Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bred Dina Vida Vingar

To OALCer who asks what churches we attend, may I suggest that it doesn't matter? If you want to find our what makes someone tick, you need to go deeper. I appreciate the desire to find categories for people; it's natural. But it doesn't get you far. Within the OALC there are people who don't agree with what you have posted here. I just talked to an OALCer who thinks it is sinful to judge another's spiritual state and that it is "un-Christlike" to shun those who leave the OALC. (Unfortunately, this person is not a preacher.)

That said, I go to an ELCA church, when I'm not visiting an Episcopal or Congregational or something-other church, or staying home with the New York Times and a Thermos of coffee. So sue me! For all the wonderful things a church can do, it cannot stand in for one's relationship to God, and it sure can get in the way of it, if allowed.

Today our pastor gave a stirring sermon about the need to resist a culture of hedonism and to fight for social justice. She described a recent meeting with a senator who received so much hate mail from "Christians" after supporting some civil rights legislation that the senator concluded they "can't be on the right side" if God is, as Christ said, love.

We were urged today not to retreat into ourselves but to be "engaged with the world" on behalf of the poor, as Jesus was. Love in action.

Mentally, I contrasted this message with the Laestadian ethos of avoiding the world, which seems, well, so much easier. Especially in our modern age when we are constantly exposed to the suffering. If you spend even a few honest minutes thinking about how many children died today in Darfur, you are motivated to either (1) distract yourself or (2) do something -- however small.

Later in the service, to my surprise and delight, came a blast from the past: "Bred Dina Vida Vingar"(the entire first line came flooding back, in Swedish no less!). In English it is called The Holy Wings. Is this hymn also familiar to you? I sang out with joy. It was one of those "full circle" moments, where I returned to a place where I once stood, but no longer in shackles. (I'm no more Lutheran than Chinese, but boy am I happy to sing that good ol' Lutheran music!)

Today in the NYT Sunday Magazine there is an intriguing, heavy-weight article (warning: do not attempt to read it in a noisy room) about faith and science. It includes a novel theory that belief and skepticism are tandem evolutionary adaptations. In other words, our age-old disagreements have ensured our survival as a species (if not, alas, as individuals in the crosshairs, or bonfires). We need each other.

For some reason this concept cheered me. What we argue when we argue about faith is usually immaterial (pun intended). And if it is true that some of us are "programmed," as it were, to be more or less faithful, how is that different than being blue-eyed or brown, smart or simple?

The dishes still need doing.

62 comments:

  1. stranger in a strange land3/05/2007 06:38:00 AM

    Oh interesting, free2bme.

    I did not know the OALC sang hymns in Swedish. Do they really?

    So have you completely given up the idea of Sweden this summer then?

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  2. Ive always been curious as to why a church needs to "define" themselves so thoroughly. What parts of the bible thier particular belief system comes from, how they are different from other churches etc. I get so confused at all the different names churches want to call themselves and categories they want to put themselives into. Our family recently attended a church of the Nazerene. They offer a class teaching "the history, faith and distinctive doctrine of the church" I was very confused by the need for this.

    We have a church we attend on a regular basis, but we occasionally attend another. Sometimes because we are traveling, sometimes one of the kids have something going on that involves that church (pine wood derby races/awana/scouts etc) Sometimes we just passed it and decide to stop in because we feel like it. No matter what church I wind up being in, or what people I wind up being around, I believe I can find something good, something to learn about.

    There is a world of wonderful people out there. It would be treacherous and dreadful if everyone I met were all exactly like me. (My mother used to ask me if I would like to live in a world of a million me's. Sometimes I would, but it was a good lesson)

    I believe in Christ, I read my bible, I am a Christian. What else does anyone need to know? (as far as putting me into my box? If you want to get to know me, to understand me without judgement we can move on to the next step)

    We can discuss different interpretatons of the bible, how we came to those conclusions and why they make sense to each of us. But none of us can take our experiences and definitions and place them onto another. For any reason, but particularly as a source of salvation.

    I am reading my bible and praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit. I attend church for many reasons, but not to define my faith or beliefs. If someone, current or past, says something that resonates to me, I remember it. I dont create a religion out of it.

    Someone posted earlier, somewhere :P about how they were concerned with any church that proclaimed to offer 'the way' to Christ and heaven. How the bible warns of false teachings and miracles. (not an exact quote but what I got out of it) This rang so true with me. I avoid anyone/church that makes this claim. The only way to God/the light/heaven is through Jesus. He says he is the door. Anyone who tries to add anything extra is wrong. I look for people/churches that profess a desire to humbly follow Christ, not define him, a desire to share what they have found and to encourage anyone else they meet.

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  3. Stranger, I'll write to you offline about Sweden . . . I'm still hoping to go. Esp. after reading the current Atlantic Magazine's article on Uppsula!

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  4. "For some reason this concept cheered me. What we argue when we argue about faith is usually immaterial (pun intended). And if it is true that some of us are "programmed," as it were, to be more or less faithful, how is that different than being blue-eyed or brown, smart or simple?"

    There is virtually no difference… I have not read the article and yet am familiar with the concept as it merges nicely with variations afloat in the “religion” versus “science” debate. Religion promises a paradise in the afterlife for good behavior today. Science promises a paradise in the future, particularly for one’s offspring, for good behavior today. (Witness the “climate change” nee “global warming” arguments.) Many religions preach the concept of “original sin” to explain natural tendencies toward guilt. Science is used by a whole variety of groups to imply guilt over a wide range of behaviors for the purpose of changing one’s actions to fit more closely with the “faith”, as it were. Both parties take basic principles on faith and expand it to offer up a more “moral” or more “suitable” or more “righteous” model for living. Most of it is faith and I see very little difference between what is coming out of the scientific academies and the pulpit.

    Your reference to the NYT article cheered me as well.

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  5. Many Trails Home3/06/2007 12:43:00 PM

    To "I am here." So am I. Who are you? What do you want? Which "Anonymous" are you? If you want to carry on a conversation or invite something from us, you'll have to be a tad more specific. MTH

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  6. I am here...who am I

    "The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"

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  7. "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
    I’m merely an illusion... of your reality…

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  8. I am a bit unsure about this site. The anger I feel as a survivor of Laestadianism is great. I want to kick some ass.I know the theory of doublethoughts. I have them everyday. Too often, what appears right is wrong. Who there understands what I mean by doublethoughts, where one can see the tree and the branches we all come from, and sometimes the opposite thoughts are the same thought...the best example of this I saw lately was Mr. Bush saying we were doing bad in IRAQ and needed reinforcements. Then Tony Blair pulled out of IRAQ. Bush and Cheney said it was because the war was doing well.
    Pelosi came on and said "if we are doing so well in IRAQ, let us pull out, like Great Britain." Bush needing reinforcements and saying things are good is a double thought. Whatever is done will likely lead to the same outcome.

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  9. hey "i am here" anon, nobody cares. oooooh, you can be mysterious by posting anonymously on a blog. lame.

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  10. by the way he's quoting Einstein.

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  11. Bred dina vida vingar,
    O Jesu, över mig
    Och låt mig stilla vila
    I ve och väl hos dig.
    Bliv du min ro, min starkhet,
    Min visdom och mitt råd
    Och låt mig alla dagar
    Få leva av din nåd.

    Förlåt mig alla synder
    Och två mig i ditt blod.
    Giv mig ett heligt sinne,
    En vilja ny och god.
    Tag i din vård och hägnad
    Oss alla, stora, små,
    Och låt i frid oss åter
    Till nattens vila gå.

    Lina Sandell-Berg.

    Och samma på finska...

    Mua siipeis suojaan kätke,
    oi Jeesus, Herrani,
    suojassas suo mun olla,
    jos kuinka kävisi.
    Sä kaikeks tule mulle
    valollas, neuvoillas,
    suo joka päivä elää
    mun yksin armostas.

    Suo anteeks kaikki synnit,
    puhdista verelläs,
    luo minuun uusi mieli,
    pyhitä Hengelläs.
    Ja meidät suuret, pienet
    sun sulje suojahas,
    yö rauhainen suo meille,
    oi Jeesus, laupias.

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  12. Yes, I remember singing it in Swedish in the Brush Prairie church. Can someone verify this? "Spread thy wide wings around me, O Jesus over me."

    I also remember singing, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y: "O Jumalan Karitsa, joka pois otat maailman synnin." I thought of it as the mailman song. Later I was stunned to hear it in a Lutheran service.

    OALC Anon, just curious, are Ms. Berg and other hymn composers considered dead-faith?

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  13. stranger in a strange land3/07/2007 10:05:00 AM

    The IALC sings O Jumalan Karitsa as their communion song. And no, I did not know it was sung in the ELCA too.

    I didn't realize that the OALC recognized their Swedish roots as well. I think the IALC is mostly unaware of the whole Swedish lapland beginnings. Once I heard someone say that Laestadius was Finnish though I have to admit that is the only time I ever heard him mentioned.

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  14. Free, "O Jumalan Karitsa" is not exclusive to Lutherans either.

    The translation for the first two verses of "O Jumalan Karitsa ..." is "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us." The third verse is slightly different in that it says "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace."

    The Roman Catholic church either sings or recites the "Lamb of God" prayer at every Mass just before communion. It is a very old prayer, and one of my favorites.

    Funny, huh?

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  15. LLLreader to Tina--how long have you been away from the "Church"? The information about Bush is doublethought to lots of people, not just the exmembers. Glad to hear from you. What are you mad about? It really helps to share it---.

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  16. I think that same song was chosen very often for communion and sung simultaneously in both Finnish and English, as was the custom in the ALC in earlier days. I rarely use it anymore though. Is this the same one?

    "O Lamb of God, Holy Lamb! That takest away the sins of the world; Save us, merciful Lord God.

    O Lamb of God, Holy Lamb! That takest away the sins of the world; Hear us, merciful Lord God.

    O Lamb of God, Holy Lamb! That takest away the sins of the world; Give us thy peace and thy blessing."

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  17. The various churches have put their own similar version of the words to use. It originates of course from Scripture, as in John 1:29 it says (KJV) "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

    Daisyaday, I chuckled when I read your comment about the Laestadians probably wanting to take it out of the songbook if they knew the Catholics used it! But to comfort them, while the words are pretty much the same, the tune used by the Catholics is nothing like the one used in the OALC, and we sing it MUCH faster! The song can and often is sung as a steadily repeating, as many times as wished, of the first verse -- with the last words "Have mercy on us". The final words, "give us peace" are always and only sung as the final verse.

    I realized that in my translation of O Jumalan Karitsa, I missed one word -- the last verse of the OALC version ends as "...Grant us peace and blessing".

    Funny, so many years away from the OALC and I can still pretty much turn straight to the songs in the old version of the songbook -- and still sing many of them by heart through at least a couple verses. I guess once a lukkari, always a lukkari...

    I do love so many of those old songs, even if we did sing them painfully slow! If my kids ever figure out the biology and grant me some grandchildren, they will get to hear "Hengensä antoi" and "Kaikki voipa Jumalamme" and "O Juhla joukko valkoinen" and ... ah, waxing nostalgic is good for the soul, I think.

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  18. Cvow, Hengensa was my dad's favorite song. I guess I must have sung it around the kids. My daughter picked it up, not knowing what the words meant. She said she sang it to a Finn she met on her wanderings through Europe, and he have her a very funny look. I still smile when I imagine that scene.

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  19. Stylux, I have to toss in that many secularists would argue with your assessment. The desire to live better and longer can be attributed to our genetic code -- and altruism to enlightened self-interest -- not faith, viz. Sam Harris.

    Tina, please hang around even when you are "unsure about this site" (I'm unsure about it myself). With time, I hope you become comfortable with your anger -- can let it come and go like the tide -- and with unsureness -- and with holding opposing ideas in mind at the same time while still being able to function (who said that was the sign of superior intelligence?).

    It might help to share your experiences and emotions here on the blog. For me, doing so has been a source of healing.

    Cvow, just by the way . . . Lutherans retained the Catholic version of O Jumalan Karitsa; it is sung just as you describe (during the Eucharist). No doubt the Doxology is the same all around. Looks like the OALC will have to axe that, too, eh? (Do you know of any music besides "Keys are Given" that originated in the OALC?)

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  20. Lina Sandell, the author of the "wing song", is generally considered "dead faith" by the OALC, as most other song writers. In fact, I remember one of the Swedish OALC preachers characterizing Lina Sandell's songs as "spiritless", so I guess she's considered even more "dead faith" than some others. But the oalcers sing her songs also in Europe, so I guess she's considered relatively ok.

    ---

    As for the "Jumalan Karitsa" song, it's the Agnus Dei of the Roman mass. When the Catholic church was "reformed" by Martin Luther, the Lutheran mass was formed from the Roman mass only by slightly changing some wordings and skipping some prayers he felt uncomfortable with. Actually in Scandinavia, the Lutheran church retained even more of the Roman Catholic characteristics than in Germany. Especially after the Vatican II (a Roman Catholic church council in the 1950s or something), when the Roman mass was brought closer to the Lutheran mass, there's hardly any notable difference between the Scandinavian Lutheran mass and the Roman Catholic mass. So, when the Laestadians emigrated to America, it was of course natural for them to bring along the Lutheran mass, which was based on the Roman mass. They just simplified it to some extent, but retained the structure and the most essential parts, including the Agnus Dei (="Jumalan Karitsa"). If you compare for example the OALC communion service and the Roman Catholic missal, you'll notice many similarities. I don't know how many of them realize that the communion service they use is based on the Roman Catholic mass...

    Agnus Dei is an ancient prayer, but it doesn't belong to the oldest liturgial elements that are common to all traditional Christian churches, it's used only by the Roman Catholic church and the Protestant churches. For example in the Byzantine liturgy used by the Orthodox church, there is no equivalent to the Agnus Dei hymn. But there are other parts (the most ancient ones) of the communion liturgy that are pretty much the same in any Christian church, for example "peace be with you...", "lift up your hearts...", "holy, holy holy...", "verily it is meet and salutory...", and of course the words of institution.

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  21. "In fact, I remember one of the Swedish OALC preachers characterizing Lina Sandell's songs as spiritless"

    Who? When? Vem? När då?

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  22. Theoforos,

    I think I lost the post I just typed somehow...if it shows up, sorry for the dup. That always throws me off.

    Thanks for your post--great information on our shared heritage. I remember the first time I attended a Catholic service. I was so shocked at the many similarities. It was unsettling. I almost felt at home there! {:-O

    It makes me smile, now, as I think of how different it seemed like the LLC wanted to be from other churches.

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  23. backtothefuturecc3/08/2007 04:52:00 PM

    I dont know if this is related to anything but I went to a psychiatrist for years after leaving, feeling angry at all I had missed and how hard I had tried all of my life to fit into a community I would never be fully excepted in. I dont think I had the right name or the right relatives.

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  24. Speaking of last names. I remember as a kid hearing people in the OALC say my last name and it sounded like they were saying a swear word (the intonation). After being a long time away, someone repeated my last name and told me what a pretty name it is! It is a nice sounding name. What a revelation that was and what a laugh it gave me to examine my feelings and belief (to the contrary) I had concerning it, all of my life previous because of the people surrounding me as I grew up.

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  25. That's sad, you guys!

    I think that during the early splits (1900's or so), the hard feelings between the groups was handed down to the generations that came after, and anyone 50, maybe 60 and younger really doesn't have a good concept of what it was all about. Those that support it rely on tradition - 'that's the way it's always been'.

    I love my Finnish/LLL heritage, but there can be this petty, fearful, narrow, gossipy, cliquish side to us that makes me want to *aghhhh* - go on a long road trip and get away from it all lol.

    I hope we all can start to make things better -- one person at a time. Detaching, forgiving, and movin' on. Detachment is my word for this week. :-)

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  26. Unfortunately I don't remember which one of the Swedish OALC preachers I heard the negative comment on Lina Sandell from, but I think it was one of the younger ones and I most likely heard it some time at the end of the 1990s.

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  27. Free, I also remember singing "Spread thy wide wings around me, O Jesus over me" in the Brush Prairie church, and

    "I also remember singing, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y: "O Jumalan Karitsa, joka pois otat maailman synnin."

    I didnt ever know the English translation, though. I believe they still sing both those songs to this day, or did at my last appearance about (?) 5 years ago. I can still hear both tunes in my head even as I type :p History is so fascinating, especially how unaware we can be of our current systems.

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  28. stranger in a strange land3/09/2007 03:14:00 PM

    Norah:

    I love my Finnish/LLL heritage too, but of course not the splitting hairs and the pettiness. It's not always easy to separate them, but I keep trying. When I shared my staying/leaving conflict with a Catholic friend of mine, she brought it home with reality. She has been aghast at the pedophilia that has been rampant with the Roman Catholic clergy, and would like to see the ordination of married men into the preisthood. Despite this, she remains a faithful Catholic and does not leave the church. While I have several issues with the IALC, like my Catholic friend, I can only change MY mindset. There are many, I'm sure, who would vehemently disagree with me on those issues. There is no perfection in human institutions, but there is perfection in God's great love for his children.

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  29. Freetobeme…

    I don’t agree with what you said about me in your first paragraph.

    I never said that I was a preacher; just someone who has been striving for a long time as a poor Christian. Also I never said that shunning was okay either.

    I will warn though that a Christian should be careful about not partaking of the sins of this world and if you have a friend who takes you to these places; then this is wrong! And we are warned about associating with the world as this can drive a wedge between us and our Christianity. I might as well leave you with a place we speak from which cautions us about this….

    1John 2:15-17

    15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

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  30. Who on here that is a Christian has love for the world? I think we all have love for God. I for one who give up anything for him. He is more important than anything in this world. Just because we enjoy things YOU think are "worldly", doesn't mean we have more love for the world and no love for God.

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  31. With that being said, what is worldly? Worldly to me is having love of pleasure, love of money, love of earthy treasures, sins like lieing, stealing, gossiping, murder, slander, etc. More love for these things and not love for God. Not putting God first in your life.

    Worldly to me is not makeup, earrings, movies, dancing, nail polish, sports, dress, appearance, music with a beat, etc.

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  32. Worldly for me would be to attend the OALC

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  33. Love for people is different than love for things. Worldly is loving things more than loving God and people.

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  34. I've heard "love of the world" described this way: If you are driving down the highway and see a billboard which advertises something worldly (sinful), that is something that you cannot help and did not choose to do. It's there. But if you allow what is there to captivate you, and you begin to incorporate it into your thoughts and into your heart, then you are, in effect, allowing that sin to become a part of you, to find it acceptable, something that you have a hard time letting go of. Like Lot's wife, who by her actions (looking back) showed that she had a hard time giving up the life that she lived there in Sodom.

    The Bible says we are "in the world but not of the world". We work, shop, and live near all kinds of people, but we do not necessarily have the same values, beliefs, and faith as the people around us. We are a parallel culture, walking alongside, but seperately, from those who do not believe as we do. We have a different value system which is 'not of this world'. But if we see that we are no longer any different from the world's values then maybe we need to think about, and pray, and ask God if we have lost something.. if we've lost that eternal vision and the earthly has become much more valuable than the eternal.

    that's all from the peanut gallery :-)

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  35. stranger in a strange land3/15/2007 01:08:00 PM

    I enjoyed your post, Norah.

    I rarely if ever listen to Christian radio, except for this one show by a Minnesota psychologist who just HAPPENS to be Christian. His name is Willard Harley, and he has a Ph.D. in psychology, and what I like about him is that despite his education he does not dispense advice that would be antithetical to core Christian beliefs. For example, on the subject of adultery, he agrees that although we're all "wired" to have extramarital affairs, but that despite our biological leanings we owe it to our spouses and our families to remain faithful and its our best chance for marital and family success. He will only very rarely quote scripture, so he's no James Dobson.

    After the show, other programs come on, and sometimes I'm busy and don't have time to change the station right away, and so I end up catching a few minutes of a preacher or a music show. Once, it was a female comedian, and she, I admit, started out being quite funny.

    Then she launched into a story about how she was featured as one of the richest women in Orange County, California, I believe and there was a photo of her and her glorious house. I suppose it was one of those kinds of stories about evangelical ministers and their lush lifestyles, from hearing her tone about it.

    She then said something to me that was simply unbelievable.

    She said, "Well, the fact that I have all of this [wealth] is wonderful...it means JESUS really loves ME!"

    Could you imagine being a poor or struggling Christian and having to listen to this? Would it be proof to you, that maybe Jesus doesn't love you after all, or you'd be more financially prosperous? Would that be proof you're not favored in His eyes?

    Doesn't the Bible say "blessed be the poor, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven?"

    As a former or current Apostolic Lutheran, how do you view materialism, the mega-churches with their wealth seminars, and the role that wealth and materialism play in your life and in your view or understanding of religion/Christianity/spirituality?

    Using myself as an example, when I went to college, it wasn't for the money but for the education, and I wonder if I sometimes chose incorrectly. Was I scared of wealth or prosperity? Or was it for my own edification that I chose a liberal arts degree? Would I feel comfortable with wealth if I indeed had it? Would I have chosen a different spouse, perhaps? Hmmmm....

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  36. Hi Stranger,

    Dr Harley reminds me of the first Biology professer I had in college. He basically said the same thing, but I remember about him speaking of fidelity from a health perspective. It seems as though Biblical principles are just common sense at times, doesn't it!

    How do I view wealth and materialism... that's a good question. Wealth is relative, isn't it.. most of us could most likely be considered materially wealthy by much of the world. Personally I do have what I need, and much of what I want also. At this age, the things I 'want' are more intangible now.. peace, family harmony, health, free time. The house needs a new roof/windows/siding, but it's not leaking so it's okay until the time is right. I've always felt materially blessed even when we didn't have a whole lot, I don't know why.. maybe it's living in the country that does it. I don't have a lot of interest in 'self-help', getting ahead types of things..so the megachurch, wealth seminars would give me anxiety I think. One more thing 'to do'. Having health problems contributes to that too, I'm sure...

    But getting back to the purpose for the church.. is it to help people become materially wealthy? Or is it to reach out to the needy.. the spiritually needy, and also physically and financially needy. One of our pastors used to say the church is not a playground for saints, it's a hospital for sinners. On a very human level, that should be the very highest calling of a community of believers.. to reach out in support and love and acceptance.. Much of that is absent, and in my opinion that's why are so many support groups exist. I've been involved in both, and there certainly is comfort and community and friendship in knowing that you are accepted just as you are. Which is the Biblical message as well.

    enough rambling for now :-)

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  37. OALC Anon said:

    I never said that I was a preacher; just someone who has been striving for a long time as a poor Christian. Also I never said that shunning was okay either.

    Is your "Striving" a good work?
    Remember, we are saved by Faith, not works.

    If shunning is not OK, then why is it practiced in your church?
    You may not personally do it, but it is practiced in your church, as I have personally experienced it, and I am sure you have observed it also.

    You also said:

    And we are warned about associating with the world as this can drive a wedge between us and our Christianity.

    Can you define the term "Christianity" for me. Don't you really mean Churchianity? For if you were to leave your OALC Church, you believe you would lose your salvation, correct?

    I believe a person who is a believer, is a Christian, regardless of church affiliation, and if that Christian were to go to another church, that Faith in Christ would not change.

    What are your thoughts on that, OALC Anon?

    And lastly, if a believing Christian has the Holy Spirit in his/her heart, I believe that good works (fruits) will follow. That christian will attempt to live a godly life, love one another, etc., but being of the flesh, will still fall into sin. That is where the redemptive work of Jesus dying on the cross comes in. All our sins are forgiven by his suffering and death, and we are saved accordingly, not because we were able to resist wordly sins! Or because we were lucky enough to be born into the OALC (ie: the one true church)

    Please read the bible for yourself, and try not use the oalc interpretations of same. Also, when you read, read the WHOLE CHAPTER, and not just "familiar places" as you normally do.

    Thank you oalc anon, for sticking with us. I pray God will guide you to the truth!

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  38. Tina

    Double thoughts!! Yes! don't i know about them! although we have coined them double meaning phrases! saying something that is "right" but then there is the in-between-the-lines "other" meaning. and a lot of the "other" meaning is filled with judgement and self-righteousness. it is frustrating because the words are true, but it is the spirit behind it that is wrong. sigh... Please, take comfort in knowing that God knows ALL!!! When i am feeling down, angry and hurt, i look to His face. that is the only way i can endure it at times. I am glad you have joined us here. You have a wonderful support group here! Tap into these true believers and you will find support and understanding that is so hard to find coming out of a legalistic mindset. i will pray for you, friend! and we all hope you can air out your feelings here and know that you are safe with us. we will not judge you for your emotions and thoughts!!! (we will not judge, period!) God be with you!

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  39. On a lighter note, a Happy St. Urho's Day to everyone. If you are not familiar with this legendary hero, you can find further information here: http://sainturho.com/

    The 2006 mojakka cookoff link has another link for mojakka recipes. Enjoy!

    UsesscissorsonSunday

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  40. Dear Stranger in a Strange Land,

    Doubt no more. I just read your comments regarding wealth and Christianity, and I see you are conflicted. I am attending a Book Study, and this week our teacher/minister addressed that very thing.

    He said the ethic of the entire Bible is that the strong should hold up the weak and quoted Romans 15:1 (We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves). He said Ernest Campbell stated it well in a powerful sermon at the Riverside Church: It is a sin to be strong and do Nothing.

    Strength comes in many forms, of course, including material wealth. The Bible says we are to help and share, not gloat in our "Jesus loves ME!" wealth.

    So take heart, know you are doing the correct thing in helping others, and dwell no more on the posturing of a self-proclaimed Special Friend of Jesus. Just because it was on Christian radio doesn't make it the gospel truth!

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  41. 4eyes…

    Oh how the heart cools and becomes bitter when you leave the Church. Does it make you feel better to make fun of the way we believe? Go ahead and throw the stones; for we all know what happened to Jesus. Jesus was persecuted and died on the cross for the sins of the world. But he rose again and now is in Heaven. When you are standing at the gates of Hell just remember that you once had that saving grace but instead decided to throw it away like a piece of garbage.

    So 4eyes you say that you can leave the OALC and still hold onto that golden staff? No, It does not work that way. Shopping around for a Church that will fit your wordly lifestyle is not the way to Heaven. But if the pleasures of this world are more important to you than your soul salvation then so be it. I will pray for you 4eyes…

    Lastly 4eyes it is funny how you criticize me about not reading the Bible as I should and yet you never post or speak from the Bible when you respond on this site. Practice what you preach!

    Sometimes it is hard not to get angry when someone attacks you but I take comfort by reading this place……

    Luke 6:27-31

    27 "But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don't try to get them back.31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Amen!

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  42. Dear OALC Anon,

    It has been stated many times here in earlier postings, but I will add to that refrain:

    Just because someone does not agree with you, it does NOT mean they hate you. I am so happy I am no longer in the clutches of that warped thinking. It would be a strange world, indeed, if everyone was required to think Exactly alike in order to be acknowledged as legit, human, one-of-us, etc. Wait a minute: that is where so many of the problems in this world stem from...Think like us, or else.

    May the Lord make His face shine upon you and give you Peace, OALC Anon. When I read your postings, it is apparent you have none.

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  43. Well, OALC Anon, there you go again -- condemning people to hell! What is it with you, that you think you can do that and not be the persecuting agent? (You still haven't answered the question, and I still haven't forgotten it. I promise this -- as often as you condemn us to hell, I will throw that question back in your face.)

    I think it is really amusing that you can so smugly quote that portion of Luke -- and claim you get comfort from it -- in the same message where you condemned us to stand at the gates of Hell. Do you not see the irony in that?

    While you have repeatedly been told that nobody here is "your enemy", or "persecutes you", or "hates you", you seem to insist that's the case for some twisted reason. My goodness, have they ever brainwashed you thoroughly! Now stop and think. Do you believe you are following the instruction in your quoted scripture to ...do good.., ...bless those..., ...love your enemies... by condemning them to hell? Funny way of showing it, don't you think? It seems to me that saying you love someone and then in the same breath judging and condemning them to eternal Gehenna makes a very good definition for hypocricy.

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  44. oalc anon

    I have respect for you in that you continue to visit this site, but that is where it ends. Does it occur to you that you continually dodge the questions? I don`t think you answered any of 4 eyes`s questions but instead sent him/her to Hell! People also asked you if you would like to know if your faith was the real truth or not with a straight yes or a no on the unbearable lonelyness thread, but you must not want to know because you haven`t given a straight answer. I grew up in the oalc and the first time I visited a "worldly" church, I realized what I learned about these churches from the oalc was totally FALSE! I can tell from your writings that you are a preacher (notice that you didnt deny that, you said you just didn`t say that you are one). I do respect your presense here, though.

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  45. UsesscissorsonSunday, (Thanks for the chuckle!) Happy St. Urho's Day to you too! Are you wearing purple?

    I'm sure all of you celebrated pi day on Wednesday (3.14) as well, or was it only us math geeks...:-)

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  46. OALC anon,
    Are you going to hell for not quoting KJV?
    Just wondering.

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  47. oalc anon, you didn't answer any of my questions.
    Not one.
    I never made fun of your beliefs. I did ask you some pointed questions, and you ignored them.
    I suppose condemning me to hell is your Christian way of answering my questions.
    Maybe YOU should practice what you preach!

    By the way, oalc anon is no preacher. No oalc preacher would quote the NIV.

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  48. I found this and thought I would post it here:
    A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and
    complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've
    gone
    for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard
    something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a
    single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are
    wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

    This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor"
    column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until
    someone wrote this clincher:
    "I've been married for 30 year s now. In that time my wife has
    cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the
    entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this.. They
    all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work.
    If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead
    today.
    Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would
    be spiritually dead today!" When you are DOWN to nothing.... God
    is up To Something! Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible
    and receives the impossible! Thank God for our physical AND our
    spiritual nourishment!

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  49. exoalc and 4eyes,

    I noticed as well that oalc anon did not quote KJV- How interesting is that? I think that the Lord is working in him/her. I think that the "condemnation tool" is more for their own benefit to try to convince themselves?? Just a thought-
    Like the old sales theory-
    "when a customer takes the time to pick apart the product they are trying to find reasons of why they SHOULDN'T buy it"

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  50. I've begun wondering if OALC anon is just posting here to see how riled up the rest of us can get. Maybe is just spouting the Party Line without believing it. Whadaya think?

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  51. oalc anon is a troll living in his mom's basement and he hasn't worked in 6 months.

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  52. SeekingHim,
    You may be on to something. Why would an oalcer that was content in their beliefs be reading the NIV and reading/posting here?
    Perhaps his constant rants about being picked on by us (The World)is his excuse for being here, when he/she is really searching .

    On the other hand, Sisu may also be correct. Maybe oalc anon is enjoying the jousting!

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  53. Or perhaps posing as an oalcer?

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  54. I came across an article on expository preaching at www.ministrywatch.org and thought it might be appropriate here.

    "The “reformed pastor” must not only teach the Word, he must handle it rightly. It will not do for a pastor to use the Bible as a pretext for whatever he really wants to talk about. Alistair Begg, senior pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio and founder of Truth For Life (a nationwide radio broadcast ministry), believes that pastors can best avoid the subjectivism and/or slavish traditionalism inherent in “proof-text” preaching by utilizing the “expository method.” The expository method is basically a means of sermon construction which is based upon a verse-by-verse analysis of a biblical text, seeks to make the meaning of the text clear to the listeners, and helps them to see how that meaning ought to shape their thinking and actions.

    "According to Begg, things such as “the so-called extra-biblical ‘prophetic word’,” “psychological theory,” and politics have been allowed to take center stage in many churches. The result is that the culture dictates what is said in the pulpit, instead of the pulpit speaking to, and challenging when necessary, the world on the basis of the inerrant Word of God. On the other side of the equation, there are some preachers who are so involved in the intricacies of the text that they lose sight of how the Scriptures apply to everyday life in the 21st century – thus failing to address their congregation’s need to understand the times so that they might know what to do (cf., 1 Chronicles 12:32). In contrast to both extremes, “[e]xpository preaching means unfolding the text of Scripture in a way that makes contact with the listeners’ world while exalting Christ and confronting them with the need for action. . . .” This is what Begg attempts to do in his preaching ministry."

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  55. OALCanon, I didn't mean to imply that you are a preacher, only that my moderate friend in the OALC is not one.

    While I disagree with you many things, your comments help give me a more nuanced view of OALCers. And while you could indeed be a pitch-perfect troll, I prefer to take you at your word. I think you are genuinely concerned that souls will be led astray, including your own.

    You could be my brother for all I know, or a cousin. Do you have relatives outside the OALC? If so, have you said the same things to them as you've said to us here? If not, why not?

    Regarding your interest in quoting Scripture, did you know that Jesus' enemies were also bible-believers and quoters? In the story of the three temptations, Satan tempts Jesus with a quote from the Psalms. Jesus responds with another verse, demonstrating that biblical contradictions are to be expected, and context is key.

    Context is key. Knowledge is not insight. That lesson after thousands of years is still unlearnt.

    Ancient scriptures have been used to justify slavery, the crusades, apartheid, the subjugation of women, the persecution of gays, terrorism and jihad. To name a few.

    Awareness of this history should give us some humility about our own hidden motives in quoting Scripture, as well as some intellectual rigor in exegesis, which requires: "analysis of significant words in the text in regard to translation; examination of the general historical and cultural context, confirmation of the limits of the passage, and lastly, examination of the context within the text." (Wiki)

    Tough standard.

    I quoted the "love your enemies" text at my high school graduation speech, hoping (like Hamlet with his play) to prick the conscience of my mother. I knew I was leaving the OALC and wanted desperately to keep my parents' love. Or perhaps I feared losing my love of THEM in light of their rejection of me. Maybe I wanted to look spiritually superior in that silly red robe. Maybe all those things.

    I'm still learning what love is. But I can say with confidence that shaming isn't part of it.

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  56. I'm coming to the conversation a little late, but I thought it might be interesting to post my own history of churches attended.

    Apostolic Lutheran Church of America (Federation)
    Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)
    Assemblies of God
    Church of the Nazarene
    Christian Missionary Alliance
    Church of God in Christ
    Non-denominational
    The Episcopal Church (TEC)
    Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)

    I see the wide variance in this list as a reflection on how my own views about religion have changed over the years. I think it reflects my on-going search for "the truth" as it were, and it also reflects practical concerns. (For instance right now I'm still an Episcopalian in my heart, but I'm attending an ELCA congregation because I think it has a better set of programs for my child.)

    Once I made the choice to leave the Laestadian tradition I was theologically adrift for awhile. It was scary and exciting at the same time. However over time I think things have "settled down." Part of it is just getting older and knowing myself better.

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  57. Many Trails Home3/20/2007 01:38:00 PM

    I'm coming to this conversation even later than you, Tomte, but I have to respond to OALCanon:
    Knock if off with those old cliches: I am by no means "bitter" (altho bitterness is undoubtedly a commonly traversed valley for those of us finding out way out of the thicket) nor did my "heart cool." If you read these posts carefully, you will see that most of us learned to LOVE after we left the OALC, not in it . . . and does that not suggest a warmer heart?
    And you said "It doesn't work that way." Sez who? You don't have that authority. Sorry. Rubbish.
    But your contention that we left the OALC to follow the "pleasures of this world" is just your own stupid bias by which you write us all off. You are living in a reality of your own invention (the OALC invention) and you tell US that we don't know what's real. Wake up. Rip the scales off your eyes. Scrape the puuro (help me cvow - is this the right spelling?) out of your brain. Then we can talk.
    May the Lord guide you . . .
    and may you be blessed. MTH

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  58. Trails, thanks for the chuckle -- and yes, you spelled it right! Puuro pää (porridge head)-- that's a pretty good description of a mixed up personality!

    Now that doesn't mean that I dislike puuroa, because I do enjoy a bowl, whether it's regular old oatmeal, or (my personal favorite) grits! Hmmm...I wonder what that would be in Finnglish -- "gritsit"? ...and none of that fancy raisins and brown sugar stuff -- you just put the "voita silmä" or "butter eye" in it and chow down!

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  59. You crack me up MTH. Heres a scenario to put things in persective for oalc anon.

    Your boss at work did something you do not agree with. You've been taught to keep your mouth shut or risk being fired. So many people do keep their mouth shut and just accept it because they love their job. Others agree with the boss. Well, some do not and decide to stand up to him and tell him they think he has done wrong. What he has done doesn't agree with what their heart is telling them, so they call him on it.
    The boss says, your just being critical, your just bitter, you just don't want to obey, your job is not important.
    See the correlation, trying to evade the issues and put the problem on the person, not the issue raised.

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  60. oalc anon,
    Please read chapter 14 of romans.
    And please read it openly.
    You say we have the right to judge.
    I don't know how many times I have read that we don't have that right in the Bible.
    You consistently assume that we are all after pleasures of this world.
    How do you know? Do you know us personally? NO!
    All I can say is thank God that he is the Judge. He judges true.

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