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

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Link Love

Summertime being what it is (glorious! magical! and much too short here in the Pacific Northwest), I have little time to write, and am taking this chance to refer you to other blogs. My dream is that someday there will be so many sites by Laestadians (current and former) that when the curious go to Google search, they will be overwhelmed by the wealth of information. For every student, a teacher, for every question . . .  another question. Wouldn't that be great? If you are interested in starting a blog and not sure how to begin, send me a note. I'm happy to help. It's easy to blog and doesn't cost a thing but an internet connection and time spent on a keyboard (which in the summer, can be painful). Some recommended reading:
  • Beth, who writes at Imperfect Lady, shared a link to this essay written by John Salveson, a victim of child sex abuse. Having appealed to the church for years without success, he concluded that what he considered a moral issue was considered a risk management issue by church authorities. A telling quote: “Cardinal Bevilacqua was asked repeatedly when he testified before the Grand Jury why he and his aides never reported these crimes to law enforcement. His answer was simply that Pennsylvania law did not require them to.” Salveson refocused his efforts and is now working on changing the law, not the church. I think there are important lessons in his struggles for all of us, not only about where to focus our advocacy but what to do with our frustrations.
  • On his blog, Ed recently shared the experiences of two former LLC members, one who ran into rocky shores visiting current members, and another who did not. How is tolerance of difference related to one's faith or principles? How does it demonstrate compassion?
  • "Blue Sky" is a former FALC member who has a blog called Prioritizing Happiness. Check out her poignant fable about a girl who is told the sky is blue and discovers it is much more. It made me smile, because I was that girl, and am now a rabid admirer of clouds (literally and figuratively). 
"It has slowly dawned on me that the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church follows beliefs that were specifically influenced by the indigenous people of the Far North, the Sami.  The Sami had been in the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia since prehistoric times. Sami spirituality was traditionally natural. The gods were in nature: animals and plants had souls, and demons and ghosts were feared. Drums were used to call out ecstasies by the shaman who could make contact with the spirit world. As the Nordic population begins to colonize further north, the ways of the Sami were criminalized. Drums were outlawed and the Sami language was even outlawed in some areas. Land was less available and the Sami were forced to become more nomadic. Taxes were levied on the Sami and oppression of their culture became more intense. The disconnect with the world outside their culture became more pronounced. They needed to band together. They were different from anyone else.
"When Laestadius, the botanist, entered the ministry, he became superintendent of the elementary schools in Lapland. He was married to a Sami women, and was part Sami himself. He spoke different Sami dialects and understood the culture. At first he wasn’t very successful in changing the ways of the pioneer settlers or the Sami with his preaching or his teaching. He was an educated man who knew how to write for the educated elite. My thinking is that he looked at his audience and realized he needed to recraft his message if he was going to effect change.  
"He understood the Sami believed in signs and omens and incorporated them into his teachings. In 1847 he saw a bright light rise into the sky from the steeple of the church in Karesuando and sink to the south. This was "a sign from God" that Laestadius had come to light the fires of heaven in the hearts of the Far North people. A year later one of the churchmembers experienced the first release of sin. She heard God’s voice say “Your sins are forgiven you,” and at the same moment an earthquake was felt. In 1846, Raattammaa saw the devil, but the devil fled when God spoke, saying, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Lastadius' meeting with “Lapp Mary” takes on an almost mystical quality as she changes his heart. Laestadius’ preaching took on a harsh, coarse tone that was directed at drunkenness, adultery, and reindeer theft.  He spoke to the worst fears of his audience. They were used to fearing the underground people who could, at any moment, snatch away a child. They appreciated the danger that lurked. 
"The Sami ecstasies brought out by drums was replaced with the great emotional outburst (liikutuksia) that could last for hours within the Laustadius movement.  It was a comfortable experience for the Sami, something they had experienced for generations in their naturalistic beliefs. The mistrust of their oppressors (the world) was a point Laustadius made clear. The world, with its scholars, lawyers, and dead faith churches, was to be avoided. The message of being poor, simple, lowly, outcasts with no pride in oneself certainly fit into the Sami reality. Having this pointed out to be a positive must have been reassuring. As the movement swept through Finland the poor, simple, lowly peasants were also naturally drawn to the teachings.   
"I have come to the conclusion that the Sami themselves shaped the Laestadian movement, rather than Laestadius leading the way. He crafted a religion that would work for them.  What do you think?"

Feel free to comment below on these topics or any other. If I'm slow to respond, please have patience with me. I'll be back soon.

Happy summer!



  1. LLL reader said, "I have come to the conclusion that the Sami themselves shaped the Laestadian movement, rather than Laestadius leading the way. He crafted a religion that would work for them." The Catholics of ancient days slowly began to adopt pagan customs, beliefs and holidays and modified them into their church practices, doctrine and church holidays with the idea of making a religion tailored for their new proselytes. The end result was that much of Catholicism, at least up until the 2nd Vatican Counsel, actually became an amalgamation of centuries of both pagan and Bible beliefs as the Catholics adopted many of the 'pagan' practices of their converts. Unfortunately, most Laestadian types I knew were totally oblivious that their dogmatic beliefs had little to none Biblical origin but were in fact only narrow ideas brought over from the Finnish countryside 100 plus years ago. I realized long ago that much of the dogma was probably based on old mythological superstitions they had believed in....something akin to our version of the 'boogeyman.' Old AP

  2. There's been an important addendum to my blog posting. Emerson's mother weighed in with some thoughtful comments from her perspective as a loving, believing parent. Worth another look, I think. I'm pleased to say that she and I remain friends, even if the bonds have understandably frayed a bit. She and her husband are awesome people, and their kids are amazing. They are all very fortunate to have each other.

  3. LLLReader recognizes Emerson's mother as a loving mother. In no way should she think that anyone reading EOP's blog would think badly of HER and HER FAMILY. She raised a son who knows who he is and isn't afraid to say it out loud. He was just responding to attacks from some busybodies who want to spend their time finding faul with others instead of looking at themselves. Being "sad" for the way somone else leads their life outside the church is just code for "we are better then you, and we know it". Emerson's Mom is so much nicer then some of the other moms I hear tell of, who berate their children, ignore, and attack them for leaving a church they can't believe in. God bless you Emerson's Mom.