Showing posts with label identity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label identity. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Laestadian ignorance about Roman Catholicism

After reading some of the comments Precious has been making about the Catholic Church, I was reminded of identical inaccurate rhetoric growing up in the ALC. My how we hated those Catholics, and loved to hold them up as the prime example of a dead faith that got it wrong! (Looking back the irony is almost overwhelming. :-) I'll post some of my own thoughts regarding the relationship between Laestadianism and Roman Catholicism later on, but for now I thought cvow's succinct and accurate post clearing up some of the misinformation was worth repeating here.

cvow writes:

You ask to be educated about various beliefs of the Catholic Church. Let's see if I can help a little.

You stated several OALC commonly held beliefs about the Catholic church. I know that when I was a member of the OALC I heard the same things, along with statements that the Catholics gambled in church, danced in the church aisles, worshipped statues, and all sorts of other outlandish stories. (I also heard lots of stories about other faiths as well, but since you zeroed in on the Catholics, that's where I'll focus as well.) The leader of the OALC congregation that I belonged to loved to pick on the Catholics, although I suspect he had never been inside a Catholic church in his life, as is probably the case with most of the OALC "preachers" who make similar attacks.

Just following your thread more or less in order, you stated that the Catholic Church teaches that you can buy yourself a seat in heaven through charity -- and that they "brag" about their charity. Now I don't really know where this idea got started, because there is nothing in the teaching of the Catholic church to support such a claim. I suppose it hearkens back to the Middle Ages, when the church was "selling" indulgences. I'm pretty sure the error of that was resolved several hundred years ago, but the perception still lingers on. Rest assured, you don't buy your way into heaven in the Catholic Church by charity or any other way except through acceptance and belief in Jesus Christ as saviour and redeemer.

Does the church "brag" about their charity work? Not as near as I can tell. Perhaps the fact that they do ask for donations to support their charitable work -- and it is considerable, believe me -- is what you perceive as "bragging". I will agree with many other posters here -- I was in the OALC for 35 years, more or less, and never, not once, did I ever witness or know about any charitable act to the poor, sick, or homeless by any OALC congregation. I am sure some of the members gave individually to charity as you say you do -- good for you, and I mean that sincerely -- but most did not.

Purgatory is probably one that we could go around on for a long time, since the primary scriptural foundation for that is found in the Old Testament, in Maccabees, which is not part of the KJV bible. If you are interested, in 2 Maccabees 12, the statement is made that King Judas made atonement for the dead, which is held as evidence that there is some kind of purging of sin even after death. In the New Testament in both Peter and Corinthians, the passages about cleansing fire are held as further evidence of this final cleansing. Here again you make the statement that based on money given to the church, a person's soul might be moved from hell into heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth. Period.

You ask why during the Catholic Mass only the priest partakes of the wine. Hmmm..., I went to Mass last Sunday and partook of both species -- bread and wine -- as did most of the people. I know that at one time, only the host was offered and not the wine, but that changed long ago. I did see that still being done in a very small church, and don't know why it was still done that way -- but there is no liturgical reason for the wine to be withheld. I suspect it was one of those man made traditions that come and go as our faith evolves. The church teaches that you can partake of either or both species and have received communion. As an example of this kind of tradition, people note the ringing of the bells during the consecration of the host and wine. The history of this is that in very olden days, the entire congregation in very large churches could not see what the priest was doing (there were no pews in those days so everyone stood) nor could they hear (no PA system, you know). Hence the bells were rung at important times during the consecration and prayers
so that the congregants could follow the order of the Mass, saying common prayers at the correct times, appropriately bow their heads, kneel, or whatever was called for. Many Catholic churches have abandoned the bell ringing, because obviously those needs no longer exist, but others still do it as a remembrance of those traditions. Eventually it will disappear, I'm sure, as again, there is no liturgical reason, only tradition.

And finally the molestation issue. This has been a shameful discovery and recognition of human failure on the part of some priests. We could debate a long time whether the church failed to act in a timely fashion, whether the official reaction was appropriate and swift enough, and whether the consequences have been just. I can only say that since it has come to light -- albeit much too slowly -- the Church has cooperated fully in the criminal prosecution of the sexual offenders, and has tried to make monetary restitution to the victims. Is it enough? I don't know that it ever could be.

Hopefully these explanations make some things clear, put to rest some old wives' tales, and give food for thought. If you ever really want to know what goes on in a Catholic Church, by all means attend Mass a few times. Believe me, this is a place where truly and absolutely, "All are Welcome". You will probably find to your amazement that you can recite most of the prayers right along with the rest of the congregation, with only a few word changes here and there.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Ex-Laestadians and the search for meaning

Many thanks to Free for inviting me to post an article on this blog. :-) This gives me an excuse to ask a question I've been thinking about for some time: Do any other ex-Laestadians struggle in their search for meaning and identity since leaving the church?

Being Laestadian was never easy for me, but there were a couple things about it that always gave me great comfort.

One was that I knew who I was (identity). I was one of God's select few chosen people. Especially in light of "the world" and its depravity, this seemed a great honor that made me feel unique, special, and superior.

Another was that I knew the meaning of life. Life was all about maintaining one's purity and superiority in the face of temptations and contamination, both from within and from "the world." It was about sacrificing the here and now for eternal rewards later.

In light of these two truths, life was certainly hard, but it was also simple and crystal clear.

Leaving Laestadianism has involved giving up a lot of those comforts. Life seems more nuanced now, but that means it is harder to see things clearly. Acknowledging that God has no favorites destroys any exclusive claim I might have upon God's favor.

Who are you, now that you are no longer Laestadian? What gives your life meaning and purpose? Has it been hard to come up with these things on your own now that you no longer are part of a community that defines them for you?


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Virtues of Sin

I've provided a link above to a social analysis of Laestadianism by a Swedish academic. Sometimes the translation is a bit clumsy.

Some of the more interesting observations:

The emphasis of sin as omnipresent, and the strong emotional charge can cause collective discharge of great dimensions. In those cases sin almost gets an aura of virtue. In the moment of the emotional outburst one can forget all the problems of everyday life and conventions. One can reach a kind of social or religious intoxication which at once solves all the problems. Strong emotional ties are so formed among the followers. However, the followers are not led to an individualistic Christianity . . .

In the conflicts within Laestadianism the issue becomes how to justify and defend one's position. The debating Laestadians look for justification in tradition. The ones who consider themselves representatives of the original form, also think that they have thus proven their genuineness . . . the believing man is not supposed to wear a tie, and the believing woman is required to wear a head scarf . . . traditional clothes have thus been given symbolic value for religion, and made part of the religious tradition.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

At Last, a Place in Cyberspace

When I left the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church at the age of 18, I gave up not only my religion but my family, my friends and my support network. There was no way of knowing who else had left the church or how to contact them if I had known. I was on my own without a 12-step program, support group, or therapist trained in the particular psychological issues of leaving this fundamentalist sect, which teaches its adherents that salvation is possible only within its walls, and the price of leaving is to be shunned by members and indeed, by God.

It took me years of therapy and the love of many, many good people to deal with my past and create a healthy, happy family of my own. Over the years I have searched the internet for information on the OALC. I learned more online about its founder, Lars Levi Laestadius, than I ever did from the church, and I still remember my surprise at discovering that this revered "prophet" was a botanist turned revivalist who lived in the 1800's -- not the time of Christ.

But I've yet to find information on "my" OALC online (although there is information about related churches and about Laestadius). Recently a google search led me to a heated dialogue on (you can find it in their archives).

This blog is a beginning.

Let me say here that my experiences in the church are just that, mine. No doubt there are former OALC members with very different experiences. Even happy ones.