purpose of our dialogue here, on this blog?"

    Interesting question.

    When I rejected the church a number of years ago, I made the choice to free my mind and take a fresh look at the world around me without any of the childhood brainwashing clouding my view. I spent years researching the history of religion in general and christianity in particular.

    I would invite and plead with the readers of this blog to do the same.

    Religion is a delusion. A very persistent and powerful and widespread delusion.

    So when the question is asked about the purpose of the dialogue here, it appears to me to be a method of perpetuating old superstitions albeit in a fluffier, friendlier fashion than the outright Finnish redneck social control scheme spawned by that wacky Lars Levi.

    There is not much hope for "mutual understanding" until the bulk of people around the world abandon the fairy tales of history and rally around such obscure principles as science and logic.

    I visit here once in awhile out of curiosity as a former Laestadian. I admit to a fair bit of disappointment when I read about people who reject bunheadism and simply substitute it with a friendlier and slightly less oppressive set of self delusions.

    Until our species evolves the capability of seeing things as they are instead of seeing things as they have been brainwashed, there isn't much hope for being freed from the poison of religion and progressing to the point of all being able to live together in peace.

  2. Boy, you are a hard one, anon. (I'd guess you are male). None of us actually sees things as they are. We are just evolving in our clarity of vision and in our understanding. Admittedly there is enormous room for improvement. Cut us some evolutionary slack. Even tho I am largely left-brained logical myself (and have done a fair bit of religious historical research), I don't buy your blanket assessment of religion as "poisonous." Even if we all chucked religion, that would in no way guarantee that we would "live together in peace. . . and mutual understanding." Those are worthy goals and I support you in that. I personally prefer a less dry and "obscure" approach. Many Trails Home

  3. MTH,

    You're right, there are no guarantees. But a simple review of history and a look at the world of today justifies the conclusion that religion is a poison. It's not the only poison, but it is a major unmistakable poison.

    What do you mean about preferring a less dry and obscure approach? Can you elaborate on that?

  4. I'm a former Laestadian and currently not religious, but I don't see religion as poison. First, religion means different things in different contexts. Religion to a Buddhist, to a follower of the traditional religion of the !Kung group in Africa, and to a Unitarian Universalist is all going to be different from each other and from a conservative evangelical Christian.

    Second, I don't see convincing evidence that religion actually is responsible for things instead of being a justification for things that would have been done anyway. Some people do nasty things, other do good things, and most do a mix of both. A person's religion won't tell much about which group that person belongs to of the three. Perhaps religion can act as a catalyst to make things go further than they would otherwise or as a conservative influence against change. But just get an Objectivist together with a secular social liberal and tell me all would be peace and harmony if religion were just a faint memory.

    Really, the farther I get from a highly religious environment, the less the issue matters to me either way. And the less people try to force religion on me, the happier I will be to live and let live. I was more passionate about fighting the religious right agenda when I was in a more conservative and religious environment.

    As for the purpose of this site, it seems that it's developed into having a dual role of providing help and support to those who are in the middle of leaving as well as providing a sense of community where those of us who have left have a chance to chat about topics of interest to us. That seems to be a good place to be.

  5. Anon (the first above) I would suggest that you have not shed some judgementalism. In the OALC we learned that well... Another thing we learned very well in that sect was: "I'm right, everyone else is wrong." Perhaps you need to shed that too? Peace be with you!

  6. There is no god.

  7. I agree with anon 9:37 about the first anon on this thread. Sounds pretty judgemental to me, just to the opposite extreme of a Laestadian.

  8. Accusing me of being judgemental isn't really much of a problem.

    My problem with religion as a whole, christianity in particular, is that it is based on nonsense. That is why I used words like superstition and fairy tale. As an ex-toot myself I find Laestadianism particularly a belief system of hate and ignorance and nonsense.

    The points I was attempting to make centered around my curiosity as to why people would wake themselves up and reject Laestadianism while keeping their beliefs alive regarding the mythical creator of the universe.

    So if you find me judgemental about the hate, fear, hypocrisy, and ignorance of religion..... great. More people need that kind of judgement. We all do.

    If you're going to go to the trouble to actually open your eyes, open them all the way.

    I speak from a place of love, whether you can see that or not.

  9. Ilmarinen, I have not seen the purpose of this site so well explained previously. Right on.
    To Anon-poisonous-religion (if you don't like this moniker, choose another): Rally around science and logic? How dull. I should rather rally around music and dancing and love of my neighbor and caring for the unfortunate, just as a start. We'll leave out love of god for now. If there is no god, how about creative principle? (Joel Goldsmith, I think) Many Trails Home

  10. Anon-poisonous-religion: looks like our posts overlapped. I agree more or less with your assessment of Laestadianism. I also think we should open our eyes all the way. But sheesh, cut people some slack. I actually find "love of God" comforting, understanding God as the unknowable rather than the anthropomorphic old-man-on-a-cloud. MTH

  11. Science and logic dull? To each his own. I find science terribly exciting.

    Loving the neighbor and caring for the unfortunate are rare qualities in the hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of people I've known who call themselves christian.

    As far as cutting people some slack goes.... what you find comforting and what may actually be true don't necessarily overlap. Muslims find it comforting that they'll be rewarded with the sex of 72 virgins in heaven after ramming an airplane into a skyscraper. Hindus find it comforting that abstaining from eating beef ensures they won't be digesting Uncle Rabindranath. Some fundamentalist christians find it comforting that Benny Hinn may someday lay his hands on them and cure their osteoporosis. Jews can take comfort in the knowledge that bacon makes Yahweh very angry.

    Taking comfort in nonsense may feel good. But in the end, it's still nonsense. And throughout history right up through today the nonsense that is religion has filled the entire spectrum from harmless self delusion right up to.... Poison.

  12. No accusation of being judgemental, just describing what you are doing. It isn't a question of 'whether' we as humans will worship, just a question of 'what' we will worship. Your 'God' is science/reason. My God is the God of Abraham, isaac, and Jacob and all the saints who have lived since. No delusion there.

  13. "My God is the God of Abraham, isaac, and Jacob and all the saints who have lived since. No delusion there."

    Uh..... plenty of delusion going on there. Just because a superstition is ancient and widespread doesn't indicate that there's even a shred of factuality involved.

  14. I don't know how people cannot believe in God. As complex as humans, animals, planets, plants, nature, etc are... I believe there has to be a greater power behind it all. Just think about how complex humans are, our minds, feelings, emotions, etc. Don't you think someone had to create us? A genius in my mind!

  15. The question of the existence of God has bedeviled thinkers for thousands of years, but I'm sure we'll be able to solve it in these blog comments. If you haven't guessed, I think the debate is a little pointless because I don't expect people to really change what they think based on reasoned debate. Nonetheless, it can be fun, even if it's just wanking.

    Is the God of an atheist science? In the same way that bald is a hair color. Apples and oranges.

    Does the complexity of the natural world prove the existence of God? In the same way that the complexity of God proves the existence of, uh, I'm losing the logic here.

    Religion annoys me when people use it to justify oppressing gays, minorities, and women; but I still don't see religion as being the real reason people indulge those unfortunate impulses. It's more complicated than that. Correlation/causation and all that plus defining what exactly is meant by religion.

  16. Anon Poison - you are right, religion can be a poison, and I think Jesus would agree with you. :-)

    I am curious how you deal with issues like grief, suffering, loss.. where does your comfort come from, and how is it working for you. This is not a facetious question, I'm serious. I'm a religious person - strike that - "person of faith", but I struggle with these things. I would love to heal hurts, fix problems, make horrible memories go away when I see people around me suffering with them. I don't know the answers to these problems, and the older I get the less clear they become. The only thing I can hang on to is that loving, supporting, comforting and befriending one another will get us through. And that there is a purpose for each one of us, we are ultimately divine and spiritual beings and greatly loved by the one who created us.

    Can you tell me what comforts you?

  17. I think I'd vehemently disagree with Hannah Arendt. Her prognosis and cure sounds a bit like brainwashing or social engineering to create 'peace'. What about diversity, then?

  18. Dear Ovenmitt,



  19. Ovenmitt, that was worthy of publication. We love it when you occasionally step into the fray. We are definitely the beneficiaries. MTH

  20. Bravo, ovenmitt!

    That was really well said.

  21. On an unrelated topic, has anyone tried to go to Helena's website lately at oldapostoliclutheran.com ? When I try it sends me to extoots???


  22. The site is down for now...