Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Grave Robbing to Reconciliation

"Perhaps the best discovery made on the trip, namely 2 sacks full of Lapp skulls and bones." -- Lars Levi Laestadius
The quote is from an excerpt (translated from Swedish) of a remarkable White Paper published by the Church of Sweden, available in print (at no cost) and excerpted online, where it can be copied and pasted into Google Translate. Titled "The Historical Relationships between the Swedish Church and the Sámi: A Scientific Anthology," the paper is the result of a project begun in 2012 whose purpose was to "deepen the knowledge of historical relations between the Church and the Sámi." It serves as a public confession of abuse, and the Church calls it is a necessary first step toward reconciliation.

A direct line can be drawn between the grave-robbing of the 19th century and the race biology of the 20th century to the horrors of the Holocaust. When the Swedish Institute for Racial Biology was founded in Uppsala in 1922, it was the first of its kind in the world, and its painstaking research methodology was admired by, and became a model for, Nazi Germany. (Learn more in this excellent documentary.)

Excerpt from "The Historical Relationships between the Swedish Church and the Sámi: A Scientific Anthology":
PRIESTS CONTRIBUTED TO RACIAL BIOLOGY RESEARCH
Priests and other representatives of the Church of Sweden took part in robberies and excavations and contributed to the collection of Sámi human remains for cranial and racial research.
This research has in itself contributed to the notions of the Sámi as a primitive and lower standing people and enabled discrimination, marginalization and oppression of Sámi in Sweden.
Priests participated in the robbery of Sámi graves
During the 19th and early 1900's, Sámi tombs were plundered in a comprehensive search for skulls and skeletal parts, including the service of racial biology. Priests and other representatives of the Swedish Church participated. Today, Sámi demands that human remains be returned.
SÁMI GRAVES WERE ROBBED 
The grave robberies were sometimes held secretly during the night and using bribes. There was, of course, a resistance among Sámi against what happened, which those responsible showed little respect for.
The most famous example is Lars Levi Læstadius (1800-1861), church leader in Karesuando and Pajala parishes and founder of the Lapponian revival movement. There are several examples of how he participated in the robbery of Sámi tombs, for example as a guide and local expert in the French La Recherche expedition (1838-1840). Læstadius himself writes in an unsigned newspaper article about what the expedition found: "Perhaps the best discovery made on the trip, namely 2 sacks full of Lapp skulls and bones."

Friday, November 03, 2017

A Sweet Story, a Familiar Tune

A friend posted this sweet story about the love of friends. The hymn will be a familiar one to many of you.



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

One of Us


I strongly recommend "One of Us," a documentary (now streaming on Netflix) that follows three people who have left their ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. No longer "one of us" to their family and friends, each person has a distinct story, a unique trajectory out of their former lives. You'll recognize the same themes we've encountered in Laestadianism -- ultra-Orthodox Lutheranism, if you will.

In a magazine interview here, one of the men in the documentary explains his former faith:

"Does it withhold a broad education from their children in order to keep the children narrow-minded and uneducated? Yes. Does it vilify the outside world in order to keep its members from joining it? Definitely. Does it have a fear and/or doomsday element to it? Of course. Is there ex-communication for those who dare to leave? Oh yeah."

"For most of my life, I believed that all non-Jews hate us and want to kill us. I believed that all goyim are murderers, rapists, degenerates and dirty second-class citizens. Of course, they/we aren’t but I was taught that in order to make the secular lifestyle less appealing. I was told horrible things would happen to me in this world and the 'next world' if I leave. I was told I would end up a criminal or drug addict. Many members of my family refuse to speak to me to this day."

The Laestadian version of "One of Us" has yet to be made, but a proposal is in the works, and if you are interested in supporting it, let me know.


Saturday, October 07, 2017

Insights from a Cult Recovery Counselor


Interesting insights about recovery from high-control groups. 

"There's this dichotomy I've noticed with people who are raised in cults: they are made to feel that they are better than the rest of the world, they live in a higher sphere, they are closer to God, they are the chosen ones . . . but at the same time within the group, they feel very low, so they're higher than the rest of the world but they're knocked down with the group . . .  and you never quite know how to meet the world face to face . . . (that) you're not less than, you just are a part of the world with everybody else."