- Increase in text messages and calls urging relatives to attend meetings
- General decrease in TV and music consumption
- Subtle competition among members for knowledge about, and access to,
- Decline in OALC children at lakes and swimming pools despite sweltering heat
- Uptick in pious expressions and use of the word "precious"
- Rampant repetition of anything sage or amusing said by
- Numbers of devoted
groupiesmembers following the celebritieselders across the country
- Subtle shifts in what sins are considered important
- Irrational fear of a "website spreading lies about the precious Christianity"
In all seriousness, I am curious about the deference given these gentlemen, and suspect that the elders' meetings are, in addition to social and educational opportunities, a purification rite that helps keep the OALC functioning. This was validated today by a member's comment that she feels "so light and cleansed after the elder's visit, like a really good sauna."
I suspect that they also create an opportunity for doubts, in thinking members, at least, who are likely to turn to the internet for information about the church. In today's New York Times, there's a wonderful story about Hans Mattson, the former leader of the Mormon Church in Europe, who left after his superiors told him not to question the church and not to discuss his doubts, even with his wife. (I'll admit to a moment of schadenfreude that Sweden, which gave us Laestadius in 1800, has to was fertile territory for his American contemporary Joseph Smith, born five years later.)
Mattson: "My hope is that the church will grow larger in acceptance so you are allowed to have doubts . . . you can go to Joseph Smith and ask, why did he pray? Because he was asking what to do. So he was a doubter, wasn't he? I think that's great. You find answers."
Of course, the same thing can be said of Laestadius.
He was a doubter. A rebel, in fact.