"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Still Hearing Laestadius' Sermons

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Still Hearing Laestadius' Sermons

I thought I'd highlight this comment made by an Anonymous poster. The branch of Laestadianism I grew up in didn't read his sermons from the pulpit, so I found this quite fascinating. Also, it represents a critique of Laestadius from the right, versus the typical critique from the left.

Anonymous said...
Why oh why do we still have to listen to Laestadius! I still go to the OALC and I just have such an issue with this. Sure, I know his sermons were powerful for that time, and effected many awakenings. And ok, maybe there is still some bit of pertinence to our lives today. But why read one every single sunday before the sermon? Why not just say, `here are some books that may be strengthening` and let people keep them in their home libraries? Why read and re-read them for decades ad-nauseum? And I do mean `nauseum`.. most are graphic and often (imo) downright inappropriate for reading in front of a mixed age/sex audience. There are many sexually-loaded statements (i.e. `sucking their own breasts`, etc) that only serve to put lascivious images in the minds of the listeners, at a time when there should be piety, grace and hopefulness (sitting in God`s house.) I spoke of this with only a few others (OALC too) and they agreed. You cannot tell me that that particular statement I quoted does not bring up an inappropriate, lustful image in the mind of any post-pubescent male present! So it offends me. In fact I clearly recall actually blushing as a young girl sitting under some of the sermons. And I`m not even a male, how much worse must it be for them! Also, LLL steeped his sermons in obscure, multi-layered metaphor and simile.. I would guess with some confidence that the majority do not `get` them. You need to be quite savvy and attentive to follow along, and if you miss the initial metaphor, good luck trying to follow the winding thread. Too, the readers that are pressed into service often read in a low, sing-song monotone, which lulls the listener and causes sleepiness (literally, I mean) =) So the earlier poster should not feel so guilty for falling asleep! =)

Also, another thing that is a bee in my bonnet is when the preacher says (of the LLL sermon) "we have already heard the best sermon of the day." This is their way of saying LLL was a much better or more gifted clergy than they are. And ok, that may or may not be? BUT- I`d always heard & believed as the others do, that nothing of the preacher`s sermons are `their own`... meaning they do not prepare a sermon... but all comes from God- that they go up there and God opens their mouth and speaks through them.. He uses them to speak through to us. So...??? What are they saying by that, then?? That LLL is better than God himself?? It just doesn`t fly. So... then it must be false humility. Or self-righteousness. I don`t know. I have no problem with the doctrine or the KJV we use: oh all of that is so pure and true. I know Jesus loves me, and died for my sins. I just fail to see really where LLL fits into this. I presume it`s just custom... and that bothers me, too. Just because it`s `always been done`. Arg. Thanks for listening! Apologies for the rant. ;)


  1. It sure does not make any sense, does it? If Laestadius is idealized as being the best preacher, and he prepared his sermons, why are current OALC preachers encouraged not to prepare their sermons?

    On the other spectrum, being raised in another LLL group, I'd never even heard of Laestadius or know I was Laestadian until well into my 20's. When I asked an elder about Laestadius, I heard that "we never had a thing to do with him." Yes, I can see why there was a reaction against the OALC group overemphasizing Laestadius, but they did a complete 180 degree turn. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the newer preachers had never heard of him. I brought up his name to a preacher once who asked me, "Who is Laestadius?" I cannot tell if he truly did not know, or if this was a way of censoring me for knowing more than I was supposed to know.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts-

    I believe the c.v. on the disparity is that during LLL`s day, it was required that clergy prepare and record their sermons, thus we have them still to read today. I have not inquired specifically as to why our preachers do not, but again the conventional belief is that there should be nothing in their sermon that comes `from man`.. but instead faith that God will procide the words needed for that day. I am not sure when that practice started? I`ve been attempting to do some research/reading on this, (the path of OALC through history) yet it can be difficult at times, as there doesn`t seem to be a comprehensive resource as yet, that clearly delineates this. At least not that I have found, but I have more digging to do! =)

    I find it interesting that a branch of Laestadians (with LLL roots) can be so far removed from him that their members and possibly clergy are unaware of his existance. Apologies but I do not feel you are missing overmuch! haha
    Again, I see where his postillas can be a resource, but I wonder that they need be put so high they are read before God`s sermon. Every Sunday. Ah well, you already know my thoughts on this! =)
    Thanks for your reply..

  3. I am really glad to see some activity here again, and on a slightly different twist!

    You raise a good point "Blessings" -- I'll just call you that since you don't have another alias. The pertinence of Laestadius is limited in today's time as you point out -- and frankly I thought it was 50 years ago as well. A reference to an earlier time, a very real part of the history of the movement -- of course, but beyond that, I doubt that very many people have ever really paid close attention to those sermons. Shucks, I never did, and I used to read them in church! I'd be willing to bet that you could ask a high percentage of folks on any given Wednesday what the Laestadius sermon was about the past Sunday and you'd get a blank look, and then maybe some mumbling about whoremongers and papists. Actually to be fair though, my memories of the sermons I heard from the "preachers" are vague things about two-edged swords and not knowing what the seventh devil did and other vague and dramatic mumbo jumbo like that. Funny, I recall very few things about living in God's love, or how he loves us in spite of our sins. I mostly remember the judgment, the threat of eternal damnation -- and not the hope and promise of eternal salvation. Isn't that sad?

    I will add that I never found anything erotic about Laestadius' writings, so I guess that's just how we each interpret things. I guess I always just viewed his references as literary license in old time flowery language, that was intended to shock the listener.

  4. Thank you, cvow-

    I wanted to mention that yes, I surely do `get` the metaphorical contex behind the LLL passages that I found inappropriate... yet it was some years before I truly did grasp that. So while the (sometimes shocking) `sexual` moments were and are meant in a purely spiritual manner, I still feel that they may `trip up` an otherwise engaged listener, in a possibly offensive manner. Maybe it`s just me? heh!

    I do, however, still feel and experience the love and grace of Christ, at OALC. I am so sorry that your memories are so disenheartening. Although yes, I also can see how that may be so for some ex-members.

    I personally go out of my way to dispel some of the harsher impressions OALC has left in the communities it inhabits. I see those failings as coming from man... the church after all is comprised of faulty flesh. Many, many of the issues that offend non-members come about as a result of the fears, misunderstandings, and even the ignorance of it`s own members. As I mentioned in another posting, for myself I do sense a beautiful, incorruptible core, and that is what I look to. I try to overlook the many faults the church/faith has that come from generations of humans. I feel that I would simply find the same or similar situation in another church/faith were I to `leave`. I feel Christ`s love... I take great comfort in the fact that He loves me and died for my sin, and no-one can take that from me, `even though` I choose to continue to attend OALC. I have the sense of His grace as being extended to all members of His body. I do not buy into the exclusivity. Yet my choice, again, is to just remain quietly assured, and still attend... with a peace of spirit can only come from Him.

    Apologies, Cvow, if I seemed to be `stating my case` at you in particular- that was not my intent a`tall- just letting the thread lead me where it may! =)

    love, ~Blessings

  5. Blessings, I think you "stated your case" really well and thank you for that! I hear and understand what you're saying, and as I've mentioned before, I believe there is a great deal of good in the OALC, and if it works for you, that is wonderful. It didn't work for me anymore, but my faith in God was not shaken -- I just found a different place, and that's wonderful too! You are right -- the love of God, my belief in him and in the salvation of Christ, and all of the other things that make up true faith did not change for me just because I found a new place to worship. I have found true Christians in all walks and places of life.

    If we can have this kind of discussion, accept each other, and keep our eyes on the prize, we'll all be just fine. God loves us all -- how could he not love his creation? I think God is like any loving parent -- one that will let us stumble and skin our shins occasionally, but who watches diligently and if necessary sends out an angel or two to keep us from falling over the cliff, if we can only believe. Unfortunately I think he sends the Archangel Michael my way too often, because I seem all too willing to enter battle!

  6. Exactly, Cvow, I feel the same way-
    and am so glad you found another place that feels right to you. I understand/experience our Triune God in that loving way also. I take such a comfort in it! Which is why the exclusivity bothers me, and the legalism, etc. And can so clearly see how & why it (OALC belief/doctrine) does not `work` for some. And... so? So someone leaves, finds another house of worship.. have they suddenly `lost` that incpmrehensible Love from our Father? I know they have not. His Love must be greater than that.

    I sometimes imagine our Father watching over us all from `above` (the material reference helps my puny mind grasp it! haha), with sorrow at times, over all of our squabbles and finger-pointing. I truly believe that ALL believers on Christ are members of His body. If only some of my compatriates could realize the peace that understanding brings! I would enjoy reading more posts from fellow OALC members that are not peppered with anger, indignance, fear and legalistic leaning. Ah well... I would like world peace, too! ;)

    So lovely... (off topic here)... just saw the most darling hummingbird! He came right up close. God`s creations will never cease to amaze me!

    Speaking of angels, Cvow, and others... how do you understand them, in relation to our material journey here? I have been fascinated recently by this topic. Some feel they are all around us, always.. close enough to touch. And that all we need do is ask and they are there to help & guide us. I find I have largely ignored them so far- when I need guidance, I usually pray only to Christ. Do any of you also ask help of angels? And has anyone `experienced` their answer? Not too get too metaphysical here on this blog! haha =)

    Thank you!

  7. I also think the OALC tradition to read LLL before sermons is a little old fashioned. You have to have a lot of patience..

    This practice does not exist in the ALC equalient branches in Europe.

    BTW. I have now a few more videos from laestadian services on my channel.

    From the last weekends services in Bosund:


    And this one from the Holy Communions at the big summer services:


    and another one from the big summer services:


  8. It has always surprised me that some of the branches have moved away from LLL. I know at one point there was a split because one faction insisted in keeping in all of LLL's words, while another group wanted to clean his sermons up a bit and remove some of the bad language. He tailored his sermons to his audience, and his audiences in Lapland were hard drinking, hard living folks. It could be that some groups tossed out LLL, along with his graphic language. The OALC has viewed him as a prophet--no way to ignore him there. He is called the 7th angel--I don't know what that means anymore--used to know.

  9. LLLreader mentions that she forgot to sign her name to the previous post

  10. Blessings,
    What the manifestations of angels are, I can't begin to know. There are lots of references to angels throughout both Testaments, as you know, so I am sure they exist. It seems that many times angels are credited with being messengers of God, bringing news and comfort to the people. In other places, angels come to do battle, even fighting through the night with Jacob at Jabbok, as well as the references to Michael battling the devil and his cohorts.

    When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert, scripture reports him as saying that God would send his angels to save Jesus, if he would only throw himself off the high parapet.

    Perhaps that was a voice of authority, as it is held that Satan is an angel himself, albeit an evil angel cast away from God, who in the end will be banished to the lake of fire.

    There are so many earnest witnesses to manifestations of angels -- from people who attest to having experienced some sort of physical interaction with angels, that I think they do walk amongst us at times. Whether they watch us, or protect us, or help us in some way -- whether they do physical acts like pushing someone out of harm's way, I haven't a clue. I can't say that I have ever had that experience, but I am convinced that either the Good Lord or one of his angels has had a hand on my shoulder more than once, making sure I was safe. I certainly need all the help I can get and gratefully accept it, however the Lord chooses to give it to me!

  11. CVOW, I have to admit that many of the LLL sermons made me squirm. I found it odd (at least in retrospect) that the prudish, uptight church-goers could so casually sit through some of those sermons.

    And I also find it interesting that so many feel no need to know LLL's background and the times in which he lived as a way of explaining why his sermons are so full of alcoholism, for example. The sermons never related to MY life in any way so I can't see how those still hearing them think they have something to do with THEIR life. Maybe it's just to feel a tad more superior? As in: "At least I don't drink...."

    I am currently re-reading "The Four Agreements". The first chapter is helping me understand/remember much about belief systems. A great book!

  12. Sisu, You must have been one of the very few people who ever actually listened to those sermons! :-) My observation -- and you gotta remember, the view is good from the altar -- is that most of the men slept through them.

  13. LLLreader to cvow--got a grin from your saying that most men slept through LLL's sermons. I've read most of his sermons and I can't see how an entire religious movement grew out of them. He must have had a dynamic presentation!

  14. Blessings says:

    I can recall being only 16 or 17 or so when it first occured to me that there could be faith without LLL. Before that I had never noticed it, never questioned. I`ve known his sermons were geared toward the flock of that time and their alcoholism, etc. It just didn`t pertain.. so I`d tune it out. But some members may have needed that, alcoholism is there, too, just in smaller percentage, perhaps. I can recall asking a friend, `what if you were stuck on a desert isle without church or a postilla... only a bible? Could you still believe, be saved?` And she would not answer, just became very alarmed for me for having/voicing these thoughts. Poor gal, she was not ready to hear that yet. Well it was a hypothetical question anyhow... and I already knew the answer in my heart. Even way back then.

    Don`t know what I`m getting at here... it`s late, just blabbing! =)

    Peace to all~ Blessings

  15. LLLreader remembers: I can recall the exact moment when the thought "It's not true" hit me. I was riding in the back seat of my parent's car driving near Minniehaha (spelling?)--none of us were talking -- it struck me--how could everyone in the world, except for this tiny handful of people in "The Church" be going to hell??? I was about 14--and there was no going back. I listened carefully from then on, and became more convinced that the teachings were based on tradition and the ego of men. There is safety, for some, in being within a closed group--no decisions, no questing, no serious thinking about spirituality. In some ways it's easy. It's also egotistical to raise yourself above other people and believe you are "more Christian" then people in other so called "dead faith" churches. I think it was on this blog that someone said that folks who leave the church to go out and raise some hell like drinking and such, eventually get tired of that and come back. While people who leave for spiritual reasons are less apt to return. That makes sense to me.

  16. I think I was a little older when the same realization hit me that LLL Reader describes. I kept looking for something that would explain the reasons why we were taught that way, and never found it.

  17. To Blessings,
    If I had found some (any) OALC members that believed such as you, then I may have remained in that church! To hear a current OALCer say that Christians exist outside their walls is unique. I have been told after leaving the OALC that I am no longer "one of them".
    I can attest that I have found many precious Christians in my new church, and my faith and that of my family has remained strong.
    Thanks for your posts.


  18. For any further interest, I would recommend reading 'The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness'. I guess it's LLL's autobiography and it gives good insight into the man. I was born and raised in the OALC but now no longer believe. Reading the above mentioned book turned my doubts into convictions. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the absurd things he had to write about himself. In the beginning, he writes a lot about all the women who wanted to corrupt him but he was was able to resist (through the grace of God, of course) hehe. It is also written in the third-person, which has the ring of self-adulation. I think that his sermons are convoluted and wrapped in allegory go a long way in explaining his hold on the OALC. Part of the mysticism that is peculiar to this branch of Christianity. In many ways, he is the Swedish version of Joseph Smith.

  19. I didn't know where else to bring this up but I was wondering if all the LLL churches have gatherings like the OALC. The typical gathering consists of a few preachers that pass around a question. The answers are all pretty generic and easily predictable. The most interesting part, though, is the speech patterns. Replacing "I" with "one" and using "that" a lot (e.g.
    what is that seventh devil?). I always found it interesting how everyone speaks differently and wonder if anyone has any thoughts as to why this is so.

  20. Maybe the speech patterns are due to influence from Finnish? I can imagine that at least the frequent use of 'that' could be. In Finnish you would say 'se', it's used a lot in the way you said. My impression is also that Finnish uses more passive constructions than English. In my previous life I did a lot of translating, and one of the problems I often met when translating a text from Finnish into English was that the Finnish text used a passive expression, which means that you say something is taking place, but you don't say who is doing it. Often it would sound very odd in English if you translated it just like that and I had to try to make it an active expression instead. The speakers want to identify with some authority (=in this case probably some old Finnish speaking preacher) who speaks in a certain way, and they start to imitate also his way of speaking. This habit may be passed on from generation to generation. The current generation may speak in that way just because also the generations before them spoke like that at gatherings because that's the way you are supposed to speak at gatherings. :) There is something similar also in Europe. In Southern and Central Norway the OALCers tend to speak more like the northerners when they speak "Christianity" because Northern Norway is where the big preachers come from. If you imitate the way those big preachers speak, maybe even your own words get some of the authority those big preachers represent. ;) Also in Finland, you often here OALC people from Southern Finland imitate the Finnish spoken by old people in Northern Sweden where the "elders" live (some of them still speak the local old Finnish dialect). Sometimes they also use non-Finnish linguistic constructions that have clearly been influenced by Swedish (the "elders" often speak in that way when they speak Finnish, and if they preach in Swedish, the translators often pass on non-Finnish expressions to the Finnish translation).

    As for the gatherings, I think they are much more common in America and Norway than in Finland. Although I've lived most of my life in Finland, I think the total number of gatherings I've attended outside of Finland is higher than the number of gatherings I've attended in Finland.

  21. Hibernatus, your analysis makes sense. The same thing happens in the LLC. Many of the ministers use similar tone, voice inflections, and phrasing when they are speaking from the pulpit or in a meetings. I have often thought that they must think that to acutally "sound" like a minister they have to "sound" like all the ministers that came 90 years before them.

  22. One might think that but one must be always watchful to not be disrespectful of those faithful servants laboring mightily in the vineyard of the Lord in great weakness and humility, trying to heed that voice crying in the wilderness while the winds of the world swirl around them and the devil makes sure that those lost souls seeking nourishment will only suckle at dry paps.

    OK, that was facetious...sorry, I was on a roll and thought I'd stir the pot a bit.

  23. also, like any psychically walled community, the OALC is rife with code and jargon (e.g. saying "speace" every time you run into someone-even in restaurants which is annoying as you're trying to eat and 13 people insist on 'saluting' you).

  24. LLLreader sez: Hello everyone--I'm just checking in. Seems like it's pretty quiet around here, but we're all still out here. Speaking of speech patterns, I remember being at gatherings and when the preacher had a question he would ask, "What say you John?" cvow--you forgot to mention the part about "rolling in the filth of the sin cursed earth." That's my personal favorite.