Friday, September 16, 2011

Alphabet Soup

Concerned's recent comment reminded me that I often take for granted that readers will know the alphabet soup of acronyms that we all often use on this site to refer to various things within Laestadianism.

I know I hate it when people use jargon or acronyms that I don't understand, so I thought I'd post a few here for everyone's benefit.

If I have missed any, please post in the comments. :-)

LLL = Lars Levi Laestadius, founder of Laestadianism

ALC or ALCA = Apostolic Lutheran Church of America (Federation)
FALC = First Apostolic Lutheran Church
LLC = Laestadian Lutheran Church
OALC = Old Apostolic Lutheran Church

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What's Happening to Apostolic Kids?

LLLReader, who has contributed her insights for many years to this blog, asked me to post this:
Having recently moved back to Battle Ground, I recognize that I have certainly been out of the loop. Yesterday I was at a meeting with a real cross-section of community members. The subject of the OALC boys who killed all those cats came up. I was familiar with that event, since it has been covered by newspapers and letters to the editor. What I wasn't aware of is how Apostolic children in this community are behaving.

A principal stated that his main problems are with the Apostolic kids. One women said her daughter drives her children to school because they were being bullied by the Apostolic kids on the bus. It's not all the kids, of course, but enough are showing bad behavior that the reputation of all of the students is being effected. There was a general consensus that the Apostolic children, especially the boys, are a little out of control.

What is going on? Back in the day, when I was in school here, the Apostolics were model students. I didn't say anything, just listened with sadness. I have some fine relatives, with fine children, who I know are doing well. I don't know of specific families whose kids are misbehaving, and I don't know if it's mainly the Hockinson or Brush Prairie Churches.

I thought carefully about what the causes for this problem might be. Possibly families that don't value education would have children that don't see the point of it either. Some of the men are pretty macho types, and their boys might have trouble taking orders from female teachers. Since many of the students aren't allowed to participate in school activities like sports, band, clubs, etc. they just don't build any bond with the school. It's interesting that my generation, and my Dad's generation, WERE allowed to be in sports. There were some good athletes from the church back in my day.

I have talked here before about the old preachers being kinder. I felt that the current crop has a more harsh attitude, could that be effecting the families? I don't really know the reasons, probably only the families who are raising these kids would have the answers.

What to do about it? My feeling is that the preachers need to address it. They probably won't. I hope that these children can become better citizens. Maybe the Moms are going to have to step up. I'll just pray for all of them, it's all that I can think to do.

LLLreader
What do you think, readers? If you are in the OALC, are you seeing these issues addressed from the pulpit, or at gatherings?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Helping the Sexually-Abused Child

The recent avalanche of comments on the previous post has prompted a sign-in and moderation process, as this blog needs to balance the need for a full and free discussion with that for respectful discourse. Perhaps I will tell my own story soon, but suffice to say this is very personal for me, and I believe all churches—and our society at large—have a huge responsibility to reform in order to protect children.

Each of us should ask: how can we as individuals bring about that reform?

How can we bring to light something so shame-inducing?

How can we identify abusers, and hold them accountable?

How can we "immunize" children against abuse?

As the mother of two beautiful, happy children, I want to believe that because they are well-loved, taught proper boundaries, and allowed autonomy over their bodies, they are unlikely to be preyed upon, and likely to report abuse.

But what can I do to help children who may be dearly loved but are taught, like I was, to submit to elders, to trust and obey, to see themselves as sinful, to forgive all sins and transgressions, to never bring shame on their family?

We have a responsibility to talk about this.

As I tuck in my kids tonight, somewhere a child is crying him or herself to sleep.

The information below is from the Child Molestation Prevention website:


Act to Heal the Sexually Abused Child

Sexual abuse is happening to three million children in the U.S. - that means in an average eighth grade classroom of 30 children, six children are currently being sexually abused.

Act:

View child sexual abuse as a health problem.

Be the capable adult who will help a child with this problem.

Protect the child physically. Separate the child from his or her abuser.

Protect the child emotionally:

It is NEVER the child's fault, repeat this fact often to the child.

As a parent, say you will always love the child. Show the child that this is true with words and behavior.

Tell the child that very likely, other children in the classroom have this problem.

Tell the child that very likely the abuser has a health problem, and may need medicine and other treatments.

Let the child know that he or she never has to be in the same room with the abuser - even a father, brother, uncle - if the child doesn't wish it.

Take the child to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of sexually abused children.

Protect the child victim, especially boy victims, from developing a sexual interest in younger children with a second-step to good health. Be sure, with the help of a sex-specific therapist, that a boy victim (especially a boy who has been repeatedly sexually abused) does NOT develop a sexual interest in younger children. Be aware that this sexual interest in younger children might lie dormant until the onset of puberty and then become a health problem for the child.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Two More Blogs from Ex-FALC

In addition to Finding My Way ...Finding My Voice which I blogged about briefly on Tuesday, two more blogs by ex-FALC discussing (among other things) their experience with sexual abuse and its cover up and enablement within Laestadianism have come to my attention:

I Am Jim. Not very many posts here, but nonetheless extremely powerful description from a former FALC preacher about the abuse he experienced and heard about, and what happened to him when he started speaking out within the church about the abuse.

Imperfect Lady. Thanks for the link, Beth. :-) Beth has been out of the FALC for over six years now, blogging about her journey since 2010.

Words really can't express the level of admiration I have for the courage these folks express by being willing to speak out against what happened to them, confront the church, and blog (in their own names!)

Free's update:

Beth's brother Carl also is blogging, at Messy Guru.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Judy's Blog

A new blog by an ex-FALC member went online this month, Finding My Way ...Finding My Voice

Only a few weeks old, she's already posted about Laestadianism, the Sami, and sexual abuse.

Reading Judy's posts was a good reminder for me that people are still leaving Laestadianism every day.

I wish Judy well in her journey.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is it "Caretaking" or Pressure, Intimidation, Blackmail?

A reader sent this article and the English translation below (lightly edited for clarity). If you understand Finnish, you'll want to read the comments as well.

Conservative Laestadians tell of pressure in “caretaking meetings”

July 17,2011
by Pauliina Grönholm
Helsingin Sanomat

People belonging to the Conservative Laestadian revivalist movement, which operates within the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran church, say they experienced pressure as well as spiritual violence, in so-called caretaking meetings.

A caretaking meeting in Conservative Laestadianism means a pastoral care event at which a member is called to "repent."

These meetings were especially common in the 1970's, but according to individuals interviewed by this newspaper, these sessions are still being held. These individuals said they were either a subject of caretaking meetings or were forced to follow the treatment "by the side."

They said that Executive Board members of the Central Association of Finnish Peace Associatons (SRK) as well as priests participated in the meetings.

Conservative Laestadian "Jukka" has first-hand experience of these meetings (because of his close friends, he does not want to appear in this interview with his real name).

Jukka says that current caretaking meetings are less organized and systematic than in the 1970's. Subjects are now individuals who have publicly expressed dissident opinions from the SRK's official views.

While caretaking meetings are often referred to as pastoral care in Conservative Laestadianism, Jukka has a different view.

"In those [meetings] are all the characteristics of the spiritual violence fullfilled: pressure, intimidation and blackmail."

“You may end up in caretaking if you have dissenting opinions, for example about family planning or the ordination of women, but also, for example, if you listen to rock music, go to concerts, or dye your hair."


***

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Gifts of Imperfection

A reader suggests we post a link to the Facebook page for this Amy Ahonen, who has gone missing in Colorado. Please use your personal networks to get the word out. Sometimes clues come from unexpected places. I dearly hope Amy comes home safe and soon.

On another topic, I am reading a book recommended by a friend, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. It is rare that I read "self-help" books, and rarer still that I recommend them, but this one is resonating with me and may be of value to other former Laestadians.

If you feel inclined, read it and let's talk about it here.

You can also watch the author in her TedX speech, in which she talks about "The Power of Vulnerability." It's about 20 minutes long, so grab a cup of coffee.

Brown's research (as a professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work) shows that people who have a strong sense of belonging and happiness are those who feel WORTHY of belonging and happiness.

Did you feel worthy in the church? Do you now? What is the difference?

How compassionate are you to yourself?

I am frequently told by my (very happy!) husband that I am "too hard" on myself. It is not possible for him to understand how much humility, shame, and NON-vulnerability (absolute faith) were encouraged in my upbringing. Those are very hard habits to break.

Try taking this online survey of "self-compassion" suggested by Brown. I did, and found myself annoyed by the questions. Clearly I have issues with these topics. I wish I had scored higher, if only for my kids' sakes, as I KNOW compassion is "caught not taught" and they are undoubtedly getting some very mixed messages.

But I will continue to work on self-compassion, even when my "inner Laestadius" rebukes me for it.

Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, June 17, 2011

More Laestadian Boys Acting Out

This time it's Apostolic Lutherans near Duluth, MN. No charges filed, but sometimes a mom just has to assert herself with other people's badly behaved kids. :-)

From Mother of Preschoolers


Two boys . . . got off the bus. The[ir parents are] infamous for their eccentricity, their role in the Apostolic Lutheran sect, their old-fashioned beliefs concerning the roles of women . . . I watched them both flip the bus the bird as it drove away. . . I drove past them.

. . . My lack of appreciation for these two pre-teen boys' antics was probably written all over my face. . . they yelled something unpleasant at me as I drove past them. One boy, the bigger of the two, picked up a rock and actually threw it half-heartedly at my truck.

. . . I will be damned if I was going to let those little punks act that way toward me. I slammed on the brakes and backed up fast.

The looks on their faces were priceless. . . I asked them if they had something to say to me. . . They mumbled "no" and stared at me. I suggested at that point then that they not yell, throw things, or wave a certain finger at any other cars again. This was done under threat of me giving them a ride home so we could all three talk to their mother together and figure out how to solve their little attitude problem.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Laestadian Teens Arrested for Killing Over 50 Pets

I have it on pretty good authority that the teens charged with the crimes alleged in the story below were OALC:

3 Battle Ground Teens Arrested In Cat Shootings
Teens Accused of Shooting 100 Cats
Battle Ground Bunners
Battle Ground, Wash., Teens Accused of Shooting 50 Cats in Two Months


Armed with a .22-caliber rifle, three teenagers are accused of shooting cats — at least 100 — while joyriding throughout northern Clark County over the past two months, prosecutors said.

Mitchell S. Kangas, 16, Jaren M. Koistinen, 16, and Riley J. Munger, 17, were arrested Sunday evening after a Battle Ground resident reported to police that her 7-year-old cat, Nellie, was shot in the face at 7:30 p.m. in the 700 block of Northeast Third Avenue in Battle Ground. She saw the shooters and described their blue SUV.


A couple of questions:

(1) Did they rationalize that these cats were "sissy" pets, owned by "worldlies" and therefore no better than rodents?
(2) Why are OALC and other Laestadian boys given cars, guns and ammo, along with a disdain for books, sports, arts, music, etc?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Occasionally I Think

"Lucien Black," grandson of an Apostolic Lutheran pastor, has a blog describing his journey from faith to atheism. I thought he raised some interesting questions about the Genesis creation / fall story and its implications on the nature of God as depicted through a biblical literalist interpretation of the Bible.

from Why I'm an athiest


First off, one should know that I come from a very religious background. My grandfather has been an Apostolic Lutheran pastor for my entire life, and my mother became "born-again" at some point after getting pregnant. When I was a child, the family would play "Bible Trivia," and I kicked butt because I enjoyed me some Bible stories.

Around about the seventh grade, I started thinking, and one thing that kept going through my head is that the deck was stacked against humanity from the start, if one believed the book of Genesis. God was omnipotent and omniscient, so he knew exactly what sort of creation he'd made, and the consequences thereof. So, here's Adam and Eve, with one rule to follow: don't eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. What follows is well known of course, the "Fall of Man." What got me though is that God should've, indeed must have, seen it coming from the very start, and took no steps to prevent it. There are many that could've been done: don't let Satan in the garden, don't make the bloody Tree, make sure Adam and Eve really are obedient and not prone to disobeying just cuz of a few honeyed words, just to name a few.


Does anyone else remember playing Bible Trivia? I was not the best player, although I could hold my own against most. :-) I was pretty good at New Testament and Pentateuch, but major and minor prophets could stump me pretty easily.

On a more serious note, Lucien illuminates an issue that I think is common with people who leave their original faith for a new formulation of the faith, or even no faith at all. The stories or the meanings behind the stories no longer "make sense."

Friday, May 20, 2011

TV and the KJV

I was reading this short article in the New Yorker, celebrating 400 years of the King James Bible and its contribution to the English language, culture, etc., and was struck by how sometimes "high" and "low" culture intersect on strange topics, for different reasons.

Laestadians will often give different reasons for their King James Onlyism, sometimes tipping a hat to its beautiful language, but of course that is not the reason they insist on it. I've heard people say that the Kings James version was inspired and protected by God in ways that later English versions were not. Many of those same people would be shocked to learn that the original 1611 King James Version contained the apocrypha and also the astrological signs of the Zodiac.

When I was in college I took a class on media and I remember the professor saying, "99% of all households in the United States have at least one television. The other 1% are either college professors or religious fanatics." Having been raised in the 1% of non-college professors, it intrigued me that academic elites and religious fundamentalists would share a rare behavior for different reasons.

What are some other examples of this?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thinking About

The news that the SRK in Finland is (finally) confessing its culpability in widespread child sexual abuse gives hope that American Laestadian churches will do the same. It may take a strong Laestadian like Dr. Johanna Hurtig to ask the tough questions and refuse to be rebuffed.

A Laestadian and child welfare advocate, Dr. Hurtig was involved in bringing the abuse issues to light. Her perspective is nuanced and in my experience, accurate. As someone who was molested as a child, I know there are many factors that lead to abuse in the church, including a strong emphasis on obedience (children are unable to develop personal boundaries), misognyny (females are responsible for male sexual acts, and female honor is secondary to male honor), and the practice of repentance, in which the victim is required to simply forgive, and the perpetrator is given a blank slate. But there are other factors, too.

When asked "Do you feel that there are characteristics in the movement that can lead to abuse?" this was Dr. Hurtig's response (read the entire interview here):

“I am only starting to ponder the reasons. The experiences of the victims bring out distortions of forgiveness, and the fatigue of large families. Children can sometimes find it hard to get enough attention from adults, and to become conscious of their rights when they grow up in a large group. Exhausted parents are not always capable of sensing their children’s needs and if they are feeling all right.”

“Also the position of women, restrictions linked with sexuality, and the strong community faith can have an effect. When the community itself is seen to be sacred, its structures and practices are not examined in a critical manner. It can hide extreme evil.”

“But matters in the culture, the community, and in the teaching do not cause these cases on their own. An overwhelming majority live healthy and responsible lives. There has to be some other factor, for instance, a distorted way of thinking which sexualizes children, and which is passed down from one generation to the next.”


What do you think? What reforms are needed to protect the vulnerable, some of whom -- as you read this -- are suffering? Is there a Dr. Hurtig among the American Laestadians who will dare speak for them?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SRK admits serious mistakes in dealing with sex abuse

Thanks to commenter Xsa for pointing out this article, the most comprehensive English-language recap I've seen thus far of everything to do with the current SRK Laestadian sex abuse scandal happening in Finland:

Conservative Laestadians admit serious mistakes in dealing with child abuse issue – trust is gone in SRK

The responsible leaders’ excuse for keeping a very tight lid on hundreds of child victims and a myriad of perpetrators, who have not come to light, is “lack of information”. Anyone of the 24 members of the SRK board (they all are men) did not know anything.

Someone else could suggest “lack of freedom of speech”, too.

Friday, April 01, 2011

An Outsider's look at the ALC OALC

What do strangers unfamiliar with the ins and outs of Laestadianism think when they visit an Apostolic Lutheran congregation --specifically the Hockinson church?

Among other things, they might mistake it for the OALC.

Apostolic Lutheran: The Begotten, by Amanda P. Westmont. This documented visit is part of the blog A Year of Sundays whose tagline is: "we go to church so you don't have to." The goal of the site is to visit a different type of church each Sunday and write a humorous post about it.

See also the companion piece, A Brush Prairie Home Companion, by Joel Gunz

Why? "Because Baptists can’t have all the fun, Buddhists can’t have all the peace, Jews can’t have all the guilt, Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t all the apocalypse fantasies and Catholics can’t have all the cute altar boys."

Enjoy!

P.S. Another post with a picture of the interior of the church. Also, apparently a visit to an OALC congregation is forthcoming!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Key Laestadian sentenced to Prison

Thanks to Old AP for the link:
Key figure in Laestadian movement sentenced to prison

A middle-aged man described as an influential figure in the Conservative Laestadians, a revival movement of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, has been sentenced to prison for molesting a girl who is a relative.

According to the article an internal study has also been done by the SRK regarding abuse, to be released in April.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sámi people want apology from Lutheran Church for overreach

Please read this HELSINGIN SANOMAT article and comment.

Sámi people want apology from Lutheran Church for overreach

Seminar examines legacy of Lars Levi Laestadius on 150th anniversary of his death

Lars Levi Laestadius restored morality to the culture of the indigenous Sámi people and saved the Sámi from alcoholism that was imported by the dominantculture.
“At the same time Laestadius, his followers, and the Christian clergy wiped out the ancient traditional religion of the Sámi. There are families in which the joik, or traditional vocal music tradition, disappeared thanks to the activities of the clergy”, said Klemetti Näkkäläjärvi, chairman of the Finnish Sámi Parliament.
He spoke at an international seminar in Tornio, which focused on Laestadius’s life as a missionary and researcher.
Monday marked the 150th anniversary of Laestadius’s death.
The revival movement that he founded has grown to be the largest ecclesiastical revival movement in the Nordic region.
According to Näkkäläjärvi, the Sámi have an ambivalent attitude toward Laestadius, not least because his mother was half-Sámi.
He said that Laestadian clergy perhaps saw the joiks as being part of the practice of the ancient shamanist Sámi religion, and consequently saw them as sinful.
“The same kind of proselytising affected the Sámi language. People were told not to speak Sámi, even though they did not speak Finnish well enough”, Näkkäläjärvi said.
He said that the Finnish Lutheran Church should apologise for its earlier activities in the homeland of the Sámi in Lapland.
“In Sweden such an apology was made already in the 1990s, but it is important that the Sámi should be treated as equals after that”, said Hans Stiglund, the Lutheran Bishop of Luleå, Sweden.
“In this respect, societal development has been going in a positive direction in Finland as well”, added Oulu Bishop Samuel Salmi.
“A study is underway in the Oulu Diocese on this matter. It culminates a year from now in a seminar that is to be held in Inari. At that time we will unravel image traditions and memories on both sides, which have slowed down interaction between Finns and the Sámi”, Salmi says.
“There is reason to make a distinction between Laestadius and the preachers that followed him. It seems that what followed in the movement is now being blamed on him”, says Professor Juha Pentikäinen.
Pentikäinen says that Laestadius was a botanist, religious philosopher, an ethnographer, and a linguist, as well as a writer of Sámi mythology.
Also made public on Monday were extracts from Lappish mythology, which had been lost for a century and a half.
The book, which had been commissioned, was never printed, because French King Louis Philippe lost his power.
Pentikäinen tracked down the lost parts, with Dr. Risto Pulkkinen helping him in his detective work.

******

Interesting!

What do you think?

Do you question the assumptions of the article? Did Laestadius restore morality to the
Sámi? Should the Finnish Church apologize for overreaching? Should Laestadius share the responsibility for what his followers did in his name? Are you interested in reading the newly-puglished fragments of Sámi mythology?

Monday, February 07, 2011

What Does Scientology Have in Common With Laestadianism?

Don't miss this fascinating article about Scientology through the eyes of an "apostate." While at first blush, the experiences of a Hollywood film director seem remote from ex-Laestadians, I recognize a few parallels, such as the willing suspension of skepticism while in the Church, and the "confirmation bias" that keep followers from hard truths by seeking out people who agree, and discounting (or demonizing) those who don't.

What does Scientology have in common with Laestadianism?

Both are relatively new religions that continue to attract new followers.
Both were started by charismatic men with mystical writings.
Both practice disconnection or shunning if a member leaves (as do Mormons, the Amish and some Orthodox Jewish communities).

Maybe there's more. If you read the article, please comment below.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Two Versions of ALC Doctrinal "Principles"

I've long been aware of the 1996 ALC official doctrinal statement Principles of the Doctrine of Christ as Taught in the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America A long-winded document with lots of proof-texting and presenting assertions as if they were self-evident, it makes my head hurt to try to wind my way through it (and I am typically the type of person who likes to read this type of thing!)

What I didn't know until recently is that there was an earlier version of this document that was much shorter. First published in 1989 and titled A Brief Statement of the Principles of the Doctrine of the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America it also states the ALC position on such theological issues as conversion, justification, baptism, confession, laying on of hands, etc.

Neither version of the document speaks to issues such as shunning, exclusivism, dress codes for women and men, TV ownership and viewing, or the host of other issues that seemed to make the ALC distinctive back in the day.

Thinking back to my ALC confirmation class, these documents were never mentioned. We used Luther's Small Catechism, and the confirmation teacher pointed to the Nicene Creed, Apostle's Creed, and "unaltered Augburg Confession" as being the main doctrinal documents for the church. Does anyone know if either version of the Principles is used today in confirmation class or anywhere else?

SEE ALSO: Principles of the Doctrine of Christ

Monday, January 24, 2011

Media and the ALC

Lately I've been visiting various ALC church web sites listed on the denomination's church locator page. There are 57 congregations listed there from all across the United States, providing interesting insights into the role that the internet and media plays in this historically media-suspicious branch of Laestadianism. The congregations listed there range from those without any web presence all the way to those that provide advanced multi-media options for viewing, listening, or reading part or all of their church services.

(As an aside, I would love to know if this is an exhaustive list of all current ALC congregations. If it is, it makes the level of media use all the more compelling. Even if it isn't, however, I still think that what follows is interesting. Either way, the list seemed pretty exhaustive to me.)

One thing that struck me was how many congregations had live streaming video, live streaming audio, live telephone dial in, or archived audio or video of the services. It seemed more than a little ironic considering that many of these congregations were strongly opposed to television back in the 60s and 70s, and against the internet in its early days. On the other hand there has always been a role for media. I remember sermons being recorded on audio cassette when I was a kid, and they were circulated widely among those who lived too far away to attend an ALC congregation regularly.

Of the 57 congregations I looked at, 5 have live streaming video feeds over the internet when church is in session. That is nearly 10%!

Hockinson
Ashburnham
Eastside
Lake Worth
Spruce Grove

Of the 57, 4 have live streaming internet audio when church is in session.

New Ipswich
Greer
Hancock
Laurium

For those who may not have an internet connection, there are 4 congregations that provide a local or toll free telephone number and PIN where you can dial in to listen to church while it is in session over a land line or cell phone.

Seattle
New Ipswich
Laurium
Spruce Grove

Eliminating duplicates, that makes 10 congregations out of 57 that provide some means of accessing the church service live without being physically present. That's 17.5% and an astoundingly high number, if you ask me!

Carrying on the audio tape tradition in a modern format, 15 congregations had archived audio, video, or text of past sermons that could be either streamed or downloaded for playback on an iPod or other digital player. That includes some of the congregations with live options, however.

I haven't looked at other denominations in this level of detail, but my gut level reaction is that the ALC is making much heavier use of live streaming media than many other denominations.

I wonder why?

One ALC site I visited stated that they are merely trying to make the gospel as widely accessible as possible. While I don't discount this as part of the justification, there are many other denominations with more evangelical fervor that don't seem to use live streaming media as frequently as the ALC does.

I think the relatively small size of the denomination also plays a role. As with the earlier generation of audio cassette exchange, live streaming media fills a real need for many Laestadians that might live too far away from the closest ALC congregation to be able to attend services regularly.

I also wonder if vestiges of the old Laestadian exclusivism play a role in the demand for this type of "at a distance" access? Where other people might consider switching to a closer or more convenient denomination under these circumstances, Laestadians face a much higher bar where much more is at stake. Viewing services over the web allows them to stay connected even if they are hundreds of miles away from the closest like-minded congregation.

From an ex-Laestadian perspective, I find the streaming sites to be a great asset with a wealth of current information on the state of the denomination. I don't have to waste my time actually attending church services in order to keep up on what's current. If someone tries to sell me on the idea that things are so much different now and better than they used to be, I can test those assertions against written, audio, and video material directed at the flock and not as a sales pitch to backslider outsiders such as myself. :-)

Finally, I wonder what type of unintended consequences will happen as a result of putting the church service online? Will it invite more scrutiny because anyone can see it? Will devout ALCers start skipping church because they can watch it in their bathrobe Sunday morning instead? (or at least claim to?) Will there be more switching between congregations (or even between branches of Laestadianism) because there is now an easy no social cost way to check out other congregations?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Still Learning After All These Years

Despite how long I've been "learning to live free," (32 years) there is always more to learn. I think I have things fairly balanced and life is going along swimmingly, and every day I'm counting my blessings and feeling hopeful for a happy future, and then BANG, I hit a rough patch and question whether I've ever healed since leaving the OALC. The trigger this time is a rough patch at work. I'm finding it hard to sleep. No appetite.

Plus, a BIG birthday looming in a few weeks. I've been feeling sorry for myself, and rather entitled to a midlife crisis.

Thank goodness I checked for comments on this site -- which I started so many years ago as a way to deal with all my Laestadian angst. (Yes, the blog that has become less and less active, but is nonetheless dear to my heart.) Reading the latest comments, I began to laugh. This is the first time I've laughed in weeks and it felt like it cleared my head. Thanks to all of you but especially krissy/jaydamae, for sharing her strength & spirit & spunk. For making me laugh with joy.

Agree, disagree, whatever. Just get it out there. Share your authentic self. Because when you tell the truth about your life, you help others live more authentically.

I can't regret my Laestadian past when I see that LEAVING gave me the confidence to question everyone and everything. This is a value I'm trying to teach my kids. That, and pulla skills.

What strengths did you gain from Laestadianism that you are now sharing with others?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Laestadian sex abuse case goes to trial

Here's a link to an extremely short article stating that:

A prominent figure in the Laestadian revival movement faces charges of child sexual abuse and rape in a case that goes to trial next week, reports the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

If I can find more about this story I'll post some follow ups. I think going to trial is one of the best things that can happen for getting the facts out.

UPDATE 01.10.2011
Here's a link to a longer version of the story:
Leading Laestadian figure charged with serious sex crimes