Saturday, August 29, 2009

What Do I Wear At An Old Apostolic Lutheran Wedding?

Maybe some of you can help savethewhales, who posted the following question on Yahoo Answers, but doesn't seem to be getting much helpful advice over there:

What do i wear to an old apostolic lutheran wedding?
im going to a wedding in a couple days. the wedding is at an old apostolic lutheran church. i know i have to wear a scarf on my head during the marriage. but can you please tell me want an acceptable outfit is? and should i carry a purse? i am 15 years old.
20 hours ago - 3 days left to answer.
Additional Details
oh, and no jewelry, no nail polish, no make-up. and i have to wear my hair up, and wear a skirt.


What Do I Wear At An Old Apostolic Lutheran Wedding?

Please post your answer both there and here. :-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

How we Understand Scripture is how we Understand Reality

Some recent comments from Laestadianinfo and Norah got me thinking yet again about this topic.

Laestadianinfo, your posts never cease to amaze. While it make perfect sense for Laestadians who are against abortion to use appeals to natural law and other Catholic teachings, I would never have imagined it. Maybe the situation in the United States is more polarized regarding Laestadian/Catholic relations. :-)

I also found these comments of yours interesting:

This is a little off topic, but everyone knows that laestadianism is more founded on Church tradition than solely on the Bible.

and

Christianity relaying solely on the Bible is hard to defend.

I agree with both these statements, mostly because I think any reading of the Bible is going to be influenced by the culture the reader lives in, their community of faith, their history, etc. I don't think it's possible to have a reading of the Bible that is free of any "metaphysical distance" or that this is even necessarily a goal one should strive for. In my view part of the Bible's power is in its ability to speak to us afresh within constantly changing situations.

Some groups, and especially some Laestadian groups will deny this vehemently. They will insist that their interpretation is merely "what the Bible says" and others who differ are either willfully or through ignorance distorting the clear message.

I think misunderstanding this point is the cause of many splits. What's obvious to me is that interpretations will change over time because the Bible is being read in a different historical and cultural context. For early adherents of Laestadianism, for example, it was perfectly obvious that drinking alcohol was sinful because they could see the destructive impact it was having on the Sami people, and the evil way the traders would use it to keep the Sami in debt.

Fast-forward 150 years to the present, and we find ourselves in a different context and suddenly such a harsh interpretation doesn't make as much sense. The verses are the same, but many people interpret them differently. Suddenly they don't seem to speak against all forms of drinking.

The same could be applied to other points in Laestadianism. What seemed very compelling to the original adherents seems silly in a new context. I.e., no music in church, head coverings for women, etc. Yet while the idea that there is only one normative reading persists, such differences in interpretation will always result in splits, because the groups involved have no way of seeing beyond their differences to the greater unity.

Which dove-tails nicely with Norah's point:

It's like building a house - you need a firm foundation and structure to begin with, before you do anything else. How you finish it and decorate it can vary, but your foundation must be sure or the whole house will topple.

My assertion is that any form of Christianity that is built on a foundation that doesn't acknowledge the "metaphysicial difficulties" of interpreting Scripture is bound to factionalize, polarize, and split through time. What is especially sad about this is that the adherents won't even realize why this is happening. To them it will be a righteous purge, holding on to the truth, etc.

I think part of the solution is to emphasize the paradoxical within each religious tradition. The truth that comes from paradox can broaden ones view. And any religious tradition that has been around for awhile has paradox.

For instance, while I'm familiar with and understand the five solas that Norah posted, isn't it a little paradoxical that there would be five things that are to alone constitute the firm foundation? ;-)

Personally, I think the 5 solas of the Reformation are essential: by Scripture alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, through Christ alone, glory to God alone. We can test any tradition by these fundamentals and see how they hold up...

I think Scripture, faith, grace, Christ, and God are great lenses through which to view theology and practice. Part of why I think they're great is becaue there are five of them, and inevitably each one will give a different vision of Divine Reality, and hopefully a greater awareness of the complexity and diversity within that reality.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

God, Game theory, and the moral order

I was listening to the radio yesterday and heard a very interesting talk by Robert Wright, author of the books Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny and The Evolution of God. I found two premises of his fascinating.

One, that "the moral order" we see in human history may hint at the existence of God.

God defined as the moral order:

Though we can no more conceive of God than we can conceive of an electron, believers can ascribe properties to God, somewhat as physicists ascribe properties to electrons. One of the more plausible such properties is love. And maybe, in this light, the argument for God is strengthened by love’s organic association with truth—by the fact, indeed, that at times these two properties almost blend into one. You might say that love and truth are the two primary manifestations of divinity in which we can partake, and that by partaking in them we become truer manifestations of the divine. Then again, you might not say that. The point is just that you wouldn’t have to be crazy to say it.


Two, that the game-theory concepts of zero sum (conceiving of interacations with "others" in terms of winners and losers) versus non-zero sum (conceiving of interactions with "others" in terms of win-win) can explain the darker and lighter impulses within the three great monotheisms.

from One World, Under God

For all three Abrahamic faiths, then, tolerance and even amity across ethnic and national bounds have a way of emerging as a product of utility; when you can do well by doing good, doing good can acquire a scriptural foundation. This flexibility is heartening for those who believe that, in a highly globalized and interdependent world, the vast majority of people in all three Abrahamic faiths have more to gain through peaceful coexistence and cooperation than through intolerance and violence. If ancient Abrahamics could pen laudable scriptures that were in their enlightened self-interest, then maybe modern Abrahamics can choose to emphasize those same scriptures when it’s in their interest.


I found the second point especially provocative in light of Laestadianism. If Laestadiaism is a "darker" manifestation of religion, did it arise in a historical context when adherents saw their world primarily in terms of a zero sum game? If Laestadians had seen their neighbors (i.e., the world) as people who could help them instead of hurt them, would Laestadianism have taken on a less negative form?

Wright's ideas gave me a lot to think about!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is Health Care Reform a Moral Imperative?

Health-care reform is an economic, political and medical issue. Evangelical leader Jim Wallis says it's also a "deeply theological issue, a Biblical issue and a moral issue." Do you agree? Why or why not?

Three Moral Issues of Health Care, by Jim Wallis

With an issue like health, deeply personal but of great public concern, I believe that the faith community has a unique and important role to play. That is, to define and raise the moral issues that lay just beneath the policy debate. There will be a lot of heat, maybe even a few fires, over the weeds of the policy, and the faith community has the opportunity to remind our political and national leaders about why these issues are so important — why they speak to our values.

There are, I believe, three fundamental moral issues that the faith community can focus on and call our political leaders back to, lest they forget. They are: the truth, full access, and cost.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tornedalsbloggen --in English

For those who liked the book Popular Music from Vittula, here's an English language blog from the Torne river valley in northern Finland/Sweden. According to Google Translate:

This Haparandabo writes in the local newspaper under a pseudonym on local political issues and other irritations in the Torne Valley and has now taken the step to continue to speak out on the Internet with this blog.

While this is a general interst blog, the author has posted about Lars Levi Laestadius and the Sami people within the last few months.

I'll be watching this blog with interest!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Intelligent Design, redux

I'm creating a new thread to discuss evolution, ID etc. Out of respect for those readers of this site who do not wish to discuss this topic, please post all comments on this issue to this thread, leaving the other topics open for other issues.

See also: Intelligent Design, Laestadian Style

Expelled Movie Official Site

Ben Stein's Expelled: No Integrity Displayed

Six Things in Expelled that Ben Stein Doesn't Want You to Know

Norah asked some questions on a previous thread, which I'll re-post here:

The questions I have are these:

-are there cases where educators, scientists, and reporters have been silenced in some way simply by acknowledging that there are other theories besides evolution.

-if so, how does this impact not just science, but also politics, ethics, philosophy, theology, and education.

-is there a connection between evolution, atheism, and human rights.

-if 'inalienable rights endowed by our Creator' are not accepted as true or valid, how does that affect public policy.

-what have historically been the steps that led to suppression of human rights.

-what can we learn from history.


I invite your responses, and I'll post mine as well.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A little Sunday irony

Here's a little irony for this Sunday:

ABSOLUT Vodka Brand Director Looks To The Future With Optimism
Interview with Anna Laestadius, Director Global Brand, Absolut Vodka

I don't know if she's related to our Laestadius or not, but after our recent conversation about Laestadius' descendants in Sweden from the Facebook thread, I couldn't resist posting this. Plus, it's great vodka. :-)

. . .promoting responsible drinking is a part of our heritage. We have a code of business ethics and conduct and a responsibility program. This focuses on promoting responsible drinking and responsible marketing. We are also active in the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD) and in Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) to drive important issues in this area on a global basis. We are sincere in our commitment to a responsible use and marketing of our products. . .

It just goes to show that no matter what your background, your heritage, your religion --no matter what bad things have happened to you in the past, today is a new day and you can choose a new direction in life.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Gospel in 10 Words or Less

Someone I follow on Twitter put out a challenge to sum up the gospel in 10 words or less.

It got me thinking. Here's my try. What's yours? What is the good news in a sentence?

In Christ God reconciles me with God, neighbor, and myself.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Psalm 67

Elizabethan English as you will never hear it in an American Laestadian church, courtesy of the Westminster Abbey Choir:



Psalm 67
1 God be merciful unto us, and bless us *
and shew us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us;
2 That thy way may be known upon earth *
thy saving health among all nations.
3 Let the people praise thee, O God *
yea, let all the people praise thee.
4 O let the nations rejoice and be glad *
for thou shalt judge the folk righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.
5 Let the people praise thee, O God *
let all the people praise thee.
6 Then shall the earth bring forth her increase *
and God, even our own God, shall give us his blessing.
7 God shall bless us *
and all the ends of the world shall fear him.