Monday, February 05, 2007

Faith, Alive or Dead

Time for a new thread, so you don't have to wade through the torrent of comments (172!) on the OALC topic. Thanks to all of you for keeping the discussion civil (if not always coherent, heh). Here is an excerpt from our OALCer's definition of living faith, followed by a rejoinder from MTH.
When man comes to the point when he realizes that belief in God is impossible without Him, when he sees himself to be so small in the eyes of God that he must cry out for help, when he is enlightened to the fact that he is nothing, then God gives the grace to believe. Here man is a willing recipient because he knows that, what little faith he receives, it is from God. Because the grace to believe is given to man in such a lowly state, the second one begins to deviate from this state, the battle for faith begins. Once man starts to give reason for faith or justify it in a way that he can comprehend it, living faith begins to die. If man should start to tell himself that his faith is strong, the opposite is true and his faith is dying-for it is faith based on human rationality and not God-given. It is this battle between living faith and dead faith that a true Christian must always battle and it is this battle that causes a true Christian to have such a weak, wavering faith. God does want a man to justify his belief for in doing so man takes away from God the grace He has bestowed upon us. This justification of faith leads to self-righteousness. Self-righteousness battles God for the hearts of men. Self-righteousness steals from God what is rightfully His and gives credit to man, who is an all-to-willing recipient. Faith based on self-righteousness is strong and unwavering for it rings true in the minds of men and man comprehends it. -- OALCer

So if I recognize my relative "nothingness" in relation to the majesty and glory of God and I feel him respond to me (I "believe"), do I have "living faith?" Am I as "saved" as an OALCer? Am I as welcome in heaven as you are? Do you think you (or any OALCer, preacher or other) KNOW if I or any of us truly has "living faith" or "dead faith?" I KNOW you don't know and I also KNOW (from personal observation in the OALC) that your OALC preachers speak as if they at least do. Rubbish. Arrogance. Self-righteousness, masquerading as humility. -- MTH

102 comments:

  1. Thanks for responses on clearing up living and dead faith. That faith without works is dead. And right cvow, we are not saved by good works. I for one do have to question if someone truly does have Christ in their heart if they do nothing to help or reach out to others. When Christ lives in your heart, isn't that just natural? I think so. Because we would be more like him. He lives in us.

    I think the bible strongly states about judging others. But then it is brought up that, no we do not judge. Well then, what do you suppose the bible is talking about? What does judge mean to you the the LLL churches?

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  2. OALCer,
    So from now on, if asked about my faith, I will say that I am a wretched, low down, sinful, dirty dog, dumb to the point of stupidity, not worthy to be called thy son. Is that pious enough?

    Does that mean I have Living Faith?

    No, I believe this would mean that I am wallowing in self-righteousness, and as MTH said, masquerading as humility.

    Well said, MTH.

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  3. Oh how the devil works in many ways. Now it is the internet; this venue can be used to create doubts about one's christianity. God will strike you down on judgement day as you move people out of living faith. The gates of hell will be open for all of you leaving and living in dead faith. One faith, one baptism... is all you need to know. I will pray for you lost souls...

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  4. Love suffereth long and is kind.
    Love envieth not.
    Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doeth not behave itself unseemly.
    Seeketh not her own.
    Is not easily provoked.
    Thinketh no evil.
    Rejoiceth not in inequity, but rejoiceth in the truth.
    Bareth all things.
    Believeth all things.
    Hopeth all things.
    Endureth all things.

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  5. To anonymous 1:23, who here is it that you're saying is leaving living faith? If you actually take the time to learn the BIBLE's definition (also known as GOD's WORD) you'll see that the OALC's faith is not "living" at all by HIS definition.

    I left to FIND "living faith", and praise God that HE led me out of the OALC. It frustrates me so much to get that standard OALC dismissal that leaving the OALC=leaving "living faith".
    The BIBLE does not agree with you!

    I will be praying for your lost souls. You are in the more dangerous situation, as you are the one who believes your faith there in the OALC is "living", DESPITE THE FACT the BIBLE does not agree with you. Please, please, please-- open your Bible and see what THE LORD has to say. Do NOT live by the words of man-- please learn and live by the WORD OF THE LORD. I earnestly am praying for you all, as this is my duty as a Christian , and there are many of you there that I still hold so dear.

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  6. I think to truly believe in the OALC one has to have blind faith..
    That is the problem I always had with it..I am not blind!

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  7. To the one up there who thinks he is the judge and jury:
    I'll take my chances with the Creator of the Universe, thanks.

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  8. Anon 1:23,

    Thanks for clearing that up!

    One Lord, one faith, one baptism = OALC.

    Duh!!!

    Try reading Ephesians 4:4-6:

    4. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

    5. One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

    6. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

    One Faith means ALL BELIEVERS in Christ. It does not point to any church denomination, let alone the OALC.
    If I am wrong, please point to Scripture where it calls the OALC, or ANY church, as the only true faith.

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  9. I must clear something up. I am NOT representing the OALC with my views. I'm sure that my being here would be discouraged, but I feel like the debate should be two-sided. I appreciate that the discourse is genuine and the posts well-thought out. Be well.

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  10. OALCer-
    You certainly sound like you are representing the OALC belief and teaching. Everything you are saying, I have heard time and over again. Please ask yourself this question, "Does what I write sound wierd or strange when I read what I have written?"
    I suspect that this is the case and if so, dont ignore that. It could be the Holy Spirit telling you something, so I will be praying for you.

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  11. Hello, oalcer. Are you also anonymous 1:23?

    When you get time, I'd certainly like to hear your response to my post at 2:42. It sums up so much of what I and many others who have left/are in the process of leaving battle with. The OALC tells us by leaving, we give up "living faith", but their definition of that doesn't agree with THE BIBLE'S definition of "living faith."

    I also appreciate that this discourse is genuine and the posts well-thought out. I look forward to your thoughts on this.

    God's Peace, Love, and Blessings to you and all.

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  12. "I must clear something up. I am NOT representing the OALC with my views."

    Why are these people so afraid to state their views. Is it because they don't know how they believe?

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  13. Of course they don't know what they believe. Did any of you when you were in there? I know I didn't. I think it's commendable that Oalcer is responding to us. Most people don't even have the guts to come on here. Can't wait to hear from you again, Oalcer! Somehow you are special to me.

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  14. BTW, I just watched Jesus Camp. The Evangelical Church also has an opinion of "dead churches." Ironically, the OALC fits the bill. They described the members as singing with no emotion and do not stand or move or really praise God. Ha! Ha! My views on everything have done a complete 360 since I left church.
    P.S. I thought the movie was WIERD!

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  15. I was reading Real Live Preacher's essay archives and found a very interesting essay he wrote, that as I read, made me think of the discussions going on here.

    (although he touches base on homosexuality, that is not the part that I wanted to bring attention to, but rather some Christians approach to this subject and his response to that approach. I could successfully substitute quite a few different issues into the same scenario, including some current topics here)

    Sorry Im not more specific, but I dont want to ruin it by trying to paraphrase it in my own words.

    If anyone is interested in reading it: the website is /www.reallivepreacher.com

    On the left side is "About Me" and inside that link at the bottom is a link for "essay archives" This one in particular is (again at the very bottom) dated 2/18/03 and is titled "I Have No Title For This"

    Thanks Free for mentioning him earler, I have checked in on him often and find him quite refreshing)

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  16. Mon Feb 05, 08:31:00 Anonymous said...

    Firts guy says: "I must clear something up. I am NOT representing the OALC with my views."

    Second guy says: "Why are these people so afraid to state their views. Is it because they don't know how they believe?"

    The first guy just told that he tells his own views and for me it sounds he knows what he believes. What do you second guy mean with this comment?

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  17. Error anon 1:23, this site is God working!

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  18. this is anon 1:23 not oalcer. Why are all of you so bitter when someone tells you the truth? Is this the devil working in you trying to make excuses as to why these words do not bring sorrow over your sin! Sometimes people need to be bold in what they say. I think this site does nothing but bring the devil out to those who are already questioning their faith.

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  19. Maybe this is a place for people to speak from their hearts without being judged. Where are your kind words? Are you truly speaking in a Christlike way? Why are you so focused on the devil?

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  20. Yes, one must be bold. And true to one's convictions. And open to new insight.

    As an OALC teenager I confided one day (to a close relative) that many times I had confessed my sins without feeling any sorrow over them -- more or less "faking it" out of habit. The response was immediate and strong: "Of course you felt sorrow! The devil is putting these doubts in your head!"

    That ended the discussion. I could not trust someone who assumed they knew better than I did what I was thinking or feeling.

    You might call that a critical moment of psychological differentiation. I had to take ownership of my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own life -- or remain a child.

    In retrospect I can see the defensiveness and fear in my relative's response, just as I see it in some responses on this page.

    If you have been handed, or have chosen, a life of constant spiritual insecurity, it is natural to defend that sacrifice. The longer the sacrifice, the more vigorous the defense.

    Quote: An old Laestadian preacher was once asked how he would describe this "living faith." He considered for quite a while, then answered thoughtfully that it was like spending the whole of your life walking uphill. (Mikael Niemi, "Popular Music").

    Imagine trudging uphill for years, and then seeing people (relatives! old friends! Finns!) flying by, waving, would you (1) throw the nearest projectile at them, (2) shout that Satan gave them flight, (3) check your own back for wings?

    We've all got wings, friends.

    Troll and OALCer both said, in different ways, that faith cannot be understood rationally and I agree. We can't assume to know how another experiences of God. But we can look at each others' lives and see the wings that experience has borne. Has use strengthened them? Has love expanded them? Do they shelter the little ones?

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  21. I love how people (i.e. anonymous 1:23)will have a debate/argument by metaphorically putting their fingers over there ears and saying nananananananananan, then act surprised at the passionate response, even outrage, they have provoked in others. Then they will claim bitterness on the parts of non-believers. It is not bitterness but exasperation to have the only response to an argument or question be "since you are not with us, the devil has gotten to you and you have sacrificed salvation" repeatedly, that is not a logical or valid response. It is on the same level of "I know you are but what am I, Infinity".

    On a side note, if you love satire, and you think that theonion.com is hysterical. There is a site that lampoons the close minded thinking we are all talking about. http://www.landoverbaptist.org/

    If you are super serious, and never understood why people thought Monty Python was funny, do not bother.

    It is a fictional baptist super church from Iowa. Especially read the outraged letters to the editors of people who do no get that it is all a big joke. It kind of reminds me of how a materialistic version of a laestidian church would be.

    Mr. Smith

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  22. SavedByGrace, that was a well said and compelling post! Thank you!

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  23. Well said Saved by Grace. Exactly my thoughts put in words. Thank you!

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  24. SavedByGrace

    Bravo!

    If that exact same message had been preached when I was growing up, without the legalistic prohibitions they throw on top, I might still be happily attending Church, comfortable with my doubts.

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  25. anon 1:23--

    I am not bitter. I sincerely want you to read your Bible, and then respond to my post. Do not confuse a difference of opinion with bitterness. My difference of opinion is based on what the Bible has to say about living faith; not how men in the OALC have decided to define living faith. Reading your Bible will show you that it is your duty to compare what is preached to HIS WORD. Please, dear anon 1:23, please read HIS WORD; then come back and tell me what you believe.

    God Bless.

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  26. to third guy

    Well, if they believe in the OALC but at he same time state their beliefs do not represent the OALC.
    doesn't that sound like they are confused? Or do they need to ask a preacher how they believe?

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  27. Ummmm Anonymous 5:07pm

    Not to beat a dead horse... But when somebody says they do not speak for something else, they are usually implying that they have NOT been asked or hired to be an official mouth piece.

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  28. Thank you 'saved by grace' I could only dismiss the post as 'does not apply' but you articulated very well some of the reasons I couldnt put into words.

    I remember when I was still attending the church; I had my differing views, my doubts and concerns. I was trying to explore why there was such a difference in myself and what the church said I should be and it was very much termoil. I would still try to defend the church and explain the parts I thougth I did still believe in. It was very difficult to do as I couldnt back up my thoughts/beliefs, yet I felt deathly compelled to. When I did have a different opinion that the "norm" of the church, I felt obligated to mention that I am an individual so if there were disprepencies it must be that the views are mine and not the churchs (since I couldnt admit the church could maybe be wrong yet, and it must still be me) I have no idea if that has anything to do with oalc's position, but I could understand his need to point out that his thoughts are his own; in fact I think this is very healthy and a great big step.

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  29. SavedByGrace said
    You are right, hp3. It could be that the OALC person is trying to articulate their personal beliefs, and be afraid that they may not match the party line of the OALC. I think I spoke partly out of frustration, and partly out of what I have learned in my time attending a Bible-believing grace-filled church. I would like to speak only the truth from the very word of God. There is so much power in His word. I do not need to be combative or aggressive--my attitudes get in the way more than anything else when they are compared to the powerful truth of God.

    faith,
    I have not yet figured out what the LLC-ers/OALC-ers are thinking they are doing when they state that someone is going to hell. Speaking the truth (as they know it)? I think that maybe they just cannot reconcile the two, so they avoid that subject. Dodge and distract, because they don't know what else to say.

    I remember when I was still a member, and I was talking to a woman neighbor I had made friends with. When I told her that I believed that watching TV was a sin and she could go to hell for it, she flat out disagreed with me. I was stuck between repeating what the belief in the church was at the time and agreeing with her because it seemed so farfetched to me. I was suppposed to tell that to others, and I couldn't even believe it myself.

    The same with beards at the time...if a man grew his beard out, he would be talked to about it, and if he didn't shave it off, he could even be bound (kicked out of the church) for not being obedient to the church teachings.

    I once told someone that he would have to shave off his beard if he wanted to come to our church, but I cringed inwardly when I said it. Now, it's okay, again. What in the world did that have to do with salvation? What I knew already deep down, but couldn't admit openly: nothing.

    I much prefer the uncomplicated truth--straight from the Word.

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  30. Yes, it has changed apparently. Some OALC men have beards. What they more disapprove of is mustaches. However, they do not say anything, feeling the mustache will come off in time, if the wearer changes attitude about it.

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  31. I seen a show on the History Channel one night about the history of the bible. It was quite interesting! They said the bible was not even put together until 300 something A.D. and that Constantine, the ruler at the time, decided which books would be in it. They said there were some books that didn't make it in the bible. Does anyone have any more information on this? Maybe this would be a good topic?
    You would think that being the bible was written by man, although God inspired, there are some errors in it? But I'm not sure, just a thought.

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  32. stranger in a strange land2/07/2007 07:45:00 AM

    What do beards have to do with anything? Jesus is almost always depicted with a beard and also, incidentally, with long hair. The pollarites, incidentally, have no such prohibitions against beards or personal appearance. I know a few guys with earrings and there is the occastional but infrequent tattoo.

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  33. In the early church men were supposed to have beards. Isn't it strange that the OALC considers it totally normal, or even desirable, that men shave their beards, while it is considered totally inapproppriate that women cut their hair? I find shaving far more unnatural than women cutting their hair... I know the reason is probably that none of the texts that were included in the canon of the New Testament mention the shaving of beard but they do mention women cutting their hair. For an Orthodox that doesn't really matter because the canonical books of the Bible are not the whole Tradition for us, just one part of the Tradition, but for a typical Protestant it makes difference.

    ---

    To begin with the Christian Tradition was oral. Gradually the apostles and other fathers started writing down the Tradition in the form of letters and gospels etc. These were read aloud at church. However, there were also heretical writings circulating in the church, which became a problem and there was a need to define what books were reliable and could be read aloud at church. Different church fathers compiled lists of accepted and reliable books, but there was some variation in what books each one of them included in their list.

    The first church council that made a decision about the issue was the synod of Laodicea in AD 363. The list of the synod of Laodicea included 26 books in the NT (Revelation was excluded). However, there is some disagreement about the authenticity of that list.

    In the Western part of the church, some local synods 390s made decisions about what books should be included in the canonical books (i.e. in the "Bible"). The list defined by those councils included the Revelation.

    In 692, the synod of Trullo, which is recognized by the Orthodox church, but rejected by the Roman Catholic church (as far as I know), again approved the same list of books as the synod of Laodicea, 26 books in the NT, excluding Revelation. The Revelation is still not read aloud in the Orthodox church, but it doesn't in any way mean it is considered heretical. The Revelation is highly revered in the Orthodox church, as many other early Christian texts that were not included in the texts to be read aloud at church.

    So, yes the Bible wasn't dropped down from heaven as such, and yes, there was a lot of disagreement in the early church about what books were to be considered reliable, but as a Christian I see it as a necessity to believe that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit, and as I believe this, I also believe that at least the books that were included in the list of canonical (="approved") books are reliable (but there are also books that were not included for some reason, but they are still reliable). Of course, if you don't believe in the Holy Spirit or that the Church was guided by the Holy Spirit when it was developing the opinion about what books should be considered reliable, it makes it impossible to believe that the books the Church decided to include really are reliable.

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  34. Versions of the Bible can be an interesting topic all by itself. With the dependence of many of the Protestant faiths on the King James version, it's almost as if they believe KJ was a close personal friend of Jesus! (Which he might have been, come to think of it, but you know what I mean...)

    The beard/mustache issue is funny too. One of the original pioneers in the Gackle community (as discussed elsewhere) was Jacob Salmivaara. As a matter of fact, he donated the land the church stands on, but that's just some of that unimportant trivia that I dispense freely and with no charge. Anyway....he believed a man should not shave off what God put on him, so he had this thin beard that reached down to the middle of his chest -- never shaved it in his life is the story I heard. What was too bad was when he went into the hospital to die, some nurse decided it got in the way so she took it upon herself to shave it off, and hence nobody recognized old Jacob in the coffin! (More free stuff.)

    I grew a mustache back in the early 80s, and never heard anybody in the church gripe about it until many years later when I visited the BG church and an old acquaintance mentioned she "sure wished I'd shave" -- which took me aback because as I said, I'd never heard anything against it! I did shave it one time some years after getting married, and my wife took one look and informed me I would immediately grow it back. Being as timid as I am, I listened to "she who must be obeyed" and have not been without it since.

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  35. stranger in a strange land2/07/2007 11:42:00 AM

    Hilarious stuff, cvow!

    I'm a Gackle descendent, too, BTW. I'd love to ask you about that sometimes, though not on the site.

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  36. cvow, nobody said anything about my mustache either. Funny, that.

    In "The Ethicist" column by Randy Cohen last Sunday, a preschool teacher complained about not being hired on account of his beard, which he refused to shave.

    Cohen sympathized with the guy, but I thought (1) depends on the beard and (2) perhaps the preschool had their kids' interests at heart. Beards conceal expressions to a degree and they can be scary for tots, or at least they were to mine.

    Personally I like beards and persuaded my husband to grow one for our wedding, which wasn't such a good idea. Saved us a ton on photos, though. :-)

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  37. Is that the guy cvow was talking about?

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  38. The shaving thing is strange to me. Beards were almost a sign of devotion in the group I came from. Cutting and curling of women's head hair was preached against, but to my surprise, I later learned all the women shaved their legs. Why the leg hair but not the head hair?

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  39. because they're not hippies, dammit

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  40. ALL of the women shaved their legs, hmmmm? Just how did you conduct this "research," young man?

    (Possibly you were tricked. Lotta women shave only what shows, and in Laestadian churches, tain't much!)

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  41. In our local OALC, beards were OK, but mustaches and goatees were not allowed. Many years ago, a beard was only allowed if the wearer did not trim it in any way. I remember seeing some really wild, bushy beards!
    Woman still cannot cut, curl, or color their hair, but leg shaving is OK. In years past, some pious woman did not shave legs or underarms. Gross!
    Funny how things evolve, even in the Churchianity! I once heard an older OALCer remark that the phone was once a sin. Now they use the phone patch to receive sermons from one locality to another.
    Does anyone else remember something that was sin back in the day,but not now?

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  42. Yes its interesting to note the many, many differences in the numerous churches and localities, and once again how each thinks they are the only right rules/way to heaven. From some of the reading Ive done, it appears to have been that way from the beginning, and will continue to be so if that is the focus of a church. I am so thankful I have the bible, prayer and the Holy Spirit..

    Anon 8:53
    I can certainly understand and empathize with your strong sentiment, in fact some days it comes back. I want sincerely say I am sorry for your pain and anger, and that if you continue to pray and seek God, biblically and through the Holy Spirit, it will get better. Turn to the light and the truth. You dont need men, God will show you the way.

    In Christs love

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  43. "numerous churches and localities" ...and generations. sometimes quickly, sometimes over centuries.

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  44. I can remember Harold Nelson telling us in confirmation, or maybe a gathering of some sort, that our generation was lucky because when he was younger, it was a sin unless women wore scarves everywhere they went, along with their long skirts, and they used to get called "diaperheads"

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  45. ok I hate to post four times, but thanks free for taking initiative to address that post. I felt obligated, and wanted to, say something, but I appreciate your intervention.

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  46. Whistling was "calling the Devil".
    Also, perfume was "the Devils Pee".
    And curtains, of any kind = Sin!
    Also, no swimming on Sunday.

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  47. I can remember around confirmation time, it started to be preached that it was a sin to go to the park on a Sunday after church and play volleyball, BUT if we just "happened" to be at the park, and someone "happened" to have a volleyball in their car, and we just "happened" to decide to play, well then everything was just fine. (so just dont plan anything?)

    Even though it sometimes seems rather silly to 'reminise' about these 'rules' it actually makes me so thankful to no longer be caught up in believing they are the road to my salvation. They now just seem silly and are good for a giggle or two. There is so much more depth to Christianity if we jump in :)

    I can also remember that it was a sin for a female, over confirmation age, to NOT wear nylons with her dress. I immediatly laughed and asked if they knew how long ago nylons had been invented? No one else thought it was funny though. I dismissed it rather flippantly and was talked to later about it.

    And I have a memory that just came back and I would like to share:

    Ive had to face a roomful of preachers by myself. One of them called me Sunday morning before church and said he wanted to speak to me before church so could I get there a few minutes early?

    When I got there I was directed to one of the small rooms off the side of the sancuary (you know, where they preach up there in front of Everyone) ALL the preachers, even ones I didnt know and had never spoken to, were in there sitting on the pews. I was given a lone chair facing all of them. (maybe 8?)

    I was informed that 'someone outside of the church' had called them and 'informed them of my activities' and that person was appalled by a so-called christians actions; and I was making the christians wear a dogs head. (I was so furious they never even asked me what my side was because I knew the 'worldy' that had called them and that the facts were NOT strait, not even a LITTLE)

    I was given two choices: walk out that little door onto the sancuary and ask forgiveness from the congregation, or continue walking... out the doors and never come back. I was even more furious that they put me in such a vulnerable spot, giving me literally minutes to decide, with no discussion. Period.

    I (unfortunately) decided to fake a 'repentance' and my tears were shed in pure anger, not sorrow. I did my duty of making the rounds to all the preachers on stage, and everyone that met me at the bottom of the stairs back to the pews.

    Then I did continue walking out the doors. I wish I could say I never went back after that, but it is a long process and it was about 5 more years before I started looking for another church. And about 4 more before I seriously questioned if I should EVER set foot into a church like that again.

    But I thank God for the journey I traveled, because without that journey I would not be where I am today... searching and finding a God that is both angry and loving, (as I as a parent have felt towards my children) and more peace than I ever thought could exist, with fruits overflowing in a life better than I ever imagined existed. (not without sin or sorrow, but still the best :)

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  48. I remember my folks laughing about when the car companies came out with something other than "Henry Ford Black" and how it was considered a sin of vanity to have a car of a different color.

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  49. I remember my dad telling me that my grandfather had a "handlebar" mustache for years that didn't look unusual as it went into a tight little curl on the ends -- but if he stretched the ends out, he could wrap them over the tops of his ears. He was a staunch old OALCer in my memory, but I guess he had a similar experience to yours hp3. One time at June meetings he was called to a conclave of the preachers and apparently dressed down about something. From what I remember about him, I'm surprised he didn't horsewhip the lot of them in the churchyard as he was a pretty rough old cob.

    Off the religion subject, but he actually did walk into the country school where my Dad was attending. He had heard the teacher was having some problems with some of the boys (my Dad probably included). He had his horsewhip with him, and he sat down and announced that the teacher would have no more problems -- and I guess she didn't... Can you imagine what would happen in the pc world we live in today if that happened? The SWAT team would lay him out before he cleared the door. He served on the local school board for years after that.

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  50. hp3, your story is heart-wrenching. I had to read it twice. Nothing like that ever happened to me, and I can't imagine the pain it must carry even now. Thank you for sharing and for being here with us. May your story inspire others. If I ever write that book I'm told I "must write," your story will be in it.

    oalcdoubter, did you know that not long ago, the only women who shaved their body hair were prostitutes? Street fashion works its way up and we don't recognize its origins. Check out Susan Brownmiller's "Femininity" for an fascinating exploration of how our standards of beauty reflect our ambivalence about women and power. Today's long nails and crippling (literally) high heels have their counterparts in corsets and bound feet. The headscarf and the burqa are similarly related.

    Cvow, your word-picture of your grandpa is a doozy. Makes me want to make a movie, not a book, and have him played by Clint Eastwood.

    Of course, if some guy showed up in my kids' classroom with a whip, I'd be quite grateful for the "pc world we live in today." :-)

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  51. Wikipedia describes it this way: "Laestadian asceticism is distinguished from other American fundamentalist Christians in that none of the above-mentioned pastimes is officially proscribed; rather, believers counsel each other and employ a reinforcing system of social feedback to encourage abstention."

    That fits with my experience. Rules are not called rules. They are guidelines, or things they have decided are not good for believers. But if someone asks about their rules, the typical reply might be that they have beliefs, not rules.

    I think that they do enforce them, however, through the social control method described.

    It is very interesting to think about in that way, though. hp3, your experience seems to have been quite a severe form of that social control. You either had to publicly choose their way, or you risked losing everything...your status as a member of that church; and if you believed as they do--your salvation; your family--if they were members there as well; and your relationships with your friends. Pretty scary stuff.

    And then to be confronted in front of a bunch of ministers, to be told to repent in front of the church, and to be threatened in that way, wow. It sounds horrendous. Things like that have such a huge impact on you. All they know is that you are still conforming, but a person can come away from that with so much resentment towards the church, towards them personally, and even towards God. If a person is brought up believing that this is how God is, leaving the church very often means turning away from God as well.

    What about this idea? Do you think that the church has to be so extreme about it in order to maintain the boundaries of behavior within the group? If they weren't that strict, i.e. being willing to kick you out if you didn't "repent" of what they thought you did, would you have toed the mark enough to satisfy people or would you start to think that you could push the envelope and still maintain the status quo? In other words, if you hadn't had as much to lose in the situation you were in, you might have told them to take a flying leap.

    Outwardly they get to maintain the appearance of everyone being on the same page. They don't know how many people are staying for the social contact, etc., because no one dares to say that. No one will say that it's true, either. Perhaps they assume that everyone else is on board with the party line, and they are in a very small minority. But really, no one knows, because no one will say.

    It's surreal, but I love looking at it from a larger perspective because it helps me make sense out of what has happened. Individual actions tend to fall into patterns that you can see if you look at a group as a whole. Patterns can make things more predictable. Being able to predict things with some accuracy helps me define them.

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  52. hp3, I wanted to add this...I understood from your post that you hadn't even done what they were accusing you of, but I intended my question in general, not in relation to that specific situation. :)

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  53. at the risk of hogging the comments today, I have the perfect joke for this post:

    "Dear Lord," the preacher began with arms extended and a rapturous look on his upturned face, "Lord, without You, we are but dust..."

    He would have continued, but at that moment one very obedient little girl (who was listening carefully) leaned over to her mother and asked quite audibly in her shrill little girl voice, "Mommy, WHAT is butt
    dust?"

    Church was pretty much over at that point.

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  54. stranger in a strange land2/08/2007 11:14:00 AM

    Your story about having to go in front of the whole congregation to "confess" your sin, HP3, was horrendous and gut-wrenching! It's hard to believe ANYONE stays in that church. I'm glad we were never subject to such treatment at the Pollari church...not that any institution is perfect and I've had my share of chastisement, though some of it was justified, I must admit.

    As a youth, I was pretty good. In other words, I didn't really go through much of a "wild" stage like some of the kids did. I was a chicken-hearted girl. I tried drinking 3 or 4 times, but limited myself to only a couple of drinks because I was afraid I'd actually get drunk. Then I'd felt guilty again for a while. But one night I grew very bored at home and a worldly friend suggested going to see a band that played at a local nightclub, if you can call that hole-in-the-wall that. Now, I didn't grow up in a "locality." There were only a couple of families, but by then all the "believing family" kids in our town had already grown up and moved away. Now, music is not prohibited in our version of Laestadianism, just when its associated wtih drinking and dancing. Some people even go to musical concerts, and although its not considered to be a greatly respectable task, its not the worse thing one can do. So I got talked into going, on the premise I could sit and listen and not drink any alcohol. And that is exactly what I did that night.

    But, of course, I got caught. It must have been old home week in our hometown, because there happened to be SEVERAL friends of my sibings as well as friends of friends of my siblings at the nightclub. (None of those people, however, had ever went to our church).

    It was Saturday, but by Tuesday EVERYONE knew I'd been there and I was on the receiving end of at least 3 admonishing phone calls.

    At least three people "ratted" me out to someone from church, even making the extra effort to do so.

    The point I want to make is this: the people who saw me there couldn't WAIT to report my indiscretion to my family and friends and knew I'd be admonished.

    And it always puzzled me: If they didn't believe what I was doing was wrong, why would they care I was even there enough to make sure I was reported to the proper "authorities?"

    I don't have any answers, and don't expect anyone else to, either, so I guess this is a rhetorical question!

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  55. Ooh Ooh Ooh! I have a theory!

    Just as much as humans love to be in secret clubs, they hate even more to be on the outside of secret clubs looking in. So you belonged to club that had unique and strict rules that everybody knew about, especially in a small community like that. Not only did your club (church)have those strict and unique rules, they looked down on those people who did not follow them ( I am sure plenty of Birthday, party, etc... invites were turned down by people in your family with a, "well WE don't believe in drinking!"). So when the snubbed people outside of your exclusive club see a club member breaking the rules, they of course react with glee over the perceived (right or wrong) hypocrisy.

    Many if not the majority of People are koo koo like that. Just look at how ferventaly the gossip columns are read to see the "scandal" of people on pedestals being knocked down a few pegs.

    Just a theory.

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  56. As long as we are sharing rebuking and chastisement stories. I deserved some if not most of it. Not a complete list but:

    1) I gave a naughty birthday card to a girl when I was 14, additionally inside it I drew a punk rocker with a crucifix earing saying something stupid (we were all into punk music at the time). Her parents of course found this card almost immediately, so the next morning her father cornered me in his office (long story)and tore ma a new one, get this, not for the sexual nature of the card, but for the crucifix I had drawn!. We were up north at a different church, and my parents had not come, so the whole car ride home I was in misery knowing the pending doom I had in store for me. When my father told me that the girls father had called, I explained that it was "peace symbol", and that he was confused that it was a cross, my dad begrudgingly believed, but warned me away from peice symbols, as it obviously made some believers uncomfortable.

    2) Some other miscreants and I went to "Gentleman's club" after labor day services. Oy. Luckily I slipped the rap on that one, but I witnessed the whisper campaign and hell the other guys got.

    3) The worst, and one of the straws that broke my church attendance's back,my best teenage year friend (we were inseparable), who recently had gotten married and shunned me from being in the wedding party, at a different labor day services takes me aside out into the woods and basically makes me give some kind of a full confession and swear that I am worthy of being his friend. He lets me know that if don't do that he will turn his back from me, and would lead a campaign to shun me. I was crushed. I said what he wanted to hear, and we walked back and he was my good buddy again. One of the last 10 times I set foot in that Church. I have not spoken to him in over 8 years.

    It seems many of us have had these experiences hmmm. My ear ring about made some of the older men in the church have a fit, especially when I called them out on there own hypocrisies when they confronted me.

    My Mother bends over backwards for all of my old friend's, evry baby shower, wedding shower, etc.. But not a single one of my "best friends" or there parents from the church bothered to say a word of congrats or send a card to my parents when I got Married. I feel bad that they 9church people) take out my leaving on my parents with subtle snubbing.

    Off my soap box, feet tired.

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  57. It used to be a sin to advertise in the newspaper but now the oalc has their own ad in the Columbian and I have also seen an ad in the reflector, as well. This is probably the most recent sin to become not a sin. Funny how the church says the "christianity" never changes.

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  58. It used to be a sin to advertise in the newspaper but now the oalc has their own ad in the Columbian and I have also seen an ad in the reflector, as well. This is probably the most recent sin to become not a sin. Funny how the church says the "christianity" never changes.

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  59. oh the lies spoken of here! be careful not to be so self righteous that the devil wont just grab you straight into the pit of hell! why is all the hatred for the christians spreading like stink on sh_ _? all of you will be stricken from the book of life never to have a chance at salvation for blasfemous behaviour. pray for these lost souls!

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  60. I'm not sure where anon 6:11 thinks there's hatred or lies on this forum. Is there unhappiness, pain, and some bitterness? Yes, there is, and it's because the stones of which we speak have been thrown toward those of us who have left the various Laestadian churches -- not the other way around. We are the ones whom you so righteously condemn to hell, as if you have been given the power and wisdom to do so. Please explain where in scripture that power has been given to you, because I'd like to read it myself. My Bible says something about judge not, lest ye be judged. But wait, that's right, you follow the teachings of men whom you have chosen, not the Bible.

    ...and while I do not hate you, whoever you are, I do pity and scorn you. Just think, lousy spelling, lousy grammar, and vulgarity all in one short paragraph! (You forgot racial epithets, but you pretty much got the rest.)

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  61. To think I asked Free for this thread to be reopened! Sorry for the rant but that one was way over the top -- and too easy a target.

    Maybe now we can get back to the living faith/dead faith discussion...

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  62. anon 6:11,
    Thank you for visiting here to see what we are talking about. I'm thinking that someone must have struck a nerve a little too close to home for you, for you to get so defensive...and a good offense is always the best defense, no?

    There is no sin in discussion or sharing experiences. The people of the church are not inviolate, nor are they exempt from scrutiny. I haven't read a post from anyone cursing God here...in fact the only profanity I've seen right here is yours. (Removing part of the word doesn't make it any less a swear word--the intention and meaning is still the same. It was there in your mind and heart when you typed it.) We're not perfect people. We all sin. But God can forgive us for our sins as readily as He can forgive you for cursing and for your attitude.

    cvow, thanks for the smile, there...don't forget to add the threats and the offer of prayer that 6:11 tossed out there! I think anon's short paragraph must be the Reader's Digest Condensed version of what is usually said.

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  63. I agree whole-heartedly about music and "living" faith. The droning, dreary, negative "hymns" certainly are a contrast to the lively praise music at many bible based churches I have been to.

    Also, if those OALC "sermons" are from God, God sure is a crappy speech writer!

    Granted you do not have to sing and jump up and down to worship or pray, but one would think that as OALCers like to talk about "natural" things- it seems pretty natural to sing when you are happy about something, i.e. Gods glory. (Confirmed in the Psalms also....)

    I think the whole works and faith thing has been done to death over the centuries of the Christian church. It is like the mind- body discussion in psychology. It is pretty clear they go hand in hand. Even if we are not saved by OUR good works it would be silly to condemn them, and I agree with Faith here- wouldn't faith just lead to helping others??.

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  64. what the hell is the book of life?

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  65. hatred and lies
    HATRED AND LIES
    it is all here. everywhere i look i see bitterness and hatred. the christians are the most fortunate and blessed people on the face of this earth. the preachers speak powerfully of the dangers of this internet and i can shurely see why now that i see what i see.these are the last times we are living in and one must be ever so vigilant not to let the devil get a foothold on one`s faith. one can loose their faith with the twinkling of the eye and not even know it. the enemy comes in so strong there. i can only hope that this site doesnt damage anyone`s faith but this persecution strengthen the faith of us believers of living faith. faith that will carry us across that bridgeless river with those wings of faith. we need that mercy seat with the fellow christians which is the forgiveness of sins. that is one of the precious gifts we have recieved from lord jesus. he gave us the keysto the kingdom of heaven that we mayrecieve eternal life through his death.there is no need for me to debate scriptures because living faith is what i have preserved in my heart and what i have been taught by the preachers is the truth in his word. please dont take any offense at this post as i dont intend to judge anyone for god is the judge. i dont intend on visiting this site much longer as i feel the devil is using this site for his purpose but the truth must be spoken and i cant in good concious read this site and not speak up that which is the truth. one must be on their gaurd for the enemy who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. i bring this truth to you in all lowlyness and humility and we love your souls god loves your souls.

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  66. Anon, you said "there is no need for me to debate scriptures because living faith is what i have preserved in my heart and what i have been taught by the preachers is the truth".

    Remember what I said about you not following the Bible, but instead following only those men you have appointed? Think about that. You just provided the evidence in your own words. Pray about that. Don't be afraid to pick up the Bible and read the entire thing, not just the few snippets that are preached Sunday after Sunday, often out of context with the rest of the message. Read and listen to what God will tell you in the quiet of your heart. Do not be afraid when God reveals a new truth to you in those silent and solitary moments. Instead rejoice that you have been given yet another gift. Do not listen to those who would say that you do not have the understanding that comes from God to interpret the Bible -- that is according to them only given to appointed ones. God speaks to all, and reveals his truth to everyone in their own time, and according to his plan. When you hear a different message coming from behind the altar than that which has been revealed in your heart, for your sake and God's, have the courage to stand up and declare your allegiance to Christ and not to that man who is browbeating you and telling you that you are unworthy of salvation. Please believe instead that you are worthy, and that gift is yours -- as it belongs to many others as well. This is not a contest. It should be a cooperative effort where we all uphold and encourage each other, not a place where we try our best to condemn, as if we are trying desperately to help God pick out any faults that he may have overlooked. God does not need man to be his posse -- he can handle it all himself.

    I do not doubt that you have faith. I do not doubt that you believe in the saving grace of Jesus the Christ. What I do not understand is why you judge so vehemenently against anyone who has a different belief. I agree with other posters about the self righteousness that seems to ooze from the pores of the OALC. You forget, we were there for many years, and we remember where we ourselves fell short in that regard -- something that we all have had to resolve in our own way. So evident constantly, and so ingrained in our memories was the arrogant looking down on the "worldlies", whether they were the town drunks or honestly devout people who live every day of their lives to the glory of God, serving their fellow man, and trying hard to love them as Christ commanded. We discuss those things, and it takes great courage to bare our souls and do that.

    When I hear you parroting those tired old words about last days, I can only think of David Koresh and Jim Jones. Now I don't think you're going to load the guns and drink the koolaid, but there are other traps just as dangerous.

    Peace be with you, and pray...for yourselves and for the children who look to you for guidance. You are in our prayers.

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  67. When are you people going to realize that Jesus was just a man? The Son of God? Died for our sins? Second Coming? What a joke.

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  68. anon 9:13
    same old oalc BS.

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  69. mr smith,

    I like your theory. It is like an exclusive club. It doesn't cost any money to join, but it does cost you being able to think for yourself and your freedom of choice. IMHO, the price is too high.

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  70. "there is no need for me to debate scriptures because living faith is what i have preserved in my heart and what i have been taught by the preachers is the truth"."

    "Living faith is what I have preserved in my heart." Anon, I do not understand it that way.. if it were up to you, or me, or any of us, there would not be living faith in our hearts because of our own will or strength or power or because of how any other person has explained it to us, although that is important. It's there because it has been given as a gift of God. Romans 10:17 - "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God". So it's important to be in the hearing of the Word, but being in the hearing brings about faith, through the working of God through His Word!

    The faith that you have, Anon, has not come about because of your own efforts or because of the church that you attend. It is purely and simply the work of God. "he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world" Ephesians 1:4. If you have faith, it's because He has chosen you to have faith! Not through your church, or your efforts, but you, personally! And when you have been chosen, you are also sealed - Ephesians 1:13 - "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also you believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise."

    Look at the words in that verse - chosen, sealed, heard, believed, and sealed.

    That is not to say we cannot fall away - 1 Corinthians 10 speaks of those Israelites whom God led our of Egypt "who all passed through the sea, all baptized unto Moses, all did eat the same spiritual meat and drink the same spiritual drink: "for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness". Remember how weak those Israelites were? They traveled for 40 years through the wilderness, and God provided and saved them so many times, and yet when times got rough they would lose faith, question Moses' leadership, and stray. So easily they were turned aside, mumbling and complaining and worshiping idols. They were journeying to the Promised Land, being led by God out of the bondage of slavery which they had suffered in Egypt for hundreds of years. They witnessed so many miracles! But did you know that the generation that left Egypt was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of their lack of faith, because they turned away?

    So what Anon is saying really is serious, it's not something that a Christian should take lightly.

    That said, living faith is not adhering to a certain ideology or a particular church, although it's important to attend a church where the Gospel is preached. But living faith is first and foremost a personal relationship with Christ. That relationship is much more important that the walls of a building.

    We need to be careful that we don't adhere to the traditions that we've been raised with and depend on them to save us. We all know that we aren't saved because we have Christian parents or associating with Christian people - it's not a process of osmosis. It's only through a personal experience - God reaching down and tapping YOU on the shoulder. And how you respond, individually, that will make all the difference.

    God's Peace.

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  71. I don't think we should mock anyone's grammar. Not everyone is blessed with fluency and accuracy in spelling and/or writing.. but that really has nothing to do with their character or the depth of their understanding. I've known many people on the net through the years who were very profound and knowledgeable, but who were lost without spellcheck!

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  72. norah,

    Thanks for your post--it reminds me that I sometimes lean more towards sarcasm rather than compassion when I come across a certain attitude and I need to remember that I was there once, too. oalc-er--if I offended you, I apologize...not for the way I feel, but definitely for the way I said it.

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  73. To Norah.
    I beg to differ with you about criticising another posters grammer, punctuation, or spelling. While I am certainly no English Major, and make many mistakes, I do make an EFFORT to use capital letters at the beginning of a sentence, periods at the end of same, and spacing for readability. I think that anyone who has the intelligence to log onto a website and post to a blog, certainly should try to make their post readable. I think it is more about laziness than intelligence.
    If we don't comment on this behavior, then we condone the dumbing down of our society.
    Just my .02.

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  74. I think the real meaning of persecution needs to be explored by anon. Has anyone persecuted you for believing in Christ? If not, then you don't have a right to claim persecution. People in other countries are getting killed, arrested and banned from the bible/church.
    Anon:I see nothing but evil in your words towards others. Christ speaks with love. You will come on this site already with a negative attitude, so of course anything you read will be taken negatively and not with an open heart. I will pray for you.

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  75. daiseyaday: I would like to respond to your general question, as it applies to me (since thats how I know to :)

    Yes I do believe that the preachers felt they had to be so severe with me, in order to 'keep me in line' as I was not one generally known for being 'kept in line' in the first place. I laughed at the silly rules (such as the nylons story) that they tried to use as a method for my soul salvation. In my experience, and with others I have personally known, the 'rebuke' has indeed become more severe, as the 'sinner' has become less interested in the preachers and more interested in biblically based faith. So I agree affirmative to your question about "the church has to be so extreme about it in order to maintain the boundaries of behavior within the group"

    Which brings me right back to our original discussion of living vs dead faith. I remember being consistantly told some of the things oalcer stated, and that ultimately because of our own inability to have faith (and that we shouldnt) the ultimate ending was that we had to depend on the preachers to define everything for us. That 'child like faith' in the preachers understanding of what was best, was called "living faith"

    OUCH and NO!!!!!!!!!!

    I know I need to define "living faith" as more than just "not what they believe" and Ive been working on that. I was thinking of the word "living" In order for me to keep my faith "living" I need to take care of it, nurture it, spend time developing it, care about it. Kind of like any relationship that I want to stay alive. It wont give me what I want or need if I just put it on a shelf and ask others how its doing. We wont know each other.

    I was so pleased to read somewhere on one of these threads (sorry I cant remember who to give you credit) that the bible states "if you offend one of your brothers" and the method of approaching and admonishing them... In my experience the oalc takes that text COMPLETELY out of context. Anyhow... just one more reason I base my faith on ONLY the bible. ANything else is just others opinons, interpretations and ADVICE. Which is certainly intersting and good for contemplation, but not for dictating my life. I reserve that right to GOD.

    To anon Feb 9, 6:11 and
    PLEASE say something new already! ANd something with substance that actually pertains to what the rest of us are talking about. Something from the bible would be fantastic! If you know a situation that is different that we are telling it, than by all means let us know your side, but if you werent there you just wont know what is true will you???
    I will not go to hell for speaking about my life experiences and how I feel about them. I am not "blaspheming" anyone; especially anyone that is in charge of my name in the book of life (which by the way is not you nor any other oalc member)

    and 9:31
    You state "there is no need for me to debate scriptures because living faith is what i have preserved in my heart and what i have been taught by the preachers is the truth."

    WOW. What happened to Christ's teachings and the bible???

    I also sense that you may be afraid some of what you read may actually be true, as you sound afraid of losing your faith by what reading what you are finding here. You may want to consider the source of your faith. (although that could relate back to oalcers comments about what they consider living anyways...)

    Never forget: great detailed post!

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  76. A lot of commentary on this site reminds me of playground games. "Come here, play with us!!" Ah, and once again tricked into getting beaten up.

    re: grammar and punctuation - that's just getting personal and not keeping to the subject matter. If you have to resort to pointing out flaws in the presentation, then perhaps there is reluctance or inability to provide a knowledgable Bible based alternative, such as references. There is a lot of emotion and opinion here, but IMHO lacking in documentation of knowing what and why we believe. Whether that's because writers are not able to rely on more than opinion and emotion, or choose not to be honest about their beliefs (see 'playground') so as not to be vilified...I don't know the answer to that.

    If we don't have that background and knowledge, then we fall prey to revisionist - and most often leftist - ideology.

    Like sheep to the slaughter.

    We need to get into our Bibles.

    just a thought.

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  77. yure rite nora if i read and quote the bibble more that will help the discusion move along and gramer and punkshuashun are not importenteven wen you kant read the postiwilltritodobetteripromise

    I wasn't the one who criticised the grammer, etc., on that post. I was just trying to make the point that those things are important in a written forum. I did not "beat anybody up", in any way. Do you consider it being beat up every time someone disagrees with you without quoting scripture?
    I will be the first to admit my shortcomings in scriptural knowledge, but I thought all opinions were welcome here.

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  78. How can a book be discussed properly when it hasn't been read?

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  79. OK, OK, peace already on the grammar and punctuation issue. I didn't realize that I was going to touch such a raw nerve when I responded to an ignorant poster who not only suffered in his/her use of the English language but also had resorted to vulgarity in their ill posed rant. That said, oalc-doubter, I admit I agree with your position, although I suppose now I'm being self righteous and will have to spend an extra hour with the cilice.

    Norah, I'm not sure how you read into my probably ill advised comment about grammar any reluctance to discuss the bible -- or how you can take from that comment a conclusion that people with an opinion about care in writing haven't read it. Where'd that come from?

    Hoo boy, are we getting wrapped around the axle about something that matters not a whit.

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  80. Hi Cvow, thanks for the question.. I think I answered it in my first post, though.

    A rhetorical question: suppose the OALC person was Amish, or an Orthodox Jew. How would he/she be responded to then?

    And another question - how many here have read the Bible?

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  81. Both of the people here have read the Bible. :-)

    Norah, as an ALCer, are you miffed about the jokes? Or is this inerrancy debate setting you off? Cuz you have been around here long enough to know that everyone will not agree with you, especially us LEFTish types, whose "ideology" is a result of our lack of larnin.

    I do enjoy you.

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  82. Norah,

    I agree with your question "How can a book be discussed properly when it hasn't been read?" I myself have been "away" or "out of" "the church" for long enough that I should have read more of the bible than I have, but I am working on it a little each day. I think one of my frustrations with trying to have a discussion with an oalcer (me being an ex) is that the conversation can only go so far, when I am trying to discuss the bible and they are trying to discuss what the preachers say/advise etc. We have two different foundations for our conversation and it gets confusing and can dead end really fast.

    In response to your other question regarding responding to a person of another faith, I will admit that I am quicker to give in to frustration when I know I am conversing with a current oalc member, as I jump to the conclusion more quickly that I know how they believe. I justify that by thinking I used to believe the same way (or at least was taught we should all think the same way) Now I need to continue that confession/thought, by admitting I do not believe that line of thinking is right or correct. Your question got me to thinking, and I can admit what I discovered, and now I can make sure I am trying to do better in the future. In fact, one of my personal pet peeves has been when I am judged and told my beliefs are known, all without asking me. I can only say, I thought I was where they are, but dont think they have ever been where I am now. However, the attitude of judging and assumption is wrong in either case. Both others and mine. Thanks for your questions.

    I also agree with all of you on the grammer point. Its interesting. Not all of us have the same level of education, and sometimes the thoughts and emotions are coming so fast I have to get it all out quickly. And yes a post is easier to follow if its written in a format we are all familiar with, but I would not want to discourage anyone from contributing on that basis. Cvow you have the interesting point, and more my concern, of the content of the post. Foul language, name calling, and throwing of brimstones (or threatening hell and a giant eraser for St Peter) whether spelled correctly or not, has no place with the goodwill, open discussions we are trying to have. Thats what I got out of the (I think original) frustrated post that seems to have started this :p

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  83. Hi Free,

    I'm not miffed, actually. But I do feel sorry for the OALC people who try to explain themselves. They are quite outnumbered here, and if they can't express themselves very well then their case is pretty much a lost cause.

    I understand them because the ALC has people who would say the very same thing as the latest OALC person did. I understand their concerns. They think that because we don't follow the party line, we've gone off the deep end. But we can show them otherwise by our lives and our example. Give it time, the test of time and our expressions of love and acceptance rather than scorn (as cvow said) will prove otherwise. Even though we are rejected, we can show acceptance, hard as it may be. Jesus said love your enemies and those who persecute you. It applies to all of us!

    btw, I like PHC and Garrison Keillor too. I particularly like the gospel songs, wouldn't you know :-/. And humor is fine, but heaped on top of derision.. hmmm, makes me uncomfortable.

    just my thoughts. Thanks for writing, Free.

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  84. Hp3, you said it better than I could.. that's it exactly..

    Free, one of these days I'll take on your "rant" as you called it...

    hey, maybe your ideology is a result of too much larnin'. :-)

    Heading for the hills now....

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  85. Hey free, you have been busy updating the blog and I have noticed your presense in that way, but you have been relatively quiet with your posts. I miss your spitfire :)

    So along the lines of compassion and understanding of where a current alc, oalc etc member is coming from, I can relate to that, but I am still at a loss for how to respond sometimes... I do believe that we are the ones responsible for not getting defensive (as we are no longer under the teachings of that) but I still am not sure what else TO do. Something to contemplate...

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  86. I have been away from home attending to family matters, but I have been faithfully reading the blog. I've thought long and hard about OALCer's description of living faith and lowly belief, etc. Somewhere in there, the song "Just As I Am" came to mind, and I started humming, not the first verse, but another one. I don't know if I have the correct words. These are the ones I sang:

    Just as I am though tossed about
    With many a conflict, many a doubt
    Fighting and fears within, without
    Oh, Lamb of God, I come. I come.

    I truly felt that God "sent" those words to me right then. I am OK just as I am, with all my doubts, fears, struggles. God has not rejected me. Nowhere in there was the message that I must feel like a Poor Christian, a bear of Very Little Brain. Nowhere did I hear that we are worms, worth nothing. We are OK, and we are told we can approach Jesus and God just as we are.

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  87. Sisu,
    that's it exactly. We ARE ok, just as we are. These doubts and fears and struggles draw us closer to Christ when we see His grace.

    well said, and very moving post.

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  88. Geez leweeze! I had to put on my hockey helmet to read posts for awhile!

    A very nice way to read completely through the Bible every year is to subscribe to (or read online) Our Daily Bread. Just follow their scripture reading. It is a very nice little magazine that is completely free. Donations, of course, are always welcome. Check them out
    http://www.rbc.org/odb/odb.shtml

    It was one of my great comforts as I worked up the courage to jump.

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  89. Norah said,
    And another question - how many here have read the Bible?

    Methinks I detect a note of self-righteousness here. Will someone please glue a gold star on her forehead for me?

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  90. ok enough already anon 9:00. I think Norah was just trying to keep the topic biblically focused, rather than so much opinion based on emotion; and away from comments such as the one you just posted. I mentioned earlier that the content of some of the posts can concern me; especially when they go off in the direction like this. I found her question very valid and I answered it... Please stay civil and respectful.

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  91. hp3,
    Do you think norah was respectful when she implied that those who disagreed with her had not read the bible. As cvow said, where did that come from. And asking the question-How many here have read the bible- is condecending at the very least.
    So, I stand by my post.
    Respectfully, anon 9:00

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  92. I did not sense that Norah was implying those who disagreed with her had not read the bible, and I thought she clarified the same. I understood that comment to be directed at the emotional, non-biblical based, name calling posts that were going on for awhile, and I feel are inappropriate, especially for this blog. I took the question to be a means to figure out an individuals originating standpoint... I am unclear as to why that question would cause such offense and such a rude comment to Norah. Or how you can consider your comment respecful to what you considered a disrespectful comment.

    Lets just agree to disagree on our interpretation of someone else's words at this point.

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  93. anon you say you felt Norahs question was condesending, yet why couldnt you have just stated that in the first place? Your comment about gluing a gold star on her forehead was way beyond respectfully stating your opinions about her opinion, into the name calling - mud slinging category.

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  94. Good post, anon! Hope to hear more from you.

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  95. Welcome, Anon! I look forward to hearing more from you. It sounds like you have a good perspective on your life!

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  96. Dear Anon,
    Your posting made me uncomfortable, not because I doubt your experiences, but because it dragged up memories I'd rather not have around any more. I am assuming you are quite young since you have living grandparents. My heart hurts when I think things have not changed. I was attacked by a cousin when I was a teenager. I told no one, of course, until decades later. It was always preached that males cannot control their behavior and females "ask" for it with their dress and actions. So who could I have possibly gone to for help? As a female, I was a second-class citizen. Whatever happened to me didn't count.
    My sister was molested by an uncle. When she talked to a preacher about it, he made her go ask Uncle for forgiveness. I don't think she has ever gotten over that.
    And so it continues, this HUGE issuce that is not talked about. I would like to think that times and people change, that the current young generation is treated more equitably, gender-wise. I fear that may not be so. As Free said, we should love the fear right out of them, but my fear concerning this issue is getting in my way!
    Thank you for writing. We "old timers" learn a lot from you "young-uns". Prayers and Peace your way...

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  97. I would be remiss not to include this passage from Mikael Niemi's novel, Popular Music from Vittula (the single bestselling book in Swedish history, doncha know):

    Grandma had actually written a will. It was in the exercise book she’d left behind, and was comprehensive to say the least. Detail after detail, page after page, in her shaky handwriting. This and that person should receive this and that under the following conditions. But as the old bird had been preparing her final exit for the last fifteen years or more, and was extremely capricious into the bargain, the pages teemed with alterations, crossings out and additions in the margin, not to mention a loose sheet covered in cramped endnotes. Some relatives had been disinherited several times over, but then reinstated equally often. Others would only be allowed to inherit if certain conditions were fulfilled, such as declaring their allegiance to the Living Faith and renouncing the demon drink in the presence of the whole family, or begging all present plus Jesus Christ to forgive them a whole host of meticulously detailed sins they had committed over a number of years. The entire text had been signed and witnessed several times, but alas not the crucial loose page. Moreover, it was all written in Tornedalen Finnish. Simply reading the document aloud in the stifling atmosphere of the kitchen took several hours. Every single word had to be translated into Swedish, standard Finnish, English, German and Persian, since the daughter living in Vaxjo had married a Sunni Muslim immigrant.

    Not least the religious sections caused great difficulties. A fundamental requirement for inheriting was embracing the Living Faith, something most people from Tornedalen interpreted as meaning Laestadianism. After hearing the translation, there were protests from the Sunni Muslim, the son-in-law from New Zealand who was a Jew, and the daughter in Frankfurt who had become a Baptist: all of them argued in turn that their faith was just as much a Living Faith as that of anyone else present. Grandma’s younger brother from Ullatti maintained noisily that as a West Laestadian he was the most Christian of all those present, whereupon an East Laestadian cousin, another one from the Assembly of Truth and several fundamentalists protested strongly. An old biddy from a Finnish sect immediately went into a liikutuksia and started moaning and jumping around in ecstasy, sweat pouring off her. Others decided to play it safe and began confessing a multitude of sins while flailing their arms about, sobbing, embracing their neighbours and tripping over the rag carpets.
    In the end Isak leapt to his feet and bellowed something about keeping traps shut, in both Swedish and Finnish. A drunken second cousin from Kainulasjarvi was caught red-handed adding a codicil of his own to the will, and was thrown out. A truce was declared, and after a series of protests and counter-accusations, a tense calm ensued. Several requested that the confessions they had just made, together with other proof of their allegiance to the Living Faith, should be recorded in the minutes, and this was accepted after a vote had been taken.

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