Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Q&A With Hanna and "We Sinners" Give-Away

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions (compiled below), thanks to Hanna Pylväinen for her thoughtful response, and thanks to MacMillan for sending 10 free copies of We Sinners. They will go to the first 10 readers to email me with (1) a suggested blog topic and (2) a mailing address (United States and Canada only, please). 

When "Learning to Live Free" began in 2004, it felt like a voice crying in the wilderness. There was nothing available, online or in print, about the experience of leaving Laestadianism. Is yours the first novel on this theme? How did you choose to write about it? Did you ever visit Learning to Live Free?

Toni Morrison said that she wrote The Bluest Eye because she wanted to read it -- and I remember, as someone who had turned so often to literature, wanting there to be a book that somehow caught at the turmoil of leaving a community that was not all bad, a community that had some very lovely things about it, but that, ultimately, was forcing me to leave them because I did not agree. So in some ways I wrote We Sinners because it did not exist -- because the literature on Laestadianism was limited to the pamphlets, novels, and dictums coming from within the Laestadians themselves. I did, in fact, run across "Learning to Live Free," which lessened somewhat my sense of loneliness, but when I began to see that I was interested, moreover, in writing qua writing -- in fiction, in arcs, in stories -- I began to see that, in fact, I could be the one to write about Laestadianism; it could be me. This revelation was slow to arrive, but once it did, I began to see that contemporary American literature was very much lacking in sincere discussions of faith -- and perhaps even I could add to that.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ask Those Questions, Sinners!

Readers, Hanna Pylvainen has graciously agreed to answer questions here on the blog about her book "We Sinners."

(Insert totally-worldly happy dance.)

So here's the deal. Email me your questions for Hanna, and I'll consolidate and forward the best, then post the Q&A here.

Her publisher is also offering a book give-away (details to follow).

— Free

Monday, February 06, 2012

New Book on Laestadianism: An Examination of the Pearl

A reader recently brought this e-book to my attention. I haven't read it yet, but it looks like a very interesting and in-depth look at all the main branches of Laestadianism as well as a critique not only from a theological standpoint but also discussing sexual abuse within the church and other important issues.

The book is available for free from the author's web site, as well as for a nominal fee from Amazon and other e-book retailers.

While there have been a few English language books about Laestadianism in recent years (most notably A Godly Heritage and Hepokoski's research immediately come to mind) Suominen's work looks to be uniquely focused on critique as well as research.

For more information about An Examination of the Pearl, by Edwin A Suominen, see

An Examination of the Pearl is a study of the doctrine and history of Conservative Laestadianism, a small, exclusivist Christian group that is organized in Finland and North America as the SRK and the LLC, respectively. The book also looks at the teachings of Martin Luther, early Christianity, Christian fundamentalism and sectarianism, and the Bible. ... This book is an honest and unflinching examination of the pearl that Conservative Laestadianism puts on offer as the Kingdom of God. It is a study not just of that obscure revival movement from 19th century Lapland, but also of Martin Luther, fundamentalist and sectarian Christianity, and the Bible itself. ... There are many such unexamined and fearful faiths competing in the marketplace of religion, some of them also claiming to be the truth outside of which no one will be saved. And without critical reflection like that found in this book, each one is a self-sustaining doctrinal bubble that quivers unsteadily in the air, vulnerable to being poked by the slightest intrusion of fact.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summer Reading

I hope everyone had a nice summer. I got a lot of reading done, and it occurred to me that it might make an interesting topic here.

What books did you read this summer, and what did you find interesting about them?

Among others, I read two contrasting religious books --both "didactic" Christian novels from opposite ends of the theological spectrum:

Putting Away Childish Things, by Marcus Borg. Written from a liberal/progressive Christian perspective, this novel follows a young female religious studies professor through a major career dilemma, showing how she draws upon her faith to guide her through a difficult decision.

Edge of Apocalypse, by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall. Written from a conservative/dispensationalist Christian perspective, this novel follows the exploits of a military-hero turned entrepreneur and defense contractor as he battles the evil forces advocating one-world government both within the U.S. presidency and overseas. Features a nuclear explosion.

Both links above go to more in-depth reviews I wrote for each book.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Three Free E-books about Laestadianism

Warren H. Hepokoski's research on the Laestadian movement has been mentioned here before, but I thought I'd highlight these links to his writings again since being recently made aware that his books are also available as PDF files for off-line reading.

Lars Levi Laestadius and the Revival in Lapland, by Warren H. Hepokoski (HTML) (PDF)

The Laestadian Movement: Disputes and Divisions 1861 - 2000, by Warren H. Hepokoski (HTML) (PDF)

The Laestadian Movement: Background Writings and Testimonies, Warren H. Hepokoski (PDF only)

Monday, June 22, 2009

What is sin?

What is sin, and why does it matter? Growing up Laestadian, how we saw sin affected how we saw God, and each other. This short video outlines some of the ways sin has been defined in the past, and presents a different way of conceptualizing sin based on Kathryn Tanner's 2001 work, Jesus, Humanity, and the Trinity: A Systematic Theology.

Sin as breaking the rules/laws. Drawback: encourages us to see God primarily as a judge or lawgiver; prone to abuse when hijacked by power-hungry authority figures. See also Luke 12:14, where Jesus seems to reject being set up as a judge.

Sin as separation from God. Drawback: if we believe that God truly is everywhere, how can we ever be truly separated from God?

Sin as pride. While a longstanding Christian view of sin (400-1950 A.D.), how can this apply to people who are downtrodden, depressed, or in unhealthy co-dependent relationships?

Sin as "blockage." This is Tanner's view. It conceptualizes sin as analogous to the blockage in an artery. As such a blockage stops the flow of lifegiving blood to the body, so sin "is the blocking of the abundant flow of God's gifts, to ourselves and to others."

What do you think? I think that the Laestadian tradition focused on sin in an often counterproductive way, focusing too much on sin as rule-breaking and pride, throwing up unnecessary stumbling blocks for some, while giving a pass to some very destructive behaviors if they were "repented" of for others.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Extoots, the E-Book

Have you ever wanted to take this site with you to the beach, or somewhere you didn't have internet access? Have you ever wanted to be able to search the comments, or by author? Have you ever wanted to print out some or all of this site in a format better suited for paper?

Presenting, Extoots, the E-Book! :-) I've created a PDF e-book version of the entire site, available for immediate download at the following link:

View and/or Download PDF

This PDF is current as of January 12, 2010 10:00AM PDT

For any techies interested in the details, this file was created using WinWGet, EcoByte ReplaceText, and HTMLDOC.

Please direct all questions about this file to Tomte.

Monday, November 22, 2004


Thank you, readers, for your comments, emails, personal stories, and OALC-related links. Oy, so much to read. But that's my passion. I studied literature in college just so I could read more books, and credit my tv-free childhood for propelling me there. (From cereal boxes to Reader's Digest Condensed Books, I read because there was nothing else to do.)

Yesterday after church we took the kids to a Yulefest, which turned out to be a clamorous three-story craft fair, with kringle, ebelskiver, accordions -- and a lot of pale people in claustrophobically tight quarters. But among the knitted whatnots, I found some Nordic books, including one on shamanism among the Sami. That should be interesting.

If anyone knows of other books featuring Laestadius or Laestadians, please let me know.