"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: A Stranger Among Them

Monday, April 02, 2012

A Stranger Among Them

First, I want to welcome Ed (his user name is EOP) to the blog and I encourage you all to read his book. It is well-researched, brave, and thoughtful, and I look forward to hearing more about Ed's journey as he posts here.

Cleaning up the house this morning, I picked up the New York Times Sunday Magazine from the sofa and skimmed through it, having read most of the articles online. A line on the last page jumped out: "Upon leaving the Finnish fundamentalist faith of my youth..."

What?! I sat down and devoured the story,  a charming essay by a former Laestadian (although she doesn't use that adjective, it's clear from the details). Hanna Pylvainen made a deal with her parents when she left the church to return at Christmas and Easter, and one Sunday she encounters a stranger, a black man, who makes her question her outsider status. You may have to register online to read the story, but please do: it's worth it. (I'm guessing she was LLC. Definitely not OALC because missions and Easter hats, my goodness!).

Pylvainen has a novel called We Sinners (doesn't that sound familiar!) coming out this August. Here is an Amazon review:
This stunning debut novel—drawn from the author's own life experience—tells the moving story of a family of eleven in the American Midwest, bound together and torn apart by their faith. The Rovaniemis and their nine children belong to a deeply traditional church (no drinking, no dancing, no TV) in modern-day Michigan. A normal family in many ways, the Rovaniemis struggle with sibling rivalry, parental expectations, and forming their own unique identities in such a large family. But when two of the children venture from the faith, the family fragments and a haunting question emerges: Do we believe for ourselves, or for each other? Each chapter is told from the distinctive point of view of a different Rovaniemi, drawing a nuanced, kaleidoscopic portrait of this unconventional family. The children who reject the church learn that freedom comes at the almost unbearable price of their close family ties, and those who stay struggle daily with the challenges of resisting the temptations of modern culture. With precision and potent detail, We Sinners follows each character on their journey of doubt, self-knowledge, acceptance, and, ultimately, survival.
Almost unbearable price of close family ties . . . that made me tear up.

Hanna, if you happen to read this, brava. I'm so proud of you, and I'm sure I speak for many readers here in saying we can't wait. Also, you are welcome here anytime.


  1. Freedom does come at the expense of close family ties. It is often unbearable. I need to read this book NOW!

  2. I've had the privileged of getting to know Hannah a little bit and reading an early work, a memoir for which she received high academic honors.

    She's an outstanding writer whose prose sits you right down in the living room where the difficult discussions are taking place about faith vs. reason, the "Kingdom" vs. the "World." It is quite an impressionistic writing style that works very well for these deep topics.

    You will enjoy the book, I have no doubt of that.

  3. I can't wait until this book comes out! I am going to preorder it.