Showing posts with label laestadianism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label laestadianism. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

You Belong Somewhere You Feel Free


Like many other fans, I was blindsided by Tom Petty's death. I'd recently bought tickets for his show in Seattle, then discovered they conflicted with eclipse-viewing in Idaho, and sold them to a fan on Craigslist. I remember consoling myself with the fact that Petty was only 66. After all, I saw Leonard Cohen in concert when he was 78. More fool I.

The macabre "is he or isn't he dead" news, in the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas, unmoored me, and I found myself incapable of concentrating on work. I finally quit searching the news, turned up the stereo, and sought solace in his music. It sent me back to the cracked green seat of a schoolbus, driven by gruff Mavis with her salt-and-pepper crewcut, top-40 on the radio, crawling down the dark country roads to school. It sent me to my bedroom, the "French Provincial" furniture, the pink and blue "double wedding ring" Holly Hobbie quilt, me beneath, holding Dad's weather radio to my cheek, listening to rock-and-roll at a mere whisper while craning for steps in the hallway. Terrified of getting caught. It sent me back to my initial, loop-de-loop years out of the church, harmonizing with "wordly" friends to mix tapes, cruising in a car called The Boat (for its porthole-like rear windows and a suspension that gave a 10-degree list on curves). It sent me back to campus, exhausted from waitressing, climbing step by step the endless staircases, punching the buttons of my blue Walkman, talking myself out of skipping class when all I wanted was to lie back in the quad under the cherry trees and float away.

I understand why music was/is not allowed in the church. It has a power like no other to speak directly to our emotions, to comfort and encourage, energize, and activate. Especially the music we experience when we're growing into our adult selves, as it becomes an inextricable part of us, capable even at the remove of decades to call up the tumult of adolescence: the longing, loneliness, joy, and confusion. Listening to Petty now, I can see that -- at a time when I felt understood by no one -- I felt understood. He suggested that heartbreak was survivable, freedom possible. Dangerous stuff. In his last interview, Petty said his music was almost like religion -- that it was "about moving people, and changing the world."

Done and done, sir. Much gratitude. *** 
 You belong among the wildflowers You belong in a boat out at sea You belong with your love on your arm You belong somewhere you feel free (From Wildflowers) 
 Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some Tell me why you want to lay there, revel in your abandon Honey, it don't make no difference to me baby Everybody has to fight to be free (From Refugee) 
 Across ancient bridges, Through a town with no name. Across painted hills, That no rich man came claim. Run the wild mustangs, That nothing can tame. On your first flash of freedom.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Seeking Help as a Laestadian

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

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


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Helena's Story

"What if you were told that reason and questioning can take your faith away? Contraception is a sin, homosexuality is a sin, wearing makeup is a sin, or even having a TV is a sin?"
In this Culture Chat with Mimi Chan podcast, Mimi talks to Helena (one of the bravest people I know, and a dear friend) about leaving Laestadianism, and healing from sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse.

A few quotes:
  
Control through fear:
"They have a belief that you can lose your faith in an instant. There is a solid amount of fear built in. I remember as a kid feeling scared, what would happen if I lost my faith and then I died, what would happen to me?"

On the need for integrity as the final straw:
"If you don't say anything, you're saying something. And if you do say something, you're going to have to go against your belief system unless your beliefs are in lockstep with theirs." 

On shunning:
"If you were in the church and you're gone, now you're not just a worldly person, you're an evil worker. You're treated with less respect than people who have never been part of the religion."


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Peace

Longtime readers of this blog may remember previous discussions of Sámi heritage, including this old post from 2006, in which I quote Ruthann Cecil as saying that a family history of Laestadianism is the surest indicator of Sámi roots. After all, Laestadius was half-Sámi, and the movement began in Swedish Lapland, where the OALC still gets direction from "the elders."

I am told some Laestadian Sámi use only reindeer bone clasps.
I was dimly aware that I was related to some of those elders, who would visit the United States every few years and even come over for dinner (when I was a girl, I asked them for autographs as if they were rock stars! Which I suppose they are in that sphere). 

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 http://examinationofthepearl.org/

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.

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

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.

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?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

FinnForge

As of last month there is a new blog called FinnForge that purports to be "Working to reclaim the Apostolic Reformation doctrines taught by Martin Luther and Lars Levi Laestadius."

Apparently authored by Steven E. Anderson with just eight posts so far, it will be interesting to see if this site has staying power.

I plan to post about this site in more detail in the future, but for now I'll say that I find it interesting (although admittedly longwinded) because it is, among other things, a critique of the present state of the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America (ALC) from within, and from the right. That alone seems rare enough to be worth watching.

If any of our regular readers can put this site into context, I'd much appreciate it. :-)

Monday, December 06, 2010

"Satan misled them"

HELSINGIN SANOMAT has this story about a Laestadian sex abuse case that happened back in the 1970s and 80s, but just recently came to light:

Incest victim of Laestadian preacher tries to piece his childhood together

This story seems especially tragic given that the victim's family knew about the abuse and chose to do nothing:

. . .at least some of the parents of the boys were aware of the preacher’s doings. Yet they did nothing to help their own children. Saving the congregation’s face was more important than protecting the children from their predatory grandfather.

One aspect of Laestadian theology that is only hinted at in the article is the whole idea of "the Devil made me do it." When we'd do something good growing up, we weren't supposed to take credit for it. Instead we'd "give God the glory." Conversely, if we did something bad, Satan was at work. It only now occurs to me that this is a very convenient way to avoid taking any sort of personal responsiblity.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Current OALC attitudes about Birth Control

A recent anonymous commenter had the following question:

I was wondering if members of the OALC believe in birth control? I know that there is no sex before marriage but i am wondering any birth control during marriage?
I would love to know anything! Thanks


I know that in the ALC it used to be frowned upon, but I think now practices vary widely. Can anyone answer for the OALC? And I'm also curious about whether the answer differs for Laestadians in Finland and Sweden versus the United States.

See also: Healthcare and the OALC

Friday, October 01, 2010

Laestadian Sex Abuse Scandal Update

The following short article appeared the Helsinki Times a few days ago:

Leading Laestadian figure arrested on suspicion of abuse

Apparently an unnamed person holding a "position of trust" within the SRK has been detained on suspicions of sexually abusing a child.

There isn't much in English on this news story as of late, but if I find anything else I'll post it here.

Hat tip to the Laestadian-ism blog for this story. See their site for additional links in Finnish.

See also: Laestadian Sex Abuse Scandal

Happy Birthday Lars Levi Laestadius

1800 – Lars Levi Laestadius, Swedish-born botanist and founder of Laestadianism (d. 1861)

210 years old today.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Kautokeino Rebellion

Matt Perkins has a new blog post out this morning reviewing the movie Kautokeino Opprøret (The Kautokeino Rebellion). The movie and the review are both worth a look:

The Kautokeino Rebellion

It's been a couple of years since I've seen this film, but I will always be struck by how I felt sitting in the movie theater, coming face to face with Lars Levi Laestadius on the big screen. Even though he only makes a short appearance, I felt goosebumps seeing and hearing him thunder from the pulpit.

The film also reminded me of something that it's very easy to forget as an ex-Laestadian: that the movement in its early years spoke to real issues and real needs among its adherents. Temperance might seem like much ado about nothing to me today, but for the Sami in Lapland it was a real issue, and Laestadianism provided not only spiritual renewal but the justification to take on the established Lutheran church and other "powers that be."

At the same time, I couldn't help but wonder what the film says about the danger of populist movements getting out of hand. Luther had the Peasant's War, and Laestadius had Kautokeino.

SEE ALSO: Laestadian Films on Extoots

The Kautokeino Rebellion on Wikipedia

Other posts about Laestadianism by Matt Perkins

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Change in the ALC?

Il Coro's recent comments got me thinking about the ALC (Apostolic Lutheran Church of America, a.k.a. "the Federation") again, and how it has changed since I was a kid. So I thought I'd start this thread to give my pet theory on why this is the case, and invite everyone to post their views as well.

Back when I was growing up, it seemed like the ALC was a lot more like the OALC and other branches of Laestadianism. No TV, no sports, no make-up, no jewelry, no drinking, a lot of exclusiveness (thinking we're the only true Christianity), Finnish songs and preaching in the worship service, etc. Nowadays, however, you can find many ALC congregations that aren't much different than any other conservative evangelical denomination out there. People have TVs and even Internet connected computers. Women may dress conservatively, but wear makeup, jewelry, and clothing that are within the mainstream of the populace.

The first lens through which I see the change is that of the immigrant experience. First generation Laestadian Finnish immigrants, many of whom arrived in the late 19th and early 20th century didn't speak English, were uneducated with few opportunities other than farming, mining, and other manual labor. They built the churches as a touchstone and enclave where they could remember the best of what they left "back home," preserving the traditions and even setting them in stone over and against all the strangeness and harshness of a new land.

The second generation had a foot in both America and Finland. Fluent in both Finnish and English and educated in the American public school system, this generation felt the most conflict between the old ways and the new ways. While they were still sheltered from much of mainstream America through long hours helping out on the farm, raising siblings in large families, and not watching TV, English was their primary language and they were immersed in the mainstream culture through school and listening to the radio (often evangelical Christian radio). As this generation reached adulthood English started to become the primary language used in ALC churches, with Finnish songs and sermons becoming secondary.

The third generation and beyond (this generation) is fully acculturated to America. For the most part they have not learned the Finnish language, and speak only English fluently (or maybe some other language they learned in school.) They do not have any special ties to Finnish culture or heritage except for what might be preserved through church, or some foods eaten primarily during the holidays. Many of them have achieved higher education, even advanced degrees in engineering and humanities. Many of this generation feel no particular allegiance to the ALC as part of their cultural heritage and leave for other types of churches or no church at all, in keeping with whatever their worldview may reflect as a mainstream American living in a pluralistic society. Those that stay may stay for the sense of community and extended family, or may stay because by this time the church itself also largely reflects the mainstream of conservative evangelicalism with which they agree. There is now little or no singing or preaching in Finnish, instead largely traditional hymns or in some cases "praise music" drawn directly from the conservative evangelical subculture of "Christian radio" and books.

The other lens through which I see the change is that of factions within the ALC. At least since the 1960s and 1970s, there have been at least two and maybe three factions in the ALC. There is the "Laestadian faction," largely older but some younger members, often in smaller congregations in rural areas. These are most like the OALC and others in their implementation and view of the faith. There is also the "evangelical faction." Often larger congregations near larger cities, these ALCers would listen to James Dobson on the radio, attend Billy Graham crusades, and enjoy contemporary Christian music as well as "praise music." They seek to implement these types of changes within their own ALC congregation. A third and perhaps overlapping faction are those ALCers that support formal clergy training via the Inter-Lutheran (ALC) Theological Seminary. This non-accredited conservative seminary trained many pastors that went on to be ALC pastors, but the more "Laestadian" faction still eschewed formal theological training, so there is a landscape within the ALC of congregations where the leadership has some formal theological training, and others where the pastor has none at all. Still other split the difference, with a head pastor from the seminary but an assortment of assistant pastors without any formal education.

It seems to me that the momentum within the denomination lies with the evangelical faction. As time passes the Finnish heritage becomes less and less relevant, giving the Laestadian faction major headwinds. Conversely, the wind is to the back of the evangelicals, as adherents are looking for a form of ALC that accommodates itself better to the larger American culture with which they increasingly identify -- at least the conservative evangelical subculture. It's still not a perfect fit, because to the extent that Apostolic Lutheranism is actually Lutheran there will be major theological differences with the evangelicals --especially on baptism and eschatology. On the other hand, both Laestadianism and evangelicalism share an anti-intellectualism, populism, and suspicion of institutions, as well as Biblical literalism. To most rank and file modern day ALCers, theological distinctions between Laestadianism and evangelicalism may matter a lot less than the general "tone" and "mood" of the worship experience, and preaching that emotes "the Word."

My big unanswered question: Since the immigrant experience and the evangelical resurgence of the 60s and 70s potentially affects all branches of Laestadianism in the United States, why does it seem like some branches have changed more rapidly than others? Why does the ALC seem more accommodated to mainstream conservative evangelical culture than all of the rest?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Still Hearing Laestadius' Sermons

I thought I'd highlight this comment made by an Anonymous poster. The branch of Laestadianism I grew up in didn't read his sermons from the pulpit, so I found this quite fascinating. Also, it represents a critique of Laestadius from the right, versus the typical critique from the left.


Anonymous said...
Why oh why do we still have to listen to Laestadius! I still go to the OALC and I just have such an issue with this. Sure, I know his sermons were powerful for that time, and effected many awakenings. And ok, maybe there is still some bit of pertinence to our lives today. But why read one every single sunday before the sermon? Why not just say, `here are some books that may be strengthening` and let people keep them in their home libraries? Why read and re-read them for decades ad-nauseum? And I do mean `nauseum`.. most are graphic and often (imo) downright inappropriate for reading in front of a mixed age/sex audience. There are many sexually-loaded statements (i.e. `sucking their own breasts`, etc) that only serve to put lascivious images in the minds of the listeners, at a time when there should be piety, grace and hopefulness (sitting in God`s house.) I spoke of this with only a few others (OALC too) and they agreed. You cannot tell me that that particular statement I quoted does not bring up an inappropriate, lustful image in the mind of any post-pubescent male present! So it offends me. In fact I clearly recall actually blushing as a young girl sitting under some of the sermons. And I`m not even a male, how much worse must it be for them! Also, LLL steeped his sermons in obscure, multi-layered metaphor and simile.. I would guess with some confidence that the majority do not `get` them. You need to be quite savvy and attentive to follow along, and if you miss the initial metaphor, good luck trying to follow the winding thread. Too, the readers that are pressed into service often read in a low, sing-song monotone, which lulls the listener and causes sleepiness (literally, I mean) =) So the earlier poster should not feel so guilty for falling asleep! =)

Also, another thing that is a bee in my bonnet is when the preacher says (of the LLL sermon) "we have already heard the best sermon of the day." This is their way of saying LLL was a much better or more gifted clergy than they are. And ok, that may or may not be? BUT- I`d always heard & believed as the others do, that nothing of the preacher`s sermons are `their own`... meaning they do not prepare a sermon... but all comes from God- that they go up there and God opens their mouth and speaks through them.. He uses them to speak through to us. So...??? What are they saying by that, then?? That LLL is better than God himself?? It just doesn`t fly. So... then it must be false humility. Or self-righteousness. I don`t know. I have no problem with the doctrine or the KJV we use: oh all of that is so pure and true. I know Jesus loves me, and died for my sins. I just fail to see really where LLL fits into this. I presume it`s just custom... and that bothers me, too. Just because it`s `always been done`. Arg. Thanks for listening! Apologies for the rant. ;)
Blessings!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Purity Unrealized

I ran across this quote this morning; while the author is not writing about Laestadianism, I thought the sentiment fit quite well.

Puritan movements are doomed to fail because people are not pure. Such coteries inevitably turn in upon themselves: having fondly imagined they can set themselves up as a society of the perfect, at the first sign of weakness the mob will turn on the one perceived as guilty and drive the offender out. Ultimately such a gathering is the antithesis of the Gospel, for it is based on judgment rather than forgiveness. It is also the antithesis of history, for it lives in a fantasy of realized eschatology rather than in the hope of a cooperative pilgrimage.

Because they are based on a goal incapable of realization -- a pure society with unrealizable standards, or a perverse double standard that acknowledges but cannot tolerate human imperfection -- they never cease from irascible critique, a toxic attitude by which they close themselves off from the wider world and then turn in upon, and digest, themselves.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG