"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: October 2023

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Ricky & Austin Johnson on Leaving Laestadianism

When Ricky Johnson's son Austin stopped attending church (the OALC in the UP), it presented an opportunity for Ricky to address his own doubts about the faith. He sought treatment for his depression, found the courage to question his own beliefs, and to be authentic with himself, his family, and his friends. 

He and Austin, who is now a biology professor, talk about their experiences on several videos. Ricky said the interviews were intended to support others who feel marginalized by high control religion. 

"It hurts to feel othered by family and friends within high control religions. Those who have left are worthy of unconditional love and support.”  

While I have different perspectives on animism and rationalism (and the origins of the religion we once shared), I find it encouraging that Ricky and Austin are navigating their inquiries together, and am grateful that they are willing to share their experiences online. 

May others be inspired by their curiosity and compassion. 

Friday, October 06, 2023

Growing Up Laestadian

Karen Tolkkinen’s series “Growing Up Laestadian” (on Medium) is recommended reading for anyone curious about the religion and its effects (particularly the exclusivity practices) on children. It is also a rare and welcome example of a writer who has created, in spite of Laestadian conditioning in feminine self-erasure and secrecy, a space to share her own perspectives. Karen’s quiet courage, humility, and hope suffuse the writing.  

Born into the Minneapolis Laestadian Lutheran Church in 1972, Karen remained a member for 30 years before leaving. She began writing about her childhood, she says, “as a way to open the door to this closed group, to document its practices, and to educate parents about the secret ways their children might be suffering.”

We call ourselves Christians, or believers. We call people outside our church un-Christians, or unbelievers or uns for short, as in, “She’s an un.” We call the people who split away from our church in 1973 heretics, or tics, for short. “They go to the tic church.”

Karen’s formative experiences are simply and effectively evoked. While she avoids historical or political analysis (the focus is on her personal experience), it is not difficult to extrapolate the patriarchal ideology and control dynamics to other arenas in American life, including our continuing struggle for reproductive rights.

The series has been resonating with members of the Extoots support group on Facebook.

“I really enjoy reading what you’re writing; you have a way of getting the words to paper that explain perfectly what’s sometimes difficult to explain when I’m asked about specific things regarding my upbringing . . .”

“You write so well! Keep it up!”

There are 18 posts in the series so far, with more to follow.