Thursday, June 15, 2017

Seeking Help as a Laestadian

In Norway, Sami victims of violence seek help less often than non-Sami. No surprise, as this also holds in native communities in North America.

But in addition to the disempowering effects of colonization, Laestadianism is mentioned as a cause in this article.
"Laestadianism's influence on Sami culture and society also plays a part in strengthening the attitude that it is the victim who must bear the shame and guilt for the violence, not the offender."
"The tabooing of sex and body, the silence concerning everything private, and the idea that issues are solved within the family. We find such ideas everywhere in Norway, but there are indications that these taboos are stronger within Laestadian and Sami communities." 
"The view on women in Sami communities is often colored by Laestadianism: women should remain silent in gatherings and sexuality is not discussed."
Sound familiar? What can be done?


15 comments:

  1. "The view on women in Sami communities is often colored by Laestadianism: women should remain silent in gatherings and sexuality is not discussed."

    Who is saying this? Anyway, we should compare the situation and cultural features in other religious communities in Norway, among The Seventh Day Adventists, The Pentacostal Church, the Babtists and others. Just to see, where the influence comes from - I think.

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    1. It was not my purpose to defend Laestadianism. I just try to find information and the truth. The idea in that question is not to deny those conclusions, but only ask how "women remaining silent" is a typical feature of Laestadianism? That feature can be found in other similar religious movements. also. So, I would pleased to learn more.
      When we see that (maybe patriarch) cultural feature, in my opinion it is easy to find in the literature and poetry of 18th centry Scandinavia, also.

      Moreover, how Laestadianism is considered a tool of colonialism? Do you think they lost their native culture and language by being a Laestadian?

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  2. The quote is by the project leader, Solveig Bergman (you can read the whole article by clicking on the link provided). The focus of the report was domestic violence in Sami communities and it was written by the Norwegian center for violence and traumatic stress studies (NKVTS). As in North America, Indigenous victims of violence are underserved / seek less service from state resources including law enforcement. Examining WHY, in a colonial context, can help us understand how to help victims and prevent future violence.

    I am increasingly aware of Laestadianism as both tool and effect of colonialism, with a unique history that continues to impact its unique expressions in North America. More to the point: it began with Laestadius defying state authority. It continues with Laestadians defying state authority.

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    1. I have read your comment with interest. I can understand the parallelism with sami and North American indigenous people. A question arouse in my mind, is the Norwegian situation that bad in the eyes of Norwegian sami? I mean, are they so badly assimilated in the society? But, Lars Levi Laestadius, was he really defying the state authority. He was, in my opinion, very contradicting, so in Crapula Mundi and some letters he seemed to be a kind of royalist, or a patriotic radical like Rousseau. How do you explain your findings?

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  3. To put it positively, it arose as Sámi self-determination against the untrustworthy forces of the colonial state.

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  4. Thanks for commenting, Anonymous (please give yourself a name!).

    The Sámi "situation" was and remains complex, and almost any generalization can be quickly shredded in another context. But since you ask about Norway, you may be aware that Norway's government just approved a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Sámi and Kven to address the sins of the state. Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg stated publicly that the policy of Norsification forced many Sámi to abandon their culture and languages.
    "Several generations of Sámi were made believe that their speech and their culture was something shameful, something which should not be kept alive."

    As for Laestadius, I agree that he is contradictory, but there is no question that he defied state/church authority in various ways. I recommend this thesis by the scholar Anne Heith in which she explores Laestadius's legacy: http://postkolonial.dk/files/KULT%2014/7%20Anne%20Heith%20LJ.pdf

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    1. It would be very useful to go further in discussion of this topic, but I am not sure if that is allowed. I have learned, that Laestadius was not against the state church, but her praxix, policy and teachings, which he called rationalism. At the same time he had close relationship with those ministers he considered as pietist. I mean, it is better to say, that Laestadius did not defy the church itself, but the way it was operated in individual parishes. That comes out in Norrland, where various local pietist awakening movements did rise. He blamed vicars for not having taken the leadership among those groups of "läsare", but shewn their "dragon teeth to them". That means, those vicars had opposed them instead of close relationship and co-operation. So, he did not have any idea of a lay-man organisation, in his dreams.. Maybe you do not accept that opinion. Anyway, for me the expression "defy the authority" is very strong. Maybe you do not see it that way. I think, that he was supported by his bishops, but his own behaviour as vicar led him into harms. When he tries to promote his own theological ideas among his fellows means to me, that he accepts the authority of the church.
      I man not well informed about the feelings and opinions of the Sami people. I do not even know exactly, how the radical activists explain the situation.
      I have think, the we have same roots, even the latest DNA + RNA analyzes show different lines. I remember, that some haplo-groups show a line connected the to the Bascs, lining in Iberian range in Spain. Very apparently Sami people know it better.
      I only know, that 4500 years ago, a new type of ceramics came to Fenno-Scandia. So called boat ax culture arrived with new religion and new language and new religion. They had a new boat ax cult. They came from the present Pomerania, the southern shores of the Baltic Sea. They took wifes and got children, and over time they lost their own language, and a new language was formed in time. They started to cultivate oat and keep cattle. The original people, they continued their life, fishing, hunting and collecting, they we clearly and strictly separated from the new comers as they were enemies to each other. They got new influence and impact from the east thru invaders and cultural connections and trade. They formed later the Sami people. So, our situation differs from that of Scandinavia, where Germanic or Indo-European immigration is younger.

      As for Kvaen, I would like to recall the opinion of former Fylkeskonservator Einar Niemi from Vadsö, that Kvaen immigration story is party a fake. Einar Niemi pointed out, how Ottar from Haalogaland explained about 850 A.D to Alfred the Great in England, that all over in North, means Finnmarken, he saw Fenni, who spoke almost same language as those living in Bjarmia i.e. on the shores of the White Sea. The Bjarmians were Carelians.
      Unfortunately so many Sami has become Finns.

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    2. It was barley, not oat. Sorry for those mistakes written.

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    3. Free wrote: ""Several generations of Sámi were made believe that their speech and their culture was something shameful, something which should not be kept alive."

      That is terrible and I can understand the pain caused by it. We have same experiences in our own country and as a invandrare in Sweden. I think that the boarding schools destroyed the living language among many.

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    4. Interesting contributions, thank you, Anonymous. You are welcome to go further with this topic but please give yourself a pen name. When you say "Laestadius did not defy the church itself, but the way it was operated in individual parishes," that may be closer to the truth, but it was church tradition, not parishes, that he defied in refusing communion to an unwed mother (an act for which he was famously sanctioned). But yes, he remained within the church all his life, corresponded with clergy, and recognized non-followers as being among the faithful -- quite unlike his present-day followers.
      (I know too little of the other topics you mention to comment. I hope someone else will weigh in.)

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    5. I hope this discussion doe not become too hot! :-) I say this, because you speak about "church tradition, not parishes". Well, how we can see difference between the tradition in church and the common practice in a individual parish of Pajala, for example? The local practice must rely on tradition and the Scriptures.

      Then, to allow communion to an unwed mother, do we understand the situation? By the way, she gave birth to another baby couple years later, and still she stayed unwed and without husband.

      During those years all the people in the congregation were "investigated" whether they "really wanted to abandon the Devil and his works" when they did attend the communion and asked forgiveness. That is a good and suitable question for us all even today. But, as our culture now proclaims individualism, democracy and human rights, no one is put under any research.

      I do not know, what Laestadius did wrong. Maybe nothing, because he stated that the very lady was cheeky. Maybe she was a cheeky person, her land lord did not like Laestadius, that dammed pietist.
      Anyway, the communion is useless for anyone, who does not make so called repentance, do not want to abandon everything which is violating the Gods eternal will in his or her life.

      During those days all the women having given birth to a baby had to come to church to purify herself, exactly like the Mary in Nasareth. Of course, church wanted to show its power, but in those days, church possessed many of those activities and roles, a normal municipality has today.

      I suppose you have taken a somewhat feminist point of view to that matter. I do not know. I only see, that we have many similar occasions and cases in the modern Lutheran church. The vicar will be criticized in some cases, if he tries to follow the doctrine and the Scriptures. One priest was hated, because he said that abortion is a murder.

      The Lutheran Church has always been strict, as for, the Holy Communion. Today that same purity can be seen in so called confessional churches.
      So it was even in the Old Church after the apostles. The one was not able to attend the Holy Supper in another town and congregation, if he or she did not have a good reputation, or he did not have any letter from his own bishop.

      As for, Laestadius, how he did defy the church. I tried to say, that he did not criticize so much the church itself, but the teachings of many and the "rationalism". He understood that his collages had abandoned the true doctrine. So, he did not say, that the church is spiritually dead, as the present Elders of Lappland do say. When he published his "Ens Ropandes Röst i Öknen", sold his "Crapula Mundi" thru his professor friends of Uppsala and Stockholm, or wrote his letters to Vicar Peter Wieselgren in Gothenburg, he tried to spread out his ideas for the revival of the church.
      So, he was even supported by his superiors. After the incident of Kautokeino, her bishop still protected him.
      My sentence: "..but the way it was operated in individual parishes". By this, I mean that there were many kind of ministers in the church. Laestadius understood, that some of them were OK, some of them, or the majority, did not take good care of their job.

      Maybe, I have written too much. I forget the topic. The idea was to see, how do you see to defy the church and defy the society.

      It just came into my mind, as you compare Sami and Indigenous American. I do not understand. Here in Scandinavia and Finland, people trust police officers and military officers. They are fair and neutral or treat people equally. That is not the case with the Americans. I just say the names Custer, Geronimo etc.
      A MINISTER OF THE DEAD FAITH

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    6. "To defy the church". I am still working with this, as you see.
      It depends, how we see the church. Many people think. that Martin Luther left the catholic church, but he did not. There was no reason for that. He just wanted to abandon the new doctrines and the spiritual power of the pope.
      Of course, he was a radical in that. So was Laestadius, but I do not want to compare Luther and Laestadius, as I cannot compare a cat with a lion.
      Laestadius religious thnking comes from old pietism of Germany, from Philip Spener, for example. But, then he did have so much individual ideas about christianity, one cannot value him very high as a theologian. A minister of the dead faith

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  5. One should probably clarify, then, that the Kven are Finnishi-speaking Norwegians, many of which moved to North Norway to fish during periods of hunger in Northern Finland and Northern Sweden (where there was also a large community of thousands of Finnish-speakers who arrived there before Swedish-speakers for the most part).

    A Norwegian law was enacted that forbade Finnish, Saami, and other minorities to own property that could not speak Norwegian. Thus, many of the Kven and Saami people were Norwegianized. Also, some of the Finnish-speaking Kven were mixed and also had Saami ancestors due to earlier colonizing activity of Finnish people in Saami lands.

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    1. Well said, Punahilkka. Thank you.

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  6. It came to my attention a few years ago that there are family members and former church members who read this blog and know who I am and my contributions have been a point of discussion.

    Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about any of my past postings. I knew it was possible that my identity would be discovered and I would have no problem having a one-on-one discussion with *anyone* from the church about *anything* I have written here. Seriously. I don't post with my name for the sake of protecting myself and protecting people I love. I enjoy writing my thoughts and generally, about life, and as the church was and remains a very big part of my life, even in my absence, I don't see any reason not to give it the importance it deserves.

    --Punahilkka

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