Showing posts with label tradition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tradition. Show all posts

Saturday, March 02, 2013

More Musings by Oven Mitt

Oven Mitt emailed me this response to Freethinker, concerned that it was too long for the comment section. I am publishing it here as its own post. (Readers, please consider submitting a guest post on any topic. Challenge our thinking!)
Left to Right: Frank Zappa, Oven Mitt

Dear "Freethinker,"
Thank you for your very thoughtful reply. You say "The vast majority are placing their faith in the 'confirmed reality' of the Bible." On one level, I would concede your point. In a way, if you were to poll people, statistically speaking, what you say about the majority is perhaps true. But only in a way.

One consideration is that in every faith tradition there are people (who are not the majority) who are deeply spiritual, for whom every element of their lives is informed by religious meaning and who are better people for it. But there are also, in every faith tradition, I think, individuals who relate to their tradition as a way to stay out of trouble and solicit good luck. Often, this takes on the flavor of a transaction, of something like commerce:

If you, the worshiper, do this (where "this" could be pray, offer sacrifices on an altar, give to the poor), then I (the fabric of the universe, or the god of my profession, or the unique and all-powerful god) will make your flocks flourish, or get you a raise, or save your soul.

Several years ago, on the bus I rode to work, there was a fellow rider who was an immigrant to the United States, who didn't speak English well but loved to talk. As I got to know this rider better, I found her to be kind, considerate of other people's ideas, and possessed of a prodigious desire to work. A good person. She was telling me one morning about New Year’s rituals in the her family, rituals that came out of a religious tradition. These rituals were for luck and prosperity. "Only for luck?" I asked. She gave me a look that said, "What? What other reason would you have for a ritual?"  My question was apparently uunnerving, even absurd. And yet she had been formed in this tradition and was a good person, perhaps even an excellent person. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fighting Words

Page from a Gutenberg Bible (1454)
This week I stopped at the downtown public library and saw an exhibition of rare religious texts. With permission, I photographed some of the treasures they had on display. The images you see here are presented in the order of the document’s dating, oldest first.

Witness to the Generations

I meditated on these centuries-old relics for quite a while, considering the many human lifetimes that have passed since the words were pressed and penned onto their pages. Even back then, the sources of those words were already ancient. Most of the books were Bibles, their text copied or translated from a succession of painstakingly hand-copied manuscripts whose original sources have been almost entirely lost in antiquity.

Two columns of clean, bold type stared out at me from the page of a Gutenberg Bible, 558 years after the ink went dry. So much history has passed since then, so many generations born into lives that were “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Thomas Hobbes, 1651). The black and red of the letters seemed not to have faded at all, unlike the colors of whoever pressed the type onto the page in Mainz, Germany–and his child, and that child, and so on. At least twenty generations of lives blooming and fading: a succession of pink-faced infancy transforming into the gray of old age and death, or worse, a dark red death on the endless battlefields of crusade and conquest.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Laestadian Family Values: Caring for an Aging Parent

LLLReader recently wrote: On both sides of my family there is one person in need. I have carried the financial responsibility for both of them for years. Also on both sides of the family there are people who could help share the load--but refuse even though they could easily do it. I have had it with that, and laid it out there about their selfishness. My sweet daughter-in-law said that they see my kindness as weakness and have taken advantage. My belief is that family looks out after each other.

Reading this quote, I was immediately touched by LLLReader's generosity, but it also prompted another question: Is there an expectation in Laestadianism that children will take on the financial responsibility for their aging parents?

As our population ages, medical advances allow people to live longer, and the recent stock market and financial market turmoil erode retirement savings, this becomes an issue not just for Laestadians. However, do Laestadians expect more in this regard than the general population?

I know a Laestadian who had a very large family with the explicit expectation that "they are his retirement plan." He has not saved a dime for retirement, expecting his children to take him in when the time comes. Is this fair? The particular case I'm thinking of is made even more interesting by the fact that I know he has been very irresponsible with jobs, money, and saving --far beyond just the expectation he has of his children.

Should his kids have to "bail him out," and if so, is this part of the Laestadian mindset?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year Traditions?

Dear readers, as the old year closes, what are your New Year's traditions?

In Japan, some folks celebrate by attending a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

My sister tells me there is a Finnish tradition of dropping molten lead into water to see what shapes are formed. That sounds fun.

On New Year's, my friend Heather makes Hoppin' John, a southern dish with blackeyed peas and bacon. I usually make Indian lamb stew, and if we feel like staying up late, we walk up to the park before midnight to watch the fireworks from the Space Needle.

Later in the month, we join friends for dim sum in the International District to celebrate Chinese New Year (a festive, colorful, very noisy time!).

Do you celebrate? Make special dishes? Make resolutions? (I'm tempted to resolve to gain weight this year, to see if reverse psychology works).

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Inspired by ijumped, I baked up a passel of pasties today, both steak and chicken. The steak ones are for a friend we are visiting tonight. Although he speaks and breathes Finn, he hasn't had a pasty "in years." The chicken ones are what my mom calls a "must go" meal (the chicken was getting any younger). But hey, they aren't bad at all!

Here is my recipe. I quadrupled everything, and had enough pastry left over for a batch of joulutorttu. The whole affair took hours, and my kitchen looks like a flour bomb exploded in the middle of it. After a "sampling" of pasties and joulutorttu, my grateful hubby has offered to do the dishes while I take a bath. I call that a good deal.


2 c flour
1/3 c Crisco, diced
1/3 c unsalted butter, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice cold water
1/4 cup half and half, for brushing

Mix flour and salt, cut in shortening and butter, add water. Mix until well blended. Form into log, cut in 4 rounds, and chill in the refrigerator while preparing filling. Roll into 8" circles.

3/4 pound steak (I used eye of round) or chicken breast, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup red wine
2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup rutabaga, diced
3 cups potatoes, diced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley

Marinate meat in wine and garlic salt while preparing vegetables, then drain. Mix with veggies and seasoning in a large bowl. Roll out dough in 8" circles, trim. Brush edges with half and half. Place 1 cup filling on half of pasty, and fold over other half. Seal edges firmly and and flute, or press with fork. Place on cookie sheet. Cut 3 tiny slits in each for steam, and brush top of pasty with milk.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Serve with ketchup and, unless you are a Yooper purist, Thai rooster sauce.

Please share your recipes for pasties or anything else you like.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Who's That in a Huivi? Part B

Another Laestadianesque photo for your contemplation (she's the spitting image of my niece!). One can assume that the cigarette was voluntary, but not much else.

Thankfully, Faye Turney and her fellow sailors are home safe. Now the spinmeisters are eagerly disagreeing as to how and why, leaving this observer convinced that there is much we won't be learning about for decades, if ever.

But on the subject of the scarf: "Take it or leave it, wear it or not, it's homely when it's tied under the chin," says the blogger (a rightwingy catlover) over at (With a blogname like that, I was surprised to find no references to Laestadian headgear).

Hmmm. I recollect seeing a few OALC women who tied their scarves "behind." Perhaps that is what you call a Laestadian feminist. Heh.

As I see it, a woman (or a man) may reasonably be expected to alter his/her attire (e.g., head covering/no head covering, foot covering/no foot covering) in a place of worship. Pelosi was at a mosque, so it isn't as if she was kowtowing to political neantherdals, although this was undoubtedly the message some wished to convey with that image.

Bottom line: one should do in Rome what wise Romans do, not dumb Romans. Funny how you never hear this rule applied to sexual mores.

That said, I PERSONALLY would wear a scarf in a mosque or cathedral, but not in a Laestadian church. Is that hypocritical? I don't think so. I'm not a foreigner, but an "insider" whose response carries a different message.

What do you think?