Showing posts with label world. Show all posts
Showing posts with label world. 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.

Friday, December 07, 2012

The Christmas Program

Three years ago, I attended the Christmas program of my younger children’s elementary school, my head swirling with cognitive dissonance over what I was reading in the Bible and church publications. One of the issues that stood out in my mind, as it does for so many troubled believers, was Conservative Laestadianism’s outrageous exclusivity claims. (These claims are also made by the OALC, FALC, and IALC, who all point their bony fingers of condemnation at each other along with the LLC/SRK.)

Here it is in a nutshell: The church’s membership comprises about 0.002% of the world’s population. Everyone else who is mentally competent and has achieved some vaguely defined age of accountability it consigns to an eternity of screaming torture, a fate that eventually will be shared by almost all of the billion or so of the world’s children. There are even questions about many of those within the official membership nowadays. I suspect the old guard in the SRK and LLC have been waiting quite a while now for another “heresy” to come along and clean house, freeing them from having to deal with those annoying liberals, part-timers, and questioners.

That evening I sat with my wife and watched our kids up on stage, saying their pieces and singing their little songs among the beautiful children and parents of a rural, simple, and fairly religious community. As it is most everywhere else in the U.S. and the world, none of them has ever heard of Conservative Laestadianism. The closest most will ever come to a member of “God’s Kingdom” is in their cars as they drive through the area where most of our old congregation’s members live, on their way to do some shopping in town.

Here’s what I wrote when we got home. It is reproduced from my book (§4.2.1), as is some of the commentary that follows (pp. 82, 84‑85, 242 of the printed version).

Monday, July 02, 2012

Joy of (Not) Believing

The postings and comments on this blog over the course of its several-year history often speak about the challenges and difficulties of leaving Laestadianism. It is a move that many have had to make, from fundamentalist religions of all types, when the facts could no longer bear to be disregarded. Preachers are prone to caricature those who no longer show up to listen to their sermons as having been unable to resist the lure of “the world,” taking the easy way out, leaving the fold to pursue a life of sin. The reality I’ve seen from dozens of discussions with refugees from fundamentalist religions–and from reading testimonials by hundreds more–is quite different. What became important was simply a desire for the truth of the matter, and the result of their accepting that reality was often more difficult than remaining comfortably and conveniently sheltered within the bosom of the church.

That is not to say there are no positive results from making the transition. Of course there are! After a lifetime of repression, many ex-Laestadians find profound joy in expanding their musical and cultural horizons, discovering the amazing and powerful medium of cinema, and allowing themselves the freedom to engage in romantic relationships with (gasp!) the people who surround them in their day-to-day society. Life becomes worth living for itself–right here, right now–instead of being a grim march through a world that one must disdain as sinful. The attitude is expressed well in the opening lines of one old LLC song: “My home is not here where I journey, ah no it is far, far away.”