Showing posts with label women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women. Show all posts

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lars Levi's Cousin, Mor Greta

I stumbled across this fascinating article about Mor Greta, a cousin and contemporary of Lars Levi Laestadius. It helps contextualize the distrust of authority in the North.
Margareta Sophia better known as "Mor Greta" (1804-1883) . . . took part in the movement against the Swedish state church. Mor Greta and the group the “New Readers” protested against usage of the new church books that were introduced in 1819. These manuals gave the priests monopoly on preaching and other church ceremonies, something that was very impractical when emergency baptism was sometimes needed in the north of Sweden and the priest could be miles away. Those who did not obey the law were persecuted; and if it was repeated they were banished for two years. 
Mor Greta and the New Readers protested against that . . .​ were punished, and the police force tried to imprison them. Mor Greta, being a woman, was not imprisoned, but taken to Umeå hospital for the insane as punishment. But the doctor at the hospital did not find anything wrong with her, refused to hospitalize her, and released her immediately.

How did a woman in the north of Sweden dare to oppose the powerful Swedish state church in the 1830s? 
One explanation is that Mor Greta and Nils had eleven children, but five died before the age of one. That must have been a trauma and the family had need for emergency baptism. Before they had been able to do that without a priest present, but after the new churchbooks, that became illegal. The families had to take the newborn from the mother and go (by ski in winter) 10 kilometers to the church and then back for the baptism. Not many newborns survived those journeys.
Read the rest of the article here, and another, in Swedish, here.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Three Women and a Girl, Considered

Photo from Wikicommons.
Here are My View's thoughts about her story of the girl in the church restroom.
This story is like the Bible story of the Good Samaritan, where a person was left beaten, and people passed by. But who was doing the beating here? Is it not the very people who claim that they, and only they, are favored by God? 
Did they hear this girl's cry? Do you? Those in the church, can you still walk away as if you don't hear? As if she doesn't matter? After this girl "gets picked up and dusted off," what is next for her and her family? You know that she will always carry this with her. You know that this isn't the last beating that she will take. Not by a long shot. She and her baby will continue to be beaten by the very people who claim that they love her and tell her that all her sins are "forgiven and forever washed away."
Are they really? How is it then, when it comes time to baptize this little one, they say: "Not in church." 
How is it then, when she wants to marry a man from the church, they say: "Not in church. Church weddings are for obedient ones." 
This is what "forgiven" looks like? 
How is it then, when the baby grows up and goes off to school, he comes home in tears because his cousin called him a "bastard child" and told him he was "conceived by the devil?" 
Is that what "forever washed away" looks like? 
How is it then, that the one who introduced her to sex by molesting her when she was a little child, now walks through the church unbeaten, even admired. His "sins" forgiven, forgotten, never to be spoken of again.

I am not trying to destroy the church. There are people I love in it, and I cannot sit by and watch another be beaten down.  I wrote this story to give a voice to a girl who was silenced, to call attention to the hypocrisy, so that maybe another girl, another child, could be spared. Someone must speak up for them. 
But I know my voice isn't enough. What will it take to stop the beatings? Who will be the Good Samaritan?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Laestadian Theologian Lacks Penis, Gets Ordained Anyway

Ed Suominen has been invited to participate in this blog and, starting with this article, looks forward to a dialogue with those whose lives have intersected with Laestadianism. He is the author of An Examination of the Pearl, a study of the Conservative/Heideman branch of the Laestadian movement, and his articles here will often reference portions of that book by section number with links to the free HTML version. You can find Ed's own blog here.

An Extraordinary Ordination

Change is happening in the Lutheran church worldwide, but Conservative Laestadians in Finland have held tight regarding the ordination of women. Now one courageous woman, Mari Leppänen, has challenged the status quo by completing her theological study with ordination as a priest in the Finnish state church. She did so over the objections of the SRK leadership, yet without expressing any other disagreement or conflict with her long-held Conservative Laestadian faith.

Mari Leppänen
Omat polut, CC licensed
It was a historical event, as the Conservative Laestadian historian Seppo Lohi noted, speaking strictly as a researcher. But he noted that female priesthood is not accepted in the movement and that the ordination of women is seen as heretical (harhaopiksi) in light of the Bible. In view of that, he observed that Leppänen, “loads quite a bit of pressure on herself concerning her relationship to Conservative Laestadianism. She shows that she has a different idea about ​​the ordination of women than the Conservative Laestadian perception.” Regarding the question of Leppänen’s possible separation from the movement, Lohi declined to “use such drastic terms” as that, but says the ordination will undoubtedly lead to discussions and she must explain her action (§4.7.6, quoting Ijäs 2012a).

Mari Leppänen's Ordination Ceremony:
Omat polut, CC licensed.
Now that she has gone ahead and accepted the ordination, those “discussions” seem to have resulted in her being condemned as not being in the “Kingdom of God,” as reported by Johannes Ijäs in his March 3, 2012 Kotimaa24 article. One of the main SRK figures involved with that judgement is Kimmo Puolitaival, the chairman of the board of trustees in Leppänen’s home congregation (RY) of Turku. He expressed agreement with a statement apparently made by Matti Taskila, the SRK’s Deputy Chairman, that “a woman who takes the priestly ordination removes herself from the movement” (Ijäs 2012b). In response to questions from Kotimaa24 and concerns expressed about human rights issues, Puolitaival released a statement defending the Conservative Laestadian viewpoint as one of religious conviction grounded in the Bible. The closest the statement came to mentioning Leppänen’s spiritual status was this:
If someone acts in another way in the female ordination issue and takes ordination, she might have considered her act, and understands the penalties of disobedience against the word of the Lord. [Alastalo 2012]
“The word of the Lord” that is being invoked so gravely here is mainly
Apostle Paul’s declaration to comply with the proper form of worship: Women are to keep silent in the churches (1 Cor. 14:34-35). This instruction stems from a lecture, or sermon, which gave this charge to the Congregation’s shepherd, or priest, when implementing the framework of the worship process. Apostle Paul argues that he has “the Lord’s command” on this particular directive concerning worship. Unfortunately, we do not feel any closer to understanding the meaning of “the Lord’s command.” The reasoning employed by Apostle Paul is most powerful and authoritative because it is the word of the Lord.” [Nissilä 2012, from §4.7.6]
Even more unfortunate than the admitted lack of understanding is the fact that a woman is essentially being condemned to eternal damnation (§4.2.1) for desiring to do what is permissible, routine, and encouraged for most any man in the SRK. And let’s not sugar-coat what Paul actually says in his “powerful and authoritative” reasoning. Here’s the entire passage:
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. [1 Cor 14:34-35]
The new priest. Photo by a supporter at her
post-ordination reception. Used with permission.
The next time a woman raises her hand to offer a comment in a “congregational discussion evening” or Bible Class, or gives a presentation or teaches a Bible Class lesson, you can bet that she won’t be told to shut up and sit down, to wait until she gets home to ask her husband about that nagging theological question. No, the trouble is when a woman decides to really get out of line and put on a clerical collar, stepping across an imaginary boundary to stand behind a pulpit that Paul does not mention. Then the startled and threatened menfolk grab the Bible out of her hands and point indignantly to a passage that has been otherwise ignored.

Nothing to See Here, Move Along...

Conservative Laestadianism has a long history of not appreciating outsiders poking around with concerns about how its members are being treated. In the midst of the 1970s “caretaking” hysteria that even the SRK has now acknowledged involved “spiritual abuse,” a 1974 issue of the SRK’s Päivämies newspaper warned believers about airing or talking about the
faults of the children of God . . . among unbelievers. It is the casting of pearls before swine, belittling of God’s children within earshot of unbelievers. This is in effect a boomerang when consequently the unbelievers in turn berate the children of God. With this trampling, the one who spoke evil is trampled too.” [from §4.10]
Dr. Johanna Hurtig.
Omat Polut, CC licensed.
Another courageous woman, Johanna Hurtig, experienced her share of being trampled–not by the evil world but by some of “God’s children” themselves–when she refused to let the SRK off the hook about child sexual abuse by prominent members. She was called “an overgrown, fat sheep, unprofessional, in a false spirit,” who didn’t have their trust. Her conclusions from the experience are not flattering about the SRK leadership:
They don’t appreciate her attempts to advise them, her open criticism of the organizational culture, and her speaking out publicly about the community. And what she speaks about is “a shameful phenomenon that happens in a community that considers itself representing family values, decency, and respect for the law.” She says, “I defy their great power as I act in the issue without asking their permission or opinion,” having “shown in public many negative things about them: stalling, ignoring, and inconsistent public communications.” They “have to admit their faults,” and thus “a shadow is cast on the inerrant congregation” [§4.10.1]
In March 2009, society poked its nose into the sanctum of the “Kingdom of God” again, this time about contraception. The European Union’s Human Rights Commission
expressed concerns that the movement’s teachings–whether a “ban” is said to be in place or not–effectively infringe on the individual right to freely make a determination about contraception. That right, it said, is a matter of human rights protection. It noted that the term “contraception ban” is not used. But it pointed out that Laestadians have experienced “very real social compulsion” about the issue, and “failure to comply will have serious spiritual and secular consequences.” [§4.7.6]
Now, despite Puolitaival’s wish that the SRK “would have the right to teach and bring out the Word of God, based on religious conviction and declare the kingdom of God and the message of sin and grace, without having to worry about being accused of human rights violations” (from Alastalo 2012), the outside world is raising its eyebrows yet again:
The leader of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, Archbishop Kari Mäkinen, is saddened and worried at the attitude taken by the Conservative Laestadian revival movement toward those in the organisation who take a positive attitude toward the ordination of women. Mäkinen says in an e-mail message that he feels that it is a serious matter that a commitment to decisions of the Lutheran Church can lead to a person being silenced, marginalised, or excluded from the movement. . . . [T]he Conservative Laestadian movement decided that the Archbishop’s theological secretary Risto Leppänen would no longer be allowed to teach or speak at Laestadian events. The move was taken because Leppänen takes a positive view of the ordination of women, which [is] accepted doctrine in the Lutheran Church, but opposed by the Laestadians. [Helsingin Sanomat, Secretary Banned from Speaking]
Risto Leppänen is the new priest’s husband. His offense was supporting his wife’s desire to do the same kind of pastoral work that he is doing, without letting her gender block her path.

 

Cleaning House

The issue is not a new one, nor is it going away anytime soon. Mari Leppänen tells the Helsingin Sanomat, “The women theologians [in the 1970s] could not bring their wishes forward, and they were left completely outside the movement’s official debate on the ministry. They were bypassed because they were women, and because of their theological background.” Now, those in the younger generation “have grown both as Laestadians, and as members of this society, and they have seen how women in the church can function as equals among men. Many hope that they could ponder the ministry issue more openly without fear of being judged” (Women’s ordination divides Laestadian movement).

It is still an unrealized hope. Another SRK ordained priest who took the same stand in favor of female ordination, with the same consequence, writes that “the cleansings are continuing.” He hopes that what follows are not the same systematic and brutal excesses that were seen in the 1970s, but he is afraid that is just what is happening now (Alaranta 2012). Another ordained priest whom the SRK has decided to silence at its services is Stiven Naatus, who nonetheless does not believe that the situation will lead to the kind of fragmentation that has occurred at other times in the movement’s history (Ahonen 2012). Perhaps so, if the SRK follows what its Executive Board noted regretfully about the “excesses” of the 1970s: We should learn from the past” (from §4.10.2).

References

Monday, October 25, 2010

Finnish Lutheran Sex Discrimination Case

This interesting article popped up in my feed reader this morning:

from HELSINGIN SANOMAT: Woman pastor wins sex discrimination case

Pohjanraitio had been scheduled to serve at the altar, handing out communion. However, before the service, she was told by the visiting pastor that his apostolic beliefs prevented him from working with a woman pastor at the altar.

Does the phrase "apostolic beliefs" mean that the visiting pastor was Laestadian? Does anyone know if the pastor in question was definitely Laestadian?

This article raises lots of interesting questions for me regarding the relationship between religion and the state. Because the Lutheran church is government supported in Finland, does that give the state the authority to enforce civil rights?

If this had happened in the United States I think the courts would never had gotten involved, due to the separation of church and state. In the United States Laestadians are not part of a state church --they control who gets ordained and women are not allowed to be ordained in any Laestadian denomination, so that's another reason this never could have happened in the U.S.

On the one hand, I very strongly support freedom for religions to practice and ordain as they see fit without government interference. But on the other hand if any tax dollars are supporting an institution I very strongly believe that then the public has a valid interest in regulating what goes on in said institution.

Finally, I think that churches that choose not to ordain women are really missing out. My current priest is a woman, and she is the most talented and capable clergyperson I have ever had, bar none.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Does Religion Subjugate Women?

President Jimmy Carter addresses the Parliament from Parliament of Religions on Vimeo.


From a Speech by Jimmy Carter to the Parliament
of the World's Religions, Melbourne, Australia, Dec. 3, 2009

Most Bible scholars acknowledge that the Holy Scriptures were written when male dominance prevailed in every aspect of life. Men could have multiple sex partners (King Solomon had 300 wives and 700 concubines), but adulterous behavior by a woman could be punished by stoning to death - then, in the time of Christ and, in some societies, 2009 years later.

I realize that devout Christians can find adequate scripture to justify either side in this debate, but there is one incontrovertible fact concerning the relationship between Jesus Christ and women: he never condoned sexual discrimination or the implied subservience of women. The exaltation and later reverence for Mary, as Jesus' mother, is an even more vivid indication of the special status of women in Christian theology.

I have taught Bible lessons for more than 65 years, and I know that Paul forbade women to worship with their heads covered, to braid their hair, or to wear rings, jewelry, or expensive clothes. It is obvious to most modern day Christians that Paul was not mandating permanent or generic theological policies.

In a letter to Timothy, Paul also expresses a prohibition against women's teaching men, but we know – and he knew – that Timothy himself was instructed by his mother and grandmother.

At the same time, in Paul's letter to the Romans, he listed and thanked twenty-eight outstanding leaders of the early churches, at least ten of whom were women. "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church … greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus … greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you… greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was … greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them."

It is clear that during the early Christian era women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers, and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

My own Southern Baptist Convention leaders ordained in recent years that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors, chaplains in the military service, or teachers of men. They based this on a few carefully selected quotations from Saint Paul and also Genesis, claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin. This was in conflict with my belief that we are all equal in the eyes of God. The Roman Catholic Church and many others revere the Virgin Mary but consider women unqualified to serve as priests.

This view that the Almighty considers women to be inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or tradition. Its influence does not stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue, or temple. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths, creating an environment in which violations against women are justified.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.

Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views and set a new course that demands equal rights for women and men, girls and boys.

At their most repugnant, the belief that women are inferior human beings in the eyes of God gives excuses to the brutal husband who beats his wife, the soldier who rapes a woman, the employer who has a lower pay scale for women employees, or parents who decide to abort a female embryo. It also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair and equal access to education, health care, employment, and influence within their own communities.

...we are calling on all those with influence to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices – in religious and secular life– that justify discrimination against women and to acknowledge and emphasize the positive messages of equality and human dignity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women in the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church

The comments below were made at the wiki site: How to Leave the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church, a site which is regularly deleted by anonymous hackers, then restored by Wiki editors. It is now the first site one gets by googling the topic, no doubt because of this negative attention.

I went to the OALC for most of my childhood and after my confirmation (which I did for my grandparents) I was out of there. Now that I am 17 I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions of my life. If I ever run into members I get dirty looks. I'm from the west coast and I have honestly watched my sister (who is still a member) throw her life away. My parents did not want her to get married at age 18 but the preachers did. So now my sister has two kids and has no plans to stop having babies. Most of the kids there have little ambition on life. There main goals are graduate high school and go to work. No college. No nothing. I really view that church as a cult. Growing up in that religion never fit. Even at a young age I was questioning it. Why should ALL of my friends have to be from the church? Why can't I watch TV? Why can't I listen to music? I could never get real solid answers to any of these questions. I believe in God and love God but I WILL NOT believe that every one of my "worldly" friends and my relatives who have died that were not a member of the OALC church are in hell. That doesn't fly with me. Another thing that is ever present in that church is the RACISM. I have heard from so many different members that " BLACK IS THE CURSED RACE ". I strongly believe in equality among races.

Reply to 1991128x
On 09:29, 10 March 2009
1991128x said:
I thank God I got out of there. I really do. I can actually have a normal life instead of perform manual labor all day and come home to a wife and 13 children. I look at my friends who are still there and wish them nothing but the best. I have always believed that you should do what makes you happy and if they are happy with that lifestyle that is almost EXPECTED of them then good for them. When I left and I would run into OALC members out in the big bad "world" I'd get a great big condensing talk about how I'm "LOST" and "CONFUSED". Oh I can also remember my grandmother saying one time that a woman had spoken out about leaving the church and died in a car accident a few months later. She said "Isn't it funny how God takes care of everything?" I don't think it's that "funny". I can say FROM EXPERIENCE that the OALC I attended was overflowing with the most hypocritical, judgmental, and close minded people I have ever met. If you want to leave this CULT. GO. My best advice would be to just ride out. Get far far far far far far away and live your own life according to you. 
Reply to 1991128x
On 20:16, 10 March 2009
Ledastray said:
Thank you so much for the above comments - having other people feeling the wrongs of the OALC keep me encouraged that I am doing the right thing. Some friends have been to talk with me and expressed their "worry" for me - I simply said if I want to feel closer to God and that I feel that is missing in the OALC how is THAT WRONG? No answer. The biggest problem I am having at this point is that I do have 6 wonderful kids who are caught in the middle. I have spent a lot of time talking with them (the younger 3 will be ok due to age) and one of my kids said "but mom if you want to go somewhere else - that is Dead Faith" - woa. I asekd her if she knew what that meant. And she said.......no. See? It is all about the church having ALL the answers you need. Just don't ASK any questions. And if you do - that is the devil causing doubts and you are being disobedient and going to hell. Unless you ask forgiveness - to other men - not God. Members will tell you "how can you confess to God - he already knows what you did." It's not confessing simpletons - it's REPENTING. My heart is breaking over the lies I feel that I have been told there. I want to know God's love - and get to heaven any way I can. That is what we are all trying to do. Just get to heaven. How is that wrong? Because I am not at the OALC church? If I sit there with a bitter heart because I know that I am missing something - how is that RIGHT?

Reply to Ledastray
On 00:31, 16 March 2009
71.10.71.33 said:
I pray for those of you trying to leave the church. I work in a community of predominately OALC members, and it breaks my heart that these children mainly the girls are taught that being a mom is the only thing for them to do. Yes being a mom is one of the best things about being a woman, but there are so many other things you can do as a woman too. Also there is more for men to do than trades work, in todays economy everyone needs to be educated because trades work in not going to always put food on the table especially tables with 6 or more kids and a mom who is not allowed to work. I pray for all the famalies but especially the children and the women that they will somehow come to know what they CAN do!!
So those looking at leaving, find a "worldly" you can trust and they will help you!! God will help you.

Reply to 71.10.71.33
On 22:43, 16 March 2009
Ledastray said:
Thank you for your input - it is very enouraging to everyone who reads this but is too scared to comment. I have been fretting over what you stated above - the teachings that my little girls are learning - that you are ONLY a woman. I don't want them to grow up and experience the emptiness I have. There are so many unspoken "rules" that degrade, belittle and supress women. As well as those that are preached. We are never asked to join in a discussion if and when a Bible is brought out. We are not allowed to attend the business meetings at the church (which by the way are held on SUNDAY)and if a vote of hands is asked for in church? Your husband will raise his for you. A womans work is in the kitchen with 10 kids under her feet. I have heard men boast that they have never changed a diaper. Women are made to feel SO unworthy. But then they will tell you that is how you SHOULD feel - "we are nothing" they say and say again. If you feel this way, then that is a good thing because then you are not full of sin. (Just medicated because of depression).

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 sisu.typepad.com. (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?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Who's that in a Huivi?


Arguably the most powerful woman in the world (or is it Oprah?), Nancy Pelosi covers up for the Lebanese. Nice huivi, eh? Just for the record, Pelosi is not a Laestadian but a (prochoice) Catholic.