"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Do Laestadians celebrate Halloween?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Do Laestadians celebrate Halloween?

I think we may have discussed this before, but in honor of Halloween weekend I thought I'd bring it up again.

Growing up in the ALC, my family had a very ambivalent attitude towards Halloween. We were allowed limited trick-or-treating, but we could never dress up as anything "supernatural." No ghosts, witches, vampires, demons, etc. allowed. I was a cowboy one year, and a clown another. There was never anything church-sponsored for Halloween. As far as the church was concerned it didn't exist.

As a teen I remember my parents being invited to a Halloween party being put on by some fellow Laestadians. It was billed as a "Reformation Party" even though people dressed up in Halloween costumes, there was bobbing for apples, etc. However in the middle of the party someone gave a little talk about Martin Luther, his 95 theses, and how even in the middle of a party we needed to be serious about our faith. This, I believe, was considered progressive.

Since my childhood, Halloween has become fodder for the culture wars in the United States. Many of my former Laestadian friends and family have left for conservative evangelical churches that associate Halloween with Satanism, neo-Paganism, and other feared isms. I find it ironic that they now have an even more reactionary view towards Halloween now than we did growing up.

I'm interested in hearing about what other branches of Laestadianism do or don't do for Halloween. Is it celebrated in Scandinavia at all?

As someone wise once said, what WE make of it is what matters.


  1. The llc's around here have "All Saints Eve" on halloween at the church. They have a program--read poems, sing, maybe some musical peices--and there was candy for the kids, and coffee afterwards I think. The kids dress up for their halloween parties at school, and as far as I knew there was no rules on what costumes we could wear. Well, I'm sure if I wanted to be the devil my Mom would've said no. I always wished that I lived in town so that I could sneak out and go trick-or-treating.

  2. When we were kids we were allowed to go house to house for candy with a little goofy costume. Things were much more innocent back then. Most of my ALC friends could not have anything to do with it though. Later in my teens I had nothing more to do with Halloween but those ALC teens who had not been allowed to go out as kids and get candy would go out on Halloween stealing and smashing pumpkins, burning tires, harass the police, throw eggs at cars from the woods and engage in 'fox night' in Michigan on the night before Halloween. One time a group of AP kids threw an egg and hit an 'old guard' Laestadian when he drove by. He slammed on the brakes and ran and grabbed one of the kids and almost beat the tar out of him. I think most parents just looked the other way and hoped nothing too bad would happen. After I left the movement I never let my children have anything to do with Halloween as I figured the day was associated with Satanism. I have never made it into an issue though.

  3. LLLreader here: Kids associate Halloween with getting to put on an outfit and having people give you candy. The Santa issue has been decided by my grandson. He told me he knows Santa can't actually be real, so he figures Jesus brings the toys. So much for the idea that if you let kids have the fun of Santa then they won't believe in Jesus either when they find out that Santa is a myth.

  4. Yes, laestadians in Scandinavia celebrates All Saints Eve this weekend. This includes lighting candles on the graves of dead relatives a.s.o.

    Halloween is mostly an american tradition which barely exists in Scandinavia.

    Laestadians generally does not believe in supernatural things like ghosts a.s.o. Laestadians does not either practice healing like typical evangelical fundamentalists over in US do.

    This has been discussed a little over in forums in Finland, and there is not a single evidence anyone has been healed by prayer.

    Neither this exist in Lutheran tradition. You can't find a single Lutheran hymn or song that tells about someone being physically healed by prayer.

    You can find passages in the Bible indicating such things can happen, but I think the reason this has been left out of Christian tradition, is that it does not work that way.

    Sure there has been people practicing healing, but they have during their life realized that prayer doesn't work that way, so it hasn't been passed forward in the Christian tradition.

    Now we can look at the scientific results and realize the tradition is right.

  5. In the IALC we always had really fun Halloween parties and they were sometimes held at one of the churches, and congregations would take turns hosting it. They were a blast, and area grown-ups sometimes would join in on the fun. There were some really creative costumes. Sometimes we drove for 7 hours to attend one of those gatherings in Michigan. The party was usually on Saturday night and then on Sunday there would be church and everyone would go. Then at some point, one minister thought it was wrong, and because he felt so strongly about it, they quit holding it a church but sometimes a family with a big house or a barn would host. It was all considered good-natured fun.

    This year we found out a Duluth congregation is hosting the party, but it is special invitation-only. I have a teenage son, but he is not in the "IN" crowd, as I have mentioned, and he does not drive yet and is not generally included with his peer group. We don't have a big swimming pool and a big house with X-boxes and all the newest technology and he doesn't have clothes from Hollister, so he is not included with the kids at the church.


  6. "We don't have a big swimming pool and a big house with X-boxes and all the newest technology and he doesn't have clothes from Hollister, so he is not included with the kids at the church."

    I don't know, but I do think you have to find some other church or other community where you would fit better in..?

    Over here laestadians are mostly on the "bottom" of the society. Big families does not have eccessive money to spend on their childrens brand clothes and other unnecessary stuff. I think this is healhty. Growing up in big families gives a healthy perspective on society. This is my experience growing up in a 10 child family.

    If you click on my Nick, you will hear an in my opinion beautiful song recorded last weekend in Pedersöre Church.

  7. I truly feel for your son. Not being in the "in" crowd can be such a hard thing to go through at that age. It really shows the true nature of the Laestadian churches, doesn't it? To not accept other just because of things like a pool or brand name clothes is just plain stupidity! I wasn't in that crowd either, but now I'm thankful for that. I think that not being in that crowd makes for a generally nicer person, and more accepting of others. Brand names and fancy things don't matter in the big scheme of things.

    L-info, what does a.s.o mean?

  8. There has always seemed to be a more "in" crowd at the IALC, and there were kids who didn't maybe fit in as well as some others, but in my day there wasn't an "out" group either. I think its more of an IALC phenomenon. Increased education + smaller families have led to some families having a lot more than we used to. I have a friend who has a pre-teen daughter who feels so stigimitized she has refused to go into the church during services, prefering hours in the car by herself. I have tried to talk to people regarding the plight of my son and the other kids who are excluded, and I was told that "the ministers say if you go to church and don't leave with warm feelings you should look inward and reflect what might be wrong with your own attitude" or something like that. I wish my son experienced the IALC of my youth. Heck, I wish I still did. Things have changed and maybe it's time I did, too.


  9. "L-info, what does a.s.o mean?"

    And So On

    You don't know and you are English speaking. :)

    Or is it just me finding out new abbreviations. LOL

  10. i think its you making up abbrevations! LOL

  11. I remember those "in" groups in the OALC as well. Funny thing about the ones I remember though is that they tended to be kids from the families that didn't have a great deal and so they seemed to try to make up for it by talking tough and getting into trouble. Do you suppose it was a way of coping with what their own insecurities? Almost 50 years later, I still see some manifestations of this same phenomenon in those same people -- now grown up. Interesting.

  12. "Laestadians does not either practice healing like typical evangelical fundamentalists over in US do.

    This has been discussed a little over in forums in Finland, and there is not a single evidence anyone has been healed by prayer." LaestadianInfo

    Actually healing by prayer is very common in the OALC in Norway. I know several cases in which someone was said to have been healed that way. But it's not common in Sweden and Finland, you can almost say it doesn't exist in those countries but not quite. Besides, some Finnish and probably also Swedish OALC people have asked the Norwegian "prayer healers" for help and have supposedly been cured through their prayers. So, although there are almost no "prayer healers" in Finland and Norway, they sometimes use the "services" of the Norwegian ones.

    But there is a huge difference in the way healing by prayer is practiced in the OALC and in the charistmatic type of movements. In the OALC it's never practiced in public. It's rather something people whisper about in private conversations than something that is proclaimed from the pulpit.

  13. Thank You for that information Hibernatus. I know almost nothing about OALC in Norway. If you click on my Nick you can actually hear Arvid Horn, an Norwegian OALC preacher preach, but the preaching was sent to me by an OALC believer in Finland. The same film shows an altar painting of Laestadius from Jukkasjärvi Church.

    But back to healing. I don't deny prayer perhaps can help people to heal in some circumstances, but I think this may have a natural cause.

    There is however not any evidence that someone has been healed miraculously.

    Healing has been investigated scientifically in Finland as well as in many other countries. In Finland it was investigated as a result of the pentecostal preacher Yli-Vainio works where thousands of people become healed from almost any kind of sicknesses.

    The scientist Matti A. Miettinen tracked all that claimed to be healed miraculously and investigated during a period of 10 years all claims. Not a single evidence of any supernatural healing was found, which Miettinen concluded in his report.

    The reason people believe in these things over in US may be that scientists doesn't take time to investigate the claims circulating in the Churches?

  14. L Info, some people in the US may believe in faith healing among large groups of people, and that's what you see a lot of on TV. Personally, I know very few people who believe this way. However, prayers for healing are often requested, and I've heard of stories where there seems to have been spontaneous healing. But outward healing is not considered a sign of faith, or lack of it, in the ALC as far as I know.

  15. I am a firm believer that God answers all of our prayers, whether they be for strength or healing or anything else. How God chooses to do that however is not always apparent to us. God does work in mysterious ways, in ways not known to us and certainly not always in ways that can be "confirmed" scientifically. While the discussion about predestination or predetermination should be conducted in its own topic, I do believe that God does have a profound effect on the burdens we bear, the ways in which we handle them, the strength we are given to bear them, and the end result.

    Jesus, when asked why the disciples could not heal a boy (in the 17th chapter of Matthew), taught them saying "Amen I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain 'Move from here to there', and it will move." In the 19th chapter of Matthew, he said "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." He was speaking on the topic of who would be saved, but I think it applies to all things. Hence through faith in God, and through God's all encompassing capability, yes, all things are possible.

    While I recognize that my own faith is "smaller than a mustard seed", I do try very hard to believe these things.

    L Info, if you seek scientific proof for everything, do you believe in the death and resurrection -- the saving grace given to us via the suffering and death of Jesus, and the cornerstone of the Christian faith? If so, what scientific proof do you offer up to allow you to believe that? If you accept those things on faith alone -- because that is the only way they can be accepted -- why is it so hard to believe that God will not heal someone when asked? I don't mean to attack you, but as Christians we accept many things on faith alone. We do not pick and choose what parts of the Bible to believe.

    Also, indeed, there have been many careful investigations into the miraculous healing achieved through prayer, with compelling evidence found. As one kind of example, these kinds of investigations are done each time someone is canonized and then elevated to sainthood in the RC church (which I recognize is a belief to which many of you would not prescribe -- but that's another topic as well).

  16. "L Info, if you seek scientific proof for everything, do you believe in the death and resurrection -- the saving grace given to us via the suffering and death of Jesus, and the cornerstone of the Christian faith?"

    I think these things belong to the domain of religion and theology. Some things are outside of what science can say anything about and some things inside.

    Science cannot take in account God. That's why science cannot say anything about whether God will create a new world without sin and other related questions. These things are outside the domain of science and belong to the domain of theology and religion.

    Healing by prayer are inside the scientific domain. By scientific investigation we can determine if there has happened a miracle. Claimed miracles (healing) has been investigated all over the world, but not a single miraculous healing has been found anywhere in the world.

    A miracle that would be easy to prove would be that a amputee get his foot or hand back by prayer. No one could deny that a miracle had happened in this question. This is an example of how miracles could be proved if they happened. This miracle would not be larger than any other claimed miracle people talk about.

    If prayer indeed helps people to heal physically, it would be able to prove statistically.

    I think we should accept the scientific world view when science makes claims of things inside it's domain.

    Sometimes the Bible is "wrong" and we have to interpret it differently than it says. You cannot according to my knowledge find a single psalm, hymn or song in the Lutheran tradition that talks about people being healed physically from sicknesses.

    This is absolutely non-existent in the Lutheran tradition, and that for an good reason IMHO.

    This does of course not prove miracles couldn't happen, but our preprocessors did not found that Biblical healing with hands on by prayer heal people like the Bible says, so this was left out of Christian tradition. The Catholic tradition contains to some degree miracles.

  17. I once had what seemed like a miracle to me just after praying. I'd been trying to get into the house for almost an hour after I locked myself out (baby, in!). I had just about given up and said "God, please, help me!", and I pulled once more and the window opened. Miracles do happen! Maybe science could explain why the window opened on that pull, but I truly believe it was more than that.

  18. The American medical care system is probably the most expensive in the world. The total health expenditures as a share of GDP, U.S is someting between 15 and 16 %. The same number for Finland is 7.4%, Sweeden 9.3%, Japan 8% and United Kingdom 7.8 %.

    According to U.S. Census Bureau, International Database, year 2004, U.S. is #20 in health care compared to other nations. In life expectancy, the U.S. is behind Japan, Swedan, Australia, Finland, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Israel, Austria, Greece, New Zeeland, United Kingdom and Cyprus. The U.S. in life expectancy is tied with Ireland and Denmark and actually ahead of the Czech Republic.

    The life expected at birth is 78 years for US, while it's 80 for UK and 83 for Japan, which uses only 8% of GDP for health care compared to 16% for US.

    We can also look at what US get for this money compared to other countries. The amount of doctors, nurses and hospital beds per 10000 is 26, 94 and 31, while the same number for for example UK is 23, 128 and 80. The fact that United Kingdom pays only about half for it's healt care shows how incredible expensive the US system is.

    Studies released in 2007 by the Commonwealth Fund found that the United States, which has the most expensive health system in the world, underperforms consistently relative to other countries and differs most notably in the fact that Americans have no universal health insurance coverage.

    The US ranked last in most areas, including access to health care, patient safety, timeliness of care, efficiency and equity. Americans were also last in terms of whether they had a regular physician.

    The study also shows the United States is also far behind in adopting modern health information technology, which translates into spiralling costs and poor care.

    Some old numbers from 2005 shows that illness and medical bills caused half of the 1,458,000 personal bankruptcies in 2001, according to a study published by the journal Health Affairs. The study estimates that medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans annually -- counting debtors and their dependents, including about 700,000 children.

    Most of those bankrupted by illness had health insurance. More than three-quarters were insured at the start of the bankrupting illness. However, 38 percent had lost coverage at least temporarily by the time they filed for bankruptcy.

    In other industrialized countries this number is 0%, beckause taking care of people's health is government's job just like picking up the trash or putting out fires or running the public library. When you need the service, you get it, and you don't pay there. You pay for it in taxes. It's a government service.

    About 90 percent of the people in Britain and Spain, Italy, New Zealand practicaly never get a doctor bill in their life. They go their whole life and never get a hospital bill. Beckause it's government's job to keep people healthy.

    About 10 percent of the people in Britain have private insurance, but it only accounts for about three percent of the money spent on health care. When anything serious has to happen people go to the public hospital.

    That was something to begin with..

  19. Sorry, the previous posting was under wrong thread. I will post it again under the right one.

  20. I don't know where that other thread is.....I would guess the United States is a world Leader in dollars spent on medical research, the benefit would be reaped by other countries. The US is a great country, I'm proud to be a citizen and wouldn't live anywhere else. If we quit eating all the garbage we eat and get off the couch and break a sweat occasionally, I'm sure our numbers would improve drastically.

  21. I don't think this is any explanation to the sky rocketing health care costs in US. Drug developers are funding 57 percent of the spending on research, and the National Institutes of Health pays only for 28 percent.

    I can't find any exact numbers, but I don't think research counts for much of the health care expenses in US.

    My personal opinion is that the reason for the expensive health care is poorly coordinated and unefficient private hospitals. The health care organized by the states seems to do it better in all countries.

    There is not to forget that the state has in it's own interest to keep people out of the hospitals, while companies profiting from health care prefer to see more patients.

    As a consequence the state try to be preemptive by building sport facilities for citizens and have hight taxes on unhealthy products like tobacco and even certain kind of foods.

  22. OK, I'm getting annoyed again. What in the world does healthcare have to do with whether Laestadians celebrate Halloween? This topic has been discussed ad nauseum in earlier posts, and again -- I thought this blog was to discuss issues surrounding Laestadianism, and not health care and Obama and how far superior Finland is to the US. It really gets up my nose when non-residents of the US think they fully understand the conditions surrounding everything in the US and are prepared to advise and bash at everything the US does wrong, in their opinion. Now I am proud to be of Finnish ancestry, but don't start throwing stones -- you might find that you live in a glass house.

    If y'all want to bash the US, I'm sure there are plenty of blogs where you can do that. Go find them.

    Sorry, I guess I'm in a bit of a peckish mood tonight!

  23. i wanted to say that i most certainly beleive in miracles.and of course there is no scientific proof of them. science is the complet opposit of religion and the bible.

  24. "cvow said... I thought this blog was to discuss issues surrounding Laestadianism, and not health care and Obama"

    Along with that we can discuss other topics too IMHO. Perhaps Tomte could make some own (off topic) postings for these topics. I think it's up to the moderator to determine what can be discussed here.

    "and how far superior Finland is to the US."

    In some cases Finland may be superior to USA, but in other cases not. USA is superior to other countries in many, many things.

    I don't think Finland is the best country in the world. There are several better countries. For a finn Finland may seem to be the best country..

    "If y'all want to bash the US, I'm sure there are plenty of blogs where you can do that. Go find them."

    What's the point to debate with people who are of the same opinion? I am sure I can find blogs where people criticize USA, but these blogs are read mostly by those who like the opinions. This blog is about people leaving, or has left laestadianism. I am not leaving laestadianism, so I would have nothing to do here from that point of view either.

    "unay said...
    i wanted to say that i most certainly beleive in miracles.and of course there is no scientific proof of them. science is the complet opposit of religion and the bible."

    Can you explain why you think miracles happen if there is no proof for them? A miracle is by definition something that goes against the natural laws (something impossible). This means it should be possible to see an miracle has happened. I have given as an example that an amputee has got his hand back and similar things. Those things should be easy to prove.

    I don't think science is an opposite of religion and the Bible, but science is limited because it does not take in account God.

    Science can not take in account God, since that would invalidate the whole point of science, which is to find natural explanations to things. If you say God did it, there is no point to investigate things further.

    I for example don't think there is any big contradiction between science and creation. It's just differing views on the matters. From a scientific view the scientific explanation is perhaps correct, but if you take in account God, it's not.

  25. Today when I logged into Youtube I found that Episcopal priest, Rev. Matthew Moret, whose videos I subscribe to, has uploaded some new videos.

    You can see one of the better, which is about the the somewhat un-lutheran topic, how to become a saint.

    You can see the video by clicking on my Nick!

    (I like the idea and the technical realization of the video more than the message)

  26. well for instance i knew of a youth who fell off a bridge, 80 feet from the ground and landed on rock. now the youth was not supposed to survive the ambulance ride to the hospital, but they did,then the doctors said there was no way the person would survive 24 hours but of course they did, so then the doctors said that they would have some major brain damage and would never be the same. but funny thing is the person is perfectly fine the only side effect of the whole ordeal was minor short term memory loss. all of the doctors working on the case said that it was a miracle they lived and it was somthing much more powerful working in the youths favor, they did not save the person god did. what do you call that?

  27. "well for instance i knew of a youth who fell off a bridge, 80 feet from the ground and landed on rock."

    That may very well be an miracle, but an scientist should say that unlike things sometimes happens. For example a very small percentage of people may recover from illnesses which otherwise would be 100% deadly. If there has been a healer praying for the person, the person would certainly believe that was the reason.

    Now, I don't say miracles cannot happen. There is just no direct proof for it. If an amputee got his hand back no-one could deny an miracle has happened.

    One explanation to why miracles cannot be proved can also be that God works by the natural laws, and because of that it cannot be proved that God actually interfered. This could mean that a wound heals better because of prayer, or a tumor dies. No one can see whether anything supernatural happened.

    But if it were common that prayer works that way, it would be possible to prove it statistically.

    I don't say miracles does not happen. I just say there is no universal proof, and that the Ben Hinn type healing is bogus.