"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Biblical Dreams and Schemes

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Biblical Dreams and Schemes

I recently ran across this "long, but worth it" article by Dr. James D. Tabor (Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte) entitled What the Bible Says About Death, Afterlife, and the Future. I think it's worth sharing because in no other article I've read on this subject to date have I seen both modern biblical scholarship and Bible verse citation used to such dramatic effect to convincingly show how biblical concepts have changed over time, resulting in a Bible in which competing and often contradictory claims about death, afterlife, and the future coexist.

There is no simple and single response to the question of what the Bible really says about the future. What one finds is just what one would expect in any book composed of documents from many times, places, circumstances, and authors–variety and development. . . My treatment presupposes no particular valuation of the various dreams and schemes regarding the future.

What is most remarkable about all these images and views of the future, taken from all parts of the Bible, is their amazing flexibility. They were, and continue to be, applied to all kinds of situations and circumstances, always shaping the way readers ask and answer some of their most profound questions.

I increasingly see Laestadtianism in this context. It arose in a specific historical and cultural situation as a meaningful response to valid issues at that time. As evidenced by some of the posters to this site, it remains meaningful to some people today. However to me and many others, Laestadianism fails to address the present day situation. This disconnect causes many people to leave.

48 comments:

  1. "Laestadianism fails to address the present day situation. This disconnect causes many people to leave."

    Again, my point of view as a European is perhaps not very valid for the US situation, but when other revival movements are going back, laestadianisms steadily increases support and existing prayer house are enlarged where I live.

    The summer services in Finland collect each year around 60000-70000 persons, like it has done for decades. If believers here not found laestadianism meaningful, they would indeed leave the movement.

    It’s true some leave, but now and then some new faces shows up, some of them for a short time, but some stays in the movement for a lifetime.

    I have seen many new Christian movements come and go. There was this charismatic movement teaching success theology (I don’t know if this is the right translation of the word), but their assemblies, which were in almost every large city in Scandinavia, are almost gone now.

    Being a laestadian here in Finland does not actually require very much as a believer. Almost everyone are members of the Lutheran church and pay the taxes to the church.

    There are those, which are more active in the prayer houses, and those which are not. However common for all of them is that they are not very spiritual. Laestadians pray quite seldom, and when they pray, they don’t expect too much.

    If you take part in other movements here, you have to be a lot more spiritual and holy.

    I would say many laestadians are laestadians because the threshold is in a sense very low.

    The fundamental teaching emphasized in every speech, that everyone has the right to believe as they are, fits perfectly well in many person lives, where they in practice are far from holy. Many are sometimes angry with their wifes and children, sometimes swearing and not doing the good things they should do.

    In many other movements many believers start to think they are not worthy to attend the services as the good Christians, when they anyway can’t live up to the ideals.

    This also considers doubts everyone lives with.

    In laestadianism even the doubts are forgiven, so you can actually be intellectually honest, while staying in faith.

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  2. I can't speak for the European ll churches, but the only reason the churches are growing in america is because each family has so many kids. It's not that there are "outsiders" joining..

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  3. Besides, many Laestadians are staying in the movement only because of the social benefits and the fact that all their friends and relatives are there. What they believe is sometimes in a total contradiction to what is preached from the pulpit. There are Laestadians who approve of abortion, Laestadians who are in favor of female priests, Laestadians who approve of homosexual behavior - even Laestadians who are atheists, although all of these things are strongly condemned from the pulpit.

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  4. "can't speak for the European ll churches, but the only reason the churches are growing in america is because each family has so many kids"

    Near where I live is a municipality (Larsmo) where over 50% are laestadians (ALC branch). Okay, some in the municipality has big families, but they are only a minority.

    No one can say the 50% of the municipality are laestadians because of big families, though this is certainly a factor, but mainly because people has joined the movement though revival, and stayed in it.

    On interesting thing about Larsmo, where around 50% are laestadians, is that this municipality was selected as Finlands happiest, in an comparison made by a major news paper.

    The newspaper combined all kind of statistics they could get, for example divorce rate, crime, health and ordered municipalities based on that.

    Laestadianism is certainly not the movement emphasizing the earthly benefits of being a believer, rather the exact opposite, but in practice laestadians live happy life’s.

    The key to a happy life may be not expecting to much, and try to do too much, but instead keep things in life simple, while taking care of children, relatives and maintain relations.

    The philosophy nowdays is often to try to get as much out of life as possible, leading to broken relationships and unhappiness in the long run.

    So also here I think people can learn something from laestadianism, where especially OALC emphasizes ascetism.

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  5. By "social benefits" I meant the social aspect of Laestadianism, a small tight knit community that offers regular opportunities to meet other people who you have something in common with, people you either know or who know someone you know. A stable supply of company and socializing. If you go to a new place with a Laestadian community, someone will always know your aunt, the cousin of your father or a friend of your friend. Of course this can happen in other religious communities too, but I think Laestadianism ranks very high in this respect. It can happen in my church too, although it is thousands of times bigger than any Laestadian faction, but the chances that someone in a new parish somewhere else will know someone I know are much smaller.

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  6. Hibernatus is 100% right in what he writes, as always.

    On other hand laestadianism is intolerant in that aspect that there is a strict lifestyle you have to live up to, but on other hand very tolerant. There are laestadian feminists. On the last summer services, one such was interviewed by the Finnish state television. I have this interview as one of the favorites on my channel. There are laestadian atheists. I use to discuss with one such on another forum. He is a convinced atheist, but seems to have no intent to leave laestadianism.

    I watched once a (real good) document about amishes in US and was striken by some similarities. One such was this thing amishes call “rumpspringa”, which actually allows youths to sin, like drinking, doing drugs in a short period of their youth, so they later can return when they have seen the world has nothing to offer.

    You see find the same type of behavior in laestadianism. This is of course not approved from the pulpit, but in practice you can see laestadian youth involved in all kind of sinful activities. The first time I had a real discussion with some LLC:s was at a bar in Helsinki, where I, as well as they was somewhat drunk. After that I have discussed many times with LLC:s, but never been in a such agreement. ;-)

    Once I sat near a drunken teen girl at a train. She told me she was going to a rock concert. After a 1-2 minute discussion, I asked what laestadian assembly she use to attend. She was quite surprised.

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  7. Hi.Haparandabo here. This has nothing to do with what you are talking about, I just want to tell you about the theatre man Lars-Levi Laestadius, look at wikipedia. He was born 1909

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  8. ex falc says

    Laestadianism seems to be very different in the United States than it is in Europe. That may be because their are so many of them compared to the general population in the scandanavian population. In many major world religions, their is major disparity between the followers. The catholic church for example has many who are very conservative and many who call themselves catholic but rarely attend church. If you talk about Laestadians here, even in an area where many laestadians live, usually nobody knows who they are or if they do, they know nothing about where the belief system originates from. They also see the way laestadians act and want nothing to do with them.

    Yes, the social ties are very strong. Not important enough to me to stay in the church and listen to the hate and lies spewed from the pulpit every sunday. I've got better things to do with my time.

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  9. LaestadianInfo9/02/2009 12:16:00 PM

    "ex falc says"

    Yes, there have to be major differences..

    One thing that perhaps makes it quite different is that US has no state church. Here almost all laestadians are members of the Lutheran Church.

    By the way, how does falc relate to other laestadians, for example LLC, OALC or ALC?

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  10. ex falc says...

    The FALC is a split off the LLC(SRK) that happened in the 1970's, maybe 1973 to be exact. They are called the Torola group or the Heideman group by some.

    One of the main reasons they split was because the LLC/SRK was becoming more organized, starting camps for the kids, bible studies, missionary work etc. I know the LLC even has things like bake sales and pasty sales to raise money for some of it. I remember hearing many times people in the FALC saying that the LLC/SRK had just turned into a business and their focus was on making money and people basically felt obligated to tithe a lot of money to be members of the church. I think the FALC took pride in not having organization in the church and today they have no missionary work to anyone out of the church, no organized programs for the youth, no mens or womens bible studies, no support groups, no bible camps.

    They also have very little connection to Sweden and Finland now so thats why many people in Scandanavia may have never heard of them.

    I remember some time back my mom telling me some women who lived far away from any of the congregations passed away and in her will she gave her money to the FALC and wanted the FALC to give the money to people in need. So in the annual meeting, people were arguing over actually giving it to someone in need. A few people said they needed to fulfill the requirements in the will but many others did not want to give the money away. They have never offered financial support to any of the church members before, so why would they start now? They probably used the money to pay off the loan on the church to avoid getting anyone mad.

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  11. "I think the FALC took pride in not having organization in the church and today they have no missionary work to anyone out of the church, no organized programs for the youth, no mens or womens bible studies, no support groups, no bible camps."

    Sounds a little like conservative ALC (LLF) in Finland.

    They have also this idea than nothing should change, and thus is the as the only laestadian branch for example not allowing youth work.

    There has been a lot of tension in the youth work question, but the official stance is that youth work is allowed as long as youth arrange it by their self by for example, gathering in homes to sing.

    Anything else is not allowed. A small compromise has been done regarding gathering on the area on big services, so youth are allowed to stay on the area until night, but any program is not allowed.

    Last big services the person the paper interviewed actually braved about that laestadians does not have any youth work, and still there are so many young people following with the movement (and less leaving than in those branches which has youth work).

    This question has actually lead to a little split in ALC, where some ALC:s founded an own organization (Liv), which does youth work by having camps.

    If you click on my Nick, it will take you the home page of Liv. As you can read on the first page, Liv has nothing to do with laestadianism, except for that 100% of the arrangers and participants are laestadians.

    LLC in Finland is more organized and allows all the things you mentioned.

    The argument against youth work and such things is often that we shouldn’t do things differently than earlier, so it’s a resistance against any type of changes, how small it even may be.

    ALC:s are often proud of being more conservative than LLC.

    (By clicking on my nick, you get to the Liv page)

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  12. After stepping back for awhile and then returning...It is glaringly clear what the issues are here. (this blog in general) Most here are stuck in some kind of bitter rut with a vendetta against the AlC/LLL. (and I don't agree with them either!)

    To take every instance and situation in life and compare it to the LLL(as each new thread does) shows a complete lack of having a life and moving on.

    To embrace every "religion" to lose all sense of discernment-and accept every lifestyle-is the polar opposite of a christian- by DEFINITION.

    It is a defamation to christians the world over. It is false representation of the gospel. I am quite possibly the farthest thing from being LLL, but you people shouldn't take claim to a name that doesn't fit. Try wikipedia for the definiton. Try Websters, consider the bible, to name a few. In those acts alone you will find you falsly claim the name. Argue with those sources, not me.

    Those that introduced me to this site warned me how futile it is join in here. What took me so long? I couldn't agree more.

    Wow. I can think of millions of other ways to spread the gospel, spread the love- get beyond yourselves and try it.

    To Anon on the other thread who saw what I see-while having a radically different view then mine: Thank you, I don't want the association here either.

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  13. It's not as if this blog is at the center of anyone's life...but it is an ex-Laestadian blog, and so it is typical and fitting for the issues to be around Laestadianism. Some people here haven't even left the movement. If someone spends, say 5 minutes a day on this blog, the rest of the time isn't obsessing over Laestadianism, I cannot see how this is doing anyone any harm. In fact, it is likely doing them some good. I don't think there is anyone here who hasn't acknowledged there has even been some blessings in growing up Laestadian. In "real" life, I know several contributors to this blog and I don't see them not moving on in any way. They are leading fruitful, eventful and busy lives. It is not sad that they can have this little corner in the world to reflect and discuss issues as it relates to Laestadianism. When a person is in the movement, it usually is a part of everything they know and some people don't have much of a world besides it--it is 90% of their social contacts. To give it a fraction of a percentage after one leaves is probably only healthy, since their programming started from birth. I can think of at least one person I know who has left the movement who persists in an LLL-movement and behavior well beyond her tenure there--labeling, name-calling and judging. You probably think it is you, P.S., but actually its someone else.

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  14. Hey P.S.

    Go spread some love.

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  15. LLLreader to Norah: I usually agree with you--but on this point I have a different take. I belong to a gardening group and I certainly wouldn't be posting about the effect of the OALC on my upbringing on that blog. I wouldn't be talking about my cosmos and carrots here. Anonymous 5:23 had an excellent response and there isn't much I could add to what was said on that post.

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  16. ex falc says...

    Being on this blog and talking to people who are free thinkers and people who are willing to discuss faith after I made my decision to leave the church actually helped me to loose most of the bitterness. I will still always carry some sadness over what happened to my parents but for the most part I have accepted it. When people go through something tough in their lives, they deal with it in different ways.

    Some people stay silent, some join support groups, and look for people with common interest. Talking about our issues is usually better than dealing with them on our own. Even if this blog did not exist it would not take away the fact that this church has hurt many people. I am on this site more to observe and articulate the behavior of those still in the church and try to make rational conclusions as to why they behave the way they do - I have no preference over one of these groups or another and I stay out of most of the theological discussions because that stuff doesn't matter enough to me to argue about. I realized that I can't get caught up on the theological stuff and put my focus on that when we've got family members in Mexico being brutally murdered. Every day I put things in perspective and count my blessings that I am living in a safe country.

    I don't think I am attacking anyone - just simply stating my observations and trying to understand why people act the way they do. I read this site like I read the news. It does not consume my life but growing up laestadian will always have a big impact on my life, whether I want to accept it or not. The way we are raised has a big impact on how we behave as adults and how we live our lives. I have religious radicals on both sides of my family, which those of you who understand my situation know a little bit about. For me to retain my sanity and patience, I come to this blog, to remember its not that they want to hurt people out of their faith, but that they hurt people without even realizing it.

    I also think blogs like this are important because I know their are people out there who have remained silent and have suffered for years because they have so many things they want to talk about but their family and friends are still in the church and will not listen. If they only have to suffer 1 year in silence instead of 30, and I can be of support to anyone to help them through it, I made a positive difference in someone elses life. That is what being a christian is all about.

    All I can PS is that I don't want to be looped in with who you are referring to and I don't want this whole blog to be labeled because of a few people's opinions because their are many many people that read and contribute on this blog and I have never been disrespectful of your views :)

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  17. I agree with Anonymous above, and feel deep sympathy with what the person has gone thru.

    My honest intent to participate on this blog is to learn about laestadian believers in US, and US people generally. I have been twice to US, both times to Texas, (Austin and Huston), and there is very much I like about USA. Especially the friendly and ordinal (straightforward) people I have met there. (Even the police was very friendly when they stopped me for driving suspiciously). :)

    Generally I see no point in having a discussion if only one side is allowed to be presented. I tried to participate on the Baptist forum, but was thrown out in two days. They even deleted all threads I started though there were many other people writing in them. This shows there is something badly wrong with baptism, if they can’t stand having a Lutheran on the board for two days.

    LLC:s in Finland has probably the most active private religious forum in the country (Mopin Palsta). The only reason someone has been thrown out from that forum is personal attacks not for any criticism. I faith cannot stand an open discussion, something is wrong.

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  18. This site has helped me immensely. When a person is in the movement and begins to SERIOUSLY question the premise of the movement, it is extremely hard. Hard enough, that I am sure many choose to stay in the movement solely to avoid the pain. Having a site like this available, especially when the conversations center on Laestadianism and others' experiences surrounding their leaving, has and is a big part of my coping with the my changing beliefs. As you all know, in most cases people within these LLL groups have close to their entire social doings wrapped up in their group. Many of the LLL groups teach that one should only be "close" with and "hang around" people from the group. Everyone must think the same to be part of the "group." As a result of this, when one begins to question the beliefs, if those beliefs are voiced, they begin to be pushed away by the people in the group, even if the person questioning has not left. If the person leaves, there is a high risk that the person will lose their social connection all the while being told by the very same people that they have "gone off the deep end" and other such painful and derogatory accusations. The combination is powerful, even works to bring people back. Humans need connection. It is invaluable to know that I am not the only one who has experienced this loss, to gain more insight into the effect of an LLL upbringing, to learn to properly channel the sneaking bitterness I feel sometimes, to even see that people actually can and do come out on the other side sane and happy contrary to what is repeated within LLL circles. It is a major blessing in my life. I, for one, do not know what I would do without this blog. It has been a little like my security blanket during a very tough time in my life. In the US there is nothing out there for support, besides this blog, for people in these positions. Thank you Free for starting this blog, and to the contributors that have helped it stay alive.

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  19. It’s really bad it has to be that way in US. Is there something that can be done about it?

    In Finland I would not say the problem is very big. I know people who have left LLC, and they have the same contacts as before, it’s just that they are not considered believers. If fact I know a person very close and meet she and her relatives regularly. For me it seems that she hasn’t been affected in any way.

    Leaving the ALC equivalent in Finland may be somewhat harder, since they don’t make difference between believers and nonbelievers in the same way, so they may greet you with Gods peace every time they meet you, and ask if you come to services, even though you have left. The only good advice is to start swearing or by some other way clearly indicate you are not a believer.

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  20. Let me take another stab at what I was trying to say. ;-)

    In 19th century Lapland the Sami people were being oppressed by the whiskey merchants, who were legitimized by the state church. Laestadius, drawing upon the parts of the Bible that condemn drunkenness (but going well beyond them), launches an extremely culturally relevant religious movement. It's something new; something that never existed before.

    Dr. Tabor's article shows that this process of development and building something new is present in the Bible itself. Even on topics such as "the afterlife" or "the future" you can see signs of this development.

    The problem with Laestadianism today, as I see it, is that it thinks that the process of development is over with. They are still concerned with wearing buns, whether music should be allowed in church, etc.

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  21. ex falc says...

    I would. The amish are stuck in the 1700's, the laestadians are stuck in the 1900's

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  22. "I would. The amish are stuck in the 1700's, the laestadians are stuck in the 1900's"

    So what’s the problem? In fact laestadians are the amishes of Scandinavia. A professor said recently in a newspaper commentary, making much attention around the media, that laestadians are so conservative that they should be made a tourist attraction before they die out.

    I Am pretty sure both cows and pigs will fly before the conservative ALC equivalent in Scandinavia makes a single change to their traditions and teachings.

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  23. Norah said...

    “But couldn't political and religious conservatives be relevant and even flexible in the sense that they survive, thrive and are an alternative to the prevailing culture?”

    Laestadians are cultural and religious conservatives, politically 90% vote on liberal parties. I will return to that later.

    The professor was interviewed on the Swedish newspaper Expressen. The interview was mainly about Swedish speaking people in Finland, but he started to talk about laestadianism, mainly the ALC equivalent, because almost all Swedish speaking belong to that branch.

    I can understand he find it somewhat exotic that you have thousands of these gathering to primitive tents and sing 100-500 year old psalms and songs, and listening to preaching’s, while no other program is allowed. That they don’t own TV:s and not use contraception to mention a few things. (It’s a pity he hadn’t make himself familiar with OALC)

    However what blew up a debate in the Swedish newspapers in Finland was his disrespectful statement that laestadian women eat p-pills in secret, because his studies shows the families are a lot smaller now. That’s why he also supposed the Swedish laestadianism is dying, but as living in middle of it, I can assure he has a lot of time to make us a tourist attraction.

    On every objective metric ALC laestadianism is growing in Finland (may even be in Sweden).

    The big summer services is Esse (or Larsmo) has every year gathered more people than pervious year, many years in a row, and existing prayer houses has been enlarged. There is even one big project going on right now in Kållby.

    All other Christian religious movements are going back (except perhaps Catholicism, we are getting our first Catholic bishop now after a 500 year pause, the previous Arvid Kurki, died 1522).

    Also LLC may grow based on the participating in the big summer services. The last meeting was this year near Turku, the absolute south of Finland, while most people visiting these services live in north and middle of Finland. My guess is that many new people visited these services, because it compensated for the falling off because of people not wanting to drive several thousand kilometers.


    Regarding political opinion, most laestadians vote liberals. This may sound contradictory, but it has a natural explanation.

    The political map in Finland can best be described how the parties are grouped in the European parliament.

    We have the left (communists, socialists), the liberal group and the conservative. The liberal group in Finland is presented by the center party and Swedish peoples party.

    Laestadians vote to about 90% these parties. The conservative right party Kokomus is far to right for laestadians who generally does not own much because of big families etc, and the party is mostly concerned only about big cities, while laestadians live in the agrar areas. The social democrats might be an option, but has historically been against religion, so LLC laestadians has their candidates in the liberal center party.


    Perhaps of this, the liberal party is not really very liberal.

    ALC laestadians, where Swedish speaking are in majority, votes for language reasons the Swedish peoples party, even though this is a radical liberal party promoting all from gay adoptions to who know what.

    There is this small Christian democrats party, but since it’s mostly influenced by Pentecostals and similar, laestadians has historically not wanted to have anything to do with it.

    Some Swedish speaking laestadians has in the last years turned to the Christian democrats party in anger of the outrageous liberal questions their own party is driving.

    But the fact is that around 90% of laestadians vote liberal parties. Another small explanation to this may also be that laestadians are generally more concerned about own sins, than others.

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  24. Anon 01:54:00 wrote "This site has helped me immensely."

    Me too. Youre not the only one questioning.

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  25. LLLreader comments: Last night I watched 20/20, or one of those programs, and they had a section about the Amish. Kids can leave the group in their late teens for a year or so, but then have to decide if they want to come back to the Amish way of life or live in the world. There is no middle ground-- it's in or out! Kids were shown driving by the farms feeling homesick for their families. You could see the conflict on their faces. They don't have the education, training, or support to be successful in the world, so lots of drinking and crashing around goes on in their lives. Naturally it's hard for them to find a direction. This has to be the ultimate Catch 22. Anonymous Sept. 3 1:54 posted a clear and telling statement about those feelings of conflict. "Humans need connection"---well said.

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  26. A few words more about the politics. It’s even so that the conservative right party Kokomus, which sit in the conservative group in European parliament, may be more social liberal than the liberal center party in Finland.

    Nowdays their leader Jyrki Katainen, describes the party as a both conservative and liberal party.

    Finland has only one real liberal party, and it’s the small Swedish peoples party.

    Last presidential election in US, they made some polls in Finland, and almost 100% of the conservative right party supporters supported Obama, while you actually could find some support for Mc Cain in the “liberal” center party.

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  27. LLLurker said...

    "Youre not the only one questioning."

    What do you question most?

    A few months ago a believer in the LLC branch somewhere in Europe come to my Youtube channel, and seemed to have no idea that there are other laestadians than the LLC branch.

    I also have seen some US LLC member write that there are other groups claiming to be laestadians, while they are not.

    The truth is however that the OALC and ALC equalients in Scandinavia has roots in the original laestadianism in Sweden, while SRK is rather a newer Finnish version of laestadianism. Laestadianism started to spread in Finland very soon, so in that sense it perhaps does not make any difference.

    Their current teachings are however more modern and were formed in the 60’s.

    This is my opinion.

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  28. The Centre Party party in Finland is a liberal center party. If you put that party on a scale in US politics, it’s far left politics.

    The real left in Europe is represented by communists and socialists, which are against free will, and free and fair trade. That’s why you can read the Centre party support these on Wikipedia.

    The party promoting capitalism here is the conservative Right party Kokomus.

    Since the Centre party sits in the liberal group in the European parliment, they are also the only Finnish party (except Swedish peoples party), working for social liberal values on a European level.

    The conservatives are real conservatives in the EU parliament, but compared to US conservatives, even they are leftists.

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  29. "The problem I have with US style liberalism in both politics and religious denominations is the steady drip of misinformation..."

    To me it seems that the conservative people who watch for example Fox News are badly misinformed.

    I few days ago I watched a Youtube clip that come up on the Youtube frontage, where a democratic senator with Jewish heritage was asked by a woman holding up a picture of Obama decorated to look as Hitler.

    The senator answered the question by the following counter question. "On what planet do you spend most of your time?"

    Regarding the ongoing health care reform in US, everyone in Finland are glad that we whenever we want and need, can go to a hospital without worrying if we can pay. Virtually everything concerning health care here is free and founded by the state.

    I also read a funny commentary about a US conservative, writing in an article that Stephen Hawking would have been dead if he lived in Europe. The fact is however that Stephen Hawking lives in Britain, and has done it all his live.

    If even the US conservatives writing articles are so misinformed, how is it on the grass root level?

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  30. Norah, liberty and freedom are unique to the US... what do you mean by that? To me it sounds like you think no other country has liberty or freedom, is that what you mean?

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  31. I certainly think Norah may have a point, that the US constitution with compromiseless freedom of speech is worth protecting, and should be used as an example for other countries.

    In practice I can’t see how we here in Finland has less freedoms on other hand.

    But that the healthcare reform would violate the constitution is something I don't understand. On other hand I am not an expert in these questions.

    Everyone need healthcare sometimes in their life, so I don’t understand why people wouldn’t favor founding this with common goods.

    USA use 16-17% of BNP to health care, while for example Sweden use 9%. This shows there must be something badly wrong in the US health care system.

    I have hard to figure out what makes US health care so expensive, but one explanation may be the following.

    Some health care measures require very expensive equipment.

    In Finland we have several levels of hospitals, but on the very top of the pyramid is the university hospitals (3 or 4 in Finland).

    These hospitals has the real expensive equipment, but a large steady stream of patients needing the expensive treatment. This means the utilization of the equipment is very high, but also that the doctors treating the patients are absolute experts, because they do the same all the time.

    These are doctors that may be absolute experts in doing some small niche of surgery etc.

    I can’t see how implementing this kind of health care would violate the spirit of USA.

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  32. "If you wonder whether centralized government is workable or popular in the US, spend some time in the West or even the Southwest"

    I don’t know, but relating to this, the Wikipedia about the Centre party says The Centre Party characteristically supports decentralization.

    Decentralization in Finland has nothing to do with small government.

    The decentralization Centre party supports, has to do with populating the country evenly and try to dislocate state organizations away from the capital region.

    A big problem with Finland, which is a large country, is that everything is concentrating around Helsinki and the south, while the north and middle is depopulated.

    Neither is the Centre party a big government party like Social Democrats. I think the name says it all. They are in middle of political opinions, but on a US scale, definitely a far left party.

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  33. "L Info, Finland has about 5 million people and the US has over 300 million, and it is a very diverse population."

    Europe has a population of 731 million people. The health care system is roughly the same in whole Europe, though the level varies. Scandinavian countries have the highest level and pay only about half for it, comparing to US.

    In our countries health care is also fair. Everyone get the same treatment regardless of economical situation.

    If you are not happy with what you get from the state, you can always go to a private clinic. People go to private clinics mostly for small problems. All bigger health problems they leave to the state, which does it best, and to a lower price than hospitals in US (counted in BNP).

    On other hand I can think you can get better treatment in US if you have much money, but I hear people very rarely complain about the advanced health care here.

    The hospitals are really good at it because of high volumes and a well organized system.

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  34. Money plays a role also in Finland. For the first, the public healthcare has very long waiting times. If you want to get treatment now, you go private, at least in minor ailments, which means anything up to knee operations etc. It is true that major health problems (i.e. when life is in danger) are usually taken care of by the public health care system, but money plays a role also there. I happen to have followed very closely a case in which a certain cancer medicine only was available if you could pay for it yourself, it wasn't covered by the public healthcare insurance since there were other older and cheaper medicines. Fortunately in this case the money was there, and the person is doing well now. However, during the process I read frustrated comments by other cancer patients who lamented the fact that they couldn't get the medicine because they were unable to pay for it by themselves. Don't know if they are still alive...

    Personally, I've been blessed with good health, and haven't so far needed any major medical assistance. If I do get a major health problem, I might have to turn to the publich healthcare system, but all my regular dentist and general practitioner visits have been and will be in the private sector. I rather feel like an appreciated customer than just another nuisance waiting in the line and disturbing your prolonged coffee break. Well, maybe I'm just prejudiced. I once went to my local public health care center last year, and they were actually quite nice. Although they were a bit surprised because they couldn't find any information about me in their system. ;) Told them I was never sick and if I was sick went to private clinics. :)

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  35. "All other Christian religious movements are going back (except perhaps Catholicism, we are getting our first Catholic bishop now after a 500 year pause, the previous Arvid Kurki, died 1522)." (Laestadianinfo)

    Actually he is the first Catholic bishop *born* in Finland since 1522. There have been Catholic bishops in Finland since 1800 something, but none of them have been Finnish by birth (the have been at least Polish, Dutch and German bishops). Finland became part of the Russian empire in 1809, which improved the religious freedom (during the Swedish reign pretty much only Lutheranism was ok, although the Orthodox were tolerated to some extent). In the Russian empire, a big part of the population were Catholics (most Poles and Lithuanians, some Ukrainians and Latvians), and many Catholic soldiers and also other people moved to Finland.

    ---

    In addition to Catholics and Laestadians, also the Orthodox church has been growing during the last few decades, partly due to conversion from other Christian groups and partly due to immigration from Russia and other predominantly Orthodox countries.

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  36. "Money plays a role also in Finland. For the first, the public healthcare has very long waiting times. If you want to get treatment now, you go private, at least in minor ailments, which means anything up to knee operations etc."

    Minor health problems may have long waiting times, but important cases got handled promptly. If you have money you can always bypass the public system, but usually it’s not worth it.

    I don’t have any percentages, but I believe the usage of private clinics is very low, comparing to what the public system takes care of? Most people use the public system.

    Regarding dentists I also use the private. So do my wife. She had once to wait 6 moths to get a hole filled at the public dentist.

    But regarding the US system, I can’t simply figure out how they can spend so massive amounts of money on something that is not working. I once watched Moores document sicko, and couldn’t believe they are world leading spenders on health care.

    Maybe one reason is that private health care is ineffective due to bad coordination and organizing?

    "In addition to Catholics and Laestadians, also the Orthodox church has been growing during the last few decades, partly due to conversion from other Christian groups"

    Traditional old Christianity is growing. BTW, Orthodoxies got their favorite pastor father Mitro elected to the European parliament a few months ago. He is a social democrat.

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  37. I know More has nothing to do with unbiased information, but regarding sicko I think he may have some points. Maybe an evidence for that is that you have a health care reform going on? I read somewhere More think there is too much fear in the US society?

    In Finland you don’t have to fear pretty much anything. If you get sick, the state takes care of you; the same if you get unemployed or your children requires special attention.

    On other hand this may affect peoples motivation..

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  38. I'm sort of bewildered by how a topic such as "Biblical Schemes and Dreams" which I found mildly interesting has been hijacked once again by a political discussion about liberal/conservative/centrist parties, health care, and everything except the main topic!

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  39. cvow, I'm really thankful that you posted this. You're right, the thread was hijacked and off topic. I've started a blog where people are welcome to post about anything they'd like to discuss.. it's at http://misc-talk.blogspot.com/. I do enjoy talking about a variety of things, but I realize that's not the purpose here.. So thank you, for exerting some discipline where I often have NONE! lol

    Cheers, everyone!

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  40. This blog spits faster than laestadianism ever did. LOL

    Now I have already seen two readers start own movements in a few days.

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  41. Norah, I'm sorry if you thought I was picking on you. I certainly did not intend that as I always enjoy your posts!) Please don't leave!

    I was just trying to make a point that we had a topic going recently on health care as well as others on political topics. That was fine, but it seems that topic wasn't done yet, and keeps getting dragged in everywhere else. I am less and less interested in politics all the time, so I just dislike it when it seems most topics eventually get the politics dragged into them!

    With regard to this original topic, Tomte said "However to me and many others, Laestadianism fails to address the present day situation. This disconnect causes many people to leave."

    I'm not sure I believe that really. I know I didn't leave the OALC because I thought it was behind the times or old fashioned. As a matter of fact, I suppose I am a die hard traditionalist, and cling to old customs and ways of life. I suppose that's why I found a welcoming home as a Catholic, where tradition is certainly observed, many times in ways the rank and file no longer understand! I left the OALC because I no longer believed in the -- let's call it "supplemental" doctrine -- as preached by that church. When we stick to the fundamental doctrine -- the belief in Jesus Christ, the belief in his dying for our sins, and the rest of the foundation as explained in the Nicene Creed we all profess, I was as happy as a pig in slop. When the "supplemental" stuff started coming in -- the man made rules and restrictions, the blatant condemning and judging of others, and the sly winking at things like racism, civil law, etc., that's when and why I left. It wasn't because the church hadn't kept up with the times.

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  42. Hi cvow, I was way off topic and and actually took a pretty oppositional tone with Tomte rather than exploring the subject..too talkative once again lol.

    However, things in life bring me back to this site because I'm not sure where else Laestadianism is discussed at all. In English, that is. I've been going through several boxes of Laestadian material that my grandparents and then my mother owned, and I'm not at all sure what to do with it. There are pamphlets in Finnish going back to the 1920's and 30's, and several books in Finnish that go back to about 1915 and earlier. And I came across a photograph of two men. On the back it says "Saarenpaa and Pyorre or Havar" ..something like that. So I looked up Saarenpaa and found some interesting history - so it's a really old photo. I guess it'll go back into boxes and some day my kids will probably toss it all out. My mother donated some books to the Finnish American Heritage Center, but they probably have lots of this kind of stuff. If anyone has any ideas, would you please let me know?? Thanks!!

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  43. Norah,
    If you ever decide to get rid of that stuff, throw it my way! I'm always interested in more reading, and while I am rusty, I manage with the "old fashioned" Finnish reasonably well. I usually only have to reread it about four times or so before I get it, and there are always words that get me reaching for my Sanakirja!

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  44. What happened to "bunsnofun" blog? I went there once and she had written a little, but when I came back, the name of the blog became "looking for something?" and there were no entries or comments.

    --Stranger

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  45. okay, that sounds good cvow.. tomorrow I'll go through them and compile some sort of list. My email is saunacreek at hotmail.com if you want a list of what I've got!

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  46. I'm surprised no one has wanted to comment on Dr. Tabor's main premise --that there is no one biblical view with regards to the afterlife, etc.

    One of the things I found so striking about the article is that it gives ample biblical citation for its argument as well are drawing upon modern biblical scholarship.

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  47. I read the article, and it didn't surprise me that much. Yes, I agree that there is a vagueness at best and a contradiction at worst about what the afterlife holds. The Old Testament does paint a pretty bleak picture in some places. (As a matter of fact that is one of the things I find most interesting about the Old Testament -- how it paints a very bleak picture in places with lots of chastisement and judging and everything from plagues to locusts, but then also speaks of beauty, compassion, and love in others.)

    Jesus, while not casting that old testament or covenant away entirely, did replace it though, didn't he? Perhaps it is more correct to say that he augmented and revised it rather than replaced it, but that's semantics.

    He brought a very different message, according to the writings in the New Testament -- a message of hope and love and yes, a future. He spoke in many ways of the Father's house, the house of many mansions, the way being prepared by him.

    Is this a dramatic change? Yes, it is! That's what Jesus' coming to earth was all about -- a new day and a new grace, a new hope and a new covenant. The fact that we no longer need to look forward to an eternity spent in "Sheol" but can look forward to living in a place that Jesus has prepared for us is mighty encouraging to me!

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  48. Hi cvow, I've selected a few pieces to send to you.. I don't want to overwhelm you so consider it a start lol. Some are in the old type and some in the new, still very old materials. I will send some "Vartijan Aani", "Huutavan Aani", and a couple of "Kristillinen Kuukauslehti" from the 1920's.

    It's amazing how important Laestadius, (and in the ALC Aatu Laitinen) were to these early Laestadians. There are many editions of books, and even some pictures of them. I think it was also a connection to the homeland for these immigrants.

    Anyway if you are still interested, just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to send them out!

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