"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Music from the Old

Sound haunting and familiar?
“The world of the hymns has been with us right from childhood,” recalls Wimme. ”I’m from the part of Sámiland where the Laestadian movement is strong: even in our homes we had meetings for worship and sang hymns. And on church festivals such as Christmas and Easter, we sang hymns continually from morning till evening, we listened to sermons and we sang. The hymns are deep inside me, just as yoiks are.“

This is an excerpts from a description of the new album Soabbi by reknowned Sami joiker Wimme Saari (who partners with Tapani Rinne). Read the whole thing and listen to the sample above.

There is much I do not miss about Laestadianism, but I do miss the singing. This is one way to reclaim it, with a most soulful voice and a bass clarinet (on high quality headphones borrowed from my son the technonerd).

Right now I'm listening to the familiar, plaintive hymn Children of the Heavenly Father (reinterpreted in the track as "Mii leat dorvvus buoremusas") and hearing it in an entirely new way, as if standing by a mountain stream with a couple of friends, reminiscing about bygone days. But this doesn't just take me back to the OALC. It takes me way, way back. I feel as if I'm joining hands with my ancestors, sharing in their grief (there is so much sorrow in these notes). I want to tell them "it gets better." And I imagine them saying the same thing to me, and smiling.

Heartfelt gratitude to Wimme and Tapani.

The album is available on Amazon for $8.99. If you decide to buy, please go through the Extoots Amazon page, as this blog gets a few cents for successful referrals.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Unity of Love

A friend, also from the OALC, writes:
So my mom just left tonight  I bought her a ticket out here to help me out with organizing my house etc and I missed her! She stayed for 4 nights and 5 days!  It went really well. I didn't hide anything and there was not one problem or one thing mentioned which I was glad about! On Sunday her sister picked her up for church and no one preached or asked "Aren't you going?" Very thankful for my loving family! Even if they're thinking and feeling things they aren't saying Im glad its not shown and they just show love without involving religion. My kids also enjoyed grandma, except my youngest was a little upset he could watch a movie lol I was trying to be respectful of her beliefs so I let him just watch something in bed with my at night in bed  He did at one point ask her to put a movie in for him and she laughed and said I don't know how to do that. — feeling Thankful and Happy, I love my family!
For those of us feeling a leetle bit jealous (okay, ME), how about we just acknowledge that and then feel grateful that things are improving in some families. That grace and generosity is possible. Perhaps too late for some of us, but still . . . wonderful.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Breaking the Cycle

If you have ever been betrayed, personally or professionally, you know how tempting it is to seek revenge, to "do unto others" what was done unto you. If you're lucky, you have principles, family, and friends who help you process these feelings; people who commiserate (literally are miserable with you), while reinforcing (giving power) to the good in you and others.
Seeing others positively reveals your own positive traits. On the other hand, your words could reveal negative perceptions of others that are linked to narcissism, antisocial behavior, and even neuroticism.—Dustin Wood, PhD, Wake Forest University
They prevent you from going over to the dark side, so to speak. If you are unlucky, your natural desire to hurt is given juice and you join in the vicious cycle of hurt. Such are my thoughts as I reflect on this blog, after a relative recently suggested that the purpose here was to "punish" my family and the church.

Punish? I rejected this out of hand. I don't condemn or exclude here; I encourage conversation and multiple points of view. Right?

This blog helps further understanding and connection, not hatred or rejection.

Most of the time, at least?

Punishment is what THEY do, I said. It's pure projection. All that alienation and gossip and disinheritance. No wonder they think I'm punishing them. That that is their stock and trade! I even reasoned that retaliation could be the primary psychological basis for Laestadianism: its exclusivism, its emphasis on "hating the world," its shunning of apostates. They had good reason to be mad, those Sami and the poor Finns who met in the tundra and fanned the flames of the early church. They could not be blamed for wanting retaliation for the state's onerous taxes, the church's excesses, the colonizers' disdain, the alcohol trade that wreaked havoc on Lapland, the maltreatment of the poor and dispossessed, the condescension and self-proclaimed authority and superiority. Or simply for Laestadius' supreme jerk of a father, who made his family life so intolerable.
We see in others what we fear in ourselves. —Psychology Today 
Certainly there is abundant cause for the abused to create a religion—or even a mindset— in which they assume the upper hand, at least in their own minds. I'm sure that's a survival mechanism, like a protective sheath around a seed, so that it can literally pass through the belly of a beast unharmed, so that once it has landed in nourishing soil, can awaken and grow.

And as much I'd like to think I'm above revenge, the waters we swim in become part of our being, and only by becoming aware of them can we choose to disrupt the cycle. While we learn with our mother's milk whom to love and whom to hate, what to encourage in ourselves and what to suppress, it is never too late to learn anew.

That is my hope.

And that is the answer to "why the blog." My writing is not intended to punish, though that may be the perception among certain people who have been trained to see enemies where there are none.
When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.—Desmond Tutu 
Yesterday our daughter pointed up into a canopy of trees and said: "Mama, look at the pretty holes that the insects made."

It hadn't occurred to me to find them beautiful until she did. They look like tiny galaxies!
We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.—Anais Nin  
What do you think?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Three Women and a Girl, Considered

Photo from Wikicommons.
Here are My View's thoughts about her story of the girl in the church restroom.
This story is like the Bible story of the Good Samaritan, where a person was left beaten, and people passed by. But who was doing the beating here? Is it not the very people who claim that they, and only they, are favored by God? 
Did they hear this girl's cry? Do you? Those in the church, can you still walk away as if you don't hear? As if she doesn't matter? After this girl "gets picked up and dusted off," what is next for her and her family? You know that she will always carry this with her. You know that this isn't the last beating that she will take. Not by a long shot. She and her baby will continue to be beaten by the very people who claim that they love her and tell her that all her sins are "forgiven and forever washed away."
Are they really? How is it then, when it comes time to baptize this little one, they say: "Not in church." 
How is it then, when she wants to marry a man from the church, they say: "Not in church. Church weddings are for obedient ones." 
This is what "forgiven" looks like? 
How is it then, when the baby grows up and goes off to school, he comes home in tears because his cousin called him a "bastard child" and told him he was "conceived by the devil?" 
Is that what "forever washed away" looks like? 
How is it then, that the one who introduced her to sex by molesting her when she was a little child, now walks through the church unbeaten, even admired. His "sins" forgiven, forgotten, never to be spoken of again.

I am not trying to destroy the church. There are people I love in it, and I cannot sit by and watch another be beaten down.  I wrote this story to give a voice to a girl who was silenced, to call attention to the hypocrisy, so that maybe another girl, another child, could be spared. Someone must speak up for them. 
But I know my voice isn't enough. What will it take to stop the beatings? Who will be the Good Samaritan?

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Three Women and a Girl

Photo by Kinnéidigh Garrett, used under CCA 2.0 Generic license
Thanks to "My View" for sharing this fictionalized account of what happened to a teen she knows.
They don't know that I am in one of the bathroom stalls. The church ladies. They don't realize their voices echo around the huge bathroom. They would have realized, if they had stopped to listen. They would have heard my gasp, my stifled sob.  
They are talking about me. The fallen one. The unmarried teen who is pregnant by a worldly. They are speaking in hushed tones, but didn't they know that hushed voices can be heard the furthest? I will find out later that hushed tones can be heard from coast to coast within a few days.  
The loudest woman is saying that she won't let her daughter Sara hang out with me anymore. "Who knows how that girl will influence her?! I always knew she was trouble." 
Another woman says, "I heard that she don't even know who the baby's daddy is. The parents should have kept better control. Shame on her and shame on them! I don't think I want any of my children hanging around any of their kids. Who knows what could happen!"  
A third voice chimes in: "Exactly! It wasn't long ago that my little sweet Billy, he's five now ya know, anyway I overheard him telling his buddy that their Emily kissed him at recess. I was shocked but now I know — it runs in the family. I told Billy to stay far away from her and to never talk to her again." 
Their voices fade as they leave the rest room. My tears come rushing out now. I can't hold them back. I rage at myself:  
"What did I do!? My younger brothers and sisters are going to be shunned because of me. Because I fell for his stupid lies! Because I am evil! Because I am carrying a baby! How will I ever look them in the eye again?"  
I pray: "If you still hear God please don't allow them to be shamed! I will do anything! Just please leave them peace. Shame me, but please, God please, don't let my family suffer."  
I stay in the bathroom until there are no tears left, and my heart feels dry and empty. Only a few people are still in the church as I leave. Over the months my baby grows within me, his strong body shoving aside their words, but they remain, like pieces of shrapnel, leaving permanent wounds.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Laestadian Parenting Manifesto?

In response to the Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto post, reader "mouse in a corner" has offered a Laestadian Parenting Manifesto:
  • Above all else, I want you to know that you are lower than dirt because we are all worthless in the sight of God. Do not expect special treatment from me—you will learn from my words and actions that your natural wants and needs are to be subdued, and that you are here only because God put you here. You are a burden, but since I have to accept the gifts God gives me, I cannot let anyone know, especially you, that I am overburdened with “gifts."
  • I want you to engage with the world from a place of humility and superiority at the same time. You are special because God has chosen to put you in this family, in this church, in this faith, and you are going to heaven, unlike most of the other people in this town/state/country/world. But you are not worthy of this gift. You will learn to beat yourself up on a regular basis as you watch us adults constantly complain that we are unworthy and do everything we should not, and do not do those things we should.
  • We will practice courage in our family by choosing to stand out from the rest of the world by not participating in the normal everyday activities that are so sinful. Makeup? How dare you think you can improve on the way God made you. Jazzy music? It might make you want to swing your foot to the beat. And pretty soon it will be your legs, and then your whole body. Dancing is from the devil, and we avoid the things of the devil. He is stronger than we are and we have to avoid him at all costs. He can even take us away from God. 
  • We will share our struggles of feeling unworthy with each other, and this will bring us renewed strength to keep being strong. We will bravely tell people that we don’t practice birth control, even though we can’t afford the children we already have. We will remind people that we don’t watch the TV shows they are talking about because we don’t believe in having one of those sinful boxes in our houses. If they ask you, you can tell them that they, too, are going to hell because they don’t haven’t had someone from your church forgive their sins.
  • We will teach you selflessness by making you share everything you have with your siblings because there is not enough to go around. We will shame you if you try to set boundaries, because we are in charge, and you are not. Sharing and giving up what you want will be your family values and family practices.
  • You will learn accountability and respect or I will beat it into you. You will ‘fess up if you do something wrong. I will tell you when to say you are sorry, and teach you to ask for forgiveness whenever I think you need to. I will make sure no opportunity goes by without pointing out your vulnerabilities and telling you what you did wrong.
  • When uncertainty and scarcity visit, we will suffer the blessings of God with each other and draw strength knowing that we must bear this cross to get to our eternal reward.
  • Together we will cry and face fear and grief, but I will tell you that God’s ways are not our ways, and our suffering is in His hands.
  • We can laugh and we can sing, as long as the songs we sing are church songs. We will not dance. (See third point above) No matter what happens or how bad it gets, you can always count on me to tell you that God won’t give you more than you can bear. 
  • As you begin your journey, the greatest gift I can give you is to put so much fear into your heart that you will never think of leaving the church. Should you choose to give up this precious faith, I will kick you out of the house because I don’t want your unbelief to contaminate the other kids. 
  • I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly because I am a faulty believer and my faith is weak, as a flickering candle. I will only accept you when you are heaven acceptable—otherwise, when we interact, it is my job to make you as miserable and as uncomfortable as I can so that you will want my love so badly that you will do anything to get it.
What's your take? Does this resonate? If you are a parent who left the church while raising children, how did it change the way you relate to your kids? (Thanks Ed, for suggesting this as a separate post. I look forward to your input!)