Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Birth Control as a Basic Human Right


Check out this blog from Finland about the Laestadian ban on birth control and its impact on fathers as well as mothers.
Women and men should know that there does not exist any ban of birth control in the Bible. This Laestadian doctrine of large families and of sin of contraceptives are created only by human beings, by the Laestadian preachers who know almost nothing about biblical scholarship.  Sex and sexuality have been the exclusive domain of Laestadian husbands and preachers in the patriarchate gender system. Laestadian women are  never asked to express their opinions and experiences on this issues. However, the birth control is a determinate part of the human rights, and everyone’s right to privacy should always be respected in these issues. 
The UN’s World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows: 
Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and people to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence. 
If you would like to investigate more details e.g. about the Bible and contraception, read this post by Ed. A. Suominen.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Speak Up for the Children

A Laestadian woman in Phoenix was arrested Thursday for the suffocation death of her ninth child, a six-day old baby.

Let your heart break for all the victims in this tragedy. Let yourself feel righteous anger at the authorities in her life that allowed this to happen, despite all the warning signs.

But please, stay angry. Let your anger motivate action. Talk to your relatives. Write to the preachers. Leave a comment on the news article. Write to the court. Do something.

This tragedy was entirely preventable. Those of us with Laestadian backgrounds know why a mother with mental illness continues to have children, and why a father aware of his wife's mental illness would not use birth control. If you don't remember, listen to this sermon from Phoenix Laestadian Lutheran. It not only condemns birth control but advocates maternal self-sacrifice, even unto death. It is the very definition of immoral.

From the 18-minute mark:
But it could be, as is often the case, that many children come, and then the dear mothers feel, that kind of trial, that kind of difficulty, that time in life where they become very tired. The business of life, of raising those little ones, feeding and clothing, these are part of the life of a believing family. There are questions that come, and doubts come as well, how can I raise these children when there is so little time in the day. These are also questions. And even the ENEMY may raise doubts in our minds. He may even during those busy times of live, come with this kind of sermon, that you know, there are ways, that you can not have children, that there are ways you can control the number of children you have. There have been these kinds of occasions were the ENEMY has tempted some with practicing birth control. It is not according to GOD's word, it is not according to the teachings of GOD's kingdom.
Think of the eight children without their mom, whom the husband says was a good and loving mother. Think of the countless thousands of children neglected by overwhelmed parents. If you can't speak up for the mothers out there, speak up for the children.

Laestadians control nature in all kinds of ways. They control nature every time they get a flu shot or use an umbrella or get a stent installed. Forbidding women the control of their own fertility is irrational, inconsistent, and immoral.

It has to stop.

UPDATES:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Falling Stars and Keys

A reader recently asked about the OALC hymn "O Fallen Star." This hymn and "Keys Are Given to the Christians" are apparently the only ones sung in the OALC that were written by members. "Keys" was written by Fremont Ward, who was either a mason or a Mason, and an adult convert to the faith, if I recall correctly. Maybe cvow knows?

Who wrote "O Fallen Star"?

Something tells me it was a woman, and her name deliberately left unknown. Despite Laestadius' own daughter being active in sharing his work and teaching, even traveling on his behalf to different communities, current gender roles in the OALC would hardly allow for a female hymn leader, much less a writer.

I have a vivid memory of singing this hymn while washing dishes with my sister-in-law, who has a lovely soprano voice and knows how to harmonize (among some OALCers this is a sign of vanity and not to be encouraged). While the tune is pretty, I tend to agree with my friend, who calls the lyrics "good old self-righteousness pretending to be love."

What do you think?

O Fallen Star 
I once beheld a star fall down from Heaven,
Which ceased to twinkle in the heaven's blue,
My thoughts go out to all by sin encumbered,
Who in a world so strange must journey through. 
CHORUS:
O fallen star in that far off land, retrace your footsteps to the homeland shore, for Jesus loves you, He calls for you, O fallen star come and shine once more. 
Down here I often meet upon this journey,
A soul which once enjoyed sweet peace and rest,
But now the dark world won his heart to wander,
A fallen soul lost from the heaven's crest. 
Take heed you fallen soul as you make sojourn,
There's found a way that leads back home once more,
If you would only turn your heart to Jesus,
You'll find what joys the Father has in store. 
And so you will be home again my brother,
Where evermore each star shall firmly dwell,
With all the blessed saints your voice shall mingle,
There ne'er again the sun sinks o'er the fjell.

Update: Here's my short, post-OALC, mixed-metaphors-galore version:

O Shining Star
When I behold the stars aglow in heaven,
Life's source that twinkles in the heaven's blue,
My love goes out to all by pain encumbered,
Who in a suffering world must journey through. 
CHORUS:
O shining stars in this lovely land, shine for the suffering, from shore to shore, know Jesus loves you, He calls for you, to shine with love here, forever more. 
Down here I often meet upon this journey,
A suffering soul who yearns for peace and rest,
But when we share our burdens and our blessings,
Heaven blooms within and we are blessed.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Who's Who in the OALC

Readers, I found this comment from 2010 on my hard drive and wonder if anyone can update the list of OALC preachers, at least for North America, as I am interested in contacting them.

Seriously, this whole issue of naming or not naming preachers needs to be dedramatized somewhat and put into proper perspective. After all, the identities of the leading preachers in Sweden (where they are, as you know, called elders), Finland, Norway and North America can hardly be classified information since they're named in every issue of Rauhan Side, the quarterly magazine published by the Finnish branch of the movement. The leading preachers of each country appear as as the signatories of the letters the different national branches send to each other several times a year. These letters are, of course, published in Rauhan Side. RS publishes as well detailed information about the travel programme of the leading Finnish preachers (lähetysmiehet) for the season. The newest issue, for example, lists in detail their travel programme for the rest of the winter and the spring. Note that only the leading preachers (that is, those who are called to preach at other localities as well than their own and who are in regular contact with the leading preachers of other countries) are systematically listed. Local preachers may occasionally be named in articles if the context warrants it. Each issue of the magazine has, after all, only about 24 pages and I guess that naming each and every local preacher in every issue would simply take too much space. 
The names? Here you go. 
Sweden: Levi Larsson, Lars Larsson, Gunnar Persäter, Odd Minde, Ulf Bolsöy, Bror Erkstam, Håkan Gustavsson, Göran Larsson, Hans-Olof Wettainen and Sven-Åke Blombacke (Evald Larsson, who was born in 1917, passed away four days before Christmas). 
Norway: Hans Stormo, Jakob Pettersen, Ludvig Johnsen, Jens Jensen, Martin Trondsen, Odd Fagerjord, Roald Bolle, Otto Skog, Erling Reinslett, Kjell H. Stormo, John Skog, Aarild Aasberg, Sigurd Trondsen, Arvid Horn, Knut Lindgaard, Rolf Trondsen and Karl Nikolaisen. 
North America (USA and Canada): Wilbur Koistinen, David Hendrickson, Daryl Redinger, Paul Heidegger, Harold Homola, Max Williamson, Don Homola, Terry Hilliard, Randy Blakeman, Lason Lindberg, Ryan Wantaja, Leo Tanninen and Charles Lobbestael. 
Finland: Pekka Liuksiala, Tapio Laukkanen, Pauli Väänänen, Raimo Haimilahti, Seppo Parviainen, Heikki Purtanen, Eino Ruusula, Seppo Karhu, Sakari Siltala, Olavi Simolin, Toivo Kärki, Markku Oksanen, Pauli Nuutinen, Reino Haimilahti, Unto Rantanen, Arvo Konttinen, Veli-Matti Koskimaa and Timo Hämäläinen. 
Remember: as I said, these are just the leading preachers. And, just to be sure that everybody has understood: as this comes from the official publication of the Finnish branch, this is definitely NOT classified information. I haven't named any preacher that would be active only at local level, but I'm certainly not aware of there being any sort of taboo against naming them as well. The local preachers of the LLC congregations, for instance, are named on their websites. I simply don't see why any person with an intact sense of proportion should make an issue of this.
Another Finn 

Monday, April 08, 2013

An Update from 24


Thanks to "24" for this update about her experience leaving the OALC. If you would like to share your story, join a support group, or suggest a book, please send me an email at extoot (at) gmail (dot) com.
It has been two weeks since my first guest post and I’m pleased (surprised?) to say that I’m still alive! There have been some good times along with some not-so-good times.
Following my initial announcement of leaving the OALC (3 weeks, 4 days ago—feels like years), I think my family decided to pretend nothing had changed. Due to a death in the family and having some company in town, I ended up spending a lot more time with them than usual. An all-around busy week with work, school, and family, I was exhausted by the weekend. 
Deciding to pamper myself, I got a motel after work on Saturday and spent some much needed time alone. Sunday morning I treated myself to some cozy reading at a coffee shop before attending an Easter dinner with a friend. 
Last week went well—until Thursday evening. It was our congregation’s weekend for Easter meetings, and everybody felt like it was their duty to convince me to come. I dealt with some tears and fears, sadness and anger before I decided to just turn my phone off. Sigh. Everybody’s ideal start to the weekend, right?
I spent Saturday doing some homework, taking a bath, and calling the police (when I felt my neighbor’s fighting had gotten out of hand). All in all, a success. 

Today, Sunday, a friend and I found a great crepe restaurant and had brunch. Followed by some good walking and talking, coffee and shopping. Again, a success.
I guess what I want to say is that it IS possible to leave the church. Easy? No. Possible? YES. I have been seeing a therapist, and plan to continue seeing her weekly. You need to find support, and have some backup—you will need these people (I sure have!). And though I’m not sure what my beliefs are right now, I found myself turning to prayer Thursday evening when I was feeling pretty down.
There will be ups and downs. I’ve had days where I think a rollercoaster would likely be a smoother ride than my emotions. These days pass. Like I said once, leaving the church is easy—it’s separating from the group, the family, that is so difficult. Be strong, keep your chin up. Enjoy exploring life with eyes newly opened. Don’t feel pressured to determine exactly what your beliefs are—this is part of life’s journey that we are now able to join in. Be free.
-24