Monday, February 06, 2012

New Book on Laestadianism: An Examination of the Pearl

A reader recently brought this e-book to my attention. I haven't read it yet, but it looks like a very interesting and in-depth look at all the main branches of Laestadianism as well as a critique not only from a theological standpoint but also discussing sexual abuse within the church and other important issues.

The book is available for free from the author's web site, as well as for a nominal fee from Amazon and other e-book retailers.

While there have been a few English language books about Laestadianism in recent years (most notably A Godly Heritage and Hepokoski's research immediately come to mind) Suominen's work looks to be uniquely focused on critique as well as research.

For more information about An Examination of the Pearl, by Edwin A Suominen, see http://examinationofthepearl.org/

An Examination of the Pearl is a study of the doctrine and history of Conservative Laestadianism, a small, exclusivist Christian group that is organized in Finland and North America as the SRK and the LLC, respectively. The book also looks at the teachings of Martin Luther, early Christianity, Christian fundamentalism and sectarianism, and the Bible. ... This book is an honest and unflinching examination of the pearl that Conservative Laestadianism puts on offer as the Kingdom of God. It is a study not just of that obscure revival movement from 19th century Lapland, but also of Martin Luther, fundamentalist and sectarian Christianity, and the Bible itself. ... There are many such unexamined and fearful faiths competing in the marketplace of religion, some of them also claiming to be the truth outside of which no one will be saved. And without critical reflection like that found in this book, each one is a self-sustaining doctrinal bubble that quivers unsteadily in the air, vulnerable to being poked by the slightest intrusion of fact.

26 comments:

  1. Many thanks to Free and Tomte for providing this blog, which I have followed for years and cite quite a bit in the book. I actually read the entire 2200+ page extoots archive in PDF format, finding the comments fascinating and relevant to my own Laestadian experiences in many ways. Many of the highlights I made from that reading are reflected in citations and links back to the blog discussions.

    Here are two examples. There was little published material I knew of concerning the IALC ("Pollarites"), so the comments of various current and former members were the primary sources for my discussion of it. Under the subheading Joys and Sorrows in the Life of a Believer section, there is a discussion of conditional friendship where I quote many people who suffered social ostracism as a result of their decision to leave the Laestadian Lutheran Church.

    I think the book will be of interest not just to former and current member of the LLC, but the other Laestadian groups as well. As regular readers of this blog know, there is more in common between these mutually finger-pointing groups of "heretics" than they like to admit to themselves. The exception to that is the Federation (ALC), whose love and acceptance (at least based on what I've seen from my dear friend Carl Kulla) is something I think the others should stop and consider.

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  2. Wow, I am semi-famous! I was quoted quite a bit in the in the portion about the IALC.

    Hmm, too bad I was never able to speak to the author in person, I could have given him much much more insight and history into the IALC if he is/was interested.

    Mr. Smith

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  3. Thanks for the link to the book. Egads!!!!.... Edwin Suominen dared take on the AP pharisees and attempt to try to understand and then publish the truth????!!! The truth is a very frightening thing to the Apostolic Lutheran type pharisees. Suominen discusses Laestadius' experience with mystical experiences....likewise I experienced the same thing before and when I was truly born again in Christ and I quickly and harshly encountered strong resistance from the Apostolic pharisees in my particular group. I could sense that I was actually having conversations with a demonic force when I tried to tell others about faith in Jesus and what it really meant. Suominenen's book is basically a rehash of previous disparate publications which I have read over the years but I am glad that he took the time to synthesize and collate information into one a readily available source. It was interesting how Suominen took several leading members of his group over to Carl Kulla's yet in spite of the conversations, Suominen's friends felt Mr. Kulla was a lost soul...I too found the same kinds of people and beliefs during my tenure with modern day Laestadianism. IMO modern day Laestadianism has been stopped at what I call the 'wall of faith.' In other words, what is lacking is the final step where a person gives up their core beliefs-especially in how they deal with others, mortifies them and instead takes on the ways of Jesus believing in him as their redeemer. When that happens Jesus is finally able to transform us supernaturally and take us from death to life and he changes our very nature into his image. Some people fear this kind of talk as they think we become a robotical person repeating mantras from the Bible when in truth the Bible becomes living thru us. I am glad that there are people like Mr. Kulla out there who still will take the time to share history with the younger generation. Old AP

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  4. What a fascinating, well-researched book. I wish the best to Ed and hope his work is read widely by all kinds of Laestadians. While many will dismiss it outright (you can see them in action on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/An-Examination-of-the-Pearl/355059831178855), there are many others who will find it helpful on the road to integrity.

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  5. Are there any academic resources on Laestadian Lutheranism and the Apostolic Lutheran Church? I'm interested from an academic perspective and because my great-grandfater belonged to this tradition in New York Mills, Minn. (I'm a member of the ELCA)

    Lynn

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    1. If by academic you mean "based on formal study," Ed's book is the most comprehensive English language resource to date. It includes a bibliography for further exploration.
      --Free

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  6. There are thing in your life you all need to let go! One is the church. As an unbeliever you need to leave and not harass true believers. Satan loves a deceiver....go start your own church then you can develop your own sheeple more and then you can deal with them.

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    1. Sigh, yet again with the double standard. “Believers” wrap themselves in this persecution complex when they find themselves shocked by seeing–perhaps for the first time in their sheltered lives–honest, carefully researched criticisms of their cherished doctrines. Yet those same “believers” harass and pressure doubters and critics, not being inclined in the slightest to just “let go” and allow their friends and loved ones come to their own honest conclusions about this most important matter of one’s life.

      There is no alternate set of absurdities being foisted on anyone. Nobody is establishing any Church of Jesus but with Movies and Hair Dye. I am not trying to develop any “sheeple.” Quite the opposite; I am telling people the facts as I know them, learned from thousands of hours of diligent research, and telling readers to think for themselves. I maintain no office, sponsor no gatherings, seek to impose no conformity. I receive no reward but the animosity of many people in the only social group I was ever allowed to develop for most of my life, and the expressions of thanks of people who lack the time and inclination to assemble the mountain of facts disproving this religion’s claims. Now that those facts have been assembled, they are free to go confirm them or disagree with their implications.

      I suggest that this person go take a long hard look in a mirror while considering your words. Hypocrisy is never attractive.

      Delete
    2. Let me thank you again, Ed, for writing your book, and thank everyone who has posted and commented here over the years.

      The tide is shifting. Can you feel it? The self-appointed gatekeepers can no longer control the free flow of information.

      –Free

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  7. Deception and lies for your Sheeple (new steeple)- ah ha sure now the end time is near, you should fear as we will be free!
    Write a book and poke at the bible go to your grave as a conspiracy theorist. Make comments and blah blah blah. You will be not be free as you have deceived from the core. The tide will continue until the last day as it follows the moon, you of all
    should know that tide follows the moon made by god. Repent while
    you have a chance.

    SCIENCE CANNOT MAKE LIFE, EXCEPT IN A LAB WITH LIFE THAT HAS BEEN MADE! NOT ONE CELL HAS BEEN MADE FROM EARTH ITSELF WITHOUT MANIPULATION. SCIENCE IS A STUDY NOT AN ABSOLUTE AND IT CAN ONLY EXPOSE AND BE MANIPULATED. LOOK AROUND YOU LIFE IS AWESOME AND DID NOT EVOLVE FROM SCUM AND CHANCE. DON'T LET PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO KNOW THINGS AND HAVE READ A BOOK DECEIVE YOUR BELIEFS. THESE FOLKS WILL PAY IN THE END AS THEY WILL FIND OUT PROBABLY TOO LATE. PRAY FOR THEM THAT THEY HAVE AN AWAKENING TO THE CORRECT SPIRIT.

    BATTLING TO BE FREE

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  8. To anonymous 4:44, right back atcha!

    LOOK AROUND YOU LIFE IS AWESOME AND DID NOT EVOLVE FROM SCUM AND CHANCE. DON'T LET PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO KNOW THINGS AND HAVE NEVER READ THE BIBLE TRY TO CONTROL YOUR BELIEFS. THESE FOLKS WILL PAY IN THE END AS THEY WILL FIND OUT PROBABLY TOO LATE. PRAY FOR THEM THAT THEY HAVE AN AWAKENING TO THE CORRECT SPIRIT.

    Now what did we accomplish? I judged you and told you that you are going to burn in hell and you told me the same.

    -Exfalc

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  9. Call me at 1800-battling when you can make a live cell from dirt. There is a Tom Cruise Religion for what you believe, why are you wasting your time around believers of all people. If you insist on misery go elsewhere. Science is a tool and will always be that way. medicine, innovation, designs, patents so forth are all amazing gifts from god. Please post when you have the patent: from (dirt) to a cell then you might be very close to GOD. Science manipulates what is alive already to make its most powerful medicines we use. Open your eyes before its too late. These people believe in evolution, ask them what made the first cell. Why cant we make just one cell? is it really that extreme, there have got to be millions of scientist that will bow down to you when you figure it out.

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    1. Before posing simplistic “God of the Gaps” challenges here, I suggest you read a few books about evolution. Here’s one I have sitting right nearby: The Cell: Evolution of the First Organism by Joseph Panno (2005). Another one is The Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview by Iris Fry (2000).

      Panno’s hypothesis is that cells originated as “prebiotic bubbles that split in half at regular intervals, under the influence of their turbulent environment” (p. 60). Fry discusses several possible origin-of-life explanations, including the idea of “clay scaffolding” and seeding with organic compounds via meteorites. That is not some lunatic fringe idea, either, as we have found ample evidence of such organic material in space: “The European Space Agency probe Giotto revealed that the comet [Halley] nucleus may be made of as much as 25 percent organic matter, part of which may be in the form of organic polymers not yet clearly identified. A new kind of grain containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, and hence called CHON, was also discovered” (Fry 2000, 251-252).

      The origin of life is a difficult problem, but it is being addressed by science, which does not throw up its hands and say, “Forget about this, God did it.” And it is not a question of “making a live cell from dirt,” or as your mythology would have it, making a live man from dirt, and woman from his rib. The cell itself contains powerful evidence of evolution: The mitochondria that powers it shows all the signs of being the remnant of a once-independent bacterium that took up residence in the cell and found that to be a better way of propagating its genes. Those genes are your mitochondrial DNA, distinct from your nuclear or chromosomal DNA.

      This is all I’m going to post on the subject, and I do so mostly so as to not leave the false impression that you’ve provided some sort of real, unanswerable challenge. There’s way too much scientific ignorance in this country as it is.

      Delete
    2. Dear all knowing EOP

      This is not simple:

      Odds of a strand of DNA arranging itself in the right order to create life? 1 in 10^400,000. About the same as YOU winning the lottery EVERY DAY for 15 Billion consecutive years. Good luck

      Delete
  10. I don't understand why you would stop posting on
    this subject as clearly it is what you base your
    core beliefs on.

    Charles Darwin's Evolution Theory

    The scum to man belief. That some magical way a cell randomly became sequenced by itself then propagated to be all the living animals and plants.

    This stellar mind who wrote the book "the Evolution of the First Organism". has to know by now how it was done right? Wrong he has not witnessed one cell being made anywhere except a lab where it came from another life source. It is impossible to create one living cell and the key is and always will be held by the creator.

    This is the theory you base your beliefs on ( a blind hope of random chance and then a mass propagation world wide, like pond scum rising. I suppose Cattle and all other farm animals that allow humans to live our life cam from the same scum. Hmmmm to a thinking man as yourself its unbelievable that you would still not believe in GOD.

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  11. Anonymous 5:20 sure is sharing Jesus's example of love and non judgemental compassion around the world...
    -exfalc

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  12. Thank you for mentioning Jesus. Please research how the first cell was made. You will come up with a myriad of explanations that cannot rule out GOD. I am glad you mentioned Jesus and just wanted all the people who are following this to do research the bottom of Darwin's tree (The Living Cell). Consider the Lilies of the field. Mathew 6:28

    Bill gates: "DNA is like a computer program but an advanced form".

    You could say computers are designed by people who are part of natural selection. I could say natural selection could not have occurred before the first creation of DNA once again lending to a creator.

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  13. Please do not post links as comments. Argument is welcome here, spam is not.
    —Free

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  14. Another great source for the truth is
    NDE.(Near Death Experience.) YouTube NDE and you will see that millions have experienced Heaven and Hell already and want to tell you about it.

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  15. Dear Anon with the shouty voice: your inflated righteous anger and judgmental words do absolutely nothing to convince, persuade, or attract me to your "truth". In fact, your attitude simply makes me want to stay as far away from your brand of truth as possible.

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  16. If uncovering the truth is what your truly about
    then how was DNA formed by itself.

    If the book was started because of scientific derision then that should be the main point(the root cause of the book).

    The book cover is cracked what does that tell you (that the theory is too,

    Some folks live for division.

    The facts can start to sound like shouting but that's in your own mind.

    I am leaving the blog of the cracked book as I can then focus my attention on people who are not divisive.

    Thanks for reading and remember its not as simple as what these former believers state. Self proclaimed victim of the church will always
    have a crack.

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  17. Anon,

    Please don't leave the blog now I want to share
    this with you.

    Odds of a strand of DNA arranging itself in the right order to create life? 1 in 10^400,000. About the same as YOU winning the lottery EVERY DAY for 15 Billion consecutive years.

    Thanks for you insight I would have never researched for myself without your posts.

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  18. Not everyone who leaves the laestadian movement believes in evolution. We all have our different views but can respect each other for whatever we believe. I don't believe in evolution, but I also don't believe in a literal creation theory either. I don't believe that the earth was literally created in 6000 years or whatever. Ed is entitled to his own views and he has done research on it and come to his own conclusion. If he is at peace with his views, then so be it. I chose not to argue or persuade anyone on this topic because it is impossible for anyone to prove any of it. And honestly, what difference does it make in anyone's life?

    -exfalc

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  19. As moderator I want to remind everyone to sign their comments and keep them civil. I will begin deleting anything that doesn't rise to that standard. Thanks.
    --Free

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    1. Sorry, Free. You can delete mine if I'm out of line. I won't be mad. :o)

      Delete
    2. Why not ask of the Phycotropics having been prescribed, Along with the nature of the Illness.

      Delete

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