Thursday, May 18, 2006

Old Apostolic Funeral

I saw this bit online and thought I'd share it. It was written by a teenage girl about her aunt's funeral in the OALC. I was moved by her pain, and it sent me to some dark places. I'd be hella pissed too. Someone should start a ExOALC Anonymous to help people deal with these things. (Meanwhile, we've got this blog . . . I sent her the link.)
. . . Old Apostolic Lutheran Church.

Do those words mean anything to you?

If not you're lucky. I've heard them since the day I was born. It defines who my dad's side of the family is. Old Apostolics are pretty much a cross between Mormons and the Amish. The women don't wear makeup or pants and they must wear scarves on their heads when in church and they can't have birth control (Mormon comparison) so they all have like 1571258712357 kids, no seriously, I have a cousin who has 13 kids, can you say ouch? And pretty much, if you leave the church, you're shunned (Amish comparison).

Well, when my dad turned 18, guess what he did?

Yep, he left the church. And so, of course, he was shunned.

Well, I mean they still talk to him, but it's way different.

And today, when the pastors were talking about (aunt's name deleted), supposedly. They kept mentioning how Apostolic is the only "true faith" and they hate to see people that were brought up in the church "turn their backs" and run away. I almost got up and punched that pastor in the face. That is not the time to try to re-recruit the people that you pushed out.

I'm sorry. I was hella pissed.

Oh and I really don't understand how EVERY SINGLE song can sound the exact same. I mean we sang like 5 songs during the service and every single one sounded exactly the same. The same, long, boring monotone. The exact same dull drone as the Pastors when they were supposedly "talking about Annie."

That was bullshit.

I'm not sorry she's dead. I know that sounds horrible, but it's true. She messed up my family and I'm glad she's dead. I feel for my dad, he hadn't seen her in 4 years because he couldn't get over it. It tore him apart today, so I was crying, but not for (aunt's name deleted). I refuse to shed tears for her. It's not her fault, I know this, but I can't help but blame her.

My family has issues, and they need to learn that there are more people than just Apostolics in the world. They all marry each other and stay in this little crazy community and don't even try to get out and see what else is out there. It makes me mad.

I hate my family right now. I don't even care.

I love them because they are my family, but I hate them for what they've done to my mom, dad and I.

It's not fair. None of it.

18 comments:

  1. I wrote some of this on the other link and then realized that the spot was wrong.

    To the teen who attend this funeral (if you are looking at the blog).. My whole life I have attended these funerals.
    Say a prayer..."Father, please forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" Jesus said this on the cross.

    The OALC church members are afraid to leave. They are afraid that they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Think how hard that is for them. When a member of their family leaves, it scares and saddens them. They grieve, because their church says they will not be joining the non OALC in heaven.

    I know when I go to heaven, my family will be there. But, if you do not believe that, think how sad you would be.

    God's Peace!

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  2. To the teen who wrote--bless your heart Sweetie--we understand how you feel.

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  3. There was a good discussion about "good grief" in another spot, and for the most part I agreed that OALC folks do come together and give tremendous support in times of loss. However, there is a flip side.

    I have heard many times during the funeral services when the purported "preachers" condemn non-OALC family members in very clear language during those sermons. Of course, this sort of vilification happens every Sunday as well if there are non-OALC spouses in the church, so it's not suprising.

    The worst I ever heard was at the funeral of a FALC member. The guy -- let's call him Joe -- was a town alcoholic and bum most of his life. My Dad had played baseball with him years before and grown up with him, so even though they drifted separate ways, they had remained casual friends. I was about ten years old, so I knew who he was and that's about all. However I was good friends with Joe's nephew Bill. When Joe died, I heard that FALC "preacher" stand there during the service and announce clearly that Joe was burning in hell, and the rest of us had better be careful not to share his fate. Even as a ten year old, I found it shocking that this "preacher" would seek to hurt the family like that.

    This funeral however sticks in my memory for another reason -- that of one of the best lessons my Dad ever taught me. When Dad was getting ready to go the funeral, he told me to get ready too. I said since I didn't really know Joe, why should I go? My Dad told me that Joe neither knew or cared whether I'd be there, but Bill would. I have never forgotten that.

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  4. I agree with S.O.'s prayer: Father, forgive them.... That is how I've managed some of my anger; I realize they don't understand the harm they cause.
    I will second cvow's comment about preachers' admonishments at funerals. I remember the preacher saying things to us children at my dad's funeral. I was appalled, ashamed, and hurt, and my heart "was hardened", as they say.

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  5. Many Trails Home5/22/2006 01:04:00 PM

    This has nothing to do with funerals, per se, but as I have been so thoroughly enjoying "If Grace is True" by Gulley and Mulholland, I have decided to post some quotes here. They do not believe in "Biblical Inerrancy" but do refer to this term, so I assume it is commonly used among the "Biblical Literalists." I am guessing that most of the "Literalists" who make it to this site do not stay long, as most of us are not of this persuasion. So here is the "quote of the day:"
    "I used to believe the Bible was the ultimate source of authority. In so doing, I elevated Scripture to a status equal with God. It eventually occurred to me that my ultimate allegiance belonged, not to the Bible, but to the One of whom it testified. When I lifted up the Bible as my ultimate authority, I made my leather-bound, gold-engraved Bible into a paper calf. . . . We are not to worship the Bible; we are to worship the One the Bible reveals."
    Amen, amen. MTH

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  6. Awesome MTH... I am going to save this for discussions with my family. I seem to be the only one who debates the bible being the "literal" word of God. Even those who left the OALC still have a need to cling to the belief that we should not dispute any word of the Bible, even though man created it and man is fallible.

    Back to the funeral discussion, I find the book of Laestadius discussed more than the Bible.

    Is that true for others?

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  7. Many Trails Home5/23/2006 12:24:00 PM

    I personally think the Postilla is another "paper calf."
    Here's another quote, regarding what they call "weighing Scripture," which is the concept that not all scriptural statements are created equal:
    "Weighing Scripture allows for the possibility that some descriptions of God and his behavior are inaccurate. . . Weighing Scripture is what Jesus taught when he asked, 'What is the greatest commandment in the law?' If Jesus had believed that all Scriptures were of equal worth, he would have answered, 'All the commandments are equally important.' Instead, he replied, 'Love the Lord your God . . .' Then Jesus added a pivotal footnote. He said, 'All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.' In other words, these two verses exalting love are as heavy as the rest of the Bible."

    I would add my own footnote (the authors may have also suggested this) and that is that THE ENTIRE BIBLE should be evaluated and tested in the light of this, Jesus most profound and ultimate, teaching.

    Coming next: grace vs justice.
    MTH

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  8. To MTH "This has nothing to do with funerals,"... "When I lifted up the Bible as my ultimate authority, I made my leather-bound, gold-engraved Bible into a paper calf..."

    Your comment has inspired me to recall Christianity and its roots. I once wrote concerning my grandmother that the “her extreme religious vigilance saved her son’s soul at the price of him”. It seems to me that moderation is one of the solutions. However, and this is the question to you. In the classic Platonic forms and their evolution to God representing the universality of perfect wisdom in Christianity, it is easy to see that the striving for perfection (a noble pursuit) can easily lead to the extremes mentioned above. Further, if we agree that moderation is sublime then what is the perfect form of moderation? Can we travel the road to it and maintain it? My experience with the OALC is one of dealing with extremes in all of its manifestations… endless energy on fine points of vanity, making hot tubs a sin, sitting in church for hours, considering shorts a form of heathenism, inconsiderate comments at funerals, hiding half of our lives, at times an unseemly groveling in humility and so on. It has been said that “perfection is the enemy of the good”. Perhaps humility sits on a philosophical circle opposite arrogance and pride. The more of it you get the closer you get to the latter. Where is the balance between moderation in religion and no principles?

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  9. Where is the balance....?

    Love!

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  10. To the teen who attended the OALC funeral: perhaps the best words of wisdom are to accept the extended family for what they are (you won't change them); work on letting go of anger (it doesn't help you); and move on and live your life fully in spite of your OALC rellies (treat them well but set healthy boundaries for yourself).

    To add to the topic of moderation and principles: moderation is key. Can we not teach and learn how to make good choices rather than proclaiming activities across the board to be sinful? Take the television. Do we not have the ability to choose the good rather than the bad? Or a round of golf? What could be wrong with that? Or our dress? Isn't it possible to dress fashionably, yet conservatively? Or the radio? Again, do we not have the ability to choose to listen to the good? Or music? What could possibly be wrong about decent music? Or sports in school? Cannot children learn to compete in a healthy manner and just enjoy the sport? The list is endless. All of this can be done without sacrificing principles.

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  11. This doesn't pertain to this thread as such but I have a question for anyone. Why is it that prepared sermons are looked down upon in the OALC with the stand that all words will be given and you must start with nothing, when a great leader they follow, LLL, obviously prepared his. He breaks many sermons down into "considerations" 1, 2, etc. and gives other statements which also imply a prepared sermon. Is this common in any of the other LLL churches?

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  12. To Anonymous 11:56,

    I have wondered the same thing myself. It seems that the OALC worships LLL, and therefore his words are the most important (of more value than, say, a current preacher and so are worthy of the printed word. I doubt many OALCers have ever really thought about this. When my sister mentions something about the Laestadians to my mother, she said, "We don't worship a Man!" (totally ignoring the fact that Luther was a man).

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  13. I believe that every ex-LLLer is hurt by the shunning that they experience. I just wanted to say that we ex-LLLers must approach the LLLers with love and hope that one day they will see what is to be gained by loving people unconditionally. Mari Boine Persen said the following about women being oppressed and how she sees how she can overcome the oppression: "I used to think men oppressing women or governments oppressing people realized what they were doing and were just cynical. But then I realized that often they are unaware and are filled with fear. I feel I have to find my way to their hearts to let them know what they are doing. It's the only way to change things. That's why I feel my music is important." To get the LLLers to love us ex-LLLers we have to do the same thing. We have to "find our way to their hearts and let them know what they are doing."

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  14. I have friends and family in the OALC, and I love them dearly. Having said that, I will disagree with the last Anonymous and say that I think they very well know what they're doing.

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  15. Sisu, I'd say some do and some don't. Have you ever become aware of having a habit which you have had for years without knowing it? I have. Some things are picked up from those we grew up with. Others are coping patterns from childhood experiences (like sexual abuse). Whatever the reason may be, If they do it knowingly or not they are still responsible. I think we should always choose the most loving reaction, (though it does go against what we are inclined to do) After all we are instructed to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.

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  16. Many Trails Home5/25/2006 06:43:00 PM

    I think it is very good to debate whether they do or do not know what they are doing. They do know that they are being very judgmental and condemning, even of those they should love (their own children). But they do not yet know that in this they are not following Jesus example and instruction to "love your neighbor. . ." etc. Because they choose to believe what they are taught, which is a distorted interpretation on the most negative statements in the Bible, they remove themselves from an experience of love, compassion, joy, peace, and grace. In this they are hardly alone. Very few Christian denominations believe, preach, and practice what Jesus actually said, what he "modeled" for us. We have a long way to go but the option to "know what we are doing" is available to all of us, right now. All that is required is our willingness, our willingness to be open to God's grace to work in our own lives. And for those of us now outside the OALC and related sects, we may model the effects of grace in our own lives and, by our example rather than words, perhaps we may melt some hearts. Many blessings. MTH

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  17. Debating whether or not they know what they are doing is interesting. I agree that some do and some don't. How many of us have ignored someone because they have hurt us or we were afraid of them? I think that is how it is.
    It is fear that if they are real friendly to us then their children will see their acceptance of us, and their children will leave a church which preaches that it is the one true way. They fear "what if this is true that all the worldly people are going to hell." If their children leave this church, then they are going to hell. Think about it..if you really believed that, you would fear for your children, too.

    My wish is that I could share my faith with my family that has stayed in this church. I am always afraid that I will offend them. I see community members not sharing their faith with the OAL members for the same reason.

    I am have to admit that I am afraid to open the conversation.


    Any suggestions? Or is it better to model love and go with that.

    I will be going to graduation get togethers and this will be an issue. This is something that many of my relatives will do for their kids, even if it is frowned upon in "the church."

    God's Peace!

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  18. "Preach the gospel always, when necessary use words" -sorry I can't remember who said it first

    s.o., I would advise you as long as you fear sharing your new faith (verbally) with your relatives don't attempt to unless they ask. In my experience fear often comes across as anger or critisism. Both which I think you are seeking to avoid. You will eventually come to the place where the fear is not such an obstacle. Although I'm not sure that it ever goes away completely. The knowledge that His strength is made perfect in my weakness (II Cor. 12:9) is what I lean on in those times.

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