Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Knapsu & Laestadian Gender Roles

Perhaps the reason I know more female than male ex-OALC members is because I am female. Or is it because more women leave?

Mikael Niemi describes in his book "Populärmusik från Vittula", the meaning of the Meänkieli word Knapsu. Knapsu means not male, womanish, something that women should be and do, not men. Niemi writes that men's role in Tornedalia (where Laestadianism runs strong) is built upon one thing: To not be Knapsu.

Is Laestadianism anti-Knapsu?

Joke

Someone told me once that a good indicator of whether your church is a cult or not is whether you can poke fun at it. Here's some lightmindedness for you.

One Sunday morning, a mother went in to wake her son and tell him it was time to get ready for church, to which he replied, "I'm not going."

"Why not?" she asked.

"I'll give you two good reasons," he said. "One, they don't like me, and two, I don't like them."

His mother replied, "I'll give you two good reasons why you should go to church. One, you're 54 years old, and two, you're the preacher."

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Faithful Remnant

Here are some thoughts about exclusivity from "A Generous Orthodoxy" by Brian McLaren:
One of the most fascinating and vigorous sectors of protesting Protestantism has been 'restorationism' -- a belief held by a succession of groups through church history that, by finally getting the last or lost detail right, they now represent a full-fledged restoration of "New Testament Christianity."

Having been raised in one such group, and having spent a lot of time with many wonderful people in other restorationist groups as well, I can tell you this: if you are part of a restorationist group, the group dynamics of your group will be nearly identical to those of every other restorationist group. Change the details -- mode or meaning of baptism, church structure, administrivia of worship or piety . . . , doctrinal fine print (a unique interpretation of at least one verse from Revelation, for example, that highlights your group as eschatologically significant) -- and you could be in any super-Protestant restorationist setting . . .

Restorationists . . . often refer to themselves . . . as a remnant. This remnant language is common in the Bible. For those who need consolation for small numbers, it's an attractive blanket to wrap up in: we're not small because we're ineffective, or lazy, or ingrown, or otherwise unattractive; we're small because we're a faithful remnant! Everyone else has compromised. They're taking the easy way. We're the few, the committed, the faithful . . .

What is a truly faithful remnant like? Its members do not turn inward in elite self-congratulation, smugly casting a critical eye of disdain on the rest. No, the faithful remnant "after God's heart" turns its heart others-wise, outward, toward the unfaithful, in loyalty and love. True faithfulness bonds the hearts of the faithful to their unfaithful neighbors. . . . The faithfulness of a faithful remnant is not crabbed and constricted; it is loyal, magnanimous, and generous.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Who's Who in the Queue

Thanks to Theoforos for shedding some light on the apostolic succession question. I'm reposting his comments here so they aren't overlooked. Is this information new to others, too? Is it possible that this history is not taught in America? Perhaps no one is interested except those who find the teachings on exclusivity less than credible.
The European OALC branch teaches that there is a line of believers going all the way down to the apostles. There are some Christian movements in the past that are generally recognized as having been "living faith" by the European OALC branch: the Waldensians in early middle ages (about 1000 AD I think), the Hussites in later middle ages (14th or 15th century) and the Herrnhutians in the 17th and 18th century. The "reader movement" in Northern Sweden, which the Lapp girl Mary was a member of, is believed to be an offspring of the Herrnhutian movement. And also the Haugians in Norway around the time of Laestadius are considered to have been "living faith".

It is interesting that all of the mentioned groups, except for the Swedish readers, have survived to this day although the Laestadians often do not consider them "living faith" any more. There are Waldensians in Italy (they just recently merged with the Italian Methodist church), Herrnhutians in Germany and the Baltic countries. Besides, I think the Moravian church in America has Herrnhutian roots, or maybe they are Hussites? I'm not sure about that. And there are still Haugians in Norway and America. I think they are called something like "Lutheran brethren" in America.

I think their are two views in the Firstborn Laestadian (OALC) movement about Luther's role in the "line". As far as I know all consider Luther to be part of the line of believers, but some are of the opinion that the "living faith" did not come to the Swedish Lapland through Luther but through rather through the Herrnhutians and the earlier representatives of than line, the Hussites, while others are of the opinion that the "living faith" that came to the Swedish Lapland through through Luther and his followers. Buts most of them might not have any specific opinion about which way the "living faith" came.

(Please note that I'm not expressing my own beliefs or opinions, I'm just trying to give a picture of the Firstborn Laestadian/OALC view on the matters).


Thanks, Theo. If Fox's Book of Martyrs is indeed approved by the OALC, then John Wesley, the 18th c. founder of Methodism, is also in the queue.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

False Fire


tender_fruit_gallery94
Originally uploaded by Free2beme.
In our garden there is a lapin cherry tree given to me many years ago by a girlfriend after I had a miscarriage. It is a big tree now, blooming every spring, fruiting every summer. It is not a symbol of loss, but of life. We usually let the birds have their way with the fruit, but this year I hung ribbons of foil from the branches to distract them (the ribbons flash in the sunlight and apparently the birds think the tree is on fire). Perhaps "false fire" is a metaphor that is applicable to the OALC. When we spend our lives fearing false fires, we are distracted from the spiritual food that will nourish us. To extend the metaphor, let us be fearless birds, not only eating the cherries but distributing the seeds.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Dispensations? Visitations?

A readers asks "who were the Christians from the 30's (AD) to 1850?" -- you know, from an OALC point of view. In other words, between Jesus' time and Laestadius, who qualifies?

This is one of the questions I asked the preachers as a teenager. I think I was told something about dispensations but whatever it was, it didn't stick. Help me out, readers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

OALC Teens

A teacher writes:
"I know there is the stereotype that AL girls get married young and have lots of kids. How much of that is taught by the church, and how specifically? Also, what is the tendency for these girls to have premarital sex? Would it be as high a percentage as the "world", more, or less?"

In my OALC days, the preachers specifically warned against fleshly desires and long engagements, and urged us to find a mate within the church and to "replenish the earth" with children (BTW, the earth is fully plenished, folks). Laestadius has a lot to say about unmarried sex, "whores and whorebucks," some of it crude. No doubt he wanted to shock his audience, but there is a vivid misogynistic streak in his writings. It is notable that LLL was reprimanded for his refusal to serve communion to an unwed mother who, he determined, was insufficiently penitent to be forgiven.

There is no way to accurately assess "the tendency for these girls to have premarital sex" but one should NOT presume that girls who belong to the church are more likely to be abstemious. Reflecting on my "worldly" and OALC girlfriends in the 1970's, I would say that premarital sex was common in both groups. One significant difference is that my OALC friends did not use contraception (that would indicate premeditation instead of being swept away in the moment). Another is that teens who are raised with black/white thinking often swing wildly when they swing. As a teen, my first offers of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and sex were all from OALC teens, not "wordly" friends. The irony was not lost on me!

Some of those early marriages are the result of the kids confessing premarital sex and then being told to marry instead of sin again. Preachers have advised girls as young as 14 to marry, I don't know if this is still the practice.

Agnus Dei

Click above for Agnus Dei (ahn-yoos day-ee) sung by a Latvian choir.

By the way, this site had 103 hits today (with a visit length average of 6 minutes 50 seconds). If you are reading this and haven't yet commented, please give it a try. It's completely anonymous. Let us know what brings you here and what you'd like to see.

Mental Havoc

Below I've pasted a recent post under an old topic. (Dear reader, I'm so sorry about your wife. It is my hope that this blog will help others who are experiencing that mental havoc. "The hospitality of God in Jesus is still far too radical for most of us, and we will do all we can to evade it.")

As a former 1AP and after a review of the L history,the hair-splitting,dissension,and down-right nonsense over the years over doctrine would be laughable if it were not so destructive to peoples lives.

Do these preachers,elders,etc.have any idea of the mental havoc of depression,nervous breakdowns feelings of worthlessness,by thier continued negative preaching?My wife (deceased)was a victum.Also setting rules of conduct for fellow adults has to be the ultimate in arrogance.

The final nail in my coffin of 1AP belief was when the preacher would say if anyone had doubts about what he(preacher)`believes that SIN is forgiven.Another example of arrogance!In other words you have the mind of a child in comparison to him and you can't depend on it.

Keep up the good work!Rationsl people seem to be in short supply.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Lord, Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace

Click link above to hear a version of this prayer sung by Sarah McLachlan. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Have a lovely Sunday (happy Pentecost).

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Children of the Heavenly Father

This is a favorite of mine, a little of which is sung here by Mennonites. It was written by the talented and prolific Swede Carolina Sandell Berg.

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
Such a refuge ne’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

Praise the LORD in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
Rest secure in your Defender
At His will all foes surrender.

Sing Along

Click above to listen to a Finnish hymn sung by Charles Karye and Lempi Luoma. Stir up any memories? Can you name that tune? (I love that laughter at the end.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bible Research

Turns out the mark of the beast is 616, not 666. Check out the link above for a National Geographic report about new developments in the study of ancient papyri. Pretty exciting stuff! Of course, there are those who are threatened by any new evidence that contradicts their understanding of Scripture. But it serves nothing (certainly not God) to insist on the purity of a given version of the Bible, or to deny that human ambition and error were involved in its compilation. The truth of the Bible is not in its "accuracy."

Saturday, May 07, 2005

LLL the Infallible?

sunrise
I'm not sure what to make of this history of the OALC (more can be found online here). Is it accurate? I'm very interested in hearing your comments.

In 1965, a schism occurred among the Firstborn in Europe. A radical minority broke with the main group, led by Elder Gunnar Jönsson. The minority is known by the names “leeviläiset” and “pikkuleeviläiset” after its main leader, Levi Älvgren, also known as “Pikku-Leevi” (Little Levi) because he was only 153 centimeters tall. According to Lauri Koistinen, a spokesman for the minority, the trouble actually began in 1946, when J. P. Stöckel and Gunnar Jönsson, traveling in America, established “a new spiritual government” with former leader Arthur Niska now outranked by Samuel Juvonen. Koistinen charges, among other things, that the majority group began to tolerate pictures, photographs, flowers and fashionable clothing; women ceased using aprons; men began wearing modern hats and white shirts; organs, radios and televisions became permissible; wreaths were laid at funerals; birthdays and father’s and mother’s days were celebrated; and people engaged in sports, even on Sundays.

Koistinen also accuses the majority of using the new translation of the Swedish Bible and a revised Swedish edition of Laestadius’ sermons published by Per Boreman in 1957 under the name Evangeliepostilla. According to the minority, none of Laestadius’ words, even obscene ones, should be changed or omitted because he is the seventh angel of Revelation 10:7 and “every word he preached after 1844 is by the Holy Spirit” and “every word is God’s Word and is to be taken seriously.”

Friday, May 06, 2005

Jokes

A man is being shown around heaven for the first time by St. Peter, who walks around pointing out the various glories where people of all colors and ethnic persuasions live -- grassy hills, green meadows, still waters, symphony halls, silent spaces, steep hillsides for people who want to hike to the mountaintops or the ponds, and so on. Then they come upon a great walled fortress.

"What on earth is that?" asks the man. "Oh," says St. Peter. "That's where the fundamentalists live. It's not heaven for them if they think anyone else got in."


Ole calls Lena. "Hi dere, Lena, guess vat? I'm callin from da car. I got me one of dem cell phones."
"O, dat's nice, Ole," says Lena. "You be careful now. I heard on da radio dere's a car goin' da wrong way on I-5."
"Not just one car," says Ole. "Dere must be a hunnert."


knock
A new pastor moved into town and went out one Saturday to visit his parishioners.All went well until he came to one house. It was obvious someone was home, but no one came to the door, even after he had knocked several times. Finally, he took out his card, wrote on the back:"Revelations 3:20" -- and stuck it in the door.

The next day, as he was counting the offering, he found his card in the collection plate. Below his message was the notation: "Genesis 3:10."

Revelation 3:20 reads:
" Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and opens the door, I will come into him, and dine with him, and he with me."
Genesis 3:10 reads, "And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Christian Unity

I'm posting the following work (which I found online) because it speaks to the need for Christian unity.

Ephesians 4:1-7,11-16 speaks to us and all Christians about such matters having to do with our diversity and the problems we have around our differences . . . the letter, written in Paul’s name, was calling Christians back to the basis of their faith. It sought to build up the whole church. And, much as it is today, there was considerable diversity among these early Christians, and that diversity could divide them. The letter places a strong emphasis on their unity and exhorts them to be true to their calling as Christians.

The letter points out that marks of that calling include humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love, and maintaining the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. Only then are people able to live and work together, doing the work of God. Ephesians emphasizes this unity by the repeated use of the word "one" - one body, one Spirit, one hope one faith, one baptism, one God above all, through all, in all.

And each Christian and each church had gifts to bring to this work. All of these gifts are to help all Christians grow in the knowledge of Christ toward a maturity in Christ - spoken of here as growing up into the full stature of Christ.

And the central message is that the heart of it all is love. Christians are to speak the truth in love, and build up the body in love. The Christian calling is a calling into community, the well-being of the whole. Each person and each church has a particular contribution to make for the welfare of the whole. So, what we have here is both an emphasis on the individual and the individual faith community, but in relationship to the larger community of faith - the body of Christ.

The implication here is that theological systems that promote particularities or human distinctions and practices which tend to divide the community of faith are contrary to the essence of God’s will and the essential Christian teaching.

Christian unity does not mean there are no differences or distinctions among members or faith communities. The issue is whether these differences or distinctions are good gifts that work together to build up and serve the whole body of Christ.

As Christians and churches we all are called to a life of love, and this epistle reminds us that the essential ingredient of our unity-in-diversity is love. Love is at the heart of God’s truth revealed in Jesus Christ.

So, it’s important to recognize our diverse gifts, not only among ourselves here, but also throughout the Christian community. There are different gifts and ways of serving, but the same God is served. And we need to relate to one another in ways that promote our growth together and our maturity as Christians. Being open to recognizing and learning from our differences enlarges us and contributes to our maturity. The call to unity is a call to humility, gentleness, and patience with one another, speaking the truth as we have known and experienced it, yes, but speaking it in love and bearing with one another in love.

This is not always easy, because we are a diverse people with differences in background and culture, differences in our experiences and stories, and in the images and rituals that we find meaningful. But, we’re talking here about unity, not uniformity. We’re talking about using our many and varied gifts to work together for the common good. There is so much that needs our attention: e.g., a worldwide AIDS epidemic that has been responded to largely with indifference, inaction, or missed opportunities; the percentage of people in our own country without health insurance in this the best economy there’s ever been; the fact that 1 in 3 black men from the age of 18 to 35 are either in prison or on parole.

The church needs to be at the forefront of feeding, healing, caring for and loving God’s people - the body of Christ making a difference in the world. We need to share our abundance. The lesson of Jesus is that God has provided enough for all, and as his disciples we are called to see that it reaches everybody. We are called to a larger and higher purpose beyond our differences, so that people are not dismissed, left behind or left out . . .

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Illegal Nicotine

LLL's pipe and gun
A reader wonders why underage smoking is tolerated in the OALC. I don't know the answer to that question. In Washington State, the legal age for possession or purchase of tobacco is 18. Go here for information on kids and smoking.

I've often wondered if the Nordic tendency to depression is exacerbated by the OALC, which emphasizes conformity, humility and spiritual insecurity. If you tend to depression and are regularly told that your relationship to God can be severed in an instant, your salvation lost forever, wouldn't you find yourself reaching for the calming effects of nicotine -- or food, or coffee, or prescription painkillers?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Happy Birthday to Thee, KJV

The OALC uses only the King James version of the Bible, which was first published on this day in 1611. I did not learn there were other versions until my high school librarian showed me one: an enormous, beautifully illuminated Catholic bible that included strange texts like Tobit, Maccabees, Sirach and Baruch. (Did you know the original King James version included these books?) Not long after that, I thumbed through a friend's heavily-inscribed Living Bible, a version whose plain language astonished and repelled me. I preferred the lyrical beauty of King James. But my curiosity was piqued. If it was okay for King James to put scripture in the language of his day, why not others?

(Interestingly, it turns out that even for King James, that "thee and thou" language was old-fashioned. His committee of 54 translators wanted their new version to sound old, like long ago and far away. They succeeded.)

Of course, readability isn't the only good reason for fresh translations. The discovery of the “Dead Sea Scrolls” in 1947, in caves at Qumran near the Dead Sea, gave us copies of texts 1000 years older than the earliest Hebrew manuscripts previously known, and archaeologists have continued to find fragments and even extended sections of text going back to the very early centuries of the common era.

This site has a interesting history of bible translation: http://www.biblesociety.com.au/BS/Bible/history_othertrans.html
For a timeline go to http://www.literatureclassics.com/ancientpaths/bibhist.html