Friday, June 22, 2012

A Father's Day Sermon, Laestadian Style

If you want to experience a full dose of Laestadian scripture-twisting, intellectual suicide, biblical whitewashing, authoritarianism, moral equivocation, sectarian exclusivity, self-loathing, group emotionalism, and temporary guilt relief (roughly in that sequence), you can do no better than this Father’s Day sermon by the full-time pastor of the Rockford, Minnesota LLC. What follows are excerpts I’ve transcribed of the sermon, which are somewhat lengthy to address the too-often heard charge of “taking it out of context,” along with various images and videos that seemed appropriate to what was being said.

For some reason, I no longer get teary-eyed when listening to a preacher praise a man who kicked out the son he had conceived with a slave once he finally got himself a legitimate heir, and who “shut down his thinking” in preparation for slicing open his 12-year-old boy with a knife because he heard a voice telling him to. My patience has long since run out for the mindset that has so thoroughly surrendered itself to fideism as to assert, “If you don’t understand, you believe.” It’s certainly not a new attitude: Luther said “we must simply maintain that when we hear God saying something, we are to believe it and not to debate about it but rather take our intellect captive in the obedience of Christ” (Lectures on Genesis, Ch. 3, v. 5).

Even if you don’t understand what it is your are professing to believe, you must believe it nonetheless. It’s no less absurd a proposition than the absurdities that are being “believed” in this way. One example is the Real Presence of Christ in the communion wafer, which Luther held to as an essential point of doctrine. How, then, shall we understand those things which are beyond all our senses, in the Word alone? Thus it is in the Word alone that the bread is the body of Christ, that the wine is the blood of Christ. This must be believed; it must not and cannot be understood” (Id.).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Did Laestadius rob graves?

Bosse Johanssen, author
A friend in Norway sends this link about a new book casting light on Laestadius the scientist, who allegedly robbed graves of his fellow Saami for French scientists. My friend tells me this is "old news" but has been suppressed for so long out of respect for those who revere him. What do you think? Does it change your opinion of Laestadius to know he defiled graves in the name of research?
--Free

Monday, June 11, 2012

Gather with other Sami-Americans in July

Like Lars Levi himself, many Laestadians (former and current) have Sami roots, although we may not have grown up aware of them. Some of us may even have had forebears who denied "Lapp blood" despite the evidence. But that is a story for another time. What I want to talk about today is Siiddastallen! 

Hosted by the Sami Siida of North America, Siiddastallen is a semi-regular gathering of Sami Americans. This year it is in Stacy, Minnesota from July 6-8. I am so eager to attend, not only to see friends and make new ones, and to learn more about my heritage, but to see my home state again.

Siiddastallen will include educational seminars (including one about Laestadius by his great-great-granddaughter), films, workshops, crafts (duodje), shared meals, and campfires. Ellen Marie Jensen will be there with her book "We Stopped Forgetting," about the Sami American experience (the book includes, I am tickled to report, a photo of my daughter carrying the Sami flag). There will be several lavvus onsite, courtesy of Northern Lavvu. No reindeer, however (the park has a no pets policy, in case you were thinking of bringing one!).


The organizers have asked me to moderate a forum on spirituality, which is very intriguing. I look forward to hearing from other "Am-Sam's" about their practices and beliefs (or lack thereof), and expect to find a lot of diversity.

‎"Først folk, sia finna" (first people, then Saami), a North-Norwegian proverb

Do you have Sami heritage? If so, what does it mean to you?
--Free