"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Random Stuff / Delurk Thread

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Random Stuff / Delurk Thread

Happy spring and World Poetry Day, readers. I know many of you come here looking for something fresh and leave empty-handed. My apologies. Below I've listed a few items that may tempt you to delurk and leave a comment, as the dialogue in the comment section is usually the best reading here.

1. Ed has a new post about exodus stories. Many of us take non-linear paths out of the church, some with a loop or two back in, for various reasons. But the guy who returned to the LLC to party? That had me SMH, as the kids say, shaking my head! Did you leave and return, and if so, why?

2. Another reader forward this link to Post-Cult Trauma Syndrome. Perhaps you recognize some of these symptoms? (I often feel "out of it" but have accepted it as my normal!)
  • flashbacks to cult life
  • simplistic black-white thinking
  • sense of unreality
  • suggestibility, ie. automatic obedience responses to trigger-terms of the cult's loaded language or to innocent suggestions
  • disassociation (spacing out)
  • feeling "out of it"
  • "Stockholm Syndrome": knee-jerk impulses to defend the cult when it is criticized, even if the cult hurt the person
  • difficulty concentrating
  • incapacity to make decisions
  • hostility reactions, either toward anyone who criticizes the cult or toward the cult itself
  • mental confusion
  • low self-esteem
  • dread of running into a current cult-member by mistake
  • loss of a sense of how to carry out simple tasks
  • dread of being cursed or condemned by the cult
  • hang-overs of habitual cult behaviors like chanting
  • difficulty managing time
  • trouble holding down a job
3. If you happen to be in Stockholm in June, check out the International Cultic Studies Conference. Surely religious scholars in the birthplace of Laestadius will be eager to discuss his legacy? Or not. I think Laestadianism may be the Rodney Dangerfield of religions and cults.

4. Did you ever wonder if Laestadians are similar to Mennonites? Not enough, as I discovered in this hilarious memoir by a Mennonite who left, became a poet with a PhD, divorced her bisexual atheist husband, moved in with her parents, wrote a book and fell for an evangelical biker (with a nail necklace!) after concluding that "nice is better than smart," while exhibiting neither. She's very readable, if not always relatable, but you'll fall in love with her Mennonite mom, and may even get nostalgic for cabbage rolls or fruit soup, if not head coverings, patriarchy, intermarriage, or pat answers for complex questions. But Mennonites rock inclusion, apparently. Go figure.

5. And finally in celebration of the holiday, here's a dark little gem by one of my favorite poets, LOUISE GLÜCK.
All day I tried to distinguish
need from desire. Now, in the dark,
I feel only bitter sadness for us,
the builders, the planers of wood,
because I have been looking
steadily at these elms
and seen the process that creates
the writhing, stationary tree
is torment, and have understood
it will make no forms but twisted forms.
Life gets us twisted, yet we yearn for the linear. Silly us. 

Okay, that's enough from the peanut gallery; please leave a comment below and get the conversation started. Thanks!


  1. Sometimes I am not sure if the church I left was a sect, a cult, or a cult-like sect, but I found this article helpful.

    Getting "spaced out" or having a sense of unreality I thought was a sort of latent ADHD. I hadn't realized before that was considered disassociating. Wow.

    But a couple of these after-effects have affected me profoundly. I DO have a fear of running into people from my church. That has a lot to do, I think, with how some people have reacted after I left the church, some pretending not to see me, for example, or even seeing me and scowling at me. It contrasted so much with how I treated other people who left the church when I was still there. If I saw them I would say hello to them. I never said that I "missed seeing them at church" but simply hello and something neutral like, "I hear your dad retired" or that I saw your sister's new baby and is she ever adorable. I always felt like people have a choice and I felt like it made the church seem like a cult if I engaged in shunning.

    Some current members really do find running into ex-members scary, and it has made me full of dread to run into them. I don't know how I will be treated. Even the ones I find who ask me to come back are unnerving. If they only knew how difficult it was for me to leave. I know they would not like hearing that my life has improved so greatly since I left that I would not trade it for anything. Even though I miss the church, there also hasn't been a single day I've regretted leaving. My life is now my own, though I still follow the lifestyle recommendations as before.

    I also didn't realize that others experienced this dread of being condemned. It is not fun to have your parents tell you you are going to hell. And its not fun to have one of your children come back from services and report to you that a person who was a stranger to them had approached them to tell about how I going to hell and that's where my child will wind up too, if they quit coming to church.

    It taps into a primal fear that I recognize from childhood when I learned about hell and how I would be going there if I left my group. I no longer believe that I have to be part of my group to enter heaven but those thoughts linger on in my memory.

    I see my old friends fairly frequently. Family is still a wild card and I can manage to see them a few times a year, but I like to give myself a bit time to prepare myself before going to a family activity. It depends on who is going to be there, as some people are more of a "trigger" than others. There are some ministers if I run into are really great and some I have to sneak around and avoid because they're of nastier kind.

    I wonder how many others out there feel the same way. Yet, this is not out of any kind of hatred for them. It's an easy solution to paint ex-members with the label of "bitter" but I would prefer if my label was a bit more accurate. It would read, "hurt" or "wary" rather than "bitter."

    I wonder sometimes if men who leave experience less social aggression?

    I am glad to feel that I am not alone in experiencing some of these recovery symptoms. I am glad that I have been mentally strong enough that I neither drink alcohol or engage in any harmful behaviors in order to cope. I know some people who leave have self-medicated to the point they have developed a dependency of some kind.


    1. The hard part for me is knowing that my parents truly believe I am going to hell, and that their comments about me coming back have been coming not from some hateful place, but out of their love for me. I can deal with comments from people who I really feel no connection to, and sometimes the comments lead to other people realizing just how "unchristian" people who are "Christians" can be. A cousin came to me and stated that another relative had said that she "hoped bad things happened to (Me) so that he realizes the error of his ways" . My cousin saw this for the bad behavior that it was. The thing is, I personally have a much healthier, fulfilling life, including spiritual life, since leaving....but like many others here, the emotional toll of the decision to leave was huge, and some of the deeply ingrained thinking patterns are difficult to disengage. I find that I have a lot of very black and white thinking...right and wrong.

  2. Punahilkka here, with another thought. I wrote that I was not sure if my church was a cult, a sect, or a cult-like sect. My church may have been all of those things, or none. There were certainly those who were cultish, who had very black and white thinking, and who lacked grace. And there were also broad-minded, loving, spiritually graceful people. And now that I have left, I can see the difference much more clearly. The ones who are spiritually true people are those who are free to still love me, who can hold in their heart the possibility that I might yet be a believer in my heart, and who treat me like a human being, the same person I was when I was in the group. The cultish people cannot. They can't see beyond that I am not physically present with them anymore, or the possibility that I might yet be in belief. They think if I am not present among them that the devil has a hold of me. So for some members of my church, they are in a cult. And some are not.

  3. Non the less they are under the leadership of false teaching. Somebody has the responsibility to say, that's not what the Bible say's.

    1. That's the funny thing about the bible. It says a multitude of things and contradicts itself often enough that it's possible for people to confirm almost any way of thinking from it. Not to say that they're not following false teachings. I feel that they are, definitely; it's just that I also feel that any person, church, sect, etc. who claims they follow the bible's teachings are techinically under the leadership of false teachings as well by merit of the bible's ambiguity.


  4. Anonymous, people have said it, again and time again, with every exclusive branch of the Laestadians that exists. And again. When corrected, the wagons circle around the person who corrected them, they are socially shunned, and then they end up leaving the church over, at the very least, the shunning. They can't handle the truth.

  5. That's true , but at least everybody get's to keep their head.

  6. "That's true , but at least everybody get's to keep their head."

    I'm not even sure what that means.

    1. I'm going to take a guess: People who leave Laestadianism don't have to worry about the threat of physical harm like apostates from Islam do in Saudi Arabia. It's a valid point. No matter how much it sucks to lose our social network and be viewed as fodder for the flames of hell by much of our family and oldest friends, at least we are free to live our lives in peace.

      My posting "Getting Out" touches on this issue a bit.

  7. Yes, that was quite a story about the guy going back to church to party with his old friends. My reaction was more LOL than SMH.

    This being April 1 and all, there's another post on the blog today announcing a more inclusive LLC and SRK: A Mother of Many Children.

    1. You had me going for a minute there, Ed. The tone and style is impeccable.

  8. When I was in the church in the 50's Every one was talking and believing that Jesus was coming before the end of the century. It does'nt seem that it is talked about or taught as much today in the Laestadian churches, or is it?.

    1. Well it's a bit to late to be claiming Jesus will come at the end of last century! Maybe there will be a Laestadian time warp back to 1999 followed by judgement day. ;-)

      Kidding aside, they do often claim we are in the end times, with judgement just around the corner. No real firm dates though. "No one knows, the day, the hour, yadda, yadda, yadda,..."


  9. If Jesus the Bridegroom was Resurrected on Easter week, seems fitting the Church who is the Bride would be resurrected on Passover week also.After all the Bible say's the Church will not see end time wrath.Seems pretty end time now.

    1. Why does it seem pretty end time now?


  10. These years since 9-11 have had many many "spirit activated" events, a spirit can make you do something you would never otherwise do. On 9-11 2001, as I was watching on TV the towers cascading to the ground, the spirit gave a message and I knew that 9-11 was not a mere manmade event.The destruction was to perfect, like. Hollywood special effects. And what I was told next, had me standing on the street corner holding a sign with a message. This happened on the same day. One sign read"the spirit of Antichrist has made it' first move", the other sign read'"keep your eyes on the Middle east".Now, I'm just an average conservative older Finnlander,It would take power stronger then my mind to have me stand on a street corner in my home town of all places holding up a sign with a message that I had not even thought of until that day....All the activity with ISIS and they're recruits, where did they come from? One country? No, the end time spirit drew them. Country against country and fighting they're own people,spirit activated.Same thing with road rage,recent racial clashes, even the German co pilot, if you got the right mind set,the spirit will almost force you........

  11. I always feel less like things are "cult"-like, but instead a life style choice. The choice is, after all, up to you.

  12. We all feel differently, I feel that the Laestadian movement started out as God sent revival. But the last few generations the movement has morphed into a mostly Finnish "perverted religious cocoon" not serving and not loving others.