Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Power of "I'm Sorry"

As election year heats up and divisive politics rule the day, I hope you are as touched by this story as I was. Even though I can't, as an "ex," speak on behalf of Laestadians, let me say that I am so sorry for the pain the church has caused our gay sisters and brothers. So sorry.

(By the way, you don't have to register to make a comment anymore. Please leave a comment and tell us what's on your mind.)

Free2bme

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Truth Shall Make You Free

“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” —Proverbs 14:15
According to John 18:37-38, Jesus told Pilate that the reason he came into the world was to “bear witness unto the truth.” As the story goes, Pilate replied dismissively with the rhetorical question, “What is truth?” Such evasions aside, truth is simply this: the inescapable reality that is established by a certain framework of indisputable facts. Whether Pilate liked it or not–whether you or your preachers like it or not–there is such a thing as truth, and you cannot exempt yourself from its rules.

If the facts are inconsistent with a claim I am making, then that claim is not true. If the claim is not true, then it is false, and so is every other claim that depends on it. It’s really that simple.
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead
know not any thing, neither have they any more a
reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.”
—Eccl. 9:5

Buyer Beware

If I am trying to sell you a used car, it had better start when you turn the key. My statement that it “runs fine” will be proved false otherwise, and you will have little patience with my excuses. That spectacular failure of my claim to conform with the facts will make you inclined to distrust everything else I try to tell you about the car. There is no way for me to get around this problem. A protest that your “carnal understanding” cannot comprehend the qualities of the car would make me look just plain crazy. So would the assertion that it is only your “wrongful pride” that keeps you from truly considering the qualities of my non-functioning car. Your money would remain in your purse or back pocket, as you move slowly away.

“God shall send them strong delusion, that they
should believe a lie” —2 Thess. 2:11
It is a testament to the power of religion in the human psyche that it can exempt itself from the evidentiary standards of even a used car salesman. The same question you would be a fool for not asking–Is it true?–in the one case is considered downright offensive in the other. When you give the analogy just a little space to play out, you quickly realize how sad the whole spectacle really is: The car does not only fail to start, but by any objective indication seems not to exist at all. The salesman cannot get his story straight about what kind of car it is, claims it is the only car you could ever possibly own, and threatens you with sadistic tortures if you decide not to buy it. And if you walk down the street, you will find hundreds of equally impassioned salespeople selling their own invisible cars, all claiming to have the only one that actually exists.

Monday, April 02, 2012

A Stranger Among Them

First, I want to welcome Ed (his user name is EOP) to the blog and I encourage you all to read his book. It is well-researched, brave, and thoughtful, and I look forward to hearing more about Ed's journey as he posts here.

Cleaning up the house this morning, I picked up the New York Times Sunday Magazine from the sofa and skimmed through it, having read most of the articles online. A line on the last page jumped out: "Upon leaving the Finnish fundamentalist faith of my youth..."

What?! I sat down and devoured the story,  a charming essay by a former Laestadian (although she doesn't use that adjective, it's clear from the details). Hanna Pylvainen made a deal with her parents when she left the church to return at Christmas and Easter, and one Sunday she encounters a stranger, a black man, who makes her question her outsider status. You may have to register online to read the story, but please do: it's worth it. (I'm guessing she was LLC. Definitely not OALC because missions and Easter hats, my goodness!).

Pylvainen has a novel called We Sinners (doesn't that sound familiar!) coming out this August. Here is an Amazon review:
This stunning debut novel—drawn from the author's own life experience—tells the moving story of a family of eleven in the American Midwest, bound together and torn apart by their faith. The Rovaniemis and their nine children belong to a deeply traditional church (no drinking, no dancing, no TV) in modern-day Michigan. A normal family in many ways, the Rovaniemis struggle with sibling rivalry, parental expectations, and forming their own unique identities in such a large family. But when two of the children venture from the faith, the family fragments and a haunting question emerges: Do we believe for ourselves, or for each other? Each chapter is told from the distinctive point of view of a different Rovaniemi, drawing a nuanced, kaleidoscopic portrait of this unconventional family. The children who reject the church learn that freedom comes at the almost unbearable price of their close family ties, and those who stay struggle daily with the challenges of resisting the temptations of modern culture. With precision and potent detail, We Sinners follows each character on their journey of doubt, self-knowledge, acceptance, and, ultimately, survival.
Almost unbearable price of close family ties . . . that made me tear up.

Hanna, if you happen to read this, brava. I'm so proud of you, and I'm sure I speak for many readers here in saying we can't wait. Also, you are welcome here anytime.